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

How I Crashed my Car

The winters in Syracuse are very long and cold. I thought that I was used to cold weather because I lived in Holland for so many years where we always have long and cold winters. But Syracuse was worse than I ever had in Holland. It would snow for days and cover your car completely. The city had huge snow plows to keep the street lanes open for the traffic. I remember our narrow streets in Holland were plowed with a horse and a wood blade. As much snow as Syracuse gets every year, nobody will leave his car home to go to work. The snow plows keep piling the snow on the side of the street until eventually a two lane street traffic becomes a one lane in both directions. It took a long time to melt all that snow away, and even in the month of May you still could see piles of snow on the side of the streets. Since my car was fixed and it ran a lot better up the hill I needed snow tires for the winter time. Without snow tires you could not move your car around Syracuse.

Around the corner where I lived was a gas station where I always bought my gas. I told the station owner that I needed some new snow tires. He told me he had a real good set of retreads and would sell them to me. What I didn't know was that the retreads were an old set of tires which were redone. I thought that 'retreads' was the name of a company which make those tires, like Good Year or other brands. I paid $90 for a pair of retreads and thought I was driving on a pair of new tiers. Because I was in a new country and still learning what was going on, I was taken by many people and paid for it. There is a saying in life, "you learn from it by all the mistakes you make".

More than two years had passed since I left Holland. I had a steady job at the dairy plant. Several nights a week I was going to night school to study English, as eventually I had plans to go full-time to an up-state New York, State College, to try to get a degree in mechanical drafting. I had studied this in Holland before circumstances made me go to work in the coal mines. I always wanted to have a drawing job. I even tried several large companies in Syracuse, but I was always turned down because I wasn't an American citizen yet. Most of those large companies did defense work under federal government contracts.

The job at the dairy was a labor job and there were not many possibilities of any kind to get ahead. I was getting a weekly paycheck and was able to save some every week. I knew I didn't come to America to sit still on one job, as I knew I could do a lot better for myself. When I left Holland I remember my grandmother's words, as she told me many times over, "you must achieve something in life".

When the summer came along I decided one day to drive up to the State College to find out if there were any possibilities that I could enroll in one of their drawing courses. I had saved enough money that I could quit my job and go to school on a full-time basis. I was received by a school counselor and he explained what the requirements were to be accepted as a full-time student. Since I never went to high school in this country I had to prove that I had an equivalence of a high school education in Holland in order to enroll in their school program. There was no way for me to get the records from Holland as I had left school for so many years already. Very disappointed I left the school grounds. I had my hopes and dreams, but it didn't work out as I had planned for.

Somehow the money I had saved to go to school wouldn't last long. One day when I was driving home from work in my 1954 two door Mercury I was passing by one of my friend's home. His wife was sitting outside on the porch. As I drove by I waved at her but looking at her side I didn't watch the opposite traffic. Before I knew it I crossed the median strip and crashed into another car. It was all my fault because I didn't pay any attention to the traffic. My car was totally demolished. This was my first car accident in America. Luckily I was not hurt at all. I can't remember what happened to the other car, but I found out what car insurance was all about because the lawyer of my car insurance had me in his office several times to explain to me what to say if the other party would call me. This accident took a lot of my savings as I had to buy a new car again. This time I bought a 1956 four door Mercury. I had learned another lesson and had to pay for it again.

CONTINUED: Heavy Boozing and Dating
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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

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