Notorious and loved: Netteke Pieters

Portrait of a young Netteke, in her son Harrie’s house

Her smokey portrait above, from photographer Jacques Voets and taken in 1967, graces the wall in the Café Tribunal, a well-known Maastricht pub adjacent to the Maastricht Academy of Performing Arts in the Quartier Latin of Maastricht, the Jekerkwartier. Her name is Jeanette Pieters-Simons, but everyone knew her as ‘Old Netteke’ or ‘Crazy Netteke.’ Some of the children in town were afraid of her, because she had this habit of cursing out loud if someone talked to her. Netteke had lived a very troubled life. But apart from being associated with fear and intimidation, she also met kindness from many other Maastricht folks who let her sleep in their pub, or gave her food or money after she was robbed of her own pension money, or they gave her something to drink. Because Netteke, she could really hold her liquor! Or not, if you’d count in the cursing and yelling out loud …

Harrie Pieters
Harrie Pieters, † April 4, 2011, aged 77.

One of her most favorite pastimes was feeding the pigeons, she loved birds and animals.

One of her sons, his name was Harrie, had inherited his mother’s love for birds, because he too spent a lot of time, in his senior years, taking care of the birds in his neighborhood, enjoying their presence and singing. Harrie never liked it when people talked about his mother and when they referred to her as ‘crazy Netteke.’ He once demanded from a journalist to retract those words from an article, because to him, as her son, it was very hurtful. “They don’t know what my mother had to go through in life, what damage it inflicted to had to give up all her children,” he used to say.

Netteke lived in a small cottage at the Ezelmarkt, right around the corner of her favorite café Tribunal. She could often be heard talking and cursing out loud. For many, that little house will always carry the memory of ‘Crazy Netteke.’

huisje Ezelmarkt

Netteke Pieters passed away in 1970, at the age of 80 years, after an unfortunate incident with a passerby that caused her to fall on the pavement of the Hotel Woolwich where she used to sit and enjoy her liquor and cigar. She joined her husband Willem Pieters in his grave at the municipal cemetery, he’d passed away in 1956 already. Netteke lives on in many a people’s hearts, and even has her own Facebook page where people can post pictures and share their stories and memories. All of this in the famous spirit of Mestreechter Geis, and with an endearing sense of humor, of course:

overlijden Jeanette Pieters Simons
Announcement in newspaper of Netteke’s death
Birth certificate: January 15, 1891, Jeanette Joséphine Simons
willem pieters graf
Last resting place of Willem Pieters, husband of Netteke Pieters-Simons
Willem Pieters
bijzetting Netteke
Netteke Pieters laid to rest at her husband’s grave
Oil painting of Netteke, by Lydeke van Beersum

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