Sunday, December 23, 2018

"It Was Like Christmas"...

"Hey Winston," the little Dutch girl pleads..

In a moment of melancholy and in the time it takes to down a cup of hot coffee, Jenny told me a wonderful story about her days after World War II. Jen is a real piece of work, that's for sure. Sometime last year, I did some sketches of her from afar and posted a comment about my impression of this modern day Annie Oakley. ( Please checkout my article at: for a little background on Jenny )

Since that time, she still comes into Gus's restaurant like John Wayne enters a western bar, yelling about her triumphs of the morn, storming directly to the coffee pot. If there isn't coffee enough to pour herself a fresh cup, she proceeds to starting a new pot. Jenna, as some natives call her, apparently has carte blanche at Gus's. Every now and then, she will pull up a seat and vent her frustrations to me about some novice hired hand or a misguided owner who thinks they know more than her sixty plus years have taught her. And being a novice myself,  I have learned a lot about the equine business from her stories of how it is and how it use to be.

Jenny is one of about five women I have befriended over the years that are professional riders or caretakers of the equine. And it comes as no surprise that Jenny is the most eccentric, but this time around she drifted from her stable talk to a time when she was a little Dutch girl, wooden shoes and all, on her Daddy's farm just outside Rotterdam. As I recall, she was only six years old when the Nazis were driven out of town and aid was being airlifted to the populace.

Little Jenny recalls the villagers crying to the skies for food and medical supplies and tools to rebuild what was destroyed in the war.

"Winston," they called out as the transport planes flew by, "drop us medicine... drop us bandages!" Hey Winston, drop us can goods, drop us clean water to drink!" And the airplanes would belch out tons of supplies in parachute form. Jen remembers in wonderment how incredible this all was.

The villagers would ask the sky and the planes would drop via parachute what was needed.

"Mr. Churchill, send us more bread and milk and canned beans," they cried and the next day or so down floated life's necessities. "It was like snowflakes from heaven," she recalled.

Now, it just so happens that Jen somehow lost, at a very early age, I think she said at the age of three, her wooden wheel barrel that she used to help her grandfather clean the horse stalls. She didn't recall how it got misplaced whether it was destroyed or stolen by the Nazis, or if it was taken by a neighbor to help with the reconstruction of their village. All she remembered was that the little red barrel with one wooden wheel disappeared and she could no longer be with her grandfather and her beloved horses. So between 1945 and 1946, whenever the planes would now fly by to visit and unload their heavenly gifts, Jen run out to chase the aircraft to call out...

"Hey Mr. Winston, drop me a new wheel barrel! Drop me a new red wheel barrel, Mr. Winston!" Jenny said she figured everything came from Winston and the big airplanes, so why not ask for what she wanted.

"It couldn't hurt to ask, she said, but nothing ever happened."

With what seemed a moist eye and a softened demeanor, Jenny continued. "One day, my grandfather instructed, as my job for the day, to go the trees near the regular drop zone and wait for the planes to, once again, fly by. By now, I was pretty dejected having been ignored for so many times, but I always obeyed my elders and so I went off to wait for the big planes from Winston. Of course, when I got there, there was tied to a white parachute hanging neatly from the trees, a little, brand new red, wheel barrel.

"I could not believe such good luck. "It was like Christmas with Winston Churchill as Santa Claus!" "Life after the war was pretty tough and I was expected to carry my own weight, but having the little wagon to carry off the manure made my chore much easier."

"And how old were you, I asked, when Winston made the special delivery!"

"About six years old", she said as she stiffened back up and took a long last gulp of coffee,"I sure hauled a lot of manure with that little wheel barrel... I mean, a lot!"

"And", she added, as she got up from her chair and tucked her blondish white hair back under her baseball cap, "it never occur to me until much later that my grandfather set the whole scene up for me! He even created a note and attached it to the wheel barrel that said, "Your wheel barrel, ma'am," Sincerely, Mr. Winston Churchill.

Making no more eye contact with me, she turned and walked out the restaurant door with the same aplomb as she had entered yelling goodbyes to all who waved her farewell...

Till next time!

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III