by Sheldon Krancher
Discovering Indo Pride Through My Childhood Paper Route
It was just after 4:00 AM on a brisk spring morning when I heard the rumble of the truck that dropped the Fresno Bee on our front porch. Just over 260 newspapers, four routes in total, between myself and my brother. I was only ten years old at the time, my brother was eleven.
I have fond memories of my childhood. One of the things I’m most grateful for is the work ethic that my father instilled in my brother and I at such a young age. It wasn’t only the 4:00 AM paper route–rain or shine, every day of the year, including Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. It was also yard work: picking weeds, raking leaves, and mowing the grass every single weekend. Somehow it seemed like we were the only ones in our neighborhood that had to endure such hard labor. It wasn’t fun, but looking back it was somehow magical. If I could do it again, I would, a hundred times over.
It was around this time in my life that I discovered something about my father that I will never forget, his Indo Pride. I didn’t know what that was at the time, but soon enough there was no mistaking it. It was this Indo Pride that was also instilled in me at a young age, and for this I am forever grateful.
You see, if you grew up in the Central Valley of California-also known as the great San Joaquin Valley, one of the largest agriculture centers in the world–you were either white or Mexican. Of course, I was neither. But as it turns out, I thought I was Mexican until I was around ten simply because that’s what people assumed I was. To this day, I use this as a “one-liner” when getting acquainted with someone because it characterizes where I came from, who I am, and the cultures I identify with.
An Awakening of Identity
One day after school, while collecting monthly dues for my paper route, one of my customers asked me a question that I had become accustomed to. He bluntly asked, “Are you Mexican?” Because I was so used to being pegged as being Mexican, I didn’t think much of it and I don’t recall even giving him an answer.
Later that day I arrived home and I told my father what happened. A few minutes later after grabbing the car keys he said, “Let’s go.”
We drove over to this man’s house, my father confidently walked up to the front porch and knocked on the door as I trailed behind. I was mortified. I thought to myself, what is my father going to say or do? It seemed to me that this was the making of a headline for the five o’clock news. At first, there was no answer so I said, “Can we go now?” Then the door opened and my father introduced himself as “Jan Krancher… pronounced yawn, a typical Dutch name,” he went on to say.
It was a quiet ride home. I vaguely recall feeling that Indo Pride for the very first time in my life. It was an awakening of sorts. I was neither white nor Mexican: I was Indo.
During the course of my formative years, my Indo Pride continued to grow. I was fortunate to have regular visits by family from the Netherlands: Oma, Opa, Ooms, and Tantes; sometimes they would stay for months at a time. We also routinely traveled to the Netherlands and lived there when I was twelve. My brother and I attended a Dutch school in sixth grade. The people in the Netherlands didn’t think I was Mexican. They knew I was Dutch Indo. I finally had an identity.
Finding Your Indo Pride
For many, Indo Pride is buried deep, often suppressed as a life left behind or assimilated as a life anew. Whatever the case may be, you are still Indo and that Indo Pride is there somewhere, waiting to be discovered.
About the Author: Sheldon Anthony Krancher is the son of Irene Joyce Krancher and the late Jan A. Krancher, founding member of the The Indo Project who passed away on October 10, 2021, after a five year long battle with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Sheldon lives with his wife Joanna and three children, Joaquin (16), Jude (15) and Josephine (13) in Friendswood, Texas (just south of Houston). Sheldon has two siblings, Glenn Krancher who lives in the Netherlands and Corinne Krancher Bruno who lives in Spanish Fork, Utah, nearby their mother.
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