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

A trip to Florida

In 1969 during the Easter Holiday Lu Lu and I decided to take a vacation in Florida. Madelyne, Scotty and Win Tin wanted to come along and share in the trip. Madelyne had a niece in Saint Augustine who owned a motel and she told us we all could stay there. This was our first trip traveling through some of the southern states. Lu Lu and I had some friends who lived in Tampa, Florida, and told us many times to come and visit them. Since our friends were coming along we decided to stay in Madelyne's niece's motel and take trips from there through Florida. We left Washington D.C. very early in the morning, and I was going to do all the driving. We took route 95 South, and the first day I drove 600 miles before we stopped at a Holiday Inn to stay overnight. The next day we drove through the State of Georgia through rural areas and small towns. We had to because route 95 South was not totally complete yet. I had always heard and read about the Negroes who worked for land owners and lived free in the houses on their property. But I couldn't believe what I saw. What they called houses were run down shacks. How could they let people live in that? I was told there was a lot going on in the South like that. Seeing things like that was certainly not a good image and was what most foreign people never expect to see in America, because America is always pictured as the country of richness.

Florida orange tree full of fruit 

Madelyne's niece's motel was right on the beach. Madelyne's niece, Connie, was a very nice hostess, and made our two-week stay unforgettable. We spent some time with our friends in Tampa, and they took us to some orange and grape orchards. We picked our own oranges and grapes. As we drove around I saw orange orchards, the trees filled with oranges and hundreds of them lying under the trees. What a waste, it reminded me about the war years when I was lucky if I would get an orange during the Christmas time. It was fascinating for Lu Lu to see so many of her tropical plants and flowers again. Lu Lu bought small banana plants and took them back to Washington. One day we were driving along the coastline on route 1A. It was a beautiful drive along the coastline. As I was trying to get some nice music on the radio I noticed that a station on the radio was talking in Dutch. To my surprise I had a station from the Dutch Antilles. It's a small world, here I was, so far away from home and still I could listen to my language. Our Motel was very nice, and it was right on the beach. At night when I was in bed I could hear the ocean waves rolling into the shore. It was very hot during the day, and most beach parties were at night. In our Motel were many single girls by themselves. I visited one when I was passing by, she had the door of her room open. She told me there were some wild parties going on at night. No wonder most of these girls slept during the day. Our two weeks Easter vacation went so fast that we wanted to stay a little longer, but we had no choice than to go home again, as it was time for me to go back to work. Florida is a beautiful state to take a vacation. There are so many interesting things to see. I don't want to live there year round like some people do. I like to see the colorful season changes, which you don't have in Florida. It's always summer time.

March 1969, General Eisenhower passed away. I had seen him and practically stood next to him when he was the Commander of the mightiest Allied forces ever assembled during World War II. I will always remember that day when he came to our town and had a meeting in our girls' school with all the other generals of the allied army. He sat just in an ordinary jeep, and you could see he was a good and gentle and kind man. I was just a kid then, but I already could see then that he personified the best in America. From then on I always wanted to go to live in his country — America. He was my President when I arrived here in 1957. I will always have a special memory of General Dwight Eisenhower. I can still see him standing erect, straight, proud and tall 25 years ago as a five star General, next to that ordinary jeep that gave me the fundamental wish to be an American.


CONTINUED: My trip to Holland and England with Lu Lu
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora



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

- Book Index