Here we go: it’s beach time – pictures of past and present. Some pictures at the end get doubled, but I can’t beat the Wordpress system.
My mom and dad at the beach in Holland (before I was born…somewhere in the 1930s). Probably at the Zandvoort beach.
Johnny and his sister Mary in the Dutch Dunes at the North Sea (Zandvoort) summer 1941 after Germany had invaded Holland. Picture taken by their father who had to go hiding soon after.
Many years later, Johnny on honeymoon with lovely Joy at the beach in Bonaire, the Dutch Caribbean (1974)
A few years later again, son David -above – and daughter Samantha -below – at the beach in Bali, Indonesia (1982)
Sam and Dave -above – at the beach in Goya (India) and – below – at the beach in Trivandrum (most southern point of India) in 1983.
David and Sam at the beach in Hawai (1984)
John and Joy at the beach in Guyana (1986)
Samantha at the beach in Curaçao (1994).
That’s as far as our family beach pictures go: not much beach for me, as I always get burned – so I stay away from ‘sun-beaching’ but I love the Côte d’Azur, see below.
Cavalière, my preferred beach at the Côte d’Azur – quiet and away from the crowd.
Théoule-sur-mer, another quiet place for lunch.
The beach at Nice – taken early in the morning and away from the maddening crowd. But I hate walking on the gravel with my bare feet.
Nice, when it’s weekend.
Me, running away from a shark in Portland Maine (2002)
Bathing in the Dead Sea, Jordan (2010). I did so in my underwear early in the morning because I did not have my swim trunk with me. It was completely ‘salted stiff’ when I got out and sneaked back to my hotel room. I had to throw it in the trash.
Let’s end with the July 4 fireworks.
This is to inform you of the reason why ENCHANTÉ has been away: A “sabbatical” forced by accumulating events that prevent us from writing. However, we will be back in September-October, God willing – insha’Allah. Meanwhile, we will post some photographs from our past blogs, including ‘Mars Man’, with whom we started our blog. Mars Man may return to our blogs now that Mother Earth is moving onto them with the new Space Force.
Below are ‘identity’ photographs: from age 7 to ?, each one representative of a decisive period in the life of ENCHANTÉ.
Moving into the space age, below are Katharine, Mars Man’s earthly wife and anchor at OMAHA TV, and Mars Man in his Mars capacity of Mars City TV anchor. Next is Space Scooter One, with which Mars Man descends to Mother Earth, to spend time with Katharine and their mixed offspring, and do interviews on OMAHA TV in his Earthly Costume, as shown on the last picture.
Pictures are worth one thousand words!
Till soon with more of our picture album of previous blogs.
This is to notify you of a correction needed in my blog of yesterday: A typo slipped in at the very end: Semper Fi is the correct spelling. The typo occurred at the moment I had to move quickly into the house from my deck because of a sudden downpour. While closing my laptop, the blog published itself, uncorrected. I hope you will forgive me.
Regards to all of you,
It did not dawn on me until I was at a Jesuit boarding school in Nijmegen, a city close to Germany and one of the centers of World War II fighting in The Netherlands. During the 1950s, a (strictly forbidden) girlfriend Marijke van Steen (probably happily married now with grandkids like me) took me on a bike ride to the Canadian War Cemetery at a small town called Groesbeek not far from where she lived. Having survived World War II as a child (from about 4 to 9 years old), I had intense and often graphic memories of those awful years of being occupied by Nazi Germany. I had seen aviators fighting in the sky, bombers dropping bombs, and German soldiers rounding up compatriots, including Jewish friends, and beating them up or shooting them in the street.
A downed British pilot once sought refuge in our house and disappeared again with the help of underground resistance fighters. I was 9 when we were finally liberated thanks to all those allied forces who fought their way through German armies, deadly fortresses of machine guns, powerful tanks, Junker fighter planes, Heinkel bombers and later the fierce Messerschmitts jetfighters.
While World War II memories remained lucent growing up, there is nothing more poignant to resuscitate those memories when you visit the warriors’ graves. Marijke showed me around.
Though she was a few years younger than I, she also remembered liberation in 1945. Yes, we were the lucky ones and could smile, like the people in the picture below.
Hand in hand we stood in front of all these white crosses while complete silence reigned around us in the Cemetery. Each white cross represented a scream in pain, a futile effort to fight death, a vain struggle to scramble to safety, grasping a twig before hurtling down a cliff or parachuting into a burning sea. Each white cross had comrades in battle, mortally wounded, or severely injured, alive perhaps but impaired for life.
Sitting together on a bench overlooking the extensive field of bright white crosses, we knew it was thanks to those brave youthful warriors we were still alive and could fall in love. When I was drafted into the army and crept through sand or waded through ponds with a rifle above my head, I remembered those who did this for real and made the ultimate sacrifice.
I am the guy with the broad smile in the middle, cleaning my rifle, all of us having great fun.
I was lucky as it did not happen to me, but for many American soldiers, it did, in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, the wider world. Arlington Cemetery, and the World War II memorial with its European and Asian theaters, are thoughtful places to realize how thankful we must be to those who shield us from harm and keep us safe. It is nice to say ‘peace through strength’, but we must not forget that that ‘strength’ means a lot of brave people, fellow humans, who are willing to pay the ultimate price when they have to, for us to keep enjoying our comfortable lives.
And so Meghan and Harry are married, like “we did.” “Royally.” Meghan, a mixed-race American woman and Harry a royal British prince. A fascinating story many are calling a ‘Cinderella’ story. Well, Meghan was not exactly washing dishes and cleaning house, nor was Joy. Meghan is an accomplished actress and a gifted person, and Joy was a clever and adored World Bank front office staff-assistant. Both are extremely charming. But it does sound a bit like a Cinderella story: Meghan is a mixture of a Caucasian father and an African mother. The gripping marriage scenes under clear skies (what a gift from Heaven to the UK!) beautified this ultimate contemporary event, which would have been impossible some forty-five years ago, when we married.
What a difference! I remember watching just-crowned Queen Elizabeth visiting Amsterdam with her Prince Philip in 1958. (The story goes she met him, a second cousin, in Greece when she was 13 and fell in love with him at that time already, writing letters to each other). The state visit to the Dutch Royal family was all stiff pomp, though cordial. Then followed the problems with growing-up children: Charles and Diana’s disastrous divorce, followed by Diana’s tragic death, Andrew and Fergy’s divorce, and daughter Anne’s divorce from Captain Mark Philips. Her third son, Prince Edward, is the only one remaining married to his first wife (Sophie Rhys-Jones). Queen Elizabeth reportedly acquiesced in Harry’s marriage for love to a US commoner of mixed race because she was tired of facing her children’s unhappy marriages. Harry and Meghan’s wedding pictures show that the royal protocol has fundamentally changed.
I can feel that difference probably more acutely than others: Joy Jaundoo – a Guyanese of East-Indian descent – and I, a Dutchman from Amsterdam, married in Washington, D.C. in 1974.
The only person reacting positively was my mother seeing her picture: “Wat beautiful children will you have.” The majority in stiff Holland was upset and against. “He better stay in America,” one noble uncle said. “Why doesn’t he marry one of our own,” one prominent American uttered (many Dutch said the same). An American friend walked out of the elevator when he saw the two of us together. “Don’t do that! You break your family’s bloodstream forever,” another friend offered. “Why don’t you marry a French girl,” a boss said. In Georgetown Guyana, the reception proved a lot warmer. It was mostly more accepting in the World Bank, an eminent multicultural institution where we worked. “In fifty years the whole world will be brown,” a supportive French girlfriend said. Working in a multi-cultural institution made adjustments to each other’s cultures surely a lot easier!
Guyana beach: Drinking coconut water is an art you have to learn before messing up.
Well, perhaps we had the foresight and were ahead of our time: what would that Dutch uncle say now? However, Meghan and Harry will find that mixing cultures and race does have its consequences. Their children will grow up in privileged circumstances but will still be faced with the fact that they are different from their peers born out of same-race families. As parents, they will have to compromise perhaps more than others. The mixture of different bloodstreams causes unmistakably unintended fallouts: how do the children feel internally towards others, to whom do they ‘belong?’ Do they resent the cards that they were dealt with by their parents’ decision? How do they adjust in their childhood and puberty, can they find a partner in their split world, how do they think about being put on this world still full of bigotry? All children and young adults have growing problems but biracial children perhaps more, requiring close parental attention.
Visiting home in Holland in 1979
We are blessed with two good-looking and successful children, with each showing the ‘remnants’ of our individual backgrounds. At my and my sister’s eightieth birthday anniversary last year in Holland at the Maarten Maartens House in Doorn, they were a tribute to today’s changing world. The pictures below of Joy, our children, family and friends clearly show that we and they are no ”exception” anymore. That has been royally confirmed.