From time to time we read of long-lost relatives reunited by chance or painstaking searches. This story touches the heart since this separation, caused by a world war, was so long.
Meets grandson he didn't know he had
By Jini Dalen, Herald staff writer
Published on August 6, 1973
For the past two weeks Brent Davis, 10, has been breakfasting on cheese, bread and tea — after a lifetime of bacon and eggs.
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The Kennewick boy wants to eat "just what Grandpa eats."
It's the first time the two have met.
For Jan Scholten of The Netherlands the feeling for his grandson is mutual.
He's hoping for an airline strike so he can prolong his first visit to this country a little longer.
Until last February Scholten didn't know of the existence of his two daughters — let alone five grandchildren.
Johanna Davis, Kennewick, and Carla Robinson, Pasco, were reunited with their father this year at his home in Amsterdam for the first time since World War II, when their parents divorced and he left their home in The Hague to serve with the army.
Forced to leave Holland because of the war, they moved to Germany and later to Tulsa, Okla., in 1952 after their mother had met and married an American serviceman stationed in Europe. At the time Mrs. Davis was 11-years-old and Mrs. Robinson, 9.
Eighteen months later their mother died and they lost track of their family in Europe, not even knowing their father's name.
Until this past winter — when careful perusal of city hall records in Amsterdam led them to their father's door — even though they had been told he had died.
And Scholten had been led to believe his two children had been killed with his former wife in a train wreck.
"But my wife," he said in Kennewick last week, nodding at Cora Scholten, "never believed it. She always said my daughters would come back some day."
Scholten was so shaken by the telephone call from his cousin announcing the girls' arrival in Amsterdam, he had to hang up the phone and return the call when he had composed himself.
"We quick make a holiday," he beamed.
Scholten speaks English fluently, though he says it's the "worst" of the five languages he speaks.
Sometimes he has difficulty understanding his grandchildren when they talk fast, but, he says, "They also talk with the eyes."
Scholten was truck by how different America is from its portrayal in movies.
"In Amsterdam," he said, "I've always heard everyone in America is rich and there are lots of gangsters and hippies. I haven't seen any yet."
This contrasts with his hometown, well known as a drug center of Europe, where, he said, "American hippies come to smoke marijuana and shoot dope. The parks are full of them."
The day he left, six young people died in a hotel room of drug overdoses. Five were Americans.
He was also surprised there aren't more policemen on the streets, as there are in gangster movies.
"At the boat races (the Gold Cup) I never saw so many cars in my life. Yet there weren't may police around.
"And the ones I saw were all laughing and joking."
Also, he was surprised at not seeing more women at work.
"In Europe," he pointed out, "there are women police, women taxi drivers, women driving streetcars and buses."
Scholten is enjoying the sunny weather.
"My country is a very good country," he declared, "but it is all the time rain and cold. We have a small summer."
He's also enjoying casual dress.
"Holland is very conservative. No one would ever go to a party without a tie."
At home the charming Dutchman is employed as a "house master" supervising construction and maintenance of five large buildings, traveling to work by bus.
"There aren't so many cars," he reported with a grin, "but so many bicycles — everybody has one for weekdays and another for Sundays."
His next trip to the Tri-Cities, Scholten said, will be in the wintertime, because he likes to walk — and it's too hot for that now — and because "I'd like to see Christmas."