“... we found eggs all over the yard, this farmer's had no coop for his chickens, but what to do with with raw eggs, right, so Bill took a dozen to the farmer's wife with a cock and bull story – 'my wife wanted to be nice to the crew you see, and put this heap off eggs in my lunchbox, but she forgot to cook them, ha ha.' The farmer's wife was all willing to cook them for him.
So our Billy here, grinning from ear to ear, got us all a boiled egg for lunch, ha ha.”
Everybody in the bus taking us back home from work had a great laugh about Bill fooling the farmer's wife in cooking her own eggs for the crew. Bill also humbly asked for some salt since that was forgotten by 'the wife' as well. She handed him a large salt and pepper shaker that went from hand to hand, to use. More ha ha in the bus.
Worker's solidarity was strong even-though they were members of three different labor organizations, when working together, as we were, political differences disappeared, as labor-solidarity overturned vision-attachment. It wasn't work or lack of brotherhood making us want to go to greener pastures, it was restlessness and adventure, I think.
It was the last day of 1952.
Nothing much to do after the evening sermon of Dominee Bokhove.
Ah, Ds. Bokhove, the reverent of gereformeerde church of Ens in the northeastern polder.
One of the last jobs John and I did for the church was to clean the basement of a house in the middle-rich street of Ens, which the church-board had rented for the reverent to live in.
We found several liquor bottles, not quite empty, which we 'cleaned' first, making our job a lot more interesting. That was half a year ago, in the summer, and now it was winter. There was no snow but still it was December the thirty-first, and not warm.
Across the street from where our family lived a church for the herformed congregation was being build, and John and I were taken from our cushy job to help finish the roof, which was scheduled to be completed before Christmas and they were running late.
A plain tower-like structure on top of the roof held already a bronze church bell, complete with a clapper.
We had looked at it a few times already and soon a plan developed.
“Wouldn't it be nice to ring that bell as a farewell to the old (1952) year, ring the new year in, and as a farewell to to the old country?
At new years eve?
It will wake up the whole town.
Wouldn't that be fun?
But it would wake up Ooms as well.
What if he can't get to us?
All we have to do is to pull up the ladders so no one can get at us.
A little before midnight we climbed two long ladders pulling the lower one up and landed in the cramped space of the small open tower where we waited until midnight.
When the appointed hour arrived we pushed the clapper hard against the bell. It made more racket than we thought it would make. We counted - that was one - eleven to go, and eleven more times we heaved the clapper against the bell to end the old year, and were about blown off the tower by the ear-shattering noise, while we saw the first lights of the village being turned on. After the twelve bells we had to really work in order to ring the bell, by hand.
Together we pushed the bell to one side as high as we could get it, then let it come down against the clapper and from thereon it was not hard to keep the rhythm going - boom! – boomm!!... boom! – boomm!!...
the thundering noise was about to burst our eardrums.
Lights in the town appeared now all over, while the thundering clamor roared over the village and many miles beyond, where it finally lost itself into the darkness of the night and died in the winter oats and Brussels sprouts.
Visible in the street-lights a man appeared, his right elbow out and upward holding his tobacco-pipe, a cloud of smoke failing to keep up with him. He used long strides, approaching fast. His unusual speed and strides told us that he was angry man. He was as mad as a bull.
I think we were a little scared by now, but he was unable to reach us, still anxious we waited as he stumbled around in the dark church. It seemed he wanted to out-wait us but gave up after a good while and went home, sucking hard on the pipe judging by the amount of smoke following him.
The 'event' made headlines in the local papers, noting that a person or persons had with danger to their lives rung in the new year from within the tower of the herformed church of Ens, the first time the sound of the new church-bell was heard over the polder. No damage was reported, neither was/were the person or persons responsible detected or apprehended.
That excitement was not the greatest news of the new year as on February 26, 1953 a terrible storm ravished the Netherlands. More than 10% of our country was flooded by the North-sea which took the lives of over 2000 people, mostly in the province of Zeeland.
It was a disaster of immense proportions for the entire country but especially for the farmers whose lands were destroyed for several years by the salty seawater.
The dutch government provided help resettling many of them to the smaller farms around Ens and Marknesse in the north east polder, thereby bumping polder pioneers like my father-in-law, whose hope to obtain a farm went up in smoke since the land rented to the unfortunate Zeelanders was the last land the dutch government possessed to rent out – it was the last available arable land in the entire country.
Next - with Waterman to Canada
buying a car / driving license
building a motor home
buying real estate / building a house
john spots his future wife in church
sid joins the brothers