Nel and I were allowed to go home when a large house for our family became available on Johan van Oldenbarneveltlaan in Scheveningen, The Hague. Subsequently, Joost, Kees, Pieter, Laurens, Maria, and Paul were born there.

We had to provide a declaration twice that we were free of tuberculosis, so as not to infect others.

Den Haag
Den Haag
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Our house seemed to be made of elastic. It housed all sorts of people. Social workers like Mieke Dolmans, Mariette Schneiders, Trees Hafmans, and Adri Hes. Also a son of a Limburg greengrocer, who had a late calling for priesthood, was quartered with us. He certainly regretted it! He was foolish enough to confess to the motherly Mieke Dolmans that he had such trouble with constipation! She knew just what to do. In no time, everyone was aware. As mother's sons grew so fast, there were chamber pots in all sizes. We placed them with intervals from the beginning of the stairs to his room door. We even decorated them with toilet paper and walnuts. On his bed, a diaper with a glycerine syringe.

When Trees Hafmans came home with him from the neighborhood work in the evening, he found this trail of chamber pots. All in all, I believe that our teasing was the cause of this calling not coming to fruition!

In the evening, there was washing up to be done. Mariette was tasked with providing entertainment. There was a lot of singing. So, doing the dishes was also a social event!

I remember a water fight. Half of the residents were outside and the other half had taken refuge downstairs in the stairwell. The doors to the outside were closed. Suddenly water came from above in the stairwell.

The "outsiders" had climbed in through the windows (you could climb up over the bike shed) and were throwing water down.

But let the reader not think that everything was allowed in the Schrijnen household. We were raised strict Catholics and in the evening, we prayed the rosary in front of the portrait of Our Lady of Welberg. And every Sunday to church!

House keys were needed for all these residents, and you definitely couldn't lose them. However, if one of us came home in the evening without a key, they could do two things: try if one of the sliding windows could be opened, and if that didn't work, whistle a special melody... this melody became more dramatic as the need became greater. Or try throwing stones at a fellow resident's window, which sometimes had an effect.

Then there's the most important resident, Father Gall. Over time, there was also Miss Lucie Flateur, a singer, and a couple named Terstegge.

Pappie took on all kinds of work to earn a living. In the beginning, he wrote stories about his time in the camp for the newspaper until it was no longer up to date. He traded in Eastern goods with Terstegge. He also worked as an exam supervisor at secondary schools. He had a permanent job as secretary to Dr. De Boer, the inspector of secondary education. He was also the secretary of the Bond Zonder Naam with Father Henry de Greeve for a while.

If you were a member, you received a new motto every month. We would put these above the pass-through window to the kitchen. These mottos were educational!

The six children born in this house were mothered by the older sisters. I cannot say if this was good for them, but for me, it was excellent preparation for motherhood.

Changing diapers, feeding baby food, etc. And it went like this: Put a diaper on those kicking legs and waving arms and then feed them!

Pieter had to be in quarantine for a while, in a separate room (was it scarlet fever?) with a lot of hygienic regulations. I took care of Pieter at that time. No one else was allowed near him. When mother got infectious mononucleosis, Joost and Kees were taken in by the neighbors, the de Jong family. We had to go to school and would pass by the garden gate of the de Jong family, where those two were standing very sadly. I felt very sorry for them!

a group of people posing for a photo
a group of people posing for a photo
a group of children standing in front of a fence
a group of children standing in front of a fence

Mariet Schneider (also a resident) was probably raised very well-behaved. Because when she looked out of the balcony of her room one evening, she saw a couple kissing under the streetlight. She said a prayer for forgiveness for this sinful behavior!

To be able to go to school on my own, I had to learn how to ride a bike. Mieke Dolmans taught me with a lot of effort. I must have been a danger on the road. Traffic rules meant nothing to me. I didn't learn them at boarding school.

I also couldn't swim yet. I started learning then, but only much later in Alphen aan de Rijn, I obtained my A diploma! I didn't go further than C afterwards!

My father still thought that my brain could handle everything and put me in an atheneum. It was a big school, where I was completely overwhelmed and amazed at what everyone was up to. One of the problems was finding your way from one classroom to another for the next lesson. Paper balls were being shot around. I probably didn't learn much from the lessons.

I was taken out of there and put in a convent school, also in The Hague, in the same school year. I still moved up to the second grade, despite the lag in German. However, there were still adaptation difficulties. What did I know, for example, about the Bible and about retreats? During the three-day retreats, you had to be quiet, you couldn't talk. After such days, I became frantic.

During this period, we also had to take dance lessons. Parents chose "nice" boys and girls for these lessons. On Sunday evenings, we had lessons from dance teacher Kuipers. But then Princess Beatrix also needed dance lessons and our dance teacher was chosen for that. The lesson was then scheduled for Sunday evening for her, so our club had to move to a different day. We learned to dance the Valeta, the waltz, the quickstep, etc. And we got to show that at the ball in the Kurhaus at the end of the school year.

For two years I endured the convent school. Then my father gave up hope for an intelligent daughter and it was decided that I should learn to become a kindergarten teacher. Once again with nuns! I was placed with a teacher's family in Venlo, in the Bisschop Schrijnenstraat.

The nuns tried to persuade the girls to enter the convent. They didn't succeed with me. However, they did succeed with a friend of mine. She was a misfit and her family thought it was a good solution. She had given away all her belongings and entered the convent. She developed psychosomatic conditions and her doctor advised her to leave the convent. She did so with all the unpleasant consequences. After all, she had burned all her bridges behind her.

I passed the kindergarten teacher exam!

The Hague