In search of the two GMC's
transporting the merry-go-round 'De Spin'.
My addiction to GMC's started at the fair ground in the village of Castricum,
The Netherlands. As a five year old I was completely flabbergasted by two trucks
of an unknown brand, possibly Ford's as suggested by a logo on their brushguards. They transported a merry-go-round with metal sheet rockets
/ planes, called 'De Spin' ('The Spider'). Many years later I found out that these trucks
were definitely GMC CCKW's of which the original engines had apparently been substituted
by Ford diesels (much later I heard that the owners had started attaching the
Ford logo without ever substituting the original '270 type' engine').
Anyhow, brush guard logo's referring to the origin of the diesel engine
were quite common on post-war used GMC's.
Photo of the 'globe logo' attached to any GMC whose engine had
been replaced by a Ford Diesel engine by the Végé firm from Spijkenisse, The
In January 2001, almost 40 years later, I published a paper on GMC trucks in the NAMAC
journal ‘Auto in Miniatuur’. I ended this paper with a call for pictures of
these two legendary GMC fair ground trucks. Even after 4 years Willem Kruijer,
fair ground collector, remembered this call and shared a copied picture of a
fair in Amsterdam (early 60s) with me. On this picture a small but unquestionable
part of De Spin is visible. By then, the present GMC site had been launched by
me, but similar
calls for pictures of the associated trucks initially remained unanswered.
photo of the metal sheet rocket merry-go-round 'De Spin' on a
fair in Amsterdam
In August 2005 the internet took me to the Stichting
Association for Fair Culture).
They had published a series of booklets, one focussing on transport (unfortunately
sold out now). The booklet contains pictures of GMC's but not of the ones I
was looking for. Chairman Karel Loeff suggested that the Laan family from Venhuizen
could be the owner of De Spin. My letter to them remained unanswered, however.
In that same year I contacted the city council archives of Amsterdam, Alkmaar
en Castricum, trying to find so-called fair allocation lists. In this way I
hoped to link De Spin to a family name and their whereabouts. However, the
archives were destroyed, lost or inaccessible. In November 2005 I put another
call for pictures on the fair collectors forum
www.ditiskermis.nl, without any result.
In April 2006 I published another paper in ‘Auto in Miniatuur’, dealing with
fair transport. I included another call for pictures of the GMC´s of De Spin. In
response to that, Willem Kruijer suggested that the Veen-Vallentgoed family from Edam
could have been the owners. My email to them remained unanswered, though.
Having read my paper, Adriaan de Koeier advocated to contact the two
Dutch unions for fair owners, the BOVAK and the NKB. My letter to the NKB
All of a sudden, things started to move. On August 2006 I received a phone call
from Frans Gigengack, member of a famous fair owners family. In addtion to a
picture of the two GMC´s his family had been using (and meanwhile included in
insisted to contact the other union, the BOVAK, too. So I did and their friendly
director B. Donks recommended to get in touch with Bram Vader from Kolhorn. Bram
Vader, a retired fair owner, was told to know anyone involved in fairs in the 60s around Amsterdam.
The BOVAK director had been right. Bram Vader provided the
phone number of Cock van Dam, son of the alleged owner of the De Spin and its
GMC´s. I called Cock van Dam and he confirmed my description of the two GMC´s
and De Spin with the metal sheet rockets. He also remembered to have visited the
fair ground in my parental village Castricum, together with his father and De Spin. He told me that there were pictures of the two GMC´s indeed, but that all of them had been handed to the
archives of the NKB union. So, I contacted the NKB
once more. They confirmed to have received a set of pictures of the Van Dam
family. Access to these pictures was not allowed, however, awaiting their publication in a future book or web site. The NKB advised me to
contact them again after a year or so.
I had never been so close to my ultimate
photo of the metal sheet rocket merry-go-round 'De Spin' on a
unknown fair (courtesy
of Leo Limburg)
Almost one year later, on May 12 2007, I gave it another try. The NKB, however,
responded similarly, to my great disappointment. This was not the complete end of this quest, though.
That same month I was called by Leo Limburg
from Ursem. He said to have assisted the Van Dam family as a school boy.
Leo helped me to remember all kind of nice details of the GMC´s and De Spin. As a matter of fact, he told me, there had been two
merry-go-rounds in the Van Dam family, both called De Spin. One of them is owned
by the Laan family as earlier implied by Karel Loeff. In July 2007 I heard
Jacques Laan in a radio interview, telling listeners that during WWII even seven similar merry-go-rounds, all called De Spin, had been built. The Laan
family owns a De Spin with seats below sort of umbrellas, whereas the seats
of my De Spin were situated in metal sheet planes/rockets, as shown on the above
Based on all these bits and pieces, I arrive at the following
reconstruction. Based on a design of Adam van der Veen, Jan van der Linden from
Purmerend constructed a
merry-go-round in 1942 by the name ´De Spin´. This mill had ´seats under
umbrellas´ at the ends of its eight booms. Initially, Van der Veen exploited the merry-go-round himself,
but after a while he sold it to Mr Dirk Johannes Van Dam, whose son Kobus exploited it. After a
few years Dirk Johannes van Dam had another merry-go-round built, possibly again in
cooperation with Adam van der Veen.
As a matter of fact this second mill was a reconstruction of an existing merry-go-round
formerly belonging to Jan Wanningen from Rotterdam. The reconstruction allowed
to lower all the booms simultaneously instead of having the passengers step in
and out one by one, as with the Kobus' mill. The second mill was called De Spin
as well, but it had kind of 'planes' ('rockets' as we called them at home) instead of 'seats under umbrellas'. The metal
sheet planes/rockets were welded by the Hemrica firm, also located in Purmerend, as was
Van der Linden's construction firm. This second De
Spin was exploited by Dries, the brother of Kobus van Dam.
De Spin of Kobus was transported by one GMC and a trailer and was
eventually sold to the Vallentgoed family, as earlier
implied by Willem Kruijer. The Vallentgoed family sold it in turn to the Laan family who owned it ever since. This merry-go-round can still be
seen at work on nostalgic fairs although traveling is no longer carried out with its
photo's of the GMC by which Kobus van Dam conveyed his 'De Spin'
(the version with 'seats under umbrellas') (courtesy of Ton Coljée & Jaap Buijs)
photo (left) of De Spin owned by Kobus van Dam, shortly after its
delivery (source: www.vermeulenjaap.nl
) and (right) a detailed photo of the 'seats under umbrellas' and the
caravan-cargo trailer (source: www.zijpermuseum.nl/niestadt/bbank.html)
photo's of the 'De Spin' of Kobus
van Dam, presently owned by the Laan family
De Spin with the planes / rockets, the one built
for Dries, was transported with two GMC CCKW's, as confirmed by his son Cock.
This is the pair of GMC trucks I fell in love with.
One of them conveyed the turn table. The other GMC contained fences, floor panels, wedges,
et cetera. The first one towed the caravan, the second one a trailer with the
planes / rockets,
booms and, from a certain year on, even an electric power station. Dries van Dam had
five sons, among which Cock, and two daughters, among which Rina. She and her husband Joop
(van der) Schaaf continued
to travel with De Spin until at least 1973. Soon after that year De Spin
probably ended its life at a scrapyard and so did the trucks, I guess. I
was told by Henri van der Caay that Rina
and her husband exploited another merry-go-round 'Tahiti Express' from 1977 to
1980 which was transported by two Daf's 2600. Probably this was the direct
follower of De Spin.
By the way, the Van Dam's are still in business. The son of Dries, Cock
(who himself passed away in 2009), has a son called John. He runs his
enterprise from Bergen op Zoom. The brother of Dries, Dirk, had a son who was
called Dirk too. The son of this Dirk is called John as well, just like his cousin
(are you still with me?).
The latter John runs his enterprise (Number One Autoscooter) from Winkel, The
Netherlands, together with his wife Miranda.
In summary, photographs
do exist but they are not accessible so far. Nevertheless, the history behind them
has become much clearer and vivid to me. I'm grateful to all the people who helped me
with this quest. I will keep you posted when pictures become available one day.
Any help is welcome to bring this story too to a happy end.
photo of one of the two
GMCs by which Dries van Dam and his daughter Rina (van
der) Schaaf-Van Dam conveyed their 'Spin' (the version with 'rockets'),
reconstructed from my own memories
photos of the metal sheet rocket merry-go-round 'De Spin' on a
fair in Volendam (left), Zaandam (middle) and Amsterdam (right)
Going through the Dutch National Archives (search terms: Jordaanfestival, Palmgracht, Fair ground) I
discovered the two pictures
below. Left one: Palmgracht 1968 (this fair in Amsterdam was indeed frequented by Dries van Dam), a
GMC with floor panels, and at the back behind the truck the contoures of a
merry-go-round under construction that looks suspiciously
like the one owned by the Van Dam's! However, the GMC in front of it, is not one
of the trucks owned by Dries van Dam. As confirmed by others, I cannot remember ´my´ GMC's to have had these post-war 'modern'
vertical panels welded to their front fenders. It is a GMC indeed but it appears
to belong to the Swing Mill, being erected in the foreground. However, just in
front of this GMC and behind the truck with closed panels, another truck is
visible. This one has two remarkable holders (picture in the middle) at the end
of its platform which may have held the tower of De Spin during unloading.
Another hint that this tiny bit of truck may be one of the two
GMC's of Van Dam, are the tandem axles. The picture at the right shows another GMC at the annual fair
on the Palmgracht (1967), but until 2013 I believed that this GMC is one of the
two owned by Dries van Dam neither, by the look of the unfamiliar load platform above the cabin. So, the quest has not yet ended...
Three pictures (photographer Eric Koch):
(left) at the background the tower of De Spin and a GMC belonging to a so-called tete-a-queue ('swing mill');
(middle) a close-up of the same GMC and just in front of it, possibly, the
backside of one of the GMC's used for the transport of De Spin; (right) another
GMC of which I believed it could not be a GMC of De Spin because until 2013.....
From hearsay I know that Rina van der Schaaf (born Van Dam), once owner of De
Spin, lives in a trailer park in Amsterdam. One of the trailer parks in
is located on a road called 'Vredenhofweg'. A search on the internet with terms
'Vredenhofweg' and 'Schaaf' indeed yields a link to an article in the Dutch
newspaper dated 23 August 1994. That article refers to a Mrs Schaaf,
at that moment 66 years old, who lives in a trailer on the 'Vredenhofweg'.
More recent telephone books confirm name and adress. Although I have to admit
that M(arina?) Schaaf, by now 81 years old, is not exactly the same
as Rina van der Schaaf, I sent a letter to Amsterdam. But yes, in a
conversation that Rina Schaaf had with Bram Vader she confirmed that she had
received my letter, either or not via relatives. She also indicated that she has no longer any pictures of the GMC's that once
belonged to her firm.
This disappointment was somewhat compensated by a discovery of Willem Kruijer.
On YouTuibe he found a video clip from 1973 in which the former Dutch pop group
KayaK sings a song while turning around in............De Spin:
The generation that could be of help in my search for pictures of the GMC's van
Van Dam, is gradually getting smaller and smaller. In March 2010 I received the
sad news that Bram Vader had passed away. Bram has always received me with great
hospitality and done his utmost best to find the bits and pieces of the story behind the trucks.
My optimism rised as soon as I found out that the firm that once built De Spin
(Van der Linden in Purmerend) still exists. On my request they have searched in
their archives for old pictures. Unfortunately, nothing has been recovered.
De Spin on the Palmgracht, Amsterdam, in 1963.
De planes / rockets of De Spin have been built by Eelke Hemrica (1908-1979) in
Purmerend. In December 2011 I have written lettres to his daughter Janke and the
wife of his son Sijtze (1940-1999), asking them about memories or even pictures
of the moment that Eelke must have handed over the fruits of his work to Dries
van Dam. Both indicated that they could not be of any help to me.
One of the few picture showing De Spin as a whole, probably at the
Castricum fair (courtesy of Henk Vallentgoed and Alex Vallentgoed)
Leo Limburg advised me to visit a Fair Ground Organ meeting on January 6,
organized by Ruud Vader (son of Bram Vader) in Barsingerhorn, The Netherlands.
Accompanied by the beautiful melodies of well-restored organs, I had the
opportunity to talk to Frans van Dam, brother of Rina van Dam. When I showed him
a couple of pictures made by Eric Koch in the 60-ties (above), Frans confirmed
that the GMC next to his own Para Trooper was indeed one of the GMC's of his
sister Rina Schaaf-Van Dam. The platform above the cab (in my memories absent on
the GMC's of De Spin) had been added in later years, according to Frans. The
pictures show that the front of the GMC on the left picture belongs to the
backside of it at the utmost right picture. Notice the two devices holding the
tower of De Spin during transport and (un)unloading. The middle picture shows
that the bonnet held a (slightly twisted) post-war GMC logo. Besides, one of the
booms of De Spin is visible at the left side of this photo, including a frame to
which one of the rockets is to be attached.
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