Thursday, September 9, 2010

Random Encounters

It’s funny, what triggers the memories. I was on a walk this evening, and passed by a house with a refurbished 1974 Karmann Ghia for sale in the driveway. This is not a car you see very often. It made me think of Mutter, who was known for speeding around Stowe in her blue convertible Karmann Ghia, which, if I recall correctly, she eventually wrecked, breaking her leg for her efforts. It also made me think of a story.

We were still living in Bolton, Massachusetts, and had just hired Curt Plante to do some major renovation on our house. Through the process, we became friends with Curt and his wife, Holly. For my birthday, Curt presented me with a birthday card with three photos inside; two of the old Lodge from before the fire and one of Mutter at the wheel of the aforementioned Karmann Ghia. Turns out Curt’s mother had visited the Trapp Family Lodge back in the early 70’s and had taken these pictures. Although I had dozens of photos of the new Lodge, I had very few of the old Lodge, so getting these meant a lot. Encounters like this is what’s cool about being a von Trapp.

Mutter (Maria) in her Karmann Ghia in front of the Old Lodge

Old Lodge in Summer

Old Lodge in winter.

That reminds me of a more recent one: I was shopping at the Dress Barn, and when I made my purchase and handed over my credit card, the store associate did the classic and well recognized double take. Wait for it, wait for it, I told myself, expecting the usual Sound of Music reference. What came next surprised me; it doesn’t happen often out here in Arizona. “von Trapp. Of THE von Trapps….. The ones who own the Lodge in Stowe, Vermont? I grew up in St. Albans.” These are the connections I warm up to right away. She looked to be about my age, so I asked, “Really? Do you know the Walsh’s in St. Albans?” (My friend, Katie Walsh Lizewski, grew up in St. Albans, which is not a large city by most standards. She comes from a family of 10, so the likelihood of this woman knowing was good.) She said she thought she knew a Sean Walsh. I’m pretty sure that’s Katie’s brother. I left the store feeling like I had run into an old friend. And as always, I marveled at the smallness of the world.


  1. This is my first comment after months of intense blog-following, and wow, I guess the picture of 'Mutter' driving never actually crossed my mind, let alone it being such a great car! Too bad she wrecked it, and even injured herself in the process.. Maybe she wasn't such a terrific driver after all.

    I never saw pictures of the Old Lodg before, just a few glimpses here and there. It sure was the perfect combination of Vermont rural architecture and a certain Austrian taste - by the way, wooden architecture is not uncommon in Austria at all -. Such a lovely memory, thank-you for sharing it with us, Françoise!

  2. Fabio -
    It is quite a picture, isn't it? She wasn't a good driver, and it wasn't her only fender bender. She was notorious in Stowe for her lead foot!

    I agree,the old lodge is reminiscent of the Austrian block houses and those you see in Bavaria. It's one of the reasons i feel so at home when I'm visiting there.

  3. It's not quite surprising the Lodge became so popular among snow.sports lovers, when you think about it. Apart from T.Family Choir and Sound of Music references, it offered the perfect Alpine experience just as skiing was getting more and more popoular in the US, and what more could be asked?

    I really don't know if it was a success since the opening of the business, but it definitely seems a perfect timing, the right thing at the right time.

  4. My Dad, who passed away in 1987, and Stepmother made several visits to the old lodge in the late 70s, after they were married. He used to laugh about Maria and the way she tore up the driveway to the lodge in her "sports car". It's really, really gratifying to be able to close the loop on Dad's story; to see Maria in the car, and hear similar stories about her driving habits from others!

    I'm 48, and my teenage son loves the Von Trapp family a lodge visit in the heart of the winter is going to have to come full circle for our family.

    God bless the von Trapps, and God bless Dad.

    Warm Personal Regards,

  5. Wow can't believe my brother inlaw came across this. I am one of Katie L's brothers, Michael, my wife and I were married at the lodge in April 1997. Our family also celebrated our parents 50th wedding anniversary there. Trapp family lodge is a very special place to us all. (Sean is Katie's nephew)

  6. Hi Mike - I'm sure we've met one of the times I went with her to your parents house in St. Albans. Is Sean your son? Glad to hear from you and please say hi to Katie for me!