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

Life goes on and on

The next day we went out to some night clubs in Brooklyn. When I slept in my friend's cabin, I always put my wallet underneath my pillow for the night. As we were walking away from the ship to get to the main road to catch a taxi, we must have been at least several blocks away from the ship, a young man came running behind us and calling my friend's name. We waited for him and when he caught up with us he handed me my wallet. I forgot all about it and when this young shipmate was cleaning my friend's cabin he found my wallet. I was so astonished by this young man's honesty. He could have kept my wallet and exchanged the dollars later into Dutch guilders; it would have given him a nice, fat pay-check for the month. My friend told me it was his first trip on the ocean. I gave the young man some pocket money which made him very happy. This was his first trip and he wasn't getting paid that much. I am sure that my friend felt very proud about his ship mate.

Once we got into the night club I told my friend we better try the beer chasers. Most of the women in the club came from South America and spoke Spanish and English. We had a few of them sitting on our table, but as the night went on we didn't feel any pains from drinking all those beer chasers. Some of the girls noticed that we were getting too drunk to be any fun for them. We were very lucky that a taxi stopped for us and took us back to the ship. We had tried several taxis before to stop, but we were so drunk they wouldn't take us. After a good night's sleep I had to get ready for my plane flight back to Syracuse. When my friend went back to Holland for leave he told all my friends about our weekend in New York. In the later years my friend left the merchant marines and emigrated to Canada where he met a Dutch girl and got married. They had one child, a baby girl. I have not seen him for years, but the latest I heard that he has a small construction company. Body wise he is twice the size of that when he was in the merchant marine, and he still drinks a lot of beer and has one of the biggest beer bellies around.

On my flight back to Syracuse I had a girl sitting next to me who came from Latin America. When I was boarding the plane the stewardess asked me to look after her and see to it that she would get off at Syracuse. The girl didn't know how to speak English at all. Our flight was very rough and bumpy. I noticed the girl was very scared and took her rosary and prayed. It must have been one of her first plane flights. At the airport people were waiting for her. The only thing I remembered about her was how good looking she was.

I kept on working at the dairy plant, but I wasn't really happy about what I was doing. I wanted to make something more out of life, but somehow I was stuck. I was drinking more and more, and even when I would wake up in the morning I would drink a shot of whiskey. I even carried a bottle of whiskey in my car. When I was drinking I always felt very relaxed and didn't care about anything but just having a good time. I even would give my money away as I was always very generous. I always had many friends around me. I hung around the bars at the Syracuse University. I met many girls from the University, and there wasn't a place around town I didn't know. I started to go to horse races and that took more of my money out of my savings.

In the Southern part of Holland, its called the province of Limburg we have a carnival season (like the Mardi Gras in New Orleans). It's a pre-Lenten celebration. Our Dutch club in Syracuse decided that we should have a carnival night and initiated me to be their Prince Carnival. I guess they chose me because they knew I would have a lot of friends at the party who liked to drink. The girl I dated in America in her brand new convertible 1957 Chevy was my princess for the carnival night. I was invited to so many parties and many of the women were single or divorced. Some of my friends tried to be match-makers, but I didn't fall for it. I must admit that I passed up some good looking girls. There was nothing in my life I had to offer. I hadn't reached my goal in life yet I was looking for, and there were so many things I wanted to do. That's what I was thinking then, but I also knew something had to change, as I couldn't keep living on the way I was going. I wrote my family in Holland regularly but never told them that I wasn't too happy about certain things I was doing. I was always very independent and a little stubborn to tell all of my feelings to somebody. I always felt that I could solve them by myself. I inherited this from my younger life where I always had to make a lot of my own decisions.

CONTINUED: How I met my Burmese girlfriend Lu Lu
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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