Column: escaping the Germans, a goat and healing a broken arm

Observer columnist Bert De Vink on his childhood trials and tribulations in the Netherlands

After I took a dare to cross a fenced little meadow and was hit in my bum by a mean old billy goat, I was lying in the grass in excessive pain and bleeding while the goat was staring at me.

Then, a man appeared, who drove the goat away and lifted me over the fence. He took me to the doctor’s office just past the school, riding on the luggage rack of his bike.

Since Yselmonde was a village built along both sides of an old dike, the doctor’s office stood out because it had an office and small waiting room added.

The doctor carried me into the office and put me on a bench, face down. He then asked the man who got me there to help him keep me down.

A moment later, I thought I went through the roof. I know I screamed and tried to hit those who were subduing me. It took a while, and then the pain started to subside.

The doctor bandaged me up, and the kind stranger got me home on the back of his bike. Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was crying again – riding on the luggage rack of a bicycle with a very sore bum will do that.

When my mom saw me with my bloody pants and leg and holding the hand of a stranger, she screamed and cried. The strange man explained the whole story, including that the doctor’s office had been raided by German soldiers just before I got there. The soldiers took all the pain medication, from aspirin to drugs, for their wounded comrades. My wound was cleaned with iodine and only a little bit of disinfectant, and that was why the person who got me there had to help hold me down.

The man had coffee with my mom and I got milk, and that is how the stranger eventually became Uncle Jan.

My dad went to Rotterdam again and came back with the good news that the last place we lived was saved except for all the window glass. The place could only be reached with three-wheeled transport bikes that had big wooden boxes.

My dad was upset because the Rotterdam he knew was totally gone, with sunken boats and demolished cranes in the harbours.

Eventually, our home in Yselmonde was home again with our own things. This included my scooter with real rubber tires. It was a little too big for me, but I could handle it.

In our yard was a clothes line with a post three-quarters down the yard. I used to race my scooter around the post, until one day the scooter skidded and I fell with my right arm against the pole and broke my arm. My mom took me on the bus to the doctor. My arm was hanging in a 90-degree angle just below my elbow.

The bus stopped right in front of the doctor’s office, and when the doctor saw me, he said to my mom: “I don’t think this kid will get very old. This is the second accident within two months.”

Bert de Vink is a regular Observer contributor. Part 1 of Bert’s story was published in the April 4 edition of the Observer, and part 2 was published on April 25.

Just Posted

Quesnel’s WorkBC branch hosts information sessions for laid off Tolko workers

Service Canada will also be in attendance at some sessions to inform employees about options

Forest management post wildfires, focus of Federation of BC Woodlot Associations AGM

More than 100 foresters came out of the woods to meet for two days to discuss what needs to change moving forward

Paving on Front Street to cause delays

Ministry of Transportation to begin works Oct. 20

Column: hospital auxiliary members attend North East Area conference

Auxiliary president on the recent conference, plus what’s coming up in November

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Anti-SOGI school trustee files defamation lawsuit against BCTF president

Barry Neufeld says Glen Hansman’s words caused him “indignity,” “personal harassment,” and “anxiety”

Ocean ‘blob’ returns to B.C.’s North Coast

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

Pot sales down by nearly 70% on Day 2 of legalization in B.C.

Several products on BC Cannabis Store are still sold out

B.C. jury finds man guilty of Japanese exchange student’s murder

Natsumi Kogawa was found at empty heritage mansion shortly after she was reported missing in 2016

Most Read