A frank Story, introduction.
That something was not quire right about my brother Frank came at the time at the age of 8 or so, the teacher noticed Frank’s beautiful handwriting. While the hand writing was in long up and down strokes, with swirly Ws and majestic Ms, the problem was not the beauty of it all, but more the time it would take him to perfect this skill. In fact, he would painstakingly take all day to do what should have taken him one hour. No matter how he was praised and how we all stood back in awe of his beautiful writing, the friendly urging to keep up with the rest of the class was ignored and he would take all the time in the world to perfect his writing. This wanting to be perfect in whatever he undertook is what plagued him for the rest of his life.
The eleventh of August 1939 would prove to be a most unfortunate date for Frank to be born. The rumblings of unrest in our part of the world were getting ominous and louder. Sometimes one could easily surmise that Frank’s problems started at his conception. Not only the wrong time for births in general, Rotterdam was also a bad place and the wrong place, especially around August the following year when I was born as well.
The first time I was aware of my elder brother Frank was during or just shortly after the war when we both went to Miss Saas’s at the local Montessori kindergarten. A lovely memory filled time when I became aware of soft ice-cream packed between two crunchy wavers and 10 cent pieces in a jar on Miss Saas’s desk, which was exactly the price of the ice cream. I remember fitting different sized bits of wood inside the appropriate designed holes in a block of wood. I remember not only walking with my elder brother Frank home but also with the other brother, the one after me, called John. The walk home was of course at the end of the kindergarten day. Sometimes though, the walk was during the day as well! The Montessori was most tolerant and considered a good place to start, however they drew the line at kids still doing number two’s in their pants, hence the day-time walks home. Oddly enough, I can’t remember ever anyone walking me home with a pant package. All I can remember is that my mum seemed to be always in hospital or in any case not home, when brothers with ‘pant packages’ and I during very warm weather arrived back at our street in the middle of the day.
Mrs B.Van.Dijk, our neighbour opposite would deal with the shit pants by sternly putting either Frank or John or both in the dark coal shed, in the hope that the punishment would prevent future bouts of infantile incontinence. Infants, we were, and Mrs Van Dijk also had children born just before or during the war. Indeed, some even after. It would seem likely that the coal shed would often be shared by the Van Dijk’s progeny as well. Frank on those walks home strolled somewhat strangely and would have his hands sticking out sideways as if he needed some kind of antenna system to guide him. Of course memories of that are unreliable and can only be a kind of indication on how I perceived him so many years ago. It is however a truth as far as I am concerned even though it might have been different. Childhood memories are often vague and I can only state those memories with distortions and exaggerations a distinct possibility.