W. Lester Trauch – 1

Interviewee:  Lester Trauch
Date of birth/age at interview:  August 26, 1906/70
Interviewer:  Florence Schaffhausen
Interview date:  September 2, 1976
Interview location:  unknown, possibly the newspaper offices
Interview length:  1 hour, 3 minutes
Time span discussed:  1916 to 1945

Summary:  This is a wide-ranging, detailed interview covering specific events in and around Doylestown, PA. World War I, the Depression, school-days experiences, religion and funeral practices before automobiles, and theater experiences in Bucks County are among the clear memories related in this hour. Mr. Trauch’s history as a reporter comes through in his memories and eye for detail.


Time markers:
00:00 – seeing off Doylestown’s “Company G” at the train station during World War I, people singing, shouting, and crying
03:21 – post offices named for some who died
04:20 – Depression; after graduation from college in 1929 looking for a job, salaries
08:16 – friends who lost all in the Depression, people in Doylestown without work spent days in courthouse for “entertainment”
11:40 – farms sold at sheriff sales, protests in Doylestown; May Day parades lead by “communists”
13:22 – eating pigeons to eat. Doylestown Welfare Council supported by local groups, job distribution meeting each week to share out odd jobs to the unemployed
15:18 – story of Mrs. Donovan who cooked for families
16:27 – holiday gift baskets given to needy, helping each other, sharing; barter for food
18:30 – two-room school for all 8 grades in Bedminster, walking and hitching a ride with the baker’s wagon
20:25 – toll roads, 2 to 3 cents per wagon, most gone about 1912
22:40 – story about driving the baker’s wagon
24:29 – many people spoke “Dutch” (German)
26:04 – big bakeries caused father’s baking supply business to fail in the 1920s
27:17 – farms in Bedminster area before 1930s
28:14 – deeply religious area; story of funerals
31:43 – Mennonites and Lutherans; his family’s religion and political leanings
31:23 – suicide of local man; Mennonite funeral
32:27 – comparison of Mennonites and Lutherans
33:20 – story of rich, educated local family in the church
35:10 – Sundays church by horse and carriage or sled
37:49 – first radio in 1926 or 1927, operated on “storage batteries,” story about blowing out radio tubes
40:28 – Bedminster cow sale on Friday, story about riding the cows to new home
42:18 – Doylestown High School, trolley and other transportation to school
46:47 – Keller’s store in Bedminster largest in Bucks County; Bedminster has all requirements for living, chain stores came in, mills left, no industry base
50:50 – interest in theater beginning 1920s in Atlantic City, small towns had stock companies, saw famous actors like Humphrey Bogart, Florence Reed, Frederick March, Bette Davis
53:42 – acted as extra during Muhlenberg College days, went to speakeasy with actors, drank awful prohibition beer; no talent or drive to become actor; stories of plays and actors

W. Lester Trauch interview 2.
W. Lester Trauch interview 3.

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