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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.

Indo Sheldon Krancher and brother Glenn with Fresno Bee newspapers to be delivered
Sheldon Krancher and brother Glenn with Fresno Bee newspapers to be delivered

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.

Indo Sheldon Krancher preparing Fresno Bee newspapers for delivery
Sheldon Krancher preparing Fresno Bee newspapers for delivery

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.

Indo Sheldon Krancher and brother Glenn preparing to deliver Fresno Bee newspapers to their customers
Sheldon Krancher and brother Glenn preparing to deliver Fresno Bee newspapers to their customers

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.

He proceeded to tell this man, in very explicit detail, that we were not Mexican, rather we were Dutch Indo, and he proceeded to give him a twenty minute lecture on the former Dutch East Indies–its history and culture.

Indos Jan and Irene Krancher and family
Jan and Irene Krancher and family

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

There are many reasons why those of us with Dutch or European Indonesian heritage may not identify as such, haven’t experienced this Indo Pride, or have yet to share their Indo Pride story.

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. 

The author and publisher disclaim any liability in connection with the use of the information and content of this article.

The Indo Project would like to know: how did you discover your Indo Pride? Share your story with TIP? We welcome you to describe your journey. Submit your story!

8 Comments

  1. Thank you, Sheldon, for sharing this childhood memory of your father and his Indo Pride. It was typically Jan, one of The Indo Projects founding board members and author of a book that introduced many to Indo history – “The Defining Years of the Dutch East Indies, 1942-1949: Survivors’ Accounts of Japanese Invasion and Enslavement of Europeans and the Revolution That Created Free Indonesia”.

    The Indo community in the USA lost one of their biggest champions. I miss him and will always remember his enthusiasm and presence with fondness.

    • Thank you Priscilla for being such a champion for our Indo culture and heritage, The Indo Project and especially for our champion…who was such a loving father, husband, brother, mentor and friend to so many. We miss him too but he is with us, in our hearts forever. His legacy lives on especially through The Indo Project and the amazing work you, the Team and all the contributors do, so selflessly. I look forward to making future contributions!

  2. Sheldon, I am typing through tears. Tears of great pride and tears of great loss for your father. I worked with Jan in the early years of developing The Indo Project. We connected through his book “The Defining Years..” I had great admiration for him for writing the book and documenting our heritage in what I can only describe a “cultural desert” for us Indos, who are scattered all over the world. He was a trailblazer in America for us. I am happy to hear of your sense of Indo Pride and how your father instilled these values in you. Thank you for writing this great article and many blessings to you and your family.

    • Thank you Bianca! I too write through some tears, reading your kind and thoughtful words about our father. What a great man that I get to call my father and a man I get to spend the rest of my life aspiring to be like and live his legacy…our great Indo legacy! He is missed but always remembered. I’ll be sharing another story soon. May God continue to bless you in faith and in health. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Hello Sheldon,
    I love reading the memory of your childhood.
    Please allow me to make one teensy grammatical correction. In the sentence …the work ethics my father instilled in my brother and I …
    This should really be “in my brother and me”.
    To test this: leave out the 3 words “my brother and”. What do you end up with?
    So sorry if I sound like an old schoolmarm. I’m guilty there .

  4. FROM: Mike Peeters

    Hi Sheldon
    My father Johannes Cornelis (Peter) Peeters was in Java fighting for the Dutch after WW2 and I have written a biography on both him and my mother Elaine Joycelyn that now takes the form of an ‘e-book’.
    I don’t know if I have sent this to you before but in case you would like to put it on your blog, the relevant parts regarding Indonesia are in the chapter ‘Peter’s story’.
    I will email the entire biography of 56 pages to you in a PDF.I hope you enjoy it as much I enjoy your blog.
    Many thanks
    Mike Peeters

  5. Wonderful story. Thank you for taking the time to share. Glad I was introduced to The Indo Project by Ilse Van den Broek.

    p.s. How can I get a copy of “The Defining Years”?

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