Lago Spearfishing Society


This email was to Larry Riggs from Joe Van Ogtrop with regards the cross that was placed in 40 feet of water in front of the New Esso Club.

Joe Van Ogtrop ~ Class of '58
Larry: In response to an earlier newsletter regarding the cross, there are a couple of corrections that I want to send to your readers. The cross was installed in the summer of 1963 by Joe Van Ogtrop and Tres Dunlap. Although Steve Fremgen was at the dock when the cross was blessed by Father Van Baars from St. Theresa's Church and (for that matter my brother Dick Van Ogtrop was also on the dock), Tres and I and an Aruban fisherman were the only ones in the boat that took us behind the Esso Club to install the cross.

The second correction is in the picture that accompanied your original Email. The people in the picture from Left to Right, are Dick Van Ogtrop, Tres Dunlap, Steve Fremgen (partially visible behind Tres), my sister Pat Van Ogtrop, Jill Hochstuhl, an unidentified man, Patsy Schindler and on the right holding the cross, Joe Van Ogtrop.

(Corrected Photo)
The Story Of The Cross:

Tres Dunlap and I had read an article in Skin Diving Magazine about a statue of Christ that had been installed in an underwater grotto off of the coast of Italy. The statue was made of bronze from thousands of medallions, and other pieces of bronze that were melted down and used to form the statue. It was installed to protect swimmers, boaters and divers from the perils of the sea.

Tres and I decided to do the same thing off of the Esso Club in the summer of 1963 and since we knew that we could not duplicate the statue of bronze, we thought of having a Cross made of cast iron pipe instead. I do not recall whom we contacted or who exactly made the Cross, but we had it made in the refinery The Cross consists of 6 pieces that ultimately were put together underwater off of the Club in 40 feet of water. The main section of the 8' Cross has a plate welded to the bottom of the vertical section which is bolted into a matching plate on the base which is made of a 2 foot section of cast iron pipe about 2 foot high and to complete the picture, there are 4 smaller 2 foot long sections of pipe that are bolted to the base of the Cross that give the Cross its stability as it has stayed upright and proudly protecting the waters behind the club for the last 42 years.

Father van Baars from St. Theresa's church came to the "new" docks to bless the Cross the day Tres and I installed it off of the Esso Club with the help of a fisherman friend and his boat. Once we got to a spot we had randomly chosen behind the Esso CLub, the six pieces of the Cross and a burlap bag of nuts and bolts and pipe wrenches were dumped overboard in the 40 feet of water in a sandy bottom area at the first dropoff about 30 yards from the edge of the coral. After putting on our trusty Summer Recreation Program SCUBA gear, Tres and I went overboard and spent the next 30 minutes or so bolting the pieces together. We also filled the large pipe base of the Cross with sand and broken pieces of coral to give it additional stability

As I said earlier, the reason for the Cross was to protect the waters off of Aruba for the fisherman, swimmers, divers, etc who ventured out beyond the reefs. Since Tres and I installed the Cross 42 years ago, I have been back about 6 times, the most recent being in June of 2003 when our entire family came to Aruba for the Lago/Aruba reunion. I was happy to see that the Cross was still standing as proudly as the day we installed it. It has developed it's own mystique now that it is completely covered with a thin growth of fire coral along with sea fans and brain coral that cover the base of the Cross. In addition, a pair of beautiful queen angel fish seem to have taken up residence at the base because as we visited the cross, they kept swimming all around us

I know that there have been all sorts of rumors as to the reason for the cross, how it got there in the first place, who installed it, etc, etc... but as Paul Harvey used to say, " Now you know THE REST OF THE STORY"

Best Regards,

John "Joe" Van Ogtrop

December, 4, 2004  Date added by Dan Jensen

These are other photos of the cross.




Tres & Joe putting the cross over the side of the boat

From left to right: Tres Dunlap, Joe van Ogtrop, Steve Fremgen and the Aruban fisherman friend,  in the boat on the way to place the cross.  Photo was sent to me by Susanne Gravendijk Wirht and used with permission from Steve Fremgen.  Steve is sending additional photos of the cross, stay tuned.






Jack Watkins by the cross.





Steve Fremgen at the cross.





Joe van Ogtrop at the base of the cross.




John Turner at the cross.




Photo of the cross by Steve Fremgen taken long after Tres & Joe installed it in 1963


The photo above was sent in by Willem Donck.

This photo also taken in 2008 was sent in by Steve at Searuba Fly n Drive.  Check out their web site at: