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Background Story is History
the stuff that goes into stories, his, her, and mystery
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‘Mijn vader was door de oorlog verknipt geraakt’

‘Mijn vader was door de oorlog verknipt geraakt’ | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Familieverhalen waren op donderdag 26 maart het centrale thema van de tweede bijeenkomst van Helden en schurken, voor de zesde keer georganiseerd door het Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam, NIOD, NTR/VPRO en Historisch Nieuwsblad. Luuc Kooijmans, Rosita Steenbeek...
Judith van Praag's insight:

In the conversation that took place March 2015, members of the second or third generation, children and grandchildren of collaborators, share stories about families torn apart by choices made during WWII.

Interesting how in the synopsis the grandmother of Rosita Steenbeek is merely said to have been Jewish, the grandfather German, while many German Jews considered themselves first German and then Jewish. 

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Message from Holocaust found on attic door

Message from Holocaust found on attic door | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Jewish Scene: Man renovating his home in Dutch town of Bilthoven discovers text written on wooden panel by Jewish couple who hid in house in 1942; Yad Vashem records reveal couple was likely murdered in Auschwitz.
Judith van Praag's insight:

70 Years after the liberation the message Levie Sajet and Ester Zilberstein left in their hiding place is discovered. I'm saying their names out loud now, they haven't been forgotten. To fulfill their wish and locate relatives is an other matter.  

According to the article their names do show up on Yad Vashem's list of Pages of Testimony. Levie Sajet and Ester Zilberstein were murdered in Auschwitz.


This would be a good time to enter their names on the site of the Virtueel Joods Monument, the Virtual Jewish Monument.


On a more personal note, a fellow art student's last name was Sajet. He took me ice-skating one afternoon many winters ago. Memories.


Pronouncing a name out loud can bring forth related or even unrelated moments in time. A small memorial.

 

 

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Veriditas Botanicals | Helichrysum

Veriditas Botanicals | Helichrysum | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

Before, and even during WWII (until he was forbidden to do so) my father created snake oil and the likes for Vlisco, a small scale pharmaceutical company he named after his second wife.

 

He mixed essential oils, herbs, and who knows what, to ward off the flu (that killed his father in the epidemic of 1918), to cleanse beer glasses, and lighten muscle aches.

 

Long after he died my mother still had an oversized bottle of Vlisco kampher spirit lotion. Whenever I visited she would shake the bottle asking me to give her a back rub with the strong smelling concoction. She swore the combination of my healing hands and my father's recipe took care of any muscle pain.

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Joost Prinsen Recites Ben Ali Libi - Goose Bumps

Joost Prinsen Recites Ben Ali Libi - Goose Bumps | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

Today is Memorial Day in the Netherlands, remembering the victims of WWII and the Holocaust. Read my earlier post and if you understand Dutch, listen to the recording of Ben Ali Libi by Joost Prinsen. 

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Sound of Music - Celebrating Liberation 1945

Sound of Music - Celebrating Liberation 1945 | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
We denken bij bevrijdingsbeelden meteen aan jazz, maar zelden was er bij de foto- en filmopnames ook een microfoon aanwezig.
Judith van Praag's insight:

While writing about the aftermath of WWII I often listen to period music, not necessarily sounds of the liberation. I didn't even know sound tracks were available of that particular moment in time. The linked Tommy Song was published by Historiek on SoundCloud. 

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5 Bob Dylan Songs That Influenced Our Lives

5 Bob Dylan Songs That Influenced Our Lives | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Without him, the world would sound totally different.
Judith van Praag's insight:

Listening to the early Bob Dylan songs, I'm back in my childhood bedroom, my teenage years spent in a Dutch hamlet, far from our hometown Amsterdam.

Robert Zimmerman's portrait adorned the forest green slanted ceiling of my room. He made me feel less alone in a predominantly non-Jewish environment, he spoke to me, his worldly laments could have been my own. We were the only Jews in our area, up north, a two-and-a-half hour drive from Mokum.

I recall an adult male calling me Jeude, clambering from a brushed lined ditch, suggesting dark things he wanted to do with me. Dark, because I didn't know the meaning of the words he used, dark because of the look on his face, dark because his dialect was alien to me, the girl from the West, and his words beyond my understanding. When I asked the girl next door, she exclaimed she'd tell her mother that I used dirty language.

But I don't know what they mean, I said.

She had to explain the act to me, and then I still I didn't understand, why an act of love would feel so mean. 

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Cold Glass Art

Cold Glass Art | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Jack Storms is one of only three cold glass artists in the world. It’s a type of sculpting process that is so rare, most people have never heard of it. However, when you see it, you won’t believe your eyes. The sculptures he makes are like giant diamonds, and they take up to 24 weeks to... View Article
Judith van Praag's insight:

This has nothing to do with my backstory. Although, the reason why I Scoop.it! is that I'm reminded of my father who worked in the diamant trade. Cutting and polishing a diamant is different from creating straight lines the way Storms does, and yet watching the video it's almost like seeing a giant diamant coming to life in his hands.

Listening to the artist, I'm inspired by his dedication, by the 10,000 hours he must have put in to create unique pieces.

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De wonderpan  -  DeWonderpan.nl

De wonderpan  -  DeWonderpan.nl | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

Nita baked yellow cake in a wonderpan or miracle pan on a petroleum burner, just like the one in the picture. No matter how often she diddled with the flame, she couldn't keep the bottom of the cake from getting scorched. We thought even that dark crust, rich in flavor from caramelized sugar and butter in the batter, was delicious. 

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Snorder: Dutch ‘Soap’ in the Theater | Like TV series "Taxi" on Stage.

Snorder: Dutch ‘Soap’ in the Theater |  Like TV series "Taxi" on Stage. | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

This post triggers memories of my career in the Dutch multi-cultura theater world.
After a decade in politics John Leerdam is back in the theater with a series about illegal cabbies in suburbs of Amsterdam.

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A brief history of the birth control pill - The pill timeline | Need to Know | PBS

A brief history of the birth control pill - The pill timeline | Need to Know | PBS | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Take a look back through the history of the birth control pill.
Judith van Praag's insight:

A Podcast on Tablet Magazine about Jonathan Eig's book, "The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution" was enlightening. 
Here I'd been thinking it was my friend Harry's father Max de Winter (1920-2012) who created "De Pil", to discover the Americans were just a bit ahead of the Netherlands. 
De Winter survived Auschwitz thanks to his technical skills in a Siemens factory. Post WWII he worked as scientist for pharmaceutical company Organon in Oss, NL. 

After Syntex produced The Pill in the U.S., approved by the FDA in 1957 to treat menstrual disorders, and in 1960 as contraceptive, we Dutch got our own Lyndion® in 1962 thanks to the Winter and his team. My "Dolle Mina" (feminist) mother took pride in getting De Pil covered by health insurance, just in time for her daughter to benefit.

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The Renaissance Connection: Tempera versus Oil Paint

The Renaissance Connection: Tempera versus Oil Paint | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Here you will find the AAM—The Renaissance Connection lesson plans
Judith van Praag's insight:

My father and often painted side by side, my little easel next to his. He used oil from big tubes made of lead, I had glass jars. I was not to touch Papa's oil paints. "No, Judith, the gouache is yours!"
That I didn't start painting with oil until I turned 40 shows how obedient a child I was. 

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Specialty Pastry Bakery Kwekkeboom in Amsterdam

Specialty Pastry Bakery Kwekkeboom in Amsterdam | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
De website van Banketbakkerij Kwekkeboom te Amsterdam, dé winkel voor uw bruidstaarten, kindertaarten en heerlijk vers gebak. historie
Judith van Praag's insight:

Coffee at Kwekkeboom meant emptying several cups of intensely dark brew, each accompanied by a free square inch of 'boterkoek'. Mama would order a sausage roll, a kidney pie, and a croquette, followed by a 'Mokkataartje', layered cake with coffee flavored buttercream frosting. After that she was ready to brave her daughter.

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Gifts from the Chazzan's wife.

Gifts from the Chazzan's wife. | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

Was it the summer of 1966 or 1967 that I spent a fortnight in Amsterdam, at the home of Rabbi Soetendorp? What I do know for sure was that the new LJG synagogue had just opened, and that it was the first time in my life that I was away from my parents. I called the rabbi oom Jaap, and his wife tante Mirjam and got to stay in their daughter Leah's room.
On a Saturday, after sjoel the chazzan Harrie Ereira, and his wife, who told me to call her tante Bertje took me home with them for lunch, and to spend the night. Their children were all grown up and they enjoyed having a child around they said. I was surprised they let me choose a book from their children's library, wouldn't they be upset when they'd find out? No, they wouldn't they said.

Still, I was reluctant to take my pick, so  tante Bertje chose for me. I went home with Chaweriem, Anne Frank's Diary and a book about a boy and a dog, or rather a dog and a boy, for the story was told from the dog's point of view. 

 

Years later, when I started working for Taller Amsterdam, I met and went on tour with Tirtsa the Vries, the girl mentioned in the epigraph by her father Leonard together with her sister Mirja, two of "us", the children who had to make up for all the losses during WWII. 

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De Jufferen Lunsingh - Directions

De Jufferen Lunsingh - Directions | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

De Jufferen Lunsingh, Never been here, but hope to visit in the future. This IS an area in the Netherlands that I'm most familiar with. Connect the dots from Drachten to Groningen, Roden, Norg, Assen, Oosterwolde, and via Bakkeveen (not on the small map) back to Drachten and you've got the territory I spent part of my childhood from age seven to sixteen. 

Taking in images of this so familiar landscape makes my throat tighten with emotion. The natural environment appears to be so soothing, and yet this pastoral setting, where the provinces Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe meet,  represents the landscape of my youth and brings forth a memory of words by artist/poet/writer Armando, "the guilty country".

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These Couture Polo Shirts Took Up To 200 Hours to Make

These Couture Polo Shirts Took Up To 200 Hours to Make | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Photography by Alasdair McLellan You will never look at the Lacoste polo shirt in the same way again.  In the embodiment of couture cool, the French brand has collaborated with haute couture embroiderer Maison Lesage whose fairy-fingered “petites main” (tiny hands) typically work their magic on gazillion-dollar couture gowns. The resulting eight faux-oversized polo shirts and mini polo dresses are spectacular, with some calling for more than 200 hours of handiwork. “I like to do what I call my
Judith van Praag's insight:

The first (and best paid) story I wrote for publication was about Studio Francois Lesage for Pure Style, a Dutch magazine a fashion and lifestyle magazine. In the Fall of '88 I pitched the idea, and Editor in Chief Jan H. Weduwer sent me to Paris to interview the master of embroidery. 

 

Upon my return I turned in eight pages of text. "You're supposed to write an article, not a love letter," Jan said. He send me on to an editor who told me I had to cut words. 

 

At the time I was working as a set and costume designer. I knew how to cut material, textiles that is. How to cut words was a totally different matter. As far as I was concerned everything I'd written mattered. I tried my best and brought took out fifty percent. Not enough. Eventually the exasperated editor took my piece in her own hands and brought it down to a succinct piece that, together with an illustration still filled half a page. Over time I learned to cut, but not mince words. Tip: Look up embroidery in the dictionary.

 

Not long after my Paris adventure, I visited Tarun Tahiliani's House of Couture in what was then still Bombay. He told me the "atelier" in Paris only produced a small percentage of Lesage's output. The nimble fingers were Indian, he could take me to the workshop where women produced the Lesage signature embroidery for French Haute Couture.

 

I learned then that you've got to be naive to think that Haute Couture is produced solely by the fifteen in house workers necessary to be accepted by the French Haute Couture syndicate.

 

Much of today's couture is produced overseas, whether in India, Thailand or China, this cuts the production costs tremendously.

 

Buyers of Haute Couture may still fork out thousands, the fifteen lucky and the official workers in the Paris atelier get paid well, while overseas the ones with nimble fingers get perhaps one or two bucks per hour. Such is life, 99 versus the 1 percent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hope Filled Jars: Quest for Love of Self - Getting Rid of Toxic Shame

Hope Filled Jars: Quest for Love of Self - Getting Rid of Toxic Shame | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

Some might say I had a difficult childhood older parents; one with double PTSD (WWI + WWII) the other suffering from chronic psychosis, both suffering from losses.

Yet, I count myself fortunate...

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11 Dutch Safety Signs That Are Really Creepy (And Funny)

11 Dutch Safety Signs That Are Really Creepy (And Funny) | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
The Dutch produced some creepy safety signs back in the day. They would have made anybody fear for their lives and never leave the house. Enjoy!
Judith van Praag's insight:

The linked images explain why I am so careful. I may be too young to have seen the actual posters, my parents must have heeded the warnings and passed them on to me. 
Which reminds me, my Tetanus shot is overdue. 

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Vintage Glamour Pictured in London's East End - by Photographer Boris Bennett - Valuable Costume Designer's Resource

Vintage Glamour Pictured in London's East End - by Photographer Boris Bennett - Valuable Costume Designer's Resource | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

No, I have no history in London, but for my work as assistant buyer at Metz & Co, which was affiliated with Liberty's of London, and a visit in 1980.
Yet, as a former costume designer —as if one is ever a former this or that, you never quite lose the professional deformation—  I recognize Boris Bennett's collection as a wonderful resource for period costumes and inspiration for contemporary gown design, not to mention gentlemen's attire.
The photograph of the first dapper gent pictured in the article by "the gentle author" of the Spitalfield Life blog is priceless.
Happens to be the photographer.
Wow, what a great dresser he was! 
Salutations Mr. Bennett, I love your style, and RIP you are remembered and honored with the publication of this marvelous book. 

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Amsterdam, you leave a salty taste - Meyer Sluyser - Jewish Dutch Library

Amsterdam, you leave a salty taste - Meyer Sluyser - Jewish Dutch Library | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Digitale Joodse bibliotheek (boeken van Joodse schrijvers gratis online lezen of downloaden)
Judith van Praag's insight:

In Amsterdam I always knew when I was in a pre-WWII Jewish neighborhood. Probably my father had told me stories, history of Jewish Amsterdam when we made our way through what was no longer, shadows of the past. He made sure I knew, would remember his memories, how fowl hung in the poultry shop, my grandmother's last days before the Great Disaster, the days she spent with her second husband, the handsome Jacob Roos, so many years her junior, not that much older than papa, his sisters and brother. 

To quote Meyer Sluyser: "Amsterdam je hebt een zoute smaak." 

 

Download a PDF of the book, and/ or listen to a radio program after one of the stories, about Hungarian Jewish immigrants in Amsterdam. 

 

Ik wist 't altijd, wanneer ik op 't spoor kwam van iets Joods in Amsterdam. Waarschijnlijk vertelde mijn vader me over de geschiedenis terwijl hij zich met mij een weg baande door wat niet meer was, schaduwen van vroeger. Het werd me allemaal ingeprent, wie waar woonde, hoe het gevogelte hing bij de poelier, waar mijn oma haar laatste dagen in Amsterdam sleet met haar tweede man, die knappe Jacob Roos, niet zoveel ouder dan mijn papa, zijn zusjes en broer. Om met Meyer Sluyser te spreken, Amsterdam je hebt een zoute smaak.

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Buitenplaats Boekestein

Buitenplaats Boekestein | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

My grandmother Jeanette spent the summer months at the beginning of the 20th Century at this estate. The rest of the year she lived at Heerengracht 506, in Amsterdam, the residence of the mayor. Eighty years later her granddaughter Judith would join an artist collective that had its home in the carriage house of #506, with the stable doors on the Keizersgracht.

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10 Fascinating Facts About Chickens

10 Fascinating Facts About Chickens | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Chickens are unique individuals that have so much more to offer the world than ending up on someone's dinner plate.

Via Cathryn Wellner
Judith van Praag's insight:

As soon as we had settled in on the farm, Jake handed Klaas de Vries a list of animals he wanted to purchase. Top of the list was a goat, and then chickens, white ones for eggs, and special ones for breeding. I observed them closely, from chick to roosting hen and ruling rooster. I'm thankful for all they have to offer, on my plate and in the pen.

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How to Hide Gadgets: Turn an iPhone into a Moleskine Book | WIRED

How to Hide Gadgets: Turn an iPhone into a Moleskine Book | WIRED | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
Judith van Praag's insight:

The year was 1991 and I was Visiting Artist (variation on Artist in Residence) at U.T. at Austin. Invited by the Chair of the Drama Department, with blessing of the Dean, I lectured at the Department of Fine Arts and the School of Architecture. In between I presented poetry performances reading poems from my laptop while writing them longhand on calculator paper, all that within an installation I prepped beforehand.

For one of my presentations in an Art Installation workshop I collected dead leaves in a Samsonite® suitcase and emptied the lot in the classroom, reciting words about Jews without graves and swastika marked headstones in the Jewish corner of Père Lachaise.

 

Afraid that thieves might spot me and my laptop, back then still rarely seen outside, I asked the head of the costume department for a disguise for my expensive prop. She gave me a used symphony bag, one that had held a musician's scores. 

 

That's what this crafty project reminds me off, more than handy, it's a good disguise. 

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▶ Oil Portraits with Egg Oil Emulsion Underpainting - YouTube

An excerpt from the DVD, All About Painting Mediums with Rob Howard. Here, Howard makes an egg/oil emulsion and makes it into a paint for underpainting. The ...
Judith van Praag's insight:

Egg yolk and olive oil makes ... Only one step removed from mayo (although I like to add course ground mustard for that) ... Beside making fresh mayo with my father, and cutting and drying potatoes for fries, I also painted alongside him. Check another Scoop.it! for that.

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Croquette on Bread in Amsterdam

Croquette on Bread in Amsterdam | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
als klein jongetje moest ik op vrijdag bij Dobben broodjes halen
Judith van Praag's insight:

Where do you get the best 'kroket' (croquette) in Amsterdam? Let's start with Kwekkeboom, next to Tuschinski. My mom would order a sausage roll, a croquette and a slice of cake with mocha butter cream. Walk through the alley adjacent to this bakery and you'll get to Van Dobbe, a great 'broodjes' (not sandwich but rolls) shop. They as well make a great kroket. Some favor bakery Holtkamp in the nearby Vijzelstraat. On the other side of the Tuschinski you'll find one of the FEBO, hole-in-the-wall outfits. Not bad, especially not after hours, when the bakeries are closed.

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Percolator - Koffie weetjes

Percolator - Koffie weetjes | Background Story is History | Scoop.it
De percolator bestaat uit een metalen kan met hierin een hol metalen buisje. Voor deze manier van koffiezetten gebruik je het beste een medium maling.
Judith van Praag's insight:

Seated in her chair by the kitchen window Nita ground coffee beans,  the antique coffee mill locked between her knees. The aroma made her nose tickle. She pinched her nostrils together, stifling a sneeze. Placing the mill on the table she removed the small wooden drawer, and scooped five table spoons of coffee into a perforated receptacle inside the coffee pot, poured hot water from the kettle on the stove into the pot, careful not to touch the coffee, and put the lid on. While she set the table for breakfast the water in the pot came to a boil, bubbled through the central tube, hit the glass knob in the lid and came down onto the grinds. "Coffee's brown," she yelled. Not quite, but it would be by the time Jake stumbled into the kitchen.

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