I badly wanted to leave the flat polder land of Holland and immigrate to South Africa, New Guinea, or Australia, but was accepted by Canada, and my departure date was set for August 1953. Hurrah, hurrah, but this was still in 1952, Christmas had passed, but New Year was at hand.
I lived with my parents in one of the new houses that were built in the polder, right across from the first church in the village under construction, my brother and I had worked as carpenters on the steep roof. A tower-like structure was far enough advanced that a church bell was installed inside of it, but not in a working condition yet.
My hands itched to ring that bell and what a better time than to do just that at New year's eve at midnight, to ring in the new year of 1953, which would be the last new year we would be in the old country, especially since the only excitement that would happen that evening was a sermon at a nearby barn where a church service was held.
New years eve arrived, boring, boring.
After the Church service I asked my brother if he wanted to have some fun after dark and told him of my plan to shake up the town a bit by tolling the church bell. He was game.
We waited till half past eleven, sneaked into church and walked the ladder to the platform after we were at the platform we pulled up the ladder onto the platform from where shoved it through an opening of the second platform in the tower and climbed into it.
There was very little room on that platform and no railing around it and it was also dark, but we were where we wanted to be, and not a bit too soon because two other men arrived having the same idea, I think, but since they found no ladder they took off again.
We waited till midnight then swung the bell-clapper against the church-bell, but were not prepared for the loud noise it made, the sound droned into our ears and was much louder than we had expected but we had started and there was no going back, so we counted out twelve loud bangs to number the last seconds of the old year. Here and there the first house lights were turned on.
Then the real fun began, we now pushed the bell, making it swing back and forth and really got the clang-banging going. The noise was overwhelming but now the bell had found her rhythm and swung almost by itself. We ignored the noise and enjoying the burst-the-ear farewell to the old, saluting a welcome to the new.
More and more homes switched on the lights now, we saw people come outside to hear for the first time the church-bells they would hear for years to come, from a bell which had been resurrected from the church of the small island which had almost been swallowed by the sea but with the creation of the new polder had become part of it and proudly had reappeared only a few km's from where the bell tolled now.
The villagers, most just out of bed, hearing the the joyful church-bell tolling again wished each other a happy new year, and wished themselves lucky to hear the old bell happily pealing again for the first time after more than two-hundred years laying idle in a museum. Now it was happily sounding far and wide over fertile fields all around the place where once the island was surrounded by a hungry sea, wanting to destroy.
And then we saw our boss, the church builder, walking slowly toward the church, steadying a tobacco pipe in his mouth with his right hand, the elbow straight up, a sure sign that he was angry, more than angry, he was mad as a dog.
We heard him stumbling around in the church, knowing that we were up there but could not reach us without the long ladder. We quit tolling, the villagers went to bed again and our boss, after he lighted a fresh pipe of tobacco went home as well.
We did as the Jews used to do, wishing each other - ‘next year in Jerusalem,’ except we wished each other to be in Canada.
the church-bell still is calling the village people to church, every Sunday, as it has done from the time we left Ens and our homeland, sixty-five years ago, but it hangs in another church, also in Ens, as the above church is now a residence and is currently for sale
The new polder named is the North-Eastern polder, the first polder in the province of Flevoland, the little island is called Schokland and is an United Nation's Heritage site the church was build in Ens, right across from our parent's house. It had a blind backwall which Durk and Anne, our younger brothers used to kick a soccer ball against - every free minute of the day, it is where our parents are buried and where I found my wife Anne, just before we left for our new country.