Chapter 29 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part I

Chapter 29

Working from the Bottom Up


“Without ambition one starts nothing.

Without work one finishes nothing.

The prize will not be sent to you.

You have to win it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

My First Job

Painting my Brother’s House

The three Brothers from Left to Right; Peter, Adolf and Gerry

Arriving in the late afternoon at Gerry’s place on Fyffe Road in Calgary, I felt as if I was receiving a warm welcome way back in Germany. Gerry greeted us in German. He introduced me to his wife Martha, who also spoke German  with a strong southern dialect. The only one I could practice my English language skills was their three-old son Wayne. Gerry, always straightforward and forthright, told me that he had some work for me. He wanted me to paint the house, while I was searching and applying for a paying position on the job market. I was eager to get my hands dirty and do something real useful after all this loafing around during the past two weeks. I really surprised him with my cheerful reply, “Why, can I start tomorrow?” Well, it turned that he had to buy paint, brushes and other equipment first, before I could start doing the paint job.

Gerry and his Beautiful Wife Martha


My sister Eka, who had come by train a few days before us, had already run afoul of Gerry’s house rules, not the least of which was that he and Martha alone were in charge of their son’s upbringing. Any criticism no matter how constructive that might seem to be to our sister was therefore not welcome. As I have indicated in previous chapters, as long as I could remember, she was always inclined to speak her mind, indeed a valuable attribute of one’s character. However, when her tongue was faster than her mind that was supposed to control the former, the problem could easily escalate to a downright family feud. Fortunately for her, she soon moved out, as she had found work as a nurse’s aid in a rural hospital in the small prairie town of Bessano 143 km southeast of Calgary. She had found out that recognition of her German qualifications as an RN would depend upon the successful completion of her senior matriculation. So she had a long arduous road ahead. Tenacious and ambitious like all of us Klopp children she went back to school, attended night classes and studied hard to obtain her grade 12 diploma. This was all the more remarkable, as she did not have the advantage of having learned English in school.


Painting my brother’s house was more involved than I had anticipated. First, I had to sand the old flaky paint off the wood sidings, which was a dusty and laborious task that would take days to complete. While the job was time consuming, standing on a ladder and holding the electric sander above my head to reach the soffit boards was very tiring and not altogether pleasant with paint and dust particles flying into my face. The thought occurred to me that Gerry definitely got his money’s or, more accurately stated, his food’s worth of work out of me. Yet, I was enthusiastic about a job, where one could see its result for years to come. The best part of it was that I could take as many breaks as I felt necessary during which I drank some refreshment, which my sister-in-law so kindly provided from time to time.

Everyone was at work. When Gerry came home from work, he checked the progress I had made during the past eight hours and most of the time commented approvingly on the quality of my workmanship.

On the second week since our arrival in Calgary I was ready to paint. I enjoyed that part the most, because with each passing day the new white color had advanced a noticeable distance on its tour around the house. Not familiar with the use of brush and roller, I stained myself at the beginning with the paint dripping and splattering on my hands, face and clothes. But as my work progressed, I gradually looked more like an experienced painter at the end of the day. By the time June came around I had put on the second and final coat and Gerry’s home turned out to be most beautiful among the bungalows on the Fyffe Road loop.

25 Replies to “Chapter 29 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part I”

  1. You have so many memories, and i am amazed you have pictures to support them too 🙂

    Good to see you at that age, and that you turned out to be a professional painter (at least looks like that).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Peter You are a perfectionist, being your former neighbour , I noticed your home and garden always in perfect shape,
    Gertrud and You are so much alike you both have an eye for Beauty–keeping every thing beautiful.
    so proud to know you all. –also your fist arrival to Canada is so nice to hear as well as pictures to show—
    love reading all about it. Thank you Peter .
    Hugs Inge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Inge, for your kind response to the saga of our family history! Yes, it was a good thing to have taken pictures. They trigger memories to come back and add beauty to the story.


  3. I’m glad to hear you made such a good job of it, Peter. I can understand why you wanted to get started straight away. It’s nice to relax every now and then, but an honest day’s work (or in your case, rather more than a day), is good for us, I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You really did a good job painting the house, dear Peter. It’s always better to do something than to hang around. That’s the German way of life 🙂 Have a nice weekend, kind regards from rainy Hamburg, Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Mitza, for your kind words! With regard to your comment on a previous post I would like to tell you that I purchased a collection of short stories by Chekhov for my Kindle reader. I liked reading them all as they probe deeply into the human heart. Greetings from Fauquier, where we presently suffer under an extreme heat wave!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You cannot do anything wrong with short stories by Checkhov, dear Peter. I remember how fascinated I was by these stories. Sometimes I thought I would fall out of bed and sometimes I laughed a lot. One story started with the words “We were drunk like 7 hogs”… I could recommend Bunin and Aitmatov to you. They are superb. We had many dark rainy days here, but now it’s better but there are a lot of things going on here due to the G20 summit. Have a nice day, kind regards Mitza

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I imagine having a job to do made it easier to stay with your brother, but sanding with an electric sander held over your head doesn’t sound like much fun! Painting is the easy part, I always think, it’s the prep for painting that’s hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ich finde,der sofortige “Arbeitsauftrag” deines Bruders Gerry war eine gut durchdachte Sache.Denn es ist zu vermuten,dass er gar nicht erst negative Gedanken bei dir aufkommen lassen wollte,ev.bis zum Finden eines Jobs dort
    untätig abzuwarten,wie es weitergehen würde.Und Gerry hatte gleich eine grosse Hilfe an dir!👍 Also Zufriedenheit auf beiden Seiten!
    Deine Schwester muss ich auch noch nachträglich für ihre Zielstrebigkeit bewundern,ist wirklich typisch für eure Family😉..
    Mit herzlichen Grüßen!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liebe Edda, ich bin immer wieder aufs Neue beeindruckt, wie du dich in unsere Familiengeschichte hineinversetzen kannst. Auch zeigst du immer wieder ein hervorragendes Schreibtalent wie deine Schwester Anke. Vielleicht wirst du eines Tages auch zur Feder greifen. In deiner Familie gibt es soviel Interessantes zu beschreiben. Vielen Dank für deine lieben Worte!


      1. Hallo, lieber Peter! Ich hab es gehört und wollte schon nachfragen, ob bei Euch alles in Ordnung ist. Das ist gut zu hören. Ich wünsche Euch beiden und Euren Lieben einen schönen Sommer. Bleibt gesund! Herzliche Grüße, Cornelia

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right, Ankur. One word of caution for all who write their life story. It is very easy to fall into the trap of veering off the truth and turning it into fiction. Life is so interesting and so full of wonders that there is no need to embellish or dramatize it more than it really is. Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment, Ankur!


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