From Amsterdam to New York
I woke up early that morning, the 11th of December 1964, it was my sister’s birthday and I had promised Henny to be there in time.
But while I had an early breakfast, I was told that it would be very difficult to find a taxi this strike day. The hotel tried to find a way to get me to the airport, and then all of a sudden I was told to walk very fast, there was a bus going to the airport. Thank goodness I found that bus in time, it was overloaded with tourists, most of us had to stand with all our luggage, but I didn’t care, I was on my way.
I arrived far too early at the airport for my flight by KLM to Amsterdam, so I had a second breakfast with strong cup of coffee I had to wait a long time before I could fly at last to Amsterdam.
But then the second problem came up, we were told that we could only fly to Brussels, since there was a bad fog at Schiphol the Amsterdam airport.
We received first class tickets in Brussels to go by train to Amsterdam. At least a bus brought us to the station where we had to wait for our train. In Amsterdam I had to find my train to Haarlem where my sister Henny and her husband lived, still carrying my heavy luggage. When at last I arrived at Haarlem I had to wait for a taxi to come, it was five minutes before midnight when I rang at my sister’s and brother-in-law’s front doorbell. I had kept my promise I was just in time to celebrate Henny’s last minutes of her birthday party.
It was really nice to be back in Holland again and renew the contact with my two sisters and their husbands and children.
I quickly found a job, but it was impossible to find an apartment, that’s to say, one I could pay, so I had to stay with my mother.
I often visited my sisters, I often went to Amsterdam a town I have always liked very much. It was absolutely nice to be back with my family.
I went with one of my friends to France on vacation, she had never been there before, so we planned to go to Nice in the south of France, where we had an absolute wonderful vacation. When she went back to Holland, I stayed two more days in Paris and went then to Le Mont Saint Michel in Normandy for three days.
I walked for hours all alone along the beach feeling very happy, it was a coming home feeling, although I had never been there before. I wished that I could stay there forever, but I knew that my French was not good enough at all to find a job in France.
When I came back in Holland I realized that is was time to leave again, so when I saw an advertisement in the news paper for au pairs in America, I understood that this was the best way for me to get into the United States. I could do this job for a year and then find a better job. And so it happened that I could start in Spring Valley a small town in the New York State. Two months later in May 1966, my mother, Henny, her husband and her two kids brought me to Schiphol, the Amsterdam airport. I am afraid that I have disappointed my family by leaving the Netherlands again. Many people wanted to emigrate to the U.S.A. in those days, it somehow seemed a world of miracles to us.
Eight hours later I landed on the Kennedy International Airport, it was quite warm and somehow it looked just a little less rich than I had imagined and I thought: “I am really in America, I have done it”.
The family where I was going to work for a year was really very nice. I received a nice room with TV and my own bathroom. I was treated as a part of the family: mother German, father American officer and two little girls. The job was not hard at all, I was off every Thursday afternoon and the whole Sunday. It was a beautiful big apartment where they lived and that also included the free use of a fine swimming pool where I used to go every Thursday. I was, to my surprise, the only good swimmer in the neighbourhood.
Everybody was very nice to me, also in the shops from Spring Valley and everyone saw immediate that I was not an American. Many wanted to know where I came from, they were surprised that I came from Holland. But I could not say: “I am from the Dutch East Indies, or from Indonesia, the country where I grew up”.
Most people thought that I came from Canada.