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

The Southland Corporation moves to Waldorf

In 1970 there were rumors going on that Southland Corporation was looking for property to build a brand new computerized milk plant. This would be the first computerized milk plant ever built in this country.

Mr. Babe Parks, our plant manager, retired, and Mr. Garnet Davis took his place. Mr. Davis was a well educated man in the dairy business. He had worked with many well known companies before. He was a great asset to our company. I soon found out whenever you were willing to work, Mr. Davis was always there in his office to explain what you wanted to know about the business. He helped me in so many ways. If he couldn't explain it clearly he would write it down for me on paper. I know for many years to come Mr. Davis would be my success with Southland Corporation.

Mr. Parks and I were good friends, and after his retirement we stayed in close contact for many years. We had visits at each other's homes. One day Mr. Parks called me over to his home and gave me his whole library of dairy books. He told me since he retired he didn't need them anymore. I was very pleased when he gave them to me, as I needed all of them for my work. I wouldn't know where I ever could have bought all of those valuable books. They were a great help to me for many years to come.

The rumor of Southland Corporation building a new milk plant was no rumor anymore. Twenty six acres of land was bought in Waldorf, and the construction of the building had begun. It would still take a few more years before this plant would be completed, but a lot of employees started to talk of moving closer to Waldorf. I had no plans of moving away from the Chevy Chase area, as most of our friends lived around us. For me to drive to Waldorf would be 33 miles one way. This was not a short trip to take every day. Lu Lu and I talked about it and we decided that I should look around for some job closer to home. I thought about the Government and their Agricultural department. One day, I took a day off and went to the Agricultural Employment department. It was a government job and they would have taken me, but after I had filled out my job application and had my interview and I was told what my starting pay was going to be I changed my mind of leaving Southland Corporation. The pay differential was just too much. I had to take a pay cut of more than $7,000 a year. This was just too much, and I decided that I would just take the ride to Waldorf when it was time for me to transfer to the new plant.

In May 1972 I received a telegram from Holland that my grandmother had passed away at the age of 88 years old. As she had said on our last visit at her home, she had seen my wife and she didn't mind dying at any time. It was a great loss to me. Something was taken out of my life which I had treasured so much for so many years. Just to know that whenever I would go home her house wouldn't be there anymore. Her house had been part of my life. I will always remember her words when I left for the U.S.A. She said, "always take God along in your life, and your achievements will be successful". Her picture on the dresser in my bedroom will always make me remember this great grandmother who was such an inspiration in my life. I was not able to go to her funeral but the newspaper clips and pictures my family sent showed me how much she was loved by so many other people.

With so many Asian friends we had made over the years we were always invited to one of their traditional and popular celebrations and festivals. Since Lu Lu and I were Christians we never before were much involved with other religious ceremonies. I was always interested to see other religious ceremonies. The Vietnamese Tet or New Years Day is a very traditional and popular feast. It starts on the first of the month of the lunar year. The first time I ever came to celebrate Tet was when Mr. Chau and Kim invited Lu Lu and me to the South Vietnamese Embassy at their residence. Mr. Chau and Kim had all of their Vietnamese invited, and it looked like everybody was wearing his best clothes for this occasion. The warmest and liveliest colors were displayed around the Embassy. All the rooms around the Embassy looked meticulously clean and tidy. Mr. Chau and his friends had prepared many food dishes. I even noticed nice pudding dishes and prepared meat pastries. Mr. Chau, who was the head of the family lighted the candles on the ancestral altar and put some small wood sticks in the incense burners. Then he put several trays of his prepared delicacies in front of the Buddha's altar. Around it I saw pictures of deceased family members. Then Mr. Chau would bow down before the altar and loudly would say his prayers to the Gods to taste the exquisite meals he had prepared together with his friends. After the offerings to the Gods, the dishes are taken from the altar and a Tet's eve feast is celebrated with all of the family and friends around. During the day many of Mr. Chau's Vietnamese friends would take turns bowing down in front of the altar and murmur some kind of prayer. I was told by doing this it would take their problems and worries away. I noticed that the evenings were spent in an atmosphere of general jolliness. We spent most of our Tet Day with Mr. Chau and Kim together, but I was told that the celebration would go on for several days, and the offerings would go on the Buddha's altar to the ancestors and other spirits. All of the ritual ceremonies and offerings should assure them in the New Year good luck, propriety, longevity and happiness.

CONTINUED: My mother comes from Holland to visit
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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