I was sleeping in the little room, at the front of the attic, until I was woken by a heavy storm.
It turned out that this was the night that the dikes broke and thousands of people were drowned in the province to the south of us, Zeeland.
The waters DID come to the top of the dikes around Gouda.
When they returned home, my parents met the son-in-law-to be, of the neighbours who owned a ceramics factory, called Flora, in the village of Gouderak, nearby. This young man and my father decided to grab their bikes and ride over to see if everything was all right.
It seemed to be, although there was some water trickling over the dike and towards the factory.
My father and the other man found bricks and they created a channel, on the factory floor, guiding the water from the front and out the back across the floor. Until
there was a sound like an explosion. The dike had burst. The front doors blew off and heavy machinery was swept out the back doors.
The men fled to the roof. Crossed that, to the house next door, where a young mother was panicking and holding her baby.
“What about my furniture?” she cried. “Never mind your furniture, woman!” my father is said to have shouted. “Run!” and they fled.
In the morning they realised how naive it now seemed that they should have hoped to have saved the factory, when it turned out that many thousands of homes were completely under water, not that far away.
The owners of the factory were very grateful for my father’s attempt to save the factory. When we migrated, in April, 1956, they had a going-away present. A box full of plates and other pottery. The plates have hung on the walls of my parents’ house now for more than 50 years.
Another I like to put pizzas on. I have only recently been made aware, via the internet, that these items are now collectors’ pieces.
The vase has been stored beside the dustbin, behind the fridge most of the time, except for the few times when there have been flowers.