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 (detail on pictory.net).
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(ask Marius for a password!) 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.
After some distractions in the first half of the year and a terrific holiday in Europe, I’m back working on the picstory.net website. As I’ve given myself 10 years to build it, what’s six months off occasionally?
There are now pages for around two hundred family members (most of them pretty basic) and over 250 photos and other items of interest.
Some of the recent enhancements:
A new category – “Other Items” for things I couldn’t fit in elsewhere, like newspaper clippings and memorial booklets.
An illustration for the front page – yes, it’s Dad/Jo Coomans, the inspiration for this site ( “what to do what all that stuff he left behind?”). He’ll also show up as the icon for the site.
My first translated letters. I can’t see how I can translate more than a few representative ones, but I’ll try.
I’d love some feedback/critique of the site. Here are a few things which I don’t like and will look towards changing:
While the miniature photos on a personal page are Ok, even if a bit small, documents end up looking all the same. I think I will end up adding titles below the document miniatures.
For some people, the sheer number of items will end up ovewhelming (ie when I upload hundreds of Dad’s artworks). Not sure how to solve it yet, I might have to group the items.
Similarly, for some events there are lots of photos, threatening to ‘flood’ pages, for example I uploaded our wedding album. What I ended up doing is only link selective photos to Joy’s and my personal pages. You would need to go to the year (1971) to see the other photos.
Lots more things to consider, but that’s enough for now. I look forward to feedback / suggestions / critiques. Fire away in the comments or email me at email@example.com
I’ve been sorting and archiving Dad’s artwork after capturing most of it digitally in December. While I was familiar with most of the works, it’s nice to discover drawings and paintings with which I wasn’t familiar. For example this sketch of the Leede (“tuindorp” in Rotterdam), done in 1944. It shows that confident hand and “eye” for which he should be remembered.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the location on Google. The church tower is hidden by the leaves of the tree, but it’s pretty much the same 70 years later.
While the focus here is on our parents, Jo and Adri, it’s inevitable that we’re faced with our own history.
I spotted the photo of Simon in the assortment of memorabilia waiting for him to pick up next time he’s in Penrith. And yes, I’m returning it to his “cache” before he misses it.
It figures that there was a photo of yours truly from the same year (1958-59) and sure enough, there was.
Harry, did you find a photo from the same year as well?
The Johannes Calvijnschool was our primary school while we lived on the Cannenburghlaan. I found class photos of the period at theschoolbank.nl website and downloaded a few class photos of Simon’s class of 1956 and 1958 as well as my class of 1958.
Surely you recognise us? (click on the photos for a larger version)