Prologue – The Legend of a Name

Prologue – The Legend of a Name“”Suderman! Suderman! Where did you ever get such a name?”” our teasing uncles cried. Although my sister Alma and I had no answer, they gladly shared the following story with us:“”Hundreds of years before family names were reality, the Peters, Jacobs, and Johanns created much confusion. Finally the King decreed that every family must choose a surname.However, the man who lived by the Zuider Sea was very busy. He farmed and continually reclaimed more land from the sea for his sons. He had no time to give thought to a family name. If ever he enjoyed an unexpected hour of time, he spent it with his children. They frolicked in the sea in the summertime, skated on its thick layers of ice when winter set in and fished the sea for table meat.One month before the King’s decree became law, he sent his officials about the countryside to gather the names that would separate all the Peters, Jakobs, and Johanns. When they came to the man who lived by the sea, they saw he had no provision for a name. Like all efficient public officials they evaluated the situation and wrote Zuidermann in all their official wisdom.Zuidermann became a family name. Through the years the umlaut “”i”” was dropped and the last “”n”” was useless. finally, when all the Zudermans became tired of being last in every alphabetical line, they changed the “”Z”” to “”S””, and there you have your family name.””We never knew if this legend of the Suderman name had any truth in it but every time we read the story of little Dutch Peterkin who put his finger in the dike to save his land, we felt a strange kinship. Surely, Peterkin could have been on of the early Zuidermann boys.