Jo grew up in poverty. He lived together with his parents, five older brothers and four sisters in a small house. He slept with his brothers in the attic where there was mice and rats. Jo went to Mulo, a school in Uden, but when he turned 15 his father took him out of school. Jo had to start working, as they needed money at home. Jo started working at a laundromat and earned a dime per hour.
In 1945 Jo started working for a former city and region transporter in the province of North-Brabant called the BBA. There he met his wife Tinie. Jo and Tinie got married in church on the 13th of October 1953. In the Netherlands they had two children, a boy and a girl. In 1958 they decided to leave The Netherlands. During this time there was a lot of poverty and they simply wanted to give their kids a better life. They immigrated to the Fox Valley because Jo’s brother was already living there.
Ten days after they arrived Jo had gotten a job as a car mechanic. Two years later he started to work at the paper factory in Kimberly. Jo did not like the work there but his income was higher than his previous job. Five years later Jo started to work as a maintenance mechanic at a beer brewery. He worked there for about 30 years.
In America they have another daughter. Jo, Tinie and their three kids made the best of the situation in their new home town.
Jo likes to keep his Dutch eating habits. He still eats ‘speculaas’ (a Dutch delicatesse) on his bread and in his kitchen cabinet he always keeps a package of ‘Hagelslag’, Dutch chocolate sprinkles.
In the summer of 2020 Jo will celebrate his 93rd birthday. He still lives on his own. His wife Tinie lives in a nursing home. Jo visits his wife every day.
Jo calls his family in the Netherlands daily. He still has three sisters and four brothers whom live there. He is Dutch by blood but slowly but surely, he has started to feel like an American.