photo credit: Google search Dordrecht The Netherlands, AmsterdamTips.com
I gave myself a nice case of “writer’s block” for Christmas. Since I was long past due to post this, I was bemoaning my lack of ideas to my husband. “Oh, I have a lot of stories,” he said. “Tell me one,” I said.
photo credit: family file
Ron’s parents grew up in The Netherlands in the towns of Dordrecht and Rotterdam and moved here just after World War 2. Both cities are a few miles from the seacoast with Dordrecht sitting on the end of an estuary. Neither the Stam or the van der Laan families had an abundance of money. In fact, my mother-in-law had 18 brothers and sisters, so she grew up with an appreciation for thrift. Just after they were married, before Mom and Dad emigrated, Mom took a sewing class. The teacher sold Mom her organ. Both of them liked music, so having a ready-made source sounded like a good idea. So, they brought it home, set it in place, and discovered that it had worms living in it. Well, they didn’t have the know-how or funds to exterminate and repair any damage caused by the delinquent renters, so they decided to take the thing back.
But, the sewing teacher didn’t want it back (imagine that!). Out of frustration, Dad told his sister about the situation. War survivors are tough people. They learn to not take nonsense, to value kinship and friendship. One such was a friend to Dad’s brother-in-law. He was a large man, large of stature and of voice. He hauled the organ to the teacher’s place and told her, “here’s your organ back. Do you want it through the door or the window?”
The money was refunded.
Two fabulous books that will give you an idea of the resilience of the Dutch people at that time are “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom. Both can be found at your local library.