Guest Columnist

Cor's teapot

Submitted photo

Cor Van Egmond's teapot from Holland
Submitted photo Cor Van Egmond's teapot from Holland

John Van Egmond looked over the garage sale items at the Beacon, Iowa home. Beacon is right beside Oskaloosa and rather indistinguishable from Osky (a suburb of Osky?). He decided there was nothing at this garage sale that interested him, and he would move on. He was about to get in his car, when a lady came charging out of the house hollering, “John, wait, I have something to show you!”

She went back into the house, and came out holding a teapot, followed by an elderly lady shouting, “You are not to sell my teapot!”

The elderly lady grabbed the teapot away from her daughter and went back into the house, cradling her teapot. The daughter explained to John that 30 years ago, when John’s father, Cor (short for Cornelius) Van Egmond went to Holland, her mother had asked Cor to bring her back a teapot. (Cor and the lady’s mother are obviously Dutch.) Cor said he would, and being Dutch, was true to his word. He returned from Holland with a pretty little teapot that her mother cherished and brought out only on special occasions.

For some background: Cor was a well known and animated character around Oskaloosa, especially with farm folks. He performed artificial insemination on cows, particularly dairy cows. After performing the breeding procedure he loved to offer up his soiled hand to shake, much to the bemusement of the cow owner.

Recently, John was at the same house in Beacon for another garage sale. The elderly lady had passed away at the age of 101. The daughter, seeing John, went into the house and returned with the tea pot. She told John that if he hadn’t come to the garage sale, she was going to deliver the teapot to him personally.

After John got home he looked inside the teapot. There were two old newspaper articles folded up and yellowing with age. One was the obituary of his father, the other was an article written by me, Curt Swarm, about his father, Cor Van Egmond.

Cor and I were friends. He was a town character, and I was trying hard to catch up with him (still am). There were many colorful Cor stories that were fun to write. One had to do with Cor using dynamite to blow up a creek bank. The concussion from the blast knocked a lady in town off her toilet.

Cor was resistant to electrical shock. He could kill the engine on a tractor or car by placing his hand over the spark plugs. He loved to hold onto an electric fence, then reach for the hand of a grandchild. It was the grandchild who received the shock.

Cor’s signature story: At age 70 he decided to cut down a mulberry tree and asked his grandson, Adam, for help. When the tree was about to fall the wrong way, Cor told Adam to climb the tree and tie a rope around a limb so that they could pull the tree. Adam wisely said, “No way, Grandpa.” Cor climbed the tree. The tree fell, twisted and landed in a pile of scrap metal. All Adam could see was Cor’s long legs sticking out, like the witch in “Wizard of Oz.” He pulled his grandpa out of the pile. Cor was covered with blood. Adam shouted, “I’m calling an ambulance!” Cor said, “No vay, dat costs money! Ve drive. Can you drive a schtick?” Adam couldn’t, so Cor drove himself to the emergency room with Adam sitting beside him in shocked disbelief. When they got to the E.R. the nurse said, “Oh, hi Cor.”

Cor had nine kids. He left an indelible mark on his family, people who knew him and people he met. For example, Grandson Adam went on to become a professional arborist (funny how things like that work out) and looks back on his time with Grandpa Cor fondly.

Like discovering the newspaper articles in the teapot, Cor stories still surface. Tot Ziens (farewell) old buddy. We miss you.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.