|1918. Grandpa Louis Aarsse’s 75th birthday
Before the family moved to Francois Valentijnstraat, Grandpa Aarsse had two other houses, but he had had to sell them. In those days, many houses were empty. Then you had to give people money to occupy your house, otherwise it would rot. The house on Nieuwe Uitleg sold for about fl 8,000 in those days. It would be worth a capital now. Robert Aarsse lives opposite. Grandpa Aarsse had beautiful paintings, a Japanese cabinet with mother-of-pearl and a beautiful clock with a round dial that played a tune every half hour: “Pheasants, geese, what does your liverwurst cost? I have six of them, eight of ten”, a total of six different musical tunes.
The fort in the playloft had been given to Grandpa by Uncle Guus Gerhard. They played war with that. They shot each other’s little soldiers with grey peas, white and brown beans. You could really load the little cannons and then, “Bang”, the peas shot across the attic. One friend did not follow the rules and had planes with bombs, pelting the other party with blocks; this escalated. In the attic there was also an old mangle and a Rubber lady. A mannequin, and you could dance with that if you were dressed up. The first and second attic belonged to the Aarsses; next door lived Belgians from Lier, called “Our Father and Our Mother”. On the balcony, they kept a blackbird in a cage who was tongue-tied and sang beautifully. With the son, Grandpa Louis sometimes went fishing in the Schenk. Only you had to be careful not to smell too much of fish afterwards, otherwise they would notice at home. Below that was a workshop with sewing girls who sewed gas stockings for gas lamps (one of the girls was called Veronica). Then there were the neighbours Erlee, with three children. Grandpa Louis and Uncle Theo were not very fond of Rie Erlee, they hated her. They called her “Rie hang-on-the-bell”. As for the piano lessons, Theo and Grandpa had to play quatremain, and they always watched who finished first. One day a man rang the doorbell who wouldn’t leave, so Grandpa Aarsse came down the stairs furiously. He stepped on the tray of food, which Grandma Hahn had put down on the stairs for a moment to open, and all the food fell down the stairs. They then went to the Pomona restaurant, but it turned out to be a vegetarian restaurant. Aunt Do kept shouting, “Mummy, where is my meat?” Grandpa Aarsse also came along, as he had sent the food crashing downstairs.