I was increasingly getting a bit emotional, something to do with old age, I think, which can be positive as well as negative. I remember just before boarding the Maasdam Sinterklaas boat of 1954 on the way to the Netherlands (to marry a certain young woman) hearing a brass band playing 'Zie ginds komt de stoom boot van Spanje weer aan,' people ahead of us, already on the gangway stopped abruptly, stopping in turn all passengers following them, and most of us got a strange feeling in the chest. Some shyly start singing, others cried. That was a positive emotion.
For a few weeks I sulked around with all kinds of sensitivities, non were positive and some were quite negative. Negative emotions lead to negative attitudes - self-pity, mistrust, suspicion, and to general unhappiness. I traveled that road for quite a distance and became most unhappy in a very short time.
At the end I let some of my frustration out of the bag to a friend, and this is part of what she had to say
'...of course you feel lonesome at times and then it feels as if the tank is empty, don't dwell on it, it will make you only sad...'
Good advice, so I focused my thoughts upon times, long ago when the family was intact and under one roof yet, when we most every year had visitors from our Dutch family under the same roof.
Once, a long time ago when my daughters were mere daughters and no grandmothers as they are now, we decided to explore the romantic and adventurous ghost town of Barkerfield, which once teemed with thousands of gold seekers striking it rich worth millions of dollars but is now without inhabitants. Welll, our plans had changed a little, as it more often did with our plans, instead of going with four children plus a tent, camping gear, and food, all in one car, our number of participants had grown to nine since my wife's parents had arrived for a holiday from Holland and taken their youngest son Allen along with them.
We were so lucky that there were no safety regulations in force yet about seat belts, so we were able to stow the enthusiastic vacationers much closer together into the car which was built for a maximum of five, but after abandoning two of our lovely daughters, I have forgotten where they were stored for the duration of our adventure, we took off with our youngest daughter Jacki and Len, our son. And, of course, Anne's parents and brother.
Everybody in the car, hup, hup, hup.
“How far is it,” asked father in law.
We left early in the morning from Ladner on the way to Barkerville, since father in-law wanted to see that old gold-mining town, but after a fifteen minute drive to Cloverdale, he asked the same question again and Anne told him “Not too far dad,” knowing full well that the 760 km trip to our destination might take as much as twelve hours, or even more, without much stopping.
Father in-law sat up front in the passenger seat because he suffered carsickness and initially did not want me to drive over 50km per hour, which, at would have taken us three days to get there.
Anne got easy carsick too but she had offered her usual seat up front to her father.
After an hour's drive father in-law urgently pressed me to stop 'to fish for an hour.'
We then stopped finally past Hope somewhere for breakfast since we had not eaten yet.
“Everybody bacon and eggs,” made it easy for the cook and leftovers for me. 'Potatoes with eggs?'
Did we make it to Barkerville? No, we didn't, we made two stopovers but father in-law got some fishing in though he was disappointed not to catch anything and I was happy I didn't have to clean them.
Then the rain started.
Don't ask me how long it took us, or how everybody felt that afternoon, and do in not ask how I felt when finally we arrived in the ghost town of Barkerville, where it was not only raining but also cold, and the campground was built on naked rock, preventing us to pin the huge military tent, which was family owned, down.
Out of the car everyone got instantly cold but no problem, I had things under control. I had noticed a fire pit on the outskirt of our claimed campsite, with a few pieces of burned out pieces of wood inside of it. Now comes what one may have have wondered about – why didn't we stop fighting this great country's harsh weather and find a warm motel room. Well, because the year was 1967 and I had started building a few houses, thus not much money to spent on holidays, and - there were no motels around for fifty miles. However I had a great idea. Make a fire! We're camping right?
I took a the gallon camp-stove gasoline and poured the gas over the dead coals to start quickly a fire, and was very surprised that the can blew out of my hand up into the sky, and my new dutch shirt, a present of my mother-in-law, burned off my body. I was temporary dead, smelling of barbecued hamburger and nakedly burning from the waist up, but help was on the way.
Who else but my dear wife who, I was told, jumped over over the pick-nick table, a folded plastic sheet in her hands, right on top of me smothering the flames. I was trying to roll into a water-filled trench but did not get any farther than down on one leg.
After that the fire was extinguished we stood up and I said, not to anyone in particular, because I must have been in shock and saw everyone watching me as if to say what stupid thing are you going to perform for us now, and said something like 'maybe somebody should throw some water on me' and Anne's young brother, just over from Holland, and by his own words not liking our country at all, because the Canadian way of life was not like it was in the Netherlands, calmly got the pail with drinking-water and poured it over me until the last drop, changing me from wet and cold into being soaking wet. And cold.
So there we stood, like a sculpture, facing rain, wind, and cold - my rescuer-wife Anne, her mother and father, her seventeen-year old brother, my daughter Jacki, my son Len, all hunkering behind the large old military tent, feeling miserable, all staring at me, and me staring back at them, wet and cold and also very miserable, not knowing what to do next, and when we after some time were through with that, I said 'we better see if we can find a doctor.'
I had heard while on an earlier holiday that a doctor lived in a mini village nearby called Wells, but his credentials were not all that great then, the alternative was the hospital about eighty km over a rough unpaved and unimproved road with sharp curves and steep drop-offs. Everybody in the car with the heather going full blast.
We were very lucky. The doctor had just flown in from visiting a lumber camp, and was on the way.
When the doctor opened the door of his house he looked surprised to see our entire group pouring inside, but allowed all in.
He was drunk.
Not a little drunk, he was stoned. He looked our gang over, then me, then made a statement -
“He will not die,” he said. “I will give him something. For the pain. Should be good until the hospital.”
He rummaged in some drawers all the way mutter and grumbling, but did obviously not find where he was looking for. He stumbled to another room with me closely following. Looking back he said
“You're making my house wet.” I was still dripping. “Can't find it, this will have do too,” he mumbled as he approached me while sticking a large needle into my arm.
There was no relief of pain.
Anne's brother Allen drove me to the hospital in Quesnel, which for a young guy who just got his dutch drivers license, he did extremely well. I applied a whetted towel on the most painful parts of my body, my neck, arms, and chest, rotating from one to the other, then re-wet the towel in the pail with drinking water which I held between my legs. Just when we entered the hospital grounds the Wells doctor's pain killing started to work. I got immediately a bed and got properly bandaged by a black nurse, who changed them every two hours.
As for Allen, the responsible doctor, going out of his way, took his car keys, preventing Allen to return to the campground by night, but also arranged a motel room for him, which he richly deserved. At mid morning, after a last change of bandages we set out for Barkerfield again, Allan driving.
The Well's doctor was right – I did not die, the only discomfort I experienced was that for two weeks I could not swim.
As for my dear friend, I think I'm in the right rhythm again – thank u, and for reason that someone may steal her no picture of her this time.