Three pioneers of the polder, with three different stories - my father got what he wanted including to rent a new house in the polder, where he lived for more than a quarter century. Uncle Jan worked for several farmers in Fryslân, went broke as a grocery man, worked in North Holland and Limburg, later in the North East polder, mostly away from his family, he packed up his family and left it cruel paradise were he was born for a country were it was said that the roasted geese could be picked from the trees, the prairies of Canada, where he was king of his own property as farmer.
My father in law's story was different, he was a born Groninger where men are not talkers but doers - he also would not muck up a sentence by adding an extra word and even would bite off the ends off most words. Besides that, he was a fine horseman, a great marksman, a good produce grower and he loved dogs. He could not stand Nazis, and perhaps on account of that, definitely did not want to be bossed around. His word was as good as gold or even better. He had three very pretty daughters and a nice wife. And three sons.
All his siblings and parents lived in or around the town where he was born occasional came together in the cafe to talk and have a beer, but as they were doers in the first place, the drinking was the doing part and the talking a mere nodding, or, if more reaction was really an must, a nod and a a sigh. It is likely that my father in law at this place on a Saturday evening heard a stranger, say a city-man, talk about the new polder where a market gardener could make more money, even become his own boss if he was able to rent a farm from the government.
Of course there were some conditions to that, but doesn't the government always come with conditions? Agreeing nods all around. And, there were of course medical examinations, police reports, more nodding, of course, they wouldn't rent a farm to a handicapped criminal, all very reasonable, and they need the prospective renter to have some money. That breaks the silence. Money? Where does the government need money for, they get enough income from our taxes. One of the men asks how much money they want from a prospective renter. The city-man has the answer – 5,000.00 guldens. The man asking the question made some some calculations on his beer underlay. 'Workman's weekly wages,' he murmured, - 40 guldens, times 52 weeks equals – 2,080 guldens a year.'
“So, they want you to pay them about 2 ½ years workers wages.” is the scribbler's conclusion.
The tongues come finally loose.”And no food and shelter for my family for years?”
“It's a stupid idea, because there is not a workman with 5000 guldens of his own.”
“It's not so stupid, they don't want slave workers on a brand new farm, this will prevent them.”
“The whole deal is made, like it always has, for rich farmer's sons, for the capitalists.”.
My father was quiet but thought a lot. He was not even a pioneer, but what if he sold his house would he realize that much money? The whole family had to move to the polder where he had to work for at least a year for a farmer. That was also a condition. The more he thought about the more he liked the idea of owning a farm. After all he was from farmer come-off, he called the waiter. “A roundje for all.”
He took a day off to bike to the polder and contacted a Groninger farmer who had moved a few years earlier from a neighboring town and came home with an work agreement for a year, subject to the sale of his house, in his pocket. The house sold fast and after fees and costs and mortgage, left them with more than 6000 guldens!
They soon after moved to a new house in Ens near an little island, swallowed up by the new polder, called Schokland.
More to follow