Wednesday, October 13, 2010
My notes from an interview with (Uncle) David Vander Kooi – August 17, 2010
Born July 29, 1921
Married Edith (Edie) Woodwyk on February 3, 1940 (Edie died on January 26, 1996)
Married Erna Vandewater – Warkentin on August 9, 1997
Since I am a novice at interviewing, I decided to use the book of photos that I put together for the Vander Kooi reunion in July of 2010 to guide us. The first photo is one of his dad (Johannes) taken in his young 20’s. [Per the 1920 Census, Johannes arrived in the US in 1903, at the age of 22. Dave did not know if the photo was taken in the Netherlands or in the US after he arrived]. However, after close examination of the original of the photo, it can faintly be seen that it was taken in Holland Michigan. I asked him about the broach with the photo of the women that is seen on his lapel. I mentioned that my mom understood this to be grandma’s photo on the broach. He said that he never noticed this before & could not confirm if this was his mother (My comment - but who else would it have been - it does look like Grandma when it is enlarged 800%). When I look at this picture of Johannes, I see myself at the same age. I am definitely his grandson – but his tie is much more awesome)
Dave and his brother Egbert were good friends with Juke and Tony Bartels (my dad and uncle) before my mother dated my father. Every Saturday night they would go to the Colonial Theater in Holland to see a movie and the newsreels of the war in Europe. After the dinner they would go to the very first Russ’ Restaurant to get chocolate milk and a hamburger for 25 cents. One weekend my dad decided to play “chicken” with his car with a friend (Bill Dewitt). My dad had a Model A and Bill had a new Chevy. Neither driver gave in and the “challenge” resulted in a head on accident. Fortunately, neither driver was hurt much but my dad’s car was totaled. Dad wound up buying the newly wrecked Chevy from Bill and they repaired it to a point where they entered it into a few races. This would have been 1938 or 1939.
Another time, dad and Egbert were horsing around with each of their cars. Dad started completing 180 degree turns by speeding down a gravel road, hitting the brakes and spinning the car around. When Uncle Eg tried this, he rolled his car and damaged it signifacantly. Uncle Dave helped dad & Eg repair the car.
Dave said that dad was a little wild in those days and my mother said that she would never ride with him in a car.
Faith was always important in the family life. At each meal Grandpa VDK would read the scripture and then prayed before leaving the table. This occurred regardless of who was visiting or what was happening around the house. The family attended Rusk Reformed Church until Dave was about 15 years old (1935/6). At that time, Grandpa Vander Kooi had bid to complete the custodial work at the church for $78 per year. Grandpa and Grandma VDK got to know the “Dominie” and his wife quite well and noticed that they acted quite differently during the week than on Sunday morning. This eventually was a major reason why they transferred to Ottawa Reformed Church. Reverend Tuisink was the first full time pastor at Ottawa Reformed Church.
The family lived on Fillmore St, west of 96th Ave. The house was built in 1919. The original mortgage for the 120 acre farm was $4,400. They lived there until Dave was 9 years old (1930) when the bank foreclosed on the farm.
The photo of all the Vander Kooi men (except Menno) includes Uncle Joe from Canada. He came for an extended stay. Uncle Dave thinks this photo was taken in 1928, when he was 7 years old. His brother George died in June of 1928 not all that long after this photo was taken. He died of double pneumonia at the age of 16. That early summer when they were working in the fields and garden, it was noted that George could not keep up with any of his brothers. This was the first sign of his illness.
Back row: George, Johannas (Grandpa), Jim, Uncle Joe, Ben; front row, Dave and Egbert
In 1935, Grandpa VDK returned to the Netherlands to visit his mother and extended family. Originally he planned to visit for 2 months; however, this was extended to almost 3 months. This extended stay apparently was not popular with grandma. Great grandma apparently was rather well off in the Netherlands. However, in order to be able to purchase the tickets for the passage across the Atlantic, 2 heifers were sold to raise the needed $200. Great grandma reimbursed her son before he returned home so he could replace the heifers when he returned. She apparently thought that if she sent the money directly, that it would be used for other needs and she would not see her son in the end. The photo above my mom & grandpa were taken in 1935 before grandpa left for Europe.
Grandpa & grandma VDK moved to the house on the Southeast corner of Ottawa St and Garfield St in Zeeland about 1945. Grandpa, being a farmer, turned the garage into a chicken coop.
Uncle Dave left for the army on June 15, 1944. My dad left on June 21, 1944. Uncle Dave said that he and Dad were at Camp Sheridan near Chicago for boot camp at the same time, but they did not arrive the same day. Uncle Dave was not sure when the photo below was taken.
Dave Vander Kooi and Juke Bartels(1944 or 1945)
To be continued................................................
Posted by Terry at 8:08 PM