Looking to volunteer? Help older taxpayers get the credits and refunds they deserve. Learn more.
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.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Featured AARP Member Benefits
See All >
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
You'll start receiving the latest news, benefits, events, and programs related to AARP's mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age.
You can also manage your communication preferences by updating your account at anytime. You will be asked to register or log in.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at