An American Couple in Delft



American spies dead ringer on Haarlem clockface

By Hein Flach

HAARLEM - American Eric Wexler, who lives in Delft, visited downtown Haarlem last week. He was walking past Verwulft when his eye was caught by the clock that crowns the glass and steel of Haarlem's ill-fated "monument for the 21st century." His jaw dropped with amazement. "When I saw the drawing on the clock's face I thought I was looking at myself. The likeness was unbelievable!"

He didn't have a clue, however, as to whom the man depicted above him was. Noticing the maker's signature on the picture, Wexler wasted no time and the  next day wrote a letter to the artist, Eric J. Coolen. "Who was your model? I know it wasn't me and I don't have a twin. My only brother doesn't resemble me that closely! Did you even have a model? Perhaps you drew it just from your imagination. In that case, you may want to know that I'm not only of your imagination; I really exist!"

To illustrate the remarkable resemblance Eric enclosed a picture of himself.

The clock was installed in July 2006 as a tribute to departing mayor Jaap Pop. At the time, Pop was clearly pleased with the initiative, fully knowing that it was a present with a hidden meaning. After all, for quite some time the mayor had been annoyed by the untimely frozen hands and the broken glass, unable to do anything about the endless quarrelling between the city council, property developer-cum-owner Cobraspen and the power company about whose duty it was to repair the broken clock. As an April Fool's Day prank, the clock was subsequently "stolen" by a bunch of Haarlemmers. They had the clock repaired, put in a face plate with Pop's countenance and put it back on the occasion of his stepping down as mayor.

Ever since Pop has been looking out over Verwulft, guardian over what to him is still his town. That is why last week, from his elevated position, he saw a surprised Eric Wexler and his wife stroll by. Since then, Eric has been in touch with draughtsman Eric Coolen, who enlightened him as to the real identity of the person peering down from inside the clock. "So he turns out to be the previous mayor of Haarlem. Really funny. I've seen pictures of how he really looks. If you take a closer look at them, you'll notice a few differences. The lines around the mouth, for example. And my son tells me I have more hair than the man in the clock. I guess I better take that as compliment."

Jaap Pop was not available for comment yesterday.



2008 Rick Wexler   last updated February 21, 2008