This is very interesting. I would like more information on the bad economic times in 1880-1890. I assume there were crop failures, and I'd be interested in the causes. It sounds a little like the Irish potato blight. Can someone tell me about the game of kaatsen? I know the Dutch settlers in the eastern part of our country liked lawn bowling or "ninepins." Is that what kaatsen is?
Nynke van den Hooven <nynkevandenhooven@...
Lijstgenoten / Groupmembers,
Hieronder de Engelse vertaling van de oorspronkelijk Friese toespraak die op
13 juni 1943 door Rinse Zandstra werd uitgesproken ter gelegenheid van het
50-jarig bestaan van de vereniging U.T.Y.. (Utspanning troch Ynspanning) in
Paterson, Iowa, USA. Het Engels 'rammelt' hier en daar wat omdat ik
geprobeerd heb so dicht mogelijk bij de oorspronkelijke Friese tekst te
blijven. Ook het vertalen van een gedicht van Waling Dijkstra was een
.hm...uitdaging. Ik ga nu van een paar dagen welverdiende vakantie genieten
Below you will find the translation of the originally Frisian speech held on
June 13, 1943 by Rinse Zandstra at the occasion of the 50-year existence of
the U.T.Y. (Utspanning troch Ynspanning) Association in Paterson, IA. You
might find the use of English somewhat odd now and again, but that is the
inevitable result of trying to stick to the original Frisian text as close
as possible. Also I found translating a ballad of Waling Djkstra quite
tricky!! And now I will leave and enjoy a couple of days of well-earned
"It has for long since been a habit, that if someone would celebrate his
birthday, had another year added, that often a small party would be thrown
for the occasion. If someone grows older gradually more friends will come to
such a party.
Well, that's how it is today as well, we throw a party because U.T.Y. has
become 50 years old.
During those 50 years the ring of friends has become so large that we
thought 'we might just organize an extra day for it'. So members, supporters
and friends gather together today to celebrate the 50-year existence of
U.T.Y.. This day we want to give something extra. Fifty years is a long
time, especially for an association for which the saying: so many heads so
many ways (nvdh: each to his own?) applies most of the time.
1880 - 90 were bad years in Europe. There was a lot of poverty, also in
That's why many went on the journey to the 'Land of dreams and wishes' to,
if possible, get a better life than in the old country. Many succeeded in
doing so. And when the struggle for existence became less tough, there was
more need for social intercourse, for friendship.
Often the men would come together on Sundays, to play the game of 'kaatsen';
the old game that was so much appreciated in Friesland. But then ofcourse
that was more a summer recreation; and the winter nights were also very long
and the women would like to go out sometimes as well.
That's how gradually the establishment of U.T.Y. came about.
It was in the year 1893 that a small number of Frisians came together to
establish an association. At first it was not a large team, one can imagine.
No minutes can be found of the fist two years 1893-1895, but in 1895 app. 20
men were registered as a member. They are the following:
Y. STIENSTRA Sj. SINNEMA J. de ROO
R. NAKKEN R. ZONDERVAN J. SCHURENGA
J. TJEPKEMA W. BAKKER J. WIERSMA
J. SCHUURMAN H. STIENSTRA P. STIENSTRA
H. POLSTRA J. KOSTER H. POELSTRA
A. DYKSTRA S. REIJENGA G. VISSER
Tj.ZONDERVAN F. van der VALK L. ZWERVER
J. PAPE G. ELGERSMA P. SINNEMA
As you can see, there weren't that many. After the establishment it was no
longer only 'kaatsen', but 'onderonsjes' (nvdh: 'onder ons' literally
translates 'amongst ourselves') were organised and also acting was
practised. In the summer an occasional picnic.
Especially on acting evenings people came from far around, travelling by
tram, or walking if they had to, was no objection then. On such evening
bonds of friendship were established which made up for a lot one had had to
say goodbye to in the fatherland.
As you can tell from the members list, we still have in our midst who were
already a member in 1893-1895:
D. HOITSMA J. PAPE D. ATTEMA J. SCHURENGA
An honorary salute to those men. Not one of the establishers but registered
as oldest member:
Meile Dykstra, who became a member on February 9, 1896. That's 47 years.
Hats off to Meile.
There also are those who have been a member for 40, 35, 30 years. We want to
thank them for their perseverance that enables us now to celebrate our 50th
It's not only kaatsen, picnic and playing comedy, but also in the field of
helping each other the association has often shown that it could be there.
More than once it was proven that one helped one another when help was
needed. Sometimes because of circumstances but often as a result of
negligence that they hadn't paid on time and therefore couldn't receive
support from the sick fund, then the members got together and helped a
person like that out of their own pocket. More than once this happened and
stretches to the honor of the members and it goes to show the pleasure wasn'
t the only objective. Although in the first years there were mostly not more
than 20 members, in the years 1910-30 the number rapidly increased and there
were more than 100 members.
It became the largest Association of Frisians in America and although the
number of members doesn't increase anymore, it is the largest still.
As a result of the acquisition of so many members in the years 1910-30, the
need arose to, if possible, have a building of our own. After long
deliberation and 'brain scratching' (because Frisians can do that as well)
it came about. The opportunity arose to purchase a building and it was done.
It was large enough for app. 100 people, and so , too small. There was a
solution for it as well. Enlarge. That happened and when we had finished the
building it was large enough for 400 people.
We all are a little bit proud of what we can call our own building. It is
the only association of Frisians and I believe of Dutch as well who dared to
it and who carried it out. It was in the year 1922 that our building was
Now we have been organising our gatherings there for about 21 years. It
shows that with good will and working together much can be accomplished.
Ofcourse it is also let to others and everybody likes to go there, also
because now, with all the car traffic, there is (parking) space for 50-60
In the course of time a library came into being with app. 600 books. So
everyone who likes to read can find something to his liking.
When one has to give a survey of all that has happened in those 50 years, it
goes without saying that one can't elaborate on everything and should only
cite the most important things quite briefly, but that it does give an image
and shows that the association hasn't been sitting still and sometimes dared
quite a lot.
In the first years of association life mostly the same path was followed.
Kaatsen and picnic in the summer and on winter days comedies and
In the year 1911 Anne Steensma organised a singing night. She sang Frisian
songs and verses, which was much appreciated.
But with the acquisition of so many young members, the need also arose to do
different things and not always along the same path.
And so, over the years, we have had Frisian speakers and reciters , and it
was much appreciated. We have seen here:
In 1922 SJOUKE DE ZEE;
1923 BONNE SJOUKES HYLKEMA;
1924 DIRK DRIEBERGEN;
1925 YME SCHUITMAKER
1928 SJOUKE DE ZEE;
1929 DORA TERPSTRA
They were beautiful evenings. Evenings that wouldn't have been possible had
there been no Frisian associations in America.
In the time that cars became popular, the thought arose to go and visit
another association. It was planned and in the spring of 1927 three cars
with 15 people in them went on a trip. The trip led to Rochester where the
members were going to be treated with a comedy evening and the play "Rinse
forsint him"(Rinse is mistaken), which was a success. It was a great
evening. Later Rochester came to visit us as well, they had a couple of
beautiful plays. That was a great evening as well.
Those visits, to and fro, later resulted in de Paterson-Rochester 'kaats
'-days. Usually the Paterson kaatsers come over to Rochester on the 4th of
July and on Labor Day the Paterson 'kaatsers' go and visit Paterson. It
makes a 'kaats'-day even more beautiful, There's more fanatic 'kaatsen',
more bragging and they are lovely days.
That has been going on for some 10 years now. In 1917 a speed skating race
was organised, something new and it was very well liked. It has been tried
again later, but it didn't succeed that well then.
Also, over the years, we have had 2 choral societies. Each of them lasted
about 2 to 4 years and then disappeared again.
We also have had a music band, in the beginning consisting of app. 20 men.
How did they cheer up the evenings and for some time it was, that there was
ambition and they could present a nice piece of music. But unfortunately
that too got lost after a 10-year existence.
In 1923 the Ladies Auxiliary was established. First president was Mrs. Th.
Bokma. Our association has had a lot of support from them. Whenever help was
needed, they were ready and till this day a knock on their door was never in
vain if something had to be done for U.T.Y.
Something more about member numbers and supporters. As of 1893, when the
association was established app. 350 people have been registered as members
and supporters. Now we're still about 100 men strong.
The largest acquisition took place in the years 1910-30. In those days about
200 had themselves registered.
On Decoration Day 1930 75 'kaatsers' registered, to try and win the prize
that day. A medal offered by Dora Terpstra and also a silver spoon donated
by U. Rijpma for best "kaatser" of the day were some of the prizes. Later
more often was 'kaatst' for such a spoon. Three times a box containing three
spoons was sent to us by U. Rypma to make 'kaatsen' bloom in Paterson as
well that way. Those 75 'kaatsers' on one day has been the highlight of our
It was the flourishing-time of U.T.Y. We still acquire a new member
occasionally, but not that much, the cause lying mainly in the emigration.
No emigrants are coming over anymore, as a result of which the association
and the 'kaatsen' suffer much.
I think, members, that you have been given an image of what has happened in
those 50 years. More can be written about it, but this way in a nutshell the
works of U.T.Y. are shown.
And now on June 13, 1943 we will celebrate, let us hope that later we may
look back on this day as one of the most beautiful days given to us by
Utspanning troch Ynspanning.
Shall we persist for many years more? To answer that question will have much
to do with ourselves. Much can be done by consulting together and by
unanimity, and only thus U.T.Y. can look into the future with ease.
Our old Frisian poet, Waling Dijkstra, has written in one of his ballads:
All that once begets soul
Must sink back into nothing again
That steel law, we feel it much,
Is by no power nor iron will turned
But all too true
It has to be the task for all our members and supporters to take care that
U.T.Y. may exist for many, many years."
Met vriendelijke groet / Kind regards,
Nynke van den Hooven.
Genealogy yn Frysl�n: http://www.genealogy-yn-fryslan.tk/.
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