AUGUST 21, 1956
THE HAGUE, Holland—This has been for us a fascinating day, though as I looked out of my window early this morning I was disturbed to find the rain coming down in torrents.
I thought we were going to have a really bad day, but I had forgotten about the climate of this area of the world, where a bad day does not seem to mean steady rain for the entire day but just squalls, which hit very hard for a short time and then the skies clear again.
Before we started out in our car the clearing in the sky had almost begun and by the time we got out into the countryside it was almost sunny. We were bound for Volendam to see the costumes of the people as they came out of church.
This is an island where the people are Catholic and have stuck to their own costume. The men dress in big, baggy, black wool trousers with black woolen shirts and silver buttons and chains—not showy but really very picturesque. The women were in full skirts and blouses of dark color, but with beautiful white lace caps.
We stopped on the way at a cheese farm, which in summer is attractively arranged to entice the customer to buy cheese, all the cows being turned out into the fields. Their stalls have sanded floors done in patterns.
You see the cows' automatic drinking troughs, but there are curtains at the windows over their heads and a rug over the cowshed floor. And there are many old-style cheese presses and copper buckets and old-style foot warmers, etc., decorating the way to the cheese counter.
If you open any of the panel doors towards the center of the building, you find yourself confronted by tightly-packed hay, which is used in winter for the cows. And if you walk the whole way around, you are in the room where they used to make the cheese. Nowadays this has become primarily a home industry, producing only such cheeses as are used by the family.
We had some cheeses shipped home and I hope they will arrive in good condition in the next three or four weeks, which is about the same time we will get home ourselves, so that our friends can enjoy them during the next few months. I am sure the cheeses will keep at least five or six months.
Shortly after driving out on top of the dyke we found ourselves in Volendam. We got out to go down to the church just as the greatest number of people were coming out. Some of the men recognized me and in a short time a group of them were welcoming me to the village. Afterwards we walked along the top of the dyke to get a good view of the fishing boats with their dark red sails and their nets blowing out from the tip of the masts as they dried.
In a little shop, kind Dr. Groen, who was our guide, bought me one of the blue and white knit scarves that the young women wear around their necks. Then we got back into our car, and almost before we knew it, we were back at the little ferry that takes you into Amsterdam.
At the hotel we had a quick lunch and a little after 1 o'clock we started for the museum where the exhibit of Rembrandt drawings opened a short time earlier.
We found a queue already formed, but our chauffeur showed us in and we all enjoyed these drawings by a great master, some of which are almost like his finished paintings, though they have little color. They are in black and sepia, the mediums Rembrandt used, and it is unbelievable how he could get the soft gray light to emerge over the fields and seascapes.