I’m still working my way through all of Dad’s “stuff” , posting items of interest to the Picstory.net site.
One of the items was a sketchbook with photos, taking during his time at the Academy of Arts in Rotterdam. A bunch of students having a bit of fun (Dad is the one with the violin).
It looks like these photos were taken of the “activities” described in this letter (translation), suspending him from the Academy for two days. So what were they celebrating? The invasion in Normandy a few days earlier?
In any case, Dad did not finish that year at the Academy, he was picked up by the Germans, together with his future brother-in-law, Jord. They were sent to Germany by river boat but escaped on the way. He spent the rest of the war in hiding at Peer de Hoed‘s place. You can read a letter from his sister, Henny written during that time.
While rummaging through Dad’s papers for items to archive to picstory.net (yes, there is still much more to discover), I found some pages of “Het Kompas”, a newspaper from August 1945, originally 32 pages long. Unfortunately only the wrap-around pages survive.
It was the peacetime version of a second World War underground news sheet. It’s clear why Dad kept this copy, the front page is all about the famous forger of Vermeer’s paintings, Han van Meegeren, who had recently been arrested. Ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Han_van_Meegeren
Why was this of interest to Dad (Jo Coomans)? As the story goes, he found occasional work during the war by copying valuable paintings, so owners could store the original away. The painting below is one of these copies, supposedly returned to him after the war.
Also, immediately after the war, he worked for a short time with an entrepreneur who sold souvenir paintings to the liberating troops, the usual windmill/canal views. So the controversy about van Meegeren and his Vermeer-like paintings would have been of interest to a budding painter like Jo.
Anyway… the remaining pages of the newspaper are just as interesting, read on…
The picstory.net website was meant as a repository of family documents, photos, documents, etc… But I decided to slightly expand its purpose.
My cousin, Willem Kooij started blogging in 2005. He wrote daily stories right through a turbulent time, including the death of his wife Yvonne and up to his own passing in 2013.
After his death, a couple of friends looked after his affairs, including his websites. Recently, I approached them about some glitches with the site and ended up offering to archive Willem’s ( and Yvonne’s) sites on a permanent basis.
As might be expected, it was more involved than just copying files. I converted the WordPress files to static files and, while it was a slow process, it should be stable long term that way.
I built an overview page to access all of Willem and Yvonne’s sites here.