My parents and grandparents
My father and his parents
My father Jan van der Beek was born on August 10, 1911 in Molenend. His parents Jan van der Beek and Sepkje Douma lived at Jelte Binnesweg 11 (the house is circled dark blue on the map below).
Their house stood on a sandy road, a side road from the Jelte Binnesweg.
They had the view of the flax factory, where my grandfather worked (the flax factory is circled black on the map below). They also had some cattle.
Jan and Sepkje, my grandparents, lived in that house from their wedding day in 1910. They rented it from Jan and Imkje Douma, the parents of Sepkje, for f 65, – per year. Jan and Imkje, my great-grandparents, lived on the same sand road at JelteBinnesweg 5.
It is remarkable that my father was called Jan, his grandfather on his father’s side was called Romke van der Beek and so you would expect him to get that name too. I do not know why that did not happen.
In 1918 my father got another sister. Jiskje (she was called Jit) was born on February 2, 1918. She was named after her grandmother Jiskje from her father’s side, and not from her mother’s side because she would be called Imkje. Until the age of four she played a lot with Jelle Rekker, the youngest son of Siebe Rekker who lived nearby at Jelte Binnesweg 6 (that house is circled red on the map below). Later she married Jelle.
But on her fourth she couldn’t play any longer with Jelle because in 1922 Jan and Sepkje went to Jelte Binnesweg 31, the farm where Ate Visser later lived. That was not far away, but still too far for a four-year-old to play with Jelle (the farm is circled light green on the map below).
This farm was bought by Tjipke van der Beek, a brother of pake (frisian for grandfather) Jan.
My father grew up here. After primary school he went to the agricultural school.
And then he became a farmer on the farm of his parents.
Sometimes he worked at the flax factory, where my grandfather also worked.
My grandfather had to bring the flax that had already been processed to the train station in Hardegarijp with his own horse and wagon. And from there it was transported to Twente, to the linen factories.
Pake Jan was born on 02-03-1884 in Molenend, probably his parents lived at Flokhernepaad 4 (that house is encircled in light blue on the map above).
He was a son of Romke van der Beek and Jiskje Popma.
Pake Jan was confronted with death early on: his sister Akke died in 1893 (she was 17 years old), his sister Antje in 1894 (she was 1 year old), his sister Jantje in 1882 (deceased as a baby), another sister Akke in 1896 (she was 14 days old), sister Grietje in 2000 (she was 14 years old), his brother Gerardus in 2001 (he was 22 years old), and in 1914 his sister Hinke (at the age of 21).
Hinke had been married only two and a half months when she died; she walked past a house when a wall fell over because of the strong wind. She came under the wall and died.
And in 1900 his father Romke died of TB.
After the death of Hinke there were still three children alive: my grandfather Jan and his brothers Tjipke and Gaatze.
Pake Jan married Sepkje Douma on 13-08-1910, here on the right you see the marriage certificate. Click on it for an enlargement.
He did not have to go far to be with her, they both lived in Molenend. Sepkje lived with her parents Jan Douma and Imkje Faber on Jelte Binnesweg 11. But in 1910, when pake Jan and Beppe Sepkje were married, the parents of Sepkje had a house built on JelteBinnesweg 5, next to their previous house. My grandparents Jan and Sepkje then went to live on JelteBinnesweg 11, which they rented from the parents of Sepkje, and there my father was born in 1911.
And that house they bought in 1918 from my great-grandfather Jan Douma for f 1500, -. Click here for the purchase deed.
Pake Jan was also in military service, he was from the generation of 1904. The militia data can be seen on the right, click on it for an enlargement.
He has also been repeated a number of times, including in 1910.
He was then a laborer at the flax factory and earned f8.50 per week; on rent they paid f65,- per year and he received a 50 cent per day allowance according to a form from the minister of war for his family (he was already married); click here for that form.
According to a list in the book “The church in the middle” about the Reformed church of Oenkerk, pake Jan was secretary of the school board from 1930 to 1937, see below. His nephew Oepe van der Beek was chairman according to the same list.
On the picture below you can see the staff of the flax factory in 1930. Pake Jan is circled in red. His brother Tjipke was the manager of the flax factory, but he is not in the picture. His brother Gaatze also worked at the factory, he was a machinist. He went over the machines and he lived in the machinist’s house next to the factory. His wife Trijntje is also on the picture, at the bottom left.
In 1922 Jan and Sepkje moved to Jelte Binnesweg 31, the farm where later Ate Visser lived. And in 1940 Jan and Sepkje, my grandparents, and their children went to Kaetsjemuoiwei 15 (they exchanged with Gosse Visser), the farm where later Douwe van der Heide lived (the house is circled in purple on the map above).
Below you see the farm at Jelte Binnesweg 31, where my father grew up. And right my father and his sister (aunt Jit) are milking the cows.
My father and mother met for the first time at a meeting of the youth club. On that day, my father and his friend Jaap Glas went to Leeuwarden. There were a number of speakers in the morning and there were performances by artists in the afternoon. And that was the opportunity to meet a girl or boy.
The so-called tune days had an important function as a wedding market. That’s how my father got to know my mother that day, and Jaap Glas got into dating with my mother’s girlfriend. And after a while they decided to marry.
But in their courtship times the war broke out, and my father had to be in the army. About that later.
When my parents were married on May 16, 1941, they continued to live on that farm, and my grandparents Jan and Sepkje moved to Dr. Kijlstraweg 55 (the house is circled on the map above yellow).
Below right you see the house at Dr. Kijlstraweg 55 where pake and beppe lived until their death, and left “pake” Jan and “beppe” Sepkje in front of their house in Molenend.
Jelle was a gardener, he grew vegetables and tried to sell them at the auction in Leeuwarden. He rented a piece of land at KMwei 2, from his uncle and aunt Tjeerd en Pietje Keizer.
In the last years of the war Uncle Jelle was in the resistance. He described his experiences in a book “A journey 1“. The cover of the book you can see below.
Also in the book “Tekens van toen in Tietjerksteradiel” there is a piece of him and his nephew Siebe Rekker about their experiences during the war, you can read it here.
When years later, around 1970, I was cleaning up my parents’ shed, I found stencils with shooting instructions and how to maintain and operate a revolver. They were from the resistance group of Uncle Jelle. They were stuck between the reeds.
Uncle Jelle also wrote a book about their experiences in Canada: “A journey II”. The cover thereof is also shown below.
After the war, Jelle and Jit moved to Oudkerk, where uncle Jelle was also a gardener.
There were many people in those days who thought that there was no future for them in the Netherlands. Information evenings were organized about emigration to Canada. Jelle and a number of his brothers went to such an information evening. And they decided to take the plunge. Two brothers and a sister of Jelle left for Canada in September 1947, that was Jurjen, Gerrit and Pietsje.
They sold the contents of their houses together with the three of them, see the advertisement below.
Jurjen wrote a letter in 1948 to the newspaper “Friesch Dagblad” about his experiences in Canada, which you can read here.
Jelle and Jit put it off for a while, because pake and beppe were very difficult. They told them they would consider it a funeral if Jelle and Jit were to leave, expecting they would not see them again.
And yet Jelle and Jit left six months later, in early 1948, with their three children Siebe, Jan and Jochum. Uncle Jelle also wrote a book about their experiences in Canada: “A journey II“.
Jelle and Jit first lived in Smithfield in Canada, which is about 10 km away west of Trenton. After half a year, Jelle became a cattle farmer in Grafton, which is about 60 km away west of Trenton. After their house in Grafton was burned, they went back to Smithfield.
After that Jelle went to work in a car factory and they went to live in NewCastle. Uncle Jelle then built a house in Courtice in which they went to live. Finally they went to Bowmanville , which is located on the north side of Lake Ontario .
And indeed pake Jan and Beppe Sepkje did not see them again. Beppe Sepkje died more than three years later, on 13-06-1951. And pake Jan died two years later, on 19-07-1953.
I remember that my grandfather died, and that there was funeral. I did not go, I was with Hindrik and Janke, our neighbors over that afternoon. On the day my grandfather passed away, the messenger, Jan Visser (Jan Doedtjes), went to the neighbors to tell us that pake had died. He then put on a high black hat and a black suit (see the picture below), he was then the “deadmanizer”. He had a very official text, which he repeated at all neighbors: “Today has died …”.
The mother of Jan Doedtjes Visser, that was Doedtje, was the second wife of my great-grandfather Jan Douma. It is remarkable that he was called Jan Doedtjes, so with the name of his mother, because normally the name of the father was always added.
On August 28, 1939 the mobilization was proclaimed. My father had been in military service and had to report to Leeuwarden on 29 August. My father belonged to the 1st company 1st Battalion 33e Regiment Infanterie, in short 1-1-I-33 R.I.
The soldiers of his battalion were inspected and encamped and the next day they received weapons and other supplies for the battalion. They were under the command of Captain Bouwe Smid.
On 1 September the battalion left on foot for Pingjum with great public interest, a distance of about 35 km.
The next day they walked to the place of destination: Wons. My father was stationed in the barn of the Elgersma farm, Oude Schoolpad 1.
Soon the military started to build casemates; that are defense structures, usually made of concrete, but not here. They also had to apply barbed wire barriers.
The casemates were made of wood. They consisted of upright partitions, covered with sleepers. And the whole was covered with earth. Because of the high groundwater level it was impossible to dig them in, so the structures stood out a little above the ground level.
The casemates were not resistant to air bombardments and grenades. The soldiers gave themselves little chance against the enemy, they called the Wonenstelling “woe to us”.
The casemates called them coffins and at one hung a nameplate with “De Wanhoop (The desperation)”.
The meadows for the front line at Wons were flooded, but in May 1940 the water level of the IJsselmeer was so low that not enough water could be allowed to keep the inundation up to standard.
Many meadows remained dry or there was only a few centimeters of water.
In the late autumn, barracks were built on the west side of Wons in a meadow behind the farm of farmer Elgersma. After the barracks were finished, the soldiers were stationed there so that Elgersma farmer could use his barns and stables again.
Thus approached May 1940.
On 11 May at about 17.00 hrs, the Wonsstelling was the first meeting with the Germans.
They were reconnaissance troops and were expelled by targeted machine gun fire.
But things also went wrong on 11 May. A number of soldiers, who were engaged in certain activities in Wons, were attacked by their own people from the casemates. These people were under the command of Sergeant Major De Jong.
One of the causes was that it was warned that Germans in uniforms of Dutch soldiers tried to achieve their goals. Furthermore, sergeant-major De Jong (he was commander of the 2nd section at Makkum) was completely annoyed on 11 May. He kept roaring “Betrayal! Betrayal! ” and did very strange things.
The captain advised him to take a rest in his guesthouse. However, he went to a farm and shot at military Tjeerd Boomsma, shouting: “You are a German!”. Tjeerd Boomsma was pretty wounded but could still escape by jumping through a window. Then De Jong shot at a number of other people and then left for Makkum. A number of officers then went after him and shot him.
It really started on 12 May.
At about 1 pm the German infantry, supported by light guns, set off from Pingjum in the direction of Wons. They did not go along the main trunk road, as expected, but via the inland direction Haaijum.
One casemate at Wons had loopholes in the direction of Pingjum, but the three other casemates were constructed in such a way that they could only shoot in the direction of the concrete bridge in Rijksweg 43, in an easterly direction. Because it was anticipated that the Germans would come from that direction. But they came from the North instead of from the East.
The casemate that could fire in a northerly direction was quickly shut down by artillery fire at a distance of 1.5 kilometers.
The other casemates were also occupied by the Germans without any problems. The Germans crossed the ditches with large floats.
The soldiers who were manning the casemates had quickly fled to the farm behind them. My father was at one of the casemates south of Wons, on a meadow of farmer Politics.
After consultation it was decided that the troops would surrender. A whisk was waved from the farm with a white bedspread.
The section, which operated the gun in Wons and the anti-aircraft guns (pag), did a little better. The artillery was very outdated, but still did its job well. The cannon and the pags were also positioned in the wrong direction, but reserve captain van der Linden personally made sure that they were placed in the right direction as quickly as possible.
When the German soldiers came to Wons, motorized and on bicycles, the fire was opened on them. The German cyclists fled immediately and a number of German vehicles were eliminated. But the Germans always came up with new reinforcements and heavier artillery.
During the battle, soldier Klaas Rienewerf from Molenend was shot off an arm. He succumbed to the injuries. Later, a street in Molenend was named after him. My father will probably know Klaas well because my father also came from Molenend, but he never mentioned it.
When larger shells began to fall and the ammunition for the cannon ran out, it was decided to retreat to Makkum, to help defend it. The men left with a few buses there, but then it appeared that the occupation had already disappeared.
Towards the Afsluitdijk was not possible, because the Germans had already moved too far in that direction.
That is why it was decided to leave for Workum. They could not continue with the buses, because south of Makkum a number of bridges had been destroyed and roadblocks had been installed. So they continued on foot. When they arrived in Gaast, German armored cars suddenly appeared, forcing them to surrender.
They went on walking to Workum, which was already occupied by the Germans.
The group was taken prisoner of war and housed in “Ons Gebouw” in Workum. A number of soldiers have fled in Gaast before the Germans were there. They got civilian clothes from a farmer and then went straight home.
The next morning, 13 May, the prisoner-of-war soldiers were taken from Workum to a camp near Meppen at ten o’clock with trucks.
That is just over the border at Emmen. There they arrived at 11 pm.
Prisoners of war from all over the country arrived in Meppen, and there was no proper registration due to the large influx. As a result, it is not exactly known who was and who was not taken prisoner of war.
From Meppen they walked to camp Versen on 14 May, which was about 3 hours walk. There they were registered, they got a bowl and a spoon, and they stayed there for four days. They were put to work here, the terrain had to be leveled.
Then they had to walk back to Meppen, in the morning at 5 o’clock on 20 May, to the station. They were put in freight wagons, without banks, 40 per wagon. They were locked in for a few hours, until the train left at 2 o’clock.
They got a cough, good for three meals. And then began a long train journey to camp Lückenwalde (Stalag III-A) which is located 52 km south of Berlin. Luckily they were able to drink water while they were waiting at the stations.
The next day, on May 21, at 10 o’clock they arrived at the station in Lückenwalde. After half an hour’s walk they arrived in the Kriegsfangenlager Lückenwalde.
The camp was completely surrounded by barbed wire. On the corners stood tall watchtowers with armed occupation and bright searchlights.
There were enormous tents (12 x 35 m) on the grounds that provided room for about 400 people.
There were also two kitchens and a hospital. In addition to the Dutch there were also 500 Poles.
The Poles had been in the camp for a while and it was their task to set up new tents and barracks. The Dutch prisoners of war (5200 men) were in thirteen tents of 400 men. A few days later there were still 6,000 French prisoners of war in the camp.
On the evening appeal of Wednesday 22 May a German officer came with an important announcement: “The Fuehrer has noticed that the Dutch soldiers have fought courageously and honestly and has therefore decided that they may return home as soon as possible”.
But it would take a few weeks before it was that far.
In each tent the prisoners of war were divided into groups. My father’s group consisted of Sergeant Simon Hofstra (who was responsible for the group) and another 16 Frisians:
Th. Fokkema, D. Kuipers, M.J. Tolsma, J. van der Beek, D., Laansma, A. van der Heide, D. van der Jagt, A. Veenstra, R. de Vos, S. Paulusma, S. Geerdink, C. Koopmans, J. de Haan, H. Robrach, and Corporal B. Gaastra.
In order to prevent infectious diseases, everyone had to be vaccinated against typhoid and smallpox, if this had not yet been done. Some were pretty sick of it.
There had to be slept on the floor, on a layer of straw, which became thinner. At 9 o’clock in the evening everyone had to be in the tent.
In a corner of the camp area a number of water taps were installed, where you could wash. The taps ran from morning to evening.
But 5,200 men had to wash themselves, so it was often difficult to get a turn. Some soldiers also tried to wash their clothes, but that was not easy with a small piece of soap and three water taps for 5200 people.
The food consisted of boiled potatoes, or there was a kind of knit of potatoes, barley and meat or stockfish; kartoffelsuppe was mentioned. Vegetable was not used. For the rest there was bread with some margarine, sausage or marmalade.
In the morning at 10 a.m. there was already started with the distribution of food, that happened in teams.
In large bins the food was outside by the kitchen and tent after tent passed by. It often took until late in the afternoon for the latter to turn.
In the afternoon at four o’clock the bread was handed out, that was a quarter of a cough. That was intended as an evening meal and breakfast for the next morning. Storage was not there, therefore it was often eaten for the most part and the rest went into the jacket pocket.
The camp leaders were asked if there might be some work to be done, but that was not necessary because, according to the camp leaders, every day the message could come that the prisoners of war could go home again. The only distraction was maps and checkers with home-made games.
There was, however, a team every day that had corvee. The tent had to be cleaned and the potatoes too, which lay on a very large pile, and the rotten ones had to be thrown away.
On May 31, everyone received a postcard to send a message home. 5200 “kriegsgefangenenkarten” were written. The next morning the kriegsfangenenkarten were collected per tent and handed in, so that they could be sent.
On the same day there was another surprise. There was a simple canteen put together where the prisoners of war could buy beer, lemonade and cigarettes from their own money. Beer cost 20 cents per bottle.
On Friday 7 June 1940 it was announced that everyone had to be ready for transport the next morning at 5 o’clock, everyone would leave. After the hot food the bowls and spoons had to be handed in. There was a lot of doubt in everyone, because it had been said the day before. But on Saturday, June 8, hope returned: three groups had to be made each of about 1700 men.
It would really happen now! At 8 o’clock the first group had to take office and they started to distribute bread and sausage (three times a loaf of bread and a piece of sausage).
When drawing up, my father’s group did not manage to stay together because of the enormous crowds.
Sergeant Hofstra, Bijlsma, Robroch, Fokkema and my father were still together.
Finally the signal was given until departure and a few minutes later the groups marched through the town of Lückenwalde and reached the station.
In the wagons this time sets of racks, which could be put together, so that almost everyone could get a kind of seat. There were again 40 in a wagon.
The whole Saturday and also in the night was driven on, but had to wait for stations.
On Sunday morning, June 9, the first train with 1870 soldiers arrived at Oldenzaal.
The soldiers were warmly welcomed on return by the population. Everyone got cigarettes, bread and currant buns. And later there was soup.
Many soldiers had beards of a month old. The local hairdressers had a handful of work, the heavy beards were shaved for a dime. The soldiers could send a letter home free of charge. In swimming pools and baths the men could then take a shower and that was necessary too.
Everyone also got new underwear. Most soldiers had their underwear on for six weeks and longed for something beautiful.
Doctors investigated the returned prisoners of war and the writers worked hard on the necessary travel passes and tickets.
The now ex-prisoners of war were accommodated for one night in spaces available for that purpose and from private individuals who had applied for this.
The next day, June 10, 1940, most prisoners of war returned back to their hometown.
Then the ordinary life started for my father. But it probably took a while before he found his turn again. He had never been away from home that long, and he had, of course, experienced a great deal.
Whoever has kept the farm running for so long I do not know, probably my grandfather Jan and Jit, the sister of my father. And maybe others. But now he had to milk himself again.
Less than a year later, on 16 May 1941 my father and mother were married. It would not have been a big party, because that was not the time.
My father continued to live in the same place, but now with his wife Trijntje Veenstra. His parents moved to Dr. Kijlstraweg 55.
On 7 March 1942 my parents bought the house with shed and stables and land at Douwelaan 59 in Oenkerk. That was only about 200 meters from the house where they lived. But they were not yet living at the Douwelaan, they rented it first to Jelle and Jit. Jit was my father’s sister, and Jelle and Jit were married in June 1942. So they lived there first.
My parents probably borrowed money from my mother’s parents so that they could buy the house at the Douwelaan. My mother might have saved quite a bit, she worked as a costume seamstress with “well-to-do people” and she was already 32 years old when she married so she could have saved years. Later my mother regularly visited mrs. Niermeijer, where she had worked, among other things.
Below you see a picture on the left on which my father is plowing.
In addition, my father and neighbor Hendrik de Jager on a party car, my father with a cigarette in his mouth and a cap as usual. The right picture was probably made on the same holiday, my father with a cigar between his fingers and brother Jan. On Sundays and public holidays he smoked a cigar, otherwise always cigarettes. And sometimes he chewed chewing tobacco, but that had to be secretly because my mother could not see that.
More about my father can be found at My father and the farm
My mother Trijntje Veenstra was born on January 12, 1909 in Leeuwarden. Her parents Rienk Veenstra and Jisseltje Spoelstra lived at the Willem Loréstraat in Leeuwarden. My mother was half of twins, her sister Tetje Veenstra was born the same day.
My mother had a very good set of brains, but what my mother had over brains had her sister too little. Tetje was not completely full of spirituality. My mother always had to protect her and take care of her.
Below you see the twins as a baby on the left, they are also a bit older, and on the right you see a photo of my mother alone.
My grandfather Rienk was born on 14-09-1874 in Bergum as son of Wybe Symens Veenstra and Trijntje Klazes Boskma.
He started as a farm worker, among others in Oudkerk and Rijperkerk.
He has also been in the army, see the details of the inspection alongside.
And in the middle picture below you see him as a soldier. There is also a picture of him in uniform on horseback, he was with the cavalry.
Later he was a carter on a petroleum car at “Tulp”. First it went with a horse and carriage (see the picture below on the right), later with a truck.
On the image below left you see the birth certificate of pake Rienk, click on it for an enlargement.
In 1900 Trijntje Boskma, the mother of my grandfather Rienk Veenstra, died; his father Wybe had already died five years earlier. They did not grow old, Trijntje was 62 when she died and Wybe was 56 when he died.
My grandfather then bought the house and a plot of land in Bergum on the street Tussendijken, which had belonged to his parents, for f480 of his brothers and sisters. They were Klaas, Ebe, Ybeltje, Duifke and Metske; together they had inherited it. The house was then simply sold publicly, and in the final sale pake Rienk bought it through his brother Klaas. Click here to see the purchase deed. Pake Rienk was then a farm worker in Oudkerk.
On 28-04-1906 pake Rienk sold that house in Bergum again for f675; he then lived in Rijperkerk and was a groomsman. Click here for the sales certificate.
A month later he married my grandmother Jisseltje Spoelstra. Jisseltje he had known for a long time, because eight years before their wedding Jisseltje her brother Thomas was already married to Ybeltje, a sister of pake Rienk.
In 1907, so a year later, pake Rienk became a carter on a petrol truck. They then lived in Leeuwarden, at Willem Loréstraat 72.
They lived there until 1909, so my mother and sister were born there. In 1907 they had first had a lifeless child.
In 1910 pake Rienk bought a house with land in Tietjerk, for f4150, -, click here for the notarial deed.
It was bought for him by Johan Georg Semler, coffee shop owner in Zwartewegsend. He also borrowed money from this Johan Semler, namely f2500,- , see the image on the right (click on it for an enlargement).
From 1911 to 1912 they lived in Tietjerk and pake Rienk was farmer, but then they went back to Leeuwarden.
At the end of 1911 pake Rienk sold the contents of the farm: he sold, among other things, three cows, 15 tons of hay and farming tools. The yield was f525,- Click here for the description of that good.
They then went to live in Leeuwarden again. And he became a driver, now no longer with a horse and cart but with a truck.
At the end of 1916 pake Rienk sold the house with land in Tietjerk for f5000 (click here for the deed); they had already had sold the contents of the farm at the end of 1911, but apparently they had let the house itself with the land for a number of years. At the end of 1916 pake Rienk also bought a house on the Straat van Welgelegen for f1205 (click here for the notarial deed) and first they went to live there themselves but later rented that house for f1.40 per week. They then went back to the Willem Loréstraat, now at number 30.
Apparently pake Rienk had money left because he had sold the house with land in Tietjerk, because he also lent money to others: in 1921 a bond worth f1500,- to Tjalling Michiels Douma from Giekerk, at an interest of 5,5% and also in 1921 a bond worth f1200,- to Gerk Alles van der Veen in Molenend. Further in 1922 another bond worth f1500,- to Tjeerd Wouters van der Meer in Giekerk. The money, which he had borrowed from Johan Semler in 1911, was paid off in 1918. Everything was recorded in notarial deeds, an image of the first bond you see here on the right (click on it for an enlargement).
Tetje Meijer, the mother of Beppe Jisseltje, went to live with my grandparents in 1916 because her husband had just died. She lived with them for two years and then went to Bergum, probably to a nursing home. This appears from the bottom line of the section of the population register that you see below.
Pake Rienk was a truck driver, first with a horse and cart, later with a truck.
He was full of jokes and was happy to tell about his experiences.
When they drove the horse and cart in the winter, they were very well packed against the cold. When they came to a cafe along the way, they sometimes called out to the pub owner and asked if he wanted to bring them beer. They did not have to stretch the horses and they could all keep their clothes, otherwise it was a lot of hassle.
According to pake Rienk, it happened that a horse just had to pee when they had their beer. Pake Rienk kept the beer glass underneath so that the beer glass was full again. Then they called in the café boss and said that the beer was not to drink. The café owner took a sip and agreed with them.
Pake Rienk liked to tell this and similar stories.
When pake Rienk was a truck driver, he often had to buy regulators for people. They wanted to lose their old frisian clock and they took Pake Rienk with them. So he acted in old frision clocks. He kept one of those frisian clocks himself. Later my mother got that and that still hangs in my house with my brother Jan.
My grandmother Jisseltje Spoelstra was born on 06-07-1875 in Garijp, as daughter of Tjibbe Thomas Spoelstra and Tetje Baukes Meyer.
You can see her in the picture below. She stands in front of the left window, next to it is her youngest brother Titus and her parents are standing at Eendrachtsweg 1 in Garijp at the door of their house.
Jisseltje was then a seamstress, just as my mother would later become.
In the middle you see a photo of her from the same time. And on the right you see her with pake Rienk.
My grandparents Rienk and Jisseltje married on 26-05-1906, so they were already 31 and 30 years old.
You can see the marriage certificate on the right, click on it for an enlargement.
They went to live in Leeuwarden, and my grandfather became a driver. They first got a stillborn child in 1907, and on 12-01-1909 twins: my mother and aunt Tetje.
When my sisters Seppie and Thea and I went to the ULO in Leeuwarden we always ate in the afternoon with pake and beppe. That was of course very useful for my mother. But it was a heavy burden for pake and beppe because they were already older of 85. After a few years it stopped.
Beppe Jisseltje was sick on a regular basis, but pake Rienk almost never. He was very strong, only he was a little deaf and he regularly had a bloody nose when he was old. And that was very difficult to stop, but according to the GP that saved him from worse ailments. He did not need a blood thinner.
For years he maintained the vegetable garden of my parents in Oenkerk. He always came on the bike, worked in the garden, and then went back to the bike. When he was 80, he got a new bike and he used it until his 85th. Two days before he turned 86, I became 12 years old and then I got his bike.
My mother went to primary dressmaker after primary school. In the picture below (middle) you see her at that school (second from the right).
When she finished school she went to work as a costume seamstress with a number of well-to-do families. On the left photo below you can see her at work.
Tante Tetje, her sister, went to work as a domestic help for a number of families.
Together my mother and aunt Tetje were at an oratorio association.
They also went on vacation, the third photo below is proof of that. They were then on an island in a house by Anton van Geenhuizen. That was special at the time, my father never went on vacation.
She also sewed a lot after she was married. For my twelfth year I almost never received new clothes and neither my brothers nor sisters. Of course I had to pay for the clothes of my older brother Jan. Furthermore, almost everything was made by herself. And that always went fast.
If something had to be made, it was almost always finished on the same day, even though it had to work through half the night.
If we had a school party, there were also decorated carriages on which the children of the school were sitting, and they drove a number of times through the village. Each car had a theme and often the children had to wear special clothes on such a car that matched the theme. The parents of the children, who sat with us on the car, usually came to us one or more evenings and then they made those clothes under the guidance of my mother. Of course from very cheap material, often from crepe paper.
My mother was a member of the women’s association, and she regularly sat on the board. She has also served as President a number of times, as well as overarching administration.
She did not interfere so much with the farm. Only the calves were for her, she made sure that they got to drink. And she kept an eye on the finances, she took care of the bookkeeping.
My father did not interfere with the housekeeping. When my mother left for a day, she first made rice in the morning. That was put in bed in a large pan under a thick layer of blankets. And then we could eat there in the afternoon.
When my mother was about 60 she suddenly had a stroke. One half of her body was then paralyzed, and she could no longer speak. That was a huge blow, also for my father. He was completely withdrawn because my mother did everything in the household, he never had a cup of coffee or an egg.
I then studied in Groningen, but I went home and stayed home for several weeks. And then took care of my father and myself. Not that I am a great cook, but potatoes with green beans or cauliflower succeeded and I could also make coffee and tea.
My mother then spent a long time in the hospital, and then she had to rehabilitate, but everything has recovered reasonably well. She did not become completely old again, but she had a great perseverance and she did everything she could to recover as well as possible.
She bought a shuffleboard and regularly shuffled to practice as much as possible with her right hand and arm.
She also bought a camera, but it took a lot of effort to press the button with the finger of her right hand because it was half paralyzed. On the picture here on the right you can see her in the hay with her camera and Jan Theo.
A few years later my parents went to Canada for a few weeks, to Uncle Jelle and Aunt Jit. That was very exciting, especially for my father, because he had never been on holiday. But it all went fine, it was a great success. My father was busy searching for stone in the yard of Jelle and Jit, and he was regularly in “the beans” as he later said.
A few years later Jelle and Jit came to Friesland, and then my parents were still on holiday to Germany with them.
When he was 65, most cattle were sold and then my parents would enjoy their old age, but unfortunately that only lasted for a very short time. My parents could still enjoy their grandchildren very much. Below you see my father with Jan Theo with the calves and with the lambs. And to the left of that you see them on our wedding day.
My father died just before the birth of our second son, Folkert. One morning he spoke only gibberishly and he looked very sick. He was taken to the hospital with the ambulance and soon became unconscious. He spent a week there and then he died, much too young at the age of 66.
My mother got over his death quite quickly. She had a number of friends in the neighborhood whom she dealt with a lot, and once a year she went to Oosterbeek for a week, to hotel Dreyeroord (see the photo below to the left). One of us (the children) brought her there by car and she was picked up again.
When she had her birthday on January 12, we always went out to dinner with the whole family at hotel Van der Valk in Hardegarijp. That was always a big party, especially when the sorbets were on the table (see the second photo below). When she was 80, we first went to the photo together, you can also see this below.
When someone was having a birthday, Bettie’s parents drove over Oenkerk and then they took my mother with me. Then she could still enjoy very much, see the right picture below with Jan Theo, Folkert and Jelle.
A few years later, after my father died, my mother got another stroke. She came back to the hospital and after a few weeks she was discharged from the hospital, but she could not be home alone. That’s why she came to a nursing home.
But after about half a year, she had recovered a lot. One day my wife Bettie was visiting her, and then she said she wanted to go with Bettie. She no longer wanted to stay in the nursing home.
Bettie did not see that at all, but she persisted. Then Bettie asked the nursing staff if that was possible. Then it was said that my mother herself was the boss, that she could not hold her against her will. This is how I saw Bettie and my mother coming home with great surprise.
She slept with us one night and then we did everything possible to get her back in her own home in Oenkerk, home help was arranged etc. And then we brought her to her own home.
My mother could not swallow properly and almost did not speak anymore, so it was very difficult. But she did not want to go to Heemstra State, the old people’s home.
Seppie and Nammen, my sister and brother-in-law, lived close to her. They came to her very often and they paid attention to my mother for years. But Seppie had a hard time with it that my mother did not want to go to Heemstra State, it was not really safe that she was still living alone.
She wrote a letter in the last year to Klaske Woudwijk, the mother of Bettie. Click here to see it.
Below a few pictures from that time.
On the left she is talking with Folkert on her birthday, in 1985 in Hardegarijp. In the middle she is sitting on the couch with Jelle, and on the right with Afra and her first great-grandchild Edwin.
One night my mother also broke her hip. She had to go to the toilet, and then fell. She could not stand up anymore and she did not care about her alarm so that she could not warn anyone. She then stayed there until she was found in the morning.
She was taken to the hospital and she got a new hip. And wonder to wonder she walked again a week later. Then she was discharged from the hospital, and luckily she could go to the sick bay of Heemstra State for a few weeks. And after those weeks there was a room available for her in the Heemstra State retirement home.
She lived there for about half a year, and then she passed away. She never became the old person again after she broke her hip, she was very weak and she had fluid behind the lungs.
On November 16, 1998 she was buried in Oenkerk. Jissie has read the life story of mother Trijntje during the funeral service, which you can read here.
My father went to the agricultural school and he became a farmer afterwards. First with his father, while they also worked together at the flax factory in Molenend. Later he started for himself.
My parents bought the farm at Douwelaan 59 in Oenkerk. It was actually a house with barns. And they have actually been constantly renovating.
First they have rebuilt the house.
When they arrived in 1946, you had two windows at the front. They built a piece on the right side, and then you had three windows at the front. Here you see the picture of the renovated house on the right, you can still see what has been built on the stones in the wall.
In that new part there was a big deep cellar, where you could enter from the back room.
A cellar was important because we did not have a refrigerator. And the winter supply of potatoes had to be able to go there. And my mother woke up a lot of vegetables, and those wake-up bottles also took up quite a bit of space.
At the front, in the new part, a bedroom with a fixed bed. There was just a bed in it and the bottom of it, on which the mattress lay, was the top of the cellar. That was a convenient way to get headroom in the basement.
There was another, smaller basement in the back room. It was already there earlier.
And at a certain point the floor in the back room began to sag. When we broke out the floor and wanted to put new shelves in it, there appeared to be a shelter that had been used during the war.
A few years later, the upper floor of the house was tackled. Upstairs was one large room, where we slept with our fives as children. My parents slept in the only bedroom upstairs, at the front.
Teake from Teake and Jikke made two bedrooms on the upper floor, at the back.
Nothing needed to be changed on the lighting because there was one lamp that was used for three rooms. The rooms were made so that the lamp came exactly in the corner. A corner was removed from the partition walls so that the lamp shone in the two new bedrooms and also on the landing.
My brother Jan and I slept on a double bed in one bedroom, Seppie and Thea on a double bed in the other bedroom, and there was also a single bed on which Jissie slept.
When my brother Jan went to high school he had to do homework in the bedroom, and then I moved to the landing. And Jissie then got the bedroom at the front of the house and my parents went to sleep downstairs.
I did not have my own room, so when I went to high school, I just did my homework in the back room where everyone was sitting. I was able to concentrate well and was not bothered by talking around me. We did not have a television yet, it was not until I had finished high school and started to study in Groningen.
The fact that I had to do my homework in the room did have an advantage: it was always nice and warm. The others sat in the winter to mess with electric radiators, but it often remained cold upstairs. When it was freezing, the ice flowers were often on the windows and the house was not isolated at that time.
My father milked 13 cows, so many fit in the barn. At the end of the stable there was “it húske”. We did not have a toilet in the house, we defecated at “it húske” in the barn and that disappeared directly into the vault. There was always a pile of newspapers, so we did not have to get bored there. And it was nice and warm in the winter because of the heat that the cows gave.
In the beginning my father had to milk by hand. Then he was busy for about two hours. That had to be in the morning and in the evening.
He started at about 5 o’clock in the morning. He did not eat, he did that after milking. But he always started with a cup of brandy mixed with a beaten egg. He made it ready in the evening before he went to bed. Later the cognac was replaced by berenburg (a frisian brandy).
In the afternoon there had to be milked again, then he started at about half past five.
He had to be ready in time, because the milk was collected by the “molkrider“. That person came with a horse and cart, and then the buses with milk were lifted on the car by the milk driver. That was heavy work, because there could be 30 liters of milk in such a bus, and the bus itself weighed about 10 kg, so a full bus weighed about 40 kg.
My father always had four buses with milk. The milkman grabbed the milk canister with two hands, his legs a little apart, then swung the milk can first between the legs through a little bit to the rear, and then he could easily swing the can up on the car.
In the first years Jan Tiemens was our milk rider. He jumped off the car, let the horse go through slowly, and then quickly swung the four milk cans on the car, which in the meantime moved on, then quickly walked back to the front of the car and jumped up again. The buses arrived on the car without the car stopped. That saved a lot of time.
Every farmer had his own bus number. We had number 339.
If my father had milked a cow, he emptied a bucket into the van. On that bus was a “thames” or milk screen, and there were two metal plates with holes in it. And between these sieves a so-called “wick” was placed, that was a round piece of dust that stopped the dirt. Because the cleaner the milk, the better.
When a cow had calved, the first milk of such a cow was called “colostrum”. The colostrum was not allowed in the milk can, which was usually fed to the calves. So the first days you had to keep it separate. If the milk from such a cow was put back on the bus too quickly, the milk was too “dirty”, and then you would have to pay money.
A cow gave about 10 liters of milk at a time. We also always kept a few liters of milk for ourselves, and some neighbors sometimes got a liter of milk. To adjust that, we used a “hjelmingel”, which fitted in half a liter.
If I remember correctly, my parents asked 35 cents for a liter of milk. That has never changed in all those years.
If the busses were not along the road when the milkman came, then it just went through and you had to bring the milk to the milk factory in Giekerk. That was quite a hassle, because it had to be done with a horse and cart. We did not have a car or tractor. But I can not remember that my father was ever too late, he was always early enough. He never put an alarm clock, he always woke up in time.
There were farmers who were regularly late with the milk, it was generally known who they were.
The milkman, I think, had to pick up about 100 buses. They were emptied at the milk factory. And then they had to be brought back again, because the buses had to be used again. But the buses were then not empty, they were then filled with whey. The farmers got that back, and that drunk the calves and the other young stock. We also drank it ourselves sometimes, it had something of buttermilk.
On Saturday, the milkman had a so-called “molkpûdsje” for each farmer. A small paper bag containing a form, showing how much milk had been delivered in the past week, the protein and fat content of that milk, and how much money that had yielded. And that money was also in that bag.
There was also a cardboard box with a cotton ball in the middle, on which you could see how dirty the milk had been. And in that respect, the milk was divided into three classes: class 1, 2 or 3. If you had milk from class 1 then you got a supplement, and if your class had 3 you got a little less milk. My father usually had milk from class 2, which was normal and then you got the normal price.
The milk rider simply put the milk bag on the lid under the handle of one of the busses, and those busses were placed on the side of the road. There was a considerable amount in it: 120 liters of milk per session and 14 times in a week, and we got about 32 cents per liter, so more than 500 guilders.
My parents were always very curious how much money was in it, and whether we had first class or second class milk. They were often already waiting and that bag was not long on the bus.
About once a month a sampler came when my father was milking. He weighed the amount of milk from each cow, and he put a little milk from each cow in a bottle. That was analyzed at the factory and you got a report later.
Also someone regularly came along to “sketch” the new cows. He drew the black and white drawing of such a cow on a preprinted form, which already had a cow on it. You could then recognize the cow, because the cows did not have earplates yet.
Each cow also had a name that the farmer himself had to think of. We had many Japkes and Eelkjes. If Japke 3 got a calf then it was called Japke 4, etc.
If my father was milking in the winter, a neighbor or acquaintance would often have a chat. He then sat on the flour tray in the barn.
In the middle of the barn there was a large container with flour. In the winter the cows got hay and silage, but they also got “concentrate feed”.
Before the winter my father often got a truck full of pulp or potato starch. The cows were then fed in, and flour was then added.
That flour was delivered in bags once a week by Piet Barelds from Molenend. That flour bill was always a big cost item. Fortunately, Piet Barelds was always very smooth, they were allowed to pay that meal in the summer when there were fewer costs.
In the first years my father always milked by hand. Later there was a milking machine, which was a big improvement. But my father always milked every cow still a bit after the machine, the last half liter did not pull the milking machine out.
Manure and slurry
The shit of the cows, mixed with straw that was regularly scattered on the stables, ended up in the grup. That was a gutter behind the cows. The urine also came in there. Once a day the barn was “uitgemest“. The grup was then emptied, which was done in a wheelbarrow with a grip, and then it was thrown on the dung heap. That was hard work, because a full wheelbarrow weighed considerably and then you had to drive it up with the dung droppings at a big thick plank and then you had to turn it over.
When my father was in his 60s, and I was studying in Groningen, he had a hard time cleaning out the barn. I always came home on Friday evening, and it often turned out that the manure of the week was still in grup and sometimes also “oer de mjilling”. Then I spent the whole Saturday morning digging out the barn. I thought that was actually nice work, then I could empty my head completely and I did not have to go to fitness (that did not exist at all).
There was urine, mixed with thin shit, left in the grup, and that was pushed into the vortex. In the beginning there was only a small whirling cellar next to the stable, which quickly became full and had to be emptied regularly. There is, already when I was very young, a large concrete vault built for the barn. It was completely covered with a large concrete slab, and of course there was a lid that could be removed. My father then also bought a pump, with which he could pump the vulture into the “jarrewein”, a special car with which the vulture was spread across the country. That was quite a progress.
Behind the wagon was a “jarremûntsje”, which rotated around and ensured that the vulture was spread over the land. That gave a great stench.
After the winter the cows went outside, then they walked in the pasture.
The first time after the winter, when the cows were brought into the pasture, they often made jumps of joy. They liked it so much that they could move freely again.
The lofts, that are large calves, did it much crazier. That is why my father always tied the two to two together in the first day. Otherwise they were so crazy that they ran through and around at full speed.
The first week it was usually too cold for the cows to stay outside at night. They were then brought back in the afternoon before milking. And in the morning after milking they were then brought out again.
That was always a hassle, because we did not have the land next door. My father pulled the cows out of the barn one by one, they got a rope around the horns and then we went per person with a maximum of four cows on the rope to the pasture. We then went with all the cows at the same time on the road to the pasture, so there were always four people needed. And in the evening they had to be picked up again in the same way.
The nearest piece of land was opposite Douwe van der Heide’s house on the KMwei, where my parents had first lived. That was about 200 meters from our house, and we usually brought them there.
When my father started as a farmer, the pastures were very widespread. There were a few pieces opposite Douwe van der Heide. Then we had a piece on the middle of the Douwelaan. Furthermore, a piece in the “Wodgaren” and a piece on “it Reidfjild”, that is both behind Roodkerk a good end way. And then two more pieces in Birdaard, that was certainly 8 km. away from us. Most of the pieces were 4 pound size (my father never gave the size of a pasture in hectares, but in “pûnsmiet”, which is about 0.37 hectares), so about 1.5 hectares. We had a total of about 10 ha.
Sometimes the cows had to be taken to the pasture in Birdaard. We walked with a number of people with 3 or 4 cows per person on the rope, to Birdaard. My father then went twice every day on the moped to Birdaard to milk, he had a “puchje”. The milk he then delivered to the milk factory in Birdaard, so he did not have to take the buses to Giekerk every time.
When the cows were walking in the Wodgaren, my father went there with a horse and cart, with the milk cans on the car. Then as a young boy, I often had to join in the afternoon to open and close the fences. We had to go through a lot of meadows, and with each meadow there was a fence that first had to be opened and later closed again. And if it rained a lot, it was sometimes a mud pool we had to go through, that was no fun.
Siep Woudstra lived close to us at the Jelte Binnesweg. Siep was also a farmer and my father and Siep worked together a lot. Siep had the most land close by. A number of pieces in front of and behind their house, that was also close to us. Siep and Tine moved, when I was about ten, to a larger farm in Janum. And then my father could rent the pieces of land that lay in front of and behind the Siep farm. That was a big improvement.
A few years later the farm with land from Ate Monsma came for sale. Ate and Teatske lived in the place where Nammen and Seppie now live, and they regularly came to my parents. At one point Ate went into “de sanering“. That was a new arrangement whereby farmers were bought out by the government. That was intended to reduce the number of small farms, it all had to be larger. Ate and Teatske moved and their farm could no longer be used as a farm.
My father bought their farm with the land around it. And Nammen and Seppie bought the house from my father again, and then they got married.
My father kept the land, which was a few hundred meters from our farm. From that moment on my father had everything pretty close.
My father always had to get up early in the morning . He had no problem with that, I never heard him complain about it.
In the beginning of their marriage my father also worked during the day in the flax factory. According to the stories, he sometimes went out of bed at 2 o’clock, so that he could cut a piece before milking. He did that at the time with the scythe, and that worked best when the grass was not too dry and at night it was always a little damp.
My father was able to mow very well with the scythe. He did a pretty broad strip at once, and the piece that had been mowed was as flat as the sea.
The scythe had to be sharpened regularly, my father then went “seineharje” (the scythe hair). He then sat on a “tuolle” with the scythe in front of him, the handle on his shoulder. Then he went with a special hammer to the cut of the scythe, so that the iron became thinner and therefore sharper. It was a very precise job and with every stroke he made, the teeth of his dentures also matched. The teeth clatter gave exactly the pace at which he was in the hair.
Because my father had to get out early, he usually did not go to bed late at night. But he did not always have that in his hand. He has been an elder in the Reformed Church quite a number of times. And the church council meetings often lasted a very long time. And if you were an elder you also had to go home, and that often became late too.
Each family, who was a member of the Church, received home visits every year. In the beginning there was always an elder with the minister. Later, two elders came. They then had three home visits one night. The first from 7 to 8 o’clock, then from 8 to 9 and the last from 9 to 10 o’clock. But that often went wrong.
On Sunday, the pulpit was proclaimed who had home visits that week and when. That was always a whole row, so that took quite a while. Later, lists were hung for in the church, which showed when and where home visits were held.
Almost no one had a phone at that time, so this was the easiest way to arrange it.
We always went to church twice every Sunday, at half past nine in the morning and at a quarter past two in the afternoon. We then had our Sunday clothes on, which we never had during the week.
In the morning, first all shoes were polished, that we took turns. We never had to ask which shoes would be worn, because we all had only one pair of shoes. My father also only wore those shoes when he went to church, or when he had a meeting. At home he always wore wooden shoes. The shoes also did very little. He got new shoes when he got married and his second pair of shoes he got from us when my parents were married for 25 years.
We sat together in the church with seven of us, so we needed a lot of space if we wanted to sit next to each other. But we had permanent places.
The seats in the church were divided once a year. Each family was allowed to draw a lottery ticket with a number, and that number determined when you had the turn to say which seats you wanted. We almost always sat on the second row of the gallery. We had to be in the church on time, because five minutes before the service started a light came on, and that was the sign that from then on all seats were free.
Also once a year was the election of elders and deacons. In advance, pairs had been drawn up by the church council, from which they could choose. And those names had also been read aloud on two Sundays. And if there were no objections against those people, there was chosen between those two. It was considered an honor at that time if you were elected, and there was hardly ever anyone who did not accept the election.
When we were in church, my father was always next to my mother, and then my mother gave my father a push every two minutes during the sermon, otherwise he would fall asleep. But if he was an elder he was not with us, but in the “fjouwerkant”, in the bank in front of the church board. And then we saw him regularly “knikkeboljen“. But he often sat next to his cousin, Eelke Dijkstra, who gave him a push. But Eelke had the same problem, because he was also a farmer.
There was a collection during each church service, three times the pong came along. We therefore all received three cents for the collection, and also a peppermint for during the sermon.
After the morning service we went home. First coffee and then I often went to Floris and Iep. Iep then played the organ and the others sang along. I also sang along, or we went to play the wind instruments together: Floris on the trombone, I on the bugle, Marjanne on the saxophone, Jacob on the cornet and Lolke on the baritone. I thought that was wonderful.
After the afternoon service we often stayed for a while for the church, there was usually a whole group just to talk. Then we went home with our group of friends, drinking tea at someone’s home.
At first Sjoerd van der Werf was only my friend. Wiepie Kuitert came later, that was a cousin of Sjoerd. And that’s why Dirk Noordstra also joined, who lived close to Wiepie.
After tea on Sunday afternoon we often went to Stania State, or we played games together. When we were a bit older we often played cards, usually “eighty”. And we also had dinner with the person who was next. That was often very pleasant, sometimes there was also a brother or sister who had friends with him. And in the evening we stayed together for a while. Playing games together or hearing at music.
During the week I only played with Sjoerd, but on Sundays we were with a whole group.
After primary school it diluted, because Wiepie and Dirk went to the art school and Sjoerd and I went to the ULO. And after the ULO-time, Sjoerd also ended, because Sjoerd had only one thought at the time: after the girls. And I did not talk about that at that time.
From that time on, I was on Sundays with Dirk and Gauke Zijlstra, and Jaap and Meint Meindertsma.
I had been friends with Gauke for a long time, because of the music and because we were both at the ULO. Dirk was a brother of Gauke, and that’s why it came with it.
And Jaap and Meint had just come to live in Oenkerk at that time and also wanted to get in touch.
In my HBS-time and also in my study time, we stayed together on Sundays. On Sunday nights we usually first looked at Studio Sport, and afterwards we went for a walk in the summer on the Rinia of Nautaweg in Oenkerk. A lot of young people of our age walked there, they also came from other villages. That was called “de veiling“. Not that something was sold, but everyone was well looked at.
From about 1910 we come together again as a group of friends, now once a year, and as far as possible with supporters. But the group is getting smaller, Meint and Gauke are already deceased now that I write this (1916).
Mowing and haying
My father had a mower that had to be pulled by two horses. He always borrowed the horse from Siep Woudstra when he mowed. And if Siep had to mow, he borrowed my father’s horse.
I often had to go when my father started mowing, because the machine stalled regularly. There was too much grass for the knives. Then the mower had to be pulled back a bit, the horses also had to take a step back, and then I had to pull the pile of shredded grass in front of the blades.
The mower could not get into the corners of the pasture, and not very close to the side. My father therefore always went with the scythe “neimeane”. He might be working on it longer than with mowing the machine.
If the grass was meant for silage, it was first raked with the “swyl machine” on wiers (“wjurdzen” in frisian), and then we stuck it with the fork on the wagon. At home it was then thrown into the silo.
Later on, there was a very different sort of thing. The grass was not immediately collected, it was first to dry for a while. Then the wage business was turned on by my father. They picked up the dried grass with a ladewagon, and it was thrown into a heap in a long strip. While the ladewagon was about to have a new stock, a tractor was driving back and forth on the heap, so that it was well pressed together.
If the hope was big enough and all the grass was collected, the hope was covered with black silage. And there were a lot of old car tires thrown up to make sure that there was some weight and the plastic did not chatter.
The silo was later no longer used for silage. That is why my father came up with the idea to make a roof on it so that it could serve as shelter for the calves.
I then made that roof. It became a pointed roof with 16 corners.
I started with four bars against each other, there were another 4 between. And then another bar in all eight openings. Finally, I covered everything with shelves. There silage is over it. Wiebe de Vries later laid an asphalt layer on it.
If the grass was not used for silage, hay had to be made. Then the weather had to be good, the sun had to be there. My father then went through the shaker a couple of times, so that it got off the ground and the sun could get a good grip on it.
Afterwards it was raked on wiers with the “swyl machine”, also called acrobat.
When it was dry enough, it was earlier, in the beginning that my father was a farmer, loaded onto a wagon and taken home.
Later it was actually always wrapped in hay bales by the bale-machine. Then the wage company was called that the bale-machine could come to pack the hay in bales.
It was often exciting whether it all went well, sometimes there was rain coming and then it was questionable whether the bale-machine arrived on time. When the weather was good, many farmers often wanted to have their hay wrapped in bales, and it was often said that the big farmers were helped first.
If my father did not trust it again, the hay had to be put in “oppers“, in heaps so that the rain could not penetrate so well. And then the next day, or one of the following days, it had to be spread over the land so that the sun could do its job.
My father was always very careful, he was terrified of hay growth. He always made sure that it was only beaten in bales if it was well dry. But that meant a lot of extra work, because if it was not a regular weather then it sometimes had to be put in “oppers” several times and be thrown apart again.
There were quite a few farmers who were much more hurried, and sometimes took the hay too early. When the hay got too hot, someone from the fire insurance came “te roedzjen“. A long rod with a thermometer was then placed in the hay to see what the temperature was. And if it was too hot, the hay sometimes had to be removed. Then it could no longer serve as feed for the cows, because then it was black. Sometimes the fire caught when it was brought out, because then oxygen was added.
It was often the same farmers who had hay growth. And that always went like a blazing fire through the village. And if the farmer was too late it really became a blazing fire, then the farm could go up in flames, that happened several times.
Below a few pictures of the haymaking.
On the left is the hay on weeds, next on it is the hay on “oppers”, then you see the bale-machine in action and on the right charge haybales.
If the hay was out of the country we were not ready yet.
If the bale-machine had been, there would still be a tuft of hay here and there. My father was very precise, he thought that could not be left. Then I often had to “neiswylje“.
With a rake I then had to cross the entire country to rake all the remaining hay. Then I was busy for half a day, and I might have gathered one for that. I did not like that, especially if it had to be done on Saturday and I had to give up the korfball.
And when it was completely clean my father started spreading fertilizer. In the beginning of his peasantry he put a bicycle tire around his neck and there he hung a bucket of fertilizer, and then he spread the fertilizer by hand across the land. Later we got a fertilizer spreader, which was pulled by the horse, and then it went a lot easier and faster.
Above I have already mentioned a number of renovations, which my parents have done. But more has happened.
One of the first things was the haystack.
When my parents came to live in my birthplace, there was a very simple haystack behind the farm. It consisted of four poles, and a hood. A hole was drilled in the poles about every half meter, through which a metal bar could be inserted. The hood rested on those rods.
When the hood had to be lifted, my father placed a ladder under a corner of the hood, and then he lifted the ladder so that the hood went up. There always had to be someone else to help him and there had to be a second ladder. That ladder was put against the post, and then the rod had to be moved out of the hole through which it first moved to a higher hole. If that had happened, my father could lower the hood at that angle until he rested on the rod. So they had to do that on all four corners.
That was all rather cumbersome. That is why a new haystack has come. The new haystack also consisted of four poles and a hood. The poles were old electricity poles, which had been abolished by the municipality. A winch was attached to each pile, so that the cap could be lifted up by turning the winch. And the old hood was used to make a wagon house.
That wagon house was boarded on the sides and behind, but it was open at the front, there was no door in it. Only on New Year’s Day did we close it after everything was brought in. We then spent a few days collecting all the fences that formed the access to the meadows. And further from everything that stood loose in the yard or on the land. All tools, wheelbarrows, carts etc. had to go inside.
Because in the night of New Year’s Eve on New Year’s Day there was “gesleept (dragged)”.
All young people then went out at night to see if something was loose, they were being towed somewhere else. It happened in Oenkerk that on New Year’s Day a complete farmer’s car stood on top of the roof of the school. That car was disassembled on the ground, all the pieces had been dragged onto the roof, and the car was put back together again.
Even in the early morning on New Year’s Day you still had to watch out. If my father was milking early in the morning, and then the milk cans were outside. On a certain New Year’s morning my father, when he was going to empty a bucket of milk in a bus, saw that a boy was planning to take the milk cans. My father grabbed a fork and threatened to stab him, and then he drew off.
When I was about 15 years old, a major renovation took place again. We did not have a toilet at that time, no running water and no kitchen.
But now the plan was to build a part behind the house, and to make a kitchen, a toilet and shower and a laundry room (“pantry”).
But the problem was finances, it should not cost much.
My father then bought a batch of old bricks from a demolition house. The next winter my father spent a few hours every night for a few hours: the old cement had to be carved with an ax of the stones.
And we could start construction next summer. First we went digging out the foundations, by hand, until we were on the solid sand. That was not very deep, but still a lot of stones would disappear into the ground if we started to brick directly from the solid layer. That was too expensive.
That is why we dug a large hole behind the silo, and we extracted yellow sand. That was done in the trenches for the foundations, and water was sprayed on them for days so that it became very solid.
And then the first stones were built.
Johannes Jeltema, who lived nearby and often did this kind of chores, was chartered and he went to work in the evening and on Saturday. He was helped by Nammen, who then had courtship with Seppie and was a carpenter. The brother of Nammen, Klaas, was a bricklayer and that also came in handy. Nammen was later married to Seppie.
When the walls were finished, the roof was on, and the windows were placed, a passage had to be made to the room. Because there would be a door with a door from the room to the kitchen. There had to be a hole in the wall, but that was not easy because it was a brick wall without a cavity. My brother Jan and I had been chewing a whole day with sledgehammer and chisel until the hole in the wall was big enough, because the wall was not cut with a flex at that time.
So we got a kitchen, toilet and shower!
Finally we could turn the tap open in the kitchen and water came out! But even then we still used a lot of water from the cistern, which was next to the house. Tea from tap water was not drinkable according to my parents, that water had to come out of the cistern.
I do not believe that my father has ever been in the shower with us.
After I got married, the shower room was mainly used as a storage room.
The barn was tackled the following year. The roof was very bad, the tie was quite rotten, and the back wall was collapsing.
My father then bought a number of large thick beams from the reformed presbytery. That presbytery was then demolished and a new one came in its place. We drove to the horse and carriage, and so we picked up the bars. They were then used for the bint work.
The entire roof has been finished, and a completely new roof has emerged. But the old roof tiles have been used again. The back wall was again repainted. This was again done by Johannes Jeltema, Nammen and Klaas. And we helped as much as possible.
Before the roof tiles came on again, the space between the beams under the battens had to be filled with reeds. I did that for the most part. I spent a few weeks in the summer holidays. The whole day I sat on the roof, and then always stopping reeds under the slats. Such a roof had many farms at that time. The reed under the pans was insulating and permeable; that was necessary in the winter in connection with the “cow dung”.
When it was finished I was pretty adept at the “reitstopjen”. Meint Jilderda soon after built a new loft for his cattle, and he asked me if I wanted to help to “re-stand” his loft. I did that then.
Meint Jilderda was a milkman, he did it with a tractor and cart. And between the milk rides he did have some time left. Then he often helped my father, especially in the hay time. And with the tractor a lot of things went much easier.
After the barn the “loft” was next. That was the room where the calves and the hutches were in the winter. That was also due for a thorough refurbishment.
This time, my father bought a batch of paving stones, which were used to re-decorate the walls.
At that time not much could be cemented at the same time, because paving stones are actually too hard and the mortar therefore does not adhere very well. But it all went well.
A new floor of concrete was laid, and an electricity cable was laid, so that there was light at night.
Before that time my father always used a so-called storm lamp, if he had to go there in the evening.