This is the story of how my parents met. My grandfathers, Philippus (Philip) and Willem (Wim), were orphans. They grew up together in an orphanage in the city of Nijmegen, in the Netherlands. They each knew the other and occasionally would get into mischief together. One day in May 1940, they were looking over the garden wall toward one of the bridges that crossed the river Waal.
Suddenly, they saw the bridge explode! In order to slow down the advances of the invading German army, the Dutch were destroying their own bridge! One of the red-hot rivets from that exploding bridge flew right between the two, and landed in the ground behind them. Later, when it cooled, Wim dug it up and kept it.
After World War II, each married and began a family. Wim eventually immigrated with his family to the US, while Philip stayed in Nijmegen. During one of Wim’s visits back to Nijmegen, he ran into his old friend, Philip, and invited him and his family to visit them in the US. The next summer, Philip’s family did so, and that was when Wim’s son Howard (my dad) met Philip’s daughter Margaretha (my mom).
The fateful rivet is now a prized family heirloom.