The members of the Hijumer christian music corps really put their minds to it by first rehearsing a thanksgiving psalm after all the blessings received.
'Thank thank now all our god' must be played slow and exalted. The slow rhythm afforded the musicians more time to find the next valve on their instruments by moving their fingers from valve to the other, which for the beginners was a godsend.
But, let's go back to the rehearsing night after they received that bombshell letter from the chairman of the public school society, asking the christian music society of all things to play for the public school. Who in the world did dream up a crazy thing like that.
It even confused my father, the chairman, this was not like buying a bread from the wrong baker, or standing next to one of 'the other side' digging a ditch, they were asking, this was with eyes open working with the adversary. What they asked cried against his principle.
“We have to stand on our principle,” he began carefully, which was at least a safe start.
Let me call the chairman of the christian fanfare society, Hendrik Smid, from here on, 'my father,' who in fact he was.
My father had received a large tuba but ran into trouble with my mother who could not stand the noise of that 'big thing' as she called it, and told him to go to the potato field in the next town if he really must make that irritating hoompa hoompa noise.
Rather than be banned from home father handed with the tuba to a young farmer's son with strong lungs who practiced the solemn praise-song out in the barn, scaring the bewildered cows, whom drastically lowered the milk production.
My father, now without tuba, was voted chairman on the strength of his ability to offer a decent prayer, which he performed admirably before and after the weekly practices.
Baker Wiersma had given him work delivering Santa-clause goods in and around the village and had promised him more work in the future, so father felt beholden to the baker and since work was scarce and father's grocery business did not create enough profit to feed his family, he felt himself in a bind, worrying what he might do if a decision had to be made between work, meaning food on one hand, and principle on the other.
Hulbe was a strong but not the most smart member of the society, but as sometimes happens made up by vocalizing his opinions the loudest.
“I side with the Chair, and I for one am principally against the publicans,” he triumphantly looked around that he was able to use those intelligent words, and some, not counting the misusing of his words even agreed. which encouraged Hulbe to get louder and wilder, nearly screaming
“We might as well burn our christian school, and, and, and boot our kids to the publican's school,” he stuttered.
That was far enough for Bouke, who had been the one driving the 'bakfiets' to the city to carry the music instruments triumphantly back to Hijum.
“You have big talk now Hulbe, but don't forget that without the help of the Herformed you'd be blowing only in your snot-kerchief instead of the beautiful saxophone we bought you.” People as a rule listened to Bouke and he was not quite through.
“We asked Wiersma's people for support and they came through more generous than we dared to dream. Now they ask something from us, no money, no joining them, not asking for our dear children, who walk every day to school in another town instead of our own, and we all know that their school may have to close down for lack of children.”
Bouke stopped momentarily to fill his tobacco pipe.
They gave him time for that, knowing that he had more to say. He took his time to say what he still had to say after he had lit his pipe.
“Hulbe was right when he touched on our children having to walk all the way to Hallum to the christian school, but didn't we promise by their baptism to teach them the way of the Lord. We not only have our commitment to God to teach them but also to have them taught to, that is point one, but next to that we also have an obligation to show out gratitude to them who did good to us.
I want you all to think that over as well.” Bouke sucked deeply on the pipe and waved to the chairman that he was finished.
The chairman suggested to think it over for a week and for the young men to discus it with their parents and after that they would decide what to do.
“I know a thing like this has never come before a christian like ours,” he said, “so for once we are number one in the country, but now let's see if we can muster this psalm.”
A week later happened a second wonder in our little town – but this time it came from the gereformeerd side – not one of the members objected to participate with the Herformed and un-churched in their public school festivity by given it their best of their musical talents during the parade.
This was indeed something which had not happened in a hundred years that members of the two churches had worked together in this way.
“We have to study another piece beside our psalm, something peppy.” said the chairman and they settled on the beautiful march Alte Kameraden. The chairman liked that choice because he said 'at one time we were friends,' even though that was more than a hundred years ago before the Gereformeerden separated from the Hervormde church in 1834. What he didn't know was that this song a decade later was one of the most popular songs of the Nazi's, and frequently sung by Hitler's soldiers.
The chairman was real happy with the out come as there was now no problem with his job prospect with baker Wiersma, and besides, there blew a fresh wind of goodwill through the town. There was ample time to study new march in, and if they started with the psalm and do the march twice that would be more than enough playing time for the parade to move from the Loane road starting point to the finish at the bridge over the Hijumer canal, where the merry-go-round would take over.
Was this the end of the two pillar way of life in Hijum? Would after hundred years of strife and bitterness between brothers and sisters, be peace in the fresh flat land of sugar-beets, flax, and potatoes? Hulbe did not think so.
“Bouke is a mooi-prater, he talks like a chicken with its head chopped off,” he said, “we will not be working together in a hundred years. You watch my words.”