I.M. Willem Buijs
by Riny Reiken
Although we are not family related in the Olofspoort, we do share good and bad times. The relationship gets under the skin. When a regular guest is taken from us, death is nearby. The owner of a tasting cafe often gets bookings for after funeral receptions. These gatherings are intended for grieving. Everyone is welcome. From the cellar, we then take a huge bottle with a tap in front. The one who likes to drink an old-Dutch spirit ‘Bittere Lijdenstroost‘(Bitter suffering solace), fills a small glass from the huge bottle to share something with the person who has passed away. Sometimes a poem is recited. Everyone deals with the loss in his/her own way. Laughing and crying are almost the same.
Willem often was sitting at the bar, silently. When an argument took place, he would shout: ‘Silencio, goddamn it!’, and other remarks, and the argument soon would be solved. ‘Halleluja!’ Willem shouted when he drank his beer. He was an artist pur sang; a body painter painting girls and women.
After his death, we collected some money for a tree sign next to his grave on a chestnut tree at the cemetery Nieuwe Ooster. It reads ‘In memory of this ingenious man, on behalf of In de Olofspoort and friends’. Bas made a special liquor for Willem's ceremony, that we named ‘Halleluja.’ Since then, this unique liquor is also sold in bottles.
(for Willem Buijs)
Silently the singing trots away
through the empty Warmoesstraat
the Olofspoort, the Zeedijk
a next favorite bar.
searching for warmth, a conversation
searching for no noise
the walls catch the memory
of his grey hair
his last beer
the grey beard
he seemed to be born with
singer of his voice
clouds above our neighborhood
pregnant of his
light that yesterday still
threw its glow
his light that even tomorrow
long, long after we
have become silence
Tom de Lagh 25/V/ 07
Greet van Beeren
Alan Peter Corn
Sebastiaan Cuenca Cobos
Dirk Jan ten Doesschate
Hans van Gogh
Tinus van Hall
Frits van Houten
Paul de Jong
Frits Jung sr.
Hendrick Olde Junninck
Sabijn van de Ven
Jacobus de Vos
Henk de Vreng
Douwe Wijbenga o.g.
Nellie van Wijk
Jan van de Pol
Ingrid Robelus - de Groot
Mary Elizabeth Lumey - Fraser
Jan van Olphen
Jenny van Schaik
Ben van Welsenes
Kees de Reus
Freek van Rijsinge
Luc de Vré
And one for the eternal road
My contact with In de Olofspoort began at the beginning of this century when my friend Wim Breen, on the way to an Argentinian tango restaurant, said: ‘Piet, I want you to try something.’
by Piet van Beckum
We stepped inside In de Olofspoort and ordered a traditional small beer, with a three-year-old Zuidam jenever on the side. Delicious. Friendly people behind the counter, a peaceful public, an immediate pleasurable experience.
Usually, my wife Tineke and I would have a drink and a snack with Wim on Sunday’s. But at that time In the Olofspoort was closed on Sundays and we visited the café sporadically. After my wife passed away, Wim and I visited the cafe more often. Always on Thursdays or Saturdays at 6 pm. If one happened to be there earlier, we drank no alcohol and waited until we were together, followed by a toast with a small beer and a three-year-old Zuidam.
Soon I felt at home. This feeling of coming home at In de Olofspoort was something extraordinary that I haven't had before in any other cafe/tasting house. At a time when I felt very lonely, I received a lot of warmth that I needed badly..
A sad and very particular moment was after the death of Wim on October, 1st 2011. On his deathbed he had said to his daughter: ‘After the ceremony, go to In de Olofspoort and, after, have dinner at the Melkmeisje, and have Piet take care of it.’ We listened to this wish. Riny and colleagues organized an intimate gathering for the family with the liqueur ‘Halleluja’a.o.. The fact that Riny, as a Nieuwe Ooster's cemetery employee, did take care of Wim, was truly special. Still, my actual girlfriend Coby and I, go to 'our' tasting cafe with delight. We have experienced so many lovely moments, and we hope to experience many more.
De Nieuwe Ooster 2002–2005
by Riny Reiken
After moving to the Watergraafsmeer area, I lingered between the greenery and Amsterdam's canal belt. The moving implied a considerable change in my life. This area was the perfect place to recover from the city's busy pace. And very necessary after those thirty turbulent years in the Warmoesstraat! Hectic city life resulted in a chronic lack of sleep. After I ran In de Olofspoort on my own for years, I felt welcome like coming home.
Still, I had to put things back on the rails. As I was living so close to the cemetery the Nieuwe Ooster, it was inevitable that I checked it out, since a lot of our late guests were buried there. Delighted with the beauty of the surroundings, I went for a daily walk. The graveyards surrounded by greenery, composed by a real arboretum (a collection of 685 kind of trees). After many walks, I stepped inside the funereal café, and with my friend Rennie visited the Funeral museum on October 28, 2009. Afterwards, I practically spent my whole holiday studying interesting reference books from the museum's bookstore.
Nieuwe Ooster illuminated
With my friend Rennie Bonnema, I also went to the memorial ‘Nieuwe Ooster illuminated’. This is the evening when people commemorate the deceased. Almost 3000 visitors were there. The many candles and lit up balloons gave warmth and color to the event. In giant white tents, people listened to suitable music for the occasion. Singing voices echoed through the evening, filling the air with moving sounds. Lights everywhere, paper boats in the pond with personal messages. People delivered notes to the deceased in mail boxes as well.
We were very impressed by what we had seen. At home, we were touched by so much love. We drank some wine, our cheeks red with emotion, and couldn't stop talking about the memorable evening.
The memorials at the cemetery are an enormous success. They are all different, according to the traditions of various cultures. Many volunteers were so genuinely devoted to the occasion that I got the idea it was time for me to do something else.
I gained courage, and with His help, I applied for a job. I got accepted and would become a porter at the cemetery’s entrance. Quite a challenge that I initially could combine with the work in the city. This was no coincidence, and so I started to work with full commitment, ready for new experiences; from a city all fun and game lifestyle, to a place of profound sadness and grief, the other side of life.
Ellen, a very friendly colleague, helped me on my way. Such a nice colleague. There are still people who allow you to be at a special place. Ellen's life had been quite different from mine, yet we had a lot to tell one to the other. It was also very special since she, along with another colleague, had taken Majoor Bosshardt to her last resting place. It had been a great honor for her to carry the coffin.
Carefully, I got initiated into the world of the dead and therefore I was thought a lot about the end of life than I ever had done before. Listening to my inner voice, I understood that the gate (‘poort’ in Dutch of the Olofspoort) and the port of the cemetery were incomparable; the combination was too heavy. So I went back to the Tasting house and entirely dedicated myself to the task. I felt at home again, and even when I was away for a while, I missed my place in Mokum. My life was organized with appointments; I worked with full force among the living.
For 30 years now I have been a hostess in my historical house, and have listened, experienced and shared a lot with the guests. From the entire world people come in for tastings and, above all, to exchange experiences or to nourish old friendships. Many guest are daily visitors. I have controlled the keys from singles, and if I don't see a certain person for a while, I’ll check if everything is alright with that person.
I’m thinking of my work at the cemetery with gratitude. When I was still living with Bas, I adopted an immense cedar tree with three huge branches that made me think of my parents’ home and my family in the province of Drenthe in the town of Appelscha and their tree, where we used to play as children. It symbolizes righteousness, and when I'm standing under the tree and look up, I feel sheltered like a warm blanket. An adoption in life is very special, and life is impossible without trees!
With this cedar tree, we honor our parent’s papa Willem & mama Jantje. Our dear parents do not live anymore on this earth. On the tree we placed a memorial nameplate with their names and the names of their children, my sister Janneke, Riny and brother Wim. The tree becomes blue in sunlight. Blue is the color of faithfulness. In winter, when all the trees are bald, the cedar tree needles catch the snow to flaunt as the most beautiful Xmas tree in the world.
The cedar is a biblical tree. While standing under it, I envisioned a terrific plan - inspired by the power of this sacred tree, perhaps? I wrote my family book and in the future I would love to write stories about my adventures about previous years and silently hope to inherit the wisdom of this cedar. Secretly, I am looking through the braches to the top, and I feel like the little girl from the past, sheltered from the outside world. Then I hear the melody of the ‘Lord, you’ll be the glory’ psalm (U zij de glorie).
by Riny Reiken
Lovers can get married in the Tasting house. A personal touch gives the special day style and authenticity. It always has been a great joy for me to do this ceremony
The Tasting house welcomes a significant number of tasters and other guests at the bar. I've been guiding groups throughout the city and given presentations about spirits. I love to tell about the making of jenevers and liqueurs with tasting sets, fragrances and colorant.
In de Olofspoort is mentioned in many travel guides in the world. The best is we never advertise... It is evident: mouth-to-mouth advertising works fine, the most effective. Even better when guests are returning. Many clients proudly introduce ‘their’ tasting house to family and friends. Sometimes I even become shy when I hear how much this place means to so many people.
In de Olofspoort in a pretty business without music, there is time for a good conversation and time stands still. Sometimes there are lovely Olofspoort concerts. Real enjoyment.
by Arjaan Eilander
Here I have celebrated single life evenings, and regularly I have been here for drinks with my friends and partner. Riny finds the best beverage for a person just by looking at her/him. The cafe is quiet during the week. You easily get into conversations with people about daily life, concerns, and politics, whatever is going on with a human being. Bas, with his smooth voice and full beard, used to follow the conversations without interrupting nor judging. And Riny with her lyric operetta voice, spontaneously starts chanting a beautiful melody.
One cannot find this fantastic serene atmosphere in Amsterdam's cafes anymore that often. I have experienced beautiful moments here with my step parents from Scotland. On the day of our wedding, Riny managed to bring out something beautiful of my Scottish stepmother; together they sang old melodies from the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Once more, a successful evening.
Empty glass yet we got married
On an evening three or four years ago we came to the Olofspoort with a group from the GVB the city’s transport company where we tasted different jenevers and liquors
by Sylvia Saelman
We not just tasted, but Riny also knew the origin of the name of each liquor and amusingly and interestingly shared her knowledge with us. For a few of us, she showed liquors with a personal touch. For my boyfriend and me she presented Golden Water, because she saw us getting married in the future! Though we had no plans, yet we had fun by rehearsing our promises to each other. If the future wife keeps a bit of liquid in her glass, the wedding will come true. Despite emptying our glasses, Riny was right. On September 27 2012, we got married. Since then we often visit In de Olofspoort, or we buy a bottle of delicious vanilla jenever.