Theo Roes is keeping his father’s legacy alive


New story collection Herman van Velzen

DOETINCHEM/ZELHEM – The house with garden on Oude Terborgseweg could thus appear in a story by Herman van Velzen, who could describe situations and scenes in a few sentences like no one else. Resident Theo Roes can often be found in the 4000 m2 garden, which often requires the necessary maintenance work. Roes is 88 years old, but doesn’t mind.

The old boss is still active in all sorts of areas. Every year he gives a lecture to the Rekhem branch of Probus (club for over 55s with a socially responsible function) on topics such as the Crimean War, the solar system, Admiral Ver Huell, tanks and anti-tank weapons, Linear B (old manuscript), Napoleonic campaigns and the Germans could have produced an atomic bomb. Next subject: Charles Dickens, not coincidentally the favorite author of his father Frans Roes, better known as Herman van Velzen.

As a brigadier general, De Doetinchemmer has had an unusually special social career (more on this in Achterhoekse Kearls 2). He was in charge of the materiel service department and for this purpose traveled to America for example to negotiate the purchase of Sting missiles or MLRS missiles, a 700 million guilder project involving long-range missiles which are now also used in Ukraine. Roes advised State Secretary Van Houwelingen on this.
The fact that his father wrote a weekly dialect history for De Graafschapbode for forty years largely escaped him during his career. After his retirement in 1991 he returned to Doetinchem and became interested in the cultural heritage that Frans Roes had left after his death in 1974. Stories were collected in books and Theo gave many lectures through the Achterhoek where he read the stories. “Not only because I still like the stories, but if you put all the stories in chronological order, you can see the social development in the Achterhoek. The 30s and 40s were very different from the 50s and 60s.”

Frans Roes traveled around the Achterhoek to hear stories, but above all to meet people. “He was a good friend of the Misset brothers. In 1943, as a nine-year-old boy, I once visited Kees Misset on the Waterstraat. I thought I was going to have an exclusive dinner with a millionaire, but I just had pea soup. I got a glass of red wine from the butler. I thought my father didn’t notice, but as we walked back to Hengelo through the snow he said: ‘I was sure I didn’t, but I won’t tell mom‘.”

In the Roes family, Theo is the only one interested in Herman van Velzen’s stories. Between all the other activities, he also regularly finds time and energy to write a story. The inventory is almost endless: “I still have several folders with clippings from De Graafschapbode with stories that have not yet been published in a book, and new ones are still coming in. I am glad that the bundles are now published by Achterhoekse Uitgeverij Hermans. We now pay more attention to the spelling, the books look much nicer in a modern jacket with beautiful illustrations by Judith Woordes from Winterswijk and beautifully designed by Inline Design from Wehl.”

The dialect can look forward to renewed popularity, which is reflected in the increasing prevalence of the Herman van Velzen collections. “The next generations also like it. It is good that it is getting attention in schools that need young dialect writers. It would be the best if there was a weekly story in the Achterhoeks in the paper again.”
Two new bundles are already planned for 2023, but Herman van Velzen’s 52nd edition will appear first: An old-fashioned winter with thirty dialect stories. Of course with new adventures by Aornt Peppelenkamp, ​​but also about a murder, poachers and an older winter.
The sale starts on Saturday 19 November at 2pm in The Read Shop Zelhem under the motto ‘Anschoeven met Theo Roes’. Theo is happy to have a chat with readers and buyers and, if desired, puts his signature in the new book.

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