Thursday, 17 January 2013

Sepia Saturday - Looking back

The big question this week is, why is the gentleman in the foreground turning around, what does he see and is there a beginning of a surprised look visible in his face? I am happy to let you know that I am in a position to answer all these questions and more. How come you ask. Well, it so happens that I met the driver of the truck. The man looked vaguely familiar to me. He insisted on telling me what he had seen in his rearview mirror. He admitted that of course he also had to watch the road ahead and that his rear view was partially blocked by the passenger behind him. But that didn't stop him from noticing a few remarkable things. Frankly, I admire him for his ability to even see minor details while he must have seen those only very briefly. But that is what makes an excellent driver. So when I spoke to the trucker, he said that the first thing he saw was a farmstead. 
Farmstead "Brielzicht" located on the Zandweg, Rozenburg
From his description of the farm I was almost certain that it was the farm that belonged to the grandparents of my maternal grandmother. Their names were Arij Barendregt (1836-1911) and Meinsje Qualm (ca 1839-1894). Rozenburg was an island near Rotterdam. It does no longer exist. The (is)land was needed for the many extensions of the port.
Ber Schregel (l) and my father Johannes Cornelis Miebies
The next situation he described was that of two men on their bikes. It looked like they were going on a camping holiday by bike. The men resembled my father and his friend and colleague Ber Schregel. They both worked for the Ministry of the Interior in The Hague. I believe they are seen here bicycling in the street where my grandparents lived, the Mispelstraat in The Hague. My guess is that it is 1938 or 1939, just prior to WW2.
But there was no end to my surprise.
F.l.t.r. my brother, my mother and my 1st cousin Marijke
My mysterious friend now told me he saw a charming lady walking with two kids in the The Hague Appelstraat. His guess was that it was 1953. His description of the lady was so detailed, that I immediately recognized my mother Johanna Huberta Miebies-de Langen.
Hardly recovered from my surprise, my eye witness winked at me and said he also remembered a sepia spectacle.
An unknown company at an unknown location with my
maternal grandparents in the blue circle
Despite the fact that he gave a very detailed explanation of what he saw, it did not ring a bell. But just when I was about to give up, he told me of this couple in the blue circle. His description was so precise that my maternal grandparents immediately appeared in my mind. Obviously they were part of a travel group some time before WW2. But where? I don't know.
"Speaking of travel", my spokesman said, "the last thing I saw in my rearview mirror, was an aeroplane trying to make an emergency landing. But funny enough it stayed in the air", he said with a smile. 
One of the first air crashes
My mind wandered away to a collection of old airplane pictures that I have. Two of my KLM colleagues saved some 3,000 photo's from the Copenhagen dustmen. And this was one of them. I looked up to my truck driver to explain my connection with this picture. But there was no one to talk to, he had disappeared in thin air. Had I been dreaming? Who was this person? Why did he look so familiar? Why did all these pictures have a connection with my family? Coincidence? Suddenly a shiver ran down my spine. 
And I don't even believe in ghosts...

For more spiritual experiences please have a look at other Sepia Saturday stories.


  1. Boy oh boy, that driver had great eyesight! But I'm ever grateful he was able show us the house of your grandparents' grandparents. Amazing.

  2. What a clever way to tell a story! I loved reading this. Great post.

  3. Peter you've excelled yourself here. What a happy co-incidence that the truckdriver drove his way into your dream world.

  4. I loved reading this, a very creative post!

  5. Delightfully refreshing way of linking the photos to the theme.

  6. Now this is what I call creative history. Enjoyed reading it. I just love the 'oldness' of the photos.

    Thanks for the welcome to SS.

  7. Wat een mooi verteld verhaal. Boek in aantocht?

  8. Great mind telling a story around old photo's.
    Loved reading it.
    Where? Old building, somehow looks Germanic.
    It surely was in the roaring twenties time, according to some of the dresses these ladies were wearing.
    The first picture somehow reminded me of Hitchcock, who also starts his movies showing himself walking along.
    Very novel.

  9. This story definitely is amusing, especially how you got that truck driver to weave so many sights into his rear view mirror, if indeed there really was one on that truck! I argue that he just looked back in time!

  10. @Wendy
    Too bad it's history now.
    @Little Nell
    Sometimes you need a little luck...
    Hope so!
    Great mind?? You must be kidding :)
    The building could very well be in Germany. I'll ask my mum, maybe she remembers.

    Thank you all for your kind comments!

  11. @B. Rogers
    I'm sure he did! Twice ;)
    Thanks for your visit.

  12. The very definition of serendipity. The very definition of a wonderfully entertaining Sepia Saturday post as well.

  13. An inspiring post and a special way of looking at the photo; it made me study yours even closer to see what he had missed.

  14. I loved this week's post. I think you really were dreaming. How funny to have a dream of a truck driver. I wonder what an analyst would say to that.

    Too bad about your grandparents house and the disappearing island. That was a beautiful house.

  15. I'm guessing the photo of your mother, brother and cousin in Appelstraat was a "Walking Picture," taken by a street photographer.

  16. Although I realize the Dutch economy largely depends on the Rotterdam harbor I consider the fate of the Rozenburg Island still very saddening. Just look at the farm, how majestic it was.

  17. You have an interesting way to weave a fictional story with a non-fiction story. I enjoyed your post and pictures. That last photo is the summit!

  18. Oh my gosh, Peter, what a great story! I love how you wove it all together ... you are quite a writer.

    That plane must have been pretty light to get hung up like that.

    Kathy M.

  19. How delightful! I just knew that one of had to know this man, or someone in this photo, they just had to. I mean after all, it is such a small world after all, and there are so many of us. Surely he was no ghost either, but a man of his reputation and vigor was off quickly to look at more things! :)

  20. Whatever happened to "eyes on the road, two hands on the wheel!" Truck drivers in the Netherlands have amazing skill to pick out all those details, especially when going fast enough to break the limits on time.

  21. fantastic, what tales and what photos

  22. Peter, Peter, Peter, Yes, three times I was delighted - first, with the story, second, with the pictures, and thirdly, the pure delight of when the "spirit" grabs you. More!

  23. I love the novel interpretation of the prompt and the way you created a story - kept me guessing to the end.

  24. Nicely put together did the spirit lubricate the imagination?

  25. Peter, I do like the interesting twist you gave this story; excellent. It must have been an lovely Island where the farm was.

  26. Amazing trip through your family album with your ghostly truck driver. Nice.

  27. Great post, fun to read and great that you have those photos of your family. When we visited Maastricht last year, we went to the house of my husband's grandparents. It was still there but very run down - sad.

  28. Great post!!
    You certainly can spin a fishing tale when you need to!!!


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