January 12th, 2013

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Saturday January 12. Coincidences or Small World?.

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

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The above is one of many coincidental experiences I have with connecting people to people. I am writing this from the living room table of my friends the Wijnans. Arthur and I became friends in 1973 when he came to Tacoma to purchase wood products from me. When I was searching in the National Archives in The Hague for information for the book, I started a conversation with an attractive lady (I can’t resist) who was doing research for her writing project. She turned out to be Sylvia from a small town south of Amsterdam, Oegstgeest. I asked her if she could check her town’s records for an aunt I used to have in Oegstgeest. She did, and I discovered many new relatives and now have regular contact with a cousin of my generation who is the source for the pictures in the book of the two commercial sailing barges owned by my mother’s aunt and uncle. Then I also remembered that Arthur had grown up in Oegstgeest. Turns out Sylvia’s parents were life long friends of Arthur’s parents. Sylvia published a book: ‘Een Perzisch kleed voor een kistje aardappels’ (www.oudoegstgeest.nl ) and the front cover is the portrait of her mother done by Arthur’s father, who was an accomplished painter. Sylvia is still very good friends with Arthur’s step mother. Sylvia also is one of the friends who helped me with the editing of the Dutch book.

Then there was the meeting last year of Melina with her father she had been searching for for over 40 years, which came about through my reporting meeting her Greek-Cypriot-American father in a small town in Roumania. One of the most unusual meetings was in a ski lift in Lech, Austria in the early seventies. When I mentioned this meeting to my friend Roman Wydra in Tacoma it turned out that the two had fought together in the Yugoslav partisans in WW-2. They had lost track of each other in Milan in the early fifties.

Years ago my cousin wrote me that he had a good friend who is also a sailing fanatic. Both men are on the board of the Sneek Week annual sailing regatta. Because of my book research, I was able to disclose to him that four of their/our mutual great aunts/uncles were married to each other. One of the two couples are the parents of the “other” Mastmakers’ daughter.

One of these days, in a chair lift or in the middle of an ocean or a remote village, I’ll find a connection again to Betty Lou Walker of Culver City, California. Last seen in 1958. I have a message for her.