1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 5 : my "WAR" years

part 3

Of course, some ten months a year we would spend in Amsterdam. Until 1944, I walked to and from school with my father. Schoolhours were 9-12 and 2-4. When she was old enough, sister Carla joined and we had to fight to have my father's 'empty arm'. But soon she had her own court, with boys vying to carry her schoolbag or books.
In 1944, I passed the dreaded entrance exams for Grammar School, and went by tram to the Hervorms Lyceum in the Brahmsstraat, Amsterdam-South. This was quite an adventure since there were few trolley cars and we had to - quite literally - 'hang out'; it would take more than an hour to go one way or another.
However, it did not take long till school was curtailed, first to half-days, finally to one half a day a week. We did get copious amounts of homework, but could spend more time on other things.

Let's not forget there was a war...there were air-raid alarms, and hundreds of airplanes flying over on their way to bomb England or Germany, and aerial fights were spectacular. As soon, or even before, the safe alarm went, we'd run out on the streets to pick up red-hot artillery shards or pieces of airplane for our collections.
We also had our outdoor activities and clubs, and we were very much into birds - the flying type. (see right) We collected duck-eggs along the canal, a not-too tasty food supplement.
We also spent hours on the way to and working in the small gardenplots we were allotted; invariably, it was raining, or icily cold. I should also point out that every winter during the war was severe, so we could go skating on the gracht; my father would even tie on our skates upstairs and carry us down the steps, across he road and down the dike!

Phalacro, the Cormorant

We organized our own club, DVT =
De Vrolijke Tippelaars, with as members Jan Heykoop, Henkie Henningheim, Jantje Sprenkels and myself. Our main trips were to the Amsterdam Harbor and the Amsterdam Forest (Bosplan) which had just been started.
I also joined some youth club with religious background, and submitted my first article for publication: an illustrated story about the fate of a young cormorant (left);
remember, there was a colony of these evil-smelling and tree-killing birds in Gaasterland, so I was an "expert".
This is also the bird which Chinese use to catch fish!

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