Pake Leffert was a tall man. Eighty years ago only aspirant policeman and postman were measured for length, and since pake was neither none ever bothered but I would think he must've been a few fingers over six feet in length. There is a picture of pake and beppe posing side by side, where to equalize their height-difference they had placed beppe on concrete blocks.
Both were conservative dressed in black, from shoes to their head-covering, including the fancy feather on beppe's hat, but during the summer Pake wore a straw hat which is never colored, and was changed to a s skipper's cap during the rest of the year.
Beppe was a great cook and because they had three adult sons with jobs living at home and paying board and room, beppe was able to buy meat for the warm mid-day meal and her meat 'n gravy was the ultimate in taste, followed by her delicious soup and pudding, but that was only on Sundays.
Pake was considered an upright man and respected as such by people of all three stripes of the area - you had the Calvinists, the not-Calvinist and the Catholics, all living together in harmony as long as you did not crowed them, but in spite of being upright pake had never been in the church board, the reason for that is obscure, and my own father led me on the wrong path with his version of what happened that made pake ineligible for that honorable position involving beppe, showing again that even in the olden days women were singular held guilty, as it has been since the written beginning.
Pake was, however, chairman of a two-classroom christian school, which was the reason that master Klaas, who taught the highest three classes, often came for a cup of tea at my grandparents place in the late afternoon to share some of his wisdom and knowledge. This time he told pake that most of the Netherlands was made up of very small particles of rock that originated from the mountains of Germany and France thousand of years ago and through big rivers like the Rhine was carried toward the sea as a clay-like sludge, silting up into what is now the Netherlands. He even suggested that this was the reason those countries were always occupying our Fatherland, because they wanted their fertile clay back.
Pake's forehead wrinkled, he listened carefully to what master Klaas came up with this time, feeling that he as chairman of the school board had to watch carefully what master Klaas was teaching the children, he had not missed that master Klaas had mentioned thousands of years, and there could only be six of them according to the holy word, whatever happened before that was holy ground since that was the time when god was creating all there was to be created.
“God created the Netherlands though,” pake finally warned master Klaas.
“Of course, chairman,” said master Klaas, who often called pake by his title rather than his family name. “We all know that God created the Netherlands, but before he worked on our country he created the high mountains of Germany and France. Mountain so high we have never seen.” Pake did not liked to be called chairman other than when he was chairing a meeting, which presently he was not, and master Klaas who apparently had lots more to teach went on.
“God created all of Europe all at once but he forgot Gaasterland...” which made pake jump off the chair.
“Master Klaas, do you tell me that we were forgotten, who made Gaasterland then?” he fumed.
Beppe asked if the men wanted some more tea.
“No, we have had enough tea,” said pake. I think he had more than enough of master Klaas as well.
“I like sure like another one,” said master Klaas sweetly.
At this time pake would have rather kicked the teacher outside but it was tough to get another teacher in a small school like theirs and the master was a learned man, accredited from a christian college and hence considered a reliable christian, though not nearly as reliable as a preacher who had studied Greek and Latin, therefore pake made up his mind to see the preacher about this, my goodness, if this was the green wood what must be the dead? However, master Klaas was not finished yet.
“You see, chairman, about ten-thousand years ago when half of the Netherlands was under ice... “ that was definitely enough for pake. His fist hit the table so hard, the teacups danced in the saucers and beppe cried
“You scare me doing that, Leffert, my ears ring. What must master Klaas think of you. O my, I feel...”
When It seemed as if beppe was going to faint, pake jumped up, took his half full cup of cold tea to her lips.
“Here, drink this.” But when master Klaas jumped up as well and said that beppe should be given water instead of tea, pake turned at him looking as if he would kill him.
His voice shook when he waved at the door, thereby spilling the tea, on beppe's skirt, than hollered
“You - out of my house, and never come here again with your words of satan. See what you did to my wife.”
I had never seen pake that angry, and at that point was really scared of him, because I thought that he might strike me as well, even-though I had not said a word and when master Klaas took a hasty retreat, I sneaked passed him and ran to the only safe place I could think of – the outhouse, where I had done my thinking before. I sat there until I head pake who came to relieve himself. He tore the outhouse door open to see me sitting on the outhouse with my pants on, and so discovered my secret hiding place.
Master Klaas was going to be proven right years later in most of his fantastic tales but pake stuck to the bible and its interpretation by the church. Where most of the The Netherlands is clay or peat, Gaasterland is comprised of sand and boulders which is believed were carried in from Scandinavia several thousand years ago during the last ice-time by the glaciers that covered the northern half of what is now the Netherlands and when the ice melted it left masses of sand and gravel and large boulders behind at several areas, including Gaasterland, which consisted of the same material of which the mountains of Scandinavia were created off, and left behind in Gaasterland as one of the areas were this happened.
I hope that you survived this narrative as things have been a little hectic in the story-factory. I intended to write a story about my mother who was born only a few steps away from that monument, in a kind of fairy-tale style but failed utterly. Instead I wound up with a cantankerous old man, which he really was not at all, and a show-off teacher, who actually was.
I also want to pause with the monument a little longer, why were those locals so stubborn as to rather die than serve others, who were those people anyways. Do you know what mooning is and I do not mean cows talking? It has something to do with that monument as well.
Maybe I should give that fairy tale another go. Next week , or maybe sooner I hope to introduce you to a nice woman from Hungary, who teaches us to wash large and small windows with both hands.