Thursday, August 1, 2019

Spencer Jack's Slotemaker Road Souvenir Seeking

When they were teenagers Spencer Jack's dad, Jason, and his Uncle Joey, in the dark of night, removed the Slotemaker Road signs from Slotemaker Road, and then installed the signs in their bedrooms.

I was appalled, at the time, that their parental units did not involve law enforcement.

For those who are not bilingual, Slotemaker is what Jones translates to from Dutch to English.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Way back in the late 1880s or early 1890s the Dutch Slotemakers had grown tired of the endless wars of Europe. The family debated whether to move to South Africa, or the United States.

Spencer Jack's great great great great grandpa Cornelis Slotemaker decided to see if moving to America was feasible. If I remember the family history correctly the eldest son, Jan (John) was sent to check America out. I could go look up the family history, which I do have on this computer, but it is more interesting to me to see how well I remember it after webpaging the history earlier this century.

So, after great great grandpa John returned from America it was decided to make the move. I believe it was through Ellis Island the Slotemakers entered America. I do not know if they were what are now demonized as illegal aliens. Upon reaching America the family, consisting of Cornelis, his wife, Angie, their two kids, John and Anna, and John's wife, my great grandma, Tillie, made the trek across America to one of those midwest states, like Iowa or Ohio or some such place.

At one point the family checked out a Dutch enclave near Denton, Texas. My relatives were not yet American enough to think Texas was a place anyone sane would want to live.

After a few years in America of struggling to get by the family heard of a Dutch town in the state of Washington, at the far northwest corner of America, a short distance from Canada.

My dad's dad's dad, John, was then sent out west, via train, to check out this Dutch town, and the area. He arrived in late spring to find a land which reminded him of Holland. But with giant trees, fruit, like blackberries, growing wild, apple trees, and the biggest mountains he had ever seen, including one looming volcano named Mount Baker. Along with rivers running clear filled with fish of the salmon sort.

My great great grandpa, John, then returned to the family, bringing with him samples of what he found in the Pacific Northwest, including thick bark from a fir tree. Along with some apples.

The family decided to move one more time. A large chunk of acreage was purchased a short distance east of that Dutch town, known as Lynden, and the Slotemaker farm was born, along with Slotemaker Road.

And now, in the 21st century, I am sure our Dutch relatives who farmed that land, long ago, would be proud to know their ancestors are carrying on the tradition of being scofflaws taking Slotemaker Road signs as souvenirs...

UPDATE: After the above was written Spencer Jack texted another photo of his day with his dad in Whatcom County, that being the county in which Lynden is located.

In this photo Spencer Jack's dad is kneeling next to his great-grandma Vera's headstone. This is located in a cemetery near the little village of Custer. I might be able to find that cemetery, but locating Grandma Vera's and Grandpa Porter's burial site, well, that I would have trouble with.

Grandma Vera's headstone says "VERA SUNDEAN PORTER DEC. 26, 1910 - SEPT. 23, 2003".

The headstone behind Jason says "DR. JAMES A. PORTER 1903 - 1966".

Grandma Vera's headstone should more accurately say "VERA SUNDEAN WILDER PORTER HUNTLEY".

Grandma Vera was born Vera Sundean, then married Laverne Wilder, with whom she had two children, including my mom, Shirley (also known as Miss Daisy). Yes, you read that right, my mom and her dad were Laverne and Shirley.

When my mom was quite young Grandma Vera divorced the grandpa I never knew, and eventually married Grandpa Porter, who was the only grandpa I ever knew. I remember him fondly. He was a doctor and an influential citizen of Lynden. When we were kids grandpa was part of running the annual fishing derby on Lynden's Fishtrap Creek. He somehow always managed to make sure his grandkids got good prizes. I remember my all time favorite fishing pole was one of those prizes.

After Grandpa Porter died Grandma Vera eventually married Lee Huntley, who then was the only grandpa David, Theo and Ruby's mama Michele ever knew. I never quite adjusted to the idea of Mr. Huntley being my grandpa. He was a nice guy.

I never thought about it before, til reading Grandma Vera's headstone. Grandma Vera's eldest grandson is named Dean. He being the eldest son of Grandma Vera's eldest daughter. I wonder if Son Dean was some sort of clever play on that Sundean name? I suspect not.

I wonder where Spencer Jack and his dad will be taking me next?

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