It began on
October 15, 1907. I was born in Hoogebeintum, Friesland, Holland
to John and
Jennie (Zylstra) Dantuma, joining my two brothers Charles and Richard
two sisters Grace and Katherine. Soon the three oldest children went to
room school house, which had a brick play yard. Grades one through
four, had a
lady teacher and grades five through eight had a man teacher. Katherine
were not old enough to go to school yet, and sometimes (as kids will
got ourselves into trouble.
one day when we were to meet our brothers and sisters coming home from
we didn't do as we were told. There was a ditch near the road, and
this ditch was a bridge (really just a wide board). We were told not to
the ditch, and were cautioned not to cross over the "bridge" as if we
did, the frogs would grab our foot and pull us into the water. We saw a
going to work, crossing the ditch on the board bridge, and nothing
happened to him, so why couldn't we? Katherine went over the bridge
happened to her, so of course I followed. On the way back however, I
Now, I don't know if the frogs had anything to do with it or not, but I
under the water. The man happened to look back, and seeing only one
on the road thought maybe the other had gone back home. It continued to
him that only one little girl was there, so he ran back, and sure
I was at the bottom, swallowing all the water I could and drifting off
river a short distance away. He got me out and took me to our house
where I was
put to bed. (Now I don't know if that was my punishment or if there wasn't any dry clothes as Mother was washing.) I
remember Katherine being sent to bed, but maybe she wished that she had!
Grandparents (Dirk Zylstra) lived on a small farm not far from us. I
there when my brother Herman was born. When Grandpa wasn't looking,
would give me candy. (He always said it was bad for my stomach.) I
with Grandpa when he took the cans of milk to the main road. He had a
pulled by two large dogs. We would walk next to the cart on the way up
in the cart on the way back home. It was maybe only as far as a city
it was fun.
weather was nice, we would spend the weekend with Grandpa and Grandma
who lived farther away. Mother would take all of us kids (with Herman
baby buggy) and we would walk to their house. Dad would come after he
the milking. Dad was a farmer, working by the year for a man named Mr.
(He was the Grandfather of our friend Jalta Visser from Washington.)
Anyone that had a job by the
year had a steady job. Mr. Visser also had two men that worked by the
had every third Sunday off. The farm homes in Holland had several rooms. Our
one big room, with beds built into the wall (like births on a train)
doors which were closed during the daytime. There were other cupboards
things like the dishes and our clothes. The boys slept in sort of an
upstairs. The barn was built onto the house, much like the garage is
between the house and barn was a large room which was used in the Summer as a kitchen so the dining room would stay
cook stove served as a heater too.
were in the barn only in Winter. In early Spring, as soon as the grass was long enough,
the cows out and they would be milked in the "milk yard" which was in
a fenced-in field. Then the pails of milk would be carried back home,
from a yoke on the shoulders of the farmers and set in water to keep
barns were scrubbed with hot soapy water and disinfectant. Reed carpets
put down on the floor and before you would go into the house, the
were left on a shelf in the barn part. You just didn't walk in the
even the Summer kitchen with your wooden
The hay was
cut with a scythe and put into haycocks to dry. Some would be put up
green in a
stack (much like pea vines are today), and fed to the cattle after it
allowed to "cure". Corn was not grown as the season was too short.
Oats, wheat and sugar beets were grown and were cut up for cattle feed.
families in the village had a sheep or goats for their own milk.
Zylstra had a few sheep and we had 3 goats and 12 chickens. The toilets
the shed where goats were kept rather than outdoors.
were ordered a week in advance and delivered once a week. The bread and
came from the bakery, which was also ordered and delivered. Mother
one loaf of spice cake which lasted for a week (if no company came).
had small flower gardens but our property had room for only a few
the door. There was a small lawn, about 9 x l2 feet, upon which a
would lay the white clothes she wanted to bleach in the sun. Washing
on a wash board.
roads were gravel, the side roads cinder and in the villages the
of brick. The canal that ran past our house was very deep. It was like
street, with house boats, motor boats which hauled milk to the city,
and even row boats. In the Winter when the
over, folks came to skate. It was hard enough to skate on for only a
time before the ice opened up again. I remember one day when it was
skating, many people were there and they had set up a tent near the
which was near our house. Some ladies were selling hot chocolate and
The chocolate sold for 2 cents per cup, but I don’t remember how much
cookies cost. Katherine and I didn't have skates, so we came with an
with the back off which we would turn upside-down, holding onto the
push it as fast as we could, then jump onto the seat and slide across
A man told me to sit on the chair and he pushed me really fast, then
and gave Katherine a ride on her chair. To us it was great fun! Our
Charlie had skates, in fact, I think Charlie still has his.
going to Grandpa Dantuma's house, as Grandma always had something good
kids to eat. Grandpa worked in a flax factory. While we
were there we would also spend an afternoon with Dad's sister Amie and
and also his brother Simon and family. Their children were our age and
play together. On Sunday mornings we would all walk to church together.
always be a big parade for Queen Julianna's birthday (much like we have
for the 4th of July). The school children marched, boys dressed in
and dark pants, with an orange scarf-like banner over one shoulder,
the chest and fastened at the waist. The girls dressed in white dresses
orange sash. Older girls wore orange pins or flowers. Those that had
the parade had the manes and tails trimmed in orange, orange being the
color. The people of Holland
don't all wear the baggy pants and white pointed bonnets we see in
They actually dress just like we do in the United States,
except they wear
wooden shoes. Only on the Island Flevoland do they dress that way.
school the first part of April 1913, but as we were to move to America
in May, I didn't learn much. In Holland
the school year starts in April. There was no summer vacation like here, they gave the oldest children two weeks off
Spring to plant potatoes and other things, and again in the Fall they
2 weeks off to pick up potatoes from the fields. By the time you are 9
years old, you would have finished the 8th grade. My brother Charlie
was 9 when
we left Holland,
and he was in the 8th grade.