I was a U.S. citizen now, and in case I had to look for another job I even could try to find a job in the U.S. government. But things changed around Embassy Dairy since Southland Corporation had taken over.
I noticed right away that Southland Corporation was a young and aggressive company. When they bought Embassy Dairy their gross sales from the 7-Eleven stores were 320 million a year. They were pleased with the quality control work I had done for Embassy Dairy that I was assured to keep my job. I was offered to join their profit-sharing plan, and what I read from their latest reports, it was one of the best ones in the country. With this company I saw some financial future to build up a nice savings for later years. There were so many things in life I always had dreamed of doing. With Southland Corporation I saw a future which would make my dreams come true. I knew it would take some years to reach my goals in life, but here I had an opportunity I couldn't let go. I knew it would be a tough challenge, but nothing had come easy to me before.
With Southland Corporation I had to deal with a lot of different caliber people. Southland Corporation board members came to visit our plant. I personally had to meet them and outline our quality control program. This was not an easy thing for me to do as I was never much of a speaker. I knew it was a challenge in life I had to take. Through Mr. Ed Connelly I met one of the Southland executives who was a frequent visitor at our plant. It just happened that I always kept a good cup of coffee in the lab, and that's the way we became very friendly with each other. He told me that Southland Corporation was very pleased with the work I did. During one of his flights back to Dallas on American Airlines he was killed in a plane crash. I made a quick friend, but lost him just as fast.
In July, 1963 I decided to take a three week vacation to Holland. It was my first trip back home since I had left Holland in 1957. I was really looking forward to this trip to see all my family and friends again. I flew with KLM airlines, a direct flight from New York to Amsterdam. All of my family was happy to see me again. In those six years that I had been away from home so many things had changed already. In a lot of ways I had changed, that's what a lot of friends told me. How could I have not changed over those years? I had traveled, learned, and seen a lot of other places. Most of my old friends still had the simple town principles. I noticed that right away when I met one of my friends in a restaurant or dance floor with their girlfriends or wives. I always had to introduce myself first and then ask my friends who their company was. All of this showed me that I didn't belong there anymore. My lifestyle had become different. It was nice to see all of my family and friends again, but after three weeks I was glad I went back to the U.S.A. again. When I left for my vacation to Holland I never told any of my family about it. I wanted to surprise them. When I arrived in Amsterdam I was all on my own. The first thing I did when I arrived at Amsterdam was take a taxi and told the driver to take me to one of the best fish shops in town. I was just dying to buy and eat one of the Dutch favorite herrings. In Holland they are called Maatjes. I gave the taxi driver a nice tip and he said, "Sir, don't worry, I'll take you to the best herring shop in the city". He drove into the city of Amsterdam, and not long after that I was sitting in the back seat eating my favorite Maatjes.
During my three weeks vacation I told my family about Lu Lu and me, and that in the near future we were planning to marry. My father and mother told me, "you marry the one you love". They said it's my life and I have to live with it. My father and mother and a very good friend of mine with his wife took me to the Amsterdam airport. During the ride to the airport my father was talking how he would love to visit the U.S.A. one day. I told him it might be sooner than you think. At the airport lounge we had a few drinks and joked about things which you always do when it's almost time to board the plane.
Leaving your family and friends is always the saddest part of any trip you take. And this one wasn't any different than the one I had taken before. As I said goodbye to my parents and friends and I embarked on the plane I noticed my father had tears in his eyes. This looked kind of strange to me as I never had seen my father cry. He was always very stern and strict. I was wondering why he cried this time. Three months later I found out why.