Thursday November 22nd. Count your Blessings…

Written by Jack van Ommen on November 22nd, 2012

Count them one by one. My list gets longer every Thanksgiving Day. This is the 4th Thanksgiving away from home since I left the West Coast in 2005. I will be talking/seeing as many as my family members as possible on Skype. In 2005 I was on this day in Honiara, Salomon Islands, in 2006 in Mahajanga, Madgascar, in 2008 I was anchored off Beaufort, N.C. after a failed attempt to cross the Gulfstream on my way to Saint Martin. Next year, who knows, but according to the current plan I’ll be in Morocco or the Canary Islands. Put a piece of dark meat and a chunk of Pumpkin pie in the freezer for me, please.

I have joined the choir here at the St. Augustine church. I practiced with them last night. Great group of people. I sing with another 6 tenors and 6/7 basses. The 30 odd women section is about equally divided in altos and sopranos. The Christmas program looks exciting, parts of Mozart’s Coronation Mass. We practiced the Dona Nobis Pacem, which is very similar to the same part in Mozart’s Requiem Mass, which I have sung years ago. I quote the below passage outof my upcoming book “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”. Three of my mother’s prison mates had been caught in an attempt to break out of concentration camp Vught in August 1944. They were punished and locked up in the notorious “Bunker”.

As soon as they saw the guard leave through the gate in the evening the whole place came alive, the “intercom” started buzzing. By dragging the small table under the air duct and putting a
stool on top of it one could speak right into the duct hole and it could be heard as far as five cells away, in both directions. And it was impossible to hear in the prison corridor.The ladies entertained and lifted the spirits of the men, on occasion, with singing the “Dona Nobis Pacem” out of Mozart’s Requiem mass.           
The  tension heightened in the prison in the last days of August. If any men were brought into the prison court yard after 5 p.m. the women knew exactly what was in store for them. The men had no idea what fate awaited them. It often was a reprisal for a successful operation the Resistance had just accomplished against the enemy and frequently death sentences were being carried out. Frans was the first of their neighbors to be taken away by the guards. The women had expected him as the least likely victim. Frans came from Rotterdam and the Resistance in Rotterdam
had just delivered a blow against the enemy. His neighbors felt defeated and saddened; Frans had just received news from home for the first time in many months. He had been so filled with joy and gratitude that he offered to give the daily devotional over the “intercom”, the previous evening.

Dirk Jan stopped by yesterday afternoon. Corrine came for an early dinner. She is having the traditional dinner with two other of her American student friends here in Amsterdam and then she is off to Louvain this weekend to cook turkey for her boyfriend and a group of his friends. I have been invited at the Boonzaaijers in Barneveld for the weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

Leave a Comment