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

Visit from novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist Harold Courlander

During my recuperation from my open heart surgery I received a visit from my very good friend, Mr. Harold Courlander. He is a folklorist, novelist, and a journalist. He is the author of many books. I met Mr. Harold Courlander and his family because of Lu Lu, who had worked in the Coulanders' house for the last ten years. Lu Lu would go to the Coulanders' house once a week or whenever they needed domestic help as Mrs. Courlander had been troubled with an illness for many years. The Courlander family was very fond of Lu Lu, and after she wasn't able to work for them anymore they always kept in touch. When he visited we talked about my background and how I came to this country and why. As I was telling my story and Harold was listening, he later said, "Jeff, you've lived an interesting life, you should write about it". I told him that I didn't have that background of education as he had. He said to me, "you don't need that. Anybody can write". He said the way you speak is the way you write. He was very serious about it and told me to start as soon as I could. He said it would be a very nice pass-time for me since I was not able to go back to work again. I wasn't serious about it at all until a few weeks later I received a phone call from Harold asking me if I had started. I told him not yet but that I would start soon. My first twenty pages I wrote with a pencil and gave it to Harold to read, just to find out what he thought about it. After he read my twenty pages he called and said, "Jeff, don't stop - this is very interesting". From then on I knew I had to keep on writing.

Typing a biography 

One day another friend came to visit me and I was just busy writing. He asked me what I was doing, and I told him that I was trying to write my memoir. He said, "well, why don't you type it?" I told him I didn't know how to type. He said I could learn if I wanted to and that he had an old typewriter at home which I could use to practice. The next day he came over with his little son and have me his old typewriter. His little eight-year-old son started to show me how to use the typewriter. I felt a little embarrassed that this little kid in front of his father was showing me how to type. If this little kid could type, I could do it. For about a week I practiced and little by little I got the feeling of the keyboard. I went over all the pages I had hand-written and typed them. For a while the old typewriter was doing fine, but after a little while it started to give me some problems. I was thinking about buying a new one but then I remembered that my friend Herman, before he went to Oman to accept his new job, had left two typewriters in my storage room in the basement. I didn't know that they were electrical typewriters. But since then I used Herman's electrical typewriter, and when I told Herman about it when he came to visit us, he said I could have both of them. I was very pleased with Herman's kindness. Since I had my triple bypass I noticed that I had lost control of my hand-writing. Whenever I wanted to write a letter my hand became very shaky. I was very glad that I had learned how to type, as I noticed it wasn't as stressful as hand-writing.

Thanks to my dear friend Harold, who suggested I write my memoir, I keep my mind busy, and it is something I always wanted to do. Without Harold's suggestion and help I would never have started this. This shows how important it is to have good friends in life who awaken some of your talents which you never thought of using before.

It takes time to forget pains and miseries, and this was the same with my heart problems. I knew my symptoms and how to live with them. It takes a long time to re-adjust you lifestyle. There are so many things you have done before which you are not able to do anymore. You even start neglecting friends because you know you can't socialize with them as you had done before. Some of your friends can't accept this and some of the friendships go sour. There are days that I feel like I never went through this operation, and then another day I feel like I might pass away any day. Psychologically you walk around every day knowing you are a heart patient, and you can't help it that you are reminded every day by the discomforts of that operation.

CONTINUED: The spirit of God is everywhere
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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