National Geographic : 1938 Apr
BELGIUM-EUROPE IN MINIATURE is required for washing wool; these streams alone possessed that quality. The last official census of production in this industry shows a total of 285 enter prises. Additional industries represented in east ern Belgium are the paper mills of Malmedy and the chocolate factories, boot and shoe and leather-producing plants of Verviers. Leather is a patriarch among the trades; tanning pits dating from Roman times have been found here. BELGIUM BOASTS THE ORIGINAL SPA Spa (the original Spa from which that generic term is derived), whose gushing springs cured the jittered nerves and strengthened the hearts of ailing Roman warriors, is seeking a wider public. The Government has entrusted to Count van der Burch the task of modernizing Spa and its surrounding resorts. The ex-Kaiser of Germany made his head quarters at Spa for a time during the World War. Not far from the town I visited the bombproof dugout where his august person was protected by untold tons of concrete. Two iron doors give admittance from op posite sides to a chamber large enough to contain fifty men. This dugout and a few weed-entangled gun emplacements in the neighborhood of leper (Ypres) are (except for the monu ment, tablet, or other memorial emblem seen in every town and crossroads) the only tangible evidences I encountered in all Bel gium to prove that less than twenty years ago the land was a vast battlefield. THE TINTINNABULATION OF THE BELLS, BELLS, BELLS "When his bells are sounding so that the entire tower seems to reverberate to the stars . . . that is the moment when the carillonneurfeels his true thrill!" It was Staf Nees who spoke. Handsome, red-bearded Monsieur Nees-a Fleming direct out of the frame of a Frans Hals or a Van Dyck-has succeeded the famous Jef Denyn (now pensioned) as official bell artist at Mechelen (Malines).* At his side stood a young pupil who had traveled from Quebec to work under his tutelage (page 422). In the wind-buffeted little loft at the top * See "Singing Towers of Holland and Belgium," by William Gorham Rice, in THE NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC MAGAZINE, March, 1925. of St. Rombold's cathedral tower, Professor Nees continued his demonstration at the keyboard of his instrument, strongly press ing the pegs with the sides of his clenched fists, feet stamping on the foot keys. "The progressions from major to minor intervals (or vice versa) must be executed with great delicacy, or the bells fight an aerial combat, thus." And with a purposely harsh progression he set the upper air clashing with unfriendly overtones. Malines's Monday evening summer caril lon concerts are world-famed, and the de light of thousands of visitors who flock to this medieval city. At Tournai, not far distant, the bells are made (page 410). VEGETABLE MARKETS GREET THE SUN Belgian energy is too ebullient to allow its city dwellers to be morning stay-abeds. The streets and markets hum with early activity. I visited the market which takes place twice a week under the flying buttresses of Brussels' Church of Sainte Marie, at nine o'clock of a spring morning. Already the largest of the limp brown rabbits, the juici est of the fruits, and freshest of the vege tables had been packed into the baskets of shrewd Brabanconne housewives, and the market venders were beginning to look for ward to lunch. The regions around Brussels produce great quantities of vegetables from their truck gardens. Every afternoon a caravan of huge motor lorries pounds down the highroad to Paris, where they deliver their succulent loads in time for the opening of the morning markets. A comparatively new industry is that of growing and shipping endives, called "chic ory" by the Belgian. Endives are exported in quantity even to the United States. PAMPERED GRAPES GROWN UNDER GLASS With M. Liebrecht, editor of Le Soir Illustre, I rode out to see the grape culture under glass which clusters around the edges of the Forest of Soignes with its center in the village of Hoeylaert. Walk into your local fruit shop which specializes in expensive luxuries. Buy your self a bunch of those plum-size grapes, the kind that embellish bon-voyage baskets or the poor little rich girl's sickroom. The chances are strong that your bunch was grown in Hoeylaert or a near-by hamlet (Color Plate III).