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by Christie Findlay, AARP Bulletin, October 28, 2010
Fiction: Georg von Trapp summoned the children and staff with a whistle.
Fact: Georg von Trapp summoned his children with a boatswain's whistle because it was the best way for them to hear him in their large house. "Each one of us had a certain signal, and Papa had a special signal when he called us all together," Agathe von Trapp wrote in her book. "We loved our signals. Perhaps some of us even imagined we were sailors on Papa's ship." He never summoned staff with a whistle.
Fiction: His children called him "Captain."
Fact: Although Agathe dedicated her book to "my father, the Captain," she says the children called him Papa. Only the house staff called him Captain.
Fiction: The von Trapp's family's stepmother was named Maria.
Fact: Her name was Maria Augusta Kutschera, but everybody called her Gustl.
Fiction: The nun who became their stepmother was initially the children's governess.
Fact: She was the tutor of one of the daughters who was too weak from scarlet fever to handle the 45-minute walk to and from school.
Fiction: The names of the von Trapp children in the movie are: Liesl, Louisa, Friedrich, Kurt, Gretel, Brigitta, Marta, Gretl.
Fact: The names of the real von Trapp children are: Agathe, Rupert, Maria, Werner, Johanna, Martina and Hedwig.
Fiction: The family sang cheery, popular songs like "My Favorite Things" and "Sixteen Going on Seventeen."
Fact: The family actually sang sacred music and madrigals, and sang along with recorder selections, plus folk songs from the region where they were performing that day.
Fiction: The family fled from the Nazis over the Swiss mountains.
Fact: They took the train to Italy. All they had to do was walk to the train station!
Christie Findlay lives in Virginia.
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