The Rapidian Home

Afoot: Hymns and Donuts

Readers offer scenes from the streets
Underwriting support from:

Afoot is a new space at The Rapidian that invites readers to share slices of life from the streets—and parks and shops and offices—of Grand Rapids.  Did you look twice at a stranger today?  What did you overhear?  Was a new tree blooming out an old window?  We’d like to see through your eyes and hear through your ears. 

Please send your submissions to [email protected].   Submissions must be true, and should relate to Grand Rapids, past or present.  Brief is better—under 300 words.  Sometimes a couple of sentences can do the trick.  If your entry is accepted, we will contact you to verify that you are the author.


I noticed a sign reading "Don't Worry, Customers Please Enter" on the door of a Midtown pastry shop.  After ordering a dozen donuts for co-workers, I asked the counter clerk why they had to encourage customers to come into the shop.  She said that they have hymn singing Monday mornings and people don't want to bother the singers.  I shoved the cherry turnover in my mouth and left.

Steven Depolo



I was waiting to make a left turn at the stop light on Pearl and Scribner.  This is a busy intersection where traffic is coming on and off of 131.  There are lots of pedestrians crossing Scribner to get into the city from GVSU or the DASH lots.  Cars are usually respectful of the pedestrians but it's not always as it should be.

So this morning a pedestrian was heading west across Scribner with the walk light, carrying a briefcase and coffee.  The car ahead of me was determined to go left and seemed to be willing to hit the pedestrian if necessary to get its way.   The walker was having no part of it and held his ground glaring at the driver.  The car kept moving so the walker hurled his coffee cup and scored a bulls-eye on the windshield.  It was a tragic loss of a good cup of coffee but I wish I knew what the driver was thinking as he/she drove through a windshield of ignominy on the way to wherever.

Fred Clowney



I’m training for this year’s Amway Riverbank Run, so I’m hitting the pavement nearly every day.  I live downtown Grand Rapids and I take every opportunity to run outside.  I love the bustle around me and watching people come and go as I run through the streets.  Most often, I’m dodging cars pulling out of driveways and parking garages.  I’ve nearly been taken out a time or two.  But the other day was different, and I’m still dumbfounded by the kindness and courtesy I experienced.  As I passed streets and driveways, nearly every single car that was pulled out a little too far, and in my path, backed up!  I’d never seen that!  They all graciously backed up to allow me to continue running across the street instead of swerving around them.  Maybe it was the nice weather, maybe they weren’t in a hurry, or maybe they all decided to show a little kindness.  They were very small gestures, but I noticed.  And I’m appreciative. 

 Christine VanTimmeren



The path along the river by Veteran’s Memorial drive in Millennium park is a hotspot for birding.  We had sauntered along with a small and knowledgeable group from the GR Audubon Club and had seen some of the usual suspects:  nuthatches, robins, woodpeckers, and some kinglets and tree sparrows, too.   Feeling chilly, and itching for a vigorous walk, we peeled off to walk  the little dirt paths along fields and ponds . . . and walked and walked, totally turned around.   Park maps were posted, marking paths in different colors, but the trails themselves had no color clues.  How silly to be lost in this park right outside the city!   A fellow  passed by and we asked for directions.  “Just head for the cell tower,” he advised.  Off we set, and as we passed around another little pond, there was a beautiful pair of red-breasted mergansers.  Getting lost has its rewards.

Rosemary Conlin



On my bike ride in to work today, I took a quick detour to peek into “the cave,” or, to be more specific, the underpass that once connected the train line to the old Grand Rapids Press building. In my view, this little piece of the city sits at the intersection of its past and its future.

For fifty years, the Press occupied the corner of Michigan and Monroe before making way for the Grand Rapids Research Center (GRRC) in 2015. Times change and nowhere is this more evident than on this corner lot dubbed “the gateway to Medical Mile.” Good-bye to the train cars full of paper, and the smoky newsrooms with bustling reporters. Hello to the incubators, microscopes and scientists working diligently to improve human health. I like being a witness to this progress, but also like imagining the days of The Press operating at full tilt, churning out papers and engaging citizens.

During the demolition of the old Press building, part of the copper roof was salvaged and now adorns GRRC’s atrium, grounding us to the past and reminding us of our history. Grand Rapids is constantly changing, so I try to remember to look around and take it all in before pieces of the past vanish right before my eyes. For now, the cave and its railroad tracks are still intact, but who knows what the future will hold.

Amanda Sterling


The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.