W. Lester Trauch – 3

Interviewee:  Lester Trauch
Date of birth/age at interview:  August 26, 1906/69
Interviewer:  Kate Renninger
Interview date:  August 17, 1976
Interview location:  unknown
Interview length:  1 hour, 2 minutes
Time span discussed:  1920s through 1976

Summary:  Lester, a long term reporter and observer of the Bucks County arts scene is interviewed by a noted artist, Kate Renninger. Unfortunately the interview has two flaws: the sound quality is very poor for most of the interview and it is almost impossible to understand the interviewer’s questions and many of the names she or Lester mention. Further, the style of the interview is based on Lester commenting on the artist’s names he knows. This is not successful in total as he did not really know many of the artists very well and those he knew he only offers brief insights. Three insights make the interview worth keeping, primarily for the researcher: the comments on Pearl Buck who he seemed to know well; comments on James Gould Cozzens, author, and several insights into discrimination in Bucks County before World War II.


Time markers:
00:00 – (parts indistinct) question about earliest awareness of the arts in Bucks County
00:48 – always conscious of the art scene, visited Phillips’ Mill art shows, took  friends to Font Hill and New Hope; artists part of community, painting outside
04:32 – shops in New Hope after World War II; no nice restaurant in the 1930s, only hotel in Doylestown
06:30 – Dr. Henry Mercer, preferred being alone; stories of housekeeper Mrs. Swain, Fonthill and Mercer Museum
10:40 – George Sotter, a quiet, soft-spoken man, John FolinsbeeWilliam Francis Taylor
15:48 – Edward Redfield
17:57 – some female painters, Elizabeth Price, Fern Coppedge
18:12 – New Hope in pre-war days very different, artistic village
20:43 – Folinsbee, strong despite polio, Emily Leith-Ross requesting Trauch not mention polio in Folinsbee obituary; Folinsbee at 1939 Playhouse in wheelchair
22:55 – story of Ruth Folinsbee’s participation in anti-discrimination efforts in Levittown; discrimination in Bucks County in the 1920s and 1930s, barriers dropped in the 1970s
28:42 – newspapers and citizens paying attention to local culture; story of Mercer Museum concrete building
30:50 – prominent citizens and artists, little clarity
37:43 – Philadelphia newspapers only covered Bucks for sensationalism
40:49 – Pearl Buck stories
47:30 – many stories of James Gould Cozzens, lived on Lambertville’s Goat Hill
54:33 – Margaret Mead and James A. Michener, most famous Doylestown High School graduates; Charles Hargens and other names mentioned with few comments

W. Lester Trauch interview 1.
W. Lester Trauch interview 2.

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