Kentwood Historic Preservation Commission

Oral History Transcript Cover Sheet








Name of individual (s):   Alice (Huisman) VanLuinen


Name of Interviewer:  Mrs. Joyce Thompson


Date:   June 5, 2007


Brief summary of individual’s importance to Paris Township/Kentwood history: 

Alice (Huisman) VanLuinen lived on Wing Road with her family.  She attended the one-room Smith School which stood on the opposite side of the road from her home.  She shared information about life on the 20-acre family farm and her days at Smith School.  Alice experienced The Depression and the events of WW II (her father emmigrated from the Netherlands).


















June 5, 2007













Transcribed by: Sandy de Ryke

de Ryke Transcriptions, LLC, November 2007






Subject:  Alice (Huisman) VanLuinen

Interviewer:  Joyce A. Thompson

Date of Interview: June 5, 2007

Place: 59 South Main, Apt. 203, Rockford, Michigan


Transcribed by Sandy de Ryke, November 2007


AV: Alice (Huisman) VanLuinen

JT Joyce Thompson



[i removed crutch words and false starts from this transcript]


JT: Today is June 5, 2007, and this is the taped oral history of Alice (Huisman) VanLuinen.  We are at her home, 59 South Main, Apt. 203, Rockford, Michigan, in the living room.  My name is Joyce Thompson.  I will be recording this oral history for the Kentwood Historic Preservation Commission.  This tape will be transcribed, a copy given to Alice so she can revise or make any corrections or deletions as she wishes.  When Alice is satisfied and the oral history is completed she will be asked to sign a release so it can become part of Kentwood's archives.  Is this arrangement satisfactory to you, Alice?


AV: Ya.


JT: Okay.  What is your name and date of birth?


AV: My name is Alice Huisman VanLuinen.  I was born 3/7/22.


JT: Okay, 1922.  Age today?


AV: My age today is 85.


JT: And where were you born, Alice?


AV: Sebewa Township, Ionia County.


JT: Tell me the date when your parents first moved to Paris Township.  Do you remember when or how old you were?


AV: I think I was nearly five; I was close to five. 


JT: Your parents' names?


AV: My dad's name -- well, they called him Joe -- Johannas Huisman and my mother was Henrietta Tien Huisman.


JT: Their birth places?


AV: My dad was born in Groginen, Netherlands, and my mother, let's see.  Now the Tiens lived in Allendale for a while.  I think Allendale was the place of my mother's parents, Allendale, Michigan; I know they lived on Childsdale for a while.  That was when she was growing up, but Allendale seems to be their historical background.

JT: Okay, so you were five when you came to Paris Township?


AV: Ya, I think I was about five.


JT: Okay, and settled at the farm?


AV: We settled at 20 acres there just across the street from Smith School


JT: You have a lot of brothers and sisters.  I believe eight girls and two boys.


AV: Oh, yes. 


JT: Can you tell me their names in order of birth, please?


AV: Let's see, their common names are Jane, she's the oldest; Sue; Ida; Herman; and myself; Jenny and Johanna were twins; John and Julia were twins, and Fran.


JT: That would be ten. 


AV: And Fran was the youngest.


JT: And Francis was the youngest, okay.  You were in the middle as birth order.


AV: Right.


JT: About the fifth.  So how did this affect you growing up?  You had all these people before you and after you. 


AV: I really don't remember too much about my sisters and brothers cuddling me like they were my babysitters, but actually, they were.  I know Jane and Sue were kind of looked up to as the older ones, but I don't know.  The lower ones, sometimes I just had this inner feeling like Jenny and Johanna, they were actually like two and a half years younger than I am, but I had the feeling that they had to do just as much as I did.  Like when we were hauling logs out of the woods and stuff, I said, "Well, look what they're doing."  And it really was unfair on my part; I mean, it was immaturity on my part, kids stuff.  Just like when you're looking at plates, "Boy, she's got more than I do."  Well, that didn't come into play, but I just think that sometimes -- I look back and I think, "Well, I was hard on those girls."  I thought they had to do as much as I did.


JT: I can see that.  Well, with a large family your mother kind of expected all of you to help out.


AV: Oh, and I think even today you kind of underestimate what kids are going to do at that age and it puts pressure on you.


JT: I'd like you to think about a moment that you remember.  Let's say with Jane, what comes to mind?  When you think of Jane what's the first thought?


AV: I really don't like to say, but I think she felt like she had authority over us.  I think she felt that as the oldest one and I think she kind of probably acted out that way, but she was also a difficult one.  I mean, she didn't like school and had all you could do to keep her in the eighth grade.


JT: Think about a moment with Sue.


AV: Sue was like, to me she appeared to be a soft, gentle person and I really think she was.  There were times that she was very, very ill, very ill.  She had glands underneath her arms that had to be lanced and it seemed later on she had a spot in her arm that had to be opened up and drained.  Well, you didn't go to the hospital for things like that then.  They did it right at home that they opened up those glands and drained them.  Oh, wait a minute, underneath her neck here they were, her chin space, there were glands there that had to be lanced.  And that one year it seemed like we all had the flu real bad and Sue did not pick up very fast from the illness and it held her back and I think she lost out on one year of schooling, but she got caught up that she did get in place with the help of a teacher that gave her the work that she could do at home and get back on track that way.


JT: Okay, what about Ida and Herman?


AV: Ida?  Ida was a very precise person.  I mean, I know if I did some dusting and if I left a match stick on the organ she'd point it out to me.  Ya, she was a very precise person, but I think she was -- I'd like to say smart, but I think she was intelligent.  She did a lot of reading.  Oh, she did a lot of reading. 


JT: Did she read to you?


AV: I don't remember them sittin' down and reading to me.  I think there was something that we had to do ourselves. I mean, well you read just so much and you just read in that category.


JT: There was always work.


AV: There was always work, yes.  And on the farm there that was the best playground that we could ever have.  We had the outdoors, we had the fresh air, we had a good sliding hill.  I mean, it was a favorite.  We had the creek and we had the gardens and picking strawberries and weeding and things like that.


JT: All right, I asked you about Herman.  What do you remember about Herman?


AV: Herm?  I was thinkin' about him the other day.  He lost his daddy when he was ten years old. 


JT: Well, you too.


AV: And I was eight.  But Herm I think really suffered the most with the loss of his daddy.  I think he really missed his dad, and a few years later on it told the tale because he was not doing well in school and he was taken out and put in, I think it was one of the Christian schools.  He was put in a Christian school and on his way home he would stop at the cemetery and see my dad's grave.  He was a very tender-hearted person and he was big and robust and ruddy looking, but he had a heart of gold.  If he went to an auction sale or something he would bring things home for my mother.  One thing I recall is a bread mixer.  My mother made loaves and loaves of bread; six loaves of bread at a time.


JT: Every day?


AV: Well, probably two or three times a week for sure.  And so Herm brought home this bread mixer for my mum.  And, it's just things like that; he was just a tender-hearted person.  And I think a lot was put on him because he's the male of the house and I think a lot was put on him, pressure.


JT: The oldest son.


AV: The oldest son.


JT: Right, I understand.  Well, think about the next, Jenny and Johanna.  What do you remember about those two?


AV: Mother did a lot of sewing and when there were special occasions she made them, like Christmastime she made them dresses for the programs and dresses for school.  But, things weren't always easy to come by.  I mean, it was not an easy time, it was not.


JT: The years you were growing up were part of The Depression.  So that was not easy.  We'll talk about that in a few minutes.  What about the next set of twins?


AV: John and Julia?  Well, one thing about twins, you don't get in their arguments.  They settle their own. 


JT: Okay.


AV: You don't interfere with them and that came out in John and Julia's life in school.  John, I think, was a little bit ahead of Julia as far as reading classes were concerned and I don't know if they were punishing Julia or, something came up about Julia and I think John got in the way with an argument with the teacher.  My mom went over there, she was going to try and straighten it out and the teacher says, "We'll settle it, we'll settle it." 


JT: This is at Smith School.


AV: Ah, huh.  So, they ironed it out, but there was another occasion it came up and I don't know if it was about their reading or what it was, but, "We're twins, we is."  This is very strong with them, "We're twins, we is."  And they had to be treated alike and on an even keel.  But that's the way he was in his life and if he went to Dutton to the store or something he would bring a candy bar home for Julia.  He showed special affections like that and he was a very loving, tender young man and he still is today.  Very kind, very kind.  I'll show you something later on about him doing.


JT: Tell me about Francis.  What do you remember about Francis?


AV: Fran was very fine.  I mean, when she was born she was like a three-pound baby.  We carried her around -- I didn't carry her around -- they carried her around on a pillow.  And Fran had some very serious illnesses in her life too.  Once I think maybe around nine months old or so she was in St. Mary's Hospital for a long time, like months, I think.  She had what they thought it was pneumonia, but she had chicken pox that broke out on the inside and she had what they call a tetanus condition.  She was paralyzed from her shoulders down.  She got over it.  Miracles of God took place many times.  I think she learned how to walk in the hospital in the crib while she was in the hospital.  So, she got over it, but she was always a fine little thing and mother always tended to her.  I mean, like a fine little thing.


JT: Well, she was the baby. 


AV: She was a baby and she would sit on Ma's lap in church and things like that. 


JT: Think about it.  Well, you told me that the farm was your playground.  I was going to ask you what did you do for fun and you almost told me a lot.  So, you played outside all kinds of seasons.  You had trees.


AV: Trees, oh, yes, we had trees!  You talk about Fran being so frail. One time she came home to my mother and she said, "You know yesterday I could climb so many trees, today I can climb so many trees," and that was her spunkiness.  I mean, spunkiness in a good way through her life.  She did.


JT: She never gave up.  She wanted to do –


AV: No, she didn't.


JT: More and more.


AV: She was doing great! 


JT: So, did you have swings on those trees?


AV: We did for a little while on that one elm tree, but it didn't stay there.  I don't know why.  Whether it just broke and didn't get fixed again because there was no man around; there was nobody that would do those things for you, so it was just out.  But, we did climb trees.  We had one huge mulberry tree in the woods that was, oh, I mean, it produced like you wouldn't believe.  We did make a mulberry pie.  One time we picked enough we brought enough home so that they could make a mulberry pie.  And we come home with purple feet and purple mouths, because we'd climb in that tree.  And the ground, those mulberries they fall so much to the ground that you're walkin' on 'em, they're squishin', but we didn't care.


JT: No, no.  Only mother.  Did you have a creek?


AV: Oh, yeah, we had a creek and we waded in the creek.  We swam in the creek and there was one particular place where we went swimming and it was a huge tree that fell across that creek and that's what we walked on, that log, to get across to the other part of the creek where the better part of the swimming hole was.  And that swimming hole was really deep.  The bigger fellas from the neighborhood stood on the bottom and put his hand up and we didn't see his hand, so it was a very deep swimming hole there and when we learned to swim that was it.  And if you could swim across that creek to get to the other side it was just like a graduation.  We made it.


JT: Well, you had some helpers too.  The older children would help you and you would help the younger ones.


AV: And we learned from one another that way. 


JT: You had animals on the farm?  And pets?


AV: At first we had a few chickens, but I think they kind of died off and we didn't get 'em back.  For a little while we had a couple of pigs.  The one of 'em we butchered and the other one was gone to somebody else.  And we had a cow and that cow was -- oh, what a producer that cow was.  I mean, that was just a favorite of the family.  And she knew that we were taking care of her.  We had to go to the pasture every day to go get the cow home.  Call her and get her home and she'd have hers paths and we walked in those cow paths very obviously.  And once I went through one of 'em and there was a bumble bee nest there and I got stung on my head.  Another time I went through a stream of water and I cut my foot.  But, they all got mended.  But anyway, that cow just produced the milk that we needed.  Milk and more milk and cottage cheese, butter; we churned our own butter.  There was always things goin' on.  Mom made her own cottage cheese.  She'd set the milk at one end of the stove where it would just slowly coagulate and made its own cottage cheese and buttermilk.


JT: I asked about pets, did you have any pets?


AV: Pets.  We had one favorite dog.  Oh, my that dog! 


JT: Name?


AV: Spot.  He was everywhere where we went, just everywhere.


JT: What kind of a dog?


AV: I think it was kind of a mixture.  I think it had some Collie in it.  He had nice wavy black hair and light.  But Collie and, oh, I'll say Collie mix. 


JT: Did you have him for a long time?


AV: Oh, ya, we had him for quite a while.


JT: No cats?


AV: Oh, cats!  At one time we had 13.


JT: Are these all barn cats?


AV: Barn cats. 


JT: No house cats?


AV: We had a couple of 'em that came in.  Maybe a couple of 'em, but otherwise, no the cats were not running around in the house.  In fact, one of 'em, it was a beautiful little fluffy white kitten -- I think it got stepped on with a cow and got infection in that paw and Johanna come in with the cat and Ma had to clean that wound and take care of that wound.  But, while she was holding the cat she says, "Here, take the cat," and she passed out.  But then we had one great big white cat.  I mean, he was gettin' kind of mean toward the last, but he had one blue eye and I think an animal did something to his throat that wasn't very good.  They get bit and stuff, but that cat was a big white cat and had one blue eye.  I don't know if there was a university or what, they were coming by and they were buying those cats.  They said they'd give us 25 cents a piece.


JT: For a cat?


AV: Ya.


JT: Wow. 


AV: For study.  Well, we said okay to that one, but John said they couldn't have Louie for 25 cents, he was worth a dollar.  He was worth a dollar.  Well, you know, a good mouser cat and comin' and goin' in the house.  So, that cat was worth a dollar.


JT: Did they pay it?


AV: I don't know.  I don't remember if they paid or not, but that's what he said at the time that that cat was worth a dollar. 


JT: I have to ask you your father's occupation.


AV: The last I knew he worked at Heckman Furniture.


JT: What did he do?


AV: I don't know what his work was, exactly, but I know he built things on his own.  Now, that pedestal right there.  You might want to take a picture of that.  That's something that my dad made.  It's been in the house as long as I can remember.  My brother Herm had it last and he passed away a few years ago and so now I've got it in my house and I said I'll look at it until I'm here no more and I know where it's going to go next.

JT: That's a nice memory that you have of dad. 


AV: Then, he also made cribs for Jenny and Johanna -- nice little baby cribs with the round spindles on it.  It was beautiful.  And he made key cars for Julia and John.


JT: Out of wood too?


AV: Out of wood.  Then I think he did a lot of work -- I know he did a lot of work in building up our first dwelling there that we called the barn and that's where we lived for a couple years until we built the structure, the house.  But, in there he built a tall, oh, I don't know maybe it was as tall as that rack over there, of like a chest of drawers for us to put our clothes in.  I know he got a lot of stuff from my relatives in Grand Rapids but these are raisin -- they called them raisin boxes at that time and each of us kids had one of those drawers to put our things in, in that chest of drawers thing.  He made that.


JT: Any other memory of your father other than building things?


AV: They called him Sparky but I really don't know why.  I think one time a Halloween trickster come and threw a rock at the house and I guess my dad got bounced out of bed and ran after the kids.  But, normal things, Halloween pranks.  But, I think my dad was -- well, he did go to college for a while to prepare to be a teacher.  So, my dad was a very sincere person.  I mean, I didn't hear a lot of jokes about my dad but I know the things that he did.  He would give readings at -- like one time he went to an anniversary, wedding anniversary, for one of the cousins and he gave them a reading, he would give readings.  And, I don't know if he wrote the story or if he -- there was a story that was written out on paper and we had it in our house for years of "Flying Jim's Last Leap."  Sue got that written down and memorized most of it.  "Flying Jim's Last Leap", so he was like an orator and I'd say well-learned for his day.  He didn't get to be a teacher, but he had the training for it.


JT: Well, he had a big family to provide for too.


AV: Right, and I think the pressure of the family is what did it.  But, in the house itself I don't remember my dad, well with ten of us kids on the floor running around and what have you -- yelling at us or getting after us in rough ways.  I remember one time he said something about, "Well, why don't you just go put your feet in your pockets."  But, I think my dad was feeling the pressure of us on the floors and linoleum floors are noisy.


JT: Right.


AV: And sand gets tracked in and things like that.  So, he just said, "Why don't you go put your feet in your pockets."  I remember my Dad taking us for walks through the woods and when we went down there we weren't just looking, "Oh, ya, ah, huh."  He taught us things.  Like he took us right up to an elm tree that's called a slippery elm tree and showed us how you have to take that bark out somehow and underneath is a bark that is even used for medicine purposes today.  You can go to a health store and you can buy slippery elm powder.  It helps your sinuses or something.


JT: What neat memories.


AV: Ya, and so I remember that.  And then we had this big -- well, to me it looked like a big kitchen table.  And, in those days they did have pretty good sized tables.  And it was a wood structure and underneath there was room enough our Bibles.  So, at the end of the meals those Bibles were taken out and read and we had to follow.  One year when we had the flu so bad I lost my hearing for a little while and when it was my turn I got the elbow and that's when they told me and I had to do it in school too.  I mean, they had to tell me when to read.  But anyways, we had the Bible and that was a regular thing by us and my dad read the Book.  My dad read the Bible because of his Dutch background.  He was getting his English that way too.  I could always understand my dad.  I didn't have any trouble with that like some people do.  But, when you're living in it I guess you just adapt to that too.


JT: So, he spoke Dutch?


AV: He spoke English.


JT: English at home.  Your mother, her occupation?


AV: Housewife.  I mean, strictly housewife.  When she was growing up, the thing then was those girls from the country. The girls would come from these areas and go to Grand Rapids and work in these big homes -- housemaid work.


JT: You're talking about downtown Grand Rapids?


AV: Downtown Grand Rapids.


JT: So, you're saying that was your mother's occupation?


AV: That was my mother's work.  I think that's how she met my dad.  I'm just puttin' that together, but I think that's how she met my dad. 


JT: Well, you mentioned she was a sewer; she sewed your clothes.  You mentioned she cooked. 


AV: Yes.


JT: And she's helping out with the farm.


AV: Yes. 


JT: Although you children are helping out, she's overseeing all of you.


AV: Right.   But, my mother's health was not good.  I think my mother got criticized a lot. 


JT: By other people in the family?


AV: Ya.


JT: Okay. 


AV: With ten kids washing was done with a scrub board then.  We did not have any automatic things at all.  Everything was done by hand, everything.  Overalls and work socks and you name it, it was all done by the scrub board.  And my mother had kidney trouble for just years.  Ever since, I understand, a pregnancy from Ida on, she had kidney trouble.  And, we went to medical doctors, but not specialists.  But, when we got settled in Grand Rapids in a final living place somebody helped her get to a specialist and they found out that her kidneys were so bad -- she had a lot of back aches and I remember days that my mom would just lay in bed with headaches and we were bringing cold clothes for her headaches or hot clothes for her back to settle the pain in her back.  And, my mother was not well.  I mean, it was very difficult for her and I think of all that she did, those trips that she had to make to Grand Rapids and on the bus and carry groceries home with that pain.  I don't know how she did it. 


JT: And she raised you all after your father died.


AV: Right. 


JT: She was doing double-duty.


AV: She was!  You're a father and a mother.


JT: So tell me about, other than the work that she did, what memory comes to mind of Mom?


AV: Well, maybe I was small, but I looked at my mother -- she was a big robust person -- wait a minute now, these pictures I had out just not too long ago, I'll show you.  Maybe she don't look robust to you, but to me.


JT: Yes, she's a big woman.  She's tall.


AV: But, her kidneys were not good.


JT: Not good.  All right, tell me where your family home was again, the address.


AV: Ya.  Let me see.  Well, I know it was on Wing Avenue.


JT: Okay.


AV: Right across the street from the school.


JT: Okay, Wing Avenue.  You talked a little bit about the house.  Tell me more about this house that you had on the farm.


AV: Okay.


JT: What did it look like?


AV: It was square built.  And through some technicality, I'm thinkin' the architect, it was not supposed to be built as high.  I think it was supposed to have a slant and run the roof this way, come down.  But, anyway, it was a square-built house.


JT: Two stories.


AV: Yup, two stories.  Well, they did put a bathroom up there eventually, but we had four bedrooms upstairs, one downstairs.


JT: For your parents?


AV: Ah, huh, the parents and then we had a nice living room and dining room and a kitchen.  And I can tell you a story about that.  The entrance way, well, you came in the back door and up a couple steps and into the kitchen and then you went right straight across.  There was the pump was in the kitchen and the sink and then the big table.  The wall cupboards over there, they were big wall cupboards.  So, one day the kids were makin' mud pies and Julia came in the house and I don't know how she did it, but she filled this bag with water and she was going to carry it out for the mud pies.  She got as far as the steps and the bottom fell out of the bag.  It was just so ridiculous!  How she got that far, I don't know, but anyway, that's the story.


JT: A puddle of water.


AV: Ya. 


JT: That's interesting.


AV: So, that was our house and then there were quite a few doors in it.  When you came in you came across the kitchen like this and you came in to the dining room door.  If you went around in a circle, there was the archway to the living room and you went around the corner that way and there was another door that went into the hallway going up the stairs.  You could take that hallway to my mum's bedroom that way or back in the kitchen that way.  So, it was just like a square. 


JT: They had a big dining room table?


AV: A big dining room table.


JT: And a hutch for dishes?


AV: Boy, all our dishes were in the kitchen. 


JT: I see, okay. 


AV: Ya, we had a big wall of –


JT: Cupboards.  Okay.  Tell me about the living room.  What was in the living room?


AV: The living room was like that and we had what we called a library table.  I think they call it something else now, but it was quite a long table and kind of high.  I don't know, do they call them couch tables or something nowadays?  And, we had a lot of plants on that table.  That was, I think, like in the front wall, the front windows.  And then, on the other wall was the big organ.  We had a big organ and it had all that fancy curlicues on it.  Ida and I took piano lessons for a little while.  I think Ida did really good with the piano.  I think she was more careful about her timing and things like that.  She is a precise person.  I kind of went to playin' by ear and then mixing in learning my notes.


JT: Just the two of you played?


AV: Ya.


JT: Not mother?


AV: No.  My dad was musical.  My dad would sing.  I had some music here, I think it's buried, music that he collected.  Some of it was beautiful music.  Ya, he sang.  We did sing when we'd get in the car and go someplace.


JT: The best place to be at the house was where, for you?


AV: I'd say the living room.  We had a couple rocking chairs there.  I can see my mother sittin' in the front door there, the rockin' chair there and the door open and she would just be singin' away!  I mean sing and sing!  I remember that.


JT: I don't know.  The house was not finished when dad passed away and upstairs was partitioned off and had the structure the rafters and stuff, but those rooms were not finished off with plaster board or insulation, finishing touches.


JT: So, it could be hot or cold.


AV: It could be very cold.  I mean, we'd take hot water bottles to bed with us and they would be ice in the morning.  And there were times when snow would be streakin' across the floor.  So, it was cold.  So, in the wintertime we really got quite snuggled together downstairs.


JT: I can see why the living room was a favorite.  You talked about some of the chores that you had as a child.  Can you tell me all of the chores that you did as a child?


AV: Oh, I don't know about all the chores.  Well, we were always fightin' over the dishes -- who was going to do the dishes.


JT: Why is that?  Nobody wants to do dishes?  So, you liked to do dishes.


AV: Well, I didn't like it.  I don't think they had the nice soap that they have nowadays either.  I mean you had bar soap and stuff that really was not like anything that you have today.


JT: No suds.


AV: I mean, rinse those dishes and dry those dishes.  Well, we survived. 


JT: So, you did dishes.


AV: And dusting.


JT: Dusting.  I've got that.


AV: I did quite a bit of dusting.  I don't like it today, I really don't. 


JT: Who did the ironing?


AV: Oh, and ironing, ironing, ironing.  We used flat irons that you heated on the stove.


JT: This is in the kitchen?


AV: Oh, ya.  My mother made quilts and mittens.  She sewed mittens.


JT: Who collected the eggs and things like that?


AV: We bought eggs from the neighbors. 


JT: Okay.  I remember you said you had some chickens earlier, but not later.  That was not a chore because you didn't have it.


AV: No. 


JT: Who took care of the cow then?


AV: Herm and Jenny too.  Jenny did some milking too.  But, Herm, that was his big chore.


JT: Okay. 


AV: One time we had such a bad winter we had to be sure that the cow got water and fed and things like that.  I can just see that old cow just turning her head and watching us come in the door because she knew we were going to take care of her.  Those big eyes just starin' at us.


JT: You never mentioned a garden.  Did you have gardens?


AV: Oh, we had gardens, ya.  We had a couple patches of strawberries.  And they were so good.


JT: Oh, you had to pick those.


AV: Oh, even our pet dog, he knew what strawberries were and he'd go into the strawberry patch with us.  Oh, ya, he liked those.


JT: So, you grew strawberries.  Vegetables?


AV: Ah, huh. 


JT: What kind?


AV: We had tomatoes, carrots, and turnips.  Oh, brother, peas, beans.  My mother would talk about Kentucky Wonder Beans.  I don't know why, but Kentucky Wonder Beans.

JT: Was she a canner?


AV: Oh, we canned as much as we could.


JT: What did she can then?


AV: Peaches, beans, tomatoes, and strawberries.  I was talkin' about that last night –


JT: You grew your own peaches?


AV: No.  We had to buy them.


JT: Okay. 


AV: Applesauce.  They'd have hucksters come around the country.  If mum could afford it she would buy from them.


JT: Did you have a least favorite chore?


End of Side One


AV: Okay, now like I said before, we had to haul wood from the acreage to burn.  So, we had to haul wood and we had to cut it.  That was where Herm cut the wood.  He had it across horses, you know, you put your logs on the horses and you cut your pieces that way.  So we had to cut our own wood.


JT: So, that's your least favorite chore?


AV: I would say so.  It was quite a job.


JT: Did you tell me your favorite chore?


AV: Now I really don't know.  I did a lot of dusting.  Sometimes I could get started on stuff and I would just run myself ragged on it.  I know there was a day in particular it seemed I had all kinds of ambition and I'd just go through that house but, I don't know.


JT: Okay, nothing was favorite, all right.  Do you have a toy that you'd like to tell me about?


AV: Toys?  I had dolls and I did some drawing, I mean, coloring pictures and design stuff like I had some paper dolls.  That was the paper doll time.  You draw clothes for those dolls and make designs on those clothes.  I kind of liked that.


JT: Was that the Betsy McCall doll?


AV: The what?


JT: Betsy McCall doll? 


AV: I don't know if they were Betsy McCalls, but whatever we could find.  And catalogs, oh, my goodness, I think I spent a lot of time on catalogs.  You had your Sears catalog come and I don't know what all. 


JT: The Wish Book.


AV: The Wish Book.  And that ended up in the outhouse too.  I liked putting families together.  I called it that, putting families together.  Like our old organ that stood there.  That was kind of a nice, favorite spot for me to play and I'd cut out these paper dolls from the catalogs -- the Mama, Papa, the boy, and the girl and line them up along the organ.


JT: You're playing house by the organ.


AV: I'm playing house, ya. 


JT: So, you never played in the barn?


AV: Oh, ya, we did.  After we moved out of the barn and into the house we had this big open territory, but I think it had two cows in there for a while.  But, then we had the upstairs, that was the hay loft and we played up there quite a bit. 


JT: You had to climb up the ladder.


AV: Oh, ya, we had to climb up and those stairs were fallin' apart as the ages went on and some of that stuff just didn't get repaired like when you had a man around the place. Ya, you don't realize how much you miss.


JT: Well, mother couldn't do it all.


AV: No, she couldn't. 


JT: We only have so much time.  Was there a favorite foods that your mother cooked?


AV: I remember a spice cake that she made and when there are so many people to feed out of a cake -- like now they serve pieces of cake like that and you think, oh boy!  We'd have small pieces of cake.


JT: Slivers.


AV: And Sue liked to make fudge.  Oh, boy, could she make fudge.  It got so that we each had waxed paper cut for us and she would divide up the fudge that way.


JT: Mother, you said, was a good cook.


AV: Ah, huh.


JT: Did she have a specialty?


AV: I'd say it was her homemade bread.  I mean, her homemade bread.  We had a neighbor boy that come over to our house once in a while and he called her Houseman then.  "Mrs. Houseman," he says, "Can I have a piece of bre-a-a-a-ad?" 


JT: Tell me about your nearest neighbor.





JT: I'd like to focus now where you went to grade school as a child.  Where did you go?


AV: Smith School on Wing Road.


JT: What's special to remember about Smith School?


AV: Well, I felt how small we were when I went to high school, but we were in a one-room school and I don't know, there were anywhere from 38 to 40-some kids in that one room.


JT: One teacher.


AV: And one teacher.


JT: And when you think back at that, what memory comes to mind of all those years you spent there from what grade to what grade again?  Tell me.


AV: First grade through eighth grade.


JT: All right, do you have a memory?


AV: Memories of the programs that we had and that we prepared for.  And plays, well, we'd say plays.  There was one of 'em about Thanksgiving and then we sang songs for Christmas.  We had Christmas programs together and quite often Jenny and Johanna were in some speech together.  For lunches they had this kind of furnace or heating unit in the back of the room and the teacher would put in a pan of water and these kids would bring jars of food from home and they'd put that in there probably about recess time and then by lunch time they had a nice hot cup of something.


JT: Okay, so you remember that's how you had hot food.


AV: Well, we could go home for lunch.  I mean that was okay, we could go home for lunch, it was just across the street, so we did. 


JT: But the others, that's what they did, they had their food on the stove.


AV: We had time for to play outdoors, and then we had a recess time and games outdoors.  I know one time Jimmy Hall, he was kind of a big kid compared to what we were and we were playing some game about going around the corner, I guess we called it, and I ran into him and I fell, I mean, I ran into him and fell.


JT: Do you remember how old you were?


AV: Oh, I don't know if I was 10 or 12, I don't know. 


JT: He wasn't older?


AV: He was bigger than me, I mean, that's what got me is runnin' into this great big kid! 


JT: The "Wall".  You said you played outside.  Do you remember some of the games you played?


AV: Well, I know Pat would take the shovel outdoors and give kids a whirl around with the shovel.  He'd put one of the kids on there and just roll 'em around in the snow.  Ya, we played hopscotch, jump rope, jacks, and baseball, you know, softball.


JT: You had teams of those.


AV: Ya.  There was some kind of exercise bar on the front there that we played on. 


JT: You said you had one teacher.  Did you have that same teacher all through?


AV: Oh, no, we had several teachers.  We started out with Miss Eikhoff and they had to get rid of her.  Then, I can't think of all the teachers in order, but we had Pat Murphy -- I was gonna say Murphy, it's not Murphy -- Myler, Harold Myler, we had him for quite a while.  Then we Marie Burns and I remember her coming over to the house and seeing Sue.  When I talked about Sue being ill, Marie Burns did come over to the house to see Sue and check up on Sue and bring us school work.  And then we had, let's see, I can't think of all of 'em.  Pat we had for quite a while.


JT: Who was your favorite?


AV: I liked Pat. 


JT: It sounded like you liked him.


AV: Oh, ya.


JT: Why is that?


AV: I don't know, but I think he was really a kind person.  He had muscle and strength and he had some, what would you call it, discipline behind him.  I think he handled things in a very fair way.  And he played the violin.  He quite often played the violin for us for music. 


JT: I think he interacted a lot more than the others with you.  It sounds like from what you're telling me.  Maybe that's why you liked him.


AV: And with the kids and outdoors -- he was outdoors with them. 


JT: You never told me how many people were in your grade.


AV: Well, at one time we had 11 and we ended up with five or six, maybe six.  Some of 'em moved out of the district.


JT: All right, tell me about your favorite subjects. 


AV: Oh, my favorite subjects.  Well, I didn't think I did too good in arithmetic.  But, I guess I did accomplish something in Math.  I did good in English.  I did good in English and Literature in high school too.  I was already startin' then to write little stories of some sort, like making a snowball and crashing into something just to see the fun of it.  I was makin' up stories.  I think I got started into writing then.


JT: Were you a good student?


AV: I would say average.  I don't know where my report card is, but I think I did average. 


JT: Did you have a least favorite subject?


AV: I wasn't too much in Science.  We had Science for a little while, but I wasn't too much in that.


JT: Didn't like that as well.


AV: Geography I liked. 


JT: You had books to study from?


AV: Oh, ya.  Oh, man!  History was one of 'em.  My temper got the best of me that one day. 

JT: In History?


AV: Ah, huh.  Not just because of History, but I used my History book in the wrong way. 

JT: What did you do, Alice?


AV: I was at somebody's desk sittin' there and somebody said, "I don't want your cooties on my desk."  And, I picked up that History book and I gave it to him


JT: Did you get in trouble?


AV: Ya, we got sent out in the hall.  And, that's one time I was really busted.


JT: How old were you, Alice?


AV: Boy, I don't know, maybe I was 10 or 12, maybe 12.


JT: You went to high school, correct?


AV: Ya.


JT: Where?


AV: Grandville High.


JT: And what years were those?


AV: From '37 to '41.  I graduated in '41.


JT: And how did you get to high school?


AV: Well, Sue and Ida had both -- we had friends that lived in Grandville and they said we could work for our room and board and live in Grandville and then go to the high school.  I think the township had to pay for our tuition somehow, but they worked that out.  So, we worked for our room and board in high school.


JT: So, you're saying you lived in Grandville during the week –


AV: Right.  All week long.


JT: Went home on the weekends?


AV: Not very often.  Occasionally, I mean, for special occasions maybe we'd get home, but was not too often.


JT: So, you were in a home –


AV: Ah, huh.


JT: And you went to high school in Grandville –


AV: Ah, huh.


JT: You did chores around that house –


AV: Right.


JT: For your room and board.


AV: Board, yes.


JT: Did you walk to school then?


AV: Oh, ya. 


JT: You were close by.


AV: Close by.


JT: Okay, I got it.  Well, that was a good deal, I guess.


AV: It was a good deal, but you know, we lived in poverty, I mean absolute poverty.  Sorry, but I think our God was just with us all the way.  I mean, there's no other way that I can account for going from the situation where I was into those homes and doing those things that we did.  We did things at home that were not the same as our house.  I mean, it was a whole training like all over again.  I mean in somebody else's house and you lived up to their standards.  It amazes me that we could step in and do that.  I really feel amazed that we did it all. 


JT: That's amazing, it is. 


AV: Ya, you've got to learn to live along with people and to get along with other people in school.  Boy, it was a struggle going from that 38 to 400. 


JT: Well, the other alternative too, Alice, was that you didn't go to high school. 


AV: Well, I could not see myself doing that.  If I went to Caledonia School there was a bus, I guess, that came about three-quarters of a mile from our house. But if I went over to Caledonia School like some of those other students did I don't think I would have done as well because the house, our home, it was too busy.  It was such a busy, busy household to get down and study like I needed to do to go to high school, I wouldn't have made it.  So, I think I did good going to Grandville.  I had my own room and I could study and get things done.


JT: And you were a success.


AV: Well, I'll give God the credit for that.


JT: Your faith brought you through, absolutely.  You mentioned that, kind of eluded to, that high school was so different than Smith.  So, tell me how.


AV: Well, we went from class to class.  That was different for me.  At Smith we sat and we went to the front of the room there and there was your recitation and so forth.  And, meeting up with the different teachers like we had and I don't think history was my favorite subject.  I didn't mean to take it out on somebody else.  That history teacher I had in Grandville, I thought, oh, brother, I don't think he liked me, I don't think he did.  I seemed to get picked on.


JT: So, history was your least favorite high school subject.


AV: I think so. 


JT: How about your favorite?


AV: I think Literature was one of 'em.  Literature and English I think I did good on and I did good on the Biology too. 


JT: Science, you had to have Science courses.


AV: Ya, I did.  I had Biology and, in fact, my mother wanted me to take up a business course.  Well, we had a lot of financial troubles and she wanted me to take up business.  I don't know what I wanted to go to high school for in the first place, but I did go and I didn't think I did that good on bookkeeping and typing and shorthand; I passed.  But, I wanted to change over when I thought, "I'm not going to get a passing grade on this bookkeeping.  I think I'm going to get out of this."  I went to the office and tried to change it and he said, "No, I think you'd better stay right where you are."  Well, I think they were wise in the long run.


JT: Well, you mentioned you worked for your room and board –


AV: Right.


JT: Did that mean that you couldn't do extra curricular activities after school? 


AV: In some ways, yes, because you had home duties that had to be done.  The first place I stayed was at a boarding house with factory workers living there.  So, I was washing dishes, helping get breakfast on first thing in the morning, and if I didn't start dishes by 7:10 in the morning I wouldn't make it out of there on time to get to school, so I really had to hurry.  So, that was a close time.  Then, when I got home, that was my first place, I would dust, go through the place and dust and whatever had to be done.


JT: So, no after-school activities from high school?


AV: No, I tried.  I wanted to get into a Greek Club at church, but I couldn't do it. 


JT: You only had so much time and you had to study.  Tell me what you wore in high school.  What were the fashions like back then?


AV: Oh, brother, let's see, I was lookin' at this picture and I was lookin' at those shoes and I think spectators were one. 


JT: Those are the two-tone colors, aren't they?


AV: The two-tone colors on those shoes -- saddle shoes and bobby socks.  I had a very hard start in Grandville High School.  Somebody gave us a pair of socks and they were white and they come up to here and I thought, "Well, I'll wear those," because man alive, to buy a pair of socks I couldn't even afford that.  I wore those and when I did, I got Athlete's Feet.  And oh, my!  I mean, that caused a heartache in school.  Smelly feet, smelly feet, and I got notes on my desk -- "Smelly Feet."  So, that was a hard ball in the beginning of the year, but we got over it.  Some of the girls got some powder from the pharmacy to clear that up for me. 


JT: Good, that's good.  So, you wore, basically, skirts?


AV: Skirts, ah, huh.


JT: Blouses?


AV: And they used to talk then about cashmere sweaters, that was the big thing.


JT: But, not you.


AV: Not me (laughing).


JT: That was expensive.


AV: Oh, ya, it was!


JT: Well, and the little collars.  Exactly, right, I remember that.  Did you listen to the radio at all when you were at home.


AV: At home we got a radio through -- let me see now, electric came through there, I think in 1936 they put the line through so we could get power. 


JT: That changed everything on the farm.


AV: Oh, my!  It did, because the first thing we did was to go out and get a washing machine.  We didn't have a dryer; we still dried outdoors as much as possible.  But, we got this washing machine and oh, what a relief! 


JT: Well, with all those kids.


AV: And it had the wringer on it.  So, we got the washing machine, but along with the washing machine deal the shop threw in and gave us a radio.  Oh, it probably stood as tall as that table.


JT: A floor model.


AV: A floor model radio.  My mother was on a mother's pension and they really gave my mother a hard time about when electric come through and when -- they had their eyes all over the place.  "Well, where'd that radio come from?"  And Ma says, "I didn't buy it," she said, "That was given to me when I bought the washing machine."  She had to get the bill of sale out and show the lady that that was it.


JT: That you didn't have something that she wasn't supposed to have.  What programs did you listen to?


AV: Lone Ranger and oh, boy, I don't know.  I liked to listen to country music and then I found some Christian radio program.  I think one of 'em was from Chicago, WMEI, maybe the Moody Institute.  I tried to get in on that.  And then there was a theater, like a movie, without the pictures, that came over.


JT: When you were in Grandville in high school did you listen to the radio then too?


AV: When I could.  If they weren't home I turned it on. 


JT: You were so busy.  Did you continue to like to read while you were in high school also?


AV: Reading, ya, I did read.  I did book reports.  You had to get so many book reports out every year so I got those in.  I didn't get to say, "I like this type of book," or "That type of book."  I didn't go to the library that much.


JT: I'd like you to think about those early years when you were in Paris Township.  Your family, can you tell me what your family did for recreation and fun.  Was there anything that you did?  Did you visit other relatives?  Can you tell me what you did?


AV: When my dad was alive he would take us to Grand Rapids to see other relatives.


JT: In a car?


AV: In the car. 


JT: Do you remember the car?


AV: Oh, ya.  I remember the car.  I had these pictures out for another reason, so they're close by.  Here's our old car. 


JT: Oh, my, I can see that.  Oh, my!  And all of you on the running board.


AV: Five of us.


JT: I don't know what kind of a car that is, but –


AV: It's a Ford.  I'm the baby on there.


JT: You're the baby?  Let me see that again.


AV: Ya, and Herm is next to Sue.


JT: You're that little baby?



AV: Ya. 


JT: That's your mom and dad.


AV: Ah, huh, and that's Jane and Sue on the end.  See, my mother was tall and my dad was short and we had pictures of my dad with a derby on next to my mom to make him look taller.


JT: That's a nice looking picture.  So, you would go like for holidays?


AV: Oh, like a Sunday afternoon or something like that.  Because dad worked probably just about every day of the week. 


JT: Correct.  Well, that's what people did back then.  There was nothing called a vacation.

AV: We all thought it was great.  You know I never could figure out, when there were 10 of us to get in that car, I mean, we must have been packed three deep in there.  And I think about that -- when you're chug, chuggin' along maybe 35 miles an hour, I don't know --  But, 28th Street used to be a gravel road, just a nice wide gravel road and it was called Laraway. 


JT: Right.  That is correct, Laraway Road.  I'd like to talk about you and your husband, Jake, correct?


AV: Ya.


JT: The name of your husband?


AV: Jacobus Heindrick VanLuinen


JT: You were married when?


AV: Oh, let's see, we were married 1953.


JT: What date?


AV: February 12.


JT: February 12, 1953.  Your age and his age?


AV: We were 14 years apart.  I think I was about 32. 


JT: He was a little older, or younger?


AV: He was 14 years older than I. 


JT: How did you meet Jake?


AV: That was on a blind date. 


JT: Set up by whom?


AV: My sister.


JT: Which sister?


AV: Fran.


JT: Fran set you up?  Can you tell me about this?


AV: Her sister-in-law was going with a Dutch person and said, "Well, can't you find a friend for Alice?"  So, then Fran found me and asked me if I'd go and I said, "I'll go," so that was it. 


JT: Where was this date?  What did you do?


AV: We went to a movie, it was like a missionary movie.


JT: At a church?


AV: Christian Reformed Conference Grounds in Grand Haven. 


JT: Well, that's a big trek over there. 


AV: Ya.


JT: Did you have dinner before or after?


AV: Oh, we had dinner before.  We went over there for the evening.  We probably went -- I don't remember if we went for coffee or something, but we probably did. 


JT: Was that your first blind date?


AV: Ya. 


JT: And your last, apparently. 


AV: Right, ya.


JT: You have children.  Tell me how many children and their names.


AV: Four.  I have James, John, and Douglas and Evelyn.


JT: And Evelyn, that's right.  Within a short period of time too.


AV: Well, by the time the first one went to school I had all four of the kids.  I was busy!


JT: Oh, absolutely busy.


AV: Ya, I say now it was just like a nursery.  I was just going from one kid -- custodian, I was custodian -- I said, "I'm just going from one kid to another."


JT: Well, when you think back on that you're so busy in raising your family you just concentrate on doing what you have to do.


AV: Right, right, that was it.


JJT: I'd like you to remember way back when James was young, do you have a favorite memory of him?


AV: When he was a little one, maybe four or five months old I had him on the bath table and I was giving him a bath and I thought, "What a long back that kid's got," and he is a tall person today, so I guess that was probably part of his growth.  But, I had experience taking care of kids many, many times, like my nieces and nephews and stuff I'd take care of kids.  But, this was my own and I'm observing that body and I thought, "Boy, what a long back he's got."  We had a black doorknob on the kitchen and my bath table was right behind it and he saw the reflection in there and he was watching that light.

JT: Very cute. 


AV: But, he was a busybody, I mean, busy.


JT: All boy, all boy.  What about John?  What do you remember about John?  What's a good memory?


AV: John was a happy-go-lucky kid.  He was just a happy-go-lucky kid. 


JT: What about Douglas?


AV: And Douglas, when he was wee little, and we would ride in the car he would just kind of hum along.  He was just like, "Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm," he was just taking it all in. 


JT: Well, he had those two big brothers.  He probably wanted to be tag-alongs.


AV: Well, they had their scraps.  Three boys, you know, they had their scraps. 


JT: Well, when they're close in age too.


AV: Ya. 


JT: Very close.


AV: And they're different interests, you know.  They're all different.  Jim was, well, I'd say curious.  I mean one time I said, "Well, he's either going to be a school teacher or an electrician."  Because his eyes were just all over the place.  I mean, electric plugs, yes, he found 'em. 


JT: No little plugs in his life now.


AV: No, he was by my sister for a while and they were doin' carpenter work and he pulled the plug so the carpenter didn't have power upstairs to work. 


JT: What about Evelyn, what do you remember about Evelyn?


AV: She was, I'd say, a pretty girl.  I mean, ya, that was my girl and Jake had the hardware store then and then he brought home a couple nice dresses for her and a doll that moved and things like that. 


JT: You never told me your husband's occupation.


AV: He started out converting old sewing machines into electrics.  The pedal, he made those over into electrics.  He did a lot of repair work and then a few years down the road we bought the hardware store, so we were in there for about six years and after that he did different work for Butterworth Hospital. 


JT: So, did you take vacations with your family?


AV: We did.  We started out with camping and one year we rented a tent and then every year later on we bought our own tent and just added supplies; as the years went on we'd buy supplies. 


JT: Where did you go camping?


AV: Sometimes to the Conference Grounds or Gun Lake or one time we went to East Lake down there by Hopkins, and different places.


JT: I imagine the children remember this.


AV: Oh, yes, yeah.  One year we took the dog down.  I don't know why.  I guess one night the kids had to go to Grand Rapids so they brought the dog down.  Oh!  That dog was in the tent and I guess somebody was outside by our tent and I don't know if they were taking our wood or what, but that dog tore out of that tent so fast I thought it was going to come down. 


JT: I'd like to talk about your work experience.  Now, your first job.


AV: My first job?


JT: Ah, huh.  What did you do?


AV: What did I do? 


JT: Was that a plumbing –


AV: Oh!  That was a plumbing shop.  Ya, that was plumbing –


JT: Penning Brothers?  That was your first job?


AV: Ya, ya, that was my first paid job


JT: What age were you?


AV: Oh, I was probably -- let's see, I graduated at 18 -- probably, I was about 20, I guess, I was about 20.


JT: What did you do for Penning Brothers?


AV: Answering the telephones and sometimes when the orders came in from the back room I'd sort that out and put it away.


JT: Where were you living at that point in time?


AV: At that time we were living on Evans Street. I rented a duplex on Evans Street.  That's close to Wealthy.


JT: Where did you go after Penning?


AV: Oliver Machinery.  We moved from Evans Street to our house on Boston Street. 


JT: When you say "we" who are you referring to?


AV: Well, the family; my mother and the five or six of us kids that were home yet. 


JT: Okay, so that's your family.


AV: Ah, huh.


JT: Your brothers, sisters.


AV: Ya.


JT: You said you worked there for how long?


AV: Let's see, 12 years at Oliver's.


JT: Doing?


AV: Bookkeeping.


JT: Payroll?


AV: Payroll and -- I started out on billing and I went from billing to accounts payable and from accounts payable to accounts receivable and then I had accounts receivable and an office payroll and then they trained me also to do a factory payroll, so that when the factory payroll person was off I could do that. 


JT: Were there other women besides you that did this?


AV: Each task I did by myself and then the accountant was over all, so he had to put it all together. 


JT: So, this was a five-day work day?


AV: Five days, ah, huh.


JT: So, 12 years is a long time.


AV: It is. 


JT: Did you make good money?


AV: At the time, I think so.  I mean, let me see, I got married in '53 and I think I left there in '54, just before John was born.  I think I was gettin' $1.47 an hour


JT: That was good money back then. 


AV: Back then it was –


JT: You were doing well.


AV: Pretty good.  See, each step along the way you had to learn all those processes.  So, learning was a big thing.


JT: Well, it was your job.  We're not through with your employment here.  You went and worked after the kids, so tell me about that.


AV: First, I cleaned the doctor's office across the street, but then I went to Spring Valley -- it was Spring Valley Nursing Home then, it's now Heartland.  But, I went there.  Let's see, how long did I work there?  I don't know if it was a year or so, but that was like kitchen work and cleaning. 


JT: Is that something you could do at night after the kids –


AV: That was days. 


JT: That was days while the kids were in school?


JT: Anything after that?


AV: I went to, well, it was Sunshine then, but it's Community now -- Kent Community now.  I went there for training for nurse's aid.  Then from there I went to Maple Grove and that's Luther Home now.  Maple Grove I worked there for four years, nights.  Then I went to Butterworth.


JT: You worked a long time at Butterworth.


AV: Fourteen years.


JT: Correct.  And what did you do at Butterworth?


AV: Unit secretary. 


JT: What unit was this?


AV: Pediatrics.


JT: And retired when?


AV: 1983.


JT: That's a long work history.  You were always really a worker, Alice.  That's good; helped out with the house, and –


AV: Ya.


JT: All right, I'd like to talk about The Depression Era.  I know you were young, but can you tell me anything you remember?


AV: Okay, now there's one thing that stands out really, really in my mind.  It was a very hard time -- something about the banks were closed or something was happening to the banks then.  But, money was hard to come by and I don't know if mother didn't get money, or something, but there was one supervisor that, I don't know how he heard about mom or what, but he was Charles Feenstra was our supervisor at that time and he bought mom a 25-pound bag of flour so she could bake bread.  When I was in Florida I met up with somebody, she writes poetry and I talked to her a minute and I said -- Okay.  (Changing tapes.)


JT: Okay, tell me about, you were in Florida.


AV: I told this girl, I says, "You know," I says, "Do you know Charles Feenstra?" and she says, "Ya, that was my father."  So, I told her what happened with that sack of flour and she just cried.  She says, "That was my dad and he would do things like that."   And then another time we had a school program, like our Christmas program at school and Mr. Wiersma was our supervisor then and their family packed a goose in a crate and that was placed under the Christmas tree at the school and they gave that to mom for Christmas.


JT: So, these were very special people. 


AV: Very special.  Very tender and helpful.  And you talked about eggs a while back.  We went to the neighbors and bought eggs and used the telephone and things like that.

JT: Well, at this time your dad wasn't living with you.


AV: No, no. 


JT: So, it was hard. 


AV: So, those were my dear memories.


JT: Now, you graduated from high school in 1941.


AV: Ya. 


JT: Now, World War II is coming that winter.  How did you hear about the War back then?


AV: I heard about it on the radio, we had radio.  It hurt me terrible when the Germans went over in the Netherlands.  I thought, "Oh!"  You know, you thought the world was comin' to an end.  Well, our ties are back there. 


JT: It was a hard time anyway.  What do you remember about World War II and how it affected your family?


AV: We had rations and it kind of disgusts me when I think about the war that's going on now and people are grumbling and complaining and I don't think they got anything to complain about.  We had rations and we did things about supporting the war, buying even stamps at school. 


JT: Bonds.


AV: And turning them into war bonds and things like that.  They didn't do anything like that during this war at all!  And then there's the hardship of metals.  I mean, there was like this copper deal, there was something about during the war I don't think that people were getting copper at all.  There was metals like that that were used for making airplanes or whatever equipment they needed.


JT: My mother told me back then she didn't have the nylons. 


AV: Nylons, you couldn't get nylons.  And there were some doings you were supposed to wear nylons.  You wore dress up clothes and you were supposed to wear nylons.  Sometimes they'll just run and you couldn't do anything about it. 


JT: The nylons, I remember that.  You told me you quit working, "working" in 1983.   How have you kept busy these last few years?


AV: (Laughing).  When I left there I says, "I'll be knittin' for Britain," and I'll show you what I'm doin' right now.  I've got a bunch of poetry in there too, but –


JT: You're a knitter.


AV: Ya. 


JT: Something you learned when you were young?


AV: No, I learned that when I was older. 


JT: Where did you learn how to knit?


AV: I learned from my Aunt Jenny.


JT: You have a lot of knitting.


AV: This is for a baby that's comin'. 


JT: Oh, my!  You're still knitting.


AV: This is my biggest.  I might make another one.  I'm thinkin' about makin' another one. 


JT: Oh, how pretty!  I am looking at this beautiful little afghan. 


AV: Ya, a baby afghan.


JT: With the baby colors.  Nice 'n warm too.


AV: The thing about makin' another one I'd like to make it with that green in here instead of the blue, just to go with this.


JT: You get a lot of pleasure out of doing this. 


AV: Oh, ya.


JT: It doesn't seem like work, does it?


AV: It's somethin' you have to learn.


JT: Exactly.  Just knitting, Alice?  Is that all you do?


AV: Oh, I've done elastic canvas.  I don't think I've got any out right now. 


JT: Elastic canvas.  Okay, so you've done some crafts.


AV: Ya.


JT: I'm getting towards the end here, Alice.  I have two questions.  One of them is:  How would you describe Alice VanLuinen?


AV: Let me see. I don't know, I think I enjoy being a private person.  I don't think I like going forth and back.  Some people just run themselves ragged going forth and back.  I'll give you a synopsis of what's going on here.


JT: I'd say you were a hard worker, Alice.


AV: This is what I wrote for a reunion for 2004. 


JT: So, you want to say you're a writer. 


AV: Right.  "There's going to be a reunion of the Joe and Henrietta Huisman clan and memories too of all those who were with us in this life.  Hoping you mark August 7 on your calendar and reserve that date.  Come and bring a favorite dish and share with others the blessings showered on us in the past years, joy or sadness.  Encourage one another as we turn life's pages together."  And here's what I wrote about my sister Jenny and Matt when they got married.  And here's one about Julia and Bob when they got married. 


JT: So, you've written some little things –


AV: Right.


JT: Your feelings to your family members. 


AV: Yup.  Many of them.  I had one collection not too long ago of a friend -- the picture was in the paper -- celebrating her anniversary, 50 years.  Let's see what this one says.  "When there is darkness and Satan's darts are all around us, there is no need of fear.  The only One near is Jesus.  When there are doubts and you're known to _____ _____ Jesus and kneel on your knees right there.  The world becomes waddled and your reputation you fear, take your troubles to Jesus, he's always near.  So, in your fear of darkness, doubt, and your burden be great there's no need to fear for He is the light of all time help need."  There's a Mighty Battle Raging.  This is when I wrote about the war.  "There's a mighty battle raging, there's a conflict going on.  Rise up ye men of armor, show your colors, put them on.  There's a mighty battle raging, the enemy presses forward.  Turn ye then from vein pleasures and get in line with the Lord.  There's a mighty battle raging, Satan seems to hold the upper hand.  Come ye Christians, let ye see Him at command.  There's a mighty battle raging, we must not lose the fight.  Christ still commands from above His love or wounds the enemy's knife.  There's a mighty battle raging, now the enemy falls back.  His might was only machinery, he had no God and faith he lacked.  There's a mighty triumph marching into the promised land behind are ten times a thousand sinking, sinking into sand."  That's what I wrote about the war when you talk about the war.  Don't let the shadow touch him, that's about a war bonds. 


JT: What's coming out here, Alice, is that you're a woman of faith. 


AV: I think that's what kept me goin' all these years.


JT: I'm almost done here, Alice.  Anything I have forgotten or left out that you want to add?


AV: I don't know, really.


JT: Have we talked about everything that you want to say?


AV: That I can think of, yes.  That piano bench has got a lot of that in it.


JT: Okay, my last question, Alice:  What will be your advice to your kids, grandkids? 


AV: Hold onto the Faith.  There's a lot of falling away nowadays and I really fear for that. 


JT: I believe that is good advice.  I believe we are done, Alice, is that okay?


AV: Ya.


JT: Okay, I'm gonna stop