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Dutch Bingo

At its founding, most of the Lynden farming families came from two places. Iowa, or straight from the Netherlands. Which means, while the numbers are slowly fading out, the Dutch community remains one big, tight knit family. Tall, blonde, blue eyes, stubborn as all get out, lots of big family potlucks, with a love for pink Wilhelmina peppermints and strong black coffee. And of course Gouda cheese. Ever heard of Dutch Bingo? We play it all the time.

“What’s your last name?”
“Who’s your dad?”
“What’s your mom’s maiden name?”
“Oh yes, my mom and your grandmother are first cousins!”

Dutch Bingo ladies and gentlemen.

Now the Appel name is fairly new to the area because my grandparents emigrated from Holland, but my Mom’s side of the family has been around for a few more generations. Let me tell you, you have to get really good at playing Dutch Bingo. If you don’t you may end up crushing on some cute guy who may or may not be your (extended) cousin! To make things more difficult, when you marry someone you have to learn their entire family tree! I swear I married into half of Lynden.


The Dutch Parade, Lynden 2006. Nine cousins in all, along with Beppe and “Uncle” Vern (Aunt Ruth’s Dad).

When I was about 5 years old I walked in my first “Dutch Parade”. That’s right, we used to have a whole parade dedicated to the provinces of the Netherlands! I remember the terrified feeling of being in front of people, thinking my hat was funny looking, and wishing my wooden shoes were just a bit more comfortable.  However, I did get to wear a pretty dress (with flowers on it even!) and throw taffy at people, so I really enjoyed it overall!

Elizabeth and Leah

I’m a little older here, but as you can see we start ’em young!

Over the years, my family has seen it’s fair share of parades. Traditional Fries (a province of the Netherlands) outfits were passed down from sibling to sibling (I was the oldest, so I usually got a new one 😉 ) and we acquired a large collection of wooden shoes in various stages of condition. After walking in the parade, we would quite often switch out our shoes, grab some delicious poffertjes and chat with distant relatives who were also there for the parade.

Quite often our float included the cheese making process with fake curd. Here is my cousin Marlies having some fun!

Quite often our float included the cheese making process with fake curd. Here is my cousin Marlies having some fun!


Cousin Gerrit was explaining the cheese making process to some passerby’s, he actually drew quite a crowd!

In conclusion, yes. Dutch people have some pretty funny stereo types as well some interesting shoe material choices… but I love my heritage and the quirks that come with it! I hope one day to be as welcoming, prayerful, and wise as my many, many relatives!


  1. Barbara Boe says

    Elizabeth, your articles are outstanding. I’m so happy to be related to you and to learn more about our Dutch heritage. I have more of the German heritage since my dad and mom were both mainly German, but the Dutch influence is definitely there as well from many generations back. Since your mom married into a Dutch family, your heritage is stronger. You are a very good writer and have the ability to paint word pictures to capture your audience. Thank you for sharing these tidbits of information.


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