I came across an old photo (I’m the one on the right in the row of those standing) of an international group of people who worked together for one month during the summer of 1967.
The first phase of our work consisted of traveling from Amsterdam to Gronigen aboard the motor barge Rambler selling lottery tickets to those attending the annual sailboat races. The lottery tickets supported the second phase of our work: the restoration of an old German ship as a school ship for the children of Dutch shippers.
The men lived in one hold of the ship, the women in the other. Since the holds were not intended as places of habitation, we got up and down with a movable ladder. Even so, this was a very relaxing way to travel and also a somewhat unique view of the country.
We quickly learned enough Dutch to sell the tickets. We had cheat sheets with us with answers for typical questions such as how much the tickets cost and what they were for. They cost one Guilder each (about a quarter) and supported work on a very unique schoolroom for children who moved around a lot.
We sold a fair number of tickets and, hopefully, made a good impression. When we got to our destination, the small town of Hoogezand (in the north, near Gronigen) we became front page news in the local paper. Since we worked on the old ship in a canal along the main road, we were an ever-changing local attraction. People stopped en route to work and, truth be told, were very impressed at the sight of women clinging to the side of the ship removing years old old paint with blow torches and jack hammers.
The ship, known as the White Swan, still exists, I think, but served its intended purpose for a while with a new life. I never saw the final result of the restoration, but always hoped I might one day travel back to the Netherlands and find the ship while the shippers organization was using it as a school.
This old photo stirs up enough memories for a Saturday afternoon and a long evening. But, I have current promises to keep and many chores to finish before I sleep. So, I write a snapshot of them here as I think back some 40 years and wonder how many children used the White Swan and where all the others in this old photograph are today.