My clogs

What we wore as children.

My grand parents were the last generation of West Friesians in my family that still wore the traditional clothes of the region. There were ruffed collars and lace caps for the women and for the men the clothes were black with a large red handkerchief tied around the neck and a caps that resembled the traditional Greek fisherman’s cap and of course above all the clogs plain finished for daily use and varnished and painted flowers [for girls] for Sunday use.

We as children were a little embarrassed by the things our grandparents wore, not realising of course then that today a tourist would give an arm and a leg to get hold of an outfit like that.

My parents and my generation no longer wore the traditional clothes but we all wore the famous Dutch clogs wherever we went.

Every house in the village had a porch at the back door specially designed to keep the clogs of family and visitors safe and dry. People wore little leather insoles with the clogs for interior use so that one did not have to go around just in socks and schools had special racks in the corridors for clog storage. It was easy enough to wear the clogs but sometimes difficult particularly in large families to find and match up your clogs.

Clogs were great for playing football but the damage could be terrible when you kicked someone in the leg. The clogs were great to keep your feet warm in winter and I suppose they would help to keep you afloat if you fell in the water.

So why didn’t I keep on wearing my clogs forever? Well mainly when I started going to a secondary school in the next town the other students in the class could not stop laughing when they saw the village kids come in in their clogs and with their funny West Friesian accents. It was then that I decided if I wanted to fulfil my ambition of joining the middle classes the clogs had to go.

 Gerrit  June 20 2013



My goats and the train

A childhood memory

When I was nine my family moved from Koedijk the village I was born to the village of Schoorldam where my uncle who was a carpenter built us a new house close to the canal. There my father had easy access to his fishing boat without having to cross the road as he had to where we lived in Koedijk. The new house had a large garden where we grew vegetables and planted some fruit trees. We also acquired a small herd of goats of which I was put in charge.

In the morning the goats were taken for grazing to a nearby railway embankment where they were tethered on long thin chains allowing them plenty of room to move about. When the little steam train arrived 2 or 3 times a day the goats became quite agitated and there was one particularly aggressive one who once or twice stood between the rails challenging the locomotive. Fortunately those were gentler times and the train driver stopped and blew his whistle until the goat retreated.

However this goat and the other ones frequently retreated to the other side of the rails leaving their chains across the track which were then cut by the locomotive which in turn freed the goats. Even now I am still not sure whether this was a deliberate ploy by them so they would have the opportunity to roam free; and roam free they did.

When I came home from school it was my job to collect the animals from various parts of the village and the gardens of our neighbours where the goats could be found enjoying their freedom and the various food varieties they could scrounge.

At night the small herd had to be taken inside, milked, and cared for. It was surprising that I had time to go to school at all. They were a burden but I loved them dearly. I was devastated when they were taken away and slaughtered.
Even now I can still see their faces

​They were Saanen goats