Sunday July 5th. The 239th Independence Day Celebration.

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 5th, 2015

I just missed the American women win their world soccer championship game. I was going to see it at 7 p.m. but that turned out to be 7 p.m. Toronto time. Anyway another celebration.

I rafted up with about 25 Gig Harbor Yacht Club boats in Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon Island. Just like last year. The fireworks are put on by one local residents, with very deep pockets. Reportedly, about $400,000.  It is absolutely first class. I think this years’s theme was flowers. It is amazing what they can do now to paint these realistic pictures in the sky with pyrotechnics.

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There are a few privileges in becoming a Dinosaur, depending on your memory, you discover that you have been there, done that, and after 10 minutes you discover that you have a number of common friends. That is what happened last night talking to John Mulligan, a GHYC member, I discovered that we have a common friend whose trail I had lost. He had Nick’s phone number and I just got through talking to him again. In the early eighties Nick and his wife Ginny were members of my parish in Tacoma. I was married for the second time in a civil procedure, technically this excluded me from the church sacraments. I knew that I had to live on the edges and could not expect acceptance. But this did not keep Ginny from organizing a baby shower for Seth, my youngest son. Something I will never forget. Then Ginny, far too young, lost her battle with cancer,  two days before she joined the Angels Choir, I wrote a letter to her. When I heard of her passing away I was devastated that I had not written her earlier. But then, at the door at St.Patrick Church in Tacoma, after the vigil service for her, Nick said: “Jack, Ginny appreciated the note you wrote to her.” From then on, I had learned my lesson do not put off to tomorrow, what should be done today.

I left at sunrise to get back to Gig Harbor for my “habitual” mass attendance. I was disappointed that we did not sing a traditional patriotic hymn. Not sure why. I will ask.

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Monday, June 22nd. The day after.

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 22nd, 2015

The day after the summer Solstice. Father’s Day. And I celebrated with my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters again. I have absolved the Bishop from the omission in the Blessing of the Fleet. Father Mark promised me he’ll make good when I am ready to leave here. So the Lutheran threat has been withdrawn.

On the subject of my departure plans, since others keep asking. I am still expecting to leave here late August, early September. I might try take in the Port Townsend Wooden Boat show on the weekend of September 13. Then I can just make a left turn at Pt. Wilson and head out the Straits and start my trip down the Coast to California and beyond.  The Wooden Boat show might be a good venue to sell “Soloman” and do a conference on the voyage in a wooden boat.

My next project is installing the solar panel. Today I ordered the arch for it to be mounted on the stern like on the previous boat, with a few improvements. Another item solved today. The forward hatch could not be closed far enough to keep waves washing over the bow from entering. The Lewmar hatch is over thirty years old and replacements parts are no longer available. The seal had hardened. I had been looking at replacing the entire hatch. But I am proud of today’s result that cost me all of $ 3.00 in a couple steel washers and a couple hours work cutting down the seal. Last year I had already replaced the latches and added a telescoping support arm because the roll stop function did not function any longer. It closes perfectly now.

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The battery I had replaced in April turns out to be defective, so I had to lug this heavy monster back out of the boat and go get a replacement. The next project is the SSB radio and SailMail installation. The Pactor modem is going to take a big bite out of my savings. I plan to circulate an other list to my address list with items I still need, just in case someone might have it sitting in their garage. The engine, with the new mechanical fuel pump is running well again. I went for a short sail last night in the bay here. That is a real work out, with the traffic and the shifting winds. If I do this more I shall be back to my teen age waist size.

Lisa and Rose Marie, surprised me yesterday for Father’s Day. They came out with a gourmet picnic, which we enjoyed on the deck of the marina and they brought me thoughtful cards and gifts. With their busy lives and me not having a car, these occasions are very special. When my first wife and I divorced in 1972, Lisa and Rose Marie then 4 and 8 took me in and looked after their dad, their younger sister and brother moved back to California with their mom.  So, there is a very special relationship. Fortunately their younger sister Jeannine and brother John caught up with me in later years. My youngest son Seth, from my second marriage, kept me from boredom when we were just the two of us for a number of years.

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Monday June 8th. “Fleetwood” explained.

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 8th, 2015

I often get asked: “what does “Fleetwood” mean”? And now, I finally have the answer. It came in this picture that my nephew, Dirk Jan, sent me from his vacation in England.

Until this revelation I had always explained that it had to do with being in the wood business and that Irene Prager gave me a ride in her dad’s brand new 1956 Pontiac Fleetwood convertible when she got her drivers license. But now I come to realize that the name is linked to an obsession, breasts, boobies, a venial sin that I have been battling with since early childhood. I wonder if other twins are afflicted likewise. The restricted access.

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A Red Footed Boobie at home on "Fleetwood" in the Indian Ocean.

A Red Footed Boobie at home on “Fleetwood” in the Indian Ocean.

 Fleetwood and I, we are Boobie freaks.

 

 

Sunday June 7th. Blessing of the Fleet. I’m joining the Lutherans….

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 8th, 2015

The last sentence on my previous blog promised you pictures of the Blessing of the Fleet. A broken promise. And the Archbishop better have a good excuse otherwise I will switch my allegiance to the Lutherans. Just like last year I was in the about twelve boat raft, ready for the blessing. For some unexplained reason the raft had formed further away from the fishing boats than last year. Kelly Busey, our sailing police chief, in the raft-up, got a hold of Frau Buergermeister to be sure to include us. It was a glorious hot summer day with a nice cool breeze and as you can see from the photographs, still a good time. And still feel very blessed to be in one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived.

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Saturday was the annual parade of the Maritime Gig Festival. An incredible display of talent, civic activity, etc. I marched with the “For Life” group of my St. Nicholas church. Next time it will be with the Lutherans, unless I hear a whole bunch of mea culpas, from my archbishop, priest, supreme Knight of Columbus.

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June 5. Gig Harbor at its best.

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 5th, 2015

This is going to be a catch up blog. I have had several distractions in the last two weeks.

Thursday May 25th was the last of the four races of the May “In the Harbor” informal sailboat regatta. I did the third race with Quinn as crew. He scrubbed the boat’s bottom that Thursday morning and signed on for the evening race. With the many wind shifts, coming down from the surrounding hills, it responds much faster than the heavier fiberglass boats. For the last race I had expected Quinn to show up, I had the boat ready, then my former landlord and good friend Phil Sloan happened to stop by and offered to crew. We ended up third in our class of eight boats and I had my best start ever, mostly by pure luck.

In second place after the start. Picture by Sheila Schultz-Mordue.

In second place after the start. Picture by Sheila Schultz-Mordue.

I have not quite figured out yet the reason how I ended up selling $225 worth of “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” and DVDs of my circumnavigation slide shows, at the June 3rd presentation at the Gig Harbor YC. Was it the threat I made on my May 20 blog that you would need to put up with me for another winter if my book did not sell at the presentation? Am I missing a challenge as a book salesman?

picture by Sheila Schultz-Mordue

picture by Sheila Schultz-Mordue

Couple pictures from my back porch, town view:

full moon set

full moon set

first day of summer holidays

first day of summer holidays

 

Osprey chick getting flying lessons

Osprey chick getting flying lessons

Two bald eagles on same Douglas Fir perch

Two bald eagles on same Douglas Fir perch

It is tempting to suffer through another Northwest winter with the conditions we have here again in a gorgeous early summer. It promises to be a fantastic weekend. Bright, clear, 80 plus F (30 C) degrees. This is the Gig Harbor annual Maritime Gig Festival weekend, culminating on Sunday afternoon with the Blessing of the Fleet. I promise to have pictures on the next blog.

 

Monday, May 25 Memorial Day

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 26th, 2015

Coincidence that this came to light on Memorial Day?

I came across an article in the June 2014 issue of the “Reveille”, a quarterly newsletter of the Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation Brigade. The name Jaap van Mesdag is mentioned. He is a 93 year old Dutch political prisoner survivor of  Dachau.  The main camp was liberated on April 29 1945 by the Rainbow Division of the 7th US Army Infantry Division. When I e-mailed the publisher/historian of the “Reveille” to bring to his attention the “AGFA-Commando” and our mother’s short stint with the American Warp Press contingent after her liberation, he asked me if I could tell him which unit intercepted the Death March at Wolfratshausen. I had always assumed that this would have been the same Rainbow Division. But it turns out that it was the 12th infantry regiment of the 4th Infantry Division that crossed the Isar River into Wolfratshausen at daybreak on May 1st. On May 2nd, units of the 101st Airborne division joined the 12th infantry regiment in Wolfratshausen and relieved the 4th Infantry Division a few days later. Thus the German AGFA-Commando camp commander, Stirnweis, surrendered to the 12th infantry regiment on May 1st and received MP protection for the approximately 450 Death March prisoners; who had found temporary shelter in the Walser Hof farm hayloft.

The 12th infantry regiment had landed in Normandy, took part in the liberation of Paris, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, with the 101st Airborne Division. J.D Salinger author of “Catcher in the Rye” happened to be part of the 12th infantry regiment at Wolfratshausen.

It just so happens that my very first assignment, in 1961, in my two years of military service was with the 57th Transportation Battalion which was attached to the 4th Infantry Division, stationed at Fort Lewis, Tacoma, Washington.  Including the 12th Infantry Regiment. Had I known this at that time I might have been able to exchange some  facts about the Wolfratshausen experience. In November 1961 we shipped out to Vietnam with our 20 twin rotor H-21 Helicopters. We were the first full company to arrive in Vietnam. President Kennedy had sent his secretary of defense, Major General Maxwell Taylor to Vietnam and he came back with the suggestion to help the Vietnamese army with helicopter support. General Taylor was the commander of the 101st Airborne Division in May 1945. The 12th infantry regiment shipped to Pleiku from Fort Lewis in 1966.

I am hoping that through this new contact with Jaap van Mesdag, Suellen Mc Daniel and Frank Burns I may have some more details to report about the event that took place seventy years ago. Who knows I might even get an opportunity to thank a survivor of the liberators who, at great risk and sacrifice, losing many of their comrades on the way to Wolfratshausen, brought our freedom back.

 

 

Wednesday, May 20. I’m back.

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 20th, 2015

I actually returned on Saturday, May 9th. from the three week trip to Holland and Belgium. But the web site was in intensive care in Holland, it is repatriated and back up running again as of this morning. I had attempted to consolidate my various sites with a hosting service I have been using for the Dutch version of The Mastmakers’ Daughters, in Holland. But when I transferred this site everything went wrong.

A couple of young boys are swimming here in the marina. Summer is here. It has been in the mid seventies (25C) all week after the fog burns off.

Slide Show on June 3rd at the GHYC : Presentation starts at 7 p.m. Bar is open from 6 p.m. address: 8209 Stinson Avenue, zip 98332. Everyone is welcome. This will most likely be my last opportunity before I head south the end of the summer.

A year ago I presented a slide show of part of my circumnavigation at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club. This time I will show other parts of the voyage. And a repeat of the shipwreck, which is short and spectacular. Because the Gig Harbor Maritime Gig Festival is the weekend that follows June 3rd, I will show my visit to Croatia in 2012. Since the festival has its roots in the, predominant, Croatian heritage of Gig Harbor. In 2012 I attempted to find connections between Croatia and Gig Harbor, aboard “Fleetwood”, and possibly a church connection for the 2014 centennial celebration of my parish St. Nicholas, which was founded by the Croatian community. I found a number of related families, particularly in Sumartin on the island of Brac.

I will have “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” (see right margin for details) book for sale and signing for $15. I need the money otherwise you’ll have to put up with me for another year, before I can have the boat ready to continue my interrupted itinerary. I also will have DVD’s of my entire trip’s slide show videos, with text and audio, for $5  and for interested GHYC members one which includes a short slide show of GHYC events of the eighties. The book is the biography of my mother, a major part of it tells the story of her involvement in the resistance and her captivity in several concentration camps. My visit to Holland was to attend the 70th annual memorial of the liberation of Dachau. Mother was one of the survivors remembered in a theater performance by high school students on May 4th. See my blogs on May 4th for details and pictures.

The book I wrote about the nine year circumnavigation, “Soloman”, is finished in Dutch and now I am writing the English version. While in Holland I called on several friends to help me with the editing and I found the right designer for the cover. Here is a preview of a possible cover.

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Monday May 4th. “Names instead of Numbers”, the 70th anniversary of the Dachau liberation.

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 5th, 2015

This was literally and figuratively la pièce de “Résistance”, the main reason for my three week visit here in Holland. Eleven High School seniors, 8 girls and 3 boys formed the cast for the stage show in the “Bellevue” Theater in Amsterdam. http://www.gedaechtnisbuch.de/namen-statt-nummern/english/index-engl.html They shared, with the sold out house, their experiences in putting names with the Dachau prisoner, mostly Resistance members, numbers. How they became involved and affected through their discoveries. Their visits to Dachau and the preceding camps most of the prisoners had been through before Dachau.

The presentation started at 9 p.m. due to the fact that every year on May 4th a two minute silence is observed from 8 p.m. I went with two of my cousins to the Noorder Markt to observe the event. A brass band played just before the silence. They played “Abide with me”. This brings back strong emotions because this was the hymn the women, our mother was with, sang when they were stuffed in the box cars, on their way from the camp Vught in Holland to the hell of Ravensbrück on the 5th of September 1944. : (Blijf bij mij, Heer, want d’ avond is nabij)

Abide with me, fast falls the even tide.

The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

 Henriette Schulze, a German student, wrote the biography of our mother in the “Names instead of Numbers”. My twin brother who lives in Germany  assisted her with the information she used. I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with her last Saturday, together with the only other German student in the eleven students cast, Anne Krombacher. Henriette did an outstanding biography. And I am sure that our mother will be very pleased, when she gets to read her copy. This was well worth the long journey. I feel proud, grateful and honored to have had a mother and father who stood their ground and acknowledged their strength and survival to have come from God.

Nineteen numbers have been changed in to names in the book that Jos Sinnema put together with these students stories, including the one of our mother. In addition it is also a very good history of concentration camp Dachau by the details and historical photos that were added to these nineteen biographies. It is available at: http://www.verzetsmuseum.org/museum/nl/exposities/expositie-geen-nummers-maar-namen/publicatie

Projected Rennie de Vries-van Ommen

Projected Rennie de Vries-van Ommen

the cast

the cast

Henriette receives her rose from Jos Sinnema

Henriette receives her rose from Jos Sinnema

Willemijn van Gurp-Petroff

Willemijn van Gurp-Petroff

Willemijn, the 96 year old, the last ambulant AGFA Commando Dachau survivor tells her story and shares her advice to all of us but particularly the students.

 

Sunday May 3rd and Monday Morning. Whirlwind winding down.

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 5th, 2015

On Saturday one of the choir members told me that she had seen me in the Amsterdam Central Station. That was no accident, because I have gone through the station so often since my arrival that I have lost track.

Yesterday, Saturday, I met the German student, Henriette Schulze, who did the biography in “Names instead of Numbers” of our Mother. She and her German friend Anna Krombacher, who has done the “Name” on Kiky Heinsius (one of my sources for the story in “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”) are here a few days ahead of the Monday evening presentation to rehearse their roles in the performance. In the afternoon I attended the general rehearsal of the choir I sang with in 2012/2013. They are giving another concert on Memorial Day, May 4th. They are once again singing parts of Fauré’s Requiem,  parts of it and the soprano solo brought goose bumps and emotions once again. It was a real treat to see my friends again and have a drink afterwards.

Sunday morning I attended church in the English Reformed Church in the Bequinage. My new friend Christa from the consulate teaches Sunday School and she brought her uncle Bert van Ingen Schenau, who was one class below me in my elementary school. We had lots of memories to share and to exchange our ways since grade school.

Rev. Dr. Lance Stone and another USA flag, like previous blog, away from home.

Rev. Dr. Lance Stone and another USA flag, like previous blog, away from home.

In the afternoon I took the train to Culemborg to visit my cousin Karel and his wife Ankie in Eck en Wiel. You might recall my previous visits to their farm house where I house sat, the chickens and cats. The Storks are expecting in a week or so.

Ankie and the other chicks.

Ankie and the other chicks.

 

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The tulips and even the daffodils are still in bloom. The Skagit Valley is over a month ahead of the Dutch bulb growers.

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If you are a smoker on a Dutch railroad station look for your designated area. It apparently works judging by the popularity. Maybe we need similar designated areas for the food and smart phone addicted.

 

 

April 30 2nd edition. Small World.

Written by Jack van Ommen on 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