Rubbing my hands, I look forward to the prospect. We write December 27, 1992. Tomorrow my parents will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in Haarlem. For the occasion, Aunt Dien and Aunt Willie are staying at my parents' house. They are my father's aunts. They come from Kampen and have already driven the VW 1200 Silver Bug to Noord-Holland-Noord for the occasion. That way they make it a nice few days.
I myself have been living in Leeuwarden for two and a half years, but in the run-up to my parents' party I am also at my parental home in Wieringerwerf. A fantastic party is planned for the next day. It takes place in the town where my parents grew up and got married on December 28, 1967. The guests from Kampen are of age, so naturally I offer the ladies to drive them at ease from Wieringerwerf to Haarlem, with the Beetle. This way they (certainly) do not have to struggle through the busy traffic from Alkmaar. That is arranged, and moreover a nice bonus on an already beautiful day. At least I think so.
My great-aunts' Silver Bug is special. I think every Beetle is special. Also in 1992 I have had a soft spot for VW Typ 1, which is now good for many beautiful memories, adventures and anecdotes. And now the Silver Bug awaits. On me† Aunt Dien and Aunt Willie have been driving VW for decades at that time. Their old Jeans Bug is still in my memory, and this one gave way to the new Silver Bug. It still looks great eleven years after purchase.
The Silver Bug, who doesn't know him. In fact, Volkswagen Netherlands had already said goodbye to the Beetles on the program in the early eighties. But the Beetle came back, as an action model, in this case because the twenty-millionth (!) Type 1 rolled off the production line in Mexico. Embden had stopped building Beetles since 1978, but production continued steadily in Mexico. In 1981 the Silver Bug brought the Beetle back to the Dutch program, and that fascinated me as a car-mad kid. Anti-cyclical, apparently I was already crazy about it.
And now I'll be driving it tomorrow, that's for sure. Aunt Willie thinks it's fine, and a nice idea too. I celebrate too early. Because I underestimate Aunt Dien. She's much grittier and sprightly than I thought. And with that beautiful authentic accent that people from Kampen can have, she drives my gesture very viciously into the ground. With that sharp smile that belongs to her. †No, it's very sweet of you to drive us to Haarlem, but you don't have to. I still enjoy getting behind the wheel even more† There goes my ride.
I respond promptly. In the presence of my old aunts, I tell my parents that it might be a good idea to accommodate my former aunts in the local Hotel Wieringermeer. †They also seem to have very nice rooms with excellent beds.Laughter all round, Aunt Dien and Aunt Willie first. They too have known me longer than today, and they value my reaction to the correct value. And while I would have loved to take the ride, I also find my great-aunt's determination amusing.
I respectfully accept it. Yes, the Beetle ride had been an extra icing on an already richly filled pie. But no more than that, because there is something much more beautiful on the program the next day. And all expectations come true, the silver wedding of mom and dad will be unforgettable. I still feel the emotion of that day when I think back to that day.
Years later, in 2005, my cousin Marlous married her Alfred, in Oud-Beijerland. We are here, my father's side of the family is here. And that includes my great-aunts. They are also there, and they have bridged the long distance from Kampen to Oud-Beijerland themselves. This time with the Seat Marbella, where they traded in the Silver Bug a few years ago. They still do it on their own.
I tell Aunt Dien and Aunt Willie - who I haven't seen for a long time - that I bought my VW 1303 a year earlier, a Beetle. Aunt Dien's answer is as only she can give. Vile, firm, subtle, and with a sharp memory. “Oooo, they're so cute, the Beetles. That's why I always loved driving it. But of course you know that† And it's nice that he has one, then everything is still a bit well-chosen, isn't it." The smile that follows says it all. Because I know: almost thirteen years after those beautiful December days of 1992, my gritty old aunt has caught me again. Just again.