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

A Good Friend Dies

On January 20, 1979 I received a phone call from the Camalier family that their father, Dr. C.W. Camalier, had died of a heart ailment at Georgetown University hospital. He was playing golf at the Congressional Country Club where he was a member and collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital where they tried in vain to save his life, but it was too late.

At the time I received the phone call Lu Lu wasn't home as she had gone with some friends to New Jersey. It was a terrible shock for all of us and I knew it wouldn't be easy for me to tell Lu Lu about this. Lu Lu was working for the Camalier family for many years. She was part of the family. Dr. Camalier was in particular very fond of her, and Lu Lu thought the world of Dr. Camalier. Dr. Camalier was the chief of surgery at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

Two times Dr. Camalier had operated on Lu Lu , and Lu Lu always told me that he was the one who saved her life. When Lu Lu was in Sibley Hospital, Dr. Camalier told the nurses who were taking care of Lu Lu that she was his adopted daughter and they better take good care of her. Lu Lu always had a closer relationship with the Camalier family than I did. I was always too busy with my job. Sometimes in my spare time I would help Mrs. Camalier in doing some odd jobs around the house. Mrs. Camalier treated us like we were one of her own. Whenever we needed some help, Mrs. Camalier was always there with whatever she could do for us. The Camalier family is part of our lives for as long as we live. It's very sad that Dr. Camalier's life was taken so quickly, but God has a reason for whatever he does. Dr. Camalier was part of our life and he is missed.

Lu Lu and I met so many interesting people who later on became our very good friends. One of our friends had left Burma for political reasons and decided to start a new life in the Washington D.C. area. After having his ups and downs in several jobs he decided to take a job New York Life Insurance as an agent. He was very successful in selling life insurance that in two years he became a member of the million dollar club. Lu Lu and I became friends from the first day they arrived from Burma. From his selling success in life insurance he was able to buy a large estate on River road very close to the fashionable Congressional Country Club. During the summer time he would always have a garden party and invited around 200 people, his closest friends and clients. Lu Lu and I were always invited as we were one of the first friends they met. At one of his garden parties 'I was having my cocktail and was chatting with some of the people around, when one gentleman came over to me and said, "you are not the only Dutchman at this party who is married to a Burmese". I was surprised and decided I'd like to meet that Dutchman. As I walked over to the other side of the party lawn I was introduced to Dr. Herman Franssen. Whenever we Dutch people meet and we don't know each other we will always talk in our high Dutch until we find out what part of Holland they come from. The Southern and Northern part of Holland have their own spoken dialects. To meet a Dutchman from the Southern part of Holland in the Washington D.C. area is very rare. when Dr. Franssen and I found out that we were form the same area in Holland we spoke in our own dialect. Dr. Franssen told me he was hoping that he would meet somebody from Limburg.

Limburg is a province in the Southern part of Holland, and that was the province Dr. Franssen and I came from. We both had so much in common. We were Catholics and married to Baptist Burmese. We became very good friends and visited each other's homes and there were always well-prepared Burmese dinners on the table. The only difference between us was that Dr. Franssen and his wife had the advantages of having a good educational background. I was a self made man in my education.

Dr. Franssen worked with the U.S. Government Energy Department and sometimes he had foreign dignitaries from the energy department visiting the U.S.A. for speaking engagements in different cities. Dr. Franssen always had to receive them at the International Dulles Airport in Virginia and arrange their program. One time Herman asked me to come along to Dulles Airport as he had to receive one of his foreign dignitaries. As we were driving to Herman's home and I was sitting in the backseat, Herman and his guest were having an interesting talk about the oil economics. During their talk Herman's guest kept turning around like he didn't want me to miss anything of their conversation. I had a feeling that Herman's guest thought I was one of Herman's Energy colleagues. When we arrived at Herman's home he asked me to stay with them and join them for dinner. At the table Herman's guest was still talking about energy economics. I never had a chance to introduce myself very clearly. It just happened that Herman and his wife left the dinner table to prepare the dessert. Finally I was able to explain to Herman's guest what my background was. As Herman and his wife joined us for the dessert, Herman's guest explained what we talked about, and Herman said with a big smile, "Jeff is one of my best friends".

After Dr. Franssen spent five years in France working as a U.S. diplomat in Energy Economics he resigned from the U.S. Government and took a job as an economical advisor to the minister of petroleum and minerals of Oman. He and his family, a beautiful wife and two daughters moved to Oman, but whenever he visits Washington D.C. for business, my dear friend Herman will spend his time with us in our apartment.

CONTINUED: Our Burmese Friends
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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