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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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The sites of The Sound of Music

Uploaded: Jan 8, 2014

We packed in a lot of magic on our family winter vacation to Germany and Austria. Highlights included the festive Christmas markets, castles, palaces, medieval walled villages, fortresses, and museums. An unexpected highlight was a tour of the filming locations in Salzburg for the movie, The Sound of Music.

The Sound of Music is a fictionalized version of the life of Maria von Trapp, who fled with her family to the US from Austria during World War II. Although the movie has been enormously popular in the US for almost 50 years, neither the movie nor the songs are widely known in Austria. As a 20 year old studying abroad and backpacking through Europe, I was not interested in such a "touristy" activity, but as an adult the story resonates with me as a much beloved part of my childhood. As the spouse of an immigrant, I am also drawn to the stories behind the decision to start a new life in a new country.

Much of the tour was spent on educating us on what in the movie was fact versus fiction. Nonetheless, I found myself surprisingly engaged as we visited the convent where Maria was a postulant (fact), and stood on the cobblestone lane outside the convent gates where the wily nuns sabotaged the Nazis' car (fiction). We also visited the small Abbey church where the von Trapps were married in real life, and the ornate baroque church used in the film. We drove in awe through the snow-capped peaks and glacial lakes surrounding Salzburg and imitated Maria's guitar swinging skip down a tree laned avenue (fiction).

Retracing Maria's steps in Salzburg reminded me of how much I loved the movie growing up. In those pre-video days, once a year we were delighted to watch the movie on TV. Even on a black and white 12" screen, the movie was mesmerizing with mischievous kids, romance, danger, and excitement. We listened to the record endlessly. I still know every verse to every song with Do Re Mi being the first song I ever picked out on the piano. The kids in our neighborhood would regularly act out the musical for our parents, using the slight rise in front of our house to re-enact the climactic scene of the family hiking over the mountains to Switzerland to escape the Nazis.

On the tour we were reminded that the mountains around Salzburg border Germany, not Switzerland. The von Trapp family actually traveled by train to Italy, and the Nazis were not in hot pursuit. And yet, despite the geographical impossibility and the Hollywood created drama of their escape, I was very moved by the von Trapp family's story and their departure from Salzburg. They left behind their home in a beautiful and historic city carrying only a knapsack each, not knowing if they would ever return. It made me think about my husband leaving his home during a war with a suitcase, a little money, and the opportunity of a scholarship for graduate studies. As good as life turned out in the US for both the von Trapps and my husband, it is a huge sacrifice to leave a culture, family and mother tongue behind, despite the gratitude one has for the life one makes here.

As a country of immigrants, most of us have someone in our past who made that difficult decision and sacrifice. Their story might lack the Hollywood drama of escaping the Nazis, but each of them undoubtedly climbed a mountain in making their way here.
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Posted by PR, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Beautifully said! Thank you, Sally!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thanks PR!

Posted by Kirsten, a resident of Community Center,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 8:36 am

Thanks Sally for helping us appreciate how lucky we are to lively freely in out town.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 9:05 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi Kirsten,
Thanks for reading and commenting. It is something I don't want to ever take for granted!

Posted by Rita, a resident of Walter Hays School,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 10:51 am

Hi Sally,

What a wonderful post! I, like you, grew up watching the Sound of Music every year. Two years ago I also enjoyed the tour in Salzburg with one of my daughters. You describe my feeling about the tour so wonderfully. Being a fan of the original Sound of Music, made it very hard for me to watch the recent "live TV production" with Carrie Underwood as Marie. Trying to turn the original performance into a live show must have been difficult, and although I understand from a ratings perspective the show did very well, I had a very hard time watching it. The acting was sub-par, but then again who can top Julie Andrews and the Captain, and I especially disliked how they changed some songs for certain scenes, like the first bedroom scene. One of my favorites scenes and they changed the music. As much as I disliked the performance, I still had to watch to the end, which says a lot about how well loved the original show was.

Posted by Maria, a resident of University South,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 11:11 am

Amazing to realize that such a movie touch the lives of so many people around the world, me too an immigrant who sees the vast excellent opportunities for my family in this country!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 11:29 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi Rita,
Thanks so much for reading and commenting! It is great to hear from someone else who enjoyed seeing the sights in Salzburg. I missed the recent live television broadcast of the stage production, but apparently it had an extraordinary high number of viewers,so it is clear the story still speaks to many people. I'll make an effort to see it, knowing not to expect stellar acting performances. I expect the singing was good, though?

Thanks, Maria, for reading and commenting! Folks like you who settle in the US by choice give a much needed perspective.

Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Great Fact v Fiction in Salzburg! Thank you, Sally!

?Do Re Mi? could be a blog in itself. It must rank up there with ?You are My Sunshine? as one of the songs we will all remember when our brains are riddled with Alzheimer?s.

The first time I heard Do Re Mi was when I was five or six years old on a visit to Aunt Emy. She played an LP of what was probably the Broadway soundtrack since the movie hadn?t come out at that point. (I am that old . . . the Broadway production was 1959.)

Do Re Mi and You Are My Sunshine. Forever!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi LJ,
Yes, I remember, the Broadway LP had Mary Martin on the cover! I am sure she was also wonderful in the role of Maria. I think you're right, those songs are permanently imbedded in our brains!

Posted by Blh, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jan 10, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Annually, the Castro theater shows the movie as a sing a long. Words on the bottom of the screen, costume contest, lots of audience participation, great fun! Let's go together next time!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Dear Blh,
Sounds like a blast, count me in!

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Jan 14, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Sally - the Retrodome in San Jose has a Sound of Music Singalong over the holidays. We went, and it was a blast! People of all ages singing along to their favorite songs. Parking was a snap, we had discount tickets from Goldstar, and everyone loved it. It was a fun, affordable way to celebrate the holidays.

Retrodome will stay for awhile in San Jose, featuring singalongs and quotealongs, movies for families, kids and adults.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Dear Hmmm,
Thanks for the tip! I went to the Retro Dome website. Their operations have ceased at the San Jose venue, but they are looking for another venue to continue programming. I signed up for the email list and hope to participate soon! Here is the link.

Posted by Debbie, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 14, 2014 at 7:06 pm

You've inspired me to watch the movie again!

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Jan 15, 2014 at 10:53 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

Sally - how weird! I received an email saying that they were continuing in SJ. I shall investigate and post my findings! Not the same as your wonderful trip to Europe, but still a fun time :-)

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 15, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi Hmmm,
I just got the email. Retro Dome is up and running, but the website is not updated yet. The schedule looks great, wonderful family entertainment. I look forward to taking my kids, and commemorating our Salzburg visit with the Sound of Music sing-a-long next winter!

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Jan 17, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Sally - here is the updated schedule for The Retrodome: Web Link

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thank you!

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