March 29th, 2011 browsing by day


Tuesday March 29 Leiden Oegstgeest

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

By now I have convinced everyone here that I brought the beautiful Spring weather with me. Holland at it’s best. The twenty minute bike ride to the railroad station from my cousin’s home goes through the countryside with 18th century mansions, along the Canal that Hans Brinkers must have skated on, with his Silver Skates, to Haarlem, and bulb fields.

I took the train to Leyden. The city has the oldest university in the Netherlands, inaugerated in 1575, at the end of the 80 year war with Spain. It was initially financed by the proceeds of the Catholic Church treasures confiscated by the Protestants under the first Dutch Governor Prince William of Orange.

Last year when I did my searching in the National Archives, for more leads on the circumstances of my mother’s roll in the 2nd WW resistance, I met Sylvia Braat. We exchanged the surprises we both had found that day in the Archives. We became friends. Sylvia also discovered in her town, Oegstgeest, records, details on my mothers cousins who had lived here a good part of their life. This in turn led me to more discoveries and contacts of my generation to fill in many of the gaps on the story I am writing of my mother’s life. Sylvia picked me up at the Leiden station and showed me the houses where my relatives had lived. I have a vague memory of visiting my mother’s cousin when I was a child.

Sylvia published her mother’s war time diary, written by her into a book form. Somewhat similar to my project. Titled: “Een Perzisch kleed voor een kistje aardappels”  (A Persian rug for a crate of potatoes), Published by De Vereniging Oud Oegstgeest. These things happened during the war. I still vividly remember watching farmer Dekens in Middenmeer, where my twin brother and I had taken refuge during the so called “hunger winter” of 1944/45, trading two measures of about a pint each of wheat, for a brand new leather horse saddle, bit and bridle. The cover is illustrated by a portrait of Sylvia’s mother painted by Eddy Wijnans in 1942. Now, talk about a small world. Eddy is the father of a long time friend, Arthur Wijnans, who was raised across the street from my aunt and whose parents were friends of Sylvia’s parents. I met Arthur for the very first time in 1973 at the Gig Harbor, Wa. airport. We had a long buisness relationship and have stayed friends and have sailed on each others boats through the years. I had dinner with Arthur and Marjan last Wednesday.

Sylvia gave me some good suggestions on completing and publishing my story.

Thursday I go to Utrecht and Culemborg.