Sunday, September 4, 2011

Back to the Future in Loosdrecht

Forty years before my recent visit to the Netherlands, my mother made a similar pilgrimage with two of her sisters, Aunt Betty and Aunt Connie. The three sisters were delighted to meet their Dutch cousins and to visit the area where their parents had grown up. They were also able to meet several of their aunts and uncles  --  sisters and brothers of their parents who were still living in 1971. I accompanied them on some of their excursions, as I was studying in France that year, and spent part of my school vacation in the Netherlands.

Mom on footbridge near Loosdrecht

The sisters took photos of scenic spots around Loosdrecht:

17th century mansion on River Vecht

They were also able to shoot several aerial views of the area around Loosdrecht, as one of their cousins had a small plane and took them up for a ride:

Nieuw Loosdrecht, with Sijpe Church (center)

The Loosdrechtse Plaassen (Loosdrecht Lakes) were and are a busy tourist location during the summer:

Loosdrecht and Lake

The medieval town of Naarden is an impressive sight from the air, looking as though it was cut out with a giant cookie-cutter. Its ramparts were built between 1675 and 1685 to defend the eastern approaches of Amsterdam:

Naarden from the air

In Loosdrecht, Grace, Connie and Betty also paid their respects to their brother Jasper, who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge, and is buried in the cemetery on the outskirts of their mother's hometown. A cousin regularly tended the grave and saw to it that there were always fresh flowers there :

Jasper VandenBergh's grave in Loosdrecht Cemetery

Other trips took the sisters to Zaanse Schans and Marken. In this photo, the contrast between the American tourist ladies and the Dutch women in traditional costume is striking. I'm not sure if the Dutch ladies really wanted their picture taken:

Checking each other out in Marken? Zaanse Schans?

And of course, who could resist photographing the wholesale flower market, where thousands of flowers are auctioned off and shipped all over the world to decorate homes in far-off lands? Although somewhat faded, the old Ektachrome slides still show off the brightness of the crimson blossoms:

Flower auction

Last but not least, Mom took this shot of a Dutch windmill, not so different from the digital photos I took forty years later:

Windmill and canal in the Dutch countryside

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