From my half-sister, Joan Meijer:
For some reason two separate Gonny and Paps stories have conjoined in my head in a way that always makes me laugh.
The first was a story Paps used to tell me about my great-grandmother Henrietta or Grossmutter. She came the Simon Bank banking family in Cologne. Grossvater (was it Isaac?) came from the Essen Bank, banking family. They had courted for a long time in letters, had met on a few occasions….when he proposed to her. She said yes and returned to Cologne where she learned that her father had offered Grossvater a sizable dowry – which he evidently had accepted. When she learned of the transaction she cancelled the wedding.
“If you don’t love me enough without the dowry then I will not marry you,” or something like that – she said.
He loved her enough, refused the dowry and they lived happily for many years.
Evidently Grossvater was proud of telling his children that if they weren’t wealthy enough it was all her fault.
Second story. The time was later when gossamer dresses were the order of the day, all frilly and feminine. They were in Germany and Paps had met a peddler on the street who was peddling a new invention, the zipper.
Paps was very excited by the invention, bought one, and hurried home with it.
“Mammy,” he said. “Look what I have found.”
I think he told her that he intended to get the patent and return with it to America where he would make a fortune. Anyway it was a big, clunky commercial thing and Gonny took one look at it, thought of her filmy gowns, and said – “Never work.”
Now really if we aren’t hugely wealthy, I don’t think it had anything to do with Henrietta’s dowry and everything to do with Gon’s pronouncement of “Never work.”