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Guest Opinion

Dad frequently saw Trappe Family Singers on the trolley in Philly


I very much enjoyed reading Jean Rollo’s article and photo from the Doylestown Historical Society archival records about the Trappe Family Singers who performed a Christmas concert in December 1941 at Aldie.

Quite interesting to learn of the many carols the family sang, as well the various musical instruments they played as accompaniment.

Always enjoyed my dear father, Raymond Young Allen, who was born in 1916 and grew up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. He rode the trolley all around the city.

One day, as he recalled, it must have been in the early 1940s, he told us, “I saw these young people board as a group. A happy, smiling group, and a chaplain with them, dressed in black wearing a soft pastor’s hat, and the group, all dressed in native Tyrol/Bavarian style dresses. They were carrying guitars and recorders and they all moved to the rear of the trolley.”

Dad went on to say although he then was only a young man in his mid-20s, he said he didn’t know what to make of this large group, in their different dress but, he said, they were very polite in their manner and conversation.

Dad said he was to learn a short time later the story of this well-to-do family that escaped Nazi occupation of Austria, arrived in this country from Europe virtually penniless after having their assets frozen in Europe and began performing concerts throughout the U.S. to make their living.

Dad, in his remembrances, continued by saying the Von Trappes apparently were given refuge in Mt. Airy where his family also resided.

Dad said the Von Trappes resided on an estate just a few streets above his family’s home on the west side of town. So they would get off the streetcar a few blocks past his trolley stop, and he saw them on the streetcar at least four times after that first day.

“And to think,” he’s say, “it would be in the fall of 1959 when your mother and I would see the actress Mary Martin portray Maria Von Trapp and Theodore Bikel portraying Captain Von Trapp in the original Broadway musical, ‘The Sound of Music’.”

Holly Allen Homka lives in Perkasie.

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