Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions ….and the answers

I’m sure that if you polled the members of my family, we’d all come up with similar lists of FAQs related to being a von Trapp. (In fact, if any of you are reading this, feel free to add to the list.) Here are some of my all time favorites, along with my standard answers.

Can you sing?
Almost always first out of the gate (after how are you related, but we’ve already covered that), this question has always been awkward for me to answer. I’m sure people are just asking for a yes or no, but I tend to over think these things. Are they asking if I sing professionally? In public? Can I carry a tune? Here’s my final answer. I can carry a tune, and I like to sing, but I’ve never had formal training and I get stage fright, so my public performances have never extended beyond high school chorus or church choir.

You mean the Sound of Music is about a real family?

This one is more frequent in recent years as the Sound of Music audience gets younger, or among people who are seeing the movie for the first time. This can also be geographical. People who live in New England tend to be more aware just because the Trapp Family Lodge is a well-known resort in that part of the world.

So Julie Andrews is your grandmother?

This is mostly asked by people who have difficulty separating fact from fiction. Hello? Julie Andrews was the ACTRESS playing a role? MARIA (the real one) was my grandmother, and if you want to get technical, she was really my step- grandmother. My father’s mother, Agathe, was my grandmother, but I never got to meet her since she died when my father was 13. In the photo here, Maria is standing between my maternal grandfather, J. Edward Lajoie and my mother's brother, Uncle Bob.

You mean Liesl is really a BOY?
My father was the oldest child of the original seven, and when I tell people this it really confuses them, because in the movie, Liesl, a girl, was the oldest. “So you mean Friedrich was your father?” Technically, I guess that’s right. They changed the names and the birth order so that they could have the romance between Liesl and Rolf.

Does the family still sing?

Sadly, no. They retired in 1956 and got on with their adult lives. People still tend to picture them as children, but those still living are all over 70 now. (In the photo here left, taken circa 1988, (Top row L-R) Rupert, Eleonore, Maria (the daughter), Johanna, Werner, (bottom row: Johannes and Rosemarie). Of those pictured here, only Eleonore, Maria, Johannes and Rosemarie are still living, as well as Agathe, who isn't shown.) Eleonore, Johannes and Rosemarie are the children of Maria and Georg. Of the original seven who passed away before this photo was taken are Martina and Hedwig.
However, my cousin, Elisabeth von Trapp, daughter of Werner (Kurt) has carried on the legacy, as have her brother Stefan’s children, Sofia, Amanda, Justin and Melanie, now well known as The von Trapp Children. They are amazing.

Do you get royalties?

Is that really any of your business? I didn’t think so. F.v.T.

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