BORGES used to say " WE, ARGENTINIANS, DESCEND FROM THE EUROPEAN SHIPS" "
ARGENTINA grew with the European immigration escaping from wars and poverty that began
after 1850 with the big steam ships appearance. Most of the immigrants were between 20 and
30 years old, they came with their families looking for work and peace that the Argentinian
Constitution guaranteed. Among them, in 1889, my four grand parents from Belgium and France.¿ WHERE DO I COME FROM?
Many times during my life I asked myself that question but never I could really answer it, neither ascertain.
The economic circumstances sometimes and the lack of time by the study
during great part of it and then the responsibility of a family, my specialty,
and the daily fight, went deferring that anxiety, until I came to find myself with little
to do after I retired from the medical activity after 36 intense and uninterrupted
years and restarted the old dream of knowing about my Roots and to reconstruct
some remembrances since my childhood, helped by my mother, still alive by then,
because she had shared years with the members of the first Van Meegroot that
arrived to this country. Thus I began collecting some photos of my grandparents,
my parents and my children and I did a sort of "genealogical tree" with those photos,
adding those of the grandchildren that were coming to my family during the 80's and 90's.
But a fortuitous fact changed suddenly that anxiety and transformed it into
a imperious need to help and to complete the jigsaw puzzle: a letter from
Sergio Omar Van Megroot with long lists of names of relatives in Belgium and Argentina,
a descending himself of Augustus Van Meegroot, brother of my grandfather Hypolite,
and I realized this list lacked almost completely the names of those who belong to this last branch.
After a fertile exchange of letters, with the data Sergio send to me, and his interest
in this matter and his trip to Belgium, and his lack of time to attend me by regular mail,
I decided to acquire a computer,( I, that did not know a single word about the technical language
, neither knew the most elementary computation) and that by fortune opened mea happy panorama till
then unimaginable for myself. The first thing that I did in internet was to seek
Moerbeke Waas, the town where all began and to my surprise I found Van Megroot's e-mail address,
whom I contacted immediately, and they not only respond but sent me, photos,
data and anecdotes and the family coat of arms .
It was a pity I have not had those data in 1965/68 when I lived in England and the trips
that I made to Belgium; to have been so near the cradle, in Gent, and not to be able
to go there; but in those years there were not computers neither internet,or so easy communications,
the satellites and the color television just began , and Sergio was an infant.
These are some remembrances from my childhood, long time ago, about the Van Meegroot I knew
HYPOLITE VAN MEGROOT FELISA VAN DAELE
17-5-1873 MOERBEKE // 1-1-1959 ALCORTA-Sta:Fé 1883 WITSTRATE 4/5/1967 ALCORTA-Sta.Fé
FARMER - RETAILER - HOTEL
MARRIED 5th-9-1898 SAN NICOLÁS-Bs.As.
My grandfather Hypolite
My grandfather Hypolite, the 6th generation
A solid man with big hands, looking austere, wearing large moustache, very quiet and that
in his average Spanish called me for my nickname of those days, Cacho, deforming it to Cachita.
I used to sat down on his knees and threw his moustache. He slowly taught me many virtues
that he had, until 1941, that my parents came from Alcorta- Sta. Fé to Villa Allende–Cordoba.
I returned to see him some years later when I was 15 and I did a tour visiting relatives,
by myself, that was quite an adventure then, to make me a "man" as my father said;
I stayed some days at his house and I appreciated still more this septuagenarian still
standing firm like an oak tree, that used the "che" with a special air of respect, he used to say
for example: sit down CHE mister. Many anecdotes told by my father and my aunt and
uncle show his entirety and honesty. Memories of this grandfather that I could enjoy only for a few years.
In 1962 I left for United States and in my trip to Bs. Aires. I visited Alcorta and I saw the grandmother Felisa
for the last time. And can not stop recalling that short, fat woman, of strong character,
with duck walking, the "faith healer" of crops of all farmers around, during years, that had been and still was, pure energy.
7th GENERATION - 1st ARGENTINIAN: My Parents
FELIX LEANDRO VAN MEGROOT -
PELUQUERO - COMERCIANTE
21 abril 1912 - SANTA TERESA- Sta.Fé /*/ 23 diciembre 1978 VILLA ALLENDE
EULALIA BONNIN -
HAIRDRESSER - HOUSEWIFE
2 abril 1912 -ALCORTA - Sta.Fé /*/ + 24 octubre 1996 - VILLA ALLENDE - Cba.
MARRIED 25 abril 1931 - COLÓN - Bs.As. Now
rest together, for ever, in Villa Allende. Most of the utensils he utilized in his craft,
21 abril 1912 - SANTA TERESA- Sta.Fé /*/ 23 diciembre 1978 VILLA ALLENDE - Cba.
EULALIA BONNIN - HAIRDRESSER - HOUSEWIFE
2 abril 1912 -ALCORTA - Sta.Fé /*/ + 24 octubre 1996 - VILLA ALLENDE - Cba.
MARRIED 25 abril 1931 - COLÓN - Bs.As.
Now both rest together, for ever, in Villa Allende.
Most of the utensils he utilized in his craft, theirmarriage book and his first ID document are now in the Municipal Museum of Alcorta.
18 years 28 years 48 years 58 years 68 years
A man that instilled me, with his example more than with his word, what signifies honor, dignity, honesty, work,
ethics, and so many other virtues he had and he did not do ostentation. That in the seventies,
when had a business that proudly called "Boutique" and the inflation intensified and then appeared
the indexación, was impoverished because considered that changing prices was totally inescrupuloso and even criminal...
Worked a lifetime, sometimes for coins, thinking to bequeath his only son a better and easier way of progressing honestly.
He was a barber since their youth, tested luck as farmer in Colon, Bs Aires, at the beginning of his marriage,
then as photographer in Alcorta, where had their salon "Plus Ultra", with a rare conjunction of will and art,
in epochs that not existed the colour photographs, and there was "to illuminate" the copies with a sort of watercolours,
that came in roles absorbed with the colour and should be water diluted, the point being that my father
was daltonic and he distinguished very few colours, for which a person to his side must helped him ,
indicating the color required and he applied with a brush . And my remembrance, repented, of the numerous
times that I was delighted by asking him " what colour is this or that?" knowing that would respond with
one that did not correspond to the reality, or that time that we went to the movies and at the end he asked which of the two films was coloured.
These they are some samples of their art, my mother and I were his models, in my case
maybe because he wanted to forget all the black days when in 1935 an hydrophobic dog bite me,
and he had to spend forty days in the city of Rosario, during the treatment
He undertook in 1941 a reckless business, as hist parents did when emigrated from Belgium,
he "emigrated" from Alcorta, some 100 km. off Rosario, Santa Fé to Villa Allende,400km away
and 17 km off Córdoba, because there were better possibilities of study for me and
I remember the day he opened ,with my mother that was hairdreser, on July 17th. 1941, his
PELUQUERÍA Y MAISON TABÚ (Barber Shop and Beauty Parlor Tabu ,that Leal, former mailman cited in his book),
he had only a few pesos cash in his pocket but no debts. In that house that rented and many years later
acquired (1955)and expanded (1965), he lived till his death and my mother continued living there,
to the day that passed away 55 years and 3 months after that July 1941. She remained for always in this photo, by the window.
1942 1952 1970 1996
He was a "fan" of Boca Juniors, Fangio and Chevrolet, a total democrat that fought as much as he could against all
totalitarisms so in fashion at that time. He tought me those ideals that even now are my guides.
All his life sought new horizons and undertook businesses that for him were important, thus managed
to be the "concessionary" of the Philips products in Villa Allende, before that had achieved
the representation of seeds The Germinadora for all the province and I remember his trips, by bus to different cities to obtain clients.
A tip about his honesty: soon after the military uprising of September 1955, they offered him the job
of Mayor of Villa Allende and he refused on two points, his lack of proficiency and because
it would be a non democratic designation ; so they told him ;"we'll put a wonderful secretary
that will take care of everything" and he answered : In that case you should nominate that secretary for thejob"
Gathering Villa Allende-October 1955:with friends, civilian members of a revolutionary group
Even now I remember his pride when his son was the best student of the primary school, years later
the best graduate of the National College Deán Funes of Córdoba and the day that surprise when
at noon January 17th. 1958, arrived with his girlfriend and communicated him that he had been graduated
as medical doctor, that morning. Almost he was my first patient. He carried account on my exams
but I hidden one during the previous week and that causes his confusion.
His dreams were completed that day: his son was a professional.
Party after their son's graduation as a Medical Doctor -The Major, friends and relatives
His scooter With the first grand child Thinking...
I remember his pain, repressed, when I told him, years after, my trip to U.S.A. for post grade studies,
the letters that he wrote me during so many years, trying to hide me the unpleasant news such as
the two grandmothers' death, his accident with his scooter that kept him months away from work and his interest
to keep alive the memory of my country in foreign lands, by sending me newspapers, magazines and
tapes with folkloric music and even the National Anthem.
With a greater economic relief he could be dedicated to another of his hobbies: fishing, although he should bear a gross error in the ID, now with his name and not in the surname that so many times was misspelled. And for the first time in his life, be on holidays and know places in Argentina.
I remember his satisfaction when I returned and after some ups and downs, I began to act in my profession and specialty, the healthy happiness that he felt when he was told about the many patients and surgeries that I had, the economic progresses, the house I bought , all those pleasant moments in which he himself enjoyed perhaps more than I did.
1968 - With Marcos at Unquillo 1973With RONAL's Family
1969 - At home / 1996 / 1970 - With the family
And a day he passed away and I could do nothing for him.
My homage : My old man - Piero
Near our house, in Saldán, came to live also in 1942, my uncle Domingo Amando,
that looked like grandfather, physically, with my cousins Elia Enny and Elsio
with whom I shared many years of play, adventures and school.
The uncle Domingo was a full, tolerant, religious, extraordinarily good and enterprising man,
ith great pride by its surname, that paradoxical was denied to him many years
of his life by an administrative error that is related later.
Always healthily competing with my father to see which of the cousins could get more
achievements at school, high school or the university that both shared for some years.
In two or three occasions another brother of my father visited us:
Victor with my cousin Ronald,that continued living in Alcorta.
Víctor had, as my father, some intense blue eyes, but was almost red-haired
of so blond, tall and robust, redfaced. Another coincidence: the three brothers
Víctor, Domingo and Felix,were barbers , partners at times ,
at times each one on their own, there in Alcorta.
I did not know my uncle Carlos and his family; they always lived in Rojas
a city some 100 km away from Alcorta and there was not a great deal of contact with his brothers.
Years passed by, my children became adults and as periodically occurs in our country,
a wave of anxiety occurred in obtaining the nationality of parents or grandfathers
and my son Marcos went to the Belgian Consulate in Cordoba to ascertain, in 1990,
they asked him for several documents, birth and wedding certificates of the ancestors
in order to justify the descent. My father and my grandfather already dead and Sergio
had not contacted me yet to give me all, or the majority of those data. So his illusion was deferred
to this present of internet, in which I have the antecedents and necessary roles,
presented at the Consulate of Belgium in Cordoba, because I simply want
to feel the pride to be Argentine by birth and Belgian by blood, now a reality since August 2003.-
Now thanks this humble work, our lineage and our history is known to all and I have seen
with pride, satisfaction and, at times, grief, the faces of those who preceded us and made us
what we are, and with immense happiness those of the generations after me, hoping
that I have been able to transmit them the same principles that my ancestors instilled me,
though I must accept that with my grown up children the sowing was not alwais in fertile soil.
Tango "South"My Ancestors