good spirit. The driver's vision was marginal, since people were all around him. The trams had no straps - but no one could possibly fall.
Girls all fell madly in love with the soldiers. The Americans were particularly attractive with their tight little behinds in nicely cut pants. Of course I fell in love too - with an English officer who ordered his men to leave their site the way they would like their own gardens back home to look. His name was Lt. Pooley. He came to our apartment several times. We always had offices and soldiers for tea or a drink or a meal, when there was enough. Often they supplied the food. Also American friends sent us care parcels. They contained spam, corned beef - all sorts of canned foods and Hershey chocolates. I must confess that the latter were hard to swallow even when we had no chocolate at all. Lt. Pooley and I corresponded for a while until one day I received a letter from his mother, Lady Pooley, asking me to stop writing to her son, who had spoken to her about me. To stop because he was engaged to be married. I suppose I was sad for a littler while. But how could anything really be terrible after what we had lived through?
My very first outing, first walk alone as a free girl was - and still is - the best walk I have ever taken. For I still sense the intoxication, the all invasive sensation of SAFETY; the joy of LIVING
of having hope and a future. Of not having to look over my shoulder, of being able to
BREATHE, of just BEING, of being FREE, and free of fear, of being young and being alive.
The handkerchief period
My beloved mother - I am sending you greetings from Brussels your faithful brother
My father had nothing but severe debts after the war. He lost his fortune in Germany. Thereafter he had to pay for false identity papers, shelter for his mother in Holland, care for his parents, and our survival on black market food. He somehow had managed to borrow money via Switzerland. The underground messengers brought it to him. But now he had to pay his debts to his kind,
generous friends and somehow make-a living again. Before the war he was a very successful business man. He lost the factory in Germany, but managed to rebuild a business in Holland. He was a resourceful man. He was a great man. He never felt superior to anyone and no task, if well performed, was below him. Thus he invented the "easy to send-home-for-soldiers gift": the handkerchief. He purchased the fabric. My mother cut and stitched the handkerchief. I, the artistic daughter, decorated and wrote the text. Art students helped and since many spoke no English, the funniest mixed up texts occurred. Some of these got into the shops. There were few returns. Soldiers were so glad to find a present to send home. They just looked at the title, such as "to my beloved mother, or sister, or girlfriend or maybe grandmother, niece etc. . .”; they never checked the rest. Just slipped in their photo and signed on the dotted line. Eventually the military force dwindled. Also we had many copiers - Anyhow my father decided to build up his old business again. I still admire his patience. He would stay for ever in line in all the little haberdasheries, waiting until customers were served, before presenting his collection. Once he had to do this when he was unwell. I sold nothing at all and ended up crying my eyes Her Picture Book describing this story: “Growing Up in Occupied Europe”