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Vol. I, No. 2 Hagar · Bainbridge · Coloma · Watervliet Summer 2009

North Berrien’s Annual “Battle of the Ages”

When the Coloma Comets and the Watervliet football game between Coloma and Watervliet was
Panthers played football each year, the local newspa- played on Thursday, November 4, 1909 at Coloma on
pers often called it a “battle of the ages” or a “clash of Sutton’s field south of town.2 Coloma came away the
the Titans.”1 Although the two high schools haven’t victor by a score of 12 to 0. It seems Coloma and
been in the same athletic division for years, for most Watervliet had football teams earlier than 1909 but
players and fans it is the most important game of the they were not sponsored by the respective schools.
year. In my experience playing for the Comets, there The schools apparently could not field enough players
were two football seasons: the to make two full teams until then.
regular season and the Coloma- The early football games
Watervliet game. from the spectator’s point of view
I was lucky enough to have were much different from the
played in the 1974 game that was games today. For example, the
held in Coloma. Both teams were game was always played during
state ranked and champions in the afternoon as neither school
their respective conferences. It had lights for their field until the
was estimated that there were late 1940s. The fans would stand
over 4,500 spectators at the game along the sidelines as neither
that year. I am not sure about the school had any bleachers and the
number but I do remember the noise from all the fans. fans would move up and down the sidelines following
It was so loud that I couldn’t hear the play called in the players. In 1924 the cost of a season ticket was a
the huddle or the signals from the quarterback! At whopping $1.00. Mary Alyce (Wooley) Hettig re-
least that was my excuse for jumping offside. Co- calls an intense rivalry with Watervliet during her
loma won that year, but in two of the three games I time as a Coloma High School student in the 40s.3
played against Watervliet, the Panthers took the win. The day before the game, a noisy pep assembly at the
Ask anyone who has won more games in the last cen- school was followed by an informal parade of stu-
tury, and you’ll probably get a different answer de- dents and the marching band along West Street to
pending on whether they’re wearing green or maroon. downtown Coloma.
According to The Coloma Courier, the first (Continued on page 4)

300 Coloma Ave./ P.O. Box 207, Coloma, Michigan 49038
Page 2

From the Director’s Desk

By Alexander Gates
It has been an exciting year so far at NBHS
with Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America bring-
ing in large crowds to the museum. The second half of
2009 promises to be just as exciting with planning 300 Coloma Ave., P.O. Box 207
well under way for the celebration of the 175th anni- Coloma, MI 49038
versary of the founding of Shingle Diggin’s and the
Phone: (269) 468-3330
100th Coloma-Watervliet Football Game.
Fax: (269) 468-4083
North Berrien history connected with headline
news in April when the USS Bainbridge rescued
captured American sailors being held by Somali
pirates. Both the USS Bainbridge and Bainbridge
Township share the same namesake – Captain William
Bainbridge, who famously fought piracy during the
North Berrien Historical Society
Barbary War (1801-1805). Board of Directors
On June 27 we will participate in the Michiana Scott Young President
Regional History Day in Buchanan— contact the mu- Bennet Leedy 1st Vice President
seum for more information or to get involved. Kandyce Hays 2nd Vice President
Cindy Young Secretary
Education News Shirley Boone Treasurer
Ray Mays Assistant Treasurer
By Tracy Gierada Karin Miller Director
This summer will mark an important turning Pauline Morris Director
point in the educational work of the North Berrien Sherry Polashak Director
Historical Museum. Sally Williams Director
New school programs are being planned to
meet the State’s Grade Level Content Expectations for Staff
social studies curriculum in the third and fourth
Alexander Gates Director / Curator
grades. Starting in September, we will be able to offer
Tracy Gierada Director of Education
better quality learning experiences for school groups at
Gwen Elsner Office Manager
the museum, and we should attract more local teachers
to take their class field trips here.
In addition, the traveling trunks which have
long been offered will be fully re-vamped with funds
The mission of the North Berrien
donated by the Coloma Lionesses. The new trunks
will feature freshly focused historical topics, lesson
Historical Society is to preserve and
plans, books, images, and hands-on artifacts. distribute information regarding the
I am also excited to introduce a new program history of North Berrien County. We
series called “Summer Time Travelers” for ages 5-12. wish to promote, encourage learning,
This free program will give kids the chance to experi- and disseminate knowledge of the
ence life in years gone by with an interactive and fun
area’s cultural and architectural legacy.
tour through time— learn more on the next page.
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Mark your Calendars!

Saturday, June 6, Book Signing with Rick Rasmussen for his new book Then & Now:
12 - 3pm Coloma - Paw Paw Lake - Watervliet at the North Berrien Historical Museum

Saturday, June 13, Port-a-Pit Chicken Fundraiser and Family Day, NBHM
12 - 5pm Coloma’s 175th Birthday Celebration, Baker Park, Coloma

NBHM Speaker: Bob Myers, Curator, Berrien County Historical Association,

Tuesday, June 16, 7pm
Berrien Springs, MI. “Gangsters in Berrien County”.

Saturday, June 27, Michiana Regional History Day at Buchanan Common near Pears Mill in
10am - 2pm Buchanan, MI. Regional history organizations will share news of their work.

NBHM Speaker: Valerie Van Heest, Holland, MI. “Shipwrecked!” Learn about the
Tuesday, July 21, 7pm
fascinating history of Lake Michigan shipwrecks.

Coloma Glad-Peach Festival. Visit our ice cream Cone Barn! On Saturday, view
August 7 - 9
the Wanigan– an educational trailer from the Michigan Forest Association.

Friday, August 28 100th Coloma-Watervliet Football Game, Watervliet High School

NBHS Welcomes Intern “Time Travelers” programs to

Hello all! My name is be offered this summer
Elizabeth Meyer and I am
working with Alex as a Cura- This summer we will offer trips to the past at
torial Intern. I’m a 2005 gradu- the North Berrien Historical Museum. Designed for
ate of St. Joseph High School ages 5-12, Summer Time Travelers are free, interac-
and in December I will receive tive educational programs meant to inspire an interest
my Bachelor of Arts degree in history and in historical museums. Each session
from Michigan State Univer-
brings to life a unique and exciting theme where we
sity. I major in Studio Art with a concentration in
Ceramics and a minor in Apparel and Textile Design will discover first- hand how the past differed from
with a concentration in Weaving and Fiber Arts. Last our lives today.
summer after I interned at The Krasl Art Center in St. Summer 2009 Schedule
Joseph, I realized that I loved working as a curatorial 9am - 12pm
assistant, so now I’m working here at the North Ber-
rien Historical Museum to learn more in-depth about Date Theme
being a curator. After I graduate my plan is to move Wed., June 24 Music
to Santa Fe, NM and try to get a job in a gallery or Wed., July 15 Travel
museum and work my way up to Curator. So if any Wed., August 12 Food
of you know anyone in Santa Fe or that region in the
If you have a loan or donation to help us
Art business or any business at all basically, please
let me know, I need all the help I can get! Well bring one of these themes to life, or if you could
thanks for reading about me. Stop by the museum volunteer during a Summer Time Travelers
sometime and I’ll probably be working. Cheers! program, please call Tracy at 468-3330.
Page 4

(Continued from Page 1)

The football field itself in the early
years was any field that was more or less flat,
big enough and free of any cow-made land
mines. During the Depression, McDaniels
field in Coloma was built by a combination of
WPA and local workers and the grass was
planted in neat rows with a corn planter. The
Comets have continued to play there to this
day. Panthers football games were held in
Hays Park until about 1967 when they moved
to the new Watervliet High School campus.4
For the players the game has also
changed greatly over the past century. When
Coloma and Watervliet began their football
rivalry, players could fold up their helmets
Watervliet High School Football Team, Undefeated in 1936
and put them in their pockets when the game Collection of the North Berrien Historical Society, 9998.23.01
was over (if they wore helmets at all). In the
early days the Panthers and Comets played each other the year, and now usually takes place in August heat.
two or three times a year, but when the schools were Some things, however, have stayed the same
placed in different conferences they began to meet since 1909. The rivalry between Coloma and Waterv-
only once a year. By the 1940s, the Coloma- liet has been one of the longest and strongest in the
Watervliet game was always played on Armistice Day region. Each team has seen its share of glory, which
in November, later on the closest Friday. As a result, makes for great football games year after year. In
many alumni (including your humble author) recall 1915 Coloma had an undefeated season, making them
playing the big game through freezing cold, sleet and the champions of Southwest Michigan.5 Watervliet
snow. About ten years ago it became the first game of had a celebrated team in 1921, scoring a season total
of 294 points while giving up only 7. Their
only loss that season was to Coloma.6 An-
other notable year was 1979, when the Wa-
tervliet Panthers became the first football
team from Southwest Michigan to play in
the state final at the Pontiac Silverdome.7
On August 28 of this year the two
teams will meet again at Watervliet to play
the 100th annual football game between Co-
loma and Watervliet. I’ll be there cheering
on my son as he, too, plays for Coloma. Our
100 years of tradition should be celebrated
by remembering the past and by looking for-
ward to another century of this great rivalry.

Coloma High School Football Team, 1915 Southwest Michigan Champs

Collection of the North Berrien Historical Society, 9998.01.35 By Marc Hettig
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Activities to Commemorate 100th Coloma-Watervliet Football Game

Are you one of the over 5,000 or more alumni players that have played in one of southwest Michigan’s
premier rivalries? Are you one of the thousands of Comets or Panthers fans to cheer on your classmates and
relatives in football? The NBHS has been very busy working with the 100th game alumni committee making
this upcoming game a real celebration. Below is a listing of a few of the activities planned so far:

 Alumni sponsored team dinners at the North Berrien Senior Center

 Pre-game tail gate dinner in the parking lot at Watervliet schools
 Post-game party at the Waterfront Restaurant
 Saturday morning golf outing; To participate, contact Bruce Owen at 468-4485
 All alumni players will be acknowledged in the pre–game ceremonies on the field
 A special packet will be sent to alumni serving in the armed forces: alumni shirt, CD of game, history
booklet and program from game
 An opportunity for all alumni to write about their fondest memories of the Coloma-Watervliet game at; will be placed in a booklet which will be available at the gate on August 28
 Special parade float - Business sponsorships available, please contact Marc Hettig
 Banner across the main street in both Watervliet and Coloma
 Mayor and Township supervisor shake hands at the boundary between the two towns prior to the game
 Special commemorative game balls for each team to kick off with and keep in their trophy cases
 Special game jerseys for each team to wear and keep or at least a shoulder patch to wear
 Rep. John Proos will make a declaration in the state house proclaiming the 100th game and give each
school an official document for their respective trophy cases

We need any football memorabilia for the historical society displays –

please contact Museum Curator Alex Gates at 468-3330

“Battle of the Ages,” pages 1 and 4. Game T-Shirts for Sale

One example of this appeared in The Co-
loma Courier, vol.36, no.11, Friday, October Available at the North Berrien
3, 1930. Historical Museum, North Berrien Senior
“Started Out Right,” The Coloma Cou- Center and the Coloma and Watervliet
rier, vol.17, no.14, Friday, November 12,
athletic director offices are special school
Interview with Mary Alyce Hettig, May -colored T-shirts for sale: green for Co-
12, 2009. loma and maroon for Watervliet. Make
Interview with Greg Krell, May 12, 2009. sure you get one to show your school sprit
Marion Leedy, “Coloma’s 1915 Grid at the 100th game in August. They make
Champions Were ‘Do-It Yourself’ Squad,”
great presents.
The News-Palladium, Benton Harbor, MI,
date unknown. Please note there will be special
“Recalling Yesteryears: 1921 Watervliet white alumni players-only shirts avail-
Champs,” Watervliet Record, October 7, able shortly just for past football players who have played in a Co-
1971, 11. loma - Watervliet football game.
Al Arend, “Watervliet Earns Shot at
We hope to fill the stands with white, green and maroon t-
State Title,” The Herald-Palladium, Benton
Harbor – St. Joseph, MI, November 17, shirts on August 28. All monies earned from the sale of these t-shirts
1979. will go to offset the cost of special jerseys for the players.
Page 6
Lincoln brings in a record number of visitors
conversation skillfully led by history professor Chris
Paine from LMC. We were also pleased to host large
crowds at our featured speakers, Senator Tom George
and Dr. Bill Anderson, who each provided new and
astute perspectives to enhance our focus on Lincoln.
The North Berrien Historical Society is ex-
tremely grateful to the volunteers and community
partners who made possible this exhibit and active
programming schedule. Many volunteers helped out
Visitors take in the exhibit at our Opening on April 3, 2009.
multiple times, and their dedication was crucial to
In April, the Museum welcomed over 1300 providing quality visits and learning opportunities to
visitors to view the traveling exhibit Abraham Lin- hundreds of visitors and students, making the month
coln: Self-Made in America. The displays provoked of April 2009 the busiest the museum has ever seen.
discussion and reflection on our 16th president which
were very appropriate to mark the 200th anniversary
of his birth. A variety of events engaged all ages of
the public from North Berrien and beyond.
Many young children and families visited the
museum excited to view their winning entries to our
Lincoln Coloring Contest. Another great success was
our Spring Break with Lincoln program, which of-
fered kids the chance to meet Lincoln, a Civil War
soldier, and a lady in mourning, learn how to make Dr. Bill Anderson delivers his address “Abraham Lincoln: A Full
rope, line dance, and write with a quill pen among Measure of Greatness” to a full house on April 23.
other fun activities. In all, we provided creative edu-
cational programs and school tours to over 500 local Upcoming Exhibit:
children. 175 Years/ Objects/ Stories
Our Lincoln Book Discussion at the Coloma
The North Berrien Historical Museum’s latest
Public Library was well-attended and offered a lively
exhibit, 175 Years/ Objects/ Stories: Highlights from
the Permanent Collection is scheduled to open in the
main gallery this fall. The goal of the exhibit is to dis-
play a wide range of objects in the historical society’s
collection that have never before been on display to
the public. Well-known stories from North Berrien
will be featured such as Jacob’s Tower, Coloma’s
German POW Camp, the Watervliet Paper Mill and
Territorial Road. The exhibit will include examples of
the diverse objects in the collection from fossils and
minerals to textiles and agricultural equipment. The
At Spring Break with Lincoln on April 8, young visitors exhibit will also feature feedback stations so visitors
learned an old-fashioned line dance and enjoyed live fiddle can share their own stories and comments about the
and banjo by volunteer musician Jan Burda. objects on display.
Page 7

Technology, capital improvements North Berrien Historical Society

help the long-term work of NBHS Membership Form

The North Berrien Historical Society continues

to stay up-to-date with modern technology. Current
museum news is now available on the museum’s blog Address
which can be accessed from our website. We have
also recently introduced monthly E-News, an e-mail City, State, ZIP
reminder of upcoming events at the museum. This
feature allows us to save postage and paper while Phone
keeping members and friends aware of our activities.
The museum has had much needed emergency E-mail
lights installed, plus electrical upgrades to the Carter  New Member  volunteer
I would like to
House that bring the property up to code. Two addi-
 Returning Member for NBHS
tional phone lines have been added to the museum to
deal with a higher volume of calls and to allow for a Please check desired annual membership level.
separate fax line.  Individual ($15)  Student ($8)
New garage doors have been ordered for the
Carter House and Carter Barn. The current doors are  Family ($50)  Senior ($10)
in poor condition and will be replaced with steel ga- Additional tax-deductible contribution: $________
rage doors with a similar look. The grounds are once
Total Amount Enclosed: $________
again being filled with beautiful flowers with the help
Send your completed form along with your check to:
of our garden volunteers. Stop by the museum this North Berrien Historical Society
summer to tour the grounds and see what is new. P.O. Box 207, Coloma, MI 49038

Thank you to our recent donors New Members
The permanent collection of the North Berrien Sue Dahlquist- Coloma Marcia Warner– Coloma
Historical Society continues to expand with the gen- Dolores Totzke- Coloma Wes Platt– Watervliet
erous contributions of community members. We Nancy Weir- Coloma Mikaela Jerue– Decatur
would like to acknowledge the recent donations that Kenneth Parrigin- Coloma Dave Scheuer– Coloma
have enriched our holdings: Marcia Hammond- Coloma
 Bennet Leedy – NBHS slides
 Rosanne Bittner – Image of Bittner’s Gas Station Donations
on Red Arrow Highway The Friendly Tavern
Robin Maxon
 Irma Krieger – Postcard of Cribbs School, 1914 Amy Hiler
If you have an object, document, or photo- Ron Taylor
Calvin Britain Elementary School
graph that is significant to the history of Coloma,
Watervliet, Hagar or Bainbridge townships, please
consider contacting Curator Alex Gates at 468-3330 Thank you for your support!
to discuss the possibility of donating or loaning it to
the North Berrien Historical Society.
Watervliet, MI
Permit No. 29
P.O. Box 207, Coloma, MI 49038

Newsletter - Summer 2009

Support and Celebrate Local Heritage

At the Museum: At Baker Park in Coloma:
Port-a-Pit Chicken Fundraiser Coloma’s 175th
and Family Day 12 - 5 pm Birthday Celebration

Saturday, June 13
Win a prize in our free, Enjoy complimentary
family-friendly treasure hunt birthday cake and live music

Picnic at the museum or take your food to go!

$5 Half Chicken or Pork Chop, $8 Lunch Meal - Tickets on sale now

Hagar · Bainbridge · Coloma · Watervliet

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