Everything Changes! After our visit in Maggie Valley we headed north to Holland, Michigan. We grew up in Holland and that is where I met my soul mate. She was a Dutch Dancer in the annual Tulip Time parade and I lived on the north side of Holland on Lake Macatawa and worked at the local marina during the summer vacations from High School. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. We became High School sweethearts and the rest, as they say, is history. We married when we were still very young. I was 18 and she was 17 and shortly after we left Holland because I enlisted in the Navy. I wanted to go to college and I didn’t come from a wealthy family, so the Navy was my avenue to the GI Bill and a college education.
But I digress, Holland Michigan is in the middle of the Bible Belt and as such, there was a church on every corner growing up. Life was simple, but in this Christian community there were things you did and things you didn’t do. For example, back then 99% of small businesses in the town didn’t open on Sunday. My wifes family were pillars of the community and one of the founding 5 families when Holland was established after immigrating from the Netherlands.
The Hollanders were so proud of their heritage that they disassembled an authentic windmill in the Netherlands, shipped it over to the New World and reassembled it in Holland, Michigan.
The Dutch heritage was a sense of pride for most in Holland. There would be bumper stickers that said “If You’re Not Dutch, You’re Not Much”.
It was an exciting yet bittersweet tour of our home stomping grounds. Progress is not always a good thing. The beautiful waterfront had become more commercialized and the downtown area was now full of tourist boutiques and micro-breweries. Now don’t get me wrong, I like beer and probably more than most. But the small, quaint waterfront community with the rich Christian Reformed principled demeanor had been transformed into just another tourist town on the water. In spite of the “progress” that we saw, one thing hasn’t changed…My wife is STILL the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen!