The “Nigger Baby”

Writing a novel involves a degree of research. In this case, research on the city I grew up in–Holland, Michigan.

A trolley system ran through Holland at one point. It had various names. At its longest, it ran from Saugatuck up to Grand Rapids. They’d actually bought the right of way to South Haven. Had they actually built, people would have been able to ride from Holland to Chicago by trolley. Bearing in mind that trolleys could reach 80 mph, this would have been more workable than you might think.

Like many other interurban railways of the period, the trolley system also included an amusement park (Jenison Park–located on the south side of Lake Macatawa near Lake Michigan). This way there would be a built in reason to ride the rails. Grand Rapids’ trolley system included a similar amusement park near Reeds Lake.

Jenison Park included a variety of rides and amusements. They included a roller coaster, merry-go-round, penny arcade, the “House of Trouble” and a few other things. One of the “other things” located next to the House of Trouble is simply labeled “Nigger Baby.”

There are moments in doing any sort of historical research when you read something and realize that things have changed since then. Noticing that for the first time was one of those moments for me.

I didn’t know what that exhibit or event was. I still don’t.

If anyone reading this does, write a comment and let me know.

UPDATE: I may have an answer to this one. See the next post for details.

4 thoughts on “The “Nigger Baby””

  1. 1950’s jargon:

    “THE LAST ONE THERE, IS A NIGGER BABY”

    this jargon was extant up until the advent of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Martin Luther King, SJ, a Roman Catholic Priest.

  2. Have you ever found out about what ‘N……. Baby was. I have some real interest in that subject or more accuratly the subject of early African American in our community

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