My first contact with Joris was exactly 2 months ago today. He failed to log on to the website and asked for my help. We soon got to “talking”, first by email and then via Skype. It appeared to me that Joris is a remarkable person and thus worth interviewing to bring him into the limelight of the Hurgronje family.
How old are you, where do you live and with whom?
I was born 19 March 1945. So I have recently turned 78 and have been with Catrien for 49 years. We married in 1984 and have two children aged 38 and 35. I am a genuine Rotterdammer. In the Maas city, my grandfather (chemical engineer) started a research laboratory in 1901, and thanks to my father and my brother Robertus, the lab remained within the family for exactly a century.
How long have you been a member of the Family Fund?
Since the age of 21. Back then, the family meetings were in Middelburg. I went along and had a good time. There were several young people there.
How long have you been active in the Family Fund, and in what position(s)?
I have never held an official position within the fund (I am not a governor, I have no talent for that sort of thing), but as an ordinary member I have been active at intervals. After the age of 50, I became more interested in the fund. In recent years, I have organised the sports event twice.
There will be another sports event in 2024, although I said “I’ll never do it again” at the 2020 annual meeting. It’s a huge hassle, but I have great fun doing it.
What motivates you to be active for the Family Fund?
I’m getting to enjoy the fund more and more. It does good work, very genuine, and well organised. Recently I had a very good experience with Titia Bosch van Rosenthal. She really helped my son, very adequately. I am very grateful to her for that.
Over time, I have made friends within the fund. People with whom I am in regular contact. That too motivates me to do my share.
What memorable moments have stuck with you from your time within the Family Fund so far?
In the 1960s, I was a budding journalist and downright poor. I then received money from the fund.
At a family meeting, I estimate it was about six years ago, my elder brother Dolph took the floor. I did not agree with him at all and so I also expressed my opinion. Thus a discussion developed between him and me. That must have been remarkable for the other people present; those two ageing brothers standing there arguing with each other….
The discussion about the chair. That was something! Afterwards, I visited Arjan van Dixhoorn three times as a journalist. Nice man.
And of course the sports events. What a lot of work it was to organise them! But the result was very satisfying. On both occasions, we spent a very enjoyable day with several dozen family members and made new contacts.
How do you see the future of the Family Fund?
Very positive. Unless the entire global economy collapses, but otherwise the fund will continue to exist. And the number of members continues to grow. So the fund has a right to exist.
What is your profession?
Journalist-historian. I have written for De Rotterdammer, Het Vrije Volk, De Havenloods and De Oud Rotterdammer. In the 1990s, I was editor of the Kroniek for nine years, the magazine of the Historical Society Roterodamum, which had 3,000 members at the time.
I wrote many commemorative books on commission, with the overall production also in my hands. For example:
- One hundred years of the Food Inspection Service in Rotterdam
- Bookstore Donner 1912-1992
- Restaurant Old Dutch (60 years)
- The White House 1898-1998
- Café Melief-Bender
- Kralings Swimming Pool Association, 1931-1996
I have written and produced 22 books, collections and facsimiles, always with the history of Rotterdam as the central subject. The most important is my café book series: Rotterdam cafés from 1900 to the present. It is 5 oblong books (coffee table format) with around 1400 photos, from various archives and by contemporary photographers. You may call it a standard work. There is one more book due to be published: ‘Rotterdam Restaurants’, from 1900 to the present day. Next year I’m really calling it quits!
What are your hobbies/interests?
I play golf, regularly play poker in the pub, and love hiking. I’ve been to Nepal twice up to 5400 metres high! I also really like sea swimming. For that, I go to Zeeland, to Burgh-Haamstede, where we have a family house.
In your opinion, what is your best trait, and what your worst?
Worst: I am terribly sloppy with paperwork and such. That’s a writer’s trait.
Best: I have a clean character, I’m quite nice to people. And I’m critical, which is sometimes good and sometimes not.
What does your ultimate day of self-care look like?
A long hike in nature during the day and going to the cinema in the evening. In between meals at home, because Catrien cooks so well that I prefer to eat at home. Eating out is also very expensive these days….
Joris has offered, when he has finished writing the restaurant book, to write an article (or even a series of articles!) on the history of the Family Fund. This in collaboration with his brother Dolph, which is hereby duly noted 🙂