With Non to Helgoland

Last time I wrote about the Rolpensclub; one of the regular participants of the rolpensclub is Non Scheffer. Johanna Scheffer (1887-1954) is a cousin of Johanna Westerdijk. Non also studies biology in Amsterdam. Tera’s first contact with Non date from 1919, when they walk on the beach together, chat about everything together and hug the chimpanzees in Artis. They do a practicum together: Non and I cut baboon together. They stay with others at Eerbeek in 1921: To Eerbeek from Amsterdam with Non, Greet, Han, Ka, in the train. Played  hide and seek  and walked in the woods. We are going to pick up Non and Greet at the Sluiters house.  Professor Sluiter’s family has a house near Eerbeek.

The Prussian Biological Institute was founded in 1892 on the island of Helgoland. The institute focuses on international academic research and training in the maritime field, including research on plankton.

In 1922 Tera and Non go to Helgoland for two weeks to follow a course in marine fauna. In addition to lectures, there is plenty of room to dance, chat and laugh.

On the photo the aquarium building on Helgoland build in 1902

Aug 16: At 7.30 pm with Non to Hamburg. Good place and not unsuitable company, including a Swedish girl, cup of coffee in Oldenzaal. Easily travelled into Germany. Installed us to sleep soundly.

With the night train to Hamburg to look for a hotel there, have breakfast and do some shopping. The afternoon and the next day is used to explore Hamburg and its surroundings by carriage and tour boat. On August 19 they leave for Helgoland, a small island that has been part of Germany since 1890, even though it is more than 55 kilometers out of the coast

19 Aug Saturday At 7.30 am embarked aboard Prinzessin Heinrich to Helgoland. Pretty ugly weather, had to hide for the rain. First 3 hours river to Cuxhaven, real Dutch landscape, floodplains, meadows, windmills! At Cuxhaven it becomes wider and the weather starts to improve.  (…). Non seasick. Heligoland in sight. Must be ausgebotet (disembarked) with motor sloops. All green and yellow looking people are booed on arrival. Immediately went to report to the biological anstalt to find out about accommodation and soon found a lot of friends there, also Alverdes and Kuhn, the last two in dignified costume with hat and coat!! In the evening meeting in Märkischen Hof with 14 people, also Prell, Wulff.

After a day of exploring the island (walked around it a few times, it has a surface of 1.7 kilometers)  on Aug 21: Course started 30 participants and 3 leaders, many regulations and little freedom. Follow lectures and cutting starfish, it’s a pity with the nice weather. In the evening Pinkus (a bar on Helgoland, still exists) Helgoland has no water, you could become an alcoholic against your will.

The following days they follow lectures, go on expeditions on the boat or along the beach, looking for snails and shells and fixing them in the lab. Each diary entry ends with Pinkus in the evening.

On Saturday evening there is a dinner: in the evening in Märkischen Hof until 10:30  which was quite annoying and stuck up. Then with an elite group to Pinkus. We had fun until late at night (2.30). Count v. Kaller was in very good shape. Hirsch thought it was a curious situation. Took my hat. To the Südspitze, all arm-in-arms, nonsensical bunch!

On Sunday they first sleep in, then they go: To Düne, there we swam and layed in the sun. Had a lot of fun. Walked around the island, drank tea and returned by boat at half past eight, when the lights were already on everywhere. Found us a warm wine at Pinkus and went to bed fairly early.

The following days they work, fish, attend lectures, and regularly swim.

On the photo Tera on the left, Prell in the middle, Non on the right. 

On Friday, August 31, we prepared for the party. Suddenly Prell in our room! Helped us to prepare. Sailed to Düne, swam, played, laughed, swam again, played, laughed, etc

On the way back, we picked up the passengers of the Augusta and went to ‘t Abendessen in honor of Wilhelmienchen. Has been quite successful. Partyed through the night, first to Pinkus, then to Dr. Wulff insane bunch. To bed at 6 o’clock. (Wilhelmienchen here is queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, her birthday (queensday) was celebrated on the 31st of August)

To be back at class at 9 the next morning. After another weekend of packing, swimming and saying goodbye, everyone leaves again on September 3: Morning while we pack Prell back on stage. Drags us up the lighthouse, where you don’t see much more than from the ground floor. Wulff works in his garden. We’re going to say goodbye to him. He is embarrassed by his garden costume, gives us beautiful flowers. A lot of people on the landing jetty saying  goodbye. Then aboard with Non, Kuhn, Alverdes, Malzahu, Wunder, Rietschel. Adler is sailing well. Wunder tells crazy stories. Disembark in Cuxhaven and continue by train 4th class. Sleepy, I’m totally asleep on Alverde’s shoulder. In the meantime, he makes silly faces at Non!. Slept in Hamburg

Sept 4th Me at 11 o’clock on the train to Holland. Everything goes smoothly. Customs very interested in my sewing box! Much too late in Haarlem.

Non remains a good friend of Tera. In September 1925 the position of librarian of the Artis Library is vacant. Coenraad Kerbert (director of Artis) asks Tera to ask Non if she would be interested in that position. At first, Non doesn’t feel like it, but in the end she says yes. A month later, that plan is shattered again when Non manages to throw a kettle of boiling water over her leg: and instead of taking exams today, she lays in her bed, all depressed. In the afternoon I visit her and find her terribly upset. Me to Haarlem, pack my suitcase and go stay with her. After an eventful night, we drag her to the Hortus in the morning. Sluiter is the most friendly and starts to ask very simple questions. But Non says nothing or nonsense. After half an hour, Sluiter gives up and we take our patient home in a taxi. De Beaufort our good comfort father comes to drink coffee, and brings the message that Non can come into Artis’ library after all. The mood suddenly rises 100%.

Non becomes librarian of the Artis Library and will remain so until her retirement in 1954. In the newspaper De Tijd of 1 March 1954 appears on her farewell: Johanna Scheffer who for twenty-eight years has been the “keeper” of the “dead goods”. Right, the well-known librarian of the biological library (..) . Johanna Scheffer reigned for 28 years in that wonderful library, which was also a ruin. She excavated the most important works from the so neglected collection. She protested passionately against the neglect of the library buildings (..) and always helped everyone in their studies of living nature. Non dies shortly after her retirement on October 27, 1954.

I did my best to find out who Tera is staying with on Helgoland. Some of the names she mentions are easy to find online, others are untraceable and unknown to me. Additions are therefore welcome.

Next time we will meet another friend of Tera’s and go to a wedding.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.