In 1956, my grandmother had had a third ‘child’ go down under_. The ‘boys’ were long returned.
Joop, who had jumped ship, in Sydney and had apparently had a rather colourful time here; apparently getting into a fight and being thrown down some stairs; apparently winning enough at the races to get back to Gouda, the Netherlands.
And Jan, who had tried his luck in Australia but got no further than the reception centre for single men, set up by Father Leo Maas, in Melbourne, where he was given general work to do and from where he faithfully sent all the pounds he was paid, back to my grandmother, in Gouda.
And, in 1956 Jacoba, my mother, because Jan had told my father that the sun always shines in Australia!
In 1964 my mother went back for the first time ( Can’t remember whether the ship was Fairsky, or Fairstar). She had a great time. Here, back in Sydney, she was always happy to let my father be ‘the host’, the ‘entertainer’, the one who expressed his opinions.
I get the impression that, on this first trip ’_back home’ my mother came into her own a bit. I found this (glass-covered) slide while looking through some of mine, and I am always surprised by- and impressed with- the pictures that she took, particularly in Paris and in Willemstad (Netherlands Antilles).
No wonder my father likes to repeat (when we discuss my art): He gets that from his mother, you know.
What might have happened if she hadn’t chosen to help support her parents and eight brothers and sisters, by insisting on leaving school at 14 and working in the candle factory (1931).
In 1967 there was a phone call from what was then telecom. I was home, in Sydney, from my one-teacher-school, in Maude via Hay, to let us know that there was a telegram.
It was, of course, in Dutch. So the operator read out each word as she saw it and I relayed it, in Dutch to tell my mother that her mother had passed away.
In 1969 my parents and I took our first trip back, together, on a KLM charter flight, with lots of other members of Dutch-australian organisations.
In 1971 I went back by myself. Both times, in the summer school holdidays (and walked through snow again, in the Netherlands)
In 1980, my parents went.
In 1997, I went.
In 2005, I went.