A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 135: Thoughts for Today

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I was reading in my occasional diary, and came to realize there is nothing at any time about the business. To go over the times and jobs I had and the ventures I was involved in.

July 19, 1948, we came with an old freighter of the Dutch East Indies Steamship Co from Rotterdam, on an eight-day voyage to Quebec City. Then on a special immigrant train from the Canadian Pacific Railway on a 48-hour trip to Winnipeg. There on the station was an old Dutchman waiting to guide us to Fritz Koch who was there to take us to his farm in Petersfield.

August 1, 1948, we arrived and started a new life in a foreign country. Then in November 1948, we moved to work for a Swedish farmer in Dugald about 20 miles east of Winnipeg.

In the big city, we bought a 1929 Model A Ford for $95 and started on January 13, 1949 the exodus out of Manitoba to Sioux Narrows in western Ontario. Here the job I did was called "Bull cook", that is, the boss's right hand. My job was to fix, paint, and repair boats and motors. I also became an Ontario Government licensed guide on the Lake of the Woods.

Then in November 1951, we moved to Fort Frances. Got a job at Tyne Motors and learned body work. Mr. Tyne was the Studebaker, Austin, Morris and Willys dealer in the Rainy River district.

Then in September 1952, McVey the Chevrolet dealer bribed me to run his body shop, which was very rewarding. But the winters were too severe for us.

So in the spring of 1953, we went with another Dutch couple: John and Teresa Lijzer. We took off for Southern Ontario. There in Kitchener, I got a job as a bodyman for Bear Auto Body.

Then on August 5, 1953, our first son Billy was born.

Next spring 1954, we bought a rundown service station in Welland on Port Robinson Road.

Next year 1955, we built a two-car garage. Gave the customers good service and made it a going concern. Mom and I worked seven days a week usually from 7 AM to 9 or 10 PM. This was all because we did get a family now with Elly, John and Harry getting all Mom's attention. This was getting too much for Margaret. Four kids, gas pumps and a confectionary store.

In the mean time in 1958, we bought in Welland south a small wrecking yard 200 by 200 ft. for $12,000. I called it Westside Auto Parts. I hired Bud Roberts, a very trusted mechanic, to be the manager and he did an excellent job.

Then in 1962, his wife made him go back to work in a steel plant, because then he would be home at exactly the same time every day. So we sold our home on Port Robinson Road and bought a house in Welland south at 173 St. George Street. That was an enormous improvement, especially for Mom. Here we had running water, natural gas for cooking and heating, etc. Now I spent my time operating the wrecking yard, buying cars, stripping the usable parts and burning the leftovers. Then sold the scrap steel to the smelters in Hamilton. Now our last little daughter Maryann joined the family.

The wrecking yard was located on Highway 58 going to Port Colborne, which I called SouthWell Auto Parts, on Shaw Street. The call to the road, which started in 1929 when my Dad bought his first truck in the Kaas family, came back to me and got stronger all the time.

So in 1964, I bought an old single axle dump truck with a special licence, got a driver and started hauling out of the R.E. Law stone quarry, crushed stone and asphalt. I blamed myself as the founder of the new business and called it "Westside Trucking".

Next year in 1965, I got an International Tandem. One of the first tandems which became popular in dump trucks at that time. I hired Bill Bouk, a long distance driver, to manage this brand new truck. He was so proud, he persuaded me to paint No. 9 on the truck then they would think you had that many trucks.

Two years later, I got another new tandem - a 1967 Chevrolet with a 361 V6 engine and a five and three-speed transmission. I realized I could make a living being a trucker, so I faded out the automobile wrecking yard, sold about 1000 wrecks to the steel plants in Hamilton. I had a yard auction sale, got rid of crane, tow truck, cars, trucks, tires and parts. Now had a three-acre empty yard. I rented this to Davy Cohen for ten years. He used it to store glass offal from the Ford plant in Niagara Falls.

A few years later, I got another Chevrolet Tandem with a bigger 401 V6 engine and a 5 and 4 transmission. Now I was doing full-time trucking, not only for R.E. Law Quarry but also for Moyer Sand and Gravel and his next door Sand Pit in Fonthill.

Then I got into paving for several years, hauling out of Warren Paving in Thorold. I guess I worked on every road in the Peninsula including the Thorold and Welland Humberstone tunnels and helped to create the railway tunnel next to the road tunnel.

We worked on Brock University, made Niagara Street into a four-lane business street. In the winter, we hauled sand from the GM forge plant and dumped it in the Warren pit. After a snow storm, we hauled snow from the Welland streets into the canal or feeder canal. This went on for several years without realizing times went by, and our children grew up to become adults.

Bill went to Welland High then to Hamilton to learn all about Refrigeration and Automobile Radiators. When he qualified, he became a Government licensed technician. We built a Quonset building on Shaw Street corner of Westside Road and started his Air Condition and Radiator Service. (Note: "Quonset" is a building made of corrugated metal and having a semicircular cross section).

Elly started her life as a Valedictorian at Notre Dame High school in Welland. From there, she engaged in student life at the University of Toronto. She earned her tuition fees by helping and assisting other students and became the most valuable person on the Toronto campus.

John also went to Welland High to learn what it took to make this world go around. He got interested in machinery, the operating and servicing of motorcycles, cars, trucks and heavy machinery. When he was still in high school, he spent his summer vacation driving a dump truck for Westside Trucking, his father's business, paving roads in Southwest Ontario where he really found his future. When he became of insurance age, he became a long distance Broker for different companies. I encouraged him because he would learn firsthand what life was like as a long distance truck driver. After about two years, he found it was long enough, so he came home and became interested in his Dad's business. Soon he became the owner of Westside Trucking, and added Excavating.

Harry too went to Notre Dame, came out with flying colors. To make it more real, he went into the Canadian Air Force as a cadet in Kingston, Ontario. He did very well. He became a pilot, from trainer to Jet, then to Helicopter. He got all the promotions he earned, went through all the trips and manoeuvres to become a Captain. But when that day came which he well earned, he was passed by because they called him English and they promoted a Quebecer. Too many incidents happened which made Harry feel that the system had let him down and had become a burden which he could no longer support. So he put in his resignation. When his term came to an end, he waved goodbye and hightailed it home. But he did get a good education and put that to work in this cruel world.

Then the last of our crew, Mares, had a totally different way of life in mind. She was always attracted to the animal kingdom in our world. From teddy bears, water fleas to fish, to frogs, to squirrels, and dogs, and cows, and horses. No wonder she wanted to learn more about critters and went to the Agriculture University in Guelph. There she became a specialist in husbandry in the animal world of today. To expand her knowledge and to learn more, she went to Holland to find out how they managed the famous Dutch Holstein method of milking cows. What a trip that was! She will never forget that and it will be in her mind until the end of this world. Because she not only learned about cows but also about people, especially the person she went to work for. She worked for the most famous Holstein Breeder at the time in Friesland, in the Netherlands and in the International Farmers World.

Yes, she married him and farmed together with him until time ran out. After a couple of years, the pressure of the Quota system in Holland was putting a heavy restriction on people who were willing to spread their wings. So when the Government told them they could not sell any cows to other farmers because the cows might have a disease called something like "Mad Cow Disease", it gave them a real excuse to look around for more freedom.

So one buyer came and offered them the whole kitchen caboodle, that was everything, farm and life stock. It did not take long to fill their coffer and headed to Canada. After about six months of searching for the right place, they found a suitable farm in Ithaca in the state of Michigan, U.S.A. On January 1, 1991, they took over a nice farm with approximately 200 Holstein dairy cows. Here was room to spread their wings and increased their herd in twenty years to about 1800 milking cows. As a hobby, they started to breed Friesian show horses and now they are known all over by horse-loving people in this world.

Note: The above entry was received from Carl Kaas on November 25, 2014 via email.


Related resources:

Law Crushed Stone. Located in the Township of Wainfleet, the original R.E. Law Quarry first opened in 1937. Becoming part of the Waterford Group in 2008, Law Crushed Stone is located on Highway 3, approximately three kilometres west of the town of Port Colborne.

Quonset hut from Wikipedia.

The Vanderploeg Family. Members of the Vanderploeg family work every day to care for their cows in central Michigan. Fun Fact: In 1991, Klaas and Mares Vanderploeg moved from the Netherlands to Michigan and started milking 190 cows. Today [2017], they milk over 3,000 cows together.

February 27, 2016 · Meet our Members: Klaas and Mares Vanderploeg from Ithaca Michigan. "Klaas and Mares Vanderploeg purchased their first 2 Friesian mares from the Netherlands in 1997. The first foal born at their farm in Michigan went on to become the 1st of 4 beautiful approved stallions: Tonis 393. Following Tonis was the most famous of the 4 to come from the Vanderploeg's operation: Doaitsen 420 ... Year after year at the Michigan keuring, their animals rank at the peak of all competing Friesian horses."

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