Litres of coffee and thea at the book presentation of 'our' Majoor
I sang psalms on the occasion of aunt Jans' birthday, at a community centre in the Wallen. The telephone rang following a Christmas performance for old Salvation Army's soldiers, in Anne Frankstraat.
by Riny Reiken
It was Majoor Bosshardt, who asked me to come to sing for the Salvation. I felt flattered and sang my lungs out: songs, psalms and chants for the Army. Then the Majoor asked me if I could further be of service. I had always felt touched by their work, and I have deep respect for people who offer their life to a mission of serving the less fortunate. Maybe I was too young and inexperienced when I thanked and replied that I didn't dear to take this task on, a spiritual carrier at the Army was not
what I was searching. Although I thought I would offend the Majoor, she kept on visiting me. Luckily, she has always appreciated my honesty. At first, the communication between Bas and the Majoor was a little bit strained. When they first met, the Major walked to the bar, turned a stern face at him, and inquired loudly: “Wil you take good care of her?”. It became dead quiet in the room, how would Bas react? I looked at him, then at her. Bas got caught by surprise, “Consider it done”, was his Brabantse reply. The Majoor became a welcome guest in our tasting house. She was indeed a very particular person. On my birthday she managed to come to drink a thea at 5 to midnight. While the narrow alley got full of honking cars stuck behind hers, she first drank her tea to the bottom and rode away at 12:05.
The Majoor called us one time to personally enquire: “Can I hold my book presentation in your place?”. Her book “My heart and soul” got indeed presented In de Olofspoort; never before had we served so much coffee and tea! What a wonderful moment. After the presentation, the Majoor sat in the backroom, looking a bit lost. Because of renovations in the Warmoesstraat, she could not reach her car. When Bas offered to take her home, she took the offer gratefully. But when he picked up his car from the Old Church's square, she said: “You can bring me home, come to sit next to me. I can still drive very well, young man, and God is always with us so I will drive myself!”. We laughed out loud, of course, and our guests waved goodbye from the old door of our tasting place. After Bas had brought all of her flowers home, she proceeded to show him around the house. Above all, taking a peek in the bathroom was peculiar. The Majoor was very proud of it because she had never had one in the past. The canal house on the O.Z. Voorburgwaal, where she had previously lived, was as simple as she was: there was a sink and a toilet, and only the necessary bathroom fixtures. We were lucky to have gotten to know the Majoor pretty well. She gave me support during a tough moment for me. We often went together on walks. I have lovely memories of eating little snacks (croquette's) together, which she found so tasty (and always a prayer before!)
The acquaintance of Aafje Heynis and the Majoor got followed by a lot of visits to Aafje's home city Blaricum, and also appointments in Amsterdam. On the Majoor's 90's birthday we were her guests and stood under an umbrella with a happy Jos Brink. The Majoor loved Jos; they were very dear friends. Now they rest in the “Nieuwe Ooster”, in graves not far from each other. We were of course at her funeral, and I often think back to her memorial service. In between the singing, I looked at the Army soldiers who sang, full of commitment, with happiness on their faces. The Majoor was promoted and has passed to our Father in heaven where there are no places of honour.
After the burial, there were a lot of guests standing in front of a closed “Olofspoort”. We gave our condolences to each other for the passing of our mighty Major. It became a warm and heartfelt evening, by which everyone felt touched. We looked at photos and sang at the piano a special repertoire for the occasion with friends, a lot of guests, and neighbours. We knew that the Majoor had gone to where she was supposed to and we asked ourselves: would Willem, the bodypainter, convert her or would it be the other way around in heaven? Because the two of them could joke with each other, an attempt of both at smoothing their differences over. “I love you indeed, but not in the physical sense”, Willem once said to her. To what The Majoor very firmly answered: “Likewise, young man!”.
“The Majoor autographs her book in the presence of Riny and Bas.”
“Bas brings the Majoor home, but she drives herself.”
Willem of Orange
“Dad Willem, born in Orange, with his bottle.”
For my parents, the winds changed when they felt the taste of this alluring city. A lot of visits followed. With family or friends, walking across Mokum is always fascinating.
by Riny Reiken
For outsiders, it is always exciting to stroll around the red lamps. This is why uncle Ginus could not sleep after having been locked inside an 'almost sex place', together with his wife Trijntje. He had seen a bunch of colourful lights inside and did not understand what the man at the entrance meant when he said: “It is also for couples, sir”. My mother and aunt stood outside, in the meanwhile, with their legs crossed from so much laughter. The ladies did not come forward or back, and the couple could not move anymore. Passerby's made pictures, it was hilarious. My niece Marije, as a toddler, on the sidewalk of the sex shops happily singing her newest song: “Everywhere chocolate letters, big and small!”. We had gone with the whole family to the Christmas circus and walked past seemingly erotic windows with enormous Christmas decorations along the Lange Niezel towards our lovely tasting house in the Nieuwebrugsteeg for a nightcap. We had hoped that our nephew Bart, the little big mouth, would be distracted but we quickly understood that we could not fool him when he screamed out loud on the street: “Aunt Riny, we have to turn right before the statue of a penis, right?”, “Yes, young man, you are perfectly right!”. Also for niece Amy and nephew Sven Amsterdam always means an exciting day out.
Mom and dad – grandma Jantje and grandpa Willem – sat cheerfully on their preferred seats in the cafe glaring at the tourists and people from the neighbourhood who walked past outside in large numbers. Different nationalities were walking back and forth in different outfits and colours.
The Warmoesstraat and the Zeedijk are very attractive to travellers from the whole world. At times you see endless groups of people walking together. “Oh, oh, what a mass of people, 'Jantje', was dad's saying, then. After a couple of advocaat liquors, I heard mom once speaking in the local dialect of her region: “Oh my god, now you have to see this, Willem!”. Following this I heard one of them saying: “Come, we're going on a little stroll!” Strolling means kuieren (walking) in Dutch. The text of my familybook is: Kuieren with Jantje from Zwiggelte & Willem of Orange. Mommy and daddy visited all the museums. They liked to go to the Concertgebouw, theatre,s Stopera or Carré, too. Also, they found it wonderful to go in the “Just for us” boat to sail on the canals of Amsterdam or along the Amstel. We have done so many things with them, how pleasurable those days were!
“Riny with dad Willem and mom Jantje”
“Riny with cousin Henk Louwes”
“Riny dances with brother Wim, and mom is happy”
“Sister Janneke with their parents”