THE NETHERLANDS: The Woman Who Wanted a Smile

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"Don't Fence Me In." A look around the realm of Orange last week showed that it, like the shapes of its heralds, had changed somewhat; yet its essential character was little different from the nation Wilhelmina began to rule 50 years ago. Scheveningen, once a stout and pompous resort, bore an unhealthy convalescent pallor; the run-down houses and the hotels with flaking walls were strangely unlike the old Holland of clean, fresh paint. But along the beach, ensconced in tall wicker structures, buxom Dutch housewives sat gossiping as always, while their husbands, mostly clerks and shopkeepers, strolled along in business suits with starched collars and sober neckties. The more reckless rolled up their trousers and went wading. Cafeterias and eetsalons along the boardwalk sold impressive quantities of poffertjes (pancakes), maatjes herring and ice cream.

At the village of Bergum in Friesland, the annual carnival was in percussive progress. A band (one drum, two accordions) sweated through day-before-yesterday's American swing favorites. Blond boys in belted suits jitterbugged with straggly-haired girls in their best red silk dresses, singing (in English) Don't Fence Me In and Sunbonnet Sue. Phlegmatic crowds licked zuurstokken (candy sticks), or chewed precious cigars, watching the day's sporting events. The chief attraction consisted of a corps of big flaxen-haired girls swinging Indian clubs. A phonograph creaked through Strauss waltzes.

In nearby Sneek, soberly dressed men & women filed through the gaunt doorway of the church to their Sunday service. Full-throated, the earnest parishioners sang the rigidly comforting psalms of the Dutch Reformed Church. When the young, curly-haired pastor prepared to speak, a hush came over them. "Thy blessings, O Lord," said the pastor, "also on those who were not in church today, and Thy forgiveness if our own faults have kept them away."

"We Are at Home." Voltaire, no mean foreign correspondent, wrote in 1752: "This little state . . . almost overwhelmed by the sea, was . . . almost the only example upon earth of what may be effected by the love of liberty and an indefatigable industry . . ." Voltaire could write the same today. With prayer, thrift and sweat the Dutch have, in three years, reclaimed the flooded acres (nearly 10% of Holland's arable land), repaired their bridges and railroads. Dutch industry is producing 20% more than in 1938; the country's steel industry alone has doubled its output. Perhaps the best evidence of Holland's health is the position of the Communists. In 1946, they had polled 500,000 votes; last July they polled 380,000.

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