Frederik Johannes Callenbach 1898 - 1964 (1.3.4)

One hundred years ago, on 7 November 1898, our Father, Frederik Johannes Callenbach, was born in Nijkerk. I think that is a good excuse to tell a bit about him, even though I realise that nearly half his life takes place before my birth.
He was the 4th child of Cornelis Carel Callenbach (1.3) and Jacoba Jeannette Spruyt.
Johanna, the eldest child of my grandparents, was four and a half when my father was born. The second child, a girl called Frederika Johanna, had died at the age of 10 months, on 3 July 1896. She was named after her grandfather Spruyt. Father did tell us once that she was called Frieda. Just short of a year later a little boy was born who got the names of his father, grandfather and great grandfather: Cornelis Carel. He too died young, not yet five years old.
When my father arrived on the scene, grandfather Spruyt’s name was again used and that is how he got the name Frederik Johannes. He was called Frits, as were all cousins in the Spruyt branch of the family, who were named after their grandfather.
Father was born in the house on the “Molenplein”. The house is still standing, next door to the Evangelical (?) bookshop. Later on the family moved to the Langestraat, into a beautiful new house. After the death of Opa, tante Han ,Father’s sister Johanna, (1.3.1) and oom Cor de Vries lived there for a while with their family.
After father Frederika Maria –Miesje- was born, after whom our chairman, Frederika de Vries, ( was named. She died when she was 16 in 1917, an event that must have made an unforgettable impression on the whole family. As a child I could still feel that sorrow when they were talking about her. Our oom Kees (1.3.6) from the Meinskamp, (the name of the house) was the last cab of the rank. He became the carrier of the family name. That one gives a child the name of a pre-deceased brother would to day seem surprising, but it was quite common in those days. So, from the six children of my grandparents only three reached adulthood. They had a happy childhood, parents who adored each other and their children, a hospitable home where family and friends were welcome. Many photos bear witness of “stay over parties” and trips. Father could talk about those events with great pleasure. Two years after their silver wedding anniversary grandmother Callenbach died. Father was not yet twenty years old.

After primary school father attended the “Gymnasium” ¹ in Amersfoort, a daily trip by train (12km) to the old railway station in the “Smalle Pad”. The building still stands to this day. The school was a short walk from there to the West Singel.
After his final exams a career at the printing works seemed pre-determined, but when Father had worked there for two years the Spruyt family came with the proposition that the young Frits should come and work at the Scheepjes Wool² factory. But then he would have to do some further study. He chose law which was viewed as a good all round education. That study had a significant impact on him and it widened his horizons significantly. His whole life he maintained his interests in history, political and economic problems. Scheepjes Wool was the business of the grandmother on the female side, who was a van Schuppen just as the founder of the factory D(irk) S(teven) van Schuppen. He would spend his whole working life there.
After Hannie married in 1919 and Kees in 1927, Father remained living with his father as bachelor and commuted to Veenendaal by car.
He heard that the proprietors of the Kruishaarse Berg³, located just outside Nijkerk, had started to quarry the sand in order to sell it to the authorities responsible for the dike building in the Zuiderzee and once the hill had been removed the land would be suitable for development for agriculture. This concerned him so much that he bought the land in 1934. The excavated part was restored. This resulted in the creation of the little pond, which became a beloved destination for family outings. This little plot of land continues to occupy a significant place in our lives to this day.
In 1935 Father married Paula Maas. To minimise the changes for the city girl from Haarlem the young couple settled in Amersfoort, where, in succession, were born Julia Helena, Cornelis Carel and Elisabeth Irene. A very regular contact continued to be maintained with Nijkerk. I remember many visits by car on the bike and by train.

When the war started in 1940, we had just moved into a new house in Amersfoort. The Germans agreed that it was a pleasant abode and in 1942 it was claimed by them and we were billeted with an elderly lady who, in turn, moved to live with her daughter. After serious attacks and bombing raids on the nearby railway yards, my parents decided to accept the offer from oom Kees and tante Reintje and move to “the Meinskamp” in Nijkerk, and as a result we were received into that family with warm hospitality in September 1944. For the parents it was a time of significant anxieties and tensions. But we children have fond memories of that time and in retrospect I see that as a great achievement of both sets of parents. They succeeded in giving us a sense of protection and the ability to live in harmony with one and other under those circumstances. After the liberation we returned to Amersfoort, where twelve months later our Mother died as the result of complications after a gallbladder operation. The following period must have been difficult for Father. Although he was absorbed by his work, he tried hard to be a good father. Looking back I remember with pleasure the bike and car trips on Saturday- or Sunday afternoons, in which we accompanied him under protest at the time. For nearly five years Father’s second cousin Pauline Sara Henriëtte de Graaf-Haspels (3.6.3), our tante Pien looked after us with warmth and affection

Seven years later, on 12th February 1953, the sun broke through again in Father’s life when he married the Matron of the Lichtenberg Hospital, Alijda Christina van Dijk. That became a happy marriage not withstanding the concerns they knew from the beginning, particularly about Father’s health. When one year later oom Kees married tante Clärli few would have been more delighted than his brother. There had always been a strong bond between the two brothers, which had grown even more during the period they were both widowers. I don’t think a day passed  without  a phone call. I can still hear oom Kees’ voice when I answered the phone: “So, Julepetuultje, is your Pappie home”?
Father made many trips with mother Aleid. That has always been his main hobby. First with the family, later just together. They enjoyed that intensely. Unfortunately the happy times were only too short. Just as we were starting to make plans to celebrate the copper (12.5 years) wedding anniversary, even before the 12 years were completed, Father died on 3rd December1964 at the age of 66.
I remember him as someone on whom you could absolutely rely. He had a wide range of interests and tried to include us in discussions about questions which occupied his attention. He was not an exuberant person, but did enjoy the company of friends with his sparkling eyes as evidence of his enjoyment. It was a joy for him to be of service to others.
He left a big hole and I have always viewed it as a privilege to have had a Father like him.

By Juut van Dullemen-Callenbach  ( 

¹ A gymnasium is a high school with classic curriculum, including Latin and Greek.

² The Scheepjes Wool factory was a wool processing plant which was large by the standards of the day as it employed some 400 personnel. Its products were directed at the hand knitting housewives of the day. While the mothers were knitting the business was very profitable. As habits changed and the market declined so did the fortunes of the factory. It closed in the early 1980s.

³ The Kruishaarse Berg was a little sand hill where father spent many hours in his youth, cavorting with his friends. The total area is 8ha (20 acres). The sand hill is listed as a “Natural Monument”.

These footnotes are provided by the translator.