Thursday, August 4, 2011

Holland: The Park, The Pickels and Our Little Blueberry Thief

We had an outing and went to Holland, and Frances played at Kollen Park, which she claims is her favorite park. We walked behind the Heinz Pickle Factory, on the waterfront walk on Lake Macatawa. When I was a child, my grandparents lived downwind of Heinz, and I remember the vinegary smell from the factory overwhelming the air. My Great Aunt Itene and her husband Uncle John both retired from Heinz after decades of service, and my mother spent a few summers, back in the 1960's, working in the factory. She talked about how the men who drove the trucks would take hoses and spray down the girls working as pickle packers (nowadays you call that sexual harassment) and she and my grandmother told stories about workers losing fingers in the pickle slicing machines, and the pickled fingers from the workers showing up in the jars of pickles in the grocery stores around the country. It was quite the topic of conversation around my Grandparents' dinner table... the legendary lady who only had one finger left on each hand, whose fingers had turned up in Georgia and Nebraska. There were also stories of workers' bandaids, turning up in the jars of sliced pickles. I decided to share those stories with Frances. She will never know my Aunt Irene or my mother, but its part of our regional history--our ties to the area. Since she has little in ties to her own native homeland, the least I can do for her is create ties to her adopted homeland, such as they are. She was intrigued by the chopped off fingers. Now that you mention it, I think Aunt Irene lost at least one finger in the machines during her tenure at HJ Heinz. I should email her daughter and ask.


She spent some time playing on the equipment at Kollen Park.


Then we walked along the waterfront, on the special boardwalk erected by the Heinz factory.


Then we went to Reender's Blueberry Farms which are just north of Holland, and bought blueberries. They had blueberry bushes for sale, and I caught Frances sampling the fruit right off the bushes. They have u-pick blueberries, and the owner didn't seem to mind the theft of fruit.
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