Walter Victor, 84, reminisces about Holland


Zachary Ackerson

On a Sunday afternoon, most Holland teenagers can be found doing homework, watching sports, and spending time with family. While this may be the norm today, 77 years ago, entertainment was much different. Walter Victor Jr. grew up in Holland and remembers Sundays as the day the big ships would come into the north side of Lake Macatawa. He recalls hearing the boats’ loud horns and running to the end of Division Avenue to see the huge ships sail into the little bay. “It was a big recreation,” Victor said.

  Victor remembers having to push through trees and bushes to get to the shore and watch the majestic ships, but people today know Division as a neighborhood full of large family homes.

  Watching the boats was about the only thing to do on Sundays; it was a quiet day for the town. All the stores and usual hangouts were closed, and no one went to work.

  The one building that was always open was the church. The churches weren’t the same as they are today; they had many strict rules. The rule that stood out to Victor was citizens of the church in Holland couldn’t own a TV. People were fearful that they would get caught watching TV: “Some people would hide their antennas in the attic,” Victor said. Churches today are a lot different than they were back then, especially in the enforced rules.  

  Even when stores were open, there weren’t many places to go. Today, the options to go out to eat are endless. Seventy years ago, this just wasn’t the case. Homemade meals were Victor’s only option. His  family had to prepare their food in advance then store it in a ice box, instead of getting a quick bite at McDonalds.

  When Victor was a child, he remembers living the “pioneer life.” His milk was delivered from a farmer every few days in glass quart bottles. After the bottles were empty, they would put them back on the porch for the milkman to pick up, wash, and refill. Now, getting a gallon of milk just requires a quick trip down the road to Meijer or Family Fare.

  Events did not occur as they do now-a-days either. Tulip Time and the Ottawa County Fair didn’t exist. Victor’s entertainment was “chasing chickens and planting apples underground [in the cellar] for the winter.”

  For Victor, he had to make his own entertainment. It was the late nights when there was no air conditioning that Victor remembers running down to Lake Macatawa to take a quick dip into the water to cool off before they went to sleep. This was one of Victor’s favorite things to do in the summer.

  Many of us today forget that Holland has been around for 170 years, and many of us also don’t get to see the historic views or get to hear about the old fashioned Holland. Holland has changed drastically from when it was first established to when Victor was a kid to now. The way of living and entertainment were all things that are completely different than what Holland has now-a-days.