Friday, March 30, 2012

My Father's Survivor Games: a Transcribe Memoir of Robert A. Doorenbos 1928-2002

On Wednesday I began sharing my father's memoir with my readers for these reasons. If you want to start at the beginning, click here. I'll continue his story which currently takes place in Holland. I'll share my thoughts in Italics.

Doetinchem 1937-1938

In 1937 we were sent to Holland to get schooling in Dutch. It was particularly difficult for my brother Wim who was a fifth grader in Victoria College in Alexandria, Egypt. We were boarded with our Aunt and Uncle, Jan van de Meene and Antoinette (my father's sister). I resent that move to this day. 

I often wonder why he hated it so much. I have vague memories of him telling us that the family wasn't nice, harsh in comparison to what they'd grown used to in Alexandria. Then I also wonder if the fact that they sent him away was the reason he resented the change. 

Doetinchem was a large village (now a city) in the southeast part of the province of Gelderland. At that time it was best known for its reform school for delinquent boys ("if you don't behave we'll send you there"). There is not much worth mentioning from that time. My sister broke her right arm which I'll write about more later on. After Aunt Antoinette had her second son (Eddie), we were boarded with a family in Arnhem.

Threats couldn't make this a friendly environment. Dad was 9 at the time he went there. So young and impressionable. I wonder if he missed his parents.

Arnhem, 1938-1939

The boarding house in Arnhem was run by a widow named Mrs. Haak. Besides me and Wim, there were three more children of parents who lived abroad. I only remember their family name: Stoel. Mrs. Haak was a kindly lady who did her utmost to provide a good home. Her daughter took us on cycling trips to the forest to pick mushrooms (chanterelles, easy to recognize) or she'd take us out to the farmland. My sister Hetty stayed with my Grandmother Kepper in The Hague that year. Her broken arm was improperly set and healed crookedly. It had to be re-broken and reset. This seriously affected her and she hardly went to school that year. Our neighbor's son was my best friend, and looking back, he wasn't very nice. Neither was I. Later I realized his father, Mr. Hazelhoff, was a prominent Nazi.

So now I want to know HOW did Tante Hetty break her arm? And I want research Mr. Hazelhoff. The war is coming. The problems are beginning to grow for my father and his family.

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