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

My trip to Holland and England with Lu Lu

In 1969 I decided that I was going to spend the Christmas time together with my family in Holland. This was the first time that Lu Lu would meet all of my family, and she didn't feel very comfortable at all. Lu Lu had many friends in England, Karens who had married English soldiers from the colonial time in Burma. I told Lu Lu on our way to Holland we would stay in England for a week to visit her friends. When we arrived in London airport, Topper and Ann Brown were waiting for us, to take us to their home in Leicester which was about a 100-mile train ride from London. It was very cold in England at that time. The reason I went home for the Christmas time was because I love to be around my family during Christmas, and during the Holidays all of the family is around. Lu Lu hated the cold weather in England, but she was so happy to see all of her old friends again, after so many years.

Lu Lu told me that she was glad she had married me, and that she lived in the U.S.A. She said years ago she had an English boyfriend who wanted to take her to England. She said she was very happy she never went.

The house of our friends we stayed with was a small town house. The heating system at that time was still very poor. They had a little gas stove where you had to put money in, like a slot machine, to keep the heat going. Upstairs in the bedroom there wasn't heat at all. The only heat was in the small living room. It was too cold for Lu Lu to sleep in the bedroom upstairs, and it felt like an icebox. I can't remember how many blankets I had on top of me, but I could hardly breathe. It was so noticeable at that time in most English homes, how little domestic commodities they had compared with other European countries.

The clock tower in Leicester, England 

Mr. Topper Brown, I called him Topper, was a real classy English gentleman. Every morning he would be sitting at the breakfast table with a nice white shirt and bow-tie. He would never come down from his bedroom before he looked like a real English gentleman. After breakfast we would go for a walk to his favorite beer pub, where he would meet all of his old friends. He loved to drink his pint of beer. The beer wasn't as cold served as I was used to, but if you said you wanted a pint of beer, your glass was filled to the top without foam. There were many Indian families living in Leicester. I asked Topper how he felt having all those Indians around. He said they have the right to be here. They are English citizens just like me. Topper had spent many of his years overseas in different English colonial countries.

Around noon time the beer pub would close for several hours, and would open around 3 o'clock in the afternoon again. I kind of liked this system, if you had too many beers you could snooze it off for a little while and go back again. I was kind of glad they closed at noon, as Topper and I were treated with too much beer from his friends.

One day Topper and I took a trip to London. Lu Lu and Ann stayed behind in the house as it was too cold for them to travel that far. Once we got to London it looked like Topper knew his way around the city. We went to see the Buckingham Palace, it was cold and there weren't too many people around. Not too far from that was the Victoria Park. From there we went to see the famous St. Paul Cathedral, and from there we took a taxi to the Parliament Buildings.

Before we got into the taxi, Topper told me why he was wearing his Bowler hat. He said that his Bowler hat impressed a lot of people. With his dark winter coat and his umbrella in his hand he looked like one of the parliament members himself. I was very impressed with his aristocratic manners. As we waited on the side of the street for a taxi, one taxi approached. Topper lifted up his umbrella for the taxi to stop. When we were in the taxi he told the driver to take us to the parliament building. The driver thought that Topper was one of the members, and asked him, what room sir. After we got out of the taxi, Topper told me, you see Jeff - that Bowler hat impresses people. After the parliament buildings we went to visit one of Topper's favorite beer pubs. Even in the London beer pub, he had friends. The beer pub we went in, it was traditional to wear a white shirt and tie. Without it you were not welcome. I was very impressed by the English courtesy. Wherever I went with Topper he would always first introduce me to his friends. It makes you feel very comfortable, and I would mingle in with his friends right away. I really enjoyed the city of London, and most of all, the companionship of my friend Topper.

Lu Lu enjoyed herself seeing all her old friends from Burma again. They talked about the good old times, and what had happened to them over the years. Lu Lu was not that interested to go and see places. What made her happy the most was that she could see all of her friends again. All of her friends were very surprised that she lived in the U.S.A. They never thought that she ever was able to leave Burma. All of her friends, when they lived in Burma, at that time they were all doing very well. All of them were working in Burma for the British Government and living a good life. At that time Lu Lu was working very hard and living in with a diplomatic family. All of her friends in England were so happy for her that her life had changed so fortunately. I was very glad that I had spent a week with Lu Lu's friends in England, and met many of Topper's friends. Before I always had that feeling that English people were very cold individuals, but after my week's visit it changed my mind. They were very interesting people.

CONTINUED: My family meets 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

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