April, 2015

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April 30 2nd edition. Small World.

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

On Saturday’s posting I show the US Consul, John Wilcock, laying a wreath at the Dachau monument. I brought to his attention the American role in the liberation of the Dachau women prisoners, which my mother was a part of. He invited me to the consulate today to tell him more about the details. Much of which is incorporated in the book I wrote “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”.

But what was so unusual about this visit was, when I mentioned to his assistant Christa, that I grew up in the Rivierenbuurt, it turned out that her mother was two classes higher in my elementary school and that my sister remembers her mother, Hannie van Ingen-Schenau,  well, they were in the same high school class. Christa is born in Southern California after her parents immigrated from Holland.

With USA Consul, John Wilcock, in Amsterdam consulate

With USA Consul, John Wilcock, in Amsterdam consulate


April 30 2015. 40 years since Fall of Saigon, 70 years since US 7th Army liberated Wolfratshausen

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

On April 30 the Russians liberated the infamous women concentration camp Ravensbrück. The next day, May 1st 1945, the German commander of the AGFA Commando, a Dachau satellite camp, turned the 600 prisoners over to the US army commander in Wolfratshausen, where the women were intercepted on their Death March. There are many events scheduled here in Europe to remember these important dates.

Our mother was part of the 200 Dutch women in the AGFA commando who had been sent to Dachau in October 1944 from Ravensbrück. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGFA_Commando  

Yesterday I had a chance to visit the “Groote Beer” botter yacht in Spakenburg and meet the new manager of the Nieuwboer botter yard, Marco Venendaal. She is scheduled to be relaunched in May after a thorough repair from the damage suffered when she fell out of the crane in Elburg in 2011.

Keel repairs "Groote Beer"

Keel repairs “Groote Beer”



Tuesday April 28. Found Rose Marie’s long lost Godfather.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

I had been searching for years, while I spent time on “Fleetwood” in and near Belgium, on the internet and Facebook for the Claeys family, dear friends we had when we lived in the Brussels section of Forest in 1966/67. We lost contact after we returned to the United States and the difficult years of our family splitting up in 1972. Last week I visited the old neighborhood where we lived on Rue Henri Maubel and I walked past the house of the Claeys family, which brought back many fond memories. Their son Claude and his sister Colette are the “Pareins” godparents of Rose Marie, our second oldest daughter who is born in Brussels in 1968. Claude was then 15 or 16 and his sister a few years older. So, he has to be close to sixty four now. Today I received a comment on this web site from Claude. He has been living in Argentina for the last 33 years. We will have lots to catch up. How and where his sisters are, I may need to make another trip to Brussels before I leave and introduce my granddaughter Corrine to them. Corrine’s mother was two years old when the Claeys family met her, nearly fifty years ago.

L.R. Claude, Joan with Rose Marie, Colette, Jack, Mme. Claeys at Baptismal Feb 1968 St. Pie-X Forest (Bruxelles)

L.R. Claude, Joan with Rose Marie, Colette, Jack, Mme. Claeys at Baptismal Feb 1968 St. Pie-X Forest (Bruxelles)


Same location, picture taken last week

Same location, picture taken last week



Sunday/Monday April 25/26. King’s Day.

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Sunday morning was high mass at the Augustinus church where I used to attend regularly. The choir “Cantate Dominum” in which I sang in 2012 and 2013 sang at the mass. What a treat and privilege. The envy of many churches in the United States, yet apparently taken for granted here judging by the sparse church attendance. Most of the liturgical songs were from Missa Princeps Pacis by Lloyd Webber, Communion song: O Saluaris Hostia from Edward Elgar and the recessional hymn “King of all ages” from Paul Isom. After the service I visited in the Parish Hall for coffee with the choir members who I have dearly missed since I returned to Gig Harbor. I will see them again next Saturday when they are having the general rehearsal for the May 4th concert on Memorial Day. I will not be ale to attend the concert because of the “Names instead of Number” presentation that evening.

Pastor Tom Buitendijk wih choir in background.

Pastor Tom Buitendijk wih choir in background.

In the afternoon I visited with my longtime elementary school class mate Jeannette and her husband Henk in Bosch en Duin.

Today is the national holiday in honor of the new King’s birthday. This is the second time that I got a chance to be here on this day, you might recall the report and the crazy pictures in the same week in 2013.  This time it was a lot cooler but sunny and festive.

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Saturday April 25. 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of C.C. Dachau.

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Every year, on the Saturday on or before April 29, this day is commemorated at the National Dachau Monument in Amsterdam. On May 29th., 1945 the Rainbow Division of the 42nd Infantry Brigade of the U.S. 7th Army entered the gates of Dachau. This ended 12 years of Nazi terror in the first SS concentration  camp, “home” to roughly 200,000 prisoners, of which 41,566 lost their lives in Dachau. 550 of the 2,000 Dutch political prisoners died in Dachau. Our mother Rennie de Vries-van Ommen survived as part of a group of 200 Dutch prisoners in the AGFA Commando, a Dachau satellite camp. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGFA_Commando

The very first time that I had an opportunity to attend the annual commemoration was in 2013, see https://cometosea.us/?m=201304   where I met Willemijn van Gurp-Petroff. She is now 96 years old and the last ambulant survivor of the Dutch political Dachau women prisoners. She gave a moving speech in which she emphasized the lessons she has for all of us. They were forced into survival by becoming a very close unit. In Ravensbrück they slept in bunk rows three high, two women per bunk under one thin blanket. They had to wash together, five naked women shared one water bucket. No privacy, no shame, no intolerance of each other. Willemijn was dragged, with high fever, by two of her friends, into the box cars that brought the 200 women out of the hell of Ravensbrück to Dachau, where, as it turned out, her chance of survival increased ten fold. She told us of how she only began sharing her war experiences in the last five years and how this has set her free. The two high school students who set her name in the project “Names instead of Numbers” http://www.gedaechtnisbuch.de/namen-statt-nummern/english/index-engl.html ,  Job Bruin en Jelle Braaksma, were again with her. Next week, on May 4th, the national annual 2nd WW commemoration, our mother will also be remembered in this same program by a German student, Henriette Schulze. This is one of the main reasons I am in Holland until May 8th. The Dutch king opened the special exhibit on this program in the Dutch National Resistance Museum in Amsterdam on Wednesday. I went to see it yesterday right after a program given by the Dutch Dachau Committee in which Jos Sinnema was honored for his work in bringing the program into the Dutch schools, from where it started in Dachau. Thus far Jos Sinnema is only the third person to receive this distinction, after Dr. Barbara Distel, the former president of the International Dachau Commitee and German chancellor Angela Merkel. The biographies of the individual prisoners are also making a tour through the United States, see above link.

For those who have missed it: The only complete published story of the 200 AGFA Commando prisoners is incorporated in “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”

Jos Sinnema receiving the General-André-Delpech prize from the International Dachau committee. Left Sonja Arendsen-Holz right Dr. Barbara Distel, ex-president of the I.D.C.

Willemijn sticking flower in the monument, with Job Bruin and ex Dachau inmate Wim Velthuizen

Willemijn sticking flower in the monument, with Job Bruin and Dachau survivor Wim Velthuizen


Mrs. Willemijn van Gurp-Petroff address at Dachau Monument

John Wilcock, U.S. Consul General laying wreath with local elementary school students.

John Wilcock, U.S. Consul General laying wreath with local elementary school students.

Tuesday April 21 Brussels. A sentimental visit.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Yesterday I drove early in the morning from Amsterdam to Bruges where I picked up my Gig Harbor friends Andy and Maggi. It was a perfect warm Spring day. The trees are just starting to bud, the bulbs and flowering fruit trees are in bloom. I showed my friends some of my favorite spots where  we used to live from 1965 until 1970. Tomorrow I will be picking them up in Antwerp and show them some of the sights along the way in Holland on the way back to Amsterdam. While having lunch in Halle, yesterday, the lady in the picture, sat down, as a blonde, two tables away from us. After the third glass of Kriek Lambic, a typical Belgian beer (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kriek_lambic ), this is what happened to her hair. This is NOT photo-shopped.







Yesterday was my oldest granddaughter, Corrine,’s 25th Birthday. So, glad to be able to celebrate with her and her husband Euan. Today I went searching for the apartment we rented in Brussels from 1965 until we moved to a larger home in Ittre, when Rose Marie was born in February 1968. I paid a visit to the St. Pie X church where we went to church in Brussels and where Rose Marie was baptized. Walked by the office I worked in on Ave. Louise and to the Grand Place where the Guildhalls were freshly Gilded.








This evening Corrine and Euan took me on a long hike through the Cinquantenaire to Place Jourdan where the best ever Frites (French Fries) are made. Every Belgian daughter in law has to be able to pass the rigid test on frying frites before she is approved. The surrounding cafés allow you to eat the frites from the stand at their tables.


Corrine and Euan playing quatres mains.

Corrine and Euan playing quatres mains.

Sunday April 19. In Holland

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

I flew yesterday from Seattle via Edmonton, Alberta, Reykjavik to Amsterdam. Reasonable good flights, except on the last leg I was squeezed in the center seat between a nice obese lady and a jerk guy in the window seat who stuck his left elbow and knee in my side and would not budge, agonizing 4 hour flight. On my way early Monday morning rental car drive to Brugges to meet Gig Harbor friends and celebrate the 25th birthday with Granddaughter Corrine in Brussels. Returning Wednesday to Amsterdam. Then a busy program next weekend around the 70th anniversary of the Dachau liberation.


Thursday April 16. An anniversary.

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

It is exactly one year ago today that I announced the purchase of the “Fleetwood” success(or).

May 17 1980- Nov. 16 2013

May 17 1980-until RIP  Nov. 16 2013


April 16 2014 to..???

I found my life raft a 2-4 person older model hard pack Beaufort raft, for $ 150. And a few other smaller items at last Saturday’s Fisheries Supplies swap-meet. My next major item will be the solar panel. Looking for a used 6 x 6 foot wide arch like the one on the old “Fleetwood” (see above picture). Your suggestions are appreciated.

I am packing my bag for Saturday’s flight to Amsterdam. Leaving the boat tomorrow and stay Friday night with Lisa, she’ll take me to SeaTac o Saturday morning. On her 51st Birthday….. I’ll be back May 8th.

SOLOMAN is done. The Dutch version. It is now being edited. 370 pages. And working on the cover.

Gorgeous day here in Gig Harbor. A few hardy teenagers were already diving off the Stanich dock, a while ago.





Monday April 6. A visit from a long time friend.

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

There is a saying in Dutch: Een goede buurman is beter dan een verre vriend= A good neighbor is better than a distant friend. When I met Lies Bueninck in September 2009 ( see: https://cometosea.us/?p=720 ) she showed me what my mother had given to her. Lies and another 200 Dutch women in the Dachau AGFA Commando https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGFA_Commando  had exchanged addresses with their fella-prisoners when their liberation was imminent.



They wrote their address and a short message/poem on the back of a 1 1/2 ” diameter carton that had been used in the AGFA factory to separate the timing devices, the women were forced to assemble. On that day, April 26, 1945, 200 x 200= 40,000 of these address cards were written….. Many of these survived. Some are exhibited in the Washington, D.C. Holocaust Museum. Lies Bueninck was 100 years old when I met her, she still remembered my mom. This collection of Lies Bueninck’s memorabilia will be a temporary  exhibit  in the Dutch Resistance Museum opening on April 24. I will be attending.

This is a long winded introduction to my very good friend Evert Slijper, who came to visit yesterday. He is the exception, unless Oregon can pass for the Neighbor.

I met Evert in 1972, in Springfield, Oregon. He is 9 years my junior. He came from Holland to Tacoma in the seventies to study at the University of the Puget Sound in an exchange program with the only private Dutch University “Nijenrode”. He has lots of friends here in Gig Harbor and Tacoma through the Thistle sailor community. One of the Gig Harbor notables, the owner of the Tides Tavern, Pete Stanley, studied at Nijenrode on this same exchange programs. Evert still calls it “Three Fingered Jack” to show his age. When I sent out my “Fleetwood is Flotsam” blog on November 16, 2013, Evert came to the rescue with his cousin Victor van Liempt on Ibiza, who made me the best dressed shipwreck survivor. Then when I arrived back in Holland on January 8, 2014 he put me up in his parental home in Haarlem with a car and weekly maid service until I repatriated to Gig Harbor on April 3rd 2014. And in between he looked me up at the yacht club “De Schinkel” in Amsterdam where “Fleetwood” was berthed and where he and his brother are still “Kind in Huis” because of their association with the “Freedom” sailing fleet.

at the Shor(sic) Line in Tacoma with Evert

at the Shor(sic) Line in Tacoma with Evert


Easter Sunday April 5. Alleluia!

Monday, April 6th, 2015

It is Monday morning and I caught up on my sleep, after a rigorous choir program. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil on Saturday and then both the 8.30 and 11 Easter Sunday service. But it was worth the effort and a very satisfying experience again. Ann Wopat, the director, put together a great program for the four different services. My favorite Easter hymns and among others Mozart’s Ave Verum, Panis Angelicus, Cantate Domine, Regina Coeili (M.M. Cottone). I had sung the Ave Verum with my 2012/2013 Dutch choir members in Rome and Amsterdam. The rest was new for me but I was fortunate to have one more semi-pro tenor and a base to get me going.

On an earlier post I was offering myself for marriage, adoption or a favor, and a later retracted result to my search. Well, guess what? So, after I purchased my ticket for my three week visit to Amsterdam on April 18, I meet a new friend after yesterday’s service. Turns out he is a retired pilot for a carrier that flies to Amsterdam and he is good for my next buddy pass. God is good. And shows what you are missing if you are not a member yet of St. Nicholas.

Father Mark Guzman at the Holy Thursday service.

Father Mark Guzman at the Holy Thursday service.

I am house/dog sitting, until Wednesday, on the very same street I last owned a home, Goodman Ave in Gig Harbor. Just a few houses down the hill. This is the view from the house and the Google Earth picture.


circled top my home from 1993-1997. bottom my current hideout.

circled top my home from 1993-1997. bottom my current hideout.

This evening Evert Slijper, from Haarlem and Eugene, is visiting to have dinner at the Shor(e) Line. A year ago, on April 3rd, I closed the door in Haarlem of his parental home, where I had been house sitting since January 10 upon my return from Mallorca.

“Soloman”: I am putting the last touches on the Dutch manuscript. I expect to have the e-book version available during my Holland visit.