Thursday, December 22, 2016


Her father, Alphonse Raymond DeBuysscher, first came to America in 1912 through Ellis Island. He left Belgium over a dispute with his brother about milking the cows (or so the story goes) and decided to find adventure and opportunity in this land whose streets were paved with gold.  When he left Belgium he was making $5 a day, but when he got to America he only made $5 a week.  A son of a farmer, he was a lumberjack and then a brick layer. He traveled to and from Belgium several times. 

At some point he returned to Belgium to find a good Belgian woman to marry, Clementine Delphine Peleman.  They migrated to the US together this time via Canada, walking over the frozen lake between Sarnia and Port Huron. It was the Detroit area where Raymond still had property and they both had relatives.  When Clementine became pregnant with my mother, Josie, they returned once again to Belgium so my grandmother could be surrounded by her sisters and family.  My grandmother worked for the Doctor as his house keeper and my grandfather was driving a delivery truck between Holland and France. 

Most likely my grandparents would have stayed in Belgium, but, grandpa heard along his route that Hitler was heading toward Belgium….and so they prepared to take their family to the US.  My grandfather still had property here in the United States and he knew someone who could get them passage on the boat and so they returned here once again. My mother was sad to leave her relatives in Belgium. She especially missed sitting on her grandfather’s lap at the cafĂ© and the candy he gave her.

Some of her earliest recollections are of the gypsies, the kernel of corn in her nose and the booma man. One day when her mother was working her cleaning job for the doctor, my then 2 and a half year old mother stuck a kernel of corn up her nose and  had to be rushed to the doctor to pull it out. Another story she liked to tell was of the gypsies. The older girls would walk my mother to school and they would always warn her that the gypsies liked to steal little, blonde haired girls, like her, no doubt. One day the gypsies with their tents and wagons came to town and the girls, looking through the fence showed my mother one of the women holding a blonde haired baby. Then there is the coming over on the boat story and seeing her first African American and thinking he was the Booma Man.  The only black men in Belgium were from England and apparently sold a particular candy and naturally her five year old mind associated this man in this country with those men in that country.

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