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If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

Earlier columns: August 7 / July 31 / July 24 / July 17 / July 10 / July 3

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


14 AUGUSTUS, 2016

Help me Rhonda - Hep meh git er outta mah haart

DELFT - In August there is a parade of boats along the canals. Each is decked with flowers and has a theme. Crews put on costumes and sing to folks sitting on blankets along the bank. The boats are classics and the music is too.

My street is between an inner canal and the big one connecting Rotterdam and the Hague. It is a fine place to watch the boat parade. Dutch have the boats, the flowers and are happy to make fools of themselves, not a shy people. On one boat, the theme was opera, and a woman with augmented bust belted out arias while a guy in a tuxedo slunk round her playing a violin. A second guy stood in back banging with gusto on a grand piano.


"We went early to have a spot on the bank with a good view. And so had a lot of other people; it was crowded but in that easy way the Dutch have of sharing space."

When Help Me Rhonda started, everybody went crazy including me. Folks stood and swayed to the pounding Beach Boys sound. We all knew all the words and sang along full throat. Dutch know old time American music; my partner knew the words and the moves.

Looking around, young or old, folks were dancing the Swim, the Monkey and some kind of swing that is just unique to the Dutch. The song ended, and everybody was smiling, laughing. As the boat moved on and the next approached, we could hear them start up: "Wish they all could be California girls!" and then fade out, giving way to another boat. And all this entertainment, Dutch style, on a warm day bright blue in sunshine.

The music comes from speakers so the crews are just mouthing and posturing to fit. My first time seeing this, I was impressed. Was there a flower left in the fields after the decorating or were they all here today. But, Holland has flowers.

Behind each 'float' was a small tow that gave the name of the crew and how they placed in the judging. Most of all, it was just good old-fashioned fun. I noticed that folks from the full-care home were there, wheel chairs placed just right to watch.

That is something you notice almost at once: old, weak and left over people are not kept off somewhere, they are taken out regularly by volunteers. There is a big university at Delft, so there are many young people who help out.

Most of the music was unfamiliar to me; it was local. But one boat came round the bend, and I knew the music. The boat was dazzling already, and girls in bikinis danced wildly all over it. I heard Surfing Safari then one of my favorites.

Later we went to the big market square and were lucky to get a table. I was still in a daze as I could not shake memories of music from America. Gradually my partner brought me back to earth, to Holland; she is patient with me that way.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved -
In memory of Herb Caen