July 8 The island of Urk. Another meeting with our roots.

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 8th, 2010

We spent about three hours in the Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen. Jeannine and Gabrielle enjoyed it very much. For me it brought back many happy memories of vacations in the country side in the early forties. This is an incredibly well done historic preservation. It was started soon after the Zuiderzee was diked in, in 1934, and changed from a saltwater sea to a large fresh water lake. This museum site has preserved the history of the early 20th century. Entire city streets have been moved from the old Zuiderzee sea towns, brick by brick, and reerected on this piece of land adjoining the waterfront of Enkhuizen. The freshwater was the death knell to the fishing industry and many of these towns depopulated and instead of bulldozing the empty houses they found a place in this museum.  There were blacksmith, sailmaker, netmending, boatbuilding, bakery, steam laundry, you name it, shops.

We ran into Arthur and Marianne Wijnants who moor their boat in Enkhuizen and were just on their way back to Soesterberg with their twin grandsons. It was another fast sail with a 20 plus knot breeze to Urk, right across the Ijselmeer. Jeannine and I were just checking out the town and heard singing from the Bethel Christian Reformed Church. It turned out that the weekly communal church singing summer program had just started. The Urkers are known for their love of choir singing. They have several large men’s choirs who perform in Urker traditional costume all over the world. My mother has written about her recollections as a young girl on the island of Urk when the fishermen sang at a special occasion of a royal visit to the island. My grandfather met his wife on the island of Urk and was married here in 1900. The Bethel church was where my great grandfather, van Anken, was the Christian Reformed minister at that time. The church was full and Gabrielle could hear us 10 blocks away on the boat in the harbor. I joined with all my force as I was taught by my environment in the forties/fifties. There was a men’s choir from Elspeet who sang some beautiful religious works and a couple American songs like Amazing Grace and The Rose.

Dirk Jan and his oldest son Daan are joining us here at 2 p.m. and we’ll sail back together to Monnickendam.

Holland is playing Spain this sunday evening in the WC soccer final…..

 

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