Part 5: Whole Lotta Love

Geschreven door Bert Plomp

With six people in a small apartment on the third floor, there was little to no room for privacy. Adding another six people to that made the situation unbearable. Nevertheless, my parents felt that they should provide shelter for family from Australia. This happened when that family permanently returned to the Netherlands. Uncle Klaas and Aunt Beppie, a sister of my mother, and their four children moved in with us overnight. The repatriation was necessary because my aunt’s health was not in good condition. In the late fifties, the medical facilities ‘Down Under’ were not noteworthy. Although, Aunt had informed her family about it in writing. Although Uncle Klaas enjoyed his time in Australia, concerned sisters encouraged Aunt to return to the safe nest.

Housing six people in a small four-room apartment was already problematic. Twelve people, nearly impossible. Air mattresses and regular mattresses were spread throughout the house. It resembled a field hospital after an enemy attack. This unbearable situation lasted only briefly. After about two weeks, my brother Theo and I had to make way. We had to find accommodation with friends nearby. Theo went into hiding with a Jewish family. The son of the house, also named Theo, was friends with my brother. I was fortunate to be allowed to stay with my friend Joop. Theo and I were quite content with our ‘forced’ relocations. Both of us had landed in a warm nest. We were surrounded with care, and the food was of much better quality than what we were used to at home.

Personally, what I missed was the company of my eldest Australian cousin, whom I had gotten to know shortly before my departure. She was a few years older than me and had a mature body. I marveled at her and often felt quite excited by her presence. As I had noticed before, in the small apartment with so many people, there was hardly any room for privacy. This applied to my attractive cousin as well. Perhaps that’s also why Theo and I had to be away for a while.

From the third floor, we moved to a much more spacious ground-floor apartment in the Napoleon Square in early 1961. The apartment was in the second block, the second building in a series of six. The ground-floor apartment spanned two floors, one of which was on the ground floor. The main entrance was on the first floor. Like the previous apartment, the first floor contained a living and dining room, two bedrooms, a small kitchen, and a space that was supposed to be a bathroom. On the ground floor, there were two more bedrooms.

This time, not only did Theo get his own room, but Saskia also won the prize. Being the only girl and having had to share a room with my parents for so long, she deserved it. Both got rooms on the first floor. The larger of the two downstairs bedrooms became the parental bedroom. This room was located on the street side. The other, located on the garden side, became the room where Charles and I spent the rest of our teenage years. In this bedroom, all sorts of things happened during that period. It ranged from playing records very loudly to disassembling and reassembling mopeds. Followed by starting the engines indoors and letting them warm up. Occasionally, time was also found to do homework. In between all these activities, there were quite passionate encounters.

The primary source of sound was a self-built stereo system. This system consisted of a stereo record player and two old mono radios. I had connected a radio to each separate stereo channel of the record player. This way, I could amplify both outputs separately. With the two ‘amplifiers’, I could send quite a few decibels into the surroundings. Late one beautiful summer evening, when Mom and Dad were walking the dog near the sixth block, they were extremely annoyed that the neighbors living there couldn’t be bothered to lower their sound system. After all, it was already midnight, and the national anthem had already been played. They had no problem with playing the national anthem very loudly, regardless of the time. The closer they got to their home, the louder the noise became. When they were almost home, they were shocked. It was their own apartment from which Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” was blasting at them at an ear-splitting volume. 


For all episodes, click on: Residential Comfort

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