Canadians were big stuff in Holland. We'd
liberated a lot of it, you understand, and
their Queen Juliana had been in Ottawa during
the war. Everything worked together, and
we all got along fine.
Our artillery bunch had been pulled back
and we were at rest in a large building.
Anyway, nearby was this Dutch farmer's house.
There was this old man, Van Voort, the mother,
a grandmother who didn't say much, and three
daughters. One son was with the Royal Dutch
Air Force and the other had just disappeared
some time ago.
When our outfit went back up, six of us,
a sergeant, a corporal and four of us, we
were left behind and this place we were
in became kind of a rest area for our battery,
and others. We kind of ran it. There wasn't
all that much of a war that winter, so it
was a good life for us.
At night some of us would go and sit in
the farmhouse kitchen and yak. They spoke
good English. Most Dutch people spoke some,
but the Voorts were good. We'd bring our
goodies from the kitchen and they'd share,
and make special soups and stews with chunks
of meat and big fat dumplings. They knew
how to eat. They also know how to entertain,
and we'd have rare old times. We spent Christmas
with them and exchanged presents, things
we'd bought on leave in Amsterdam, and they
gave us socks and I got a wool vest.
One of our guys was Keertbergen. He spoke
French and Dutch but he never let on. When
the mother and dad would suddenly break
into Dutch and talk, or the girls did, well,
old Keert was there, ears all pricked up
but not letting on.
So one night back in our quarters we're
melting down some chocolate bar for a drink
before dinner and Keert is snickering away,
and finally he says, "Tim, they've
got Anna staked out for you." Anna
is the second, about twenty-two then, and
I've got to say it, she was quite pretty.
Big like a lot of Dutch girls are, bigger
than her sisters.
I said what the hell are you talking about?
He laid it out, line by line. I was good-looking,
and I said well, thanks. I had a good education
and my father was wealthy. So, Anna would
try for me. She'd shoot for a Canadian boyfriend.
How the hell did he know all this? He said
two ways. He'd listened to the old people
talking, you know, when they would suddenly
start speaking Dutch, and besides, Katie
had dropped a hint along the line. This
was the first I'd heard of him making up
to Katie, because with the old folks there,
it was strictly chaperoned.
And how did they know my old man was wealthy?
I said, "Christ, all he is is a manager
of a small department in a big Eaton's store."
Keert said he knew that, but to the Dutch
a manager meant something more, like a works
manager and that meant a factory, and if
that's what my dad was, then lie was pretty
big stuff. Anna would be making a real match.
From then on, he said, the heat would be
on. The old folks would leave about nine
or so, and if I had the inclination, and
so on and so forth, it was okay with them.
Apparently it was just fine with Anna, although
you couldn't have told it from the way she'd
acted the two months or so we'd been going
over there. Just a good kid, that type of
thing. But I thought, maybe she knew how
to play it smart a long long time before
That's about the way it was. Play the game,
I figured. If she'll jump into the hay,
fine. Maybe we wouldn't be around that long.
I was a pretty young soldier and I didn't
know much about sex, so, what the hell,
I thought, catch up on the game. On Sunday
we'd go for walks, just like I would have
in Toronto. Over to a village three miles
away, a hot chocolate. Holding hands. Kissing.
That sort of thing. Then quite a bit further
than kissing, and momma and poppa and oma,
her grandmother, smiling quietly and Katie
being awful nice, too, and her other sister,
the youngster, whose name was Jay-Jay.
I don't want to dig myself in any deeper
than I am, so I'll just say this. We got
shipped home in July of '45 and we were
supposed to go to Japan but that finished
up, too, so about November, Anna came to
Montreal on a ship and I drove down to pick
her up and back here to Toronto and we got
married and it's worked out pretty well.
I've got no complaints and that was nearly
twenty-five years ago.