Born five years after the war (2th) things were not growing on trees. Many items were still on rations like sucker and milk powder. We lived in a little Dutch styled row house in Den Helder, Holland. We weren’t poor, but we were for sure not rich. Every morning, we got oatmeal with small plastic cowboys and indians from inside the Brinta pack. And every morning, my brother and I drove these small figures through the milk as if they were crossing the Rio Grande.
When I was six years I started school. We had to wait two-by-two outside before we were allowed to get inside. The tables were lined up as well and we said “Mrs.” Or “Mr.” to the teacher. One day, six years old, I went home for lunch. The house was empty. Everything was gone. No mother, no furniture’s, no nothing. I started crying. Until the neighbor woman came to calm me down and telling me that we had moved to another larger house at another part of town. Still today I can’t understand, that I hadn’t realized what my parents must have told me. I remember to have a lunchbox with me. But it was after all cozier to eat at home.
I remember to be rather serious the first three classes, eager to learn to read and to write. Later on, I started probably to get to much teenager in me and when we f.i. had to sing, everyone sang but I sang along. I liked the gym because of the Converts-like basketball shoes I had. When we reached the fifth class, we got a few square meters of land as a little school garden which we had to maintain ourselves. When the school year was over I had brought home potatoes, tulips, salad and so on.
After the sixth class, I went to Technical School for special handy guys - which I probably have inherited from my father. I started an education as aspirant electrician.
After four years, I was finished and started the rest of the electrician education parallel to the weapon electronic technician at the civil education center of the Royal Dutch Navy.
President Kennedy got shot. The Beatles came up, so did the Stones. Later I became a big fan of Soul music which holds until today. The Vietnam war was the talk of the town and I in the mean time became a fashion “Provo”. White closes an of course a white grandmother bike.
Also at that time, socializing was naturally for me, especially with the girls in town. Nearly every evening, we met with the other youngsters in the neighborhood showing of ourselves and our Puch’s. Funny! Years later, I met one of these teenage-gang girls in Brussels who was engaged with an English guy who became one of my best friends.
Den Helder has in fact always been a little bit to small for me. And because of the geographical position one could only move south. That’s also what I did as soon as I had finished my education. First I wanted to work for Shell in Amsterdam, but I didn’t have the right education Shell needed at that moment. Suddenly, there was an ad in the paper with a tailor made job for me in Freiburg, Germany, starting at January 1969. I had to leave my girlfriend behind and went off, now forty years ago on my great adventure.
Freiburg was a nice little town with 150.000 inhabitants and a university. There were lots of youngsters around and discotheques with Schlager music. Udo Jürgens,Rex Gildo and Katja Ebstein where still Top of the Pops in 1969. The free time value of Freiburg is very high. Freiburg has a beautiful downtown with building back to the twelfth century. The Black Forest to the east, the Breisgau wine slopes to the north, 30 km to the east Colmar, France and 60km to the south Basel, Switzerland.
The work was great. So was the career. Every three month or so, my efforts and my knowledge were honored with a promotion and a rise in salary. And after one year, my salary had doubled. No more need for spending blood at the Freiburg university for DM 30,-At the end of that year, I was asked if I wanted to work in Brussels. I couldn’t say “no”. One more time, more money was promised and an even more interesting and independent job was offered. So I left Freiburg for Brussels in April 1970.
It was tremendously nice to grow up in times of progression and “Wirtschaft Wunder”.