Monday, March 31, 2008

Walking With History

History can often be dry and uninteresting, or sometimes it can totally come alive and capture every part of your imagination. It can tell us who we are and what lives we could experience and know. In our every day walks everything could suddenly be different - it could become a world where we might walk beside people, and sometimes can even stand side by side with that day in a different time. When I think of those times in the early part of the century, I often think of my own favorite haunts in our small town. They are often those that look and feel of the town's early history. And if I tightly close my eyes I can almost see those people wandering in and out of my world.

What makes any place historical is often more than simply its age, or the nostalgia that it can call to mind. The Holland Peanut Store at 46 East Eighth Street offers an inviting combination of mouth watering aromas. From the roasted nuts and homemade chocolates that seems to permeate the air of the small store, and that's only the beginning because this establishment has a large selection of goodies for special holidays, or any kind of important occasion, but this store holds close a family history too that makes this confectionary gem a strong memory both past and present to many in our community.

The store, which has been a part of the city's fabric for over a hundred years, has so much more to offer than just tantalizing scents and memories, though. With square bins fit tightly together filled with all varieties of candies, glass cases filled with roasted nuts and specialty chocolates, colorful piƱatas, storage tins, and an assortment of other small gift items. Their homemade ice cream creation the Nutty Paddle Pops are sensational!

But sometimes history here can be clothed in other forms too. Sometimes it can be found in the buildings that really have come to symbolize a city's center. One such icon here is the Tower Clock found on the corner of 8th Street and River Avenue. Built in late 1892 this building first housed the Holland City Bank, and later the Chamber of Commerce. But the main attraction of this place is the huge clock that looks down over much of our downtown. Saved from destruction and restored by many donors including some wealthy patrons the Tower Clock in 1988 became a part of the changes that was known as the Streetscape project that brought to life our whole retail district. From an important beginning to continued life that huge time piece has continued to stand over lives, and many more stories than even I can imagine.

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