Childhood Anecdotes

The following anecdotes, which were sometimes a bit shortened, are excerpts from the book "Herman Wijns, a love magnet", written by Lucienne De Maeght.

A generous toddler

One day, little Herman asks his father: "Give sugar to Mus?" "Yes, but be careful, boy".

After a while, the toddler returns to the shop and triumphantly shouts out: "It's all gone!" His father wants to find out what he means by that.

It turns out that the little child has fed all the lumps to the dog.

Herman Wijns and Mus

Herman Wijns and dog Mus


When his niece, who's five years older than Herman, is about to receive her First Communion, he tells her:

"What a beautiful white dress you wear! But even more beautiful is you white soul, which you should try to preserve at all costs."

Lights in the dark

The parents are very involved with the education of their child. Herman's father notices he's afraid of the dark and wants to help him. The toddler is playing and his father asks him to fetch something which he urgently needs, up in the attic. Herman willingly goes upstairs, but it shows he's not too confident.

The attic door squeaks open, what a frightening noise! Herman is facing a pitch black hole. He rises on the tips of his toes and his little fingers search around for the light switch. What a chore! He shouts: "Dad, I should have lights on the top of my fingers!"

It's his way to conquer his fears by humor.

Neat and clean

Herman is sitting in his chair, munching a chocolate biscuit. His mouth and fingers are all covered with chocolate. He holds out his hands and utters gibberish, as if he wants to say: "Look at my dirty hands!".

His parents are curious to find out if he will use his bib to wipe his hands. Even the employees come to take a look and Josef Wijns asks them to leave Herman alone for a while.

When the little lad notices no-one arrives to help him out, he resigns and lowers his hands. He lays his head down on the table and dozes off, both hands beside his head, his smeary palms turned upwards.

His bib and his apron remain impeccably clean.

A special meeting

On a Sunday noon, little Herman walks alongside his father on the Antwerp shoe market. He's 3 years old by then. They enter the chapel of Our Lady of Refuge.

The toddler suddenly lets go of his father's hand and he walks up to the front row, where he halts. What is it that attracts his attention? The altar, the statue of the Virgin Mary? For minutes, he remains motionless. Could it be that Our Lady has already taken him under her special protection?

A bishop who's praying nearby, notices the child. He approaches him, blesses him, and gives him a holy card. For the remainder of the day, the boy can't stop talking about this encounter.

the butchery of the Wijns' family

the butchery of the Wijns' family

A little bit deaf

One day, a prudish lady enters the store with her poodle.

From his little chair, Herman says: "Hello, Madam", but he doesn't receive an answer. His father notices it. The child repeats, a little louder: "Hello, Madam", but still without any result.

Does he think she's deaf? In any event, he jumps off his chair and he pulls her handbag a couple of times. Now, she's obliged to take notice of him. For the third time, he says: "Hello, Madam". She replies: "Ah, hello little boy".

Finally satisfied, he resumes his place.

Not dirty

A gipsy woman regularly passes by, walking behind a wheeled barrel-organ pulled by dogs. Soon, Herman makes friends with the dogs. As soon as they see the child, they start wagging their tails.

The woman has to struggle to keep the dogs under control, and they cross the street all by themselves while barking loudly. They stop in front of the butchery's door, panting. The gipsy makes use of the occasion and plays a tune. In the meanwhile, the dogs receive their extra food from Herman. The gipsy thanks them and Herman is allowed to play a tune on the organ. A lot of people gather to watch this little spectacle.

The gipsy asks Herman's' mother whether she can give the child a kiss. "Yes, of course!" At that moment, a "lady" enters the store and observes the scene. A little later, she asks Herman: "Aren't you afraid of the beasts?" Herman replies: "Surely not madam, those dogs don't bite." "Yes, but I mean the little beasts, that lady is dirty, don't you see?" Amazed, he replies:"Dirty, madam? Poor, yes, not dirty!"


Because of all the work, Herman's family doesn't always eat at the same hour. If there are still customers in the shop, lunch time is moved. One day, Herman is hungry. He pokes his head around the door, but he notices it's still very busy in the shop and he waits for another while.

A bit later, his hunger grows so strong he takes another look. He indicates to his mother he's very hungry by pointing to his mouth. But the customers always go first, so his mother tells him: "Come, my boy, Jeanne (the maid) will give you a slice of bread."

Jeanne has just finished cleaning and she shouts: "Herman, don't come in with your dirty feet, I've just finished cleaning, go to the workshop." But even there, he isn't welcome: "Hey Herman, children aren't allowed here while the machinery is running." By now, he could have become angry, and rightly so.

But no, he patiently waits until finally someone thinks of him. They find little Herman in the attic, turning the pages of some old magazines.