Associated Press vs. Maria Von Trapp

Maria von Trapp photo

buzzard[1]When I was a teenager in the 1960’s, five of us (3 guys and 2 girls) decided to take in a movie in the next town over.  We drove over to see the “Sound of Music”.  Personally, I fell in love with it, even though the story was somewhat Americanized, because I was born in Austria in 1951.

To this day, I still love the songs written for the movie because I was also a musician.  Having said all this, I guess I have a bone to pick with the Associated Press (AP).  In my newspaper, there was a two-sentence blurb, entitled, “Maria von Trapp, 99, dies in Vt.”.

I thought, oh, wow, what a sad note, until I said to myself, wait, Maria died in 1987.  What is this an act of reincarnation and death all over again?  Well, I had to take a closer look at this unspecified and unexplainable news article.

The “real” Maria was Maria Augusta Kutschera, who was born in 1905 on a train traveling to Vienna, Austria.  With the mother dying when Maria was two, her father left her with a cousin whose lifestyle was very strict.  In truth, Maria was a socialist and an atheist until she heard a Jesuit priest give a sermon.  Later, after speaking to him in a meeting, she changed her beliefs and eventually joined a convent.

The life in the convent was not conducive to her health.  A doctor had diagnosed that Maria’s health was failing because she was no longer outdoors and was without fresh air.  The decision was to let Maria go, and she was sent to the residence of retired Navy Captain Georg von Trapp.

The real story was Maria wasn’t a governess, but specifically hired for the Captain’s daughter who was bedridden with rheumatic fever.  I guess the story is now history when she married the captain in 1927.

With this historical fact out-of-the-way, there was another Maria von Trapp that AP did not make clear in their blurb.  The real Maria (by marriage) was the stepmother of the Captain’s 3rd oldest daughter Maria, depicted in the movie as “Louisa”.  Since the daughter, Maria, never married, there seems to be some confusion on who died when.  So the article was conveying the death of Maria von Trapp, the daughter, who died at the age of 99, and she was the last surviving child of the original seven children of the von Trapp family.

If you want more information on the “child” Maria, you can look her up online.  She was an energetic, kind individual and accomplished much in her life.

There are descendants of the von Trapp family who are still involved with the ski lodge, restaurant, and other aspects of the von Trapp family history in Stowe, Vermont, since they opened the lodge in the 1940’s.  You can check out their website online and think about visiting since it probably still has snow.  I’ve skied Stowe Mountain in my youth and it was a great experience.

Now if only the AP can get their information straight and not confuse the populace.  Luckily, I had some knowledge of this misrepresentation.