September 30, 2005

Berrien Springs and Old Timers

Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA

It seems that new blog sites and underground bloggers from my hometown of Berrien Springs are ‘springing’ up all the time. My blog is screaming for a chapter about the small town in southwest lower Michigan where my boys grew up and where I worked as a nurse, covered all the news events as a newspaper correspondent, took the official portraits of the Miss Berrien Springs Queen Contest, photographed hundreds of weddings in Berrien County, volunteered at the Berrien County Youth Fair for the American Red Cross and finally, served as the Oronoko Township Clerk for eight years.

I sometimes wonder if anybody in the Berrien Springs/St. Joseph area asks the question, “
Whatever happened to Linda Cash?”

When I was looking for someone to share the rest of my life with, I posted a message at in the Internet. Titled, "The Geese Are Ready for Winter and I Am Not," I soon met a true and loyal man from Columbus, Ohio. We were married 55 days later on November 23, 1997 at Waco Beach in Bridgman, Michigan.
We located in Columbus, Ohio where he had a good job with the State of Ohio. We’ve been married for eight wonderful years. I’ve written the book I always wanted to write about finding my mother and am registered to start the LPN to RN bridge program in the spring!

During my 20+ years in Berrien Springs, we raised our two fine young boys, Billy and Philip. They attended Andrews Academy, Berrien Springs High School, Andrews University and the University of Michigan! My youngest son, Philip Cash still lives in Berrien Springs and currently teaches for the Benton Harbor Schools. (He's also a substitute teacher for other schools in the area.)

When I left Berrien Springs, I was working for Teresa Lucas who had hired me as her staff nurse and later as her administrator for the former, Teresa’s Country Homes where I worked in harmony with Marian Mendel and a great team of caregivers.

I also enjoyed my elected position as township clerk for two terms (1992-2000). Ernie Hildebrand ran the township show then as he does now. David Ladd was still at the realm as township treasurer. (Rest in Peace). Kate Hebner was/is an efficient office worker at the township hall and Ruth Kesterke kept my entire voter registration files standing at attention. Sue Colby (before she retired from the township) was a loyal office manager, true friend and supporter. Village President Jan Chaudior worked hard for my election to the township clerk’s post, as did many others in town.

The Herald Palladium in St. Joseph kept me busy 24/7 for almost eight yeas as the Berrien Springs Correspondent. I hardly ever missed a fire tone on the scanner day or night. As a reporter, Kathy and I attended every village council meeting, townshp board meeting and the famous school board sessions. Fire Chief Bruce Stover presented me with a fireman’s long coat to wear on those cold winter nights when I would stand by the firetruck’s exhaust to keep warm while taking pictures for the newspapers. Police Chief Jim Kesterke gave me an award for always taking care of the injured before getting the story for the paper. Several people are alive today because I climbed into a wrecked car to start CPR before the ambulance from Medic 1 arrived.

It's amazing how secrets and mystery remain alive and well in Berrien Springs. Be assured, not much has changed! School Boards were recalled and protests raged as they continue to do now. The Village Officials and Township Board Members had a mutual distrust of each other although there were a few golden years when Robert Pagel was the Township Supervisor. I worked both sides of the fence because I was an active member of the SDA church at Andrews University and also worked in the community. I worked many places as a nurse including (the former) St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, Niles as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for the ambulance service and at Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac. (I can say that name too).
My in-home photography business flourished as Magic Moments Photography. Specilizing in weddings and catering to many friends and families who wanted family pictures, I'm sure many of my pictures are still sitting around in family albums there. Once I made a 20x30 portrait of all the Berrien Springs Firemen that hung in the fire station for several years. I wonder where that photograph is today?

A few days ago I was in Berrien Springs for the weekend to visit Philip and Shelley. My ex father-in-law also needed help because his wife was ill, and Marian is editing my book. I drove by the old house at 4876 Highland Drive and was thankful that the little flower garden that my son, Billy, planted in the front yard is still there.
Our old house on Third Street still has remnants of the flowerbed we built in front of the house! But, the pink rose bush by the telephone pole and the sweet fragranced lilac bush by the kitchen window are gone. The swings Billy and Philip used to play on are broken and rusted brown, but the tall pine tree they played under is even taller and healthy.

As I drove around town remembering all the old familiar places, I felt like a stranger peeking into windows. I wondered if Bea Herman still lives there. Is she still involved in the pageant? What ever became of so and so - I can't believe I've forgotten so many names! On my final day there, I drove to the back of the new municipal building. (Why didn't we put in a drive-around parking lot?) I was a part of its planning process! My initials should be stamped in some secret spot of the cement!

Lake Michigan down in St. Joseph still sends waves crashing onto the sand, and sea gulls squall as they rise up and down with the water. Memories of quiet times and pictures of the lake in the summer, winter, spring and fall fill my photo albums. Maybe I’ll use one or two in my new book, “Dusty Angels and Old Diaries.”

My old editor, Tom Brundrett, would growl at me for leaving the most important part of my story for the last sentence. I wonder if he’s still growling at some reporter who starts a paragraph with a number and takes pictures of people's backside.

Here’s that goodbye to all those who I didn’t say goodbye to. I have missed many of you and wished I could see you again. Hi and welcome to the newcomers. And yes please take note that in Berrien Springs, they will always mix religion with most any subject matter.