National Geographic : 1950 Dec
748 John Tophain Aalsmeer Flower Buyers, Bidding with Push Buttons, Light Up a "Punchboard" Dial This auction disposes of 12 million potted plants and cut flowers annually. Each gallery seat has a control to the dial. As the sale opens, flowers are carted in. Then the auctioneer (left) starts the "clock's" hand descending from an above-market figure. When it reaches a buyer's price, he pushes his button, stopping the indicator, and his seat number lights up. Such a light here shines in a circle; the sale is complete. But how to get this last? Planners have thought of many ways, and, knowing that Heaven helps those who help themselves, they have helped themselves to Neptune's land, though not without incessant opposition from the sea, which even now sometimes wins back a bit by clever strategy. Holland's water war to gain and retain the soil of the sea is one of the sustained dramas of Europe;* and since the world insists upon a hero for every war, one was long ago oblig ingly furnished by the American authoress Mary Mapes Dodge. He was and is, of course, the little Dutch boy, a lockkeeper's son, described in Hans Brinker: or the Silver Skates. The boy noticed that sea water was trickling through a tiny hole in a dike. At this sign of an impending break which might flood whole villages and their polders (lands reclaimed from the waters), he held his finger in the dike all night until he was finally seen and relieved. The boy who held back the sea and saved his people, though entirely fictional, is at last being honored with a statue. War Against the Waters This work of art, created by the Dutch sculptress Grada Rueb, was unveiled June 7, 1950, at Spaarndam, outside Haarlem (page 751). "Dedicated to our youth," reads the inscription, "to honor the boy who sym * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Behind Netherlands Sea Ramparts," by McFall Ker bey, February, 1940; and "Holland's War with the Sea," by James Howard Gore, March, 1923.