A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 27. Sales and Service

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In those days, the people got real service from the merchants: two or three grocery stores came around every week.

One had a horse and wagon, his nickname was "The Pier" which meant "The Worm". He sold everything from soup to nuts.

Another grocery man came from the city, Amersfoort. He was a big shot because he came with a truck on which was advertising which read, "And Better Quality, And 10%, Only the GRUITER". Ma said we could not buy from strangers because Pa made his living here.

Then we had two bakers who had transport bikes with huge baskets in which they carried rye and white bread and "Krente bollen" those were round buns with raisins or currants cooked into them.

Besides those guys, we also had a kerosene salesman, called "Pypje Drop". I never could figure out how he got that name, it probably came out of the paper he freely distributed when you bought his "Petroleum". In this paper was a continuous story about a little negro boy which was very entertaining. We just could not wait for the next episode. His name was Pypje Drop, and the name of the paper was "THE AUTOMAAT." The last line in the story always was, "Hoe it met Pypje Drop vergaat, staat in the volgende automaat." This rhymed of course and it meant: "Look in the next issue of the Automaat if you want to know the rest of the story."

Talking about salesmen, we also had a weekly visit from a postcard salesman "Long John". He really was not a salesman but a disguised beggar. When he came to our house, Mama always invited him in for something to eat which he gracefully accepted. He would get a slice of very dark heavy rye bread and a half slice of mother's homemade white bread, which was very dry and hard, then to soften this he was presented with a cup of skim milk which we all drank when the milk can came back from the dairy.

One time I asked, "John, how much are your post cards?" He said he did not know, well ... "Don't you have any?" "Oh, sure," he said. "Look ..." and with that he pulled two or three all wrinkled and worn postcards out of his pockets, then he explained, "You see, begging is prohibited in this here township, but I am no beggar and to prove it, I carry these here cards, but if I sell them, I can no longer prove to be a salesman." Yes, life could be complicated.

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