Tag Archives: Nederland

This is where I used to live 3

So Google Street View has reached Heerlen, The Netherlands, the place of my birth and the first seven years of my life.  I can “walk” around my old neighbourhood.  How cool! Technology! So here’s the third installment of a series of posts which will only be interesting to me and possibly some members of my family. Posts 1 and 2 and here and here.

I’ll post some highlights. Valeriusstraat 9, my home for seven years. Bathroom to the right of the front door (with the five-on-a-die window), livingroom to the left of the door. Above the living room is a bedroom–originally shared by my brother and I, then it became my parents’ room. The two windows above the door and the bathroom is a very small room that my brother had as a bedroom in later years. The door was green in our day:


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

There used to be a hazelnut tree on this corner. I think you can see its stump in the grass. We would pick the hazelnuts and then stomp on them on the sidewalk across the street in front of Maik’s house (the picture after next–basically just turning slightly to the right where you’re standing):


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

My (sometime) friend Maik’s house. If you look down the street along the same row, our house was the one at the elbow:


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

The entrance to the back pathway which ran between the houses for what be about two city blocks. Unfortunately, the Google Street View Car didn’t/couldn’t go in there, we won’t be able to peek in to my back yard:


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

Now turn 180 degrees and you would have seen a parking lot, beyond which there was a field where I used to kick the soccer ball around and pick wildflowers for my mom. Madeliefjes, I think (I’m not sure what that would be in English.) There is now a row of houses where there used to be parking lot. But on the left in the picture below the field beyond.

Straight ahead where the office building is located used to be a much larger field where I wasn’t allowed to play on my own. They used to have some sort of carnival there. It is where I first smelled a certain combination of beer and smoke (beer tents) and laid eyes on those pulpy beer coasters emblazoned with the Heineken logo. Scent and nostalgia are closely linked for me. I’ll always think fondly of this place whenever I smell a certain combination of beer and cigarette smoke.

To the right in this field were bushes which for some reason terrified us. We thought “hashkickers” (hashish frogs?) lived there. Maybe someone found some needles there, in which case the fear may have been our parents’ doing.


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

A couple of blocks away from here is my kindergarten. Turn 90 degrees left from this point, walk down the street until the large intersection, hang a 90 degree right down the street that runs along the row of apartments and here it is:


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

That’s a rotating sign on top of that tall building in the picture below. I could see it from my bedroom window at night, glowing blue and red. For some reason even the thought of it is comforting.


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

At the opposite end of our street and around the corner, somewhere along this row of buildings was Arie de Friteman, where we would buy “patat”–french fries with mayonnaise and other deep-fried goodies.


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

I’m going completely on memory of the streets, but I think this is where my best friend from the first day of kindergarten (we are still in touch to this day) lived. I remember sleepovers at his place, playing with his cool pirates Playmobil set, his piles of Suske en Wiske comic books, drawing pictures of cars with their hoods up, and the one time I crapped my pants in my pajamas. (My mom has now confirmed the location. I’m amazed how well my memory of the streets are. I was 7 years old when we moved. It has been 25 years since I was on these streets, but I can still find my way around.)


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

For some reason I think my brother’s scouts meetings were in this church, which is just across the way from my childhood friend’s house. But my memory might just be making things up now. It sure look familiar, though.


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

This is the hospital I was born in and where I had at least two operations to put tubes in my ears. I still have the little stuffed toys I received as gifts from my parents after my surgery.


View Larger Map

In this next picture you will see a church steeple in the background. On the street in front of that church was an outdoor market that we would go to every now and then. I can smell the fish and hear the church’s bells. I also distinctly remember there being a calliope. Through one of these doors and down the stairs there used to be (or perhaps still is) a toy store where my mom would sometimes drop me off while she went to the market.


View Larger Map

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to locate my elementary school, even after a phone call to Mom. I’m picturing the concrete tiled school grounds. At recess we would dig holes in the dirt around the perimeter and play marbles. Only I rarely played because I liked my marbles too much and didn’t want to lose any. I’ve never been much of a risk taker. I also wasn’t able to find the library or the building where the church my dad planted met. Apparently that building has been torn down and the whole neighbourhood, including streets, redone.

One thing I can’t fail to notice as I wander the streets of this old Dutch city is that Dutch people are not big on large lawns. Good for them. I could do without a large lawn and I think the kids could, too. In fact, I would go so far as to say that front lawns are a completely useless feature in a property and only create unnecessary work.

I think I’d happily live in Heerlen.

The small south Saskatchewan town of Caronport, where I spent the next 12 years of my life also has street view on Google Maps. Perhaps I’ll do a post about that sometime, too.