A few years ago I was present at the farewell party of my primary school friend Jan de Kroon. He had sold his flower bulb company on Kamperzandweg in Ens. For political and economic reasons, he and his family decided to leave for Canada. He followed in the footsteps of his brother-in-law and sister. They had already left for North America around the turn of the millennium to give a new and especially greater boost to their peasant life.
In the early 1980s I was a member of the ice club in my home village and my hometown of Ens. Jan de Kroon's sympathetic brother-in-law was involved with the locally popular club during those years. In those years, together with Jannette - the oldest sister of Jan de Kroon - he made preparations for building up his farm, close to his birthplace Sint Jansklooster. In his spare time, our humble, down-to-earth and hard-working fellow roommate worked steadily on his marathon career on ice. He sometimes put those experiences into practice by teaching young Ensenians with talent for skating on winter Friday evenings.
Every year our ice club organized a skating evening a few times. This was always held on the ice of the then still uncovered Thialf in Heerenveen. I was happy to be there, not least because the 45 kilometers from Ens to Heerenveen were covered vice versa by car. I was especially looking forward to a ride in a different car than my parents'. The Peugeot 304, the Volvo 244 GL or the BMW 1502 of the parents of a boyfriend or girlfriend then had much appeal. Just like the Acadiane of the man who at that time made a lot of efforts to make the step to the premier league in marathon country.
Special interest in Acadiane
Anno 1981 we had two at home Citroëns: a GSX and an 2CV4. The French brand with the double Chevron was therefore in special regard to me. For that reason too, I was excessively interested in the Acadiane of the promising marathon skater. That is why I wanted to join him once for the ride to Heerenveen. And that also happened.
"He's just talking about cars"
On the way to Thialf I asked the driver of the French orderer many questions. However, these hardly concerned the noble skating sport. As a starting teenager I mainly wanted to know mine about the loading capacity of the Citroën. About "not sagging when it was full". About the power of the 602 cc engine. I was wondering if the modest power source was also able to get a heavily loaded Acadiane ahead. My later childhood hero - who laughedly observed that the questioner "just kept on lull'n about cars" - answered. He did that in the resolute way in which he, as a skater, later achieved definitive fame. “To get anywhere you just have to work very hard and be serious. Do what you came into the world for. Then you will get there. And that is why the Acadiane eventually comes everywhere ”.
Four years later, those words were unambiguously realized. Evert van Benthem won his first Elfstedentocht on 21 February 1985.
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