I’m zipping through Montana on the Empire Builder, heading for a long-awaited visit with the kids and grandkids. All around me are a variety of people from all over, heading who-knows-where. I take that back. There are tags above the seats indicating the person’s destination, but that’s about all there is to know about these folks.

When riding on the train it’s pretty easy to remain anonymous. Nobody’s wearing name tags after all. Wait, I take that back. The Amtrak staff all have them. Including the lounge car attendant, Tom.

Now Tom isn’t shy about sharing his name. When he comes on the intercom, he announces, “This is Tom from the lounge car…” So there I was, in the lounge car, picking up a snack or two and I noticed his last name on his name tag. The ‘Vander’ jumped out at me and I thought, “Ja! A Dutchman!”

I come from a long line of Dutch folks. I live an area that crawling with Hollanders. As a matter of fact one of my people’s favorite pastimes is Dutch BINGO.

This is how it happens. Two Dutch people strike up a conversation and one comment leads to another and the two people find out they are related. BINGO!

For example… As it often does, the small West Michigan town of Borculo, predominantly peopled by Dutch folks, comes up in casual conversation.

“Borculo? I use to drive through Borculo,” you say.
“My cousin’s friend’s neighbor lived in town,” says your friend.
“Really?” you say. “The Essenbergs lived there on the main drag.”
“I went to college with an Essenberg.”
“Calvin College?”
“Yes! What dorm? …” and on an on until you figure out that you are somehow way-back related and attended the same family Christmas parties when you were kids!

That, my friend, is Dutch BINGO.

You can imagine my excitement when I read the name VanderVelde on Tom’s name tag. It’s rare indeed to find genuine Hollanders out here in the real world. So, on my next trip down to the lounge car … yep, you guessed it, I played the Amtrak version of Dutch BINGO.

Well, it turns out that Tom and I attended the same 4th of July picnics when we were kids! His aunt and my aunt were both aunts living just blocks apart in, you guessed it, Borculo! Where, I discovered, he spent several summers, while his parents provided entertainment on a Dutch cruise line. And where I cruised the streets on my bike trying to impress the Essenberg sisters. We laughed when we discovered we were in the same dorm at, you guessed it, Calvin College! Imagine that!

And imagine this. All it took to spin this t-a-l-l tale was a name on a nametag and a l-o-o-o-o-n-g train ride to the west coast. Today’s gift? Maybe… 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s