Aug 28, 2007

The King has Abdicated

In 1958 my father had a food stand at the fair. It took him about an hour to realize you can not sell hot dogs in the King's back yard; Yocco, the hot dog king. When Yocco's claimed last year they were not at the fair because their canvas ripped, I was skeptical. This year its official, they have abdicated their spot. Tonight the fair was jammed. In Ag Hall the granges still compete in vegetable canning. A wiseguy still incites you to dunk him. The world's smallest horse hasn't grown. Maybe Yocco's is gone, but the fair is still much more like 1958 than any other aspect of Allentown.

Aug 24, 2007

The Mighty Atom

Years ago, at the Allentown Fair, as one would push through a sea of carney delusion, tucked back by the 4H animals, was an island of reality. There, in an old battered truck, an ancient Jewish strongman performed incredible feats of strength, to sell only homemade kosher soap. Standing on a platform on the rear of his truck, flanked by photographs from his performing youth, he would bent horse shoes and bite through nails. Many years earlier, my mother as a little girl in Bethlehem, saw him pull a truck uphill with his hair. Even as an old man, like a reincarnation of Samson, his grey hair was still long.
In the summers of 1964 and 1965, myself and a friend,(Fred Schoenk, retired Allentown art teacher) made and sold printed tee-shirts at the fair. We had the honor to know Joseph Greenstein(The Mighty Atom) and his wife. For those interested, there are various articles on the Mighty Atom and even at least one book. Enjoy the fair!

Aug 22, 2007

Mount Sinai Cemetery

Unknown to most people, contained within the sprawling Fairview Cemetery, is a small section with the oldest Jewish Burials in Lehigh Valley, called Mount Sinai. Fairview, along Lehigh St, is Allentown's most famous and now neglected cemetery. Among the notables buried there, is no less than Harry Trexler, whose largeness keeps bailing Allentown out, even 70 years after his death. Using diplomacy, not my forte, I have been trying to urge more upkeep for Mt. Sinai. Today, a letter to the editor laments the condition of the whole cemetery; perhaps this approach will be more successful. I urge everybody to take a stroll through history, the views of Allentown are among some of the best you can find.

UPDATE: I have reason to believe the Morning Call may shed some light on this problem. Perhaps, considering the enormity of the cemetery, certain area's may have to be" adopted" by interested parties for care. It seems that as old cemeteries fill up, and the descendants move away or die off, the perpetual care becomes problematic. This is certainly an historic, significant site for Allentown, hopefully the Community can respond.

Aug 9, 2007

Farr Road Fakers

For several months readers of the Morning Call have read articles and have been submitted to advertisements soliciting funds to purchase for preservation acreage "adjacent" to the Pool Wildlife Sanctuary. In reality this effort is an disingenuous attempt by several influential people to maintain the view from their houses. The land in question does not abut the Sanctuary or the Little Lehigh Creek, but is separated and isolated by Farr Road from both these entities. The land in question fronts on Cedar Crest Blvd. and is an island created by Farr Road both entering and exiting Cedar Crest in two spots about 1/2 mile apart, about two miles south of the hospital. The fakers claim "This land is a high-priority conservation area due to its location as part of the Little Lehigh corridor,its proximity to a high-quality cold-water fishery....." Ironically, the big-shots who have organized this effort, do live on the creek and adjoin the Sanctuary, perhaps they should protect the sensitive area and tear down their houses. Shame on both the newspaper and the Wildlands Conservancy for promoting this myth.

UPDATE: Apparently the newspaper doesn't have much shame; todays' editorial is entitled "A neighborly way to preserve land". It should be entitled, "Using our sway to help friends protect their view with public money." Among other distortions in the editorial, it suggests more houses would be built on Cedar Crest Blvd. I think it is far more likely any houses would be built closer to, and facing Farr Road, and so do the Farr Road Fakers. Below is my comment on the editorial.

"Perhaps it would be more genuine for the Morning Call to buy this land and protect the view for your influential friends on Farr Road, certainly 9 houses on 7 acres will not affect either water run off or traffic. Perhaps your former publisher, who is the current Art Museum Director, could discuss this issue when she visits Museum officials at their homes on Farr Road. The donations should be returned."

UPDATE 2: The Conservancy planned on asking Macungie Supervisors for the money to purchase the land. I was hoping the township had more consideration for their taxpayers than to spend money for this purpose; how wrong I was. It now turns out the supervisors are trying to shove more money in their pockets(Conservancy) than they ever hoped for. It turns out the Conservancy controls an easement on former land of Mary Leister that the Supervisors want for recreation. Below is my comment on the recent article.

"Mary Leister and Harvey Farr must be up in heaven shaking their heads. Down here on earth, Macungie officials are throwing taxpayer money around like water to circumvent everyone's original intentions. The township paid seven thousand an acre to make land for recreation that is deeded to remain agriculture. To make the deed restriction go away on that parcel, enforced by the Conservancy, their willing to donate over $125,000 an acre to the Conservancy to buy the Farr Land. Harvey Farr probably would have donated it, had they asked."