In 1994, five and a half years before he passed away, my grandfather, Adrian Zuidweg, was interviewed by Connie Jo Bowman, the head of residents at Crossroads Village, a retirement community in Portage, Michigan. Connie was taking a course about the elderly at Western Michigan University and chose Grandpa as her subject. I’ve written about Grandpa in a post about our left-handed connection.
The entire interview is eight typed pages, so I’ll divide it among a few blog posts.
Connie begins by introducing my grandfather, Adrian Zuidweg. To read the excerpts of Connie’s report, you can click them for a better view (I hope):
Connie identifies my grandfather here as a “tall, gentle dutchman with a big friendly voice.” That would probably be how Grandpa thought of himself. He identified strongly with his Dutch heritage. He had a lot of jokes, but one of his favorites was to say, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.” He didn’t really mean it, which you will see by the end of the interview, but he was very proud of being Dutch.
She also notes here how after talking with Grandpa for two years it wasn’t until she began interviewing him that she realized how much there was to know about Grandpa. Grandpa’s powers of observation were impressive to her, especially in light of his blindness. He only became completely blind in his old age, but he had been blind in one eye since he was a small child.
Connie was right–Grandpa had an amazing memory. He also loved to tell stories, especially stories about the past. As the oldest grandchild, I was privy to more of them than the other kids, but I still only know a few from his vast store.
Now that I realize that Grandpa knew the name of the midwife who delivered him, I wish Connie had put that information into her report, but perhaps it didn’t fit with the class assignment.
Here she mentions how Grandpa’s father came to the U.S. from the Netherlands when he was a child. This was Adriaan Zuijdweg, who I have written about in the past. He owned a fish market and then a candy and soda shop. You can find a story about his retail businesses here.
When Grandpa was a baby his parents moved in with “his recently widowed grandfather,” Richard DeKorn, the brick mason and contractor. You can read more about Richard in the following posts:
By the way, a big thank you to Linda at Living with My Ancestors for her help with watermarking my photograph.