When I was a little girl, this shoe sat in the curio cabinet in my grandparents’ living room. It is a hand-carved, child’s wooden shoe from Holland.
During the Second World War, my Grandpa was part of the Canadian Army. After first serving in Italy, his division was transferred to Holland. While in Holland, he was billeted with a Dutch family in their home.
When it came time for my grandfather to return to his own family in Canada, the family who had housed him wanted to express their gratitude. The father took his daughter’s wooden shoe, painted it with messages for my Grandpa and presented it to him.
Painted on the shoe is “Siddeburen,” the name of the town in which they lived, “souvenier,” “good by [sic], so long,” and “MEI 1945” (May, the month Holland was liberated by the Canadians).
For many decades after the war, my grandparents stayed in touch with the family, sending letters and cards back and forth over the Atlantic. The gratitude the Dutch people have for the Canadians was made tangible by my family’s connection to this one family.
Remembrance Day is a very meaningful day for me. In addition to marking the end of World War I and an occasion to remember the service and sacrifice of veterans as well as current soldiers, it is also my Grandpa’s birthday.
A note on the back of this photo in my Grandma’s handwriting says this picture was taken at Avellino, Italy Dec. 29, 1944.
This Sunday on Remembrance Day, I will be thinking of my Grandpa as I stand at the Legion with my family.
The wooden shoe now resides with my Aunt. My grandfather’s medals are with my Dad. Every time I visit, I look at these items and remember.
It is my hope that as Matt and I work on our forever house, we can fill it with meaningful items that show the legacy and tell the story of our families.