Professor Themen DeBoer and his students approached and introduced themselves. “Janzen seems like a Dutch name to me. Are you Dutch?”
“Well no,” I said. “Not exactly. I have a Mennonite heritage but I know Menno Simonus, the cleric who founded Mennonitism in the 1500s was Dutch. Actually he came from Friesland. You probably know all about that.”
“Oh yes. We actually have a statue of Menno Simons I will show you when you come to visit.”
We both were in an old German castle located south of Munich called Schloss Elmau, restored and refurbished for hosting conferences and festivities in southern Germany. The occasion was one of the first meetings of the EUROCHEM Society in Europe. The date was somewhere in the late 1960s. Our free radical work in the University of Georgia had attracted international attention which resulted in an invitation from Dr. Hans Fisher to present our latest results at this conference. It should be noted that this was only 20 years after the end of WW II so the conference had a second unstated agenda, namely to bring together peacefully, scientists from as many different European countries as possible.
Professor DeBoer went on to say that he was from Amsterdam University and planned to invite me to spend some time with his group after this convention. I replied this was not possible without planning, but we could certainly work it out in the future. I said I would like to bring my wife along next time. We did discuss something about what he and his group were doing in the way of free radicals.
But before we parted he asked what my wife's maiden name was. “Susie Dyck,” I said.
“Oh well. That sounds even more Dutch, We even have a dyke named Van Dyck Channel. I must show you that as well.”
And so it was. Professor Deboer sent a formal invitation later and we made plans to spend a week in Amsterdam. I was to be a lecturer to give some seminars in detecting and identifying free radicals via the method we had developed in Georgia called, Spin Trapping. My wife and I were housed in an apartment near the centre of the city within walking distance of the famous museums of Amsterdam. Themen hosted our visit to the Rijks Museum. We walked to the Vincent Van Gogh Museum nearby ourselves. This collection impressed us more than the repository of the old masters. The Rijk's Museum felt cold and dark. Some pieces were covered with a transparent cover to protect them from vandalism. The Van Gogh in contrast was bright and cheery with a feeling of spring. We now have ten prints of Van Gogh's work scattered around in different rooms of our house as a memento of that visit. One even was actually purchased in the Van Gogh museum and framed in Guelph.