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LA Dave

Who can remember?

25 posts in this topic

When there were passenger trains at Union Station?

When there was no US 131 freeway walling off the West Side?

When the airport was at the bottom of Madison?

When you went downtown to shop, not to a mall?

When the town closed down on Sundays, except for the local drug store?

When City Hall wasn't a high-rise, but had a clock tower?

When there were five city high schools, Central, South, Ottawa Hills, Union and Creston?

What else do you remember?

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When there were passenger trains at Union Station?

When there was no US 131 freeway walling off the West Side?

When the airport was at the bottom of Madison?

When you went downtown to shop, not to a mall?

When the town closed down on Sundays, except for the local drug store?

When City Hall wasn't a high-rise, but had a clock tower?

When there were five city high schools, Central, South, Ottawa Hills, Union and Creston?

What else do you remember?

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Thanks, Explorer. How about these? Do you remember:

when a drive to Chicago started on Chicago Drive?

when there were two Top 40 stations in GR (if your AM transistor couldn't get WLS)?

when the buses were beige and green?

when the buses were yellow and green?

when there was an octagon house on Belknap Hill?

when you could almost drive to Lansing on the I-96 freeway?

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When the post office on Lake Drive was a bowling alley.

When the Blockbuster in Eastown was a grocery store.

When there was a Meijer Thrifty Acres on Eastern between Burton and Adams.

When Grand Rapids Junior College dug out an enormous hillside to build its enormous parking structure

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Sorry, LA Dave. I don't remember anything about those other events you and mjak68 mentioned, except perhaps the final stages of construction of I-96 and the Eberhard's (Eberhardts?) in Eastown which is now the BlockBuster. I used to go there with my mom to shop.

We were mostly "eastsiders", except my grandparents lived in Walker Station, but I remember very little of that. It was out in the country, though, or so it seemed. Oh, and I remember the little factory that made up Amway back in the early '60s.

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When there were passenger trains at Union Station?

When there was no US 131 freeway walling off the West Side?

When the airport was at the bottom of Madison?

When you went downtown to shop, not to a mall?

When the town closed down on Sundays, except for the local drug store?

When City Hall wasn't a high-rise, but had a clock tower?

When there were five city high schools, Central, South, Ottawa Hills, Union and Creston?

What else do you remember?

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I remember it all :whistling:

Cascade Road in Kent and Grand River Drive in the counties to the east was US 16, the state highway from Muskegon to Detroit. It was an all day trip from GR to Detroit :(

It was a Meijers on Eastern, Cook's Dive-in was across the street. 1st Thrifty Acres was 28th & Kazoo. Corporate headquarters were upstairs at the Meijer store at Fuller & Michigan.

I remember the old buses, the solid dark green ones before the yellow & green and the "new" buses, the cream w/ green trim. It was a lucky day when you got to ride a "new" one. The old ones were full of rattles.

1st McDonald's was on 28th west of Michael / DeHoop. A retired co-worker of mine told the story for years, the first time he ate there and stood in line outside for a $0.15 hamburger, he thought to himself, they'll never make it here in GR. :whistling:. Those were the days of Candy Ann's on Division, the Elm's and the Rainbow (still in business) in Grandville, Kewpee's later Mr Fables around town. The root beer stand on Plainfield north of Cheshire Village, A&W on Madison north of the tracks.

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Thanks, Explorer. How about these? Do you remember:

when a drive to Chicago started on Chicago Drive?

when there were two Top 40 stations in GR (if your AM transistor couldn't get WLS)?

when the buses were beige and green?

when the buses were yellow and green?

when there was an octagon house on Belknap Hill?

when you could almost drive to Lansing on the I-96 freeway?

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I remember it all :whistling:

Cascade Road in Kent and Grand River Drive in the counties to the east was US 16, the state highway from Muskegon to Detroit. It was an all day trip from GR to Detroit :(

It was a Meijers on Eastern, Cook's Dive-in was across the street. 1st Thrifty Acres was 28th & Kazoo. Corporate headquarters were upstairs at the Meijer store at Fuller & Michigan.

I remember the old buses, the solid dark green ones before the yellow & green and the "new" buses, the cream w/ green trim. It was a lucky day when you got to ride a "new" one. The old ones were full of rattles.

1st McDonald's was on 28th west of Michael / DeHoop. A retired co-worker of mine told the story for years, the first time he ate there and stood in line outside for a $0.15 hamburger, he thought to himself, they'll never make it here in GR. :whistling:. Those were the days of Candy Ann's on Division, the Elm's and the Rainbow (still in business) in Grandville, Kewpee's later Mr Fables around town. The root beer stand on Plainfield north of Cheshire Village, A&W on Madison north of the tracks.

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Does anyone know what happened to the octagon house on Belknap Hill? There is one on East Paris south of 28th street now. Just curious if it was moved or if it is totally unrelated.

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From the website of the one in East Paris, it is in its original location and the only survivor in West Michigan. I think that during the construction of I-196 in the early 1960s, the one on Belknap Hill was simply demo'd. We lost a lot of history in those years. Now, that house would have been moved.

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Oh, you're just old, Dad. :rolleyes:

I don't remember solid green buses, just the green and yellow ones. I do remember when the only Meijer store was at Michigan and Fuller. I didn't go to the McDonald's on 28th, but to one on Plainfield instead that opened around 1960. I don't know what root beer stand you are referring to (and I know Cheshire Village very well); could that be the Fat Boy's north of the Dollar Store (formerly A&P)? That is home turf for this ex-GR guy.

We never went to Detroit (well, almost never), but I remember very well the start of trips to Chicago on old Chicago Drive. I still prefer that route, because occasionally you get to see a train.

Do you remember when I-96 ended just west of Lansing? There you were, cruising along at 65 (as fast as Dad could push the VW to go) and suddenly you were back in stop and go traffic. That said, the view of the State Capitol was far better along Grand River than the view you get now from I-496.

Ah, memories.

By the way -- did you prefer WGRD or WLAV? Or were you one of the lucky kids who could get WLS?

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I did some further online research into the house on Belknap Hill. It was built in 1853 by Elihu Smith and demolished in 1961 as part of the freeway construction.

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I came to the Rapids in the early 70s, and lived in Burton Heights. Then a somewhat poor but not bad neighborhood. Lengers was the local market there on Burton. My first bank account was at the OK Bank on the corner. There was a bakery on the n. side of Burton (I think it bar now). Down the street Yakes ofice supply had just opened. N. of Burton was an antique store but mostly abandoned buildings. In short a basic, mid-century declining urban neighborhood. I actually remember it with some fondness.

At the time Meijer was still on Eastern, and also on 28th SW by Clyde Park.

Wurzburg's was trying to hang on at the Mall (Steketees was the big draw); at Woodland, they had yet to put in the Hudsons.

In the SE side, the Ridgemoor neighborhood by Calvin was still filling in. To the east, Burton went to country very fast (one very odd memory of an old house, now torn down, with its macrame hangings on the porch)

And to the west, Chicago Drive was still the Lilac Drive or whatever they called it. Lilac bushes in the median in Jenison. At the time, Grandville had yet really to get much past Canal. So the old Dutch landscape of Ottawa County opened up, with its hedgerows and all (I miss those in Holland). At the time I was in a car pool making its way from Burton & Eastern to Holland.

And then there were the signs -- Woodland Mall still had promotional billboards on US 131 by the Dorr exit; there was also one on Chicago Drive, as you swept around the curve from Zeeland and headed toward GR.

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I don't go back quite as far as Raildudes dad or LA Dave, but I have some distinct memories from my early childood:

-We lived in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood back when it was still predominantly dutch, and I remember the sky being black with smoke when the hardware store at the corner of Granville Avenue and Clyde Park burned down (I believe it was called "Groen's Hardware").

-My mother would take us to the Jurgens and Holtvluwer store on Grandville Ave to buy our clothes for school.

-We went to church at the corner of Eastern Ave and Thomas Street, and I remember when the furniture store across the street burned (I think it had been firebombed).

-On the south side of 28th Street near Eastern there were huge (or what appeared to me to be huge) slides, that my parents never let us ride.

-Somewhere in the urban renewal zone downtown was an old button shop with creaky wood floors and tin ceiling. I remember being there with my mother shortly before they closed for good and the building was demolished.

-I remember being sad when the Wurzburg store, Powers Building, Midtown Theatre, the old Greyhound Station and the dimestore block were being demolished downtown. I asked my dad why they were tearing down what seemed to be solid buildings, and he said the owners didn't want to pay the property taxes on them.

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Wonderful replies, everyone. Thanks for your memories. Yes, Dad, now I know what building you are talking about. I don't recall going in there (incredibly, since it was only about three blocks from our house) but I remember the building clearly.

The other posts also brought this thought to mind: When did your Grand Rapids begin?

Are you the descendant of an Ottawa, for whom the rapids were home for hundreds of years?

Or a Yankee, come west on the Erie Canal to find better land and opportunity?

Or a Hollander, coming to the New World to find religious freedom denied you in the Old?

Or a Pole, German, Lithuanian, Irish, or any of the other European groups finding their place in the furniture factories along the River?

Or an African-American, coming north from Alabama, Mississippi or Georgia, looking to find a life that isn't restricted by Jim Crow?

Or a Latino, for whom the migrant stream from Texas ended at a place very different than the Lone Star state?

Or a kid just out of college, starting out in a new life in a new city?

My Grand Rapids started in 1949, when my folks decided that Grand Rapids, a place neither had ever been, was the place to put down roots.

When did your Grand Rapids begin?

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Wonderful replies, everyone. Thanks for your memories. Yes, Dad, now I know what building you are talking about. I don't recall going in there (incredibly, since it was only about three blocks from our house) but I remember the building clearly.

My Grand Rapids started in 1949, when my folks decided that Grand Rapids, a place neither had ever been, was the place to put down roots.

When did your Grand Rapids begin?

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Mine started with my great-grandfather, who moved to GR to be the minister of Plymouth Congregational Church, back at its original location on Franklin and Dolbee. I don't know much about his early life, just that his family originally resettled in Michigan from Canada.

He led the efforts in the '50s to erect the church's new building, where it stands now, on Kalamazoo Ave, just south of 36th. It's the one with the "WAGE PEACE" sign out front. I'm not sure, but I don't think he ever preached at the new building, I think he was retired by the time it opened up.

He had a column in the GR Herald called "Homespun Philosophies."

His son (my grandfather) came back to GR after WWII, where he met my grandmother, who had moved to town from Hopkins to work as a nurse at Butterworth. They bought a house on Bates St., near Franklin and Eastern. They didn't stay for long though, they moved to Saginaw later.

His son (my father) moved to Kentwood in 1973 after he found a job in town. He just retired two months ago, after working in GR for 37 years.

His son (me) is a child of the '80s, so I can't play this thread on the same level as you old fartsshades.gif. Even worse, as a Kentwoodite, I had very little reason to venture into the city.

My earliest memory of downtown is when the City Center opened, and I saw that huge pink "CITY CENTER" neon sign on the skywalk above Fulton. It looked straight out of Miami Vice.

I'm in Boston now, but I always fantasize about returning to GR eventually.

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There were just a few green buses IIRC, I'm guessing old ones for bsckup.

It might not have been a root beer "stand". It had a counter with stools and a big root beer barrel in the NW corner of the building. It was on the NE corner of Arlington south of A&P. There's a small office building there today set back from Plainfield. My dad would go get a bag of burgers and a jug of root beer on Friday nights (My mom never cooked on Friday night - my dad would go get something or we'd go to a restaurant of some sort). I remember sitting on a stool waiting for our order and looking at the big barrel :) .

I remember the freeway WB ending at Whitneyville, don't remember many details east of there except the stop & go in the small towns and the 3 lane "killer" highway down by Howell & Brighton.

I had unusual radio tastes for a teenager WOOD AM - Bruce Grant and WKZO? 1230 for Tiger baseball games :)

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Did you happen to find it on the Octagon House Inventory? [Michigan Page look about halfway down the page under the Kent County heading] That website is the only reason I knew the house existed as it was gone long before I was born.

Based on the provided maps, it looks like the house (which was on Hastings between Ionia and Fairview) sat right about where the westbound Ottawa off ramp is today.

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I remember that Meijer on Eastern because I lived less than a block from it, and my Mother worked there. We also went to the Cooks Drive In Hot Dog place across the street on special occasions. Hard to believe a meal of Hot Dogs was considered special - but we were a little on the poor side when I was a little kid.

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My G.R. history is an old one. My great great great great grandfather after fighting and being wounded in the Civil War moved to Holland, didn't like "farming in between tree stumps" and sailed down Lake Michigan to become one of the founding members of South Holland, Il. The other side immigrated from Holland at the turn of the century and settled on the S.E. side. Three out of four generations have been Calvin grads. They moved because he was a CRC minister and was called out west. We returned to settle 100 years later.

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Many of my ancestors were New England Puritans. As the years went by, some migrated thru northern New York and then I believe they took the Erie Canal and found their way to Michigan. One of them, at least, made it to Wisconsin, fathered a child and went off to fight for the Union in the Civil War. He died of wounds from the Battle of Shiloh. His widow, with her small son, remarried eventually and she and her son and second husband made their way to (back?) to Michigan (not sure why). As far as I can tell, they settled on the NW side of GR, around Walker. My grandfather and father were natives of GR (or at least of the GR area).

My mom's ancestors also made their way to Michigan (also descended from New England Puritans), but settled in/around Reading, MI (in SE Michigan). Separately, they headed to homestead in South Dakota (long story), where my grandfather and grandmother got married and where my mom was born. After about 40 years, they returned to Michigan and my mom came along with her parents, although she was an adult by then. For various reasons, they settled in GR, where my mom met my dad and I was born.

My paternal grandmother came to Michigan from The Netherlands (surprise!) with her family when she was a very young girl in the early 1900s. And she eventually married my GR native grandfather. So I have very deep roots in the English founding of this nation and more shallow roots with the wave of Dutch immigrants to the west side of Michigan in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. I think I'm on the planet out of shear luck due to a variety of random occurences!

My dad has so many great memories of growing up first in Grand Rapids, proper, then later in the Standale/Walker area. Even though he grew up during the Depression, his dad had a steady job and my grandmother knew how to make the most of it. He never minded the cold winters, either, until he was in his 80s, then it seemed to bother him. My mom, on the other hand, never got used to the cloudy weather, particularly in the winter. While South Dakota could get really cold, much colder than typical in GR, the sun shines a lot more.

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My family has never officially resided in Grand Rapids, however we have been residents of Kent County for many generations, since the late 1840s. My paternal ancestors came from Ireland just prior to the potato famine and settled in Cannon Township in the Irish community of Parnell in South Western Grattan Township (where many of us still reside). One of my many Irish ancestral relatives is Arthur Byrne of Blodgett and Byrne Lumber company...so that is my claim to fame in the Grand Rapids community.

My own personal remembrances of the city come from the early 90s (early 80s baby here) and consists mostly of looking at the beautiful buildings from the windows of my family car. We didn't drive downtown that much as my dad was a country boy and hated one way streets and city driving, but I loved looking at the vistas when we drove by on 131 or 196 going here or there. I enjoy history and loved studying the history of Grand Rapids and as a lover of architecture I would walk the streets of downtown and Heritage Hill when I attended GRCC. I have enjoyed participating in the many cultural events downtown and enjoy the nightlife with friends downtown.

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Thanks to all. Here is a relevant memory.

A hot June weekend in 1970. Around the newly installed Calder stabile, a wooden stage has been erected. On Calder Plaza, there are booths and tents and people are gathering, by the thousands, in downtown Grand Rapids to attend something called "Festival '70."

Were you there? Do you remember?

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