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Families

Anton and Paula Rouss
August 11, 1953 – Sibajak

My name is Anton Rouss. I arrived with my wife Paula (nee Van Den Berg, married on July 15th 1953) on the M.S. Sibajack on August 11th 1953 after leaving Rotterdam on August 3rd at 17.00 hours. I wrote a diary of the nine days on this ship:

Monday August 3rd. – After a long wait we finally left. We passed Vlaardingen, our home town, during roll call and I was really upset since I knew that some relatives would be there to wave goodbye. We did see Paula’s family in the Hoek of Holland and almost missed supper. During the night we passed England.

Tuesday August 4th. – I awoke at 5:30.The ship Groote Beer (Ursa Major) passed by on the way to Rotterdam. I didn’t see any sun in the morning and in the afternoon it became foggy. I can still not get over the fact that I missed the family on shore in Vlaardingen yesterday. This morning we passed a few trawlers and a Shell tanker. At nine o’clock I brought Paula to bed (men in the bow, women and children aft, some honeymoon). The movie “Lullaby of Broadway” is playing but the theatre is too small for all passengers so it is our turn tomorrow. We have not received out train tickets to Toronto yet but we will get them in Halifax. What do I do all day? Sitting, walking, reading, standing, hanging around, being bored. It’s 21.30 hours. Time to go to bed.

Wednesday August 5th. – Awoke at 6am. It was foggy all day until 19.00hours At 21.30 hours we did see white lights and red flares. Our ship changed direction. Later on we could see that was the Waterman on the way back to Holland. There was a lot of yelling and shouting. This was the only ship that we saw. We were in the theatre tonight and all of a sudden my stomach turned on me. I could barely make it to the railing. Over all the ship is not bad. There are about 300 Americans on board. The Sibajak will sail on to New York after Halifax, so it’s not just immigrants on board. Still thinking what happened during roll call. It is 22.00 hours but we turned back the clock to 21.00 hours. Bedtime.

Thursday August 6th. – There isn’t much news today. This morning while we were talking, Paula all of a sudden wanted to leave. We barely made the open deck where she brought up. There was much rain and a hard wind were the harvest of the day. We saw dolphins today, out in the water. A freighter passed on the port side. For the rest of the day we kept to the centre of the ship and outside most of the time. Paula didn’t feel like supper tonight. I missed the first dinner sitting because I fell asleep during the afternoon. We sat on the deck for a long time tonight and went to bed at 22hrs.

Friday August 7th. – Awoke at 7am. Half the passengers are seasick. There is a very hard wind blowing. Paula brought up again this afternoon. She didn’t come for lunch and went to her cot. I find that Americans people, although they look the same as we do, when they talked it is different then what we’re used to from the BBC. This afternoon I slept quite a while again and was again late for supper. Set the clock back another hour, in bed again at nine. Paula hasn’t been out of bed today.

Saturday August 8th. – Awoke at 6:30. Lucky enough only three days left. I went to get Paula out of bed this morning but she didn’t want to get out anymore. If she had stayed she would have been sick as a dog, without getting any fresh air. All the wives are in bed most of the trips and the husbands are doing nothing about it. They should encourage their women to get out and go on deck. I ask a woman in a bed next to Paula where her husband was. “He is afraid to come downstairs.” She said, “He is afraid that he’ll get seasick too.” But in the dining room he was stuffing himself like a pig. They are guys with no spine. Paula is not sorry that I came and got her out of bed. She felt a lot better all day. We didn’t as much as a rowboat all day. The storm has abated considerably and the ship is going full speed but other then that, not much news. Paula bought a coffee spoon and I got a cigarette case. Both with the name “Sibajak” on it. Ten o’clock to bed.

Sunday August 9th. – Awoke at seven. Not much happened today. At 10:00am the paper comes. At 12:00 another line on the map of the ship route. At 7:45 breakfast. At 12:00 lunch. At 18:00 dinner. Once in a while we make our stroll on the deck. Tonight there is a farewell dinner and ball.

Monday August 10th. – Awoke at seven. Finally after a long time we saw some fishing boats.Grand Banks I guess. A sign that land much be close. And yes, at 11:00 we passed Cape Race, otherwise not much news. People are getting a bit restless. Tomorrow at 17:00hrs the ship is expected to arrive in Halifax. Went to bed late at 22:45hrs. Goodnight.

Tuesday August 11th. – Awoke at 7:15 Change some for a Japanese employee of the ship. Today the restlessness is increasing. Halifax was getting near. We packed everything this morning and locked out bags with keys. In hindsight was a good idea because there was a lot of thievery going on. It could have been the Dutch people, but the ship crews, who are mostly Japanese, are not afraid to steal. At 17:00hrs the pilot came on board. In my mind I pictured a man, just like in Holland, dressed in a black uniform and black cap with loodsdienst, which would have been pilot service, but that was not the case. It was a gentleman in a regular suit and a Stetson on his head. At 18:00hrs it was time for dinner and in the meantime the ship was put to shore. After dinner we get the railway tickets and other formalities completed. Paula was constantly keeping an eye on our suitcases. We were among the first off the ship, lucky us. We got a box with sandwiches from the Rotterdam loyd. At customs Paula was almost received with open arms. Those guys were glad to see a beautiful Dutch woman. We saw V.D.Hoeven wife and children and gave them the gift. Also Schilder and his wife were there with the clock. Something is funny. The railway is an hour late compared to the time outside the station. The train leaves at 23:00hrs, but our watch is 24:00hrs. The train is a lot better than expected. Nice blue fabric seats and the 35 hour trip shall not be too bad. It is now 23:15hrs (on our watch) so in ¾ of an hour the train should be leaving. We have made it as cosy as possible until tomorrow.