The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

Reflections on Life, Family and Community

The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story Chapter XIX

7

Alone at the Siemens Apartment Building

“Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow.”

Richard Baxter

In search for a place to spend the next six months Mother had found a mini-apartment in a huge building complex that had been specifically built for single workers in the local Siemens factory. Small it was indeed. The room I called my own covered hardly an area of fifteen sq. m. I shared the hallway, which contained a few basic kitchen facilities, with an older man next door, who fortunately moved out before Christmas with no one moving in to replace him. On the right side of the hallway was the common bathroom with a shower instead of a bathtub. In spite of the limited space I was extremely happy to have my own four walls with a large window and even a tiny balcony facing the rising sun.

Wesel at the Rhine

It was from here that I wrote my first letter to Biene’s twin brother Walter at the end of August. As promised I included schematics of electronic circuits that I thought might be of interest to him. Of course, I had not forgotten Biene, whose image began to fade in my mind, but whose idealistic afterglow I cherished all the more. “And do not forget to greet your parents and Biene from me,” I ended this letter and all subsequent ones. Walter promptly replied and inserted an advanced RC transistor diagram that was far too complex for me to understand or to be useful for my simple projects. But the desired connection had been made, and before long Biene and I were corresponding with each other. There were two important aspects to the letters, which were traveling back and forth between Velbert and Wesel. One, they opened a window and brought bright sunshine and fresh air into the often gloomy, stuffy interior of my soul; two, due to the physical distance we could write about our thoughts and feelings, wrapped up in a flowery language, carefully worded and lovingly presented. We opened our hearts to each other and discovered that we both had a romantic vein that was rich and seemed to be inexhaustible. In short, the seeds of our developing relationship had fallen on fertile ground. For me in particular, the correspondence proved to be a journey into the wonderful world of self-discovery. I enjoyed creating written tableaus depicting dream-like, often melancholic scenes with fact and fiction imaginatively intertwined. They engendered in a perpetual cycle an ever increasing sense of self-awareness. Reminiscing about a stopover at a railroad station I once wrote her.

Wanne-Eickel 22:10

          Over the railroad station sways the moon. Its pale light flickers through dense patches of fog, and the moist shimmering rails vanish behind the impenetrable wall of uncertainty. I am pacing the empty platform up and down, three minutes forth, and three minutes back. Slowly, hesitatingly the heavy hand of the clock advances from one-minute mark to the next. Lost in thoughts I look up to the moon. The cold, damp forces of nature’s power attempt to snuff out its golden light. But it is not you, good moon, who are eluding me, you, the embodiment of all my happiness. No, around me lurk the cold forces; they seize me with their moist fingers. Oh happiness, you would always dwell among people, if darkness were not all around us that hides you and saddens my heart. Two lights emerge from out of the fog. They have a goal; they glide over solid tracks. I can put my trust in them. In vain the dense fog is clutching to hold the iron vehicle; it cannot delay its course. I step onboard. 22:20

Old City Hall of Rendsburg - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Shortly after I had written the letter to Biene with its sentimental railroad story, I traveled by train to Rendsburg in Northern Germany to attend my eldest brother’s wedding. Karl’s bride was Ingrid Lehmann, born in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), East Prussia, whose father was a retired sea captain. Karl was making sure that everything was prim and proper for the festivities. He checked out my clothes and appearance very carefully and was quite pleased with the new suit I was wearing. Even though I had shaved in the morning, Karl spotted the beginning of new growth darkening the area around my chin and requested for the sake of the important event another shave. Putting my usual stubbornness aside, I complied with his request.

Wedding Ceremony at City Hall

With almost all close relatives present it was a memorable wedding. At the banquet Captain Lehmann and Uncle Günther solemnly delivered words of wisdom, reflections on their lost home provinces in the East, fine speeches, which were recorded on tape and can still be heard today on audio CD. It was here in Rendsburg that for the first time I was seriously contemplating about what it would be like to tie the knot and form a life-long partnership in marriage. I also began to see that hard work at school and university must come first to realize such dreams. I thought that as an electronics engineer I might have a fairly good income to support a wife and family.

Karl and Ingrid Klopp (Lehmann) at the Wedding Banquet

One Drink Too Many

550_6_historische-rathausfassade--grosser-markt-flaggschiff-film

When I returned from my brother’s wedding, I resolved to be more goal-oriented, to study hard, to raise myself above mere mediocrity to an academic achievement I could truly be proud of. On the wall hung the work schedule, which I had imposed upon myself outlining a rigorous timetable: getting up at six, attending school from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., taking some time off till three, doing homework and studying till five. After supper followed another two hours of intensive study. I had a lot of catching up to do. An hour before it was time for me to go to bed. usually around ten o’clock, I critically reviewed my day. And if according to the work schedule I had passed the test, I rewarded myself (and only then) with a small shot of vodka and let the pleasant warmth penetrate my body as a form of instant relaxation. The master allowed the slave to temporarily forget the self-imposed burden. At moments like these I would grab my guitar, play a few simple classical pieces composed by Carulli, or take out the harmonica and strike up a potpourri of folksongs, pop music or my favourite scouting melodies.

Bild 62

Water Colour by Peter Klopp 1962

At times when I felt in a creative mood, I would open the metal box with a dozen or so water colours and try my untrained hands to paint a picture often with a futuristic theme inspired by my voracious reading of science fiction novels. One picture (see above) depicts a romantic scene showing a young couple sitting on a park bench under the light of the full moon. High above the horizon towers the head of a helmeted space woman of a distant century in the future, whose envious eyes are glaring down on the romantic couple below.

          Wilhelm, my classmate, came to school from a neighbouring town. His father produced apple juice, with which he tried to compete with the popular Coca Cola product that was making economic inroads into the German beverage market. Wilhelm once demonstrated in our school how corrosive coke was by filling two glasses, one with his father’s apple juice and the other with coke. He then threw an iron nail into each glass. In the following week, when we entered the chemistry lab, we were astounded by what we saw. The nail in the glass filled with coke was completely encrusted with rust, whereas the one in the apple juice was still shiny and unaffected. However, we failed to see the connection to the possible ill effects that the popular drink might have on our sensitive stomach linings.

          It was about two weeks before Christmas, when Wilhelm came up to my apartment and brought me a 10-liter jug of apple juice. I placed it on the hot water radiator. Without the aid of a wine making kit with its expensive accessories we embarked on producing a cider by letting Mother Nature do the job. After only a few days I could report to my friends in school that bubbles were rising in the bottle, a certain indication that the process of fermentation had begun. Hans, Helmut, Wilhelm and I were already looking forward to our Christmas break party with the potent apple wine in the making. Soon the bacteria finding ample food in the juice and turning the sugar into alcohol multiplied a million times over generating COat first weakly fizzing, then growing into a crescendo very much like the sound of rushing waters. Finally the bacteria had done their duty, and the homemade cider was ready for the party. School was out. In the New Year the final race would come to the finish line. The dreaded written and oral exams were looming on the horizon. So we four all felt the need to let go and put aside for a while our worries and graduation blues. I had put the jar outside into the wintry air on the balcony to chill the brew into a refreshing drink. We made ourselves as comfortable as possible in my tiny room. My three friends were sitting on the couch that converted into a bed and I sat on the only chair at my desk, whose prominent occupant was the giant jug with its delicious content. I poured the cider into coffee mugs. There were no glasses in the mini-kitchen. At first we had a serious talk about our plans for the future. The classroom genius Hans wanted to enroll at the Marburg University to study nuclear physics; Helmut, the lawyer’s son, was seeking a position in economics; Wilhelm planned to embrace a teaching career, and I had set my eyes on becoming an electronics engineer specializing in high frequency technology.

Aus Elektronik 62

 I poured us another cup of that deceptive cider that tasted like a refreshing fruit drink but carried a powerful punch. Hans tuned my guitar and starting picking a few melodies. Most Siemens workers in the building had gone home to their families. The apartment building was almost devoid of people. So there was nobody we would disturb with our singing. After another cup we had reached the point where singing had become the necessary ingredient for the continued success of the party. The vocal chords well lubricated by the smooth drinks were ready to metamorphose us into a cheerful bunch of young men.

Wine Jug

To the great delight of my friends, after we had gone through our favorite scouting and traveling songs, I offered to sing a spiritual to express my sentiments over our oppressive teachers in school: “When Israel was in Egypt’s land, let my people go. Oppressed so hard, they could not stand …”, which I sang with the deepest voice I could muster without floundering. Now Hans injected rhythm into the life of the party and played masterfully one of the Flamenco style pieces with the beats being pounded vigorously on the guitar body. “That was the rendition of our friend and maestro worthy of another drink”, I said. By now the content of the 10-liter jug had dropped to about the halfway mark. Suddenly Helmut got up and said he had to go to the bathroom. The way he staggered into the hallway made it clear that he had already had too much to drink. Someone said, “I hope he’ll find the toilet in time. He looks ‘blau’ (German slang for drunk) to me!” Now one must know that in Germany you locked the bathroom door with a key. Poor Helmut must have taken it out and dropped it on the floor. All of a sudden we heard him call, “Let me out! You locked me in!” We rushed into the hallway and tried to convince him that he was the one who locked himself in and that he would have to find the key. “It is not in the lock”, he complained.

          “Then it must be on the floor. Look for it”, we replied. Finally he located the key. What came next is incredible. Helmut’s level of intoxication was so far advanced that his eye-hand coordination was severely hampered. He was unable to insert the key into the keyhole. Imagine the hilarious scene, in which we three friends tried very hard to give him directions how to put the key into the hole. I was just about going to call the janitor for help, when Helmut managed to open the door. He looked pale and disgruntled, whether it was out of embarrassment or intoxication, we could not tell. Without saying good-bye he took his coat and left. Needless to say the bathroom incident had put a damper on the jolly time we were having. Nobody felt like having another drink. The party was over.

From Graduation into Carnival

Wesel 'Berlin Gate' - Photo Credit: wikimedia.org

When school continued in the first week in January, I avoided all distractions and focused all my energies on last minute studies. By now the school administration had let us know the subjects and topics, in which we were to receive our oral examinations. For me it was Charles V in History and Calculus in Mathematics. In the remaining four weeks I emptied an entire bottle of vodka, which one could take as evidence for my industriousness. I rarely missed to fulfill my daily work quota. Indeed I would go sometimes overboard and even skip my time for relaxation with guitar or harmonica. One morning I woke up late. I was shocked to discover that I had forgotten to set the alarm clock. School had already started, so I quickly jumped into my clothes, grabbed my books, and without having had breakfast I raced to school in record time and barged into the classroom, where my homeroom and German teacher Herr Aufderhaar had just begun a lesson on German romanticism. Because he was bald and also taught religion, we had given him the nickname ‘Kahler Jesus’, which means Bald Jesus in English. He took one look at me and instead of being angry about my tardiness showed remarkable understanding for my circumstances. He teased me good-naturedly and remarked to the entire class, “Klopp is not just late for class. He did not even shave!”

Charles V

 For the oral exam in History I was well prepared. The main topic that I was given was the era of Reformation with special consideration to the way Emperor Charles V dealt with the schism that threaten to tear apart the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations. I had about thirty minutes to write down a few notes for my presentation. Then when my turn had come and I was led into the somber exam room, I described in poignant details the political struggles of the emperor against France and the Turks and the frustrations he, as a good catholic, experienced with the rapid spread of the protestant revolt against the corrupt Church of Rome. I was no longer the timid student who once stood trembling with fear in front of our history teacher. I boldly and convincingly expounded all the pertinent factors that determined Germany’s future historical and religious landscape. I took the entire time allotted for the oral exam. So the committee of principal and teachers had no time to ask any unsettling questions at the end. I walked away with the confident feeling that I had consolidated my satisfactory standing in History. Also in Math I was able to prove that I deserved a better final grade. My task was to find a solution for the total amount of work required to dig a cylindrical hole of a certain depth. Herr Müller, my beloved math teacher in the senior division, guided me through this difficult problem of integration. He so cleverly posed the right questions that they contained valuable hints allowing me to bring the session to a successful conclusion. It would have been nice to express my gratitude to an excellent teacher some fifty years later. Unfortunately, while I was searching the school Website I found out that he had passed away the year, before I started to write our family history.

Front Page of my Graduation Diploma

With the prestigious graduation certificate (Abitur) in our possession we had access to many postsecondary programs offered by the German universities. As for me, two years of military service at the Bundeswehr (West German army) had to come first. In those days it was still possible to enlist as a volunteer for a period of 24 months instead of the mandatory 18 months with the advantage of receiving a handsome salary, becoming an officer of the reserve, and being able to choose an army unit in keeping with one’s technical abilities. I opted for service in the signal corps, a choice that definitely reflected my interest in electronics and communication technologies.

Newspaper

Newspaper Clipping with Names of the Graduates

It so happened that the graduation exercises had ended exactly at the start of the carnival season. Being together one last time with my friends and classmates, before we would scatter into all directions, I made full use of the golden opportunity to celebrate the great milestone and to lose myself in the relaxed atmosphere of the dance hall, forgetting the trials and tribulations before graduation and not worrying for the time being about the future. When the time of drinking, dancing and attending late night parties was over, I was physically exhausted, but for the moment I felt free as if a heavy burden had been taken off my shoulders.

Biene with her first pair of skis - Winter 1963

I had not forgotten Biene. Now with more time at my disposal I wrote her a letter bringing her up to speed on my success at school and the tumultuous days at the carnival festivities. But what mattered the most I found the courage to express my feelings about what was so special about her in my mind. At the campground in the spring the year before I had discovered in her appearance the natural beauty that needed no cosmetic enhancement with rouge, lipstick or artificial hair colour. Biene for me embodied the ideal image of a girl. In the letter I gave her my father’s address hoping that she would reply.

Albert Schweitzer Seminar #2

13

Die Geschichte vom Bienenstich, von den Hörnern und vom Teufel

Zuvor muss ich euch erst einmal sagen, wann und wo Albert Schweitzer geboren ist. Der Ort heißt Kaysersberg und liegt im Elsaß. Es ist ein ebenso schönes französisches Städtchen wie Quedlinburg. Es war das Jahr 1875, als er zur Welt kam. Sein Vater war Pfarrer, der bald nach der Geburt seines Sohnes nach Günsbach im Elsaß versetzt worden ist. Albert war anfangs ein sehr schwaches Kind. Keiner glaubte, dass er lange leben würde. Doch bald wurde er kräftiger und wuchs heran. Davon werden wir noch hören.

Alberts Vater hielt in seinem Garten Bienen, damit seine fünf Kinder und deren Mutti schönen Honig essen konnten. Eines Tages schaute der kleine Albert seinem Vater zu, wie er an den Bienenstöcken hantierte. Da setzte sich plötzlich eine Biene auf seine Hand. Albert wollte sie streicheln, weil sie immer so fleißig Honig gesammelt hatte. Doch die Biene verstand das nicht und bekam Angst. Deshalb stach sie ihn in die Hand. Albert schrie laut auf, weil der Stich so schmerzte. Seine Hand wurde ganz dick und rot. Schnell eilten seine Mutter und die Hausgehilfin herbei und bemitleideten den Jungen.

Sie zogen den Stachel heraus und legten eine Zwiebel auf die Wunde, damit der Schmerz nachlässt. Er wurde auch wirklich schwächer, doch Albert weinte und schrie weiter, weil er es so schön fand, wenn man ihn bemitleidete. Da meldete sich eine innere Stimme in ihm und fragte: „Albert, willst du dich vielleicht nur wichtig machen?“ Er schämte sich ein wenig und hörte auf zu weinen.

Alberts Eltern hatten viele gute Bücher in ihrem Schrank. In einem Regal stand eine uralte Bilderbibel, die sich Albert besonders gerne ansah. Auf dem Buchdeckel war ein Mann abgebildet, der auf seinem Kopf zwei Hörner trug. Er stellte Mose dar, ein jüdischer Prophet, der von einem Berg herunterkam. Albert fasste sich an seine Stirn und spürte selbst zwei kleine Höcker. Nun fürchtete er, dass ihm auch zwei Hörner wüchsen. Aber sein Vater klärte ihn auf, dass die Hörner eigentlich Sonnenstrahlen gewesen waren und nur die Maler später daraus Hörner gemacht hätten. In Wirklichkeit hat Mose gar keine Hörner gehabt. Das beruhigte den kleinen Albert.

Am Sonntag ging Albert immer in die Kirche. Während des Gottesdienstes blickte er gerne mal zur Orgel hoch. Wenn die spielte, glaubte er in einem Spiegel den Teufel zu sehen. Doch wenn sein Vater predigte, war der Teufel wieder weg. Albert nahm nun an, dass der Teufel Angst vor Gottes Wort hätte und deshalb bei der Predigt schnell verschwand. Später erkannte er aber, dass der angebliche Teufel eigentlich der Orgelspieler war. Der war ein guter Mensch, der anderen Menschen half und Freude bereitete. Da er aber so struppiges Haar hatte und einen langen Bart trug, sah er von weitem wie ein Teufel aus. Alberts Vater erklärte ihm, dass es einen richtigen Teufel überhaupt nicht gibt. Das ist nur Aberglaube. Auch darf man einen Menschen nie nach seinem Aussehen beurteilen.

family190.jpg

THE MINING ERA OF THE CANADIAN COLUMBIA by Bill Laux – Chapter 1

14

BEFORE THE EUROPEANS

THE GEOLOGY

British Columbia’s attachment to Canada has always been tenuous.    Not just politically and socially,  but geographically as well.   In the almost inconceivable reaches of geological time, some billion years ago, whatever continent existed in the western hemisphere of our globe split apart somewhere west of where the Rocky Mountains are now.   In the Northwest, the split ran through what is now the extreme eastern parts of Washington State and British Columbia.   Whatever land existed west of that split was rafted off on the fiery mantle of the globe as a tectonic plate, much as a lump of butter skids across a hot griddle.    It is believed to have skidded off somewhere to the northwest, and probably became part of Siberia and northern China.  We believe that because rocks in eastern Siberia and Northeast China exactly match the rocks of western Canada of the same age, while the present rocks of  Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia are a total mismatch with the rest of North America.

After the western continent lost its western portion in this way, the Pacific Ocean, or whatever ocean was out there, lapped at a broad coastal plain where the Rockies are now,  probably looking similar to the Atlantic coastal plain of today.   For about 800 million years nothing happened, at least nothing we know about.   But roughly 200 million years ago, things began to move.    The Atlantic Ocean opened, splitting the existing  land mass into Europe and North America.    The opening of the Atlantic Ocean created the continent of North America and pushed it westward.   As the Atlantic Ocean opened, shoving North America west, the Pacific Ocean shrank, and old ocean floor was pushed down under the edge of the westward advancing continent.

When ocean floors are driven down into the hot mantle of the earth, they melt.    Ocean floors are composed of all the sand, gravel, and silt that eroded from the hills and mountains, ran down the rivers, and formed beds of sediment under the seas.    Along with the sand, clay and silt were the minerals contained in the original mountains, ground fine by their long tumble to the ocean.   When these old sea floors were shoved down into the mantle and melted, they were lighter than the surrounding rock since they contained water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide.   This lighter melt rose through the surrounding heavier rock as lava.   The water it contained, at several thousand degrees Centigrade, dissolved the mineral grains, and carried them along with the rock to the surface in plumes of mineral-rich superheated liquid.     This boiling soup of water and minerals cooled, and deposited those minerals in fractures of the surrounding rock..    If the surrounding  rock were limestone, it acted as a sponge and soaked up the mineral soup.  If it were impermeable granite, the minerals were laid down in thin veins.   If the rising mineral bearing plume encountered a lake or swamp at the surface, it flattened out and spread as a horizontal bed of mineral enriched lake bottom sediment which, heated from below, slowly turned to stone.   In time these new, mineral-rich rocks would be shoved up as mountains.   And in time these mountains would in their turn be eroded away, and tumbled down the rivers to form new seabeds.    Such beds would, in the fullness of geologic time, be shoved under another  moving tectonic plate, and melted, recycling the minerals again into ascending columns of superheated  water.     The earth constantly recycles its constituents in this way, and will continue to do so.    In distant time our junk-choked land fills will be worn away, tumbled into rivers, and the old bottles, tin cans, and  wrecked cars distributed as tiny grains of mineral in sea floor sediments.   And those grains will eventually be melted and dissolved to plume upward into the surface rocks to be mined all over again by whatever or whomever does the mining, some hundreds of million years from now.

In our area of B.C. and Washington, 200 million years ago, with the swallowing of old sea floors, the western coastal plain was crumpled up and forced against the continent.   All its sedimentary rocks now form what is known as the Kootenay Arc, a tightly folded belt of limestone and sandy rocks that marks the former western edge of North America.    Underneath, the molten ocean floor with its water and minerals rose toward the surface, forming volcanic vents and bulging up huge masses of granite lying below the old smashed up coastal plain.    The great Nelson batholith which underlies most of the central Kootenay, was one of those rising bulges of old ocean crust.

As North America continued to be pushed westward across the globe it encountered whatever islands happened to be in the eastern Pacific at that time.   Some were large islands on the order of the size of Japan or Borneo or New Zealand.   The collision was very slow, a few inches a year, but the force was immense, so great that these small island continents welded themselves onto North America.   The first was the Okanagan micro-continent which welded onto the Kootenay Arc some 100 million years ago.  The melting of its basement rocks in the mantle formed a chain of volcanoes which erupted about 50 miles inland all along what are now the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee mountains.   A new west coast was formed approximately down the line of the Okanagan Valley and the Columbia River into Oregon.

Fifty million years ago the Cascades micro-continent, was encountered and welded itself onto that Okanagan Coast.  Its chain of Cascaded volcanoes, again about 50 miles from the  new coast, are still occasionally active today.    The next micro-continent to collide, is the present Vancouver Island, moving inexorably toward the mainland at 2 inches a year.   Some millions of years onward, when it is welded onto us, it will have its own chain of volcanoes down its spine as well.     

It is evident, that geologically considered, British Columbia does not belong to Canada, or even North America, at all.   Our land is a collage of large, Pacific Islands, assembled haphazardly onto the continent by welds of once molten rock.

THE PEOPLE

Spookily, our human history reflects the geological record.   Isolated in deep and narrow valleys between the old volcano chains, human communication had always been difficult.   The  Aboriginals, living in their mountain-divided domains, developed some forty different dialects of seven main language groups, a greater diversity than in any other North American region, a mark of the isolation in which they developed.

And we Ex-Europeans of the B. C. Interior today, dotted in small settlements along winding valleys remote from the centers of culture and power, exist, in some ways not unlike aboriginal societies, culturally self sufficient and socially self absorbed, almost as though these were the still wild Pacific Islands, uncertainly joined to an unknown continent.   In the depth of winter, even today, with the mountain passes closed or rendered dangerous by snow and avalanches, we inhabit, in our tiny, fragmented colonies, the ancient Pacific night.

At the time of the first European contact with the Aboriginals, the best estimates are that  there were perhaps 100,000 Indians living in what is now British Columbia, and perhaps another 100,000 in what now comprise Washington and Oregon.   The more northerly forest peoples lived in mountain valleys and pockets of grasslands along the rivers.   All these northern  Indians subsisted on the plentiful salmon of the rivers and the game of the grasslands.   Trails and river corridors permitted trade during the summers with the Indians of the Coast.   Winter brought total isolation, and a dependence on stored food.

South of approximately the 48th parallel of latitude, the dense fir and cedar forest gave way to open grassy plains of the semi-arid Columbia Plateau.   The grasslands Indians living here had all acquired horses by the end of the Eighteenth Century.   The horses of the Mexicans had been spread northwards by persistent Indian trading and theft, and a semi-nomadic horse culture, similar to that of the Great Plains east of the Rockies, was adopted by the Columbia Basin Indians.   The ownership of horses allowed annual treks over the Rockies to kill buffalo, the meat being packed  back on horses for winter food.    North of the 48th parallel, only the Kootenay Indians had horses, as they had extensive grasslands in the East Kootenay to pasture them.   Ownership of horses permitted much more trading and intercourse between bands, and the Salish language, with its many dialects, prevailed as the means of communication.    By the time of the arrival of the Europeans, the grasslands Indians ranged over the entire Columbia – Snake Basin and were allied by marriage with their neighbours.    North of 48 the Indians lived in isolated pockets of grassland, and only in summer were in communication with their neighbours.    The forest trails and mountain passes were the summer links between the Kootenais and the Lakes (Sinixt) Indians, the Shuswaps and Okanagans.   As well, the passes though the Bitterroot and southern Rocky Mountains linked the Kootenais with the Flatheads and were used each fall by the buffalo hunters coming and going.

Today our annual auto trips, always dreading snow,  across the succession of mountain passes to visit relatives in Calgary or Vancouver, or to consult some obdurate government bureau in Victoria, duplicate exactly the family treks of the Aboriginals two centuries before.   In British Columbia, more than in any other province, our geography determines our customs, just as it always had those of the First Nations.   Their borrowed horse culture made these trips possible for them; the automobile makes it possible for us.   The Columbia Basin Indians counted their wealth in horses; we count ours in automobiles, and deface our homes with two and three car garages. 

Natural Splendour of the Arrow Lake

30

Wednesday’s Photos

Autumn Impressions

As you travel west on Highway 6 starting at the Needles Ferry terminal you will find the Lost Lake after a 40 minute drive. At 1200 m altitude you will be breathing in the clean rarefied mountain air and enjoy the peace and quiet surrounding of this beautiful lake site. My wife and I travelling home during the sunset hour a few days ago decided to drop by and take a few pictures of the fall colours. Enjoy.

IMG_4888EdIMG_4891EdIMG_4892EdIMG_4899EdIMG_4905Ed

Albert Schweitzer Seminar #1

5

AS01

1. Seminar

Ich stelle mich euch vor

Mein Name ist Hartmut Kegler. Ich wurde im Jahr 1931 in Stettin geboren. Als ich sechs Jahre alt war, kam ich in die Schule. Damals schrieb man noch in einer anderen Schrift mit einem Griffel auf Schiefertafeln. An dieser Tafel hing ein kleiner Schwamm und ein Lappen, mit dem man die Schrift wieder auslöschen konnte. Später lernten wir dieselbe Schrift wie ihr und wir schrieben auch in richtige Hefte.

Als kleiner Junge fuhr ich gerne mit einem Roller, spielte viel im Sandkasten oder mit anderen Kindern Kasperletheater. Später habe ich auch Soldat gespielt, bis ich merkte, dass das kein gutes Spiel ist.

Als ich neun Jahre alt war, begann der Zweite Weltkrieg. Schon im ersten Kriegsjahr ist mein Vater gefallen. Nun war meine Mutter mit uns drei Kindern allein. Gegen Kriegsende wurden die Schulen geschlossen, weil in Schlesien die Ostfront immer näher kam. Als wir schon den Kanonendonner hörten, packte meine Mutter jedem von uns einen kleinen Rucksack mit ein paar wichtigen Dingen und ging mit uns auf die Flucht. Fast wären wir in die Bombennacht in Dresden geraten und alle umgekommen. Da erkannte ich. wie grausam der Krieg ist. Unsere Flucht endete in der Mark Brandenburg. In einem kleinen Dorf bewohnten wir in einer alten Mühle ein Zimmerchen. Es gab wenig zu essen und wir hatten alle Hunger. Um etwas zu essen zu haben, sammelten wir Getreideähren vom Acker auf und haben Kartoffeln geklaut. In Notzeiten verschwindet die Moral.

Mit vierzehn Jahren ging ich zum Bauern und lernte dort Kühe zu melken. Schweine zu füttern, mit Ochsen das Feld zu pflügen und mit einem Traktor, einem „Bulldog“, das Getreide zu mähen. Mein Arbeitstag begann früh um fünf Uhr und endete abends um sechs. Die Arbeit war zwar schwer, aber sie bereitete auch Freude. Es war schön, abends auf ein Feld zu sehen, das man selbst umgepflügt oder besät oder abgeerntet hat. Vor allem habe ich in der Landwirtschaft viel gelernt und Achtung vor schwerer und oft schmutziger Arbeit gewonnen.

Als ich neunzehn Jahre alt war, begann ich an einer Fachschule und auf der Universität Landwirtschaft zu studieren. Es gab viele Fächer über das Wachsen der Pflanzen, die Pflege von Tieren, die Eigenschaften der Dünger und wie man auf einem Bauernhof rechnen muss.

Nachdem ich mein Studium beendet hatte, holte mich ein Professor in sein Institut nach Aschersleben. Es war das frühere Institut für Phytopathologie, das sich mit den Krankheiten der Pflanzen beschäftigte. So wurde ich so eine Art von Pflanzenarzt. In diesem Institut habe ich dann 36 Jahre lang gearbeitet. Wir halfen den Bauern, dass auf ihren Feldern gesunde Pflanzen wuchsen, sie viele Früchte ernten konnten und alle Menschen genug zu essen hatten.

Ich habe eine liebe Frau (gestorben 2017), die viele Jahre in Aschersleben Lehrerin gewesen ist. Wir beide haben einen tüchtigen Sohn, der Städtebauer und Landschafts­gestalter ist.

Nun bin ich Rentner und möchte euch von einem Menschen erzählen, der mein großes Vorbild geworden ist. Er heißt Albert Schweitzer und wurde als „Urwalddoktor’ in der ganzen Welt berühmt. Er war ein guter Mensch und ein wahrer Christ. Als er bereits Pfarrer und Universitätsprofessor war, gab er alles auf und ging nach Afrika, um dort kranken Negern zu helfen. Auch hat er viel für den Frieden in der Welt getan.

Albert Schweitzer sagte einmal, wer eine glückliche Kindheit gehabt hat, darf das nicht als selbstverständlich hinnehmen, sondern soll dafür dankbar sein und an anderen Menschen Gutes tun. Darüber wollen wir nachdenken und miteinander sprechen.

The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Chapter XVIII

10

On my Moped to Father in Michelbach

It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.

Anne Sexton

50

My Father in front of Erna’s House in Michelbach near Schotten

It had been more than five years, since I had seen Father. He had left one day looking for work at friends and relatives. Considering his poor health and age, he was faced with the dilemma of having to return to Wesel, where he would be dependent on Aunt Mieze’s financial support or else be content with the odd casual work, which barely supported his livelihood. Furthermore considering his intensive pride as a former successful agricultural administrator and the pain he must have suffered from the dismal failure of his farming venture in Southern Germany, I can understand his anguish and feelings of having become utterly worthless in his own eyes and in the eyes of his family. Pride and failure have never been good bedfellows in a man’s heart, and Father was no exception. As for me, I missed his presence a lot, but I was too timid to ask as to when he would come back and did not know what was going on behind the scenes. Much later I found out that with Uncle Günther’s support Mother had initiated divorce proceedings. On the basis of the law that required common residence and conjugal relations Mother was able to get a divorce in exchange for waiving any rights to financial support from Father. So to make this sad and depressing story short, Father after the divorce joined and not long afterwards married Erna Krämer, an old acquaintance from the Warthegau days, who lived in her rustic and cozy home in the village of Michelbach at the foot of Mount Vogelsberg north of Frankfurt.

Schotten_Uebersicht_Kirche

Picturesque Schotten – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

The last summer holidays before graduation were only a few weeks away. It was also to be the last year Mother and Aunt Mieze would reside in Wesel. Uncle Günther and Aunt Lucie had invited them to live with them in Watzenborn-Steinberg (now Pohlheim), where all four would share the rent of a brand-new house that had been built by a teacher as a retirement home in the distant future. Naturally there was a lot of joyful excitement among the three Kegler siblings having been raised together at the parsonage in Grünewald and now having the chance of living once more under one roof. There was just one problem. How would I fit into the grand plan of bringing the family members together? A transfer to a high school in another province with different graduation requirements was out of the question. The solution was an obvious one. I had to stay behind and continue my studies later on in the fall, while they would move to the land of the Hessians. The decision to finish my secondary education in Wesel proved to become one of the great milestones and turning points of my life.

34

Twenty-year Old Peter

But for now at the beginning of the six-week break from school I had other things on my mind. I had to think of visiting Father. One of my old scout buddies sold me his moped for DM 50.00, a true bargain at the equivalent of ten monthly allowances. It had a peppy engine and in spite of being quite old was in excellent shape. The best part was that I did not need a driver’s license. Having always envied Klaus for his scooter, I now had my very own motorized transportation with which I could travel to Michelbach to see Father and his new wife Erna.

60

Philosophical Discussions with my Father

At a maximum speed of 50 km/h it took me all day to reach the scenic hill country around Mount Vogelsberg. Father and Erna gave me a warm welcome alleviating immediately all fear that Father might have turned into a stranger. I had departed from Wesel with these somber feelings, which had been building up due in part to our long separation, but also due to Mother’s bitter and regretful remarks that she had sometimes made about the divorce. So it was a great relief to be greeted so cordially and be welcomed as son and friend into their cozy old farmhouse. Here then I was going to spend the next six weeks, would become reacquainted with a rural environment slightly reminiscent of Rohrdorf, would get to know Father more closely through our philosophical and historical discussions, would begin to like his wife, would be introduced to her friends and relatives in the village, would taste her hearty meals albeit a little too rich in fat, in short I was here to relax and feel completely at home in an atmosphere of genuine friendliness and camaraderie.

Joy at my Father’s Home

Right from the beginning of my visit Erna and I got along very well. Her cheerful and lively disposition did not allow me to lose myself in gloomy moods, as I was occasionally prone to do, especially during prolonged periods of idleness and aimlessness. I could even see, even though I was reluctant to admit it, that Erna was the right person for Father. She was the sunshine that had brought lightness and contentment to his sunset years. From her radiated a contagious joyous spirit that created the in-peace-with-the-world atmosphere so conducive to Father’s healing process from a torturous past, from which he only now began to recover. I definitely do not remember him as a man broken in body and spirit, as my distant cousin Eberhard Klopp described him in his book of the Klopp Family History.

Schotten - Photo Credit: vogelsbergtourist.de

Town of Schotten – Photo Credit: vogelsbergtourist.de

Erna also had a moped of the same make and the same 49 cc class as mine, on which she would travel down the steep hill into the town of Schotten to buy the few things she needed for the small household in Michelbach. When there is company, one always seems to find the time to show off the beauty surrounding one’s home turf. Without visitors one tends to delay and leave such outings for another day. Erna was no exception. Now she was eager to travel with me to the nearby-forested hills, up the scenic Nature Park around Mount Vogelsberg, down winding country roads into the lush verdant valleys neatly tucked in between minor mountain ranges. There was no better form of transportation than our two mopeds. With a lunch pack clamped to the rear luggage rack we were ready to dart off into the wonderful Hessian landscape. Father a little overweight for these light machines gladly stayed behind looking after a few chores still to be done on this mini-farm with just a few goats to feed and milk,. Just as we were revving up the engines, Father came to the road to congenially shout over the noise, “Have a good trip!” At the end of my vacations thanks to our weekly excursions into the hill country, I had acquired a solid geographical knowledge of the region. As I was internally preparing myself to leave the Rhineland for good after my graduation, I had already created a new base to drop in as son and stepson, a place I could truly call home.

Landscape of Vogelsberg Hill Country - Photo Credit: vogelsbergtourist.de

Landscape of Vogelsberg Hill Country – Photo Credit: vogelsbergtourist.de

In the long summer evenings after supper we three would sit in the living room leisurely sipping homemade apple cider. We would talk until it was time to go to bed. More accurately speaking it was Erna, who did most of the talking. She truly had the gift of the gab. With the unerring memory for minutest details spiced up with colourful expressions and peppered with the melodious dialect of her village she was the born storyteller. I will never forget how she described the chaotic scene of the German Reichstag of the roaring twenties. She and her friends were sitting in the same living room forty years earlier and acted out the ugly political debates they had heard over the radio. And they did this with such exuberance, with so much mock yelling and screaming that the poor cats terrified by the brouhaha created by the inflammatory speeches sought refuge under the sofa and added to the parliamentary cacophony with much hissing and growling.

Incredible Rock Formations near the Top - Photo Credit: myheimat.de

Amazing Rock Formations near the Top – Photo Credit: myheimat.de

Is it Love?

Within the scope of the family history I would go too far if I included Erna’s side of the family except the ones that I came into contact with. There was the Langlitz family, Walter, Frieda (Friedchen) and their two daughters Helga and Anita. Walter had become a successful contractor who ran a prosperous business with his impressive array of trucks,

Church of Michelbach now part of Schotten - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Church of Michelbach now part of Schotten – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

caterpillars, backhoes and other heavy machinery that he had acquired to assist in the government sponsored land reform program. In contrast to the northern provinces of Germany, where the eldest son inherits the farm, inheritance laws in the south required equal division of the fields among all the children of the deceased farmer. Thus, over time emerged a chaotic patchwork of tiny fields often less than one ha in size, which made farming more and more inefficient and unproductive. So Walter profited from the reallocation of land by owning the right equipment at the right time. The two daughters, Helga and Anita, age 12 and age 10, whose exact degree of relationship to Erna I do not recall, often showed up to play board games, such as chess and checkers with the newcomer in Father’s home.

52

Peter Basking in the Sun – Summer 1962

Erna was also anxious to have me meet her 16 year-old niece Roswitha, who lived a few houses down the street with her widowed mother. Even though I did not recognize it at the beginning, it was clearly a matchmaking effort supported by Father. In collusion with her sister-in-law, Erna invited her niece over for coffee and cake to make sure we would see each other as often as possible. Roswitha in terms of the standards I had set for what a girl should look like fell well within the range of acceptability. However, inner qualities, such as interests in activities that one could do together, readiness to share and exchange thoughts and feelings, to support them and if necessary even to oppose them, such qualities, which began to gain more and more in importance for me, were severely lacking. In a way my encounter with her helped me set the bar a few notches higher, which further limited the number of choices for my future mate. I vaguely felt for the first time that only love could help jump the hurdle. But what is love? I could not tell, because I had not experienced it yet. So what Erna had hoped for, did not happen. We were friends, who did things together for a while. We walked down the steep hill down to the town and district swimming pool in Schotten and on Saturday evenings we went dancing in the nearby villages. The music was not exactly rock ‘n’ roll, but we could dance to it, whenever a fast beat would permit. The performance of the band improved with each refill of the giant beer mugs during the frequent breaks. Thanks to the loud music there was no opportunity to talk, and there would not have been much to talk about. On our long walk home in the moonlight I explained to her how the stars would move like the sun following the rotation of the earth. For everything I said during my scientific dissertation she approvingly giggled. Only once did she protest to express her utter disbelief, when I insisted that the moon shining so brightly now onto the forests and meadows would also show its pale face during daytime.

My brother Adolf relaxing at the Schotten Swimming Pool

My brother Adolf relaxing at the Schotten Swimming Pool

With my first visit to see Father after such along gap inconceivable in the light of today’s custody laws that require visiting rights at regular intervals, I accomplished much more than just reconnecting with him. The ice had been broken. Other family members now were eager to come in a spirit of reconciliation that was shared even by Mother albeit somewhat reluctantly. Near the end of my holidays my brother Adolf dropped in for a visit. He had returned from Canada to Germany on a temporary basis to learn a trade in an apprenticeship program at the Honeywell Company at Hanau. There he eventually acquired a journeyman ticket as a trained machinist that would – so he was hoping – land him a good paying job upon his return to Canada. Adolf endowed with a witty sense of humor and an extroverted personality was the life of the party no matter where he went. In formal or informal gatherings, in suit or in jeans, with academics or with factory workers, he was the born entertainer who made people cheer up when they were depressed, got things rolling when they appeared to be stuck. Everybody liked him. He had many friends and few enemies. There was just one problem with this gregarious likeable brother of mine. He seemed to be shy, yes even afraid of unmarried women, who might take too much of a liking to him, pursue him with the full force of passion and lock him up in the golden cage called marriage. When we received an invitation to a social evening by Roswitha’s mother, Adolf felt safe, because his youngest brother was with him. On the surface it looked like we were the suitors, Roswitha being courted by two promising young men. In reality in a strange reversal of the customary roles it was the other way around. As we gathered in the living room, Frau K. served us wine, crackers and cheese, spent a few perfunctory minutes in conversation with us and discretely withdrew with a few cheerful words meaning that we now were on our own. I found the situation very odd and to some extent embarrassing, because I had expected her to stay. It was Adolf who saved the day or more accurately the evening with his social skills that helped to get the ball rolling. He asked Roswitha about school, hobbies, her likes and dislikes, the weather, and all the other trivia that he was so apt in using as a social lubricant. To her replies often accompanied by the aforementioned giggles he added humorous comments that made us laugh and feel at ease. Eventually even I emerged out of my taciturn shell and presented to everyone’s amusement a few jokes and riddles. Around eleven o’clock Adolf ironically remarked that it was time for us ‘boys’ to go home. We politely said good night and cheerfully departed to have another drink of a more potent kind at our Father’s place.

Happy End to a most Enjoyable Visit

Then my sister Erika dropped in for a brief visit. When she heard that I had been going out dancing with Roswitha, she mockingly and contemptuously commented on her in Father’s presence, “Ho! Ho! Peasant duffer! (Bauerntrampel in German)” By now I had become quite accustomed to the unpredictable outpourings of her sharp tongue. Her caustic and biting remarks at Mother’s place in Wesel had been edged forever into my memory. However, Father was livid. Having respected all his life the hard honest work of the farmers from whom we receive our daily bread, he was deeply insulted by that derogatory remark. He gave her a severe dressing-down for displaying unjustified disdain for such an honourable class of people. Never since my early childhood days, when he had read me the riot act for stealing eggs from Mother’s henhouse, had I seen Father so angry. If I did not know the meaning of holy wrath, I knew it now.

My brother Karl and his wife Ingrid with an aunt in front of Erna's house

Erna Klopp with her neighbor’s baby in her loving arms

Erna’s house was at least half a century old and the electrical wiring was outdated and no longer in compliance with the latest electrical code. It required that all circuits be properly grounded. It made me feel good that I was not just there to enjoy a relaxing summer visit but also had the opportunity to make myself useful. Father had bought the three-prong wire, and I installed it and connected it to the junction boxes, outlets and switches. When I showed reluctance to take the twenty marks Father wanted to give me as pay for my work, he lectured me somewhat like this, “Listen, Peter, if someone offers you money, not dishonest money mind you, but money earned for work you did, do not hesitate to accept it. For you not only cheat yourself out of the reward that is rightfully yours, but you also insult the generosity of the giver.” To such a powerful argument I had nothing to reply and took the twenty marks.

Together with Helga and Anita in Michelbach

Together with Helga and Anita in Michelbach

At times when Father’s back pains were hurting too much, he stayed in bed for most of the day. Adolf and I were sitting at his bedside to keep him company. Then Father and I would often talk about the great empires of the past and the lessons one might learn from the causes of their decline. I really warmed up to this topic as I had recently taken a keen interest in the history of the Roman Empire. We came to the conclusion that if one allows foreign religious and ethnic elements to penetrate the cultural core of the nation, it will sooner or later lose its identity, its values and strength and will eventually have to face first decline and then total collapse. Germany according to Father has not learned her lessons and was headed in the same direction. He pointed to the record player on the night table remarking, “The record is turning, the needle appears to be progressing even though it is running in circles, but in the end it will be starting all over again symbolizing the eternal recurrent of the same in world history.” Adolf feeling a little left out in this highfalutin talk said he would buy himself a couple of history books to study up on the things he had missed in school.

Reading and Relaxing - Summer of 1962

Reading and Relaxing – Summer of 1962

 

Little Fears

Tales of whimsy, humor and courgettes

daleducatte

"Pay attention to the world" -- Susan Sontag

DeepAsThoughts

My Mind Space

Susan Rushton

Celebrating gardens, nature, photography and a creative life

Backyard Photographer

Spark creativity by capturing the world around you one photo at a time

PETER GRAARUP WESTERGAARD

Independent blog about literature, philosophy and society in words and images

The Hejhej blog

Another blog that you dont need

The Flowers of Art

In the kingdom of life, with the strokes of the brush, the bow and the pen, artists have sowed their hearts to contrive, fields rivalling in beauty the Garden of Eden.

The Timeless Treasure

A Sneak Peek of My Life !!!

Theresa J. Barker

science fiction writer

Jupp Kappius

Zur Erinnerung an Josef "Jupp" Kappius

Calmgrove

Exploring the world of ideas through books

Sophie und ihre Welt

Bücher - Zitate - Musik - Literatur - Philosophie - Worte - Ohrensessel-Gedanken - Momentaufnahmen - Bilder - Fotos - Werken

A Walk to Stressfree Life

be thankful for this blessed life!!!

Karolina Górska & Piotr Jurkiewicz

fotografia z naszej perspektywy

JAMILA DWORKIN

BLOG / CHARACTER STUDIES / SHORT STORIES

Melissa Blue Fine Art

Celebrating the Healing Beauty of Nature

The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

Reflections on Life, Family and Community

a little bit of Ingrid

the little things, the little moments...they aren't little!

MaritimeMac

Go Explore

Inspire me

Love, Relationship, Lifestyle, Purpose, Marriage & Family

Travelling around the world

Traveller, photography

Intrepid Venture

Exploring the realms of the arts, sciences and politics

sandsoftime10

A peek into Megha's mind

Candid Chicana

Chicano Culture, Self-Development & More

Frank Solanki

If you want to be a hero well just follow me

Plants and Beyond

Green Plants Based Living and Gardening

Zimmerbitch

age is just a (biggish) number

Think Ahead

Des' Online Journal

witlessdatingafterfifty

Relationships reveal our hearts.

Wondering and Wandering

"How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live! Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow..." --Henry David Thoreau, August 19, 1851

Frau Stich-Schlinge

handGemachtes & allerlei Tüddellütt

Stella, oh, Stella

Garten - Reisen - Lesen - Musik - Handarbeiten - Motorbike - Wandern ...

My Fragmented Narrative

rants and ramblings freshly served

rabbitpatchdiarycom

comfort and joy from my home to yours

mommermom

......one moms journey

Find Your Middle Ground

"Life is a series of highs and lows. Be grateful for the highs. Be graceful in the lows. Enjoy life fully and find contentment in your Middle Ground" Val Boyko

This Much I Know

exploring life now that our small people have all grown up

the creative life in between

cherishing the moments and exploring my passion for creativity... through art, photography, food, and writing

Retirementally Challenged

Navigating through my post-work world

Curious Steph

explorations on the journey of living

%d bloggers like this: