Frankie, please sit still. Frankie, please don’t make funny faces. Frankie. Please! – Willy Jump- Amsterdam, Holland 1960-1966
Some of my earliest memories are being in photo booths with Willy, my Mom. I can still smell her Chanel #5 and Wella haarlak (hairspray) while seeing and hearing the flashing lights, the sounds of the camera going off, the buzzing, the clicking, the humming of the development. Shortly after emerging from the booth, there’s the anticipatory sound of the paper being cut and the narrow photo paper dropping down the shoot with a click. And then the whys. Why can’t you just be normal? Keep a straight face. Mom, I can’t even think straight.
(Harold & Willy when they first met at the Kleine Astoria– couple on the right)
(After returning from Italy with my Dad (Harold Jump) on their two-years post-nuptual honeymoon – Willy had a glamorous air.)
Other memories of downtown Amsterdam are talking to American GIs (while on leave from being trained in Germany before shipping off to Vietnam) in the smoky jukebox lit bar with my Mom and her friends and ex-bosses (the deWaal’s) at the Kleine Astoria Hotel on the corner of the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and the Nieuwendijk (just south of Centraal Station) where Willy used to work as a chambermaid when she was a teen.
Strains of A Lighter Shade of Pale and the Ross-less Supremes hit Nathan Jones (You’ve Been Gone Too Long) wailing in the background as these soldiers cried their eyes out to me about wanting to come home. I would sink in all of the change (kleingeld) I’d win from my Grandfather (Opa), Frans Broekveldt- from playing dice (dubbelsteenen) and play all of the Beatles, British pop, and Motown I could buy.
Opa would begrudgingly hand over my winnings that I would keep in a tin Agio cigar box. I’d shake it back and forth to remind him of his losses. When I wasn’t being dragged in and out of department stores, like the elegant de Beienkorf (The Beehive) or H & M – or – C & A by Willy, I’d be running around the Centrum with my Oma going bootschappen – grocery shopping. We’d go into the center of town and buy smoked eels wrapped in newspaper at the fish market (vismarkt), armfuls of orange tulips for just a few guldens at the flower market (bloemenmarkt) and tons of cold cuts and sliced cheeses to make boterhamen (sandwiches) on the fresh melkbrood – a milky white bread with an almost burnt top crust that was thinly sliced with an automatic electric slicing machine that rattled and whirred. The deli-men always gave my Oma and me tastes (proevertjes) of the slices of bloodwurst and smoked tongue (bloedworst en tong) or the ham that melted in your mouth.
(Oma -grandma- after a boreltje (a little cocktail) and a hand-rolled smoke. She would get that glimmer in her eye, tilt her head and remove a piece of tobacco from her tongue. Sabra proudly sits in the foreground, my Oom (uncle) Frans’ fearless doberman.)
Sometimes, I would hear a new song from the hit parade on Radio Hilversum and drag my Oma to all of the record stores, singing what I remembered of the songs to the store-owners and having them played for me on the turntable with headphones. Beatle hits on VJ Records Please, Please Me, Love Me Do and later hits from the British black girl group The Flirtations like Someone Out There and How Can You Tell Me on the Deram label were memorable outings. We’d rush home, I’d learn the songs in fifteen minutes flat, and I’d run out to play in the galerij (gallery courtyard) with my Dutch buddies and teach them the songs in English, then we’d play tree tag (boom tikketje), or shooting paper cones into people’s open windows with leftover PVC pipes we’d turn into machine guns, or catching bees (beienvangen) from the Butterfly Bush in the middle of the courtyard, and kissing the boys (and girls) whenever I could. Then Willy would come walking up the street like Grace Kelly after a day at de kapper (the hairdresser) – who was her best friend – Peter Raakman, and we’d run off and go de stadt in – into town. We’d hit a photo booth and document her latest peach blonde beehived masterpiece.
(The Boys of the Geuzenstraat, Bos en Lommer – Amsterdam) © Frank H. Jump