Sal Bomela

The first decade of my life I grew up in Zaltbommel, originally probably a settlement of the army of the Roman Empire in their network of military settlements and fortifications, along the Limes, the Boundary with northern and eastern parts of Holland and Germany. When I was young, I read that its name in that time, around the military activities of Julius Caesar as described in De Bello Gallico, was Sal Bomela, Sal as in salary, which was often paid in salt, and Bomela meaning ‘boomrijk’, rich in bomen, trees. Checking this again at present time, now being old, that part of history as being connected to the Roman influence, cannot be found anymore, by me, in historical literature; it is only stated that the location of Zaltbommel at the river de Waal is the farthest place upstream from sea where salt was found, which in later centuries was apparently retrieved from the water or from its deposits in the soil at the borders. Anyway, the etymology of the word in French and English for salary derives  without doubt from salt, as acknowledged by linguists. Maybe the salary of Roman soldiers was not directly paid in salt, but in other currency to buy the necessary salt. 

I still remember the celebration around 1950 of Zaltbommel having 1100 years city rights, with a Royal visit by Prins Bernhard, and school children assembled on the city Markt before het Stadhuis. At that city centre the rich family Philips lived in their herenhuis, mansion. My mother at  age 19 was for some years ‘dienstmeisje’, servant maiden, at the Philips family, until she  got engaged with my father, during the war.

Our house was close to the Sint Maarten tower, across the nunnery convent, also across the School with the Bible. I was a little nerd with glasses reading all books from the small library in the local book shop (21 cent per week, every day longer 3 cent extra) and several lemmas in the 6th edition of the Winkler Prins encyclopedie, that my father to my joy  had ordered from 1950-1953, every couple of months a delicious new volume of the whole 22. They had names like ANA-BAB,  BAC-BES, BET-BRA,…

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