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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Learning the Dairy Business

Every day I learned more about this pasteurizing milk business. I learned a lot about the equipment also, because at the end of the day all of it had to be taken apart and cleaned. I had to dismantle the separator which was a very big job. There were two old men I had to work with. One came in on the very early shift, and the other one on the late shift to finish up the job. I was called in between the two shifts and worked that way with both of the old men. They were very good to me and taught me a lot. The old man on the early shift, when he found out I was from Holland, he told me that his son had been a pilot on one of those B24 liberator bombers during World War II. He was shot down in Germany but was buried in Holland. He couldn't recall the burial place in Holland, but he told me he had a postcard of the place where he was buried. The next day when he showed me the postcard, to my surprise it was an American memorial graveyard not too far from my hometown which I had visited so many times. I told the old man how nicely this graveyard was looked after, and some Dutch people had sponsored a grave of a fallen soldier whose family in America was not able to take care of it. Those Dutch people would see to it that there were always some flowers on his grave. The Dutch people honored the American liberators with great respect. The old man was very pleased when he heard my story.

The other old man had two sons, and worked for General Electric in Syracuse. He told me that both of his sons had engineering degrees. His oldest son was the inventor of the sidewinder missile used by the Air Force on their fighter planes.

Batch Pasteurizer

In a year's time I had learned so much about the pasteurization that the plant manager gave some of the old man's responsibilities to me. I was put in charge of many products to see to it that they were pasteurized. Some of the products were pasteurized in a large milk tank which was heated by a steam jacket around it, and you always had to keep a close eye on the temperature, and this was my responsibility. I didn't mind this at all, as I wanted to learn everything I could about this business.

It was my second Christmas away from home. I couldn't have found any nicer people to live with than the Vanboden family, and they wanted me to feel comfortable in their home like I was one of their own. During the Christmas time I always missed my family more than other days during the year. I guess it always brought back memories I had at home during the Christmas time. I was especially fond of when all of us would get together at my grandparent's home. All my aunts and uncles would be there and I was very fond of them. My grandmother always served the best homemade cakes around.

At the Vanboden's house during the Christmas time, all around the house were colorful decoration lights, in and outside the house. I had never seen people in Holland decorating the homes outside, so this was something new to me. We all went to the midnight mass, and after that we went home to open our Christmas presents. Each of us had made packages for each other. There was always plenty of food and drinks in the Vanboden's house during the holidays. Especially during the holidays I always drank a lot.

Jim Vanboden had a sister who only lived a few streets away from us, and she invited all of us to come to her house for Christmas dinner. Jim's sister came to America many years ago and was married to an American. She had one daughter who was a very nice girl. Joyce, her daughter was studying at Columbia University in New York City. Mister Vanboden's sister acted like a very aristocratic lady and followed up on all her table manners and the ethics of the house. Joyce and I became very friendly and we dated several times, but her mother would see to it that our friendship wouldn't last for very long as my education level wasn't high enough to date her daughter. I didn't mind it at all that I couldn't date her anymore, as I knew plenty of women around I could have a good time with. What I didn't like was that she downgraded me because I wasn't as much educated as her daughter. Within myself I did know that I could do better in life than what I was doing, but the right time had not come yet.

The Vanbodens' had two sons, Henry and Hans. Henry was seventeen years old and going to high school. He worked part-time at one of the supermarkets. He was driving a brand new 1957 Ford convertible. His lifestyle for such a young man was so different than what I had when I was his age in Holland. Mrs. Vanboden had dinner ready every day, and she wanted us to be there on time. She was a very neat and clean lady and, always kept the house spic and span as most Dutch women are used to.

CONTINUED: Learning to drive and getting a driver's license
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index