36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 145: Vienna! Frohe Weihnachten—Merry Christmas!


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 145 — Vienna! Frohe Weihnachten—Merry Christmas!
25-December-1971 (Sat.)

Christmas market in Vienna Bernhard Vogl



Spent most of the day with Pavel and Lisa and Dolores. Very nice day. Christmas meal and some sightseeing. Lisa and Dolores are very nice and we have a good time. Pavel’s sister, Lisa, is a good-looking girl and I seem to be doing pretty well with her—???

La Traviata. So far, one of the better Verdi operas. A premiere. It was a really good performance and the singers were excellent. The tenor didn’t sound as well. It was still very enjoyable.


Christmas market in Vienna. The opening photo today is a still picture from a wonderful 360-degree panorama of Christmas in Vienna by photographer Bernhard Vogl from his website dativ.at. When you go to the picture at the website here, and if you have Quicktime (PC or Mac) and a fast Internet connection, you will be able to scroll your mouse over the picture to see a full 360-degree panorama. Breathtaking. So nice. I encourage all of you to visit Bernhard’s website to see many more wonderful photos and panoramas of Vienna. I should reference his site more often. This photo exemplifies the Christmas spirit that is found in Vienna. (Opening photo: © Bernhard Vogl; Website: www.dativ.at)

Back to 1971.

Votivkirche at night
1971 Vienna Christmas. Back from a wonderful skiing vacation in Innsbruck, I am enjoying a Viennese Christmas day with my roommate, Pavel, and his sister Lisa, and her friend Dolores. They have come to visit Pavel and spend a little time in Vienna. We are all enjoying the day, Christmas, a good meal, some sightseeing (Votivkirche, photo left), time together, and Vienna. Pavel is very happy to see his sister.

[If you remember, Pavel and I are living in the apartment of our hausfrau, Frau Pollack, not too far from the Votivkirche. We have very large, separate rooms. I like these rooms.]

John Casanova? I also appear to be happy to see Pavel’s sister. What’s happening with me lately? It sounds like I’m trying to pick up every good-looking girl. What about Elisabeth and Anjali? I still really like them. No! I never pick up girls. Really. It must be my new confidence, now that I am a world traveler of international fame. I’m just comfortable with people and always like meeting new people. It’s true to this day.

[I think that I actually still like all of the girlfriends that I have had my entire life. I never meet them and have no idea where they are, but I still like them, as good friends, and good memories. I do really like Anjali especially, and Elisabeth.]

I’m glad that Pavel, Lisa, Dolores, and I are enjoying this Viennese Christmas.

La Traviata. This opera by Guiseppe Verdi is one of the most popular operas of all time, a favorite. Tonight's performance provided a great ending to this Christmas day. As always, these Viennese performances are truly enjoyable. I will simply point you to the Wikipedia article for additional reading today. (What we all really want is to listen to audio excerpts.)

Christmas is about families and Christ. We celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas, and we celebrate our families, and especially young children. Although my stepchildren are now grown up, we all celebrated the holiday together yesterday, with a nice Christmas Eve dinner, the opening of presents, and midnight Mass at our church. So, on this special day, I would like to introduce to you my family and my brothers as we grew up.

Meet John’s family.
Meet the family. In the photo below, we have my beautiful wife Olga and her sons, Walter and Alex with their girlfriends. Walter and Alex have beautiful girlfriends, Maria and Marianna. My stepsons and their girlfriends (and all their friends) are so good looking. What do they feed these Ukrainians? From L-R: Alex, Marianna, Olga, Maria, and Walter.

Christmas family gathering

Below, you first see an old photo I found, of my brothers and I with our mother. I was the oldest, and counting down came brothers Michael, Steven, Frank, and Dennis. We are all separated now and don’t get to see each other often, but each brother is very special, with many special talents, and their wonderful families as well. Families often drift apart and ours is no exception. Hopefully, we'll try to communicate a bit more. The following photo of Dennis at age 8 rounds out the 5 boys. Dennis was a great kid, full of energy and always smiling.

Brothers and Mom

Brother Dennis at age 8

Our mother Olga, who raised us mostly by herself, died of breast cancer at an age much too young. That was over 25 years ago; it seems like yesterday. Although I did not realize it at the time, or express it to her at the time, I admired our mother greatly. Working full-time, raising 5 boys, keeping the household, and paying off a mortgage all by herself were monumental challenges that she met. I don't see how she did it. All the more credit to her. As always, you wish that you could have done more for your parent or parents when they were alive. It’s good to think of past loved ones at Christmas and other family holidays.

One day, I hope to have websites that will talk about people and families.

Next, we can't forget my mother-in-law, Olga's mom, Hanna. Here she is sandwiched in by Alex and Walter. Either they are tall, or she is short. Or both. Then, Olga and her mom.

Grandma with the kids

Olga and her mother Hanna

Let's get back to Alex and Walter and their beautiful girlfriends. I really like Maria and Marianna, and all of Alex's and Walter's friends as well. All of these young people are of good character, good natured, and good kids. They give generously at Christmas although we tell them not to. For these couple of photos, I did not get their permission. Let's see if they let me keep them up.

Walter and Maria

Alex and Marianna

We can't forget our dog, Beemer, who as you know, loves the snow. He's a bit fatter in 2007, just like his owner (me).

Beemer the snowhound

Here is my wife enjoying the beautiful environs of St. Barth's in the French Caribbean. We were invited down for a week by our wonderful friends Don and Yolanda at their beautiful villa. We don't travel that often and this vacation was a special treat. Thanks Don and Yolanda.

Olga in St Barths

Now, the old man and Olga.

John & Olga 2

Finally, when Walter visited his grandparents on their village farm in Ukraine, he brought back this picture. Ukrainian piggies.

Friendly piggies

Merry Christmas. Whatever your faith, I wish you all a wonderful, healthy, and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas everyone.


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