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Excerpt From "Memories Before and After 'The Sound of Music'"

One day Papa asked me into his study. He sat down on the sofa, and I sat in a chair next to him. He asked, "Do you think I should marry Gustl? You know, she's quite pretty." I remember the exact words of my answer to Papa: "I think if it is the will of God, then you should marry her." At the age of fourteen this was not my usual way of thinking, but the words just flowed out.

On Nov. 27, 1927, Papa married Gustl in the Church of the Nonnberg Abbey. Now Papa had a second wife, and we seven had a second mother. Immediately after the wedding, the question arose of how we should address her as our new mother. Gustl sensed this delicate question had to be settled. She said to us, "Why don't you call me 'Mother'? That distinguishes me from your real mother, and at the same time, it is appropriate because I am now your mother."

We did not realize then that we would be cemented together with this new mother for the next 29 years in a musical adventure that would save us from the terrifying upheaval of World War II and would take us across the ocean to a new continent, which was to become our new home: America.

Gustl was 22 years of age and Papa was 47 when she married into our family. She was only six years older than Rupert, the oldest son, and eight years older than I. She was young and full of energy. She perceived our well-regulated daily routine as boring and lifeless and wanted to bring fun and more pleasant activities into our lives. During the years that followed the wedding, our new mother made many changes in our family. She was fond of volleyball, so we played with her for hours. I hated volleyball! She loved mountain climbing, so the whole family went mountain climbing in the summer and during the school year.

These were only the first changes introduced by our new mother. Before us lay dramatic changes that neither she, nor Papa, nor any of us could foresee.

From the book Memories Before and After The Sound Of Music: An Autobiography by Agathe von Trapp. Copyright © 2010 by Agathe von Trapp. Reprinted by permission of Harper Paperbacks, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Read an interview with Agathe von Trapp.