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Here I would love to share with you our travels and adventures as international mushroom consultants. MEMOIRS about husband Pieter Vedder, who was a SCIENTIFIC PIONEER in Commercial Mushroom Cultivation Education. His practical handbook is in 9 languages and is called the MUSHROOM BIBLE: https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2020/08/modern-mushroom-growing-2020-harvesting.html

Sunday, April 21, 2019

1958 Tragedy for Pieter's Mushroom Friends in Zichen-Zussen-Bolder in Belgium

Those caves in the Limburg village of Zichen-Zussen-Bolder in Belgium, were again the result of sawing blocks of marl, or soft stone as it is also called, for building cities.
Also here, husband Pieter came for a frequent visit in Belgium, just across the Dutch border.
For his boss, Pieter Bels, my Pieter wrote a kind of a speech, in the summer of 1957.
Read more below first screenshot...
De Roosburgramp click for video from where I got this screenshot...
There were always quite some adventures in Belgium, especially when visiting Gérard Kinet. First they had bacon breakfast at Jacquemin. That was being generously served with cognac. It caused them having difficulty walking straight, between those mushroom beds inside the caves, with their trouser legs pushed up!
On December 23, 1958 harvesting went on inside the caves of Zichen-Zussen-Bolder in Belgium.
Prior to Christmas for having mushrooms available for special dinners...
Above screenshot is from video Roosburg 1958-2008 (link is further down below)
Belgium: Mushroom Galleries Cave In 20 Feared Dead 1958 click link for short video
Collapse of the quarry
It seems to be that one of the main reasons for such a disastrous collapse, was the gradual widening of underground corridors, plus taking away some support pillars.
The main reason for doing so, was because of transport equipment being able to pass.
It also was mentioned that the mine inspectors sometimes closed an eye...
Slowly mushroom growing had also shifted away from the one layer beds on the floor to stacked trays.
The difference can clearly be seen between the first and second image above.
Screenshots from video Roosburg 1958-2008 just click it
Screenshot from video Roosburg 1958-2008
Pieter's mushroom friend Gérard Kinet, as well as others he knew very well, were among the 18 that lost their lives...
Gerard's body was never found, only 7 got recovered.
Gerard's father-in-law Willem Heynen was heartbroken and the Bishop tried to console him as he'd lost his son Pierre, father of 7 children and his son-in-law Gérard Kinet, father of 2 children...

The Belgian disaster
Marked in blue from this Pdf: They are Pierre Heynen, Belgium's largest grower, and Gérard Kinet, Belgium's best grower.
Several Dutch mushroom growers knew them personally. Kinet participated in October in the excursion to England; we still vividly remember the pleasant and comradely relations with him. Several Dutch growers have visited his nursery and that of Pierre Heynen several times and learned a lot from them because they were so open and enjoyable to share their experiences. Both were generous hosts. (Photos Bartok)

Mrs. Kinet, is a sister from Pierre Heynen (DOUBLE TRAGEDY!).

Found in the Dutch publication of 1959 - 1 de Champignon - cultuur.
Husband Pieter (left center) and his colleague G.J.A. Van Soest, carry here the wreath from the Dutch mushroom growers, 27 December of 1958 (Photo Steegs)
Found in the Dutch magazine of January/February 1959: de Champignon - cultuur.
That day, Pieter and his colleague went by car together with their boss Drs. P.J. Bels for attending the memorial service.

Below is from the November 1958 Dutch magazine: de Champignon - cultuur about photos from Gérard Kinet, when he went with Pieter and others to the UK.
With the pigeons at Trafalgar Square, London
From left to right seated: Vervuurt, Ambrosius, Kinet, Everts.
Standing: Haerkens, mayor v. d. Riet, ladies Steeghs and Bels, Sieptman, Arts, van Soest. (Photo Steegs) from de Champignon - cultuur 1958 - 6  ←just click it. Sorry ISMS did remove it so this is from my personal Google My Drive. Click top right for download!
Gérard Kinet is holding a pigeon... who could know then, that less than 2 months later these would seem to be his last photographs taken.
Husband Pieter was the 1st Assistant for the Dutch Proefstation (Experimental Station) and responsible for Training, he also was the main writer for their Dutch magazine from link above... 
Pieter did drive to Maastricht where he gave his training courses at Restaurant Grandcafé  Momus - Vrijthof, Maastricht where also André Rieu gives his concerts... Famous spot in the South of my Province Limburg.
In this photo, taken in maybe Bournemouth where they went to the 2-day MGA exhibition and lectures, seated on the right is again Gerard Kinet (to the left of him is G.J.A. Van Soest who carried the large wreath, together with husband Pieter at Gérard's and others' funeral...)...
Just posted them here in case his relatives ever search for it.
My husband Pieter is standing to the left, without glasses at that time.
On December 31, they recovered the body of the youngest person and on February 17, that of a 21-year old...
On December 27, 1958 was the funeral for 5 of those that got recovered...
My Pieter is somewhere amongst the crowd, he went to their funeral carrying with his colleague the large wreath as seen here above.
Quite a tragedy!

May they all R.I.P.
Good to see that this post has been frequently visited...
Our archiving found a purpose.

Related link:
Husband Pieter visiting Mushrooms in the Cave - Bradford-on-Avon in England | previous post by me
Husband Pieter's Fond Relationship with Mushroom Growers in  the U.K. | previous post by me showing the visit to the UK in which Gerard Kinet also was part of the group.


  1. Liebe Mariette,
    herzlichen Dank für deinen Bericht.
    Frohe Grüße

    1. Liebe Elisabeth,
      Danke und Dir noch Frohes Osterfest!
      Liebe Grüße,

  2. That was quite a tragedy. I never knew they would farm mushrooms underground.
    Hope you had a lovely Easter Mariette and I like your header photo :)

    1. Dearest Sami,
      Happy 2nd Easter Day to you.
      Oh yes, in the caves is where the actual mushroom growing started, everywhere!
      It was the biggest tragedy in Pieter's career...

  3. Hello Mariette, What an awful tragedy to have those galleries collapse. I had been worried about safety when you showed those underground mushroom farms. It seems that many caves, mines and other dangerous features are originally engineered safely, but people disregard the cautions in exchange for convenience. When I was researching that ghost town post, every source that talked about abandoned mines had clear warnings never under any circumstances to enter an old shaft or tunnel.

    1. Dearest Jim,
      You are so very right about that and it is often a cause of human error or neglect.
      Mines or caves can cause disastrous consequences if safety is not heeded. We all know of such tragedies through the news.
      It has been the way of the past and it still is going on in some countries but more under strict rules for safety.
      Yes, around the 1958 Christmas period that was a black page in history for the region and for Pieter a funeral event to never ever forget.

  4. Hi Mariette! Oh, how awful!! Happy Easter!

    1. Dearest Anne,
      Yes, indeed, so very tragic...
      Hugs and hope you had a wonderful Easter!

  5. That is such a terrible tragedy. I feel so sorry for the victims and their loved ones...it’s upsetting to learn the part of the cause was due to inspectors not addressing the issue properly.
    I’m sorry your husband Pieter had to lose his friends in such way.

    1. Dearest Tamago,
      Yes, this was tragic in many ways... hard to ever forget!
      Those friends had a terrible death and it is hard to grasp.

  6. Tremenda tragedia aconteció, que aunque han pasado muchos años es bueno ser recordada para que no se produzca algo similar de nuevo.


    1. Querida ventana de foto,
      ¡ Esperemos que algo así nunca vuelva a suceder, en ninguna parte!

  7. What a terrible tragedy for the families and loved ones of those who died - imagine too how frightening it must have been to those who did not die but lay there possibly injured and trapped underground in the darkness.
    Health and safety then did not receive the top priority that it gets today in the West. However, in many parts of the third world health and safely issues are still not addressed and working underground is still a huge risk.

    1. Dearest Rosemary,
      Guess the safety rules were in play but if not acted upon them and not inspected properly, what can be done?
      Very sad indeed for the victims and their loved ones...
      We both have worked in countries where the word safety seemed a foreign word. Sad fact but too many victims it causes annually in a great part of the world where either buildings collapse or bridges or whatever because of neglect or plain corrupt work methods.

  8. What a tragedy indeed, Mariette. Heartbreaking! Gone too soon.

    1. Dearest Debbie,
      Yes indeed and in such an awful way... We only can keep their memory out of respect and also for their loved ones, left behind.

  9. What an interesting and sad story. Always so happy when you drop by my little part of the blog world.

    1. Dearest LV.,
      Yes, a very sad history... One to never be forgotten though.
      Sending you hugs,

    2. Was für eine Tragödie, liebe Mariette! Das erinnert mich an das Grubenunglück von Lengede, hier ganz in der Nähe. Man mag gar nicht darüber nachdenken ...

      Liebe Grüße

    3. Liebe Sara,
      Ja genau wie bei euch in Lengede, das war auch eine Tragödie und auch im kalten November... Es gibt noch viele Berufe mit große Gefahr!
      Liebe Grüße,

  10. Wat een drama heeft daar plaatsgevonden.
    Indrukwekkend om er over te lezen en de beelden te zien.

    1. Beste Willy,
      Ja, heel triest dit drama kort voor Kerst in 1958.
      We kunnen er bij stil staan en het nooit vergeten, uit eerbetoon voor de slachtoffers en hun nabestaanden!

  11. Hello dear Mariette!

    I read the publication and I am really sorry for the tragedy and victims, the security issue was really worrying.

    I want to thank you for your contribution on my blog, for your comment, with the correction for Indonesia. I corrected the text and there, too, I mentioned your contribution. Thanks again.
    I think I may like Indonesia's soy sauce more, because it's thicker. Does it taste sweet?

    Brazilian sweets are strongly influenced by Portugal sweets, due to colonization, consequently, they are sweeter. In particular, I do not appreciate overly sugary flavors. I do believe that Holambra adapted flavors to Brazilian taste, however, compared to the sweets in the city of São Paulo, where I live, they are exaggeratedly sugary, but this does not reflect Dutch habits.

    A big hug from Brazil my friend.
    I hope that everything is fine with you and your family, given the current situation we face, about the Coronavirus pandemic.

    1. Dearest Maria Glória,
      Yes, this sure was the biggest tragedy within the mushroom industry; ever! Sad...

      You're quite welcome! We both have lived and worked in Indonesia for several years and also have a foster daughter in Indonesia. We love the country and yes, the Ketjap Manis does have a sweet taste, but not overly at all as other spices like ginger make it special.
      Guess Indonesia got first colonized by the Portuguese so there will definitely be a blend of cultures in their foods. Holambra is a special settlement from Brabant that I did not previously know about. So I learned again from your post.
      Hugs and yes both of us are fine, the rest of the family over two continents is doing well too.

  12. Oh, my God, Mariette, I just finished reading your post and I watched the video... It's so sad that only almost 2 months later, many of those people were gone and that their families and friends were left grieving. And some of them were so young...
    This shows us that although life isn't always easy, it's such a brief and precious gift and that we must enjoy and savour every moment of it.
    I wonder if those tunnels had been inspected properly and the authorities alerted to the fact that they were becoming too wide, this tragedy could have been avoided? Only God can tell, now.
    May God bless those families, even after all these years.
    About the table linens, I searched in the Table settings label as you said and you set the most beautiful tables! I haven't seen them all (yet), but my favorite so far is the one with the picture frame vases and the place cards. It's so elegant!
    You have such exquisite taste and after reading your mothers story (I read about her marrying in a little black dress and trying the velvet one when you and her went to your doctors appointment) and although she had a arsh life when you where growing up, she had a beautifl and elegant heart.

    1. Dearest Paula,
      Indeed, this was the darkest moment for Pieter to go through, as he'd had such a special relationship with those growers over several years.
      One cannot fathom the grief that one family had to live through and many others as well.
      Indeed, life is only a fraction in time and we better spend our days wisely as it is only given once.
      We have only once solace, that our souls never die and therefore we're always connected!
      Mom indeed had a beautiful and elegant heart but she graciously sacrificed all worldly luxury in order to raise her seven children in the best possible way.
      Thank you for your compliments on the Table Setting posts where you can see a glimpse of my love for real linens, china, flowers and vases.
      Also my love for Angels & Roses in general...


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