Pen pals

Sep 16, 2002

Theo Zuiker found Zuiker Chronicles Online recently, and he’s begun to correspond with me via e-mail. Theo lives in Oisterwijk, in the Netherlands, and he’s sent me some interesting history about the Zuiker Family. It was Napolean’s brother, Lodewijk, who decreed that Dutch families needed surnames. That’s about the time when our forebears began to use Zuiker … or was it Suiker? Theo tells me that the death certificate of his grandfather’s sister read Neeltje Suiker. So, as Theo asks, which came first, the chicken or the egg?

But what I’m finding so fascinating is that Theo, who is 72 years old – ”Many of the members of the family reach a high age,” he writes – was once the pen pal of my grandfather, Francis (aka Frank the Beachcomber). In the 1950s, Theo contacted Chicago City Hall to get the addresses of any Zuikers, and he began to correspond with Francis. ”I recognize him from the fotography in your chronicle,” he adds (click photos to see these vintage shots; they are best seen on Internet Explorer). I’m not sure how long they were pen pals, but it must have been a good relationship, because Theo named his daughter Francis. I’m so excited to be in touch with someone who fifty years ago was a pen pal with Grandpa that I’m already scheming for ways to visit Holland in the next year. Any North American Zuikers up for a trip to the Old Country?

Anton Zuiker

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