Even More Memories of Grand Rapids… from the Author’s Mom

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I thought my mother would get a kick out my 23 Signs You are a Grand Rapids Native post along with all the wonderful comments submitted by you! I printed them out for her and passed them along. What do you know? A few days later she showed up with her own list of Grand Rapids memories. Check these out:

From Dawn’s Mom: Memories from the “older” Grand Rapids generation!

Image from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramona_Park
Image from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramona_Park
  • I remember when Ramona Park was a summer highlight! (Note from Dawn: My Dad used to talk about Ramona Park too. I’m surprised I didn’t get more comments about it on the other posts. “You are a true Grand Rapids native if you know why Rose’s serves carmel corn at the end of the meal!”)
  • There was a time when you had a party-line with the phone company. It meant that you could not always use your phone when you wanted to because you shared the phone line with other families. The phone numbers started with a ward such as Glendale or Riverside. Ours was Glendale 46293.
  • “Burt the Milkman” would come to our house on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids and leave bottles of milk in the milk box on our porch.
  • When I was in the 3rd grade, an F5 tornado with winds up to 300 mph touched down in the outskirts of Grand Rapids. Hudsonville, Standale and Comstock Park were primarily hit on this terrifying night on April 3, 1956. Sadly 17 people lot their lives and 330 were injured.
  • At Christmastime in the Creston Heights shopping district, the streetlights had huge wreaths on them with a good-sized bell hanging in the middle. My sisters and I would walk down there and go to D&C and Fisher Dimestores – right across the street from one another. They sold everything a child could want!
  • I remember walking to neighborhood groceries stores: IGA, A&P and Eberhards.
  • The Creston Heights Library was previously a bank, and is now a restaurant.
    Once the Creston branch of Old Kent bank, then a library, now Red Ball Jet. Photo credit: http://www.thegilmorecollection.com/redjet-history.php
    Once the Creston branch of Old Kent bank, then a library, now Red Ball Jet. Photo credit: http://www.thegilmorecollection.com/redjet-history.php
  • I have memories of busload after busload of school children dropped off at the Civic Auditorium downtown to the Shrine Circus in the 1950s.
  • During the 1950s the Farmer’s Market was located on Leonard Street, next to the river.
  • Many of us Grand Rapids natives learned to swim at places like Brigg’s Park, Highland Park and Richmond Park.
  • When I was in the 10th grade at Creston High School sitting in my Civics class, an announcement came over the loud speaker that President Kennedy had been shot and killed. The classroom became silent – nobody said anything, but just sat in disbelief and silence. A few days later I watched the funeral on our black and white RCA TV.
  • During my “JC” days, on Friday and Saturday nights, car after car full of young people would drive around downtown over and over as a way to meet other young people! …by the way, my tuition at JC was $7.00 a credit hour.
  • You are a Grand Rapids native if you remember that driving across Grand Rapids used to take much longer than it does today. Expressways were built here in the 1960s.
  • Grand Rapids, once known as “The Furniture City” and “the city of churches” is now known for their brews! (Yes, my mother actually wrote that. – Dawn)

I attended Grand Rapids schools from kindergarten through the 12th grade. There were 450 students in my senior class in 1965. Four years after graduation, I began teaching for Grand Rapids Public Schools and I retired after 34 years of teaching. I will forever be thankful that I had the opportunity to give back and help make a difference in the lives of children in Grand Rapids.

Jan Highhouse

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