A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Diary of Carl Kaas:
May 20, 2001

Diary written by Carl Kaas, edited by I Lee
for English structure, grammar or spelling only as needed.
Carl Kaas

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Sunday morning, May 20, 2001, 7 a.m. It promises to be a beautiful day, the sun is shining brightly, no wind, nature is as serene and relaxing as we can ever wish for. Margaret, my better half, is still enjoying life in a horizontal position, she sure cannot get into trouble there. To me, it is a waste of time to let the world go by unnoticed and not being part of it.

Not that the world will be a better place if I have an early start in the daily humdrum of life, but I like to be there, and be part of this kooky world.

It has always been a challenge to find out if I belong and fit in this world, or belong to the rest of the misfits. I have tried to find out for over half a century without success, I wonder if I will ever find out. Most people grow up in the same place where they were born, go to school, get a job, get married, raise some kids, retire, then vanish from this earth. Well, if that is the normal way of life, I must be an outlaw and don't fit in. Ever since I can remember, I had the urge to see more, hear more, listen more and find out more, and lately I can add, forget more.

There was nothing in my life that I was not interested in, except maybe Opera and the Philharmonic orchestra. Perhaps the reason is that you have to be blessed with a talent for music, or totally be off your rocker. You have to be able to listen for hours to the agony of the dead cats when they rub their guts back and forth over the wooden boxes. Oh yes, I like music too, but more like the old country classics like "I drop a tear in my beer, when I think about you dear". There is real feeling expressed in this song probably because she is under age and can't drink alcoholic beverages yet.

At a young age, I was attracted to any kind of music and did get hold of a second-hand mouth organ, but never had anyone to show me how it is done the right way, so now I play it my way, which drives everyone else away.

But that does not stop me from enjoying life and people around me, so I collect stuff people throw away and see if it can be useful to someone else.

I got a big surprise when an auctioneer stopped in one time and offered me $50 for an old - what he called - cabinet. It missed two of the 4 doors, the hinges were twisted or missing, the bottom was rotten and had many coats of paint, all different colors. Then he saw an old wooden Coca-Cola box and paid me $5, which I would have gladly given it to him for free.

This is proof that I don't know anything. I always thought that I was smart. It just goes to show you, or is it the people that pay good money for junk unintelligent?

Hmmm, there are always two sides to every story. What I keep is stuff which can be recycled. I think this urge dates back to the 1930s when I grew up and started to grasp what was going on. I had seen some really poor people. It affected me a lot, so I figured there must be some way to better oneself.

Of course, money would do it. But, how to get it? Get a job, dummy, I told myself. Thanks to my Dad's good reputation, I got employed as a dishwasher in the dairy for 4 hours, plus another 4 hours for keeping the steam boiler fires going.

My wages for 6 days a week came to 48 hours, totalling $2.50. Room and board at the time was $7.50. But my parents subsidized me for my shortage.

With all that money coming in, I had to learn how to manage that amount. There were other expenses, like I had to have a bike, which cost $15, or the equivalent of six weeks wages. Our family had one bike for all of us.

When I was in grade school, I had put together a bike of old junk parts, it worked well for a while but was not good enough to stand the strain of pedaling 1 to 15 miles a day. I really learned how to keep track of my expenses. A friend once said, "You are so cheap, you turn a dime over three times before you pay it out." My answer: "Sorry, you are wrong, I turn that dime over three times, then I put it back in my pocket." Yes, I learned to save.

But it did pay off, because when I was 18 years old - the legal age to drive a motor vehicle - I bought a $15 - 250 cc FN motorcycle.

I did not only impress my buddies, but even the girls became interested in that skinny daredevil. They just loved to sit on that monster and let their hair blow around in the wind. Soon we had a club together with all kinds of contraptions. Once a year, there were the famous T.T. International Motorcycle Manufactured sponsored races, 150 kilometer from our home.

Everybody who had enough guts to venture that far on their rattle trap, got ready Friday afternoon to make the trip. We took enough food and drinks, mostly spiked, and blankets, because we overnighted somewhere along the racing circuit. At nights around the campfire, the party became so hot and entertaining, some guys did not see the races the next day, they slept it all away. Those wonderful years all came to a sudden stop, when Hitler invaded our little neutral country (the Netherlands) at 4 a.m. on May 10, 1940.

On that date, our peaceful lives got terribly disrupted, and the whole world changed. But the memories stay with me for the rest of my life.

Related resources:

Battle of the Netherlands from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Video about the invasion of Holland. Dawn, May 10, 1940. YouTube video, 6:02 min.
Dutch Soldiers in May 1940. YouTube video, 3:28 min.
1940 Dutch Army maneuvers. YouTube video, 1:22 min. (In Italian).
Dutch army 1939-1940 Nederlandse Leger en de herdenking van Rotterdam met die Wehrmacht. YouTube video, 9:33 min.
Het bombardement op Rotterdam - 14 Mei 1940. YouTube video, 4:00 min.

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