Last time, I wrote about the pictures I have of Henriëtte and the information it gave me. This time, I’ll take a look at the information I have collected about her by interviewing my mother. It was just a short interview and I plan to do a follow-up, but there were certain topics we covered in this first interview.
I asked my mother about the education of Henriëtte, who is her mother. My mother knew that she only went to primary school. After primary school she went to work in the household of doctor de Boer, where she took care of the children, and probably did some cleaning too. As far as my mother knows, there was no money for further education because Henriëtte’s sister got married. She didn’t know which sister it was. My grandmother always regretted not having the opportunity for further education.
Another big topic we talked about was religion. Henriëtte always went to church, either on Saturday evening or on Sunday. She went once a week, and could often ride to church with the neighbors. She kept going to church throughout her life.
She always prayed before dinner, the whole family had to pray. When the children were younger, Henriëtte insisted they all went to church, but by the time they turned into teens, they were allowed to stay at home. All of them did. Her husband Adolph was raised a Catholic, but somewhere along the line he lost his faith and stopped going to church.
For a long time, the Catholic holidays and traditions were a prominent feature in the Knura household. On Fridays Henriëtte always went to the market in town. She would buy fish, as on Fridays it was either fish or eggs for dinner. When my mother was older, this tradition was no longer strictly obeyed and meat started to appear on the Friday menus.
With Christmas, there was a tree. At first there were real candles in the tree, with very pretty clamps. When my mother was still very young, the real candles were replaced by electrical lights. They were lights that resembled candles, from the brand Philips. According to my mother, they had the prettiest Christmas tree in the whole town. Besides a Christmas tree, there was also a nativity scene. At first this was build up according to the Christmas story, later on it was just used as a decoration and in later years it stayed in the closet.
There were some other, small questions I asked, about her membership to social organizations, her music taste and her best friend. Even this one, small interview gave me so much information. It is definitely worth it to do a follow-up interview and perhaps try to interview my aunt, who is almost 20 years older than my mother, and has memories of a time period my mother has no knowledge of.
Next time, I'll take a look at sources that do not specifically mention my grandmother but give a picture of the time she lived in. It can give you the details you need to make the story of an ancestor truly come alive.
For previous installments of this series, see the Looking For Lamboo page.