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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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SEVEN DEAD PUPPIES

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Under the Chinaberry Tree

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Monday, October 16
Eileen Johnson Lubbock Dig
Tuesday, October 17
Fonda Thomsen Ft Davis Flags
Wednesday, October 18
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Thursday, October 19
H. McFadden Hawley Elvis
Friday, October 20
Various Texas Sounds
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In Print: On News Stands Now

THE BICYCLES OF AMSTERDAM

by Tumbleweed Smith

I went to see the tulips at Keukenhof Gardens outside Amsterdam both spring times I was stationed in Germany. Some Army buddies of mine and I stayed in a small hotel not far from the Grand Krasnapolsky, one of the finest hotels in Europe.

Each time we drove past the Krasnapolsky I thought to myself, 'One of these days I'm going to come back over here with the girl of my life and stay in that hotel.' I didn't know that forty-five years would pass before I made good on that promise to myself.

We went over in late April, specifically to stay in the Krasnapolsky and see the tulips at Keukenhof. We got to the hotel around noon and as we were looking over some tourist info, we learned that an hour-long carillon concert would begin at 2:30. We put our things away and walked over to the church where the carillons were playing. It was a charming walk through Amsterdam's narrow cobblestone streets, each one fascinating and inviting. It was an enchanting way to begin our visit to Amsterdam.

Residents of Holland are said to be the most contented people in Europe. It certainly seemed that way to us. English is spoken everywhere. Students begin learning it when they're ten years old.

The architecture all over the country is some of the most intriguing in the world. Since the country used to be under water and is now below sea level, buildings are built on huge wooden pilings deep in the ground. Some of the wood is rotting now and some of the buildings are shifting so that doors and windows are crooked and the front of some structures give the appearance of falling into the street. We went to a cheese market at Alkmaar, visited a wooden shoe factory and windmill museum at Koog-Zaandijk, and spent a few hours in Haarlem.

Most of the time we spent in Amsterdam, soaking up the comfortable atmosphere. We toured Anne Frank's House, visited the Van Gogh Museum, stood in the room where Rembrandt painted and dined at the famous Five Flies Restaurant.

Perhaps the most memorable thing about the trip is the bicycles. Young and old ride them. Some bicycle passengers ride sidesaddle behind the rider. Babies are in secure baskets or seats. Riders carry huge shopping items in what look like small pickup beds built onto the front of the bicycles. I saw an older woman who must have been in her 70's dressed to the hilt with a stylish purple hat and coat, fully made up pedaling by on her bike, followed by a well-dressed man in a suit and overcoat, his coattails flapping in the breeze. The bicycle riders glide by silently, sitting high in the seat, the handlebars at a comfortable height. Since the city is flat, they never have to get off the seat to pedal hard. Two bikers riding side by side carry on conversations just like they were riding in a car. People talk on cell phones, smoke and hold umbrellas while riding. Bike paths are all over town and the riders are courteous when tourists mistakenly walk in them.

The bicycles all seem to move in the rhythm of the city. The riders are seldom in a hurry. Some bikes are rusty with age and sea moisture. Train stations have covered parking areas for bicycles. You can't visit Amsterdam without noticing the bicycles.

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