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Friday, May 14, 2010

Catastrophe A Jupille

We serendipitously acquired a few years ago a very unusual hand carved cabinet. KennyRogersLookalike found it leaning up against a dumpster where we have a storage unit. It has a fantastic albeit tragic history and it was locked. It is extremely elaborate and the carving on the front is an exact replica of the picture on Le Patriote magazine from 1961. In February, 1961 a horrible catastrophe happened in Jupille, Belgium. It was a fly ash flow mine disaster that killed 11 people, 4 women and 7 children. The cabinet has script carved on the bottom Le Roi and Le Reine visitent the catastophe de Jupille...this is all written in french. At the top are the words L'Union fait la force. It was a stroke of luck that we found the illustration of the carving on the 1961 magazine being offered on ebay at the very time we found the cabinet. The likeness is incredible as you can see. I wonder so often why this magnificent piece was so painstakingly carved with a hinged door and lock. What was kept inside and why would someone create it? Did it hang on a wall in a church for offerings? Was is created to be given to Queen Fabiola and King Baudoin? I have emailed History Detectives but they never got back with me. Does anyone have a clue about it? We have tried every skeleton key we have and have pulled and pulled trying to open the beautiful cupboard. Miraculously, my daughter's Dutch husband was looking at it the other morning and suddenly it opened for him..was it because he is Dutch and it took Dutch hands to break the spell? Was it waiting for someone that is from it's neighboring country to release it's interior? The interior is beautiful and highly polished and smooth. It has 2 shelves and in the bottom a hidden compartment...all we found were 4 little round paper punch circles. But that's alright...it is a fantastic remembrance of unfortunate ones who perished in this catastrophe and I think of them every day...they are not forgotten. If any one knows anything about this or can help me get in touch with someone who does know, please let me know. We are chosen to be the keeper of this object and we will keep it safe. One of my favorite blogs Ted and Bunny said the cabinet found us as much as we found it...I believe that! I am compelled to unlock its secret.

SOME HISTORY: One night, early February 1961, the King and Queen were woken up by a phone ringing. Six houses in Jupille, a coal-mining town near Li├Ęge, had been buried by a collapsing slag heap. In those houses, four women and seven children were stuck and rescue teams were working nonstop to try and get them out alive. The royal couple didn’t hesitate for one moment but left the palace immediately to inspect the damage and help the people. Upon arrival, the Queen immediately presented herself at the First Aid post and offered her help as a nurse to the doctors, who were baffled by her behaviour. When the slag heap destabilized even further, the security officers tried to get their monarchs out of danger, but the Queen refused to leave: “The King and I will only leave when the danger is gone.”