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Two Austrian Gentlemen

10 Mar
Herr Marbler's craft

Herr Marbler’s craft

In Herr Marbler's workshop

In Herr Marbler’s workshop

Herr Franz Kücher and his wife in their lovely home in Salzburg

Herr Franz Kücher and his wife in their lovely home in Salzburg

Two Austrian Gentlemen

Herr Karl Marbler, der Würzelschnitzer (Wood Carver) of St. Wolfgang

Lately I’ve been sifting through old photos of my previous European travels, and I came across several that stood out from the last trip I made in 1975. Once again I was in Austria.  Through a mixup I did not stay with my previous host family.  When we arrived at the Bahnhof in Salzburg, a man with an artificial leg pushing a bicycle approached us. He flashed a huge smile and queried “Room?” which actually came out sounding like “RRüüümm?” We, that was my boyfriend and I, shook our heads “Ja!”, and he motioned for us to follow him.  Outside of the station we marveled as he balanced a suitcase on the handlebars and went pedaling ahead of us.  We made our way slowly to the Salzach and across to a lovely quiet section of Salzburg.  Here Franz Kücher and his  wife ran a pension or bed and breakfast.  They saw us nicely settled in our second floor room.  It was so homey and there were geraniums in flowerboxes.  We learned that this wonderful man with the smile of the century had actually fought for the Germans in the Luftwaffe in World War II.  That is where he had lost his leg. I found it difficult to fathom that this man had been our enemy, because he was so friendly and hospitable.  How could he be anyone’s enemy? I have thought of the Kücher’s from time to time over the years. By now they are long gone from this earth, but the impression that they have left is enduring. It is people like them that make me have such a special place in my heart for Salzburg.

During our stay in Salzburg in 1975 we made excursions outside the city.  A bus ride took us to the beautiful Salzkammergut region where we then boarded a steamer on the Wolfgangsee. The water mirrored the blue of the sky on a perfectly sunny summer day. The surrounding mountains had dips and slopes evocative of musical phrases, hence “the hills are alive with the…”. Across the lake in St. Wolfgang we meandered along the water until we found a bathing spot and spent a very relaxing couple of hours dipping and sunning.  Afterward we walked further enticed by signs for “Der Würzelschnitzer” and we decided to check it out.  It was quite a walk out of town, but finally we found the wood carver’s shop and delighted in looking around at his handiwork, which included entire trees and stumps carved into fantastic and humorous “tree people” with eyes and noses and mouths.  The trees seemed alive indeed.  We made some small souvenir purchases and then realized that we were very far from the bus station in St. Gilgen and probably wouldn’t make it back even if we ran.  Well, Herr Marbler would not let that happen.  He closed his shop and drove us all the way around the lake back to the bus station, where we arrived on time.  What a gentleman!  Once more I was impressed by the way the Austrians went out of their way to be helpful and accommodating.  Gemütlichkeit!  Herr Marbler and I have shared Christmas greetings over the years, and if I’m lucky, I will once again visit his workshop near the shores of the Wolfgangsee. The accompanying photos are out of order, but you can figure it out.

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3 Responses to “Two Austrian Gentlemen”

  1. photographymemoirs March 10, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    What an absolutely beautiful story, so endearing and full of sentiment. This would have to be one of the most beautiful posts that I have ever read; thank you dearly for sharing this amazing experience. By the way my grandparents fought for the allies during World War 2 and I have to say that they never had any bad words to say about the Germans. My experience is that the German people of Europe are some of the most lovely people that I have ever experienced. They value highly qualities of integrity, loyalty and above all honour. We have much more in common, if only we have the courage to see people for what they are. I’m very much looking forward to going back to Germany and Austria later this year. They are such beautiful countries with a rich history and vibrant cultural traditions, and the people are quite friendly.

  2. simon November 6, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

    Hey!

    Awesome post about my great-grandfather 🙂 i really had to laugh a lot about your really fitting description about him… For me it’s really amazing and surprising to find such great memories of other people about my great-grandparents on the internet.

    Greetings

    Simon Kücher

    • Rosemarie November 6, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

      Hello, Simon, Meeting your grandfather was one of the highlights of my trip to Austria and the entire European continent. I will always remember him fondly. That trip was in 1975 and I was in my mid-20’s. Now it is 2016, and you can tell how old I am now. I am glad that you found my post, and allowed me to revisit that special memory again. All the best to you, friend….

      Rosemarie

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