Posts Tagged ‘World war 2’

1945 After the liberation,

October 24, 2022

Those first few weeks, after Holland was liberated, were filled with joy and pride, with dancing on the streets and kids waving little orange flags. Swaggering Anglo soldiers with keen girls on arms. Loudspeakers, urging us in English, to come out of hiding and that the war was over.

One of the worst problems of the war which caused my dad untold misery and almost brought my mother’s ingenuity to breaking point, was the tobacco problem, or rather, the lack of it. My father was hopelessly addicted to tobacco smoking. The chance of having tobacco during the occupation was not unlike and perhaps even on par with the chance of becoming obese. The shortage of tobacco was worse than shortage of food, at least for my dad. It must have been at its worst just shortly after liberation.

My mother urged me to walk the streets and follow those smoking Canadian and English soldiers who were our liberators.  ‘Put the cigarette butts in this little box’, she urged me. What a wonderful wife my dad had. What a magnificent woman. The problem was that there was stiff competition from bigger and stronger kids who were sent on the same mission. I was faster though and managed to get many cigarette butts and came home feeling a bit like a soldier myself.

Dad soon unpicked the butts and rolled his ciggies, lighting up the secondhand Camel and Lucky Strike like a king, tomorrow would never come. it was the first time that awareness seeped in my psyche that taking action could have rewards and a world of possibilities had opened up.

I was almost 6 years old.

Is Spam going to make a come-back? Just look at my delicious Spam sandwich

July 26, 2020


Meat factories and churches together with aged-care homes are now producing many clusters of Covid-19. At the beginning of the virus in March or so there was an outbreak of shoppers converging on rolls of toilet paper at supermarkets. It even came to fights over toilet paper. Scuffles broke out, and security guards were called in to stem toilet paper riots and they quickly restored order. Guns in holsters have an amazing calming effect amongst law abiding shoppers. It is with glee that I read that no one was allowed to return hoarded toilet paper, not even a single roll. Some formed gangs that would go around buying up as much toilet paper as possible. They were hoping to corner the market and make a killing.  There must be many a home bulging to the rafters with toilet paper!

While I still don’t understand the love of toilet paper during a crisis, unless some are privy to using it to fill or firm up stews or a pasta sauce, I was busy stocking up some food. I bought noodles, rice and flour reckoning they could keep me in reasonable health during a prolonged lock-down. However I also was delighted still to remember in my increasingly misty mind-storage bin our past relationship with the much revered corned Salted Pork and hAM cans. I believe that the word of that product SPAM came from that abbreviation of mix of food.

The history of that product is legendary. Even Nikita Khrushchev declared that his soldiers would never haven gotten though the war without SPAM. It was a good source of food. The air-raids above Holland towards the end of WW2 by the British delivered tons of that delicious Spam, hence the name ‘Spam raids.’ I can still see my dad running  on a field towards the dropped food cans. He did not score Spam but instead a large tin of very hard but nutritious biscuits that one soaked in warm water, Gee, what a treat they were too. I still shudder when I see modern kids throwing half their food and drinks away.

While I did not end up buying Spam and instead chose the Corned beef variety it still has that gelatinous feel and look about it. A kind of fond war memory, seeing it saved thousands of people from starvation. The little key on the side is still there and what happy memories well up while turning that little key to unlock and deliver that lovely mushy characteristic odorous meaty mixture from its steel container.

So, today, being a very rainy Sunday and with the news endlessly about the Virus I thought up a nice Spam sandwich. I embellished the corned mushy mixture after slowly, ever so slowly turning the key to get the full entertainment out of this long revered and longed for food by adding some rocket, lettuce, onion, and tomato to it. I then topped in with some Havarti cheese.

What a beautiful sandwich it turned out to be. It made this gloomy Sunday turn into a feast to behold.

Come, join me and try it out.

Rotterdam 1941

November 13, 2012

Some of us go through life insuring ourselves for any known or unknown eventuality. We do that so that nothing untoward will ever happen, forgetting that a life too secure might well end up with a life unlived. After all, one would not have ones life pre-digested and miss out on the wonders of the unknown. Perhaps when there is an overwhelming surplus of the past and just snippets of a future left, we go digging about into the past. It’s a bad habit and a sure sign of ageing, desperately having a last fling at tidying up s unsolvable riddles.

The picture above shows a one year old and a two year old, both August babies and both are getting a tubbing on the balcony of our Rotterdam apartment. That the apartment is standing is remarkable seeing the picture was taken a year after the bombing of Rotterdam. It is even more remarkable that the picture is such a serenely domestic photo, belying the reality of the situation. The boy at the front with hair sticking up is Gerard and the other Frank. Frank turned out to be plagued by severe and chronic schizophrenia. He is still alive and only last week was taken on a holiday ito the South of Holland. He has a life of sorts as perhaps all of us do.  He collects stamps and watches soccer on his TV.

The thing about the picture is that, barely visible, my mum is wearing a rather pretty dress with shoulder pads that stick up, rather than those shoulder pads that went more sideways, which were all the fashion some years ago, sometimes making large women stand out like Sumo wrestlers. My mother is intent on the job of tubbing us. Both of her boys are sitting quite happy. It is a photo of reality. We are sitting there getting a wash and my mum looks on. It is also a photo of unreality. The V1’s and V2’s started to come down unexpectedly even though they were meant for London. The riddle is the shoulder pads and the tubbing; giving an image that must have been so unlike the real situation. On the other hand, a photo of the carnage that Rotterdam suffered and was still undergoing could not have included getting a ‘normal’ tubbing’, or would have included my mother’s shoulder pads.

Going back to insurances, we have none. I do worry about not having car insurance, especially after receiving a bill from GIO some time ago about damage to a car from a tow bar fitted to our car. The bill was, from memory over $1300.-. We did not admit liability as the car had backed into ours during a parking struggle. Since then we haven’t heard from GIO.

We used to have insurances about all sorts of eventualities but lately I can’t for the life of me imagine what we could possibly gain from having them. If our house burns down, well, the body corporate fees include insurance for that. Our belongings are precious and the personal aspects of losing them can’t be insured against. We don’t have Harvey Norman featuring to any extent in our furniture which consists of bits and pieces from our previous farm-life in Holland and odds and ends scavenged from quasi antiques shops. I noticed a lot of TV ads for funeral insurances. What are they hinting at? Strangely enough, those ads feature a man feeling guilty of (again) not caring enough about dying before his partner has been well provided for. What about if she carks it before him? This is it. Enjoy your week-end.