An invisible yet sharp tear ripped our village in two half.
The rupture sneaked like a snake between the homes and split some double residences clear in half. The breach was so deep and so wide, there was not a pole-jumping stick long enough, or a man powerful enough, to to jump over it.
It was the difference in thought and religion.
When I started writing short stories in earnest, I was encouraged by a young good looking, intelligent, adventurous, witty, warm, and many things more, woman, first a university student, then professor, and finally doctor. I had written a story which I was quite proud to show her, expecting to get praised. Glancing it over quickly, she killed the little self worth I had, in the process smashing my hopes of praise when she said
'This is crap,' twisting the knife even farther by saying 'you do not understand our language' and as a farewell blessing 'why don't you write in your own language.'
For months my head was filled with 'your own, your own' wondering what my own language actually was. I was born Fryslân, dwelling about seventeen years in that wonderful part of the world, with their own, revered Frisian language but lived then more than sixty years in English Canada.
So, I started writing.
in the Frisian language, I liked stories about my youth and once I started, the stories just rolled on and on, as if on their own.
However, nobody in Abbotsford BC was able to read Frisian except a retired preacher from Oldeboorn.
Then like an angel out of a clear sky, a cousin, born in Earnewald, dropped in out of the sky, which I handed a some of what I thought was my best writing to show his father Bernardus to read, but he went straight to it Friesch Dagblad, a Frisian daily newspaper and had the stories published, altogether about twenty of them.
The one above is one of those stories translated into English.
Thank you Dr. P. Atricia and nephew J'an Smid.
There were differences in status in many things in my birthplace ninety years ago – a farmer was in status higher than the laborer working for him, there was, and still is a difference between a man and his wife, between old and young, teach-er and teach-ed, ones with responsibilities and authority, the other with commitments and benefits, but all are, or should be, working together, for without it they do not function well.
The partition without a bridge in our village was between people belonging to the Herformed church and the people of the Gereformeerd church. Both churches confessed the same faith in god, the same doctrines, baptism practices, they even held Sunday church services at the same time, invited by the urgent bing-bang-ing of the five-hundred year old church-bell which pealed from the tower of the centuries old Herformed church, which was countered by the Gereformeerd church claiming to have the purest interpretations of their doctrines but - had no church bells.
The opposing groups on either side of the invisible divide did not want anything to do with with the believers of the other side, and therefore patronized not only 'their own churches', they also purchased their bread from a brother-in-the-lord baker, so that two bakers had a meager existence feeding the 420 village souls, where one would've been quite sufficient.
The same applied to the butcher, shoemaker, milkman, grocery store, farm-hands and maids, their like-oriented newspapers, their own political parties and unions, and send their children to their 'own schools,' the Gereformeerd children slouched to the school with the bible in the next town, while the Herformed children attended the public school in the village.
The Herformed were an offspring from the Roman catholic church, the name Herformed meaning reformed, but the Gereformeerd, being an offshoot off the Herformed or reformed, were via the reformed also reformed from the Roman catholic church and thus double reformed and logically called themselves Gereformeerd, or re-reformed.
The two groups were later called zuilen or pillars. There were thus two pillars in Hijum, Herformed and Gereformeerd. Had there lived Catholics in our village, there would have been three, as the Catholics formed the third pillar, and so it was in all of the Netherlands.
All three pillars were not out to destroy each other but avoided each other as the plague and worked and patronized only the members of their own stripe.
That is why all thirty eight Gereformeerd kids walked, ran, or slouched the three km to the next town's christian school, since Hijum was a one only school town, which happened to be the public school, teaching only Herformed and un-churched children.
The gereformeerd children were not disallowed from the public school, they were in fact wanted, even sorely needed because the public school teetered on the brink of being closed of lack of students, but in spite of that their parents favored the christian in the next town out of principle.
The other side feasted their 'school and folk fest' apart from our side, but our side responded by naming our feast after the queen, 'queen Wilhelmina school and folk fest.'
Hijum had thus two school and folk feasts where each half of our cracked up village, both featured a parade of two hay wagons, filled with yelling and waving children.
But only 'the others' operated also a marry-go-round.
The marry-go-round was very big issue with the Gereformeerd church board, making it a main stumbling block between the two sides, and when one of our young people strayed and found guilty of taking a ride on the offensive machine he could well be put on the first step of censure.
Both sides were allowed to fly the national tricolor from the tower of the Herformed church though since that building belonged to the state, the Gereformeerd was also able to flag from the competition church also flew a flag from their own church tower, of which the Herformed were of course not allowed access to.
It was really sad that it was this way but we didn't know any better, this was the way it had always been and likely would stay forever. However...
more to come, much more – good night Esther, and Megan and Jan, and Dr. M.