A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 18: Family Reunion

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In the summertime once a year, all our aunts and uncles from mother's side came to visit us.

Father had only one sister, Tante Riek. She was pretty well crippled with arthritis and never went anywhere, not even to church. She was married to Uncle Aoris. To us kids, he was a laugh and a half, or maybe, two laughs and a half.

Uncle Aoris came over once in a while on his bicycle which he called a horse, as it maybe because it resembled the nearest thing to a horse? Well, he was very proud of it. He would say, "It takes me everywhere I want to go and it eats no oats."

"How do you climb on your horse, Uncle Aoris?" I asked him once. He replied, "You see, kid, you have to know your horse 'cause they're all different and sometimes difficult to handle. I talk a lot to mine to keep him calm. When I go somewhere, I always put him in the direction I want to go. If he takes off on me, at least I'm on my way and don't have to turn around. Then I go behind him, put my left foot on the stipje (extension of the rear axle), push myself off and climb in the saddle."

"Hey, Uncle Aoris, is your horse scared of cars or trucks?" He did not know whether I was joking or serious but he didn't get mad and he did reply to my question with this, "Listen kid, my horse isn't scared of anything, but when your father is finished with his milk route, and turns his horse and wagon around to go home (which was one kilometer away), then my horse and I hide behind a tree. Both your father and his horse are crazy."

Uncle Aores was not the only person who hid behind a tree every day when Pa was done his milk route. Old Bruin (Pa's horse) took off for home as fast as he could go in full gallop and nobody but nobody stopped him. When he got close to home, he slacked off and finally just walked into the driveway. The noise was really scary. Imagine four steel horseshoes plus four steelbanded wagonwheels on a brick road coming at neck-breaking speed toward you. It's frightening enough to make a witch fall off her broom.

When anyone ever came to our house, Ma always offered a cup of coffee. When Uncle Aores got one, and he liked another, he would not wait till he was offered one. He would say, "Deere me kom is leeg", which basically meant, "Maid, my cup is empty."

Oh yeah, the reason why Uncle Aores climbed on his bike the way he did was because he was too stiff to swing his leg over the seat like anyone else did.

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