Photograph showing Detroit Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell being presented with a pair of wooden shoes from the Wooden Shoe Factory.
In 1929 the Dutch Novelty Shop was located at 50 West 8th Street in Holland, MI (1929 city directory). Owned and operated by Chester Van Tongeren (1896-1971), the shop had relocated to 141 River Avenue by 1934 (1934 city directory). By 1940 the address had changed once more, this time the store was located at 85 River Avenue in Holland, MI (1940 city directory). The Dutch Novelty Shop appears in city directories as late as 1962.
One of the attractions of the Dutch Novelty Shop was the window to their wooden shoe factory, where tourists could watch the carvers at work. The carvers were Gerrit “Gary” Ten Brink, a klompenmaker (wooden shoe maker) who immigrated in 1934, and Fred Oldemulders.
The Wooden Shoe Factory and Restaurant was an extension of the Van Tongeren's Dutch Novelty business.
The Wooden Shoe was originally located on M-21 (Chicago Drive). This building burned down on 12-26-1956, re-opening in 1962 at 16th and US 31. By this time Chester's son Del Van Tongeren (1929-1996) was helping run the stores.
The Fuller Brothers had a special room at the US 31 shop where their wooden bowls were sold. In 1987 the Fullers sold the Wooden Bowl to the Wooden Shoe Factory. The Wooden Shoe Factory closed it's doors in 1999 and, under the guidance of Chester Van Tongeren's grandson Dave Gier, began to focus solely on producing wooden bowls.
Fred Oldemulders was born in Laar, Germany on 5-11-1898 (from his WW2 draft card). He came to America in 1923. By 1925 Fred was working in a furniture factory by day and carving wooden shoes from home in the evening. He would then sell his shoes to the Dutch Novelty Shop.
By the 1950s Fred was employed by the Wooden Shoe Factory in Holland, MI. He would work here for more than 30 years. Fred lived in Holland, MI with his wife Grace (1898-1964) at 8 West 32nd Street. In his lifetime Fred made more than 300,000 pair of wooden shoes.
Some time after the death of Grace in 1964 Fred married Johanna Diekjakobs (1906-1999). Fred passed away on 6-2-1984.