Immigration to the United States

June 1947, after saying their good-byes to the de Ruijter and van Boheemen relatives at Central Station in Amsterdam, the family departed for America. They traveled to Gothenburg, Sweden via train (the journey took 2 days/1 night). When passing through Germany on their way to Sweden, the family couldn’t help but notice the devastating effects of the war they also saw there. It seemed the tables had turned, the Germans were now hungry and looking for food. People are people and it was very sad to see.

While the train was on the ferry crossing over to Sweden (a 4-5 hour trip), the family left the train and went upstairs on the ferry to look out over the water. There were tables and chairs and so they spent their time there. When it was time to return to the train, unbeknown to them, they managed to leave behind their bag of travel papers and money. The family journeyed on to Gothenburg. When the family eventually discovered they were missing their money and travel papers it was a real panic. Their tour guide was able to make communication with the ferry and locate the lost bag. Arrangements were made for the lost bag to arrive in Gothenburg the next day. Luckily, the family had plans to spend 3 days in Gothenburg site seeing before traveling on to America. The bag was returned to them and nothing was lost.

Anna remembers Sweden was untouched by the war (being a neutral country) and that they stayed in a very nice hotel. They saw so many beautiful things, so much was available to buy. Her parents bought each of the older girls a special shawl. It was also a hilly costal city vs. the flat Holland they were used to growing up on. They had to do a lot of climbing while they toured the city. Something they were not used to.

Hotel Gothenburg
Newspaper 1947

On the boat there was much to do, however, it was the family’s first trip away from Holland and they tended to stick together while enjoying their time on board. Bill recalls a few rough days at sea and many family members became sea sick. As a result, Mother-Alie spent a couple days in bed during the voyage. The rest of the voyage was pretty calm. The older children watched the younger children. There was a movie theater on board and Father-Jacob and Mother-Alie took the younger children to the movies in the evening. There was also dancing and many war brides on board. Leo remembered he heard music so he went to the top floor to listen to it. They were in second class (not first class). The food on board the ship was really good and they were able to eat their fill. Bananas, Grapefruit and corn flakes were new experiences for the family. During the voyage the family befriended the only other Dutch speaking family on board the ship. They had to learn to communicate because Dutch was not otherwise spoken on board the Swedish ship. Anna remembers the voyage over on the Gripsolm was like a dream vacation, it seemed so luxurious. There was music, plenty of food and tea time with cake everyday. The family had three cabins. One for the boys, one for the girls and one for Father-Jacob and Mother-Alie. They enjoyed all that there was to do on the ship provided you didn’t become an unlucky one and get sea sick.

The DeRuyter Family saw the Statue of Liberty as their ship passed in front of it on its way to the Hoeboken, NJ dock. They arrived at port (late in the morning) and only had a few hours to go through customs before making their way to the train station. Everything felt strange to the family upon their arrival in “New York”. First the Duane process (clearing of customs) and then they were assisted by the Salvation Army to find the train station via taxi. The boys remember having their first hamburger in New York. With their tight schedule, there was no time for sightseeing in New York.

The family boarded and departed on the afternoon train headed for Los Angeles, CA. Bill remembers everyone became very hungry and all Mother-Alie had was one “Edammer Cheese”. They had to divide it up between them, which meant there wasn’t much to go around. They didn’t understand English and didn’t know about the dinning car on board the train. It was the next day around noon when the train stopped in Chicago for about an hour. Father-Jacob, Bill and an American Woman they befriended got off the train and shopped for food (bread, meat, etc.). Needless to say, everyone was content again after lunch. They now had enough food to last them until Los Angeles. They all had to sleep in their chairs. The journey lasted 4 days/3 nights. They arrived in Los Angeles (Central Station) on July 4, 1947, around 7:30am and found “Ome Piet” van Ruiten & Bert van Ruiten waiting for the family at the station. Father-Jacob, Mother-Alie and the family were taken to Piet van Ruiten’s house for a big breakfast. (On the way, the family noticed the palm trees and the beautiful weather.) The DeRuyter Family was made to feel very welcome. Afterwards, “Ome Piet” took the family over to where they would be living, in a beautiful Spanish style ranch house on a dairy Piet van Ruiten owned... 

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