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Quiet on the street again

The clear sound of children’s voices has disappeared. For weeks the children played in the streets every day. The schools were closed and the sun did nothing but shine.

Young children, slightly older children, boys and girls, who normally didn’t look at each other, found each other on the street where the cars stayed. If there were no more monitors. They walked one after the other from one garden to the other, and at each garden they stood idling for a while. Later they discovered the old hide-and-seek where all the gardens served. The hula hoop came from the attic and it could not be missed that with the nice weather the water guns were also put into use. The cheering and laughter sounded more and more exuberant.

I enjoyed the sounds coming in. The one and a half meter distance is an abomination for people with hearing problems, including me. The absence of moving cars and planes coming over is just another party, because it allowed me to fully enjoy the children playing. I myself have never been a street child; the only time I played outside was on holiday. My parents saved the whole year to be able to get away for a few weeks from the stuffy upstairs apartment in the heart of Amsterdam. Full of dedication I romped around with my peers on the farmyard of the farm, of which we rented a part. I will never forget the days when we played bussy stairs far into the dark. No parents around, being free, that’s what I felt there.

After two weeks we were back home and playing between the dreary blocks of houses with rough boys around me didn’t appeal to me in the least. Inside, I enjoyed the train of my little brother, who was always on the street, and the books I borrowed from the school library. There I had the empire on my own. Nobody ever borrowed a book! I was allowed to borrow two books a week, which I had already borrowed a day later.

Once in a while my mother made me go outside. Only when it was marble time I reconciled with that, but it was mainly to do the marbles myself. In the evening I could stare endlessly at the mysterious inside of the balls of glass I had won that day. On top of the attic is the marble bag of my sons with bounces, bumps, one and a single superbonker. Every time I see the bag, I take a few of them out and am that astonished child again.

You could have waited for the neighborhood kids to discover the marble game again. On the sidewalk were the marble pots where my boys were aiming all their marbles, invitingly waiting. Unfortunately, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. The schools opened their doors. But summer vacation is coming and we all stay at home.

Blog of José Niekus

by José Niekus


Het huis van Amsterdam met dank aan: Gemeente Amsterdam West Soundtrackcity