Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My story? Stop me before it gets too boring......

I have been putting together a written history of my life, before I get senile and forget everything. Everyone should do this.

Just bits an' pieces....

I was born in Idaho Falls. 1955. Seems a long time ago now. Earliest memories were of traveling. A lot.

Early 60’s - Salt Lake City Utah, Des Moines Iowa, Birmingham Alabama, Farmington New Mexico, Truckee and Bakersfield California. There are more places but my memory has been blurred from all the years gone by.

Next, father took a job with MK and the Minutemen Missile silos on the plains east of Rapid City. Father divorced Mother at this time. She stayed in SD and he took a position in the Netherlands. I am shuffled back and forth, Dad, Mom, Dad, Mom…..I cross the Atlantic more times than I can remember, a seasoned traveler at an early age. Holland……I remember listening to Radio Veronica, Bus Stop by the Hollies in particular, playing while the construction workers played soccer in the street below our apartment at noon.

I attend school in the Netherlands, and spend my summers in Idaho with grandpa and grandma. Strict schooling for most of the year and then almost total freedom for 3 months. In Holland I was viewed as the heathen from the Wild West, in Idaho I was the flatlander who was way too cultured.

Holland was green. It was, for lack of a better word, tidy. Small, well kept lawns. Fences painted. People had manners. You were required to use them.

Father married a Dutch girl, Wilhemina Relena Pietersma. Blond. We lived in den Hague, Staaphorst, Meppel, Assen and then Ommen.

Her parents! Oupa en Oma.

Oupa en Ouma

Two week in Spain. Beaches. Hot sand. Gibraltar. I saw Africa from there. The road to Rhonda…..amazing!

London, all the time. Belgium to Luxumburg… through the Ardennes and the site(s) of the Battle of the Bulge. Amsterdam now and again. Flew home via Iceland.

My times in Idaho were days made in heaven. Splitting wood, bucking hay, moving sprinkler pipe. It was not all work, there were days of exploration. Days of adventure. Built a tree house out over the Snake River. Climbed every hill within five miles of home, Rode bikes down the steepest of paved roads, on the handlebars. Forded the Snake. Fished every evening. Picnics. Target practice with the bow. BB Gun wars. Learned about gun safety the hard way. Learned to swim. Like a fish.

It was a mile to the small store. I would walk it looking for pop bottles. Always found enough to trade in and buy a soda and a candy bar, and still have change.

Live with my mother for a while in South Dakota. She rented a place not far from Mt Rushmore, very cool. Secluded, quiet, beautiful. I love the Black Hills.

Back to the Netherlands for a school year and then the summer in Idaho again. Moved to Bangkok. Not in Kansas anymore……Laos, Malaysia, Singapore. A two year adventure. The war was still raging in Vietnam. Klongs and open markets. Sukhumvit Highway. Pattaya before it became notorious. Snakes and lizards….. everywhere.

Flew back to Holland, brief stops in Karachi, Beirut, Rome.

Holland for a few more years. Had a good friend who was a diplomat’s son. We traveled to Germany many, many times to stay at his parents place. Train ride there and back an adventure all its own. Dusseldorf. Koln (Cologne) Bonn. Saw and explored (among many) the Drachenfels castle "Dragon's Rock", in the Siebengebirge mountain. A legend recounts that Siegfried – the hero of the Nibelungenlied – killed a dragon living in a cave in the mountain, then bathed in its blood to became invulnerable. Hence, the mountain is named the "Dragon's Rock" -- Drachenfels.

Backpacked from Bonn to Trier. Spent 2 weeks in Norway with my father. The trip through Germany and Denmark fascinating. The coast around Hirtshals seemed remote and smelled of fish. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon while we were on the ferry across the Skagerrak. Watched McKennas Gold in a theatre in Kristiandsand.

Eerde - The Netherlands

Eventually made it back to Idaho, completing trip around the world that took years. All this before my 17th birthday.

Then several years of odd jobs and good times in Idaho. Backpacked and hiked most of the state. Floated the rivers before it became commercial. Hitchhiked to Seattle, found a construction job and worked all over the state. Good Times!

Traveled to Texas and roofed houses for a while. Hot, and though I could handle it, I missed the mountains. Decided Texas wasn’t for me. Gotta be honest here. I hate Texas.

Back to Idaho for a short while.

Got a job offer in Johannesburg. Off on another adventure. Met my future wife the first day I was there. The four years I lived in SA were the best years of my life. We both made good money. Lived modestly. And traveled. Got out into the bundu. Met real Africans. Climbed several times in the Drakensberg. Sani Pass. Tugela Falls, the 2nd highest on the planet. We spent weeks on the wild coast. Eastern Transvaal.....what a place. Sudwalla and Sterkfontein Caves. Lisbon Falls and countless others . Threw 100’s of pounds of candy to the native children. Bought their crude works of art.

Kathleen Natal ZA

Transkei

JB Harris

Brought my bride home to Idaho. She cried for a week. “What have I done?” she thought to herself. 5 cents a second for her to call home at the time. And she did….$$$$$.

She fits right in now. Became a US citizen. She travels home every few years, and we try to send one of the children to go along each time. Eight weeks or so on a vacation! I mostly stay home, and that’s OK. Got my climbing and snowboarding to occupy my time.

Speaking of which....lots of snowboarding and climbing to be had here in Idaho. Not so fond of many of the people here, very narrow minded, and somewhat backwards, but mostly just narrow minded. Doesn't mean there aren't some really great people here, it's just that they are few and far in between.

There is more, and I will continue to add to it as time allows.

Now this boring tale doesn't include my drug smuggling and life of crime, I will leave that for those to read...... after I am dead!

2 comments:

  1. Hi J.B.
    This is Willemina, your Father's Dutch ex-wife.
    Have often wondered how you, Mike and Mary-ann are,My mailaddress is:
    w.pietersma@home.nl
    if ever you want to get in touch.
    Kind regards
    Wil

    ReplyDelete

Welcome!