My father was a brick factory worker (a brick maker) and many more with him. In the 1930s and 1940s it was a hard and poor existence. The brick factories in the polders were usually located close to a river. The workers often lived right next to or in the vicinity of the various brick factories. It was mostly shabby, heavy, unskilled and undervalued profession for which young children and women were also employed. In the years after the war, the workers slowly improved with the arrival of machines. As a result, the heaviest work was taken off your hands. But I can safely say that brickworks worker was one of the toughest professions at that time. The war, of course, had taken its toll. It cost many victims and entire cities were bombed to the ground. The brick factories had to run at full capacity to meet the demand for bricks and working weeks 80 up to 100 hours were quite normal. The brick factories benefited from the reconstruction, which was especially visible at the villas, country houses and huts of the owners. The workers were also allowed to benefit from the “prosperity”. Very small workers' houses were built where the workman was allowed to live as long as he worked at the brick factory. If you were ill for more than a year or if you died, you had to make room for the next worker. They were very small houses with a kitchen and room (in one room) 1 bedroom downstairs and 2 bedrooms upstairs, they did their washing in a zinc tub and the poop box was outside. Just behind the kitchen was the pig pen and it was vital. The pig had almost as much space as the whole family (often 8 up to 16 persons) together. In the 60is In the 1970s, working conditions for workers gradually improved. Machines took over even more of the heavier work and the workers and their families also had more time for other things. But it often remained necessary, like fishing the own vegetable garden once in a while and the catch went down the pan. Because there were often so many mouths to feed, these were often used for personal consumption. I grew up near and on the brick factory, you couldn't imagine a nicer playground and that's where I came into contact with the pigeons(sport). The brick factory was a great place for lost and exhausted pigeons. They often sat under the hood near the oven because it was nice and warm there. The pigeons could get to the floor above the ovens through an opening under the hood, where workers eat their beans, peas, corn and onions left to dry, so there was enough food for the pigeons to gain strength. The pigeon sport had meanwhile made its appearance and was also very popular among the brick factory worker. And so the exhausted and stray pigeons with a fixed foot ring were also very popular among the pigeon fanciers. Many a pigeon has been caught and ended up in the pigeon lofts of the brick factory men. Sometimes to fly with or to breed, especially pigeons with a foreign ring were in great demand and were of course the best pigeons (little changed with the present time). At the club where the pigeon fanciers meet, people always talked about the reception pigeons at de'Nove over a drink ( The Oven, as the factory was called) But pigeons were not only intended for the races, the best stayed put and the latecomers ended up in the pigeon soup. In the 1970s and 1980s, the modernization of the brickworks moved quickly. The activities and working hours became more pleasant, so there was more time to do the pigeon sport. In my experience, those were the heydays of the pigeon sport in our region. Associations of 40 a’ 50 playing members were no exception and they took part in the races to their heart's content. I remember that the local coal merchant won a car in a race from Barcelona or St.Vincent. That was big news of course and the coal farmer was The King Of The World and world famous in our village. Two weeks later this top pigeon had to be raced again, on the next race. The pigeon was completely full and would sometimes show what it could do. Nothing could be further from the truth, they never saw the top pigeon in question again. I remember that I secretly hoped that the pigeon was sitting in the warmth in a brick factory somewhere under the hood and feasting on beans, peas and corn, to come home afterwards. not so!!! As my mother used to be “You should not increase your wealth but decrease your greed, that makes you a happier person” . I will say again the next time.
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