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New York

By Mrs. Gantter's Class .
Grade 5, New York
Country of Origin: Holland

Oral History: Mr. J. vanD

We are students in Mrs. Gantter's fifth grade class at Goshen Intermediate School in Goshen, New York. We have been working on the Immigration Project together and discovered that one student in our group had a grandfather who immigrated to the United States from Holland. We asked Alexa's grandpa if he would come to our school so that we could interview him. Mr. J. vanD came with his wife. Her parents were Dutch immigrants also. The people in our Immigration Group are Priya, Michael, Alexa, Ashley, Zach, Chris, Dimitri, and Jennifer.

Our Interview with Mr. J. vanD PART I: Life in Holland

Holland has another name, the Netherlands, which means lowlands. The country is very flat. There are no mountains. Mr. J. vanD was a dairy farmer back in Holland. He and his family had a 2 1/2 acre dairy farm and 25 cows. He had 5 brothers and 1 sister. His dairy farm barn was connected to his house. There was no bathroom or running water in the house. He used to pump water from rain water they collected and he first got electricity when he was 14 years old. He had no TV. He used to live in Haarmlieda, which means ''halfway between 2 towns.'' He ate cheese, milk, butter, mutton, vegetables, and sometimes some fruit. It was hard to get fruit but they got it because his cousin grew them.

Some holidays they had were Queen's Day and St. Nicholas Day on December 6th, which is really Christmas. Most people there are Catholic or Protestant.

His school days were from 8:00 to 4:00. He had to walk to school, 4 1/2 kilometers one way and then back 4 1/2 kilometers the other. Mr. J. vanD left school when he was in 8th grade and he was 16 years old. He learned reading, writing, and arithmetic. Dutch has the same alphabet as ours, but no letter ''Y.'' He was going to learn the languages German, English, and French but then he immigrated.

The games he used to play in Holland were Hide and Seek and he used to skate and bike ride like we do today in America. He especially liked skating. The sports played in Holland were soccer, ice skating, and biking. He used to wear Klompens, which are wooden shoes. He doesn't wear them anymore because they don't fit him, but he still has a pair.

When he came to America, he left his family and came with one of his brothers. The rest of his family came six months later, but one of his brothers never came to America. They came over after World War II. Mr. J. vanD left behind 2 friends and he keeps in touch with them when he goes to Holland.

Part II - The Trip to the United States

Mr. J. vanD TRAVELED 24 HOURS ON A FOUR ENGINE PLANE. FIRST THE PLANE STOPPED IN NEWFOUNDLAND, THEN LAGUARDIA AIRPORT IN NEW YORK. ON HIS WAY TO AMERICA HE SAID THAT THE FOOD WAS GOOD ON THE PLANE. HE WAS 19. IT WAS 1947. HE WAS AFRAID WHEN HE CAME OVER HERE BECAUSE EVERYTHING WAS SO NEW. HIS BIGGEST HANDICAP WAS NOT SPEAKING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. THE ONLY THINGS HE AND HIS BROTHER BROUGHT WITH THEM WERE THE CLOTHES IN THEIR SUITCASES.

HE NEEDED A SPONSOR IN THE UNITED STATES IN ORDER TO IMMIGRATE. HIS UNCLE OWNED A DAIRY FARM IN GOSHEN, NEW YORK, SO THAT IS WHERE HE CAME. HE WAS HOMESICK IN AMERICA AT TIMES. HE LEFT ALL HIS FAMILY BACK IN HOLLAND EXCEPT FOR ONE BROTHER. THEY HAVE NO CORN OVER IN HOLLAND. HE LIKED AMERICAN MUSIC.

Part III: Life in America

Mr. J. vanD came from Holland. He was nineteen years old when he came to America. He came right into Goshen when he came here. He lived in a rural area on a dairy farm. His uncle sponsored him to come to the United States of America. English is not similar to Dutch. He missed the Dutch language. It took him only six months to learn the English language. When the rest of his family came he was a spokesperson for them. His first name was changed from Johannes to Joseph.

He was astonished when he came here by the enormous mountains and luxurious hills because the land is flat in Holland. All of Holland is smaller than New York.

He didn't like to eat carrots, tomatoes, and cabbage. He didn't know what corn was. They didn't grow it in Holland. He joined the American army. He didn't have time for many sports here. He only did ice skating. He remembers prices being less in the United States than Holland. The cigarettes were less expensive. They were 17 cents a pack. Some things were rationed during the war in Holland, like gas, sugar, and coffee, and other things were hard to get and expensive. His mom would send coffee and sugar to their relatives in Holland.



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