zaterdag 21 mei 2011

Story of a fruit company

21 MAI 2011

"And I sit and wait and anticipate what is coming", was a phrase Observer 'got' from somewhere, when he was sitting resting between moments of looking on the internet for what others had to tell. Within a few hours there was that church meeting remembering the dead of his father Sincere, who would have been 88 yesterday, but lived until 83. That is, Observer believed he was still present by in everything he left to others the day he passed away with a long deep bread. Everyone present in the room taught it was his last. But he waited some eternal seconds and took breath very deep for one last time. Holy moment, such a last breath. One would like to see the number of breaths taken in his life. The task of understanding what this life of his meant, for so many people and to himself, is not an easy one. It is quite easy, but only if you remember his soft and sweet part mainly and the moments of wisdom he tried to share on some occasions, mainly outside his life as a very hard working independent fruit cultivator and trader. He looked very peacefully in his coffin where numbers of people showed him their last respect. He was born in a house build by his father in 1935. His father had three sons and two daughters, (a tirth lived briefly). His father Mesurer wasn't the kind of man that one cannot have as a friend. He was very reliable in every way. He was a kind of wise man that tried to solve family rows or helped to lay down the dead in their coffin, so that they looked peacefully. In those days people were kept for three days at their home, befor being buried. Mesurer cultivated potatoes and lots of fruit and vegetables and was elected again and again in the council of the village, for a party that did not depend on the traditional main parties, until the 1960's where the man he appointed as his follower became the youngest ‘burgemeester’ (learn Dutch, it is easy if you know English, it’s a kind of deeper soul, closer to the spirit) ‘mair’ of the country all at ones. Mesurer had gained much credibility during world war two, as a member of an independent resistant group. As the owner of a cafe he had to be very prudent to hide all those who wouldn't go and work for the occupying foreign state. Even in 1944, in a time when he kept on warning not to take revenge by murdering collaborators, but supporting the hideaway of people and some economic sabotage, even in a time when at last, with the allies at the gates of France; when a collaborator was shot dead and there would be revenge from the part of the occupier and much collaborators from all over the country, he knew that his wife Softness had again go into hiding and his sons and him again as well...so he saved his family and the rest of his life he found it difficult that many in the village did not return from the camps of concentrations they were taken at. He had warned that even in sight of the Allies, it was not safe to let young men openly work at the guest farms they were in hiding in, young men that refused to work for the occupier and had left their homes to hide themselves. Mesurer knew that the Gestapo and the own Belgian collaborators knew too much already about the activities in the local region, because not enough security. "It must have been hell, having to take care of a family in those days, with sons that were tracked down", Observer taught. Mesurer ' s son Sincerity, who had become ill during the war, escaped enlisting in the war machine that way and a second son, sweet Calculator, got off the hook as well, by using his brothers papers under a false name...with his brother waiting at the corner of the occupier's bureau to see how this risk taking story would end, ready to go in and defend his brother if he was to be taken for arrest, when the deceit would be discovered.
The brothers survived the war and began to adept themselves at the new area of being a farmer. Together with their youngest brother Traveler they had looked for a job in the steel industry of the French part of the country, but in vain. So after the war, when the brothers married, Travelar became an excellent roof repairer and much more and Sincerity and Calculator began to expand the small business of their father, who stopped going to the local markets in nearby towns, him and his horse. The brothers started out from practically nothing and bought their own station wagon car with was partly build from wood, can you imagine those days. Along with the buying of the English car, came the ’heard say’ that in England fruit trees were planted in to pots. As in Flanders, farmers had those big trees still. But that changed, more and more little fruit trees replaced some areas in Flanders to beautiful scenes, especially in springtime. Mesurer from then on only took care of his animals, cows and pigs as it was done in the days of his youth. on a small scale. He occupied himself in his old age as well with a folklore dance group and with going to funerals of people he knew, trying to forget the scars of the war. On these occasions, as well as on funerals and weddings he spoke or sang songs, and was very proud to buy his first pickup which he took to the 1958 world expo in Brussels and were the guild of Saint Sebastian danced on for an international public. It must have meant a lot for these dancing farmers, coming out of a terrible war and trying to forget about it. A big farmer in some part of the other side of the village n those ware days, was a member of the collaboration and walked around in black uniform, trying to win some poor people over for his case, then his brother was killed by the end of the war and the collaborating family wanted to take revenge by 'punishing' the entire village by taking some 78 hostages...and only 8 returned.
But those days where gone, the sons of Mesurer bought their first tractor and with their first Magirus truck they started doing business with their fruit and those of other farmers in the area. First only in a town in the province of Antwerp, years later they started exporting as well to the rebuild nation that was the former occupier. Sincerity 's first idea for making a living was to go to Congo and cultivate fruit over there. He had followed colonial school and was ready to leave, but did not in last instance, some years before much Belgian cultivators were thrown out of Congo for a while. Again he had some luck one could say…as had the wife he would merry the often joyful Sceptic...during the war she was wounded high above her leg, by a splinter of a bomb thrown from a plane...she almost bled to dead...and was a war victim who almost couldn't have had children because of 2cm more to the left, one can say. Observer often wondered if he, as the riping part of an egg he ones was, did not feel her anxiety as well at the time. In any case, he had reason enough to become a war resister later on. Sincerity and Calculator and Sceptic became a trio that worked very hard in order to follow the needs of the welfare system after world war two and the ever growing scale of doing business. Starting in the sixties, everybody wanted to have a car and a lot of workers in factories, not only farmers, in their free time, when they returned from work, they started cultivating strawberries for example. So, during Observers youth each day after school he had to do a lot of work to help with getting all kinds of fruit in to up to two trucks each day, charging them at the hangers at home or going to get them at the veiling. Next to this the own plantations kept on growing as well, so more and more work had to be done and the number of workers working for the brothers grew up to 5 at a certain point. Wives of farmers came to sort the fruit and a young men who wasn't able any more to live from the carpenter workplace of his father, because ever bigger concurrence from big enterprises, joined the team, together with a few mineworkers, who stopped their activity under the ground to get back in touch with nature again.

The company had started with high fruit trees, local markets, went international, and ended in the next generation with a local shop an high fruit trees again. There were no pictures taken, only memories of the hard work and the people who could eat good fruit and the farmers who got a good price for their fruit, remain.

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