The door is open…

Hoogies3

I read with sadness that Mrs Hoogenraad died last week.  I haven’t seen her in many, many years  and have wondered occasionally whether she was still alive.  ‘Mrs Hoogie’, as we called her, will be known to probably hundreds of middle-aged Heidelberg kids who spent Saturday nights at ‘Hoogies’ during the 1970s.

At the time of the ‘Jesus Revolution’ and Larry Norman and The Late Great Planet Earth, Mr and Mrs Hoogie ran a house church at their very small home in Heidelberg.  They were in their 60s and their children were adults- I wonder now how their children felt about this endless stream of adolescents going to their door, burdening their parents with tearful accounts of relationship breakups and crises of faith?  I suspect, too, that the neighbours were not terribly impressed either as the cars lined up along Oakhurst Avenue, and young people spilled out into the garden. Still, thinking back, we were very, very well behaved young people, considering.

Saturday nights between 8.00 and 11.00 were Hoogies nights,  crammed into their lounge room with the rugs rolled up and carted into another room, dark and exotic carved wooden furniture, batik prints, shaded lamps,  glowing copper and a cuckoo clock.  There were  people playing guitars, hymns, prayers and a talk by someone or other – sometimes Mr Hoogie himself (I don’t think I ever remember Mrs Hoogie giving one).  It was a fundamentalist, personal,  evangelical Christianity that I have since rejected, gradually at first and now more definitively, despite a lingering cultural Anglicanism and a more active leaning towards Unitarianism.  Nonetheless, I look back to such times with a bemused indulgence but a deep respect for the faith and grace that Mrs Hoogie always showed.

Mr and Mrs Hoogie were from the Netherlands, had been involved in the Dutch Resistance, lived in Indonesia and were there during the final crumbling of the Dutch colonial empire, and came to Heidelberg during the post-war austerity.  Theirs is a wonderful story, told to us often.  There are things about it that perhaps I would ask more about now, but it’s too late.   I’ve found a two-part article about them that was published in The Heidelberger on January 25 and February 1 1989. I’ve transcribed it, and put scans of the article down below.  It’s a story that touches on European, Indonesian and post-war Melbourne history and well worth reading.

Mr Hoogie would always announce in his stentorian tones at eleven o’clock sharp “The door is open and no-one is holding you back!!!”.  He was no doubt mindful of clearing his small house of about 80 hulking teenagers and moving back all that heavy furniture and unrolling the rugs and returning to some semblance of normality for the week.  Mrs Hoogie, lovely lady, your door is open too and no-one is holding you back.  Whatever my own belief or lack of it, I hope that you meet your God on the other side of it.

A tale of faith and courage  by Linley Hartley, The Heidelberger Wed Jan 25, 1989

To meet Ton and Lique Hoogenraad of Heidelberg, one can hardly believe the trials and tribulations they enduring during German occupation of Holland in World War 2.  There is a serenity about them: an inner peace resulting from their Christian faith.  And their lives, they say, could have been quite different if it wasn’t for their unswerving belief in God.

Their remarkable story began when Ton, as a young soldier in the army of the Netherlands, saw a beautiful, tall blonde girl across from him in church one Sunday.  It wasn’t long before they married and embarked upon the life that was supposed to be “happy every after”.

Ton was in the south west of Holland with his regiment when the German army occupied The Hague. Eight days later, with no more than one hand grenade between 800 men, Ton was forced to surrender.  The regiment was directed to march to Germany.  A handful of Polish volunteers on bikes escorted them, riding along the kilometre-long column of men to keep check.

Ton urged his men to escape when it was safe to do so and to go home and put on civilian clothes.  He stayed with the remnant, exactly 200 who arrived at a Dutch town on the German border. “He passed through our home town on the way”, Lique said. “I was pregnant and I put on a big coat that I had, with big pockets, and ran out to meet him.  As I embraced him, he put his pistol in one pocket, his binoculars in the other, and said “I’ll be back”.  When the regiment’s reduced number reached the border, Ton had his men goosestep into the town, through the Germans who were already there and probably thought the group of men were volunteering and into a side street.  The Dutch residents came out to see what it was all about and Ton asked for refuge for his men.  None of the men reached the concentration camp meant for them.

Ton moved into the Resistance Army and was given the underground code name of Ton Steen, a Dutch abbreviation for “ton of bricks”. His real name in Martinus. Lique took the name of Angelique for which Lique is the shortened form.  Her real name is Corrie.  They became so used to calling each other Ton and Lique that they retained the names when the war was over.  Pregnant with her third child, Lique became a courier for The Hague Underground leader. “I loved my country so passionately, that I would have died for it,” Lique said. “If we loved God like I loved my country, the world would be very different.” Ton became commanding officer for the Rural Organization of the Resistance and was responsible for helping downed British, US and Canadian pilots get to Antwerp, Brussels or Paris, where they would be helped get to Spain or England.

“One of the fellow I worked with was caught on the train to Antwerp with two pilots.  The Germans tortured him so much, pulling out his fingernails, that he told them everything about us.” Ton said.  But word of the confession filtered back and the Resistance was able to avoid the Nazis.  For two years Ton lived in the forest in two underground caverns the Resistance had dug. “Lique and the children would come and spend a holiday with me occasionally,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye.

Then the day came when a neighbour informed on them.  Ton had been seen going home at night. “Lique and I had always talked about what we do if we were visited by the Germans in the middle of the night,” he said. “I would climb out onto the roof and walk along the building to the end where I would climb down the balconies.”  The night the Germans kicked in the door their plan went into action. However, Ton couldn’t flee because he worried the Germans would harm Lique. He was right.  Ton sat in the snow on the house roof while the soldiers took the children and interrogated Lique, kicking and hitting her to persuade her to talk.  “An older German SS man finally told them to stop, that it was enough and they returned the babies to me and left,” Lique said. The couple believes God blinded the SS to tell-tale signs that Ton had been there minutes earlier. “It was clear two people had been asleep in the bed and they didn’t notice that,” Ton said.  “There was a used shirt I had taken off hanging in the cupboard.  I knocked over milk bottles in the kitchen in my hurry to escape and my footprints were in the snow.  But they looked for me under an elevated play pen we had for the children”.

The Hoogenraads tell many other stories.  Once they were given a small pig for meat, a luxury, and Lique dressed it in babies’ clothes and wheeled it home in a pram.  “I remember one night seeing all the Germans tumbling out of the sky before their parachutes opened. They were quartered in our homes.  We had one who was 17 who cried for his mother.”

But the couple’s adventures were just beginning when the war ended.

You can read the original article at the link below.

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Lique and Ton settle in Australia by Linley Hartley, The Heidelberger , Feb 1 1989

“We were in the south of Holland and the south was liberated six months before the rest of the country, ” Ton said. “When we were liberated I discovered I had 1400 people under me in the Resistance.  We all knew only of the few we had close dealing with during the war to protect everyone.”

Ton was born in Indonesia and his heart strings were tugged as the Japanese over-ran that country.  He was sent to Indonesia with a batallion of volunteers, mostly Resistance fighters.  By the time they reached Indonesia peace had been declared.  Ton remained in Indonesia in the army and later joined the police force in which he became the Commissioner of Police.  Lique and the children had joined him and the family enjoyed the peace of a new era.  But it was not to last. Six years later, the civil unrest of the Sukarno reign forced Ton to send his wife and children back to Holland, while he planned a move to Australia.

When Ton arrived in Melbourne all the money he had transferred from Indonesia had disappeared, and he had only enough to buy a small block of land in Heidelberg.  “We had come as settlers, not migrants, so we didn’t qualify for hostel accommodation,” Ton recalled.  When Lique and the children arrived, Ton was living in a tent on the block of land and only the shell of their house had been built. Until the house was completed they lived in two rooms of a condemned house in Abbotsford.

The Hoogenraad family finally moved into their house and joined the local Presbyterian Church. “We were so poor that Lique would sometimes walk from here to Ivanhoe because the grocer in Ivanhoe had some good specials,” Ton recalled.  And later, when Lique began going to the Mother’s Club at her children’s school. Macleod High School, she would tell the other women that she didn’t drink tea or coffee to hide the fact that they were too poor to afford the threepence a cup.

Ton and Lique took on a Sunday School class with the church, and when the evangelist Billy Graham spoke at the MCG they took their class to hear him.  All the youngsters, who were in their early teens, went forward and made commitments to continue their Christian faith.  From that small beginning, the Hoogenaads began a youth group which met at their home every Saturday night.  Soon the evening was called the Hoogies.

For the next 15 years the Hoogies opened their small home each Saturday.  The couple would move all the furniture out of the lounge room into Ton’s study, and the couple’s bedroom became a prayer room.  Most Saturdays there would be between 60 and 80 young people jammed into the house. “We’d get some boys arriving with their stubbies and we’d tell them they were welcome but they had to leave their bottles outside,” Ton said.  Most nights the teenagers would sit against the walls and others would sit up against their keens and others against their knees.  “One night John Smith who was with the God Squad was the speaker, and we had 104 there that night, ” Ton said.  “They were out in the kitchen, some sitting on the benches, they were on top of the dining room table and underneath it.  Later we found ‘Jesus loves you’ written on the underside of the table.  Social workers came to see what we were doing, the editor of the Catholic paper ‘The Advocate’ came and so did the Seventh Day Adventists.  We had our own library, our own song book, our own tape library and our own newsletter called ‘The Acorn’,” Lique said.  “Each Saturday we had three ice-cream containers on the sideboard and we’d just remind everyone about them.  One was for a general fund and two were for missionary work.  We took $1000 a year. Separately we paid for three wells to be dug in India by having a cardboard model of a well with the bricks marked in.  The young people paid 50c a brick and colored in the brick when they paid for it.”

The Hoogenraads believe about 3000 young people between the ages of 16 and their early 20s went through their home during those fifteen years.  Many of them married someone from the group.  The Hoogies attended countless 21st birthday parties, weddings and baptisms.  The couple is still reaping the rewards of their 15-year investment of a generation of Victorians.  They are frequently visited by one or other of them with their small children and a few years ago they were invited to a surprise reunion of the Hoogies. When they entered the church, ostensibly to see the alteration, there was a huge gathering of Hoogies youth, along with their partners and children.  “One of them asked me to use my army voice to ask them all to sit down,” Ton said. “And they immediately sat in rows up against each others’ knees like those old Saturday night years ago”.

You can read the original article of Part Two by clicking on the link below.

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8 responses to “The door is open…

  1. Thank you for this article. I too spent many Saturday nights in the home of these wonderful and influential people. I was fortunate to find them in the last 2 years of the group running. I did visit them for a number of years after “Hoogies” wound up but lost track of Mrs Hoogie some time ago. I have often thought of them and while like the writer of this article, my faith is no longer conservative or fundamentalist I still believe, and I wonder if I would had it not been for Mr and Mrs Hoogie

    • Thank you for commenting. I can’t really remember how the group ended, to be honest. Perhaps I’d drifted away by then? When DID it wind up?

  2. It was so long ago now but I remember an Australia day weekend camp at Belgrave Heights and that some time later in that year the decision was made to wind things up. I think it must have been 1978. There had been a feeling of being unsettled because for a short while, when Mrs Hoogie recovered from a hip operation we met at an alternative address. Once we moved back to Oakhurst Ave. things were never quite the same. Mr and Mrs Hoogie decided that the time had come.

    • Yes- we met in Rosanna Rd for a while, didn’t we. The Belgrave Heights camp I remember was over Easter, I think, because I remember the auditorium being very bare on Good Friday and covered with flowers on Sunday. There were the camps up at King Lake too- I think they might have been Australia Day? I suppose that the house burnt down in Black Saturday- I went up there about a year ago and couldn’t find it.

  3. I’ve just remembered about the Belgrave Heights camps held in an established camp with cabins and dining halls- you’re right! The Easter Belgrave Heights camps were held in about 1972 and we had tents on the Belgrave Heights convention site. I’d forgotten about the later camps- positive luxury in comparison!

  4. As I said I was only there towards the end, so 1972 was way before my time.The camp I referred to was definitely in cabins although I would’ve enjoyed proper camping just as much. If I remember correctly Rosanna Rd was a share house with its own share of problems. Its funny how these things come into your mind sometimes without provocation. I tend to ( or maybe want to) believe that in this case it is a reflection of how profound an influence the group had on us. I have had very little contact with anyone from there for many years but still find myself wondering what some of them are doing with their lives now

  5. Paul Hoogenraad

    My daughter, Janine Homer brought up this dialogue from last year and asked me about it. I am Paul Hoogenraad, Ton & Lique’s third son. I retired from the ministry in January 2015 after almost 50 years in the Baptist ministry – over 40 years at Prospect/Oakden Baptist Church in Adelaide (where I still serve). Just to update you to the best of my memory: Dad & Mum ceased hosting the Hoogies group around the time Dad retired, but chiefly because they believed the best place to nurture young people was in a local church. They ended up at Greensborough/Diamond Valley Baptist where both were active and Dad served as an elder. Through some amazing circumstances, they discovered that they were eligible for a Dutch war pension and this allowed them to see out their days much more comfortably. Dad died in November, 1995 aged 82 years and Mum in July, 2013 aged 97 years. Not all my siblings share our faith or their enthusiasm to reach the younger generation. Yet each one of them is grateful for their zest for life and their concern for others that has left an indelible mark that will not be erased by death. My hope is that these reminders may confirm your faith and rekindle the flame that you experienced back in the days of your youth.

    • Dear Paul, thank you so much for commenting. I followed Mr and Mrs Hoogie to Greensborough Baptists when it was still in the old Greensborough Road (now by-passed) but had wandered by the time that church shifted further out onto Diamond Creek Rd. I’m glad that they were eligible for a Dutch war pension- so should they be. I think I may have attended your father’s funeral. And by the way, my name is Janine too! Thanks again.

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