A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 23. Interesting Characters

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We had all kinds of funny characters in the village too - or at least we thought they were funny. Some cases, however, were really sad. But in our young eyes, everything which was out of the ordinary was funny.

One such case we called "Pete Vod" which meant "Pete Rag". He came around once a week to buy old rags, bones and what have you. There was an old, very religious maid who lived by herself in one half of a double house. Many times, Pete stopped in at her place. Apparently, he got the idea that if he could get her into his two wooden wheeled pushcart, they would make a good team.

So one faithful day, Pete popped the big question, "Will you marry me, Antje?" The answer came like this. "I would rather see you with a bushel basket full of manure on your head in the ditch." I was there and I heard her say it. Pete recited some backward prayers and moved on.

Then there was Tim Baas, always nicknamed "Tim Bok" because he had the only HE goat buck in the district. The reason I believe why there was only one buck (although there were many goats) was that the stink of that animal was uncanny. If there ever was a contest between a skunk and this here goat buck, the goat would win.

Tim's residence was a small shed behind a real old house where he lived with his goat. The only time we ever saw him, was when there was a job to be done. Tim would tie a rope around his neck (the buck, that is) and led him to where they were going.

We always knew when Tim came by because of the aroma he freely dispensed. Nobody ever complained, this was nature in progress. In the same house also lived an old spinster, she was very old and very short, with balloon cheeks, very odd looking, I thought. People felt sorry for her with no visible means of income, no pension or government assistance, no help whatsoever. No wonder she had to live next to the goat. Although Ma did most, if not all, of the knitting and sewing herself. Once in a while, she asked balloon cheeks to come over and help her out.

When Tim Bok died, the goat disappeared also, never to be replaced. The air around his old homestead became a lot purer.

One time, a man bought a brand new bicycle bell and proudly showed it off to his buddy. "Wow, man," he said, "that is a nice bell. I'll buy you a bottle of beer if I can hit it once with the axe." The owner of the bell agreed. I figured they were only kidding, because nobody in his right mind would smash a beautiful shining bell like that for a bottle of beer.

Boy, was I ever wrong! Whatever went on in those peoples' minds? The fact was he raised his axe above his head and came down with a devastating blow and hit the bell: this was the last ping he got out of it ever. The pieces went flying, and I went after them like a dog after a cat to see if I could salvage any of it. Lucky for me he hit the bell a glancing blow; it broke the top off, but the bottom part with the vital organs was still working. It could not go ting tong any more but this bottom part would still say "tong". It was one of my pride possessions for many moons.


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