My life was not that hot after I moved with my family to the North-East-Polder from Limburg, and the romantic bike ride taking a girl home, not turning out that romantic in the end, did not help things either. However, we were living now in a brand new house in the most southern town in the polder on highway A4 called Ens.
How did our family get into a brand new house in the polder? The information about that is from my father. In previous stories I have mentioned that as far back as 1940, when the new polder was pumped dry, the men to do the real work, digging ditches and canals, right from the beginning were called pioneers and were promised the first to be considered for obtaining a farm in the polder as a reward for their effort and loyalty. My father and uncle Jan were pioneers. How did that work out? It didn’t. Very few if any of these pioneers received a farm.
During the war one could (and did) blame Hitler, or ‘the Germans.’ But what aboutafter the war when the ‘party of the workers,’ the Dutch Labor Party, formed the government of the Netherlands again? My father, uncle Jan, and also my father in law, never became the promised owners of a (rented from the government) farm. It mattered very little what stripe of government was in power.
Starting with uncle Jan, he told my father once ‘Hendrik, if you still believe that the socialist (the Labor party) will help you getting a farm, you are dumber than a goose. And the Christian parties won’t rent you one either.’ His wrath turned against the last ones, because ‘they should know better.’ He contacted an emigration society, and applied to move to Canada, which got him in trouble with the church because he had chosen the neutral over the christian immigration society. Since he didn’t have money for the passage he applied to, and received from, the government a subsidy. Had he wanted to talk about that, which he never did, he might’ve said ‘At least I got something out of them.’ He landed up in Saskatchewan and became a happy dairy farmer.
My father meanwhile landed a nice job of inspecting water levels in a sizeable area of the polder. How he obtained that position I don’t know, but a former foreman of him was jealous and wanted the job for himself. His work territory was located at kavels (plots) A and B. But to go from A to B he had to make detour past a sluice at Lemmer because the two plots were separated by a canal, which was time consuming. There was a possible solution, if only he had a boat he could just cross that canal. But he had no boat.
It was a warm day and a novel plan brewed in his mind. What if he would wade through the canal, that would save him a lot of time, and he did not have to pass the office of his former foreman which was located in the sluice building, either.
Father kicked off his rubbers and clothes and and waded, for as far as I know he was not able to swim, across. The foreman, who obviously had missed him passing by, reported to his higher-ups that he had proof that Smid was not doing his work properly. Father received a severe dressing down, which he didn’t take lightly. He was so angry, he told me, he wrote a very nasty letter to the highest authority. He also told me that he ‘forgot’ about the letter for two days, after which he rewrote it. He left the letter overnight once more to check it for spelling mistakes and only then send it away.
Father had made three demands in his letter to compensate him for the undeserved defamation of his good name as an honourable pioneer of the polder. His demands were:
1 – an increase in wages
2 – a permanent appointment including a proper title
3 – a new house in the new polder, preferably a corner house(!)
He did get a salary increase.
He did get a proper title and his job was made secure by making it a permanent position.
He did get his new corner house at Kerkplein 28 in Ens, NOP.
They apparently had some trouble with finding a suitable title for him which up to now was onder-opzichter, under-overseer, which is an oxymoron. The title opzichter was given to men higher up in the polder anarchy. What title he got I am not sure.
That is how the Hendrik Smid family got a new house in the polder.