People who perform heavy work know it … you have to know exactly what is your weakest link and ensure that it does not break.
So it is important to eat and drink on time and take a pause. Only in this way will you be able to “survive” until your retirement.
What we did not know at the time was that the tamping mass we used to form the gutters (with which liquid iron and slag is removed) contained an enormous amount of Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon.
I and many colleagues thought it smelled nice when the first liquid iron flowed through the freshly crushed gutters and the tamping mass started to “bake” … a nice tar smell. Of course I realized many years later why it is called “aromatic” …
But always take time for a chat and a newspaper …
And make time for some food and drink …
Of course times have changed and especially working conditions have been adapted and improved! Yet I often think back with pleasant thoughts to the days when production methods were harsh on employees and disastrous for the natural environment.
Comradeship, humor, conviviality, group spirit, a social employer and cooperation make up for a lot, but the late realization that a lot has gone wrong with regard to the environment is important.
With our hands we have contributed a small part to the current prosperity of Western Europe, so that the richest 10% of the 1980s became the richest 1% in 2021.
Now is the time to make sure that mistakes are recognized and the natural environment is allowed to recover. We did that after the recognition of “acid rain” and also once after the recognition of the “hole” in the ozone layer in the 90’s and we can do it again …
Operators on the photos : Roel Wolters, Peter Floresse, Kees Hoogesteeger, Ton Witte, Simon Mosselman, Karel Duys en Erik v Veen.
Jaap Bosman was always called “Lange Jaap” (tall Jaap) by colleagues at the Hoechst-site in Vlissingen, because in our shift there were 3 operators with the same Christian name …
and Jaap was indeed as tall and strong as a bear, always wore the largest size overalls and shoes and his helmet always seemed too small for his head.
In 1987 he had reached the age at which people could start enjoying a well-deserved retirement.
A few weeks earlier I was asked if I could take some pictures of him, to use for a kind of farewell book he would get as a present.
Of course, “official” photos would also be taken, but I gladly complied with the request, because I liked Jaap a lot … and for me he was a caricature of the typically tough and hard-working laborer from Zeeland.
Jaap was always honest and straightforward, never pushed the boundaries and was averse to hypocrisy.
So I did my best to photograph him in his natural way.
Jaap worked hard for many years at the phosphorus furnaces of Hoechst in Vlissingen, under poor working conditions (which were considered “normal” at the time).
Back then it was strictly forbidden to take pictures … (it was the time when it was not even allowed to use a transistor radio in the control room) … so I took pictures illegally, to capture the atmosphere in the control room where colleagues also came for a cup of coffee and a short rest from the heavy physical work in the phosphorus factory.
Apparently Michel Eggers is concentrating on starting up oven 3 after a maintenance shutdown.
Furthermore, Theo Bubberman, Ton Witte, Jan van Ochten, Bas Raas, Ewout Sichterman, Wim Harwig and Willem Tissink are clearly recognizable in the photos (and for the acquaintances also Seger Leclerc).
The pneumatic vane / nozzle controls built into the wall of the control room today would be called hopelessly outdated and unreliable. But I thought they were just fine, because you could clearly hear the whistle or hiss when a controller suddenly moved out of its normal control range.
The night shift also did the simple chores for which there was no time during the day. In the eighties it was the maintenance and updating of all registration equipment, which mainly consisted of analog printers whose ink had to be refilled and which had to be date stamped.
And of course the control room was cleaned!
The pictures only show the work in the control room … in the rest of the factory about 20 more operators are at work!
It was 1982 and I lived in the center of Vlissingen. It was cozy, simple and always busy with tourists who came to the coastal town and port city for the many cultural events. Many pubs, restaurants and terraces and along the beach many beach bars …
There was a lot of employment, fair earnings and spending was made in Zeeland, the natural environment was beautiful and used responsibly. The city dwellers maintained the city themselves and helped each other.
In the seventies there was always a building somewhere that was being renovated …
In the eighties, Vlissingen lost its cultural soul to the modern “efficient” managers.
The use of the boulevard has been “sold” to external project developers, the patronage of the shops in the city center has been lured away by large shopping centers outside the city.
From a cozy, messy port town full of people, but without debts, Vlissingen has now become an empty, clean city that is financially dependent on the national government.
The money that comes in through the rental of houses, shops and hotels disappears to shareholders who have nothing to do with Vlissingen.
Due to the current COVID-19 measures, many retail properties are vacant and if the owners do not carry out maintenance, the city center will soon become impoverished again, as it was in the 1930s.
In the current new building, maintenance by the owner himself has not been taken into account. Due to the choice of materials and height of the buildings, buildings are called “maintenance free”.
An saying in Sweden : “If the manufacturer says it´s maintenance free then that means it is not possible to maintain”
My experience is that modern efficient managers do not have “maintenance” in their vocabulary …
Cycle Vision, the annual recumbent bike event organized by the Dutch recumbent association, took place in 2003 in Lelystad.
Because of the COVID-19 measures I now started to rummage through my old negatives albums, I came across the photo reports that I made back then.
I immediately recognized a few well-known celebrities among Dutch recumbent cyclists!
The first photos were taken during the 3-hour race
The 3-hour race started with a classic “Le Mans start”! So the participants who drove with a fairing started with about 3 laps behind before they were well on their way … but after that they had just under 3 hours to go with nothing but advantages …
At the time I was experimenting with Kodak Tri-X and Ilford HP5 black / white film and with different exposures and development times … The aim was to use faster shutter speeds and the result turned out to be a much coarser grain. Nowadays, the cheaper scanners don’t really handle the beautiful sharp silver grains that the Tri-X has become so famous for.
Cycle Vision is known worldwide among recumbent cyclists. Many come from all over Europe with tents and campers to be present and it was always full and pleasant at the campsite Het Oppertje in Lelystad.
and the last series of photos were made during the criterium-races.
It was the fall of 1984. Our oldest daughter had just been born. If you live here and take a walk together, then the Vlissingen area is undeniably present in your photos …
When I look back at the photos I took myself in the past, my thoughts wander back to the time of falling in love, the early fatherhood, the confidence in the future, the fantastic photography and cycling hobbies, the pleasant Vlissingen city events and the society that was not yet infected with neo-liberalism.
In short; back to a time when honesty was a virtue and not a weakness to be taken advantage of by others.
In 1984, the year in which George Orwell foresaw a totally different world, the Vereniging Nederlandse Loodsen Sociëteit existed for 100 years and that fact was celebrated exuberantly with all kinds of festivities.
At the moment I am digitizing my old negatives from that year 1984, because our society has now come to resemble the envisioned world of Orwell due to the COVID-19 measures. And then a job that does not require you to go out into the street, is convenient.
The famous Scheldeloodsen choir was conspicuously present at many festivities with their shanties, but also with beautiful costumes! The photos below explain what life was like in 1884…
The photos below show how in 1884 the people who worked for the pilots always had to be stand-bye in the casemates to take a pilot with a sloop to a sailing ship.
All handpowered !
Like all port cities, Vlissingen is a city where many initiatives are taken by people who have settled in the city in connection with their work. Vlissingers are connected to the water and everything that has to do with it.
Many new residents remain through their work, but the students also remain loyal to the region after their education (like I did 45 years ago 😉 )
As a hobby photographer it is always nice to see how other photographers take their photos. So the following happened right in front of me, while I had just screwed my telephoto lens onto my camera … then you have to be quick 😉