A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 9: The Games We Played

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At different times of the year, we played different games.

In the summertime, it was (knikkeren) playing marbles for keeps. The rich fellows bought new ones, like 50 for 5 cents, but us kids had to start off with last year's leftovers. When I look back now to how things were then, it probably was not so bad for us kids. Sure, we were sad to see how them kids with money could go to the store and buy what they wanted, but on the other hand, it gave us an incentive to get good at the games so we could win the nice shiny marbles for ourselves.

We played a game called (plei eren) with pieces of round lead, or steel or something similar. In the spring, we did a lot of (slootje springen) or ditch jumping, with or without a pole. Either way, it was dangerous.

Without the pole, if you didn't jump far enough you can imagine the splash. With a pole, it was even worse. Sure, you could cross much wider ditches but you couldn't see the bottom. If the bottom was sand, everything went fine, but too often if was only mud. You went running with your pole in front and landed it in the middle of the ditch. As soon as your weight hit it, the pole sunk down and stopped abruptly. There you were hanging over the water treading air, all to the amusement of the other guys. The only way to get out of this situation was to let yourself down in the water and walk out.

Everybody wore klompen, wooden shoes, plus long black stockings with short pants. So when the ditch wasn't too deep, you could get by with just some soaked stockings and shoes.

One time, a boy had his pole in the water and was leaning on it with his mouth. Another fellow came sailing across, smashed into the pole and knocked the fellow's front teeth right out.

At other times, we got chased by the farmers for ruining their ditches. Where we lived was part of the Gelderse Valley and below sea level. In order to farm, the ditches had to be open at all times to drain the water. With the ground being so soggy, it did not take too much abuse to restrict the waterflow.

Later in the summer, when the weather started to get colder, we resorted to a sport more fitting the season. (Hoepelen) was a round steel ring which you kept rolling with a wooden stick or wooden fork. The sizes varied from 50 cm to one and a half meters. The most impressive one was owned by the (kromme) hunched Bart Tijmensen. It was flat and so big you could run through it while it was rolling. He, of course, was the envy of the school. No one ever knew how he got hold of a treasure like that.


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