Almelo, The Netherlands, 16 June 1921
The photographer arrives with a large camera plus tripod. The picture he takes shows a dog and two young children. He is a big, lean dog with soft fur and a long plump tail. He is taller than the children and looks away from them. Next to the dog is a four-year-old girl in a short-sleeved, white dress with a big white bow in her hair. Inquisitive, she looks directly at the lens.
Next to the girl is her big brother wearing dark-coloured short trousers. His ears are sticking out, his hair is neat, he is almost six years old. The children wear black shoes. Their names are Mimi and Johan de Leeuw and the date is June 1921. The background shows a fence, some shrubs and the outline of a tree.
Not only is this one of the finest pictures in the collection, but it is also intriguing. The father of the children has written a text on the picture, still quite legible in 2012. Translated into English it reads as follows:
“Castello” Kennel Champion Slobian-Bielaja Owner: A. de Leeuw Almelo
My grandfather, Arnold de Leeuw, was an ‘Ox, Calf and Pork butcher’ in Almelo – a town in the east of the Netherlands. As was not uncommon at the time, he was Jewish but his butcher’s shop was not kosher. When the picture was taken he was 34. He married Louisa Weijl, in 1914, in Oldenzaal near the German border.
In 2012 I found this dog with his exotic, Slavic sounding name on the Internet on the Borzoi Files website. Not so much the breed, as this particular dog: Slobian-Bielaja was born in Germany on 17 February 1913; his dam was Sascha v.d. Pegnitz and his sire Chack Bielaja. He’s known to have had a white and reddish coat. The Borzoi Files online database does not list the dog’s owner and there is no picture. More than ninety years after an anonymous photographer took this picture, I add both to the site.
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