Children of the Streets: Reminiscences of Jan Yoors

“I was perhaps six years old when for the first time I heard somebody speak about gitanos. I was lying on my tummy in the middle of my father’s big studio and was drawing. At that time I would draw for days on end all the fantastic things of which my head was full: giants, kings, princesses, robbers, knights and fabulous animals. My days were too short to put it all down.

I had grown up till then as an only son in an imaginary world, with as central point that sacred spot where my father conceived and carried out his huge stained-glass windows full of gorgeous colours. In these windows all the warmth of the sunshine of Spain, all the splendour of the far-off Seville where my father was brought up, were reflected. And I was full of wonder and homesick as only little children can be.

One night, some years later, a process of caravans passed through the avenue of our Belgian home and my father said: ‘These are Gypsies.’ They were passing quickly, too quickly in the approaching darkness, and a great sadness came over me when they were gone. During the night in my dreams I saw them pass and pass again…”

Yoors, Jan. 1945. “Reminiscences of the Lovara“. Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society. Volume XXIV. 8-17.