Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Back Story

Guest blog by my brother Tim.  He is in the TBA Theater production of The Sound of Music, which is now playing in Anchorage, Alaska.  He is the only human member of the Trio of the saengerbund of Herwegen.  (He was the only one to be cast as a trio member, expecting to fill the other two parts of the trio at a later date.  They must have been impressed by his handmade puppets -- stand-in trio members he created to use during the rehearsals -- and decided that they didn't need to fill the parts with humans.)

   My name is Luigi and I am the founding member of the Trio of the saengerbund of Herwegen, and this is my story.  
   My father was a Sicilian stone mason and my mother was a young maiden in our home town of Valduz Switzerland.  Valduz is the capitol of the Principality of Liechtenstein.  My father, also Luigi, had come to Switzerland to do some repair work on mad Ludwig’s castle, Neuschwanstein.  As luck would have it the castle is in Germany.  
   Father stayed in Valduz since that is where he met and married my mother, Gretel.  It was just as well as he had no real talent as a stone mason, but could whittle like a machine.  He soon worked himself up to cuckoo clocks.  Father wanted me to go into the cuckoo clock business with him, but I never got beyond whittling the pine cones on the bottom of the winding chains.  We fought about it all the time which took days on account of my stutter.  Father fought because he was Sicilian.  Mother never took my side because she was Swiss.  
   And that’s when I got a goat.  Lloyd.  Some guy showed up at the house one day and brought a goat.  He had heard the yelling from up on the mountain and thought a goat would calm us down.  Personally I think he was just lonely and wanted company.  Besides, Lloyd suffered from occasional vertigo.  Lloyd went everywhere with me, but when anything startled him he fell over.  Between my stutter and his running into everything, we just didn’t fit in so sometimes we would go up the mountain for a yodel.  Yodeling was the only time I didn’t stutter.  I was the mystery yodeler in our town, but back then every town had one.
   On one fateful day I found a perfect little precipice and yodeled as loud as I could.  I was almost to the big finish when Lloyd’s vertigo kicked in.  I never saw him coming.  He rammed me from behind knocking me clean off the mountain mid yodel.  That was the day that changed everything.  
   Over the next three months I learned to yodel without moving my lips as my jaw was wired shut.  In those months I had a dream that grew and grew until I knew where my future lay.  Puppets.  What I didn’t know at the time was that the fall mid yodel fixed my stuttering and my hump, but that’s a different story.  
   Once I healed, I set to whittling the finest puppet I could.  It took two years to finally have a puppet I could be proud of.  I named him Hans.  Hans and I took to the road singing and yodeling.  The problem was there were so many yodeling puppets on the circuit that we weren’t making any headway.  So I made a second puppet and named him Feet.  That way everyone would say well there’s Luigi with Hans and Feet.  And Feet did the trick.   
   We became regional favorites and would travel from town to town.  Lloyd hated traveling.  He couldn’t go back to the mountain because of his vertigo so papa sent him to live with his family in Polermo.  It took twelve long years but finally Hans and Feet and I took first place at the saengerbund of Herwegen.  
   It has been a long hard road and we owe all our successes to a goat named Lloyd who has vertigo and lives in Polermo.

Photo: Hans in his rehearsal costume (the original hand-made puppet)

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