These early family history stories were written by Ine for the album that we presented to Mom and Dad for their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
On a wintry day, just before Christmas, in fact, there was rejoicing in the town of Tegelen, in the province of Limburg. Peter Willem Hubert Olders and Anna Catharine (Indemans) Olders had been blessed this December 19, 1911, with a son, whom they named Joseph Aloijsius Reinold. He was welcomed by Anna, his four year old sister, and later joined by Theodoor, in 1916.
The Olders family worked long hard hours to make ends meet, but Jos managed to indulge in a passion for bicycling. In his youth he toured Holland, Belgium and Germany with his companions, camping or staying in youth hostels at night. No fancy gears, padded seats, and hotels for these travellers, but a lot of fun.
From early days, Jos showed a strong aptitude and interest in music. Everyone sang, if they could, but he also learned to play violin from an old master in the town. No formal lessons, just two keen musicians working together in an early “jam” session. Because Jos just couldn’t stop learning whenever he had the opportunity, he became familiar with other instruments too, and was a clarinetist in the army band. With his violin, he was welcomed everywhere, becoming involved in the church music program the orchestra for the famous Passion Play held every ten years in Tegelen, and the community orchestra.
That violin also led to romance. . . . . .
On July 29, 1910, Johanna Keijzers-Meussen and Petrus Johannes Keijzers celebrated the birth of their fourth child, a new daughter. They called her Gerarda Wilhelmina Anna, which was a long handle for such a tiny babe. With two big sisters, Truusje and Marietje, and big brother, Johan, she didn’t get into too much trouble, at least, not until she was old enough to help with the mischief. It was surely a merry group, playing in the garden, helping with the family music-making. Of course, everyone sang!
Gera was such a quick student that she got the opportunity to take teacher training in Tilburg, at the residential institute. Four years of highly regimented convent-style life there turned her into an excellent teacher, but didn’t quite straighten her behaviour out. This pious young lady, apparently attending Benediction at the local church, conned her sister into slipping into the church to check out who was leading the service, and whether or not it was busy, so that after spending a delicious hour behind the factory with friends, gobbling pastries, the report to Mother would be correct. No wonder she is so forgiving of children’s peccadilloes.
As an elementary teacher in Oss, her youth and wit must have endeared her to her pupils, because she could handle a class of sixty with ease. The one subject, though, that she dreaded having to teach was knitting. Imagine, if you can, sixty sweaty little pairs of hands, sixty pairs of metal knitting needles, well-rusted, and cotton yarn with absolutely no give to it. She blessed those few mothers who had already taught their little darlings to knit! In spite of this, when she left the profession, to begin a new one as wife and mother, the parting was sad. But that is another story.
Gera still has a weakness for Norwegian fjords, but can’t find a tour as economical as her first one, at $16, with three side trips.
THE BRABANT-LIMBURG CONNECTION
With all the restrictions experienced by young people during the war, getting together with friends to make music was a valuable outlet. So it happened that Gera was off with her Oratorio choir to another city to sing, what else but Handel’s Messiah, in a three-community massed choir, on the fateful evening that would change her life forever.
Jos was stationed with his army unit at the Boys’ School in Oss, and was sent to the firm of Keijzers Inwoning on an errand. As he waited there he saw a violin lying on the counter, and of course, had to talk about it. The net result was an invitation to come and make music some evening with the household, which he did with enthusiasm, but some shyness. There, he met Gera, and over many such evenings and other group activities, they got to know and appreciate each other. Gera was not really forward, but did manage to bike down to Limburg with a friend, just for coffee! Whether it was the violin, or the sweet curl on his forehead that won her over, she won’t say, but after sadly dismissing all her other boyfriends, Gera became officially engaged to Jos. They were wed on September 7, 1943.
During the war, food and drink were scarce, but they knew how to celebrate with music and laughter. Everyone provided the best of his wit or song for the occasion. Even the gold band was formed from gold collected from various pieces available to the bridal pair and melted down to form a new shape.
This is truly symbolic of the way these two special people, Jos and Gera, combined the gold that was in each of them, with the laughter and the music, for make for us, the children, and those who come after, such a rich and loving heritage. Thank you.