Saturday November 18. Road trip to Bellingham and B.C.

Written by Jack van Ommen on November 18th, 2017

Monday I spent the day in Seattle to visit Frank Burns a 94 year young (old does not fit him) liberator. We came in contact through the Dutch ex-Dachau prisoner group. Frank served in the 42nd Rainbow Division, the liberators of the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945. Our mother was liberated on May 1st., south of Dachau on her death march from the Dachau Agfa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agfa-Commando) satellite camp, by the US 12th “Hellcats” armored division. Frank visited the Dachau memorial museum on the 70th anniversary of the liberation in 2015. He is still very active in the historical aspect of the Rainbow Division and their “Reveille” newsletter. As one of the last surviving 2nd world war members he is recruiting the next generations family members to continue the contacts. He has a blood line to the first solo circumnavigator, Joshua Slocum. 

Frank Burns

Frank Burns

Tuesday I picked up a rental car at Sea-Tac airport and met Dennis Minor for lunch in Bellingham. Dennis moved this year from Gig Harbor to Bellingham. He and Steve Essig, the cameraman, have been working on a documentary with me. From there to the “Rez”, the Lummi Indian reservation, where my long time friends Sid and Leslie live. Paul de Leeuw drove down from Mission, B.C. We have been friends since 1976, both from Holland and both in the wood products business. Sid and Leslie became friends on a ski charter flight to Europe in 1972. 

Sid decided that this was the occasion to open a 1971 Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon, I gave him on his 60th birthday in 1998. He probably figured that he might end up drinking it without me, considering my (w)reckless reputation. This year is also the first half century celebration of the in 1967 established winery. The below picture was taken years ago of his 1971 bottle. The second 1971 bottle is awaiting the proper occasion for my oldest son John in San Diego, born in 1971. The 1969 bottle is in Chesapeake, Va. with Jeannine, born in 1969. Note the $2.15 price tag; cheap drinkets. Except for a cork taste, the wine still had a very nice bouquet. 

DSC_0012 Ste.Michelle-2 IMG_0662 (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday I drove to Vancouver to meet Phil and Leilani who live downtown near the Cambie Street bridge. I met them on a three day tour from Saigon along the Mekong River to the Cambodian border, in January 2010. They are truly world travellers and sailors, they used to run a sail charter from Tortola. They came to Port Townsend last year September, from where I took off for the Panama Canal. We visited Leilani’s studio in the 100 year old Parker Street building,  a former mattress manufacturing company building. She shares studio 450 with her friend Suzi Baker. Both very accomplished artists, specializing in traditional handcrafted ethnic textiles. This weekend is the East End Culture Crawl. If you are lucky enough to head up to the fresh powder on Whistler for the Thanksgiving week, be sure to stop in. 

Leilani King and Phil Robson are flying to Malaysian Borneo in late January. This is an amazing story because, besides discovering new ethnic Dayak weaving techniques, Leilani is on a mission to retrace her father, Louey King’s, footsteps in the Sarawak jungle in the 2nd World War. Thirteen Chinese Canadian young men were trained in Canada by the British SOE (Special Forces Executive) on a special secret mission, “Operation Oblivion”, to be dropped behind the Japanese lines in Sarawak to sabotage the Japanese occupation and enlist local resistance. They were trained in the local Chinese dialect, in hand to hand combat, explosives and communications. Chinese immigrants into Canada did not have rights to citizenship until 1947 and were not permitted to serve in the Canadian military in the first and second world wars. Leilani’s father, (Louis or) Louey King was one of the leading voices to right this injustice.

Leilani King at Studio 450

Leilani King at Studio 450

I visited Sarawak in 1962 from Saigon for my employer a California hardwood importer. We purchased sawn lumber, Ramin and Meranti, from sawmills in Sibu and Kuching. And in 2002 I bought West African core veneer for Atlantic Coast plywood manufacturers from a Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysian timber company. 

1962 Sarawak. Top two in Dayak longhouse in Sibu. 2nd left from top, are headhunted Japanese skulls.

1962 Sarawak. Top two in Dayak longhouse in Sibu. 2nd left from top, are headhunted Japanese skulls.

 

 

 

 

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