A life behind the counter

- The Landhandel (rural store) Booimann at Itterbeck -

Next to the old Itterbeck school, which uses to be the kindergarden today, the Landhandel Booimann almost inconspicuously is to be found. The one entering the store will find himself taken back decades of years. The stale looking interior, the typical pair of scales and the clearly arranged range of foodstuff tins reminds of long ago times.

Landhandel Booimann

A friendly voice calls from the room next door and asks the entering patron to approach. It is the voice of the 72 years old owner Ms Elisabeth Booiman. Since she got a rupture in 1985 she is dependent on crutches and therefore is less sprightly. Her customers, she tells, serve themselves in the store and then pay at her in the kitchen. The kitchen is also her living and dining room. Ms Booimann tells, that the salesroom and her apartment cannot be separated anyhow since the front door is also the apartment door. Often her kitchen serves as a kind of meeting place when the customers bring along some time for a talk.

For her whole life Ms Booimann was standing behind the counter. She remembers very well when she was assisting in the store as a young girl. She was helding up ropes which were cutted to equal length by her grandfather. Her grandfather moved from Wilsum to Itterbeck at the beginning of the last century. When he was a child, he got injured at his leg. Because of the remaining handicap he was unable to work as a farmer, which was the common way at that time. Instead he became an apprentice at the schoemaker Scheerhorn at Emlichheim. He then started to put into action his aquired knowledge at his new home village Itterbeck. He picked up leather at Lingen and made shoes from it, but also made saddler wares that were hardly needed at the Itterbeck area. In parallel to his saddler work he built a small farm as a sideline. The farm could be run with the support of part time hired people (German: Heuerleute, Dialect: Huurlö). In the twenties his handicraft profession began to shift into trading activities. He started selling rope goods, leather goods and colonial goods. In 1933 the farm had been extended with a new residential building including the new store. The Landhandel Booimann came into being. At that time Itterbeck was supposed to get its center around the old school. Things however never have got to this stage, probably because of the later extension of the country road L43 to Wielen.

Window Display

Today the Landhandel Booiman lies out of the way of the main roads. Her customers, Elisabeth Booimann tells, are the neighbours and some people from Itterbeck who want to fetch some beverages, canned food or ice cream in a hurry. There are no fixed opening hours. The store is open as long as Elisabeth Booimann is present. And because she cannot walk properly she is present almost all of the time. At the moment she waits for the completion of a new walking rack, which is manufactured at Nordhorn. Today, Elisabeth Booimann runs the store only for human relations. After a period of almost 70 years behind the counter, closing down the store won't be easy for her. With a somewhat melancholy sound, Elisabeth Booimann reports that it was not for her to get married in all the years. Her life used to be a product of the work at the store and the farm. Attending the school of home ecomonmics at Neuenhaus during the war was the only change in her life. She remembers gladly that time. By the way, she continues, when she was a young girl she was allowed to ring the bells of the old Itterbeck school next door. The bells were to be heard far in the moor and reminded the school children of their way to school. During the war, church services were sometimes being held at the old school when the time did not allow the way to Uelsen. And then Elisabeth Booiman remembers the telephone. After the post office got the first telephone in Itterbeck, Booimann were the next ones getting a phone. But at what year this happened she cannot remember any more.

Looking into the store room, Elisabeth Booimann concludes that surely something must be done on the store. But she feels herself not in the position to do so. Elisabeth Booimann is rather hoping that her healthiness will allow her to run the store at least until the end of the year. At the moment even this is still uncertain.

Gerrit Jansen was getting into conversation with Elisabeth Booiman on Aug 8, 2000. Summarized and written down by Stefan Freinatis.

The Landhandel Booimann can be found in the Schoolstege at Itterbeck, next to the old school. The Schoolstege leads into the Egge Road (K 18) and is probably reached the easiest from there. Perhaps you take the opportunity and have a look at the store.



Created: Sep 25, 2000, last modification: Jul 11, 2005