Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) and his Family – Part 38

More Children Visiting Father

With my first visit to see Father after such a long 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 temporarily to learn a trade in an apprenticeship program at the Honeywell Company at Hanau. 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 humour and an extroverted personality, was the life of the party no matter where he went. In formal or informal gatherings, in a suit or jeans, with academics or factory workers, he was the born entertainer who made people cheer up when they were depressed and got things rolling when they appeared to be stuck. Everybody liked him. 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 he called marriage.

My brother Adolf relaxing at the Schotten Swimming Pool

Then my sister Erika dropped in for a brief visit. When she heard that I had been going out dancing with a girl from the village, she contemptuously commented on her in Father’s presence, “Ho! Ho! Going out with a 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 Father in front of Erna’s House in Michelbach near Schotten

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 correctly grounded. It made me feel good that I was not just there to enjoy a relaxing summer visit but also 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. I showed some reluctance to take the twenty marks Father wanted to 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 to and took the twenty marks.

25 thoughts on “Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) and his Family – Part 38

  1. Great stories, Peter. Did your sister and father reconcile after his justifiablly angry response to her snobbery?

    And your father’s lesson about accepting payment for work done was so wise. My husband and I learned a similar but opposite lesson many years ago when we were first dating. We went on a camping trip and had trouble setting up the tent. A fellow camper (who was a stranger to us) offered to help. After he helped to set up our tent, my husband (boyfriend at the time) offered to pay him for his time. The man kindly rejected our money and seemed a bit insulted. Sometimes people do things just to be kind and offering to pay them can be insulting. I guess there’s no right answer!

    Liked by 2 people

    • My father was quick to react when he perceived something being wrong, but he was never unforgiving. The episode made a great impression on me, but the two got along very well afterwards.


  2. I do understand your father’s anger with regard to your sister’s remark. Our civilization is built on the physical labourers, who are usually underpaid.
    But paying you for the work you have done, I would not deem necessary, you being family. And, moreover, you were their guest for many weeks and maybe saw this job as a way to thank them for their hospitality.
    But then again, he maybe was so grateful to you for doing this that he wanted to give you an extra thank you. He couldn’t really invite you for dinner, as you were eating there anyway.
    It is not always easy to know, why people do or say something, especially your sister. Why was she so sharp tongued, was she dissatisfied with her life?

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  3. Your father’s harsh reaction to his daughter must have had a deeper reason than just defending the farmers.
    Perhaps his failure as a farmer years earlier was the reason. Or something else.

    I also experienced stories like the one with the 20 marks, I think.
    It’s strange that a father pays his son, but you really had nothing else to do but accept it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Peter, your stories in this post, give insight into everyone’s personality. Everyone was affected by the many years of war and the subsequent hardships. So glad they could visit your father and his wife.The good, bad, and ugly, in each one of us gets revealed inside the family.

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  5. I’m so glad you were able to reconnect with your father: not just seeing him again, but having a real “father/son” relationship that was so good for both of you. I understand why he was angry for your sister’s remark, and hope she understood it too. That’s a valuable lesson and one we could all take to heart….show others the respect they deserve!

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    • In my days in Germany, status was very important. I had an aunt who would ask when someone would enter her home if the person had senior matriculation. My choice of my wife was very acceptable as she had a high school diplama. But that was more than 50years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The status system in Germany as I recall it was like a pyramid with the professionals at the top, the skilled workers in the middle and the unskilled guest workers from other countries at the bottom.


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