Early days of my life - I


I was born in the city of Almelo, the Netherlands. My father, Ralph (Roelof) Ruiter, was an apprentice painter. After a while he had an opportunity to start in business for himself in the little town of Vroomshoop. Hopefully, this would be a good venture and enable him to make a good living.
I still have a few memories of our home in Vroomshoop. It was a nice dwelling and I recall we had a large kitchen and also a smaller one. My father's business was in the front. Business was pretty good at first but it seemed that when some of the customers made purchases they desired that my father would take out their indebtedness in trade. I wouldn't say that my father was not a good business man but possibly he was too compassionate with his debtors.

        My mother, Lammechien Bosscher, who lost her mother at her birth then became an orphan a year and a half later when her father also died. She was placed under the guardianship of people by the name of Kroeze who lived in Vroomshoop. She was still living with them when my father began to court her. This was very distasteful to her foster parents and particularly to their son as my mother had a sizeable sum of money in trust with them. They made things rather impossible for young Ralph. The would be suitor once dumped water on him. Finally, my mother, to avoid serious trouble decided to leave her foster home and parents. They were wealthy people, in fact, the place where they lived and their business was called 'The Kroeze Block'.

        Mother moved to Almelo and worked for some people by the name of TeBrake. They had a bakery where only the finest of baked goods were produced. It wasn't long and she also became sort of a nurse maid to their children as well. A cousin of mine, Henry Pylman, said that he often observed her with her white uniform...looking so neat and trim. Evidently, her neatness about herself, her ability as a nurse girl and her work in the bakery won the respect of the people for whom she worked. She also showed herself to be a person of faith and uprightness. She had asked to have Sundays off so that she could attend worship services. However, Sunday was clean up day at the bakery. Her mistress said that the other help who had asked to have Sundays off were not interested in using the day to attend worship services but so that they had a good excuse to go to places of amusement. She evidently thought my mother would do the same and so her request was refused.
However, mother was persistent in her desire to go to church and so finally she was allowed the day off providing that she would clean up the bakery on Saturday night. This often meant working until the midnight hour with such a task as scrubbing the floor. More and more she won the favor of the proprietor and his wife. They called her 'Schoone Cornelia' (Clean Cornelia) and prophesied that she would be buried with such a thing as a dust pan or mop because whe was so meticulous, My mother left there with honors when the time came when she was to marry. They had a wonderful reception for her and my father and they hated to see her go. This is an evidence to me that God honors those who honor Him as she was not ready to yield her principles.

        I was the first child to be born to my parents and then a sister and brother arrived. Evidently, though, the prospects for making a good living for a family started to dim and so when mother's inheritance dwindled to where our family could just make an ocean trip to the U.S. they decided that this is what they should do. And so, when I was almost five years old plans were made to leave the fatherland and to establish residency in America, the land of opportunity where hopefully there would be a better future. This was a big decision for in those days that meant just taking along the necessary items like perhaps a few of mother's nice things. I remember her silver serving set and some beautiful dishes which I used to admire in her kast (chest).
Her Perfume bottle which was passed around at church had a silver top and silver plate. Also a silver peppermint box which also was taken to church. A beautiful pin which I would have liked to have possessed after she passed away ...but I don't know what happened to it.

        For my father, the greatest ordeal about leaving was to bid farewell to his father and mother, three sisters, Reina, Aafje and Katrina and his brother, Luite.






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In 1970 Niesje (Nellie) Ruiter typed three pages with, what she called, the early days of her life. Her memories of the voyage from the Netherlands and the first years living in the U.S.A. make an interesting comparison to the story as told by her father in his letter from 1906. In the beginning it was definitely not as rosy as Roelof would like his relatives in the Netherlands believe.
Only four years after she wrote this little autobiography, Niesje died.
Bob Haan kindly sent me this copy.



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