Miriam's Blog

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

by Miriam Keesing

Wednesday morning I leave right on time to drive to Manhattan! It should take me 15 minutes, but there’s heavy traffic, so it takes me almost an hour. I drop off the car and my luggage and have lunch with Rolf Ohlhausen and Suzanne Davis . Rolf was a refugee child in Amsterdam in 1939, and his wife Suzanne has helped me tremendously when I was applying for a grant with the Netherlands America Foundation. It is very nice to finally meet this couple.That night I meet Tyler, whom I had not seen in 12 years. The Hudson Hotel is terrible. The airco is blowing very cold air, and nobody can do anything about it. This was actually meant to be a very nice hotel, but now I long for the good old Holiday Inn!

Thursday it is time for a role reversal: it is my turn to be interviewed. Paul Berger is a freelance journalist, and he has been assigned to write something about my research in the Forward Newspaper, a Jewish Newspaper. We talk for 2.5 hours, after which Paul joins me at the party that Suzanne and Rolf have organized in my honor. There are about 15 people attending, I tell them at length about my research after which they ask question and make useful suggestions. We talk about fund raising, about affiliations with universities, publishers. It is very inspiring and encouraging. One of the guests knows both my cousin in Teaneck and my brother in Jerusalem. That night I meet Tyler again, along with another old friend Mark. We have a very nice sushi dinner.

Friday morning I leave early to go to the lower east side for a meeting with Mrs. Binkhorst. Her parents have been very involved in the refugee movement in Amsterdam, and she helped them, so she is the first helper I get to talk to. It is not easy to talk to Mrs. Binkhorst, but she is extremely friendly, and even offers for me to stay at her place.

I drag myself downtown along Broadway with my heavy bag and two blisters, and manage to walk past the store I’m looking for without seeing it. When I come back to the hotel there is an unpleasant surprise: Ruth Kropveld, whom I interviewed last Thursday in Cincinnati, has passed away yesterday. How lucky I have been to catch her just in time!

I have dinner by myself and go to bed very early. I am tired and do not sleep very well in this horrible hotel.