Sunday February 22nd. Good news. Monday February 23rd. Bad News

Written by Jack van Ommen on February 22nd, 2015

2/23: I was ahead of my self. It turned out that John’s daughter does not have any spare passes. So, I’m back to square 1.

2/22:  It did not take giving myself away in marriage or into adoption. A Knight in Shining Armor came to the rescue and did me the Favor. We made the deal this morning after the 8.30 mass  at my parish church. John Oldham is an actual Knight, a Knight of Columbus at my church. When I was still in Holland with the boat he had wanted to come meet me. His daughter, Mary, is a flight attendant for an international carrier and flies frequently on the Amsterdam flights. I get my inexpensive travel and John gets his Dutch travel guide. My finances continue to limit my expenditures. Tomorrow I have the first of both cataracts being removed. The eye drops and antibiotics cost me already close to $ 600 this month… and I will have  a number of expenditures yet ahead before the boat is ocean voyage ready for this summer departure.

Today I received more details and the official invitation to the program on May 4th in the Bellevue Theater in Amsterdam. In the program “Names instead of Numbers” thirteen students will present their biographies of thirteen Dachau prisoners. One of these students will come specially from Germany, Henriette Schultz , and present the story on our mother Rennie de Vries-van Ommen. Her story is based in part on “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” and interviews with my twin brother, who lives in Germany, and her own research. More details:

There will also be a special exhibition at the Verzetsmuseum (Museum of the Dutch Resistance) in Amsterdam on the Dachau program “Names instead of Numbers”: .  The two women featured, who were in the same Dachau AGFA Commando in Dachau with our mother,  in this exhibit, Lies Bueninck – Hendrikse and Willemijn Petroff- van Gurp I have met personally. Lies passed away at age 100 in 2010. see: Willemijn is still very much alive, see previous blog. I expect to see her again at the annual Dachau commemoration on April 25 and on May 4th.

If you have not read “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” you should check the Wikipedia page I recently published at:

Tentatively we will arrive Amsterdam on April 22nd and depart on or around May 6th.

This should also give me an opportunity to promote my new book “Soloman”. Right now I am 90% done with the Dutch version. Looks like a 400 plus page book, before editing/ cutting.

Rainier from Lisa's home

Rainier from Lisa’s home

Arabella's Landing Marina in Gig Harbor

Arabella’s Landing Marina in Gig Harbor


Monday Feb 16. An offer you can’t refuse

Written by Jack van Ommen on February 16th, 2015

I would like to be in Amsterdam from around April 20 till May 7th. The 70th anniversary of the end of WW II and of the liberation of concentration camp Dachau will be commemorated. In a theater performance on May 4th, in the program “Names instead of Numbers”   one of the German students will present her story about our mother’s experience in Dachau. Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp  one of the last surviving survivors will be there with her two biographer students. We met and became friends in 2013. See my blog for the 2013 Dachau commemoration at:

Jop Bruin, Willemijn and Jelle Braaksma (of omgekeerd, maar de langste moet de Fries zijn)

Jop Bruin, Willemijn and Jelle Braaksma

There is a good chance that I will have the Dutch version of “Soloman” ready for presentation at that time and this would give me a chance for the promotion of it.

The cheapest airfare I find is over $ 1,000 and that is not in my Social Security budget. From 2007 until 2010 my dear friend Judy provided me with buddy passes to fly home from and to where the boat was and a winter respite in Indochina. I often ended up in business class. This ended when United merged with Continental. I can get the occasional buddy pass to the East Coast on the domestic carrier where my ex-wife retired from. I am looking for an International carrier employee, that can get me to Amsterdam.

The OFFER is Marriage or Adoption or a Favor.(preferably in reverse order) The best husband, son, friend you could ever have wished for.  

I know the routine, I’ll never be in jeans or ask dumb questions or throw a tantrum fit when space is not available. If you want to see the real Amsterdam I’ll be your guide, interpreter, bodyguard. I speak four European languages fluently and Spanish and Italian reasonably.



Sunday Feb 15 An Early Spring

Written by Jack van Ommen on February 15th, 2015

We have had unusual mild weather in the last weeks. The Daffodils, Japanese Plums, Azaleas, Forsythias and even Rhododendrons are blooming already. Today was a sunny but cold day. I went to mass in Gig Harbor, I had not been to my parish church service since the day before I left for Virginia on December 14. Afterwards I attempted to get the engine running with the new fuel pump. The last time I had leaks in the lines. This is fixed but I still could not get the engine started.

Vashon Island Ferry landing Tacoma side

Vashon Island Ferry landing Tacoma side



Last weekend a number of sailing men friends from Gig Harbor got together on Saturday in the Foss Waterway Marina in Downtown Tacoma. I hitched a ride with Roger and his brother Tom.

L.R. Kelley, Pete, Tom, Tom G. , Tim, Roger, Tom. missing Terry J and Ron R.

L.R. Kelley, Pete, Tom, Tom G. , Tim, Roger, Tom. missing Terry J and Ron R.

I am still staying with Rose Marie and Donovan in Federal Way. I have the right eye de-cataractized on the 23rd and the other eye soon after. From the 8th of March I shall be a permanent resident again in Gig Harbor.


Sunday January 18th. Mass in St.Patrick New York

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 18th, 2015

Soon I’ll put in for the most traveled church attendant. But one thing I have learned that finding the Lord and be moved by His Spirit does not necessarily take a St. Patrick in New York or the St. Peter in Rome. I can remember a number of churches like the one in Arue on Tahiti, with father Gary Weisenberger in his small parish in Fife, Wa., etc.


But being here today, for a Catholic, with all the pomp and splendor does feel like being an American abroad and see one of the newest aircraft carriers show the flag.  The service was televised and the sermon was obviously directed at a larger audience. The theme was on the protection of Life in view of the upcoming  Thursday Washington March for Life. A wonderful message. I came upon the icon of the Virgin which was brought back from the Holy Land by St. Helena in 325 a.d., the mother of the first Eastern Orthodox Pope, Roman emperor Constantine. I just finished my chapter, in Soloman, on visiting the island of St. Helena, which was discovered and named by the Portuguese and named after an Eastern Orthodox Saint.

I’m in the Newark Airport and watching the first part of the Seahawks-Green Bay Packers semi final game.

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan on top left

Cardinal Timothy Dolan on top left

Knights of Columbus honor guard

Knights of Columbus honor guard



Saturday January 17th short visit in the Big Apple

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 17th, 2015

I am visiting my friend Christine. The firs time we met was in Holland in the fall of 2009 at the Nieuwboer botteryard in Spakenburg, because of a connection to the “Groote Beer”. The second time she was my tour guide, together with her brother, at Easter time 2012 in Athens. Now she is my tour guide in her home town. She is an art historian and worked 10 years for the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so what better company to show me the Met? We walked a few miles through Central Park to Rockefeller Center and went up to the top, the “Rock”. On the walk she pointed out many of the art in the Park, statues, monuments, architecture and on and around the buildings, that probably go unnoticed to most of the casual visitors. A real treat.

Empire State Bldg left center, Trade Center Bldg in distance on right center

Empire State Bldg left center, Trade Center Bldg in distance on right center

Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center.














Yesterday morning I left Virginia on the Amtrak train to N.Y.. Good way to travel. There is WiFi on te train and I was able to work on the book while watching the bright cold winter landscape slide by.

Philadelphia skyline from train, reflecting sun.

Philadelphia skyline from train, reflecting sun.

Thursday evening I said good bye to the Virginians. I’ll be missing these two girls.

Madison 4 and Lily 3, great granddaughters

Madison 4 and Lily 3, great granddaughters






Tuesday December. 30th Festival of Lights in Norfolk Arboretum

Written by Jack van Ommen on December 30th, 2014

The thermometer  fluctuates between freezing and high sixties since I arrived here two weeks ago. Yesterday was a typical NW rainy mild day, today misty and near freezing.

This evening we went with my three great grandchildren through the Norfolk, Va. Arboretum to enjoy the fantastic display of the Festival of Lights.


Mary, Mary quite contrary.....

Mary, Mary quite contrary…..

The "George Bush" newest aircraft carrier, currently in Norfolk.

The “George Bush” newest aircraft carrier, currently in Norfolk.

Tomorrow we all go bowling on the navy base. It is difficult to get the three great grand kids to sit still to get their picture taken. I still claim that my great grand kids are cuter than yours.

L.R. Madison 2010, Mark 2008, Lily 2011.

L.R. Madison 2010, Mark 2008, Lily 2011.

Last Sunday I went with Jeannine, my daughter, to the 8.30 service at Ste. Thérèse. And I herewith render the customary proof.

Father O'Brien

Father O’Brien














Boxing Day December 26th. Virginia Christmas

Written by Jack van Ommen on December 26th, 2014

We were eleven at Christmas dinner, the entire family and relations of my daughter #3, Jeannine.

Clockwise the patriarch, Gabrielle, Sean (son in law) Jeannine, Katie (wife of grandson David) with Madison, David with Lily, MarkII with MarkIII, Tejah (Mark's fiancee)

Clockwise the patriarch, Gabrielle, Sean (son in law) Jeannine, Katie (wife of grandson David) with Madison, David with Lily, MarkII with MarkIII, Tejah (Mark’s fiancee)


Sean retired from the Navy as a “Nuke” Chief Petty Officer in 2012 and works as a Ship Test Engineer at the Newport News Shipyard. Jeannine runs a cleaning business. Mark is an architectural draftsman in Texas. David and Katie work in Jeannine’s business. Gabrielle is following her dad’s nuclear carrier’s wake in training in Charleston N.C.

A warm front pushed the thermometer to 67 F (19,4 C) on Christmas eve. We went to mass in shirtsleeves at Ste.Thérèse. High pressure from the North dropped the temperature to freezing during the night and it is a glorious bright sunny day. The West Coast is reporting snow on Boxing day.

With the three great grandchildren between three and seven there were 67 gifts to unwrap on Christmas day morning.  The three Texans will be here until New Years day. 



Tuesday December 16. Christmas 2014

Written by Jack van Ommen on December 16th, 2014


Merry Christmas


To everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I arrived last night in Virginia to spend Christmas with daughter #3 Jeannine and her family. We will be with my granddaughter Gabrielle my two grandsons, Mark and David and their partners and my three great grandchildren on Christmas. I have a one way ticket here and plan to return to the West Coast in mid/late January.

I have posted on this web site a chapter out of the “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” en de “De Mastmakersdochters” about the Christmas our mother and her prisoner friends spent in Dachau, exactly 70 years ago. It is a story of fear, despair and hope and also of a hilarious incident and a very clever escape.

You can find it under item 9) in the index, which gives some of the background of the events leading up to it, or go directly to: www.ComeToSea.Us/albums/Christmas1944inDachau.docx en www.ComeToSea.Us/albums/Kerstmis1944inDachau.docx



Saturday November 29. First snow of the season

Written by Jack van Ommen on November 29th, 2014

I woke up this morning to the first season’s snow fall. I am staying at the home of Rose Marie and Donovan in Federal Way. They will be returning from Baker, Oregon tomorrow, where they spent Thanksgiving with Donovan’s family.

Lisa and Harry cooked my Turkey and Beef roast dinner on Thanksgiving day. My youngest son Seth came up tot Tacoma to join us accompanied by his mom, Laura. I am working hard on “Soloman”, in a nice warm home. I’ll stay here until I leave for Virginia on December 15.

Somebody, please, take a picture of “Fleetwood” covered with this snowstorm.   Don’t forget my presentation on Sunday the 14th in Gig Harbor.


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Wednesday, November 26. Thanksgiving Eve. And an invitation for you.

Written by Jack van Ommen on November 26th, 2014

Wishing all a very Happy Thanksgiving Holiday. Even though  I did not grow up with this celebration, it has become my favorite family holiday.

There is no end to the long list of blessings, particularly this year. A year ago I was licking my wounds on the island of Ibiza. I had lost everything in the November 16 shipwreck.  A miraculous rescue. If the boat would have come to rest just 20 feet from the spot it did, I would not be writing this. God had a new plan for me. I walked off the boat with the clothes I wore and a week later I was the best dressed shipwreck survivor. Help came from everywhere. Thanks to people who cared and their generosity. I was homeless but soon I had an oceanfront furnished flat for $18 per day on Ibiza. Later the free use of a friend’s  luxurious condo on Mallorca. Then three months in Holland looking after a friend’s home, with the   use of a car and weekly cleaning lady. Then the unexpected opportunity to replace “Fleetwood” with  an identical boat, that happened to be well within my savings and a better boat than the one I lost. The list I put out for the items I need to continue my off shore adventure shrunk steadily with donations from dock neighbors in Gig Harbor and beyond. I have been spoiled by old friends here in Gig Harbor and made many new friends. The recent surprise to bestow honorary membership in the Gig Harbor Yacht Club. The list goes on and on.

I have mentioned it in this blog before but this happens to be the reason/season to repeat it. Knowing Who your Donor is and directing your gratitude makes the experience of Thanksgiving so much more meaningful. Thanks be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

The Invitation: go to :

I am giving a presentation on December 14th from 1 p.m. in the parish hall of the St. Nicholas church. Check the above link for details. You will not have any regrets that you missed the Seahawks game against the 49ers. Guaranteed. The next day I fly to Virginia to spend Christmas with daughter # 3, Jeannine and her family (three grandchildren and three great grandchildren…) I expect to be back in mid January. I will staying with Rose Marie (daughter #2) and her husband in Federal Way till my December 15 departure and celebrate Thanksgiving with Lisa (d.#1) and her family and son Seth and his mom. I look forward to share my story and slide shows with you on December 14. Spread the word!. You can print out the flyer or forward it to your friends. All are welcome!