These notes were compiled by my sister Astrid Beugeling from the oral history given to her by my mother Eva Beugeling
In September of 1950, Dad met our mother in a restaurant. He and his buddy threw some dice to see who would take her home. Dad won. They went out together for about 6 months when mom became pregnant. No one knew that she was with child. Mom was 19, dad was 21. She didn't want to marry him and decided she wanted to break up with him. When she told him this, he was devastated as he loved her very much. He said, "Well I can't make you but it is my child too so could you please let me know if it's a boy or girl. I am going to sign up for the Korean War."
After he left she thought about what he had said and felt that that it was very sincere and she was scared that he might go into the war and never return so the next day she walked to his parent's place in South Amsterdam 1/2 hour walk. She told him that if he still wanted to marry her she would marry him. He was very happy. Once they decided that they would marry each other mom told her parents that she was pregnant. They weren't very happy about that but there wasn't much they could do at that point. They were both of age to get married. Dad didn't want to talk to his parents so he sent mom to talk to them. He had been kicked out of his home by his father because of a conflict with a 10pm curfew his dad had set. He was staying at mom's sister Grada's house at this time.
So, mom went to his parent's house alone and told them about their plans and of course they really didn't think they should get married because they thought that they were too young. Mom told them that she was expecting and they were shocked. After mom left she was about a block away when dad's mom stopped her and gave her 20 guilders(Dutch dollars). She wanted mom to buy dad a good pair of shoes and also said to take good care of her son.
They continued to date and got married on March 31, 1951. They got married at the City Hall of Amsterdam.
Both families were in attendance. Tante (Dutch word for Aunt) Anita loaned mom a blouse, suit, shoes, gloves and fur coat and Tante Joke got her a hat. Dad wore a brown suit. After they got married at City Hall they went to the De Duif Catholic Church to get married again. Which was common marriage practice in those days because the City Hall did not recognize a church marriage. This was the church that mom attended since she was a small child. It was the same priest that mom knew who married them. He gave the mass to them as a wedding present. Normally one would have to pay for it. They then all went to mom's parents' house where they had a party.
Mom's dad rented another home right next door to their house. It had 2 apartments. Uncle Gerry and Tante Joke lived on the first floor. A prostitute named Ria rented out the second floor. And mom and dad took the attic room at the very top. They had to pay 6 guilders a week for this tiny room which was only big enough to fit a double bed. There was no water, heat, toilet, or shower! Mom had to sit on the bed to get dressed. She cooked on a petroleum cooking unit. During the day, mom went to work at a Clock Factory as a spray painter. She was there for only a few months when she started to pass out from the paint fumes because of her pregnancy. She then stopped working and spent most of her time with Tante Hanny and Tante Anita.
Mom's maternal grandparents were separated for 18 years. This separation occurred during mom's childhood. They lived on a Tug boat on the Schellingwoude, with living quarters below. One day mom was over there visiting, she was about 4 years old. Her Opa tied a rope around her and lowered her down into the river and taught her how to swim. After that she doesn't remember seeing him anymore. He left her Oma and remarried a woman named Kay. Mom loved her Oma very much. They called her Opoe [Opoo]. They loved her because she was so kind and hardworking, and loved her grandchildren very much.
After about 18 years, Kay died and so her Opa came back to her Oma and she took him back. Mom remembers this and that they couldn't believe it. Her Oma lived on the 3rd floor of a little house. She had broken her hip and was quite crippled. Her walk was affected by this injury. Her Opa at this time wasn't living on the Tug boat but lived in a house. And Oma moved back in with him.
They stayed together for quite a few years after that, having celebrated their 50th in 1951. Her Oma died in 1954 of kidney failure, she was in her 80's. She was born with only one kidney and they never knew. She had problems with her kidneys and went to have an operation which is when they discovered that she only had the one. They couldn't do anything for her. Mom never liked her Opa. No one in the family liked him and after mom moved to Canada she lost touch with him. Her Opa lived alone for a while afterwards until he died of old age.
She had stopped talking to her parents because her grandparents had their 50th wedding anniversary on October 31, 1951 which lasted until 3am. Mom was 9 months pregnant and dad was away serving in the Air Force. Mom had asked if she could drive in the taxi with her parents and they refused, so mom began to walk home alone. An aunt of mom's overheard and told her sister Grada that Eve was walking. Grada caught up to mom and told her to come with them, so mom stayed overnight with them. The next morning when she came home her dad [Opa] told her that he had stayed there all night waiting for her to come home. She didn't believe him and was very angry and upset that they allowed her to walk so late at night but were now pretending to be caring. She told him that she could have been laying in a gutter somewhere for all his caring!! They stopped talking until after John was born.
Dad was away in the Air Force when mom went into labour. She walked over to Tante Hanny's 5min. She stayed overnight and the next day Tante Hanny and mom took a taxi to a hospital where midwives delivered babies. John was born at 6:55pm on November 5, 1951.
It was an average birth time and delivery. He was 7lbs exactly! Tante Hanny and Tante Stef [mom's aunt] came to visit her and weren't aware that she had delivered. Visiting hours were from 7 - 8pm so they had to wait because John had just been born! When they got into the room the baby was at the end of the bed and they didn't notice. But Tante Stef looked at mom's belly and said, 'Oh I think you had your baby!' and mom said, 'Yes, he's right there!' pointing to the new born.
Later around 7:30pm after the visitors left, her parents came in. They were called by the hospital to let them know that she had delivered. Mom said that she didn't want to talk to them. Her mom left but her father stayed behind. He asked her the babies' name. She told him. He then asked if she would change his name to Gerardus after him. She agreed right away. They hugged and kissed and made up. Although it's weird because she never named him Gerardus!
She had to stay in the hospital for 16 days because of an infection in her left breast which was clogged up. Dad came to visit on the second day as he had received leave after they heard he became a father. He had a week leave so he could visit every day. John was a very good baby. He was kept in the nursery and mom only saw him when he needed to feed. He didn't want to drink from the left breast because of the infection. Mom had so much milk in her right breast that she was able to feed two of the other babies whose mothers did not have enough milk.
Mom signed herself out after the 16th day. Tante Hanny came to get her in the taxi. She arrived home and went to stay with her parents. The first night John woke up about 3am to be fed. The next day they kicked her out.
She traded in her bike for a baby pram. She couldn't go back to the attic room because it was way too tiny for her and the baby so she would walk every day, feeding him on steps of local houses and would sleep various nights at most of her sister's places. [Tante Hanny, Grada and her Tante Stef] Eventually as the weather got colder Tante Hanny took her in.
Because dad grew up in Curacao and didn't move to Amsterdam until he was 20 he missed being called to serve in the Royal Dutch Army. When he returned to Amsterdam he had to register as a permanent citizen and that he was there to stay. At this time, he was working for the KLM. In May of 1951 he received notice that he needed to serve in the Army. He went down and asked to go into the Air Force as a volunteer because he was married and needed more money. A volunteer would make a monthly salary instead of the 1 guilder a day he would get if he had been drafted. On August 1, 1951, he joined Air Force voluntarily, which gave him more money and a better chance of a higher rank.
He eventually was made Sergeant, and when his contract was finished after 7 years, he left. During his time in the Air Force he was sent to the KLM in Schiphol to be the engine controller. His was the final signature to okay the engines. He stayed there for only 3 months.
Mom and John lived with Tante Hanny for 2 1/2 months during which time dad would come home on Saturday's by train. He lived on an Air Force base while he was doing his training. Albert and Joke were both born during this time so the house was pretty crowded. Mom did have a little attic room which was slightly bigger than her prior attic room! She could use all the amenities of the house. Eventually they found a room with the use of a bathroom and kitchen.
This was on 56 Scheldestraat. They moved in in January or early February 1952.They shared the first floor with a woman mom didn't really like. Mom got to know the lady on the second floor really well. Helene and Fritz Van Der Schulde. They were very wealthy. He owned a factory that made large weigh scales. She didn't work and was like a second mother to mom. They shopped together and she fed mom and John. Mom would help her with house cleaning and cooking and shared time together. They lived there for about four months when they moved to a room upstairs on the fourth floor. No toilet, heat, but they did have water.
Mom got pregnant with Rob in September of 1952 while living in the upstairs room. Little John slept in a crib in the closet. Mom met Tante Willy Schmid who was a divorced woman with a boy and a girl. Tante Hanny knew her as well. She lived right next door to the house that mom lived in. They became very good friends. Mom knew that when she was going to have Rob that she would have to go to the hospital. Willy suggested that she have the baby at her home. Mom jumped at the opportunity to do this.
During this time dad became a Corporal and was able to come home every day. During the last week while they were waiting for the baby to come there was a soccer game on Tuesday night at the Air Base. Dad wanted to go so mom told him to go ahead because they had waited so long anyway that he may as well. When the time came to give birth, dad was at the soccer game and Willy had called the doctor and a nurse to come over. Her labour started 10 am and she gave birth at 9:50pm June 2, 1953, at 7lbs. Dad missed it by 5 minutes! He walked in the door and they said, "You have another son!" Willy was able to view the birth of Rob and was very pleased to have been there. She became the Godmother of Rob and John.
During this time, they still lived in a small attic room. Rob had to sleep out in the hall in the pram day and night. Mom kept the door open to watch him. There was absolutely no room in their room. When he cried, mom had to pick him up, hold him and feed him otherwise the neighbours would complain and they could be kicked out! He became very chubby and spoilt.
John was only about 18 months old at this time. They lived there until November 1953 about 6 months when they moved to a friend's mother's house. The friend was Ida who mom knew from school and was still in contact with. Her mother had a huge house in an expensive neighbourhood. They had a floor with 2 rooms, bathroom, 2 sinks, fireplace, and use of the kitchen downstairs. Ida's mother was also divorced and lived downstairs. She was a very nice lady.
At this time dad, would go for training sometimes for three weeks at a time. Mom worked at Frits De Ruiter which was a Deli type place. He was an Olympic runner who was friends with Fanny Blankers Koen who won the Gold medal for Holland as a runner in the Olympics. She is written in the world book of records. Mom made croquettes in the kitchen. She worked every day from 8 - 4 pm. Ida's mother took care of the kids for nothing.
During this time, many years after the war there was a terrible house shortage. People who owned large homes could trade for smaller ones and vice versa. The home that mom and dad were living in was really too large for the woman who owned it, so she traded it for a smaller home but because the family moving in needed all the space, mom and dad had to move out. It was very difficult to find anything. When they had moved in they put all mom and dad's furniture [what little they had] outside. Ida's mom had no idea that they would do this. When mom came home she found her things outside on the street. The kids were with Ida's mom in her new home.
The vegetable man who had a shop around the corner knew mom so she went to him and he drove his truck to pick up her things and took them to his house. Mom went to pick up the kids and took them back to the street. Dad came home and mom explained what happened. So, they walked to her parent's home and stayed overnight.
The next day dad went back to the Air Force base and mom took the kids and walked to the police station 11:30 am to see if they could help. They put her and the kids in the staff room. Mom is sitting there with the kids and put Rob on the table. While she was talking to the policeman Rob proceeded to eat his lunch! Mom had brought food along so she ended up making the poor guy his lunch in return.
This was at the end of April and she was pregnant with Paul. They couldn't help her with housing so they told her to put the tent up in the Dam Square, of course they didn't do this. They all stayed at the Police Station overnight with the kids! Dad was there too in his Air Force uniform. The next morning dad went to the housing office to request a house. He told them that he was fighting for his country and here he was with a pregnant wife and two kids living on the street. That if they didn't do something he would go to the local media and publicize this atrocity! This was at 10am. They told him to go home while they held a special meeting and to come back at around 4pm. He came back and they gave them the apartment on #10 Balistraat. The vegetable man held onto their things and they lived with her parents for 14 days until they could move in.
They moved in on May 15, 1954 with barely anything. They had a cardboard box for a table, one single bed, one double bed, a crib, dishes, and pots and pans. No fridge, stove, oven, wooden plank flooring, very basic. They did have a toilet, kitchen with sink and cupboards etc. It was their first real home. They were on the third floor. There was a milk store on the main floor, she didn't know the people on the first floor but she got to know the people on second floor, a couple with one daughter.
The rent was about 25.00 guilders per week. Mom wasn't working during this time and dad would come home every night. Paul was born that October 25, 1954. The labour was only about 1/2 hour. When the doctor came by at 2:30am and said that it would probably take until the next morning before she gave birth. It was early morning and dad had made coffee and offered the doctor a cup. He said sure and within the 1/2-hour mom gave birth. Mom first felt the water bag which hadn't broken. It came out and mom yelled out. He looked and as she sat up he told her to lay down. Soon after Paul just popped out. Mom never felt any pain at all! 2:50 am in the morning. Paul was 7lbs exactly. Dad finally saw a birth but it was so fast and so easy he thought that birthing a child was no big deal! Little did he know!!! Dad stayed home for the next 10 days as he took his holidays. Mom was required to stay in bed for the next 10 days as was the norm.
When dad brought the boys in the next morning they didn't seem very impressed. The night before there was no one and now there was this thing. What in the world was that! They looked at mom and couldn't quite figure it out. Mom will never forget the look on John's face!
In 1954 Dad told mom that he wanted to go to Australia and mom said, 'No way!' as it was on the other side of the world and she thought she would never see her family again. This was the first time that she knew he wanted to immigrate. She always knew he hated Holland as he felt it was too claustrophobic. He was raised on a small tropical island and not used to the city life. Then the issue was dropped. A few years later he brought up the possibility of moving to the US or Canada. He basically talked mom into going, although she never really wanted to go. She lived her whole life in Holland and her whole family was there. She loved her husband and felt that that was what he really wanted to do so she went along with it. Dad needed her okay/signature in order to go oversees alone as he had a family with 4 kids. Once he knew that it was okay with mom, he and a few of his air force buddies who also wanted to immigrate all sat around a map of the United States and Canada blindfolded. Then they would each pick a spot on the map. Dad chose a spot near Edmonton. Originally Dad wanted to go to the States but there was a 2-3 year waiting list. He didn't want to wait so he chose to go to Canada.
This was in 1957 and he quit the Air Force in March 1, 1958 after 7 1/2 years. He then began working for Otis Elevators as a mechanic in Amsterdam and that was when he began the paperwork for immigration to Canada. He met with an Immigration Officer who asked why he chose Canada? And what could he do in terms of employment? Dad told him that he was an aircraft engine mechanic. The man told dad that he couldn't go to Edmonton then because there were no aircraft services there. The only options would be Montreal or Vancouver. Dad did not want to go to Montreal because of the French and never considered Vancouver he was stuck on Edmonton. The man then asked dad what his hobbies were. Dad told him that his friend and himself would get old beat up cars and repair them then sell them. The man thought that was super because there were a lot of cars in Canada, so he granted dad his application to immigrate.
They all took the train to Rotterdam on August 8th, 1958, Oma and Opa Beugeling, Tante Rina, mom and the 4 kids for dad to board the "Grote Bear" [great bear] boat to Canada. This was the immigration ship. When they said, good-bye mom cried forever and wondered when she would ever see him again. It could take from one month to a year or longer before she and the kids would be able to go overseas.
John arrived in Halifax on August 15, 1958. He then took a train to Edmonton, Alberta. When he got to the Immigration Office in Edmonton there were a lot of Hungarians, Russians, Dutch etc., but no one spoke English except dad. So, it only took dad 3 months to get all the paperwork, a job and was assured by his employer that he was okay for work before mom and the kids could go overseas.
The job was as an Auto Mechanic in Red Water, about 40 miles south of Edmonton at Maloney's Garage. Mr. Maloney was the man to give dad the okay and sign his papers to allow mom and the kids to come over. The landlord also needed to sign these papers to say they had a house. Dad was in Edmonton with another fellow by the name of John Sisk, a Dutch friend who he met on the boat and who was also an auto mechanic who worked with dad for a while. He and his wife are Stephen's Godparent's. They had 2 boys and a girl. Once we moved to B.C. they lost touch.
Once mom received the notice from the Canadian Embassy that she was able to go overseas, the Dutch Immigration had booked a four-person room on the luxury liner SS Maasdam because the Immigration boats had stopped going overseas for the winter. Mom was very excited about this.
Once she was packed, selling off those things that she didn't want to take with her she stopped the Immigration payments that she was receiving while dad was in Canada. The house was let go and mom had to move out on the first of November.
Paul went to stay with Oma/Opa Beugeling, John and Rob with Oma/Opa Tiemessen and I stayed with mom at a girlfriend's place. Her name was Sus Kok, her husband was Jan. They lived across from us on Balistraat. Mom met them in May 1954 while mom was pregnant with Paul and that is when they moved into the house. They had 3 boys and 1 girl who all played with together with John and Rob.
We were booked to leave on Monday the 10th, and on the Thursday, the 6th an Immigration officer came to Sus's and told mom that she was not allowed on that boat because it was a luxury liner and cost double the price the Immigration was willing to pay. Mom was very upset and cried and then went to the milk store below where we lived to use the phone to call the Immigration office to tell them how upset she was because now she had no home, no money, four kids who were all over at relatives etc. The man said that he would be in touch and he would see what he could do.
On Friday, the 7th which was the last day they could do anything because the weekend was coming up and mom was booked to leave on the Monday, the officer came again and told mom that they had made arrangements with the Holland America Line to accept mom and kids for the Immigration cost because they would not be able to rebook out that large room at this short notice. And they felt it would be better to accept a lower cost than no cost. Everything was settled by that evening.
On Monday, November 10, 1958 we travelled to Rotterdam from Amsterdam [1hr] by train with Oma Tiemessen, Tante Anita, Tante Hanny, Oma Beugeling, Tante Rina and her friend Willy Schmid and her two kids. We boarded the S.S. Maasdam a passenger boat not an immigration boat. This boat trip took 18 days!! A single woman with 4 kids!!!
The first day we were still on inside waters from Rotterdam to South Hampton where the boat launched for a few hours. We all stayed on board. Once we were on open waters, the North Sea, mom and the boys got sick throwing up all the time. They had a day care for me [11mths old] we had a cabin that consisted of four bunk beds and a basket for me. When the boys got sick mom rang a bell to get help as she was sick as well. They would help clean up the boys. If they stayed laying down in their beds they were fine but as soon as they got up they would get sick. They got room service as they couldn't go down to the dining room. This went on for about 10 days of the whole trip! Once they started feeling better we were all able to go to the 6 o'clock sitting in the dining room. But because mom spent all her time feeding me she ran out of time to feed herself. The crew noticed that she hadn't eaten so they offered her the second sitting on the captain's table. They took the kids so she could eat. This went on for 8 days. Around 8 am every morning, a lady from the day care would come by and get me and keep me until 5:30pm. Mom and the boys stayed in bed all day!
One day before arrival they had a Sinter Klaus party for the children on board. So, mom dressed us all up and went upstairs to the party. We were there for 15 min. when Rob threw up all over himself and three other kids! We were all hauled off back to our room to get cleaned up and never went back to the party.
We arrived in Halifax, Pier 21 on November 19, 1958. A travel aid helped Mom get on a train to Montreal. In Montreal, she had to change trains and there was a travel aid there to help her get on to the train to Edmonton. It took 3 nights and 2 days. She couldn't speak any English. They stopped in a little town by Winnipeg and she lost little John because she was with Astrid in a restaurant to get some baby food. The three boys were outside playing hide and seek. So, when the train was ready to leave she still didn't have John and told the conductor to wait, she yelled "No, no no!" and pointed to the boys because she couldn't speak English. She started to call for John then he realized that one child was missing. That took about 15 minutes until John came out.
Another time she bought some food for Astrid and this lady saw the three boys and gave mom a big bag of candy for them. She met a Dutch priest on the train and they talked Dutch and when he left he bought all the boys a chocolate bar.
Just before she arrived in Edmonton she washed Astrid and a lady held her while she washed the boys one by one because the restrooms were so small. Once they arrived in Edmonton, Dad was not allowed onto the platform so the conductor knowing mom was alone with four kids and a bunch of luggage had Dad paged to come up to the train. It was a happy reunion for all.
Dads friend Roy? had driven Dad and now took the whole family back to Red Water. There was snow everywhere. She was so happy to see her husband that she didn't care. She hated the house in Red Water. There was no heat!! They had no car and no telephone. The landlord gave them a small black and white TV so the kids would have something to watch. Dad had built a room onto the house but forgot to add heat. All it had was a tiny heater. Mom would stay in bed all day with the kids to keep warm because it was 40 below.
Through friends of Dad, mom got to meet some ladies. One was named Lil, who was a Ukrainian Canadian. Her husband was Bill and they had one son who was about 2 years older than John. Lil tried to teach mom some English. Mom also self-taught herself by reading magazines.
She really missed her family something awful. Mom miscarried in January/February of 1959, at 2/3 months pregnancy. She started to cramp and bleed sometime in the afternoon. There was so much blood that the entire bed was covered in blood. She was in so much pain. With no telephone, so no one knew what was happening until dad came home from work about 5:30/6pm. Neither realized the extent of the mishap so dad went ahead and took care of the kids until around 8pm when he found her throwing up and bleeding profusely. Lil dropped by to visit and realized what was happening and told dad to take the car and take mom to the doctor. She would watch over the kids because it was late at night.
They drove to Rad Way 10miles from Red Water but that was the only town with a doctor. He felt her pulse and quickly realized how seriously ill she was and told dad that she would have to stay until the next morning and that he wasn't sure that she would make it through the night. He also told dad to stay the night. The doctor called Lil's husband who then went over to tell Lil what was happening. The next morning a priest came, [the doctor must have called him] and mom refused to talk to him because she thought that if she talked to him she would die. She knew that a priest gave dying people their last rites and she was very scared that that was why he was there. She was taken by ambulance to Edmonton. They examined her and sent a Dutch nurse to translate what had happened and to let mom know what they were doing. Mom needed an operation to remove the fetus. She just about lost her life because it was a tubal pregnancy. She was in the hospital for 7/8 days. All alone because dad didn't have a car to come and visit. The hospital was in touch with Lil because they had a telephone. They then told dad that mom was released from the hospital and offered their car for him to pick her up. They were both relieved to see each other and the kids were very happy to see their mom.
Dad lived in Red Water from August 1958 to April 1959, we lived there from November 1958 until April 1959. They kept in touch with Lil and Bill for about 3/4 years when they moved away.
Dad's boss originally told dad that he would have fulltime work. But the minute we came over he got laid off and could only work 1 or 2 days a week at $1.00 an hour. Mom and a German neighbour, who mom could communicate with, hitchhiked to Edmonton to the Immigration office with all of dad's pay slips and showed them what was happening. They called Mr. Maloney who denied everything. They hitchhiked back home. The next day an Immigration Officer came to the house and picked up all the pay slips and went to the garage and asked to see the books and discovered that mom was right. They then told him that he would never get any more immigrants to abuse. They told dad that they would pick him up tomorrow to look for other work.
One day we were packing to move to Edmonton. Mom made some coffee for her and dad and when she put the cup and saucer down she accidently placed it too close to the edge of the table that I was able to reach up and grab it. I pulled it down and spilt the hot coffee all over my right arm. I had a wool sweater on which mom pulled off of me and took the skin off with it. She put me under cold water and wrapped my arm in a band aid. The next day the Immigration officers came to our house to help us move. One of them saw my arm and said to mom that when we get to the Immigration Hall you call for a taxi and take her to the hospital at their expense. Mom then took all of us while dad went to work. They took care of my arm and then we returned to the Immigration Hall where we all stayed for about 14 days.
Every morning a Catholic Priest came by and took mom and the kids to look for a house. Within a week we found a basement suite big enough for all of us on 118th Avenue. We moved in there a week later. When we moved out of the Immigration Hall they gave mom enough rent and grocery money for 14 days after which time dad would receive his pay. He was working for a Roofing Company. He worked for 16 hours a day at $1.50 an hour. He left there after working for about 6 months as he wasn't a roofer by trade.
After that time, he worked for Cor Van Klaveren, who owned an AutoBody Shop. Dad started there as a body mechanic and painter and eventually became the shop manager. Cor and Toos had a daughter and a son who were older than us. We became friends with them and that was how mom and dad were able to meet other Dutch people. We lived in the suite from April 1959 until September 1959 when we moved to the Beverly Motel because they rented by the month and they had more room. It had 3 bedrooms instead of the 2 we had before. This was on 114th Ave.
Mom met Lynn Schultz and her husband Dave and son Donny. She also met Joyce and Bill Bush, and their daughter.
John started school at a public school after the Xmas holidays. Poor John came home crying every day because he couldn't understand what they were saying and the kids were making fun of him. It took about six weeks before he could start to pick up some English words. That was grade 1, which he had to repeat. Only John attended school in Red Water.
Rob attended his first year of school in a Catholic School in Edmonton. So, both boys, John and Rob started grade 1 together. John hated being at the same level as his brother. Rob excelled at his school. He never had to study but John always had to work and study hard. Both boys were then in the same class. John and Rob were in this school until grade 2, and Paul was starting grade 1. They went through Catechism [learning about the bible], and the first Holy Communion.
One day a neighbour came to mom and told mom that they had seen the boys stealing milk money that people had left for the milk man. They did this because there was a contest at the school between the boys and the girls. The boys never had any money so they stole it. When mom heard this, she went to the School and told the nuns that they were making thieves out of her kids because of this stupid contest.
At some point Mom pulled the boys out of the School because she also learned that the nuns would separate the kids every Monday morning into groups. Those who attended church on Sunday would go to one side and those who didn't went to the other side. Those who attended church were told that they would go to Heaven. The others were told they would go to Hell. Mom noticed that they were always downtrodden when they got home. Finally, she asked them why. And they told her what the nuns had done. She was furious. They now went to Public School. But mom had to say that Dad was a Protestant in order for the boys to attend a Public School. At this point John and Rob were in grade 3 and Paul was in grade 2.
When they went to the Catholic School the school taxes went to the Catholic School. If they attended the Public School, the taxes would go there. Now their taxes were divided between the two school systems. It was here that they joined the Ajax Soccer Club and the Excelsior Club, which were two local Dutch soccer clubs. Dad always scored the goals and made the local Edmonton Journal News.
They also joined the Dutch Card Club. This is where they met Uncle Kees and Tante Willy who also happened to live near the home we were to rent in Mayfield. I remember the St. Nicholas [Christmas] Dec. 5, parties that were held for the Card Club members. Mom and Dad celebrated St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 5. We put our shoes in the kitchen, supposed to be by the fireplace but we didn't have one, because St. Nick and Black Peter come through the fireplace and take the food that kids have left for the horse and they leave a candy for the kids. Black Peter would be the one to listen to the children to see who was good or who was bad. He would write it down in a book. [St. Nickolas diary] When St. Nickolas and Black Peter would arrive at the house that is when the kids would learn if they were good or bad. If they were good they got a gift. If they were bad they got spanking with a broom. So, we would leave our shoes in the kitchen with a carrot and a glass of water. Hoping we would get a gift. We did this for at least four years until we eventually integrated the Canadian Christmas.
We lived at the Beverly Motel until Stephen was born on April 1, 1961 and moved in June of 1961 to the house on 118th Ave.
We purchased a two-storey home. The boys could still walk to and from school every day. Things were going really well for the boys now. One day mom was sitting with Stephen and me on the couch watching TV. The boys were in school. Stephen was about 7 months old. Mom noticed Stephen gagging and he started to turn blue. She stuck her finger down his throat and he started to breathe normally. The gagging had stopped but soon he started to swallow as if something was stuck in his throat. So, then she called dad and they took him to the hospital where they x-rayed Stephen and discovered that he had swallowed a penny. They had to operate on him to remove it and they did it through the mouth so that they didn't have to cut his throat. He was kept overnight.
When Stephen was born, dad took us to visit mom and the new baby. Dad made the comment to mom that this one doesn't look like any of the others! She said, 'I got news for you! This one is yours, the other four I don't know about!' Funny but Stephen is the one that looks the most like dad now! The nurses loved the comment that mom made to dad. He didn't see the humour of it. Ah well....... Stephen was in and out of the hospital from the age of 6 weeks' till about 1 year because of a recurring staph infection on his butt. They kept him in the hospital when mom was in there for her gall bladder operation in November 1961. Stephen got his first tooth in the hospital, he was 8 mths old.