Good News May 2024

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GOOD NEWS free May 2024
Bloomin’ Violet Ade recipe on page

Remember When Flynn’s Soup’er Burger

Flynn’s Soup’er Burger was one of the first hamburger joints in this area during the 1940’s. They not only served delicious burgers, but also specialized in soup, which is where the name came from. In addition, they served a variety of sandwiches, steaks and other fine foods, with a bit of Irish flair.

The Soup’er Burger was located in the Milwood area at 2838 Portage Street, just north of the Lovers Lane fork. The space between Flynn’s and the used car lot (Monarch St.) became a local hangout for Junior high and high school kids. Bands even played in the used car lot. There was a second Flynn’s on W. Main Hill for a while as well.

Inside Soup’er Burger was a Ushaped counter, along with a few tables. They had tabletop juke boxes (3 songs for 25¢) and pinball games in the back room that were as popular as the food with the teenage boys. Their outside signage advertised “Curb Service Nightly,” and “Miller’s Hand Made Ice Cream.”

Owner, Cale Leon “Bud” Flynn moved from his hometown in Niles to Hastings to begin a job at the dime store. He lied about his age and won a date with Margrete Valentine, who worked as a secretary in Hastings. The two dated, fell in love and married in 1942. World War II was being fought at the time and Cale joined the army. Once he was discharged, the couple found the Portage St. location and opened Flynn’s Soup’er Burger in 1948.

The Flynn’s had five children: Mike, Nancy, Thomas, Kevin & LeAnn. Their home was much like

a sports complex in their neighborhood with kids playing baseball and basketball under Margarete’s watch. The yard was always full of kids and their bicycles. Some people even mistook their home for a public park and would stop by.

Flynn’s love of sports led to sponsoring many sports teams, including: little league, men’s and women’s sports teams, in addition to fast-pitch softball and city-league basketball teams that brought state championships home to Kalamazoo.

In 1955, Flynn picked up a basketball team that had played together for years, formerly sponsored by Shepherd Fuel Co., when Shepherd dropped his support. The team coach convinced Flynn to pick up the sponsorship - paying team fees, providing uniforms and equipment, and postgame meals served at Soup’er Burger.

During the inaugural season, Soup’er Burgers reached the state semifinals. In 1956, the team that won three straight Kalamazoo Amateur Basketball Federation crowns, and became the first team from Kalamazoo to win the Michigan Recreation Association state title.

For the team’s success on the court, Flynn purchased varsity jackets with the Soup’er Burger name embossed on them. The jacket worn by Swift Noble, former basketball coach and the athletic director at Vicksburg High School, is displayed at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

The lady’s softball team, the Lassie’s played on Lindstrom Field from 1950-1954, behind Soup’er Burger, before the team was moved to the Catholic Athletic Association CAA


Many former patrons shared their fond memories on the popular Vanished Kalamazoo Facebook page, and here is a sampling: “Flynn’s Soup’er Burger was the place! We all went there in the 1950’s. Worked there days and hung out there at night. Good Food and Bud was the best!” “Great chocolate malts.” “Met the young man there who would become my husband! Still together 60 years later.” “Spent lots of my newspaper money on those pinball machines in the back room!” “15¢ fountain Cokes in the 1966.” “They had the best onion rings.” “Went there every night after little league.” “Best Burgers and fries.” “It was a great place and they put up with us kids.” “Their sign had a similar figure to superman. Being a kid, it was part of the reason I liked the place.” “One of the few places that had take-out in the 1950’s.” “Loved it! My sister-in-law made the homemade pies for them.”

“I lived down the street. It seemed like they had kitchen fires about once a month.” “Many fond memories for all of the Milwood kids.”

“When I had a morning doctor’s appointment, my mom would take me to work with her. After seeing the doctor, we would have lunch there and I always got a Super Burger.” “They gave a free steak dinner for a little league homerun.”

“It was my favorite place as a teen! I ate

lunch there when I attended Milwood Jr. High. In high school, we went there after games or Saturday night dates.” “I miss Soup’er Burger, it was the best burger in K-town! The Flynn’s sold their restaurant in 1960 to Victor Gladysz, who change the name to Victor’s. After a succession of name changes beginning in 1971, Bilbo’s Pizza opened its second location in 1980, that lasted until 2000. More recently, El Gallo Blanco was located there and it is presently home to San Francisco Neveria & Paleteria, serving house made ice cream, along with a small, but delicious, Mexican food menu. Sadly, after 49 years of Marriage, Bud passed away in 1991 and Margrete in 2005.

Jackie Merriam

Credits; MuseON, Life Story (Margrete Flynn) Obituary, Vanished Kalamazoo.

May 2024 2 GOOD NEWS
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Growing Gladiolus: Care & Tips

Soil and Preparation:

Gladioli are one of the easiest flowers to grow. They do well in a wide range of soil types – provided drainage is good, but they grow best in soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7. Most garden soil that will produce a good crop of vegetables or weeds will also grow good glads with little added fertilizer. Glads prefer full sunlight, but will do reasonably well with a little shade in early morning or late afternoon. Good circulation is desirable, so stay away from buildings or other obstructions, which might impede airflow. Plow, rototill, or spade your soil as you would for any other garden plants. It is best to move your glad plantings from one area to another each year to help prevent carryover of diseases in the soil. If soil tests or other reliable indicators point to a lack of nutrients, a balanced commercial fertilizer may be incorporated into the soil immediately prior to planting. Avoid over fertilizing. Composted animal manure or leaves should only be worked into the soil in the fall.


Your first planting should be when you would normally plant sweet corn. Corms (commonly called bulbs) planted in cold soils are apt to rot before they begin to grow. Subsequent plantings at two-week intervals will ensure bloom over a long period of time. We recommend planting corms three to five inches deep and

from four to six inches apart, in rows spaced 12-36 inches apart. Insecticide spread in the trench before covering will discourage underground insects. Before glads bloom, hilling soil six inches up around the stalk helps prevent the glads from tipping over during storms. If drainage is a problem in your soil, rows should be raised to facilitate the process. Soggy, compacted soil will hamper root growth and contribute to root rot.


Remember that glads need plenty of water, but will not tolerate wet feet. Lack of water inhibits spike growth, flower development and bulb growth. At least an inch of water per week is a good guideline.

Fertilization During Growing:

We recommend fertilization when the third or fourth leaf is visible, applied as a side dressing.

Weed and Insect Control:

Weed by shallow cultivation and hand weeding. If available, a light mulch of straw, grass clippings, etc. between rows will discourage weeds and help conserve moisture. Insect control is important in growing glads. Pests include thrip, which is by far the most damaging. Thrip are tiny insects, tan to black in color and less than 1/8” in length.

Digging Corms (Bulbs):

You will need to dig your corms each year, or if you choose not to

As we head into peak popsicle season and it is only fitting to give credit to the kid that invented this frozen treat over 100 years ago.

Popsicles were invented in 1905 in the

San Francisco Bay area by 11-year-old

Frank Epperson, who accidentally left a cup of soda with a stir stick out in the cold overnight and discovered a new frozen treat.

Frank named his invention the “Epsicle” and it quickly became his favorite treat. It was also a big hit with the kids in his neighborhood.

He decided to take his delicious creation outside the neighborhood and sell them at Neptune Beach, and consumers loved Frank’s Episicles.

In 1924 Frank patented the “Epsicle” to share his ice pops with the world! Eventually, Frank’s children urged him to change the ice pop’s name to what they called it: A Pop’s Sicle, or Popsicle.

In the late 1920’s, Frank sold the rights to his creation to the Joe Lowe Co., which

dig, purchase new corms in the spring. Corms should be lifted in the fall before the onset of freezing weather. About 6-8 weeks after blooming, the corms may be harvested by loosening the soil with a spade or digging fork so that the plants can be pulled up by hand. The plant should be separated from the corm as close to the corm as possible, either by hand breaking or by cutting with pruning shears. The corms should be cleaned or rinsed off with running water, and then spread out to dry in shallow layers in trays or porous bags in an airy location that will not freeze for a period of 2 to 3 weeks.  During this time a cork layer forms between the new corm and the old mother corm and roots. Break off and discard this old corm as soon as possible. Undue delay in cleaning results in greater difficulty in removal of the old corm.

Corm Storage:

After cleaning, corms should be lightly dusted with a combination fungicide/insecticide dust, placed in shallow trays, mesh bags or open paper bags to be stored for the winter. Do not use any covering material. A well-ventilated root cellar is ideal, but any room with good air circulation in the average home basement will suffice. The lower temperature is best, as long as they do not freeze.

Editor’s note: Espoma Plant Tone or Espoma Bulb Tone are ideal choices for gladiolus feeding. Fertilome Organic Triple Action works best for thrip control.

Wedel’s Nursery, Florist & Garden Center

launched the popsicle nationwide.

Popsicles were originally marketed for 5¢ as “a frozen drink on a stick.” The original seven flavors were cherry, root beer, lemon, banana, orange, grape and watermelon. There are no record of Epperson’s childhood flavors. Today the most popular flavor is cherry.

Selling over 2 billion popsicles every year, this popular kids-favorite, parentapproved dessert has been a freezer staple for over 100 years.

Jackie Merriam

On a side note: Unilever purchased the Popsicle brand in 1989, expanding the brand beyond its original fruity flavors. They also bought Good Humor, adding ice cream to their mix.

May 2024 3 GOOD NEWS
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Random Acts of Artness

Welcome to “Random Acts of Artness!”

I’m Amy Gieschen-Thill. I create Art. Sometimes it’s Random. I create Kindness. Sometimes it’s Random. My dear friend, Bridget Fox, suggested I consider taking over the monthly Good News paper art-focused column as she ended her very successful role as the author of “BeARTful.” I was honored and humbled as she suggested I pick up where she left off. Bridget is one of those amazing humans that fills your heart just by knowing her, seeing the care she has for people, and viewing her art as an expression of her love

for others. So, here I am, trying to fill a big, paint-splattered apron. following her lead and being vulnerable as I share a bit about who I am and the passion I have for art treating people with kindness.

Let’s break it down and do the obligatory intro: I work for Community Living Options (CLO), a local Kalamazoo non-profit that supports adults with developmental disabilities and mental illness through housing and supportive services, including an adult day program and senior living. Officially, my title is: Marketing and Community Relations Director. I do many things as part of my work with CLO; a small piece of that work includes creating art with the CLO residents and participants. In addition, I get to help with other fun projects, such as planting flower beds, and finding cool community activities to share with the CLO homes and programs. When I’m not working, I’m hustling and shuffling as a single mom to two boys, doing little walks with my old doggo, and going on hikes and adventures with my boyfriend, Drew.

Where does art and kindness fit in? Randomly and wherever it can!

I paint and draw plein aire pieces when I (briefly) stop during my hikes. I share nature pics and completed artwork to my socials. I squeeze in a few hours here and there to create pieces for sale that can be seen and purchased at One Well Brewing, and on occasion at Pop City Popcorn. I’ve painted window designs around the community and laughed while creat ing not one, not two, but now three, 8’x4’ panels of Bigfoot. I also had the privilege to repaint the seal sculpture located on the mall in downtown Kalamazoo.

What I love most about art-ing is gifting my work, through little “Random Acts of Artness.” I’ve left small signs/plaques with encouraging phrases at trailheads, quick art prints in plastic sleeves out and about at venues and parks, and, occasionally, giving away a painting, like a large sunflower, just because I can. I believe that my ability to create art is a

gift, and in this act of giving I can show kindness. I’d love it if you would join me on this monthly journey where I will share where I’ve been, what I’ve created, and throw in some free art in appreciation of your time and engagement. Starting today, 20 art prints are randomly tucked into this month’s copy of the Good News paper. What’s better than “Random Acts of Kindness?” How ‘bout some “Random Acts of Artness?”

Peace, Love, and Art. -Amy Instagram: @amylgieschen

May 2024 4 GOOD NEWS
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Vernal Pools: Ephemeral Carnivals of Cyclical Life

Often heard well before they are seen–vernal pools are temporary miniature ecosystems that form during the first spring rains and disappear by mid-summer. The telltale sound comes from the mating calls of tiny Spring Peepers and Chorus Frogs–no larger than a thumbnail–yet with a voice that carries more than a halfmile.

Vernal pools, also known as ephemeral ponds, play a crucial role in biodiversity. Due to their short seasonal existence, their role in producing a new generation of life for a myriad of animals and plants happens quickly.

I liken vernal pools to the days of the traveling circus. Imagine vernal pools as such a spectacle, akin to the exhilarating arrival of a circus in a quiet town. A once-empty field is transformed into a vibrant world adorned with tents filled with an array of performers–clowns, trapeze artists, lions, and elephants. The landscape is filled with a sense of anticipation and amazement as this spectacular event unfolds. Then, in a grand finale, the “greatest show on earth” quickly vanishes and the field, on which it once stood, quietly resumes its original state, and awaits the return of this magical domain the following year.

Michigan’s terrain is ideally sculpted to host these specialized vernal pools by past glaciation. Depressions created by glaciers, created the topography and geology that form vernal ponds. Seasonal factors, such as precipitation and snowmelt, determine the extent and duration of vernal pools.

Vernal pools rely exclusively on rain and snowmelt to fill them. They are characteristically not connected to other bodies of water such as lakes, streams, or rivers, thus making them unique aquatic habitats. Due to

their isolation and temporary nature, vernal ponds do not contain fish. This makes them safe havens (free from predatory fish) as breeding grounds for amphibians, invertebrates, and all vulnerable species, during that critical life stage.

Vernal pools are typically quite shallow, allowing sunlight to penetrate to the bottom to promote abundant aquatic vegetation. Those warm, shallow pools are ideal for algae, protozoa, larva, and small invertebrates which become the foundation of the pool’s entire food-chain.

These spring ponds support a diverse range of plant and animal life, many of which are specially adapted to the unique challenges posed by their temporary nature. Amphibians, such as Spring Peepers, Chorus Frogs, Wood Frogs, Fowler’s Toads (found only on the western side of Michigan), and a variety of salamanders including the Spotted, RedBacked, and Blue-Spotted, all rely on these ponds each spring to breed in these ephemeral waters.

Invertebrates like Fairy Shrimp (yes, shrimp) find refuge in these temporary waters. Those who are old

enough, may recall the comic book and magazine ads for the “amazing Sea Monkeys”—novelty aquarium pets. These were simply dormant brine shrimp eggs which survive desiccation and hatch when placed in water. The Fairy Shrimp of Michigan’s vernal pools, too, survive as eggs in the dry soil left from last year’s pool.

There are more than 550 documented species of plants and animals that live in our vernal pools. One, the Fingernail Clam, is another aquatic animal that survives a long dry season. As its name implies, it is tiny for a clam but a clam indeed. There are also Amphibious Snails, Water Bugs, Back Swimmers, Dragonflies, Diving Beetles, and larger residents such as turtles, snakes, and birds.

Despite their ecological significance, vernal pools face threats including habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change. Urbanization and agricultural activities can lead to the filling or draining of these ponds, disrupting their delicate ecosystems. Conservation efforts focus on identifying and protecting vernal ponds,

implementing land-use planning strategies, and raising awareness about the importance of preserving these unique habitats.

Conservation efforts are crucial to ensuring the continued existence of these ephemeral pools as they face various perils from human activities and environmental changes. Recognizing the importance of vernal pools is a step towards preserving the rich biodiversity they support and for maintaining the delicate balance of Michigan’s ecosystems.

One organization solely dedicated to the purpose of locating, monitoring, and preserving these delicate and transitory vernal pools is the Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership. This organization invites young and old to become citizen scientists to participate in training to identify and monitor vernal pools for ongoing data collection and research. To learn more about Michigan Vernal Pool Partnership, go to the website https:// or check them out on Facebook at https://www.

So, this spring, I encourage you to drive to a wooded area—perhaps public or State land–and follow your ears into the woods to discover one of these fascinating displays of the cycle of life. Walk its margins and notice the life teaming throughout the pool. Perhaps you’ll see some frog, toad, or salamander egg masses attached to submerged vegetation. Roll over a log in the leaf litter and find a gentle salamander or two. A vernal pond is an entire ecosystem encapsulated in pools perhaps only ten or twenty yards across—yet, before you, on full display, is the miracle of life.

When nature’s “Big Show” returns each spring, it truly is “the greatest show on earth!” Ringside admission is free!

May 2024 5 GOOD NEWS
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For book recommendations from your Kalamazoo Public Library Staff go to

T The Rul he Rule Book: A No e Book: Novveel l Sarah Adams (Dell)

Nora lands her first client as a sports agent, and it happens to be her exboy friend from college Derek, a tight end pro football player, needs all the help he can get to revive his career Upbeat and engaging, this sports romance book is breezy with fun characters and plenty of heart

Cruz, Azusa City Library, CA NoveList read-alike: The Prospects by KT Hoffman

T The F he Feelllloowwship of Puzzl ship Puzzlemakemakers ers Samuel Burr (Doubleday)

Baby Clayton is left on the steps of a puzzlemakers' society. Pippa, the society's founder, finds and raises him. When she passes away, Clayton, untethered, longs to solve the mystery of his abandonment. Pippa has created a special puzzle for Clayton to find out the secrets of life and discover his origins Readers will absolutely love this fun, quirky tale

—Claire Talbot, Greece Public Library, NY NoveList read-alike: Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

Extinction Douglas Preston (Forge Books)

When newlyweds are attacked at Erebus Resort, investigator Frankie Cash and Sheriff Colcord team up to find the killers. There is more going on than meets the eye as the killers carry out more blatant attacks at this unique location featuring resurrected dinosaur species, including a family of wooly mammoths. An interesting concept with loads of science

Happ Happy Medium y Medium Sarah Adler

A medium reluctantly visits a goat farm to exorcise a ghost, and even though she’s a fake…the ghost is not. This is a story full of sweet love and friendship—and found family—with plenty of heat arising between the main characters. A very enjoyable romance with humor, cute animals, and deeper self examination leading to rich relationships

T The Husbands: A No he Novveel l Holly Gramazio (Doubleday)

Lauren, who's single, comes home to find that not only is she married, but she doesn’t recognize her husband. She discovers that by sending a husband to the attic, she can replace him with a new model—and there seems to be a never-ending supply The quirky nature of the book, humorous writing, charming characters and the unbelievable situation will have readers completely engrossed.

After a Roman prince discovers Ruying's death power, he uses her sister's addiction to make a deal with Ruying. He needs her to assassinate someone at the top of the food chain, and in return her family will live. The cost of unusual magic, trust issues, attraction to the enemy, and constant action carry this novel.

Home Is Wher Where the Bodies Ar e Bodies Are e Jeneva Rose (Blackstone Publishing)

When three estranged siblings reunite after the death of their mother, things are bound to be tense. As they decide to revisit their childhood with a few home videos, the last thing they’d expect to see is their father carrying a dead body. But there’s no denying the evidence Readers looking for complex family dynamics and hidden secrets will devour this one



is assigned to a

exploring a deserted planet with ruins from an ancient civilization. Soon it's apparent that something suspicious happened to the previous crew and, even earlier, to the ancient society. Mystery murder, and secrets keep the reader intrigued and guessing the outcome

L Late Bl ate Bloomer: A No oomer: A Novveel l Mazey Eddings (St. Martin's Griffin)

This sapphic romance is based on an adorable but outlandish scenario, where Opal accidentally buys Pepper's inheritance (a flower farm). The way they manage their insecurities and neurodiversity and communicate with tenderness is spectacular Readers will love seeing them grow as they navigate their relationship


f e for T or Twwo: Fictions o: Amor Towles (Viking)

Towles's literary fiction never disappoints. In this collection of short stories and a novella, readers will be entranced by his use of sophisticated and smart language to convey aspects of the human condition. Highly recommended for book clubs and lovers of short stories

May 2024 6 GOOD NEWS The T Top T op Ten en Adult Fiction and Nonfiction Chosen Monthly by America's Library Staff
w w.Librar
April 2024 Read-alikes provided by NoveList and the LibraryReads Community | Made in LibraryAware -
—Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library, MD NoveList read-alike: The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston —Andrienne —Judy G. Sebastian, Eastham Public Library, MA NoveList read-alike: The Tusks of Extinction by Ray Nayler (Berkley) Ghost Station S.A. Barnes ( Tor Nightfire) This unsettling horror novel Dr. Ophelia Bray as she crew —Di Herald, LibraryReads Ambassador, CO NoveList read-alike: Do Your Worst by Rosie Danan —Kristin Skinner, Flat River Community Library, MI NoveList read-alike: We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen —Danielle Aronowitz, South Plainfield Public Library, NJ NoveList read-alike: Bet the Farm by Fiona Riley —Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, TX NoveList read-alike: The Jasad Heir by Sarah Hashem T To Gaz o Gaze Upon Wick e Wicked Gods ed Gods Molly X. Chang (Del Rey)
Karen Troutman, Peru Public Library, IN NoveList read-alike: Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson
Bonus pick: Indian Burial Gr Indian Ground ound Nick Medina (Berkley) Notable Nonfiction: Sociopath: A Memoir A Patric Gagne (Simon & Schuster) Be sure to check out our social media for the Bonus Pick annotations!
—Julie Klein, The Bryant Library, NY NoveList read-alike: After the Funeral by Tessa Hadley

heart of the home Look Up!

Lying back on my bed, morning and nightfall, there are those moments that I gaze at my low, sloped ceiling at the uppermost corner of my little farmhouse. I sleep among the treetops. Yet all I see up there is a crème-colored ceiling. How fascinating would it be to instead gaze up at a ceiling painted with leaves, birds perching on branches, low-hanging fruit, and a swarm of colorful butterflies?

Think about it: where do your eyes go the first time you enter a new house? Up and upward. Yet most all our decorating efforts go to the walls and floors. The largest expanses in our homes are the ceilings, and they deserve more attention. Oh, the possibilities!

For some years, our ceilings were pocked with what were called “popcorn,” a rough and swirling finish. I would argue that popcorn belongs buttered in a bowl while watching a good movie, not on your ceiling. Thankfully, that trend is out. So many

new ideas are available.

Murals are one of the more exciting ideas. Leafy tree limbs are just one, but others are clouds floating in blue skies, stars and moon, open vistas, octopus tentacles and schools of brilliant fish, frescoes of angels—let your imagination go wild.

Another new trend is to wallpaper your ceiling instead of your walls. Patterns are infinite. The effect is dramatic.

Paneling the ceiling rather than walls is another way of drawing the eye upward and can add emphasis to a vaulted ceiling. Exposed beams and rafters that can be real or faux, left natural wood or painted, straight across or placed in patterns remain popular. Think beams placed in star shapes or in squares with painted spaces between. These work on low or high ceilings. Match wood on ceilings with barn doors and wood features in the room below to add to the cozy farm feel.

If a mural above feels like too

much, consider a dark paint on the ceiling in contrast to light-colored walls. Rather than making the room feel smaller, dark ceilings can add a homey, elegant ambiance. Add those extra touches with crown molding along the ceiling edges or across the entire space. Barreled, coffered or tray ceilings add dimension. Paint contrasting colors along the perimeters of tray ceilings. Get creative with lighting—recessed or hanging chandeliers or pendants or with cooling ceiling fans. Ceiling medallions bring intrigue to lighting features and not only in older homes. Suspended and floating ceilings can be done tastefully, adding multiple

layers rather than lined up evenly and illuminating some while not others. Ceiling tiles bring on design elements and texture.

Or just paint. Go bold. Get creative. White ceilings are safe, bright, and sure, go with everything. But what fun to add bright color or maybe stripes, swirls, patterns. The ceiling is your largest visual space. Lie back and enjoy.

I’m doing it. I’m going to paint a leafy mural across my treetop bedroom. I may never get out of bed again.

Exceptional Cancer Care

When you choose Bronson for cancer care, you get the skill, compassion and fierce determination of a whole team of experts. Our specialists are leaders in cancer care and our centers in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo are rated among the best in the nation. We work closely with you and your family to develop a personalized care plan that guides and supports you throughout medical, surgical or radiation treatment and recovery. Together, we bring national level expertise to you so you never have to go far for care!

May 2024 7 GOOD NEWS
Want to learn more? Visit
GOOD NEWS the moment at hand with less rush to ebrating an accomplishment if it feels grandmothers spoke, I still drank into my soul who each of them was. I will Your couch won ’t miss you. YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo Join now and start working toward a healthier Body, Mind and Spirit.
Aunt Marian Grandmothers


Lou Conter, 102, the last remaining crewman of the USS Arizona

Dear Readers: This story was written for the Good News Paper and submitted for publication on March 26, 2024. After 102 years on this earth, Lou Conter passed away six days later, on April 1, 2024. We still think you’d like to hear more about him. The following story is published as originally written.

December 7, 1941 began as a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning on Oahu. Personnel at Pearl Harbor had begun performing their duties.

Quartermaster 3rd Class Lou Conter, age 20, had begun deck watch on the USS Arizona (BB-39). The ship’s band was preparing to play colors at 8:00 sharp.

At 7:55, said Conter, “the sound of the band tuning their instruments gave way to the low whine of airplane engines.” Within seconds, the crew identified the planes as Japanese and knew they were under attack. Their training had prepared them for their next steps. Every man at Pearl Harbor, and at nearby Hickam Air Field and Kaneohe Naval Air Station, had known for months that America would soon be at war, though not exactly where or when it would start. It was starting here and now.

At 8:06, an armor-piercing torpedo bomb cut its way through five decks of the Arizona, igniting 1.5 million pounds of gunpowder and ammunition in a single cataclysmic explosion that lifted the bow of the ship 30 feet out of the water.

The attack, carried out by 350 Japanese fighters and bombers in two waves, was over just 90 minutes later.

Left behind was a decimated U.S. Pacific Fleet, including 21 ships sunk or damaged and 180 aircraft destroyed. America lost 2,403 military personnel and 68 civilians. Nearly half of those killed—1,177—were aboard the Arizona. Just 335 Arizona sailors survived.

Today, only one Arizona crew member remains: Lou Conter, now 102. And even aside from his exemplary actions that day, Conter has led a remarkable life.

Born in 1921 in Ojibwa, Wisconsin, Louis Anthony Conter’s first 18 months were in a cabin. The following year, his father found work constructing Route 66 in New Mexico, where the family moved and lived in a tent for two years. In 1924, they moved to a farm near Denver, where Lou would start school, walking five miles each way. By the time he was seven, he hiked the mountains and hills hunting rabbits and mountain lions for dinner.

When Conter enlisted in the Navy in 1939, his hardy upbringing and work ethic made basic training easy for him. He was assigned to the Arizona in January 1940, and as helmsman on the ship’s last mission, he was the last person to bring the ship into dock, where it still remains. On the day of the attack, he aided injured crewmen until ordered to abandon ship. Five days later, Conter was among the divers who began recovery efforts inside the sunken Arizona, but the mission was halted due to concerns about fuel and gunpowder that remained onboard.

Conter had previously requested transfer to Naval Flight School, and

the month after Pearl Harbor, he transferred to Pensacola, Florida, where he earned his wings and became a crewman on the famed PBY Catalina flying boats called the Black Cats. While serving in the Pacific, he was promoted to lieutenant (j.g.) and his crew helped rescue 219 Australian Coastwatchers who had fallen behind enemy lines.

During the Korean War, Conter flew 29 combat missions in Grumman Tigercats and Douglas Skyraiders. He was later put in charge of the Navy’s first drone unit. Upon returning home, he helped to develop and implement the Navy’s survival training program, ensuring that our airmen knew how to survive in various conditions or capture by the enemy. His training helped Sen. John McCain, Admiral James Stockdale, and thousands of other Vietnam airmen survive North Vietnamese prison camps.

Lou Conter left the Navy in 1967 after 28 years. In private life in southern California, he was an executive who oversaw the development of several thousand homes. Through those connections, he became friends with Shirley Temple, Bob Hope, Johnny Mathis, and others.

Today, Lou Conter lives in Grass Valley, California. In 1991, on the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Conter began attending commemoration services there. He talks with high schoolers and other groups to help them remember the sacrifices that were made on that sunny Oahu morning decades ago.

Tony Ettwein


May 2024 9 GOOD NEWS
Lou Conter, then age 95, at the Pacific National Monument in Honolulu on December 6, 2016.
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Arizona survivor, Lieutenant (j.g.) Lou Conter, 1945. The 30,000-ton, 608-foot battleship USS Arizona, c. late 1929.


Finding Your Tribe in a Lonely World: Building a Support System is Important

Life is getting back to normal postpandemic. However, the pandemic has taken a lot out of many people, and it’s essential to find your tribe, which isn’t always easy to do. Building a deep community allows you to have deeper connections with those around you, where you can feel free of judgment and full of acceptance. My work as a Dr. of Marriage and Family therapy, outpatient therapist, school counselor, behavior interventionist, adjunct professor, and coordinator for CISM (critical incident stress management) has brought me to the understanding when natural disasters, school shootings, or significant traumatic events occur; it can take several years for people to reach out for help and process their traumatic event. COVID lasted many years, and we are seeing the impact many people have due to the effects of COVID-19.

The loneliness Epidemic results from people being isolated for months at a time and having to use creative ways to stay in touch with loved ones. Despite the advancement in technology and the ability to speak to people in the virtual world, it is important to recognize the need for genuine human connection. Finding your tribe allows you to enjoy fulfillment that encompasses meaningful connections that can sometimes be lost in a digital world.

While technology can allow us to connect globally, fostering tangible connections can be done when you prioritize the importance of proximity. Finding people who live geographically close to you is more likely to be more available for in-person interactions, which fosters deeper tangible connections—recognizing the importance of maintaining relationships where you can be vulner-

able and authentic while sharing your true self. Embracing the strengths and vulnerabilities of others helps in fostering these deep connections within a person’s human interactions, allowing you to receive and give physical touch.

There are ingredients to friendships; you need to take time for self-discovery to identify what role you want to take in the friendships you cultivate. Self-reflection allows you to be familiar with the desires you seek within your friendships. Seeking individuals who compliment you and support you can assist in eliminating the loneliness you may currently be experiencing. Building friendships can take work on both peoples›s part, and it is essential to look for qualities such as these to enhance long-lasting relationships: Protection of each other›s feelings  Safe spaces to feel vulnerable.

Judgement free zone

Emotional intimacy

Ability to use «I» messages and paraphrasing during conflict.

Healthy communications

A common interest in activities


Being intentional

Finding your tribe isn›t always easy, but neither is feeling alone. Look for opportunities to meet people, like seeing a club, creating a club, golf leagues, sports, mom›s groups, dad›s groups, churches, work functions, gyms, and meetup Kalamazoo. Seeking relationships enriches lives when you find the tribe that encourages you to be authentic without judgment.

May 2024 10 GOOD NEWS 124 N. Main St. Plainwell • (269) 685-5274 Tues. - Fri. 10-5pm, Sat. 10-1pm, Closed Sun. and Mon. Celebrating Mothers

Parenting is HARD! Don’t let anyone try to convince you that it’s easy. Stop comparing yourself to the social media perfection you see. That’s not real. You don’t know what is happening when that person logs off. You are real. Your feelings are real and parenting is HARD. I often hear these statements from struggling, exhausted parents:

“I am a terrible parent.”

“I feel like a failure.”

“Other parents deal with this better.”

“I must have done something wrong.”

It takes time to truly hear this, but I will keep repeating it until you can accept it.

It is OK to not be OK. Everyone goes through something. We do not know the pain others are dealing with. We should not be quick to judge others. Or ourselves. Even if two children act in similar ways, it does not mean they are the same. You may see a well-rested highly caffeinated parent on a day when their response looks so patient and caring. But another parent may react poorly on their worst day – after waking up 5 times to soothe their child after night terrors, working overtime shifts to make ends meet, and having a migraine that will not quit.

You may be the overwhelmed parent today who woke up late, lost your keys, couldn’t find your phone that you were holding in your hand and had to pick up your toddler from daycare for biting another child. Your fuse is short and your coping skills are non-existent. And it’s going to be OK.

On another day, you may be the one who just left a productive therapy session or read a great book with some excellent coping skills and behavior strategies. You may be energized and calm. And it’s going to be OK.

No matter what box you fit in

today, it’s OK to not be OK. Perfection is not the goal. Progress is. You should not compare yourself to social norms or other parents. Did you wake up and do the best with the tools you had today? Did you make an effort to try harder today? Did you learn anything from today? These are questions you can ask yourself in any situation. You will falter. You are human. Other folks will have better days and worse days. You do not have to win at parenting. You do not have to win at life. Keep your focus on your family. Make sure you do your best each day, even if you feel like it was a failure.

Always remember you are not the same as other parents. Your children are not the same as other children. You continue to be proud of yourself and your family. Make sure you use all the tools at your disposal. If you forget to take out the toolbox, forgive yourself, dust yourself off, stand up, and try again. Give yourself grace if today is not your stellar day. It’s OK to not be OK

Remember, you are doing a great job!

Arlene Giacona, LMSW Brightside Counseling

May 2024 11 GOOD NEWS
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Recipes purple hearts

While Memorial Day is intended to honor those who have died while in service to our country, most of us can’t help but also reflect on everyone who has passed, especially in my family because our father left us on Memorial Day weekend.  His passing, which occurred in front of me when I was just nineteen, made this weekend painful for a very long time. Then the universe stepped in and brought me my very first grandchild, and a wonderful man who would become my loving husband at this time of year, so my heart got pulled into the opposite direction. Suffering my life’s greatest loss and its two greatest gains reminded me of the mysteries of the rosary, and reminded me that God brings us both joyful and glorious things to celebrate to make up for those sorrowful moments. Our job is to become mindful enough to recognize them.

Walking in the yard, pondering this very heartfelt holiday, I noticed an abundance of wild, purple-petaled violets that appear to be cradled in what seemed like a moving sea of emerald hearts among my feet. Seeing this made me wonder if it was our Earth honoring those who fought to protect our land and sacrificed their lives for it.

In recent years, I’ve now lost three siblings in almost as many years, so I

have come to learn much about loss, the hard way, but I have come to find it vital that I approach each day (and sometimes every hour) with a grateful heart.

To be thankful for every breath, even if it comes with the aches and pains of aging, and to celebrate, not mourn, those who have gone before us. To be thankful and grateful for what they brought into our lives.

As we age, loss does come more often. I have learned that when we begin to feel ourselves sink into that sadness that drapes over us like a heavy cloak with a loss that it is important to force ourselves to answer this question, “What did I gain by knowing them?”

The pain that we feel at a loss is commensurate to the joy that they brought into our lives.

Likewise, recalling the joy they brought us will help to release a special healing energy that can help lift and carry our hearts through those dark days grief brings us.

Vitamin C can also help too, because it is a natural mood-lifter and antidepressant.

What’s interesting is a half-cup serving of those tender violet leaves can help provide the same amount of vitamin C as four whole oranges doWOW!

Containing a host of phytocompounds that herbalists have long used

to treat skin and respiratory ailments, wounds, headaches, anxiety, swelling and more, it turns out that those violets can indeed soothe both our bodies and hearts, and in oh-so-many mood-lifting ways!

So long as they are not sprayed or commercially purchased, true violets can be edible, and best collected in the spring (now) in the wild where they tend to grow organically and in your own backyard.

Long considered to have leaves and blooms that are healthful, scientists confirm that violets are indeed rich in vitamins C and A, and loaded with valuable antioxidants called flavonoids, which also gives them color and many health benefits. While there are many varieties of violets, African is not a true violet, and should not be used or consumed.

Pansies are also not to be confused with violets. True violets have two petals pointing up and three pointing downward, while pansies have four petals pointing upward and only one pointing down.

One of my favorite ways to preserve the healing benefits naturally found in violets is to bottle them, such as in vinegar, which can then be used in food or for personal care.

Boasting salicylic acid and antiinflammatory properties, a violet vinegar can act as a nourishing and healing facial skin toner, and when

added to baths (about 1/2 cup) it can soothe tired and achy muscles and combat fungal infections, too.  When diluted with equal parts water, this violet vinegar can be used as a hair rinse to help relieve itchy scalp, dandruff, and remove soap residue, and it can be dabbed on a sunburn to help relieve their sting.

Speaking of stings, a violet vinegar can also provide relief from bug bites. Simply soak a cotton ball or tissue in it, full strength, then press it on the bite area, applying until pain subsides. High in Vitamin C and A, combining 1/2 ounce of this vinegar with 1/2 ounce of water creates a shot that boosts your immune system, and combining it with oil and your favorite seasonings will create a special salad dressing that is uniquely nutritious and delicious, too!

Here now are some special ways to infuse this purple, hearted protector to your precious days along with a prayer for all those who have passed, especially those who did so while earning purple hearts.

Stylist/Photographer: Laura Kurella Laura Kurella is an award-winning home cook who loves to share recipes from her Michigan kitchen and welcomes your comments at laurakurella@

May 2024 12 GOOD NEWS
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3/4 cup water

1/3 to 2/3 cup fresh purple violet petals

4 to 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, or sub, to taste

Juice from 2 medium lemons

Garnish: Fresh lemon slice and violet bloom and leaves (optional)

In a non-reactive saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add violet petals. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.

Stir in sweetener until it dissolves. Cover and let steep until cooled to room temperature.

Stir in lemon juice. This will cause a color change to a brighter hue.

Cover and steep in the refrigerator for 24 hours or up to 3 or 4 days if desired.

To serve, fill two 10 to 12-ounce tall glasses with ice cubes. Strain the violet-lemon syrup through a very fine sieve, pressing down to extract as much liquid as possible, over the ice cubes, dividing between the two glasses.

Add water or club soda for a fizz. Stir, then taste and adjust with more fresh lemon juice, sweetener, or ice cubes, as desired. Garnish (if desired) with a slice of fresh lemon and a fresh-picked violet.

1-2 cups violet flowers and leaves other salad greens (optional)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon mustard (optional)

1 garlic clove, pressed unrefined mineral sea salt, and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons pine nuts, or sunflower seeds

In a large bowl filled with clean water, submerge violet greens. Sprinkle with salt then, using hands, agitate water and leaves gently to cleanse. Rinse in a colander then toss or shake to remove excess water and place on paper towels to finish drain-

ing, then move greens to a salad bowl.

Dump water and replace with clean water, then add blooms and then repeat the process, this time being gentler with agitation, and leaving blooms on paper towel to drain while you mix dressing.

In a wide mouth jar with a lid, combine olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard (if using), garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Place the lid on the jar and shake well. Taste, adjust seasonings if needed, then drizzle over violet greens and other greens (if using). Toss greens then plate. Sprinkle blooms over plates then finish with tossed pine nuts or sunflower seeds. Serve immediately.


or two, or three, or

(grocery bag size)

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Vintage Munising Bowls

Known for its Pictured Rocks boat tours, national parks, and recreation areas, the photogenic town of Munising, MI is also the home of the Munising Wood Products Company.

Before the mass production of plastic goods, wood and metal served as the materials of choice for everydayuse household items. When, in 1910, a wood products factory in Kalaska, MI burned to the ground, the owners moved their company north. They chose forested Munising as their new location. The Munising Woodenware Factory began operations in 1911. Not long after opening, the factory merged with the Piqua Handle and Manufacturing Company out of Marquette. The name of the operation became the Piqua-Munising Wood Products Company. In 1940, Piqua declared bankruptcy, and the name changed once more to the Munising Wood Products Company.

Over the decades the factory manufactured a wide variety of items. These included bowls of all sizes, from a few inches across to large dough bowls with paddles. The company also made rolling pins, molds, mashers, clothes pins, and more. As part of the 1940s war effort, Munising Wood Products manufactured tent pegs.

At peak production, Munising Wood Products employed over 250 locals. Companies such as Sears Roebuck and Marshall Field distrib-

uted their goods across the nation. The factory would leave out flawed products for the locals to use for themselves or as kindling. Children would sometimes commandeer one of the larger bowls as a sled.

Today, Munising bowls are easily the most sought-after item the factory made. Fashioned from the nearby maple, birch, or beech trees, all Munising bowls were machinelathed. Sets were turned from a single piece of hardwood, beginning with the largest bowl and finishing with the smallest. The process produced bowls of continuous grain that would nest comfortably into one another. In the late 1940s the factory experimented with hand-painted bowls and items decorated with various nature motifs. These proved a popular item with contemporaneous customers as well as with collectors.

Sadly, consumer demand for modern plastics proved too great a competitor for the  Munising Wood Products Company. The factory ceased operations on July 1, 1955. The closing of the factory did not end the tale, however. A Munising business acquired the trademark. It produces a small number of items each year, ensuring the community retains legal control over the manufacture of new Munising bowls and other woodenware products.

While early goods were unmarked, during the 1920s the Munising

Woodenware Company began stamping all their bowls on the bottom with “Munising”. Earliest markings used a block letter script. From the late 1930s to early 1940s, the company employed a left-leaning straight script. From the mid-1940s through the 1950s they stamped each bowl with an arched script over a registered mark. Later products sometimes had a label affixed, though this usually fell off with use and cleaning. Collectors can find vintage Munising goods for a few dollars to a few hundred. On-line action sites and antique malls are great sources, but be

sure to check garage and estate sales for some real bargains.

To care for these pieces of Americana, wash with mild, soapy water and dry thoroughly. Disinfect with a vinegar and water solution if necessary. To bring up the finish, apply a food-safe oil. Painted bowls can be gently washed if the varnish is intact. If the design shows signs of wear, it is best to keep the piece for display only.

Bridget Klusman

Owner, Retro Estate Sales

May 2024 14 GOOD NEWS
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A selection of Munising goods Dough bowls with paddles

Alright, we had some fun with the April Fool issue last month; now it’s time to get serious. And, believe me, this is a serious issue. Whether you agree on the cause of climate change, it’s difficult to deny that the climate is changing. Sometimes it seems that the problem is so large and complex and that there is little we can do. One of the things we can do is be informed. So here is a little quiz to see how much you know about our diet and its relationship to climate. So, pick up your pencil and see how much you know.

1. Which requires the most freshwater per serving to produce?

a. Almonds

b. Cashews

c. Peanuts

d. Pistachios

e. Walnuts

2. Which creates the most greenhouse gases per serving?

a. Catfish

b. Flounder

c. Salmon

d. Trout

e. Tuna

3. Which creates the most nitrogen pollution per serving?

a. Black beans

b. Chicken

c. Ground beef

d. Pork

e. Yogurt

4. Which creates the least green-

house gases per serving?

a. Farmed clams or scallops

b. Lobster

c. Shrimp

d. Wild clams or scallops

5. Which requires the most freshwater per serving to produce?

a. Almonds

b. Black beans

c. Chicken

d. Ground beef

e. Pork

6. Which requires the most freshwater per serving to produce?

a. Bananas

b. Blueberries

c. Oranges

d. Strawberries

e. Watermelon

7. Which has more microplastics?

a. Tap water

b. Bottled water

8. Which creates the least greenhouse gas emissions?

a. Ordinary beef

b. Beyond Meat plantbased meat

c. Grass-fed beef

d. “Low carbon” beef


1. Pistachios. A one ounce serving requires 114 gallons of fresh water compared to almonds which require 30 gallons.

2. Flounder. Fishing for flounder, sole, and halibut requires a lot of fuel. Salmon, trout, tuna require

much less.

3. Ground beef. Each serving creates 55 grams of nitrogen. Pork creates 10 grams and chicken 9.

How Our Diet Affects Our Planet

4. Farmed clams and scallops. They’re grown in coastal areas which require no fishing.

5. Ground beef. A serving re quires 136 gallons compared to almonds which require 30 gallons.

6. Blueberries. A serving requires 13 gallons of water compared to oranges (6 gallons), bananas or strawberries (5 gallons), and watermelon (4 gallons).

7. Bottled water. Bottled water has 7 times more microplastics than tap water which gets filtered at a treatment plant.

8. Beyond Meat. Beef creates more greenhouse gases than any other food. Grass fed cattle is worse than grain fed cattle. If you’re like me, you scored worse than you thought you would. But I hope this was informative. Remember to MAKE your and someone else’s day great by being kind.

Till next time,

Ken Dettloff ACE

Personal and Brain Health Trainer

May 2024 15 GOOD NEWS
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It›s a new year and that means it›s time for another biannual Mrs.  Murray’s Collection of Interesting Words, Quotes, and Phrases. I know  your cell phone is sitting next to you as you read this, so I’ll let you  exercise your thumbs and look up some of these words. Impress your  friends with an updated vocabulary that’s especially useful while  attending live sporting events like football. You might want to start by  shouting this eloquent phrase when your team scores a point: “Jolly good  old man! Holy smokes! Go, daddy-o, go!” (Ouch.) You will be noticed and  appreciated, guaranteed.

Let’s start with an intriguing quote from an investigator of psychic  mediums from the 1800’s, Sir William Crookes: “I never said it was  possible. I only said it was true.”

Think about that one for a while.  Spooky. I wonder if the mediums he investigated used an oraculum to get  their answers from eidolons? Or did they apport a spirit trumpet?

Talking to the spirit world using glossolalia might take quite a bit of  hubris. Now, let’s leave the spirit world behind and delve into the  concrete world.

Here’s a word my dad sometimes used when things went beyond his control:

“Welp.” (Don’t confuse it with the

word whelp.) “Welp” is usually  accompanied by shrugging or slapping one’s sides: “Welp. (shrug) I guess Annie ran into the garage door again.”

A combination of these two words would mean you can no longer watch  Daffy Duck cartoons: kyrofelonoshophobia and anatidaephobia. Or figure  this one out: “You are in such a state of hedonism that you are a cunctator. You give me the mulligrubs. There are plenty of jobs for a factotum like you. Laying around the house makes you look deshabille.” Hint: Use “deshabille” to describe anyone at a hotel who comes down to breakfast in their pajamas, bed head, and worse.

Here’s a word I made up for the sound my vacuum cleaner made when it died: Wham-hoot-fzzz. The noise sounded a lot like the Devil’s Chord and I was flummoxed by the sound. It was an old machine of my mother’s and was probably the urvacuum cleaner.

A burning question I’ve pondered is what is the difference between a  goblin and a hobgoblin? (Hobgoblins = my grandmother’s word for us kids  when we were too rambunctious.) A goblin is a maliciously mean character and a hobgoblin is supposed to be a less malicious goblin. Since “old  Hob” is a name for the devil, I won-

dered if it wouldn’t be worse to meet  a hobgoblin than a goblin? I’ll have to think about that long and hard.  It’s important information to know in case I run into either one of them  someday, so I’ll know how to politely greet them. :oO

Here are a few unique words for you to look up and hopefully use:  Architrave, arquebus, rigamarole, flumberbusted (I use this one  frequently when referring to things I don’t understand), Kelvin Helmholtz clouds, doyenne, a bawd, fumaroles, churlish, cozen. Feel free to add your own favorites to this list. My current favorite word that’s come back into fashion is the word “twee.” You don’t want to use a lot of twee in a child’s playroom or for decorating a hockey rink.

Welp, I’ve left you with much to ponder, so I’ll take the paternoster  lift to my atelier to make klecksograms until overmorrow. Don’t take any wooden nickels. You can look up that phrase too, it was one of my  uncle’s favorites - and I still have the wooden nickel he gave me. :)

Ann Murray is an award-winning commercial illustrator and author. She  has illustrated 8 children’s books and her stories have been in 3  published anthologies.

May 2024 16 GOOD NEWS
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Exhibit examines properties of skin across all organisms, racism and more Explore the shape-shifting, colorchanging and adaptable nature of skin and the technological innovations it inspires through the traveling exhibit “Skin: Living Armor, Evolving Identity,” on display until June 2 at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

The free exhibit aims to inspire wonder and curiosity about this uniquely complex organ, illustrate

the incredibly adaptive properties of skin across all organisms, and spark dialogue and reflection about skin’s role in shaping human culture and identity.

Featuring a range of collections and engaging interactive experiences illuminating the human body’s largest organ, visitors will get a chance to discover the incredible properties of their own skin and examine the layers of meaning humans have associated

with skin color.

The exhibit was created by the California Academy of Sciences and modified for travel and distributed by the Science Museum of Minnesota.

“Skin: Living Armor, Evolving Identity” presents the topics of racism, prejudice and discrimination through the lenses of history and science. Guests will investigate understandings of skin color throughout history and how our ever-evolving social and

political climate has influenced shifting ideas of race and culture in the modern world.

Admission is free to the exhibit and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. Learn more about the “Skin” exhibit at The museum is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and is governed by its Board of Trustees.

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Since retiring, I finally have time to enjoy the natural world around me. These monthly columns are testaments to my continued sense of wonder. In spring, I’m fascinated by birds’ antics as they stake out their seasonal homesteads.

If I could go back in time a couple of decades, I would become a birder. You know the type – up before dawn, binoculars in hand, prowling in the pre-morning light with ears pricked to hear the call of a nuthatch or warbler. My sharp visual acuity would allow me to see the little rascals perched among the tree branches. I would dutifully tally the sightings in my trusty pocket life list, documenting every detail.

Alas (but not really), those days were spent working and mothering, not bird-watching. Today, more important is my habit of sleeping in until the birds have already caught the worm, so to speak. And let’s not even talk about my eyesight!

Bluejays, robins, and cardinals are easy species to identify by sight or song. This month, however, I am interested in black birds—big, black, birds!

Growing up, my father called every black bird a grackle. I doubt that was true, but I want to consider some of the possibilities this month. When I see a black bird in a tree or foraging on the ground, I wonder what kind of bird it is – and if it is a friend or foe to other songbirds. And just how big is a big bird – no offense to the BB of Sesame Street fame, of course!

Crows, twice the size of a robin, are easy to identify with their deep black feathers and shiny black eyes and beaks. Vocalizing with a discordant “caw,” they are hard to miss when they make their presence known. Year-round residents, they are oppor-

Big Black Birds!

tunistic omnivores, eating the usual bird fare of insects and seeds, as well as frogs, snakes, and even the eggs and young of other birds.

Grackles, my late father’s default black bird, is an early spring migrant, spending most of the winter in Canada. Supporting the “father knows best” theory, Tom Dennis, a birder writing for the Port Huron’s Times Herald, authored an article titled, the “Black bird at your feeder is probably a grackle”! Slightly larger than a robin, grackles are easily identified with striking iridescent black feathers and bright yellow eyes. Rather than hopping on the ground, as many birds do, grackles are known to strut, chest out, as if they are the boss of the block. Like crows, they will eat eggs and frogs but are partial to insects and grains, which they take from the ground under your feeder if you’re offering. Considered a pest, like a crow, grackles are effective at reducing insect populations without chemicals, so perhaps they have gotten a bad rap, and we should embrace their bold presence.

Starlings have a fascinating history as a non-native species. Lore, which may or may not be factual surrounding their introduction, references the release of 100 European starlings into New York City›s Central Park just over a century ago. The story goes that a group of Shakespearean enthusiasts thought all kinds of birds mentioned in the author›s works should be represented in this country. From that humble debut, the current population, estimated by Audubon to number 250 million, inhabits North America from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains. Roughly the size of a robin, starlings are notable for iridescent feathering in adults, duller than the grackle, and have a vivid

yellow beak. Considered a true pest, starlings forage for almost any foodstuff available, including ripe fruit on the tree, livestock grains (which they soil with excrement, thus spoiling it for the animals), and the usualinsects and seeds.

As an exotic species, starlings are not protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. This legislation protects native birds from hunting and «taking» activities. For this reason, wildlife control experts under the supervision of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources may cull their populations.

The final black bird is the Brownheaded Cowbird. According to bird enthusiasts, this one is the most derelict of birds. Considerably smaller than a robin, cowbirds have glossy black body plumage with a characteristic brown head. They get the «cow» part of their name from their habit of feasting on insects flushed out of grassy vegetation as livestock grazes. As humans have opened more grassland space to development, these once-prairie birds have found comfortable habitats in open suburban settings.

Cowbirds owe their low esteem to their classification as “brood parasites.” Unlike other birds, they don’t build nests. Instead, they lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species, leaving the different bird parents to raise the cowbird babies. Some «foster» birds recognize and destroy the unfamiliar eggs in the nest but frequently do not. Sometimes, the mother cowbird will even push the resident egg out of the nest to make room for hers. To make matters even worse, cowbird eggs hatch faster than many of the host species, so cowbird babies get a head start in the feeding and nurturing behaviors of the

parents and, as they grow larger, can push out the true nestlings of the bird parents. Unbelievably bad behavior, but effective! The Audubon Society claims that cowbird parasitism has pushed some bird species to endangered status! That said, however, as native migratory species, they are protected under federal law from control measures.

Whether to tally black birds or not, I trust you have enjoyed learning a bit about some of our backyard friends. Spring is a great time to get out and watch the birds. I hope you will find a few hours to enjoy the warm weather with binoculars and a pocket notebook to record your efforts. Those activities are on my to-do list!

Cheryl Hach

Retired Science Teacher

Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center


Audubon (n.d.). Guide to North American Birds. Audubon Field Guides. Retrieved April 6, 2024, from

Dennis, T. (2018, March 23). Black bird at your feeder is probably a grackle. Times Herald. Retrieved April 6, 2024, from https:// life/2018/03/23/black-bird-feederprobably-grackle/33200851/

Bittel, J. (2022, April 14). The Shakespearean Tall Tale That Shaped How We See Starlings. Retrieved April 6, 2024, from https:// html

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Wednesdays, May 1,15

Mugs & Hugs, stories & more 10-11am, Vicksburg Library

Wednesday, May 1

Adult Art Club, 6-7pm Register ahead:629-9085 Richland Community Library

Wednesdays, May 1,8,15,22,30 Karaoke Bingo, 7-10pm Presidential Brewing Co.

Thursday, May 2

Adult Book club, 9:3010:30am, Vicksburg Library

Thursday, May 2

Movie: Silenced: Composers in Revolutionary Russia, 12pm KVCC Museum Stryker Theatre

Thursday, May 2

Opening Reception: West Michigan Area Show, 5-8pm Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Thursdays, May 2,9,16,23,30 Triple Threat Trivia, 6:30pm, must Register, Presidential Brewing Co.

Thursdays, May 2,9,16,23,30 Live Music, 6:30-8:30pm Saugatuck Brewing Co., Kal.

Thursdays, May 2,9,16,23,30 King Trivia, 7-9pm, Gull Lake Distilling Company

Friday, May 3

Memory Café – for people with Mild dementia and their care Partners, 10:30am – Noon Paw Paw Library

Fri., May 3 – Sat., May 4

Glass Blowers Battle, Fri. 211pm, Sat. 11am-6pm Glass Art Kalamazoo

Friday, May 3

Movie: Through the Eyes of Yuja: A Road Movie, 12pm, KVCC Museum Stryker Theatre

Friday, May 3

Art Hop: The Great Outdoors (A Celebration of Public Art), 5-8pm, Downtown Kalamazoo

Friday, May 3

Art Hop: KNAS Resident Show Opening Reception, 5-8pm, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Friday, May 3

State on the Street: A Cape Breton Trio (presented by The Gilmore), Patio & Bar: 5:30pm, Live Music: 6pm, Kalamazoo State Theatre

Fridays, May 3,10,17,24,31

Quickdraw Trivia, 7-8:30pm Valhalla/Norse Nectar Meadery

Saturday, May 4

Spring Garage & Bake Sale 9am-3pm, Scotts UM Church, 8458 Wallene St., Scotts

Saturday, May 4

Wolf Lake Art Market 2024 10am-4pm, Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery, 34270 CR 652, Mattawan

Sunday, May 5

Westminster Art Festival, 11am2pm, Westminster Church, Ptg.

Sunday, May 5

Michigan-Made Spring Artisan Market, 11am-4pm, Bellflower 4700 West D Ave., Kalamazoo

Sunday, May 5

Spring Concert: Kalamazoo Community Chorale, 3pm, First United Methodist Church

Mondays, May 6,13,20 Parchment Update Interviews

Mondays, May 6, 13

Family Storytime, 10-10:30am Books, songs…, Vicksburg Library

Monday, May 6

Early Bird Comedy Open Mic, 7:30-9:30, Crawlspace Comedy Theatre, Kalamazoo

Tuesday, May 7

ArtBreak: Not Your Graama’s Museum, Noon – 1pm Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Tuesday, May 7

Film: Warsaw is My Name, 2pm KVCC Museum, Stryker Theatre

Tuesday, May 7

Adult Art Club, 6-7pm Register ahead:629-9085 Richland CommunityLibrary

Tuesday, May 7

Theme Trivia Tuesdays, 79pm, Revel and Roll West

Wednesday, May 8

Birds & Coffee Chat on Zoom: Potential Threats to Birds, including window collisions, lighting & more, 10-11am,

Wednesday, May 8

Beekeeping: The First Six Weeks With Robert Candido, 6:308:30, Schrier Park, Portage

Wednesday, May 8

Classics Film Club: Harold & Maude (1971), 6pm, Richland Community Library

Thursdays, May 9

Teen Break & Bulldog Break Crafts, games, activities & treats 2:45-5:45pm, Vicksburg Library

Thursday, May 9

Monthly Euchre Tournament 6pn, Crafted Copper, Kalamazoo

Saturday, May 11

Indoor Flea Market 9am-3pm Kalamazoo Expo Center

Saturday, May 11

Internet Users Group, 10am Noon, Bring your smart phones & Mobile devises, Paw Paw Library

Saturday, May 11

Kalamazoo Area Bicycle Show 10am-2pm, Bronson Park

Saturday, May 11

Art Detectives: Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity 10:30am12pm, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Monday, May 13

Movie Club: Featuring the classics – Watch a 1964 War comedy classic, 1- 3:30pm, Vicksburg Library

Monday, May 13

Parchment Book Group: Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge 6pm, Parchment Library

Tuesday, May 14

ArtBreak: Pilchuck: A Dance with Fire, Noon – 1pm Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Tuesday, May 14

Big Furry Friends Therapy Dog 4:30-6:30pm, Parchment Library

Wednesday, May 15

Book Discussion: Now is NOT the Time to Panic, 2pm Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Thursday, May 16

STEAM, activities & more 6-7pm, Vicksburg Library

Thursday, May 16

The Heartbreak Book Club: Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune, 6:307:30pm, Paw Paw Library

Saturday, May 18

The Timid Poet Underground’s Open Mic Night, doors open at 6:30, sharing starts at 7pm, Snacks & facilities provided by Phoenix Community Church UCC 2208 Winchell Ave., Kalamazoo

Saturday, May 18

Kalamazoo Garden Festival, 9am-3pm, Kalamazoo Expo Center

Sunday, May 19

Westminster Art Festival, 11am2pm, Westminster Church, Ptg.

Monday, May 20

Silent Book Club, 5:15pm Parchment Library

Tuesday, May 21

ArtBreak: Upjohn’s Building 88, Noon – 1pm, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Tuesday, May 21

Lego club, 1-2pm & 5:306:30pm, Vicksburg Library

Tuesday, May 21

Mystery Book Club Cara Black Series: Murder in Bel-Air, 6:30pm, Parchment Library

Wednesday, May 22

Silent Book Club, 1:15pm, Parchment Library

Wednesday, May 22

Trivia Night Register ahead, 6:30-7:30pm, Richland Library

Thursdays, May 23

Teen Break & Bulldog Break Crafts, games, activities & treats 3:30-5:45, Vicksburg Library

Thursday, May 23

Writers’ Motivational Group Support, brainstorm, discuss 4:30-5:30pm, Vicksburg Library

Thursday, May 23

Talk: From Hometown to Hollywood: Charlie Avink 7-8pm, Richland Library

Saturday, May 25

Grief Circle, 10am-Noon Rootead Kalamazoo

Monday, May 27

Mattawan Memorial Day Car Show, 9am-1pm 53449 N. Main St.

Tuesday, Mayl 28

ArtBreak: Maya Lin: A Clear, Strong Vision, Noon – 1pm Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Tuesday, May 28

MI Notable Author -Janie Paul: Making Art in Prison Survival & Resistance, 6-7pm, Richland Library

Friday, May 31

Vicksburg Library Craft at the Vicksburg Farmers Market, 300 N. Richardson St., 2-6pm

Friday, May 31

Festival Fridays, 5-10pm Live music, food, vendors… Arcadia Creek Festival Place

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