Daan – my dad – could put a press clippings service out of business.
Ever since we moved from Amsterdam, he has cut-out, stamped, and posted to Dublin any bike article he reads. Recently, my dad’s clipping service ventured into new markets — it now also offers vintage bike books.
Flying back from Amsterdam, I read the vintage book my dad gave me for Christmas: ‘Dikes and Bikes’ – written by Nel Slis and Hugh Jans, published in 1953. It’s a comprehensive foreigner’s guide to the Netherlands.
It describes ‘the Netherlander’ as:
“… stiff, but not hostile; reserved, but not unfriendly; serious, but not somber; devout, but not fanatical; uneffusive, but not cold; plodding, but not unimaginative.“
It goes on by describing the Netherlands’ main cities, alliterating Amsterdam as follows:
“… the steep-staircased, canal-cut capital of the Lowlands, thriving on business, bohemia and ‘broodjes’“. (broodjes = Dutch sandwiches)
Finally, the book describes Dutch bicycle culture (I am copying the enitre artcile below).
Apparently, the five-and-a-half million people using a bike in 1953 were cursed by motorists.
Nowadays, Holland has 18 million bicycles, and 16 million inhabitants.
With that, the cursing also seems to have gotten less.