The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

Reflections on Life, Family and Community

Monthly Archives: November 2015

Chapter 16 of the P. and G. Klopp Story – Part I

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Summer Employment, School, and Ballroom Dancing

 

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Voltaire

 

Berlin Gate of Wesel - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Berlin Gate of Wesel – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

On a side street not too far from the post office and the Berlin Gate – not to be confused with the Brandenburg Gate of Germany’s capital – was a small electronics store. The owner was also a contractor who did most of the electrical wiring jobs for the apartment buildings, which were popping up like mushrooms in the early sixties. I was well known to the staff as I had often dropped in to ask for nonworking radios, which I would then cannibalize for parts. One day I felt especially courageous and asked if they had a job for me. To my great surprise the boss immediately hired me to work as an electrician’s helper on the various construction sites in Wesel. For the next week or so I had to punch holes into the concrete walls using hammer and chisel. For the first time in my life I began to see the connection between hard work and earning money. Being quite unaccustomed to this type of work at first, I often hit my hands and fingers leaving bluish and bloody reminders of my clumsiness at the end of the day. I worked under pressure, because the rectangular holes had to be ready for the certified electrician to wire the junction boxes. One day the foreman asked me to run over to the shop and ask the boss for construction holes, as they would be needed immediately. Very proud of having received such an important assignment, I ran as fast as I could to make the request for something that sounded quite mysterious to me. When the boss had received the message, he asked his employees with a twinkle in his eyes if they had seen any of those construction holes lying around.

          “I believe that some of those holes are on the top shelf over the counter”, the lady of the sales department answered. The boss reached for them and placed them into my outstretched hands. In total disbelief I stared into my empty palms. Then I realized that I had been fooled, when he said, “Here are half a dozen of these holes. Now rush back to the construction sites and make sure you don’t lose any.” With this remark the entire staff could no longer restrain themselves and burst out into good-natured laughter indicating their prank had worked  on the novice employee. For my part I was quite a bit annoyed that I had become the laughing stock, but took some consolation in the fact that every newcomer in this business had to undergo the same humiliating initiation.

Peter's Notebook on Electronics Theory

Peter’s Notebook on Electronics Theory

At the end of one of my shifts a young aggressive salesman, who had been standing outside the store, cornered me on my way home and bombarded me with an endless stream of words extolling the advantages of becoming a member of the Bertelsmann Book Club. It represented one of the largest publishing houses in Germany, the young man asserted. Eager to get home and totally unaware of the financial consequences, I signed on the dotted line of the contract. As long as we lived in Wesel Aunt Mieze (Marie Kegler) paid the quarterly membership fee. She assumed correctly that if I was going to do a lot more reading as a result of this commitment, it would help improve my language skills not only in the remaining school years, but would hopefully create an appreciation of good literature.

Membership Card for the Bertelsmann Book Club

Membership Card – Bertelsmann Book Club

In the meantime my boss had been informed by the safety board that it was illegal to have an electrician’s helper at my age working on a construction site. Apparently it had to do with laws governing safety and liability issues. However, he kept me in his employ at the store, even though there was absolutely nothing for me to do. For most of the day I hung around in the store, where pop music from the latest stereo equipment attracted a lot of potential customers, mostly women deeply touched by the sentimental love songs in vogue in those days. Occasionally I ran an errant for the people working in the repair and service department. During those days I discovered that working life is boring if one does not have anything meaningful to do.

Old Radio with Valuable Parts for Peter's Hobby - Photo Credit: antiqueradio.org

Old Radio with Valuable Parts for Peter’s Hobby – Photo Credit: antiqueradio.org

One day I saw a short piece of solder on the floor. No cow was attached to it like in Rainer’s birthday speech. I put it in my pocket thinking it might come in handy when working on my electronic projects at home. A few minutes later one of the technicians, who had watched me pick it up, reported the incident to the boss. It is quite possible that my employer was truly outraged over my pilfering or perhaps it provided the perfect pretext to let me go from a place where I had outlived my usefulness. Whatever it was that made him fire me, something good came out of it. It created a moral sensitivity in me with regard to theft. No matter how small, petty, insignificant an item seems to be, whether it is piece of solder or a pen belonging to an office, in the realm of absolutes there are no gray areas. Theft is theft.

Friedrich Otto Karl Klopp (1878-1957) – Part III

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Karl’s Professional Development

(Klopp Family Tree – Chart I – II)

To see the Klopp family tree, click here.

View of Lübeck - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

View of modern-day Lübeck – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

After his active service of ‘4 years, 11 months and 27 days’ Karl Klopp returned to civilian life. He attended a training course of the agricultural department at Greifswald, Pomerania, and then became adminstrator and manager of dairies and export companies, also construction foreman of the machine assembly plant H.G. Schröder in Lübeck.

Greifswald_-_Town_Hall

Town Hall of Greifswald – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

In 1905 he succeeded in getting a management position of the dairy in Hüttenkofen near Straubing, Bavaria. In 1907 Karl attended the dairy institute at Nortrup not far from Quakenbrück and obtained the certificate officially qualifying for a management position.

City View of Straubing, Germany - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

City View of Straubing, Germany – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

In the same year he married the teacher’s daughter Augusta (neé Hauer). Two daughters Luise (1907) and Auguste (1908) were born. In 1908 Karl bought the dairy of his former employer in Hüttenkofen and also became owner of a house at Radkofer Street 7 with a total assessed value of 29,000 marks. Karl Klopp, industrious and goal-oriented worked his way up into a respectable and wealthy Bavarian dairy owner.

To be continued next Thursday …

A Tale of Two Teachers

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A Humorous Comparison by Dieter Barge

Today I have a little joke. Peter Klopp, a retired teacher, had asked me to make a blog post about cacti with pictures of particularly beautiful blossoms. I will soon do this.

Today I would like to quickly report something about Wilhelm Busch, who was a German painter, early cartoonist, and most beloved of all German poets. In his book “Max and Moritz”  he wrote the story in seven boyish pranks about the two little rascals Max and Moritz. While their devout teacher Lämpel is busy at church, the boys invade his home and fill his favorite pipe with gunpowder. When he lights the pipe, the blast knocks him unconscious, blackens his skin and burns away all his hair.  Here is the beginning of the 4th trick:

An old saw runs somewhat so:

Man must learn while here below.

Not alone the A, B, C,

Raises man in dignity;

Not alone in reading, writing,

Reason finds a work inviting;

Not alone to solve the double

Rule of Three shall man take trouble;

But must hear with pleasure Sages

Teach the wisdom of the ages.

In addition the teacher is drawn like this:

Lämpel

We bought a carved figure of Master Lämpel ! Now a certain resemblance between two teachers has struck me:

Peter Klopp Lämpel small

On this post I share my discovery with glee. Peter will certainly not be angry with me!

Contributed by Master Jester Dieter Barge, who married Edda, the granddaughter of Bruno Kegler (my uncle) and thus became an invaluable member of the illustrious Klopp-Kegler Clan famous or perhaps rather notoriously known for its jocular disposition. To see the Kegler Family Tree, Chart II a – IV, click here. – Peter Klopp

 

Chapter XV of the P. and G. Klopp Story – Part II

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My Twentieth Birthday Celebration

558606-960x720-grillagetorte

In contrast to the war games my birthday parties with Hans, Klaus and Rainer took place in a rather amicable atmosphere. Mother, who liked my friends very much, was very supportive and ensured that we boys would have fun in celebrating my special day. She even contributed a bottle of fine Mosel wine. Since each guest also brought a bottle, Mother hid them and mad sure that only one bottle at a time would be on the living room table. She did this to alleviate my aunt’s concern over our overindulgence in alcoholic beverages. Before the actual party began, Mother and Aunt Mieze joined us for coffee and cake. All eyes were fixed on the main object of attraction, a visual feast, which made our mouth water in delightful anticipation. Mother had known my preference for the same cake during the past four years and had done it again for my 20th birthday. In the middle of the table she had placed the beloved Grillagetorte, which she had ordered from the local bakery and pastry shop. As soon as you mention this cake outside the Lower Rhineland, you encounter blank faces, because nobody seems to have heard of it. But for decades the Grillagetorte had been the center of many traditional coffee parties and the focus of family get-together and festive days. The cake is the product of high-level pastry making, a pastry composition made from half-frozen cream and meringue. This was heavenly cake for us. It had a fresh and crisp taste, crunchy and rich with its layers of cream and pastry, in short it was fit for the celebration of the first twenty years of my life. How much we enjoyed the feast can only be measured by what little was left over on our plates, which looked as if we had licked them clean. Mother and Aunt Mieze now withdrew to the kitchen so that the all-boys party could begin. We opened the first bottle of wine, filled our glasses to the rim and said cheers.

11a

It’s Time to Hand out the Sweets – Hans Holding his Guitar on the Right

It was the tacit understanding that each guest would have to make a presentation worthy of the occasion. Rainer took on the role of a nonagenarian and delivered a comical review of his long life in a slapstick mix of prose and poetry, which, because I remember it so well, I will attempt to translate into English.

9a

Rainer and the Birthday Child Having a Fun Time with Song and Drink

“Today I am celebrating my 90th birthday. I don’t feel that old yet, but I always say, what is gone, is gone. When I was born, there was nobody at home. On the table lay a note that said, ‘The milk is in the oven’. My mother’s maiden name was Federal Railway, for that name was written on our towels. We did not have a clock. When the chamber pot was full it was six o’clock in the morning. But when my father had gone boozing, the pot was running three hours fast. When I was six years old, I went to a special needs school. What my special needs were, I still don’t know to this day. The teacher was quite dumb and asked a lot of questions. One day he asked one student, ‘What do you know about the ancient Romans?’ The student answered correctly, ‘They are all dead.’ Then it was my turn, ‘What do you know about the ancient Wends (a Germanic tribe that sounds like walls in German)?’ I answered, ‘The plaster keeps falling off from them.’ He must have liked my answer, for he pressed his hand into my face. After I had completed my education, I started to work in a photo shop. There I could not develop, because my boss was constantly fixing me. One day a woman came into the shop and asked me to enlarge her family. I told her to kindly go to the man who had started it all. Each time I opened the cash register I got a cramp in my fingers. My boss did not like it and I was voluntarily forced to leave. Then I went on a long journey with my older brother. All the things he found, other people hadn’t even lost yet. One day we found a rope with a cow attached to it. The judge would not believe that we just wanted the rope and he gave us three years of free board and room. During that time I discovered my poetic talents and wrote a number of fine poems, one of which I would like to share with you now.

‘Ein Stinktier saß auf einer Bank und stank.

Es hatte keine Eile, es stank aus langer Weile.

Und als die Sonne war versunken,

da hat das Stinktier immer noch gestunken.’

 

Roughly translated into English, it reads like this:

‘A skunk sat on a bench and stank.

Away it wouldn’t scurry.

It wasn’t in a big hurry.

And when the sun had finally sunk

The skunk on the bench still had stunk.

The translation provides a little bit the flavor of the story, which was very well received by the entire gang and cheered with another glass of wine from a new bottle of slightly inferior quality. Hans for his contribution played three pieces of classical guitar music composed by Sor, Carulli, and Albinoni. This was truly a feast for our ears, even for Rainer not accustomed to this musical genre. Hans, an absolute genius in so many fields of endeavor and autodidact in the fine art of playing the guitar, performed later in his university years on his simple six-string so expertly that a wealthy aficionado gave him as a gift the best classical guitar money could buy. What amazed then and still amazes me today is how a single instrument can sound as if there were three: one for the melody, another for the accompaniment, and a third for the rhythm provided by the tapping of the free remaining fingers on the hollow body of the guitar.

Rainer and Peter Singing a Duette

Rainer and Peter Singing a Duette of our Opera

Mother brought another bottle with a happy smile as if she was reminiscing about the good, old days in Gutfelde, where liquor also flowed in abundance to serve as a social lubricant. Then Klaus, apparently ill prepared, suggested that we all produced a totally improvised opera with the lofty theme of an emperor going to the bathroom. By this time we had imbibed so much wine that we most enthusiastically accepted the challenge to do a mini-opera without an orchestra guiding us from scene to scene except for Hans’ intermittent strumming on the guitar. We sang solos, duets, every possible combination of roles and characters describing graphically in a down-to-earth language the emperor’s pains and troubles on the toilet seat. As it was also loaded with words that would never surface in a properly written school essay, I will spare the reader any further details of our otherwise artfully created opera.

Peter Pouring another Glass of Wine

Peter Pouring a Glass of Wine to Celebrate another Black Poker Mark

After we had emptied the third bottle and our cheerfulness had turned into a cacophony of uninhibited song, fragments of classical music, and pop music from the radio, we transferred our party to my room at the opposite end of the apartment as not to disturb the elderly tenants below. With wine being consumed more in gulps than in sips, the level of our inebriation had reached its climax. We played a round of strip poker, in which for each lost game the player had to surrender one piece of clothing on his upper body and be marked with a black cross from a chunk of charcoal. Finally it was time for my friends to go home. I guided them down the two flights of the creaky wooden staircase making sure that nobody would fall over their wobbly legs and also would not make a racket that would incur the wrath of the landlady. She had once asked me rather innocently how I liked the new apartment. Not expecting any guile, I naively replied, “Oh, I love the new place very much.” Then in a threatening tone she retorted, “Then make sure that you will keep it!”

Friedrich Otto Karl Klopp (1878-1957) – Part II

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Military Service in China and Bavaria (Chart I – II)

To see the Klopp family tree, click here.

The Eight-Nations Alliance in the Boxer Rebellion

The Eight-Nations Alliance in the Boxer Rebellion 1900-1901 – wikipedia.org

During the Boxer Rebellion Karl Klopp first belonged until June 1001 to the 4th East Asian Infantry Regiment ‘Count Montgelas’, then until the completion of the campaign in October 1901 he was part of 2nd Infantry Regiment.

Russian Troops Storming Beijing_Gates - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Russian Troops Storming Beijing_Gates – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

On March 8, 1901 he participated in a mountain battle at the Thanscheng Pass. There he succeeded in the capture of four cannons, for which he received for the first time military recognition. Overall he was awarded during his service the Bavarian medal for bravery, the Prussian military medal, the Austrian First Class Medal for Bravery, the China Commemorative Coin and the Prince Regent Luitpold medal.

Typical Commemorative Medals - wikipedia.org

Typical French Commemorative Medals 1900-1901 – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

After his return from China he served until September 1903 again at his home battalion at Straubing. There on March 1, 1902 he was promoted to the rank of a sergeant. His subsequent assignment to the Infantry Regiment ‘Prince Ruprecht’ can be seen as a special privilege and preference in recognition of his exemplary role as a leader.

 

Insignia of the Bavarian Army - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Insignia of the Bavarian Army – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

During that time he suffered an injury to his left knee and was transferred on October 5, 1903 to the reserve beginning his civilian life.

To be continued next Thursday …

Beautiful Poem by Dan Frugalberg

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IMG_3366

Rarely does one find in our modern times a poem that has structure, rhythm, rhyme and meaningful content. This beautiful fall poem by Dan Frugalberg is one that I highly recommend for poetic enjoyment to the readers of my blog. If you like the poem, make sure to visit his website at danfrugalberg.com for more inspiring poetry.

Forgotten days of summer, shed, the robes of fall,
Shortening of the daylight, winter’s silent call.
As snowflakes softly gracing, woods, their hallowed hall,
Deep in restful slumber, His creatures, great and small.
~ D.F.

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