Alvah O. Schaeffer, a German musician, loved to play Irish songs for his friend Tommy C. Hannahoe, the”Mayor of Irishtown”. Tommy owned the Stars & Stripes Hotel, a saloon located on 514 S. 11th Street.
Longtime friends despite their cultural differences, Tommy and Alvah agreed that: “If Tommy dies first, Alvah would play music at his grave each St. Patrick’s night. Should Alvah go first, Tommy would keep Alvah’s grave green forever.”
Tommy died first on February 10, 1897 of typhoid pneumonia. Alvah kept his promise to Tommy and played “Lass O’ Galway” and “Nearer My God to Thee” over his friend’s grave that year.
Alvah never forgot his pact with Tommy. Nor did he let a St. Patrick’s Day go by without visiting his grave. Alvah continued this tryst until the day he died on March 10, 1947 at the age of 81. Alvah was buried a week later on St. Patrick’s Day in St. Peter’s Cemetery in East Reading on Nanny Goat Hill.
The tradition continues today with Tommy’s great, great-grandson, Corey Hannahoe. Click here to learn more this local St. Patrick’s tradition.
Reference: Passing Scene Vol. 1, pgs. 169-178
Researched & Written by Volunteer & Historian Corrie Crupi