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On your own

Lenie van der Hoorn, in 1985 de eerste officiële winnares, passeert de finishlijn op de Bonkevaart in Leeuwarden. Foto Leo Vogelzang

Op eigen houtje – De ongelooflijke verhalen van vrouwen in de elfstedentocht
Jessica Merkens

Ambo | Anthos uitgevers

ISBN: 9789026360930


Op eigen houtje is about the backward position of women on the ice. The thread running through the revealing book is the history of the Elfstedentocht, a popular festival. But one in which women were not allowed to participate in competition until 1985.

Jessica Merkens bases her research on oral history, visited dozens of former participants or descendants of them.

King on socks

Kening op sokken

Hylke Speerstra

Friese Pers Boekerij/Uitgeverij Noordboek,1983
ISBN: 9033001608


Hylke Speerstra consulted a dozen former handball players about what inspired them to start playing handball in the first half of the 20th century. This resulted in six portraits of handball players who played for “Master” in those days. Speerstra has written down the stories with a great sense of drama and sentiment, which will appeal to many readers. The writer has not limited himself to those who know the rules of the game, so that the non-bouncer can also get a taste of the atmosphere and humour of the game.

Visiting by skate


Op redens oer, schaatsverhalen

Hylke Speerstra

Bornmeer, 1984



Speerstra talks about the heroes of the ice: speed skaters, men and women, and also about some who took part in the Elfstedentocht. These trips are fascinatingly described; the way the struggle and perseverance on the toughest of them is sometimes breathtaking.


The great Frisian short track ice champions were world-famous in their own landscape. Names that live on. Men and women who in the early 20th century sometimes gathered a whole farm with land and cattle together. Yes, it was not just about honour; in poor times, sometimes it was even more about money.


As such, their stories also reflect the sharp social differences and acrimonious struggle for existence in the first half of the 20th century. Here are women and men who know about bending and cracking, about perseverance and – sometimes – the odd miss. At the request of some narrators, the first and second editions of the book did not mention their names. After consultation with the relatives in later printings, they are. Because they are heroes, they are an example for all Frisians, including today’s skate professionals.


Strong characters, and how strong they were in body and soul. The 15 people interviewed in 1982 would live to be over 88!



Iisleafde – Anne Visser-van Keimpema (1893-1985) Himpens/Earnewâld

De deserteur – Hilbrand Rudolphy (1897-1989) De Gordyk

It ferbûn fan Beets – Pyt Dykstra (1895-1986) Nij Beets

De erflike ferplichting – Albert Koning (1907-1998) Nijetrine/Wolvegea

De faam fan Spaltenbrêge – Easger van der Meer (1889-1987) Grou/Akkrum

It geile iis – Bouke de Vries (1907-1988) Sint Nyk

De Alvestêderider – Abe de Vries (1907-1995) Dronryp/Parys

Sipke Castelein (1911-1995), Wergea/Warten

It koarte draachflak – Gepke Fokkema (1895-1986) Feanwâldsterwâl/Hurdegaryp

De fiifentweintich-gûne-rider – Piter Brouwer (1904-1985) Langwar/De Wylgen

It bline momint – Thys Klompmaker (1903-1987) Aldehaske

It wûnder fan Snikswaach – Jolle de Jong (1907-1989) Sniksweach

Jaap Slof (1902-2002) De Jouwer

Trije oan de stok – Marie de Groot (1911-1999) Wergea

Klompen – Pietsje Feitsma (1918-1991) Hilaard/It Hearrenfean





Young or old, male or female, ardent enthusiast or sporadic counter…. The stories of finchers of all sizes and weights are recorded for the future.
Finchers have a lot to tell: about caring for their birds, breeding finches, finch society.

Excerpts from the interviews have been used in the travelling exhibition Suskewiet

By way of example, you can listen to one such excerpt here:  fragment_smokkel