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10: Margot is ill

KLM officials hugged him, slapped his back in delight and relief and congratulation. Plesman, at his elbow, was talking and talking. Then he said: "This is Dr. Engelkens, the doctor who is attending your wife."

"My wife, Margot, where is she?" Ivan's wild gaze swept the cheering crowd.
"Oh, no, she is not here."
"She is in hospital, she has had a very serious operation. But she is brave, she is recovering!"
"Sure of that?"
The doctor nodded and Ivan allowed himself to be pushed along to the floodlit microphone.

Smirnoff at right

The exhausted crew is politely listening to all the hearty congratulations.
Ivan Smirnoff at right.

It was a great occasion. The Minister of Transport had brought Queen Wilhelmina's personal congratulations. Impatiently Ivan listened to speech after speech, and also mumbling one himself. At the time he had just been informed that Margot was in hospital.

Ivan Smirrnoff returning home to Schiphol in 1933...

As soon as Ivan decently could, he slipped away from the reception leaving Plesman to explain and make his excuses. He drove with the doctor to the hospital. He was shaking as he crept into the small private room where Margot lay, propped up by pillows. She was smiling, wide awake, though it must have been midnight.

"Darling!" Her voice was thin, but happy. Shakily she tried to hold out her arms.

They were locked in each other's arms, laughing crazily, crying a little, kissing a lot, when the nurse called softly that it was time for him to go.

Margot and Ivan, 1933/1934

Nervously shuffling the papers on his desk Plesman tried to explain the fearful dilemma in which he had been placed when Margot, due to go into hospital the very day Pelican left, swore him to secrecy. Margot had intestinal cancer...

.... Some years later Ivan found a new charming villa at Heemstede, a pleasent residental dormitory for Amsterdam commuters. It was near the end of Molenlaan, not a couple of hundred yards from the sparkling white windmill at the gates of Groenendaal Park. They moved to Molenlaan on 16 March 1936.

Ivan's first house in Heemstede

'Pelikaan' in Heemstede.

This new house, of course, was named "Pelikaan". (The garden gates still bear the name, freshly painted when the Mayor of Heemstede moved there after the Second World War). There were plenty of space for Margot, Ivan and Mor. Mor was the Danish aunt who adopted Margot, when she was a little child back in Denmark.

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