Ben Oostdam story # 193

A $ 50 Windfall . . . again?

In the aftermath of "our" fire - which I reported in stories # 188 and 189 - I spent the last few days preparing insurance claims and sorting out pound - loads of partially burned but fully soaked notes, records, maps, charts, letters and photographs which I had compiled during this last half century.

All these commemorative items were put in manilla envelopes and stowed in two large Zinc boxes we had made for us in Kuwait in 1978 and stored in our garage since our last move in 1992..
You can see my setup on the photograph at the right. Since my favorite "milking chair" burned down, too, you see here the replacement I secured to sit on - sorry: on which to sit.
I figured I would start at 09:30 and stop as soon as my "removal buddy" Gary would come to continue our shoveling and hauling of ashes and debris. I meticulously opened every envelope and folded open all items, keeping what I wanted and setting aside the rest to throw out.
It was an exciting voyage in time and space, and I obviously got carried away, because I only stopped and got up painfully when Federal Express dropped by for a delivery.
When I took the box inside, I was astonished to see that it was 15:30 already . . . 5 1/2 hours later...

I went inside and spread out the documents to dry - which caused a terrible smell to develop of smoke and decay. Fortunately, the fan drove out most of the bad air.
A quick inventory showed one file of family photographs (left), of which I had previously missed the one on the right, showing me sitting in the same model warehouse which my father built and used to hide in during WW2 razzias -
except that he had removed all floors except the top, and also kept all doors closed except the one on top.


my Mother
Truus Oostdam-Boelsma

Our son
Ben Louw Oostdam

the Oostdams in
Istanbul, 1977

Mercia, Ben and Lou AlMuhanna
at Selecta, Poconos, PA, 1980

There also was a large multiflex-file containing all the documentation of my father's guardianship of Angele L.C., only daughter of his oldest sister, Appie. Angela was born in 1920 and was a little princess. She went to grammarschool and earned a J.D. degree during and after WW2 - when her father, a French teacher, was arrested, put on transport and died in a concentration camp. She became maladjusted after her Mother's death in 1961, had a son whom my father almost adopted were it not for a church being faster. She was institutionalized for some 30 years and each month my father would send her Nf 20 pocket money which she mainly used on cigarettes. They kept up an extensive correspondence tii my Father's death in 1985. After that, I visited her twice and she wrote me several times .

please click to enlarge texts
(in Dutch)

last message of our
beloved Aunt Appie
in Dutch

(left and right:)
letter dated Dec.9, 1987
from Angela L.C. to BLO

The sweet little Angela is shown on the left while my grandparents and aunts appear on the right side of the table (right), with Aunt Appie standing at the head of the table (as reported by cousin Liek who also told me this photograph was taken on the occasion of her mother's 1931 wedding-with-the-glove - Uncle Uhli standing in for Philip- who was assistant-resident in Taroena, Dutch East Indies)

To get back to the story: I was awarded for my thorough search by finding an unused $ 50 travelers check!

That was not as spectacular as my first $ 50 windfall when I stopped at the famous Chattanooga Shale and picked up a specimen for my collection sometime in the 1970's; fortunately I noted the faint greenish color on top of its "footprint"- and found a dirty banknote someone must be missing by now.
BLO fecit 20060928 - stories