May 13, 2008

My Grandfather's Horse

My grandfather lived on the corner of Chew and Jordan Streets. He butchered in a barn behind the house. For the sake of the vegans I'll spare the details, but suffice to say it wasn't for sissies. The house is still there, 301 Jordan, the barn is gone. He would deliver the meat with a horse and wagon. On the weekends, when the family wanted to visit friends, the horse insisted on doing the meat market route first. Only after he stopped in front of the last market on the route, would he permit my grandfather to direct him.
I managed rental properties between 4th and 12th Streets. Collecting rents or throwing people out is not for sissies. I developed a route between the buildings, utilizing many alleys because of the one way streets. While on my route, I got to know many people living in Allentown, and the circumstances of the different neighborhoods. I would often take pictures of people and things I considered photographic. Although I no longer have the managing job, like my grandfather's horse, I continue on the route. But things have changed, I now keep my car door locked. Not only don't I take photographs anymore, even making eye contact is uncomfortable. The streets are mean and the people are hard. Don't blame me, as an agent I always put the neighbors comfort ahead of finding tenants. Don't blame me, as a citizen I ran for office* and bluntly said what needed to be done.



Bernie O'Hare said...

Michael, This might be one of your finest posts ever. And from a horse's ass to an old horse, congrats on one year in the blogosphere.

Katie Bee said...

Did the horse stay in the same barn that was used for butchering?

Anonymous said...


Only when you walk these streets can you feel the fear and desperation. The changes down there are remarkable yet no one “officially” speaks of it. One might think the “Call” would care as they are surrounded by the crime and blight but they have their own reasons to stay mum. Integrity? Hardly.

Scott Armstrong

Mrs. Dottie said...


I enjoy your stories, they are unique. Please post some of your photos.

Anonymous said...

Speaking from a constant "street-walker's" point of view, I have to agree, times are hard and many people are desperate. I blog on the MCALL, at times, (Call me Benedict Arnold, if you must) and have learned that once upon a time that crime in Allentown was almost non-existent and there were several PROUD and self-sufficient communities. Unfortunately, time, people, and attitudes have changed. You mentioned how you no longer take photographs or barely communicate with the people in the area. Perhaps you should. I have been doing a daily walk from 3rd and Hamilton to Cedar Beach Park (Rose Garden) and I have photographed and encountered several interesting people and events.(I am adding a new column to my e-newsletter called URBAN WALKER.) I also walk to Best Buy from 3rd and Hamilton cutting down 6th Street to Sumner and up to 7th/145; again, it is a wonderful walk and you will encounter some cool people. I am NOT saying at all, that Allentown does not have its issues/problems/blight/etc, but what I AM saying is to take a second look . Look forward, instead of back and see the NEW inhabitants as they are; people with different cultures, expressions, ideals, etc and let's see if we can reach out to them and get to the core of the problem and see if we can prevent some of the craziness in A-town. This is NOT a pie-in -the sky solution, but if we continue to just walk by each other with lowered heads and drive by each other with locked car doors, NOTHING will ever be accomplished.


michael molovinsky said...

alfonso, i have a confession to make. sometimes i resort to figures of speech and literary devices. although the story about my grandfather is true, it was long before my time. i still interact with people, walk the streets and take photographs. katie bee, the horse sleep in the house, my grandmother sleep in the barn.