Today we had potatoes, as part of our lunch. Small potatoes. Some not bigger than a marble.
Potato harvesting during the hungry thirties (de crisis jaren) The men in the picture are not known to me.. The potatoes might be borgers of eerstelingen. (Check with brother Frank.)
When I was a little tyke and mother wanted me out of the way for an afternoon, my father took me sometimes along to the field where he worked, in contract, harvesting potatoes. By hand. Mother had then at least one less to look after. I was four years old then, my sister Aukje was three, brother Frank* (Fokke) one, and - mother was pregnant with baby Jan (John). We didn't know at that time if he was a he or a she of course. Had he been a she, her name would likely have been Durkje, after mother's mother, and brother Durk's name might've been Jan. This not necessarily pure speculation, because name giving went by rules and was taken very serious. My mother was 26 at that time, had thus three children and one on the way, therefore had still lots to look after, even when I was out of the way for a few hours. She also had to tend the little grocery store they owned, however the store likely did not take up too much of her time since they shortly after went broke and sold out to Foeke Bijma, who operated the business for several years.
What I wanted to tell you though, was about the potato harvesting I witnessed my father doing. He worked on his knees, since potatoes do not, like apples grow on trees, but more like peanuts are found in the ground. The potatoes not only had to be scratched out from under the heavy clay, but had to be sorted according to size in three different baskets - one for the large potatoes, called consumption or eating potatoes - one for the medium sized, the seed potatoes, - and one for what they called the kriel, the offal, or waste potatoes. Kriel were a nuisance to the farmer because, if left behind, they, like a seed potato would sprout and become a new plant – only an inferior one.
It was also a pain in the but for my father, since the farmer would inspect the field for kriel and if he found too many, might deduct some off father's wages. Kriel potatoes were only good for one thing – feed for the pigs.
So today we had kriel potatoes as part of our lunch. My father, were he still alive would have shaken his head in unbelief. 'Well, well, my son is eating kriel, and he thought he had immigrated to a country overflowing with milk and honey. We had it bad during the hungry thirties but we never had to resort to swine feed.'