The tricyclist in Amsterdam 1920s

PHOTO: (C) Beeldtype : My father on his tricycle on a street in Amsterdam in 1926.

Almost 94 years ago was this picture taken of my father, Franciscus Vaal (1922-1984), then aproximately 4 years old. I find the sailor-like suit he’s wearing simply adorable. I remember my father to always wear a suit and tie. Well, except maybe on holidays. He would lose the tie then. But still wear a shirt and nice pants.

Another funny thing is that I have never seen my dad riding a bike. In many countries this is quite normal, but not in The Netherlands. Everybody owns a bike, but he didn’t in my lifetime. So seeing him on this tiny bike is quite endearing.

My father riding is tricycle, accompanied by my grandmother Wilhelmina Vaal- de Ridder (R), her mother (c) (my great-grandmother) and probably a great-aunt of mine (L).

This long ago, people would not wear the casual clothing we wear today. They would always be decently clad when going out. Maybe not when you couldn’t afford it, but still, women would wear dresses and men a suit. Have a look at children’s cloths from this era here.

My grandmother, Wilhelmina Maria Johanna de Ridder (1891-1978) was a seamstress. And my guess is that she would design and produce the clothes for my father. On this picture my father must be at least year or more older than on the first picture, but again he is wearing a sailor suit:

My father playing croquet, probably in the garden in front of his house in Amsterdam Oud-Zuid ca. 1928

I spent quite a few hours trying to locate where the photo’s were taken. Not quite easy, I must say. I could find a birth card of my father’s sister , Wilhelmina Vaal, which stated that her address was Cornelis Trooststraat 71. Looking at the street the way it is now, doesn’t compare at all to these pictures. Although the 90 degree left turn in the street could be matched with a turn in the street today.

A lot has changed in that area of the city. A lot of new appartment buildings were built due to a vast housing shortage and because of the Olympics, held in 1928. Across from the former mentioned address a school/monastery was built in the 1930s (now a brewery).

In the background of the first photo is a a cigar shop. In the window it says: sigarenmagazijn … zuid. The … could be ‘oud’. It’s hard to read. The sign above the door reads: ‘Ten Hove’s sigaren’; a Dutch cigar brand from Kampen. I could not find this shop in any online archive.

So that’s all I have. The pictures and a lot of ‘if’s’ and ‘maybe’s’. If anyone knows if this really was the Cornelis Trooststraat, please let me know.

Published by Françoise Vaal

My addiction to visuals started with cartoons on tv, comic books, and movies. I dreamt away while looking at my mother’s landscape photographs and imagined going there and capturing the landscapes for myself. For more than twenty years I was a picture editor for newspapers and magazines but my own photography had been limited to snapshots of faraway countries. My wish of dedicating myself to my own photography and art finally came true. My home base is The Netherlands.

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