The 1987 storm broke all minor records. Roof tiles fell and we received reports of blown antennas that had to be repaired. But before starting those jobs, we thought it would be wise to sit out the storm first. Climbing onto a roof in wind force 9-10 is not a good idea.
It had been quiet in the store all day and it seemed that we couldn’t make a customer happy that day. So we began unpacking and hooking up new stock so that after the storm everything would be ready for demonstration and sale again.
At the end of the afternoon we all sat in the kitchen for a break. Coffee, tea and chocolate milk with a slice of cake. Jaap had come to Hasselt by bus and sat down in his usual spot next to the coffee machine. All customers stayed home that day. Except for one man, who had braved the strong wind on his bicycle. We were just sitting down when the front door of the store flew open with a bang. The man dressed in a long raincoat pushed the front door shut again with difficulty. A short complaint came out of his mouth “Boy what a strong wind!”
He sat wearily in the wicker chair that stood next to the front door. He saw us sitting in the kitchen from the store, but he made no effort to walk through. Too tired from his bike ride. My father walked into the store and asked what he could help him with.
‘I’m looking for a motor. A motor for an old Miele washing machine, a very old washing machine. Maybe You remember it’. This was really my father’s specialty. Parts and old models of washing machines. I kept an eye on everything as always, but let him do the job. That way with us everything was divided fairly. Everyone’s specialty.
When he had named the model, my father said “One moment, I am going to look around in our old warehouse” and at the same time he walked on to an old attic above Jaap’s repair department. Up two flights of stairs to a very old attic. A roof carried by round poles with horizontal slats hammered onto them and on top of that the roof tiles. Here and there you could see the sky between the tiles. Insulation was unknown in those days.
In the attic was a large collection of various boxes. My father looked around and then walked back to the store. The man sat patiently waiting, but when my father returned empty-handed his courage sank in. “Oh no, not again! He exclaimed.
My father looked at him in surprise and asked “What do you mean? ‘Well, you come back empty-handed, so I take it you don’t have an engine for me either?’ Still somewhat surprised by that remark, my father responded with: ‘Well, they are very large and heavy engines of old-fashioned quality. You don’t just walk down the stairs with those. That’s why I wanted to ask first which one you prefer. I have two lying around, one new in the box in grease paper and I also have a second hand one lying around, but it’s a bit covered in rust. Nothing serious, we’ll get that off.
The man plopped back in the chair in amazement. ‘Are You serious?’ my father nodded. ‘Do You know how many stores I visited to get this motor?’ My father shook his head. ‘I visited over twenty stores in Meppel, Staphorst, Zwartsluis, Genemuiden, IJsselmuiden, Kampen and Zwolle. And all on my bike. Not a singel show owner who could help me’.
“But, you are from Hasselt here, aren’t you?” my father asked. The man nodded. ‘Yes, that’s right. ‘But why don’t you come and ask here in Hasselt first? After all, don’t look in the distance, what your own city offers you’. The man nodded and then came the best part of the story. He aseken: ‘What do they cost?’
‘The new one can go for 20 Guilders and the one with rust for 10 Guilders. They have been lying there for more than twenty years waiting for a customer. The man was amazed and very happy, he paid thirty guilders and took both back home. But before he left he got a hot cup of coffee and a slice of cake in our kitchen. He finally had the wind with him that day.