Sep 29, 2009

Simon Fearless Against Bomber

The 1941 June edition of Ring Magazine featured the Abe Simon vs Joe Louis fight in March. Editor-writer Nat Fleischer was in awe of Simon's courage against the unbeatable Brown Bomber. Fleischer wrote "They (fans) saw Abe Simon give the Bomber the greatest battle he has had since he won the crown..." Although Simon Lost by TKO in the 13th, this image of Simon grinning at Louis while taking the 8 count in round 7, is one of my favorite photographs of that fight.


Sep 28, 2009

The General Gently Weeps

General Trexler died in an automobile accident in 1933; had he lived a few more years and seen the completed WPA Projects throughout Allentown's Parks, it would have made him very happy. How he would feel about the go-kart track at Cedar Park is another question.

The Administration does not refer to these macadam paths as a go-kart course or an event midway, but rather as paths to facilitate multi-generational activities. Fortunately in the past, the Trexler Trust would have never tolerated the park being destroyed in this fashion, much less be paying for it.

Unfortunately the current Trustee's are minions of the Administration, which wants a recreational theme-park with a little nature in it. Contrast the $hundreds of thousands$ to be spent on this blacktop, with not one dollar allocated for the iconic WPA stonework.*

Currently the walls and structures in Lehigh Parkway are probably the most seen and used WPA structures.

However, without a doubt, the constructions in Fountain Park are both the most monumental and historically important.

The massive stairway rises off of Martin Luther King Drive and climbs up to Union Street.

The construction continues on the other side of Union Street with a colossal retaining wall which is several blocks long.

Contained in this wall is a tunnel leading to another mammoth stairwell which climbs up to Spring Garden Street.

These steps were used over the years by thousands of Mack Truck workers going to the factory on S. 10th Street, and thousands of kids going into the park to play.

*The Park Department is seeking bids to repair the WPA stonework. At this time no money has been budgeted for this purpose, but the go-kart track is fully funded.

Several photographs are courtesy of Andrew Kleiner.

Sep 27, 2009

$100 a Week

In 1935, a Jewish boy earning $35 a week carrying 300 pound blocks of ice, was offered three times more to fight; win, lose or draw. For one hundred dollars a week, Jock Whitney, British aristocrat and sportsman, owned Abe Simon. Abe won his first 14 fights, 12 by knockout. On his climb to fight Louis in 1941 he would knock out 27 opponents, including Jersey Joe Walcott.


Sep 23, 2009

Cedar Fair Midway

Unfortunately this post isn't about the Cedar Fair which owns Dorney Park, it's about the City of Allentown and Cedar Creek Park. Citizens who attended the City Council Park Meeting on Aug. 13th were told that the park plan was a living, breathing work in progress. As shown in the diagram below, that progress has resulted in a new circuit path in the Rose Garden side of the Park, which can serve no use other than a midway loop for special events. The new additional path is below or south of the stream and has two cross paths which bisect the open space even more. I have seen go-kart tracks with more open space. Seeking an explanation for this unnecessary path beyond use as a midway, the Park Director said I would have to ask his landscape consultant. Ironically in 2005, the Trexler Trust hired the prestigious firm of Gannett Fleming to study the Allentown Park System. Their conclusion on page 30 of a 143 page report:

The City’s reputation for hosting major regional events is unparalleled, However, too many of the activities are placed in the same limited locations within the City. This exerts excessive impacts on a few parks and their adjacent neighborhoods.... Lessen the impact of holding several major events at Cedar Creek Park

Cedar Creek Park, as we know it, is essentially being destroyed by Pawlowski and Weitzel. I don't blame them, they have no ties to the area or knowledge of parks. The dereliction of duty by the Trexler Trust is unforgivable. The plan clearly violates the
conclusions reached in the very study they sponsored. Stewardship of the park system is their primary mandate; Shame on them. Shame on Friends of the Allentown Parks. Shame on the Environmental Advisory Council. Shame on the Rose Garden Neighborhood Association. Enjoy your Go-Kart track, I remember when it was a nationally recognized park.

The Monster's Bounty

The Parking Authority, beside the prison, is the only growth industry in Allentown. Donny Cunningham, who is a little Eddie Rendell in training pants, wants some of the monster's loot. The Authority writes over 100,000 tickets a year, mostly to low income center city residents and hapless shoppers trying to patronize Hamilton Street. Although most pay at gestapo headquarters, and the rest get burped in district court, constables chase down the remaining 25%. Constables are mostly paid out of costs put on the defendant's bill. Don Bureaucrat Cunningham inserted a clause in his new budget to hire more County Deputies to collect this $1.7 million dollars, earning about $360k in fee's. In an article in today's Morning Call by Robert Orsenstein, Constable Association President Thomas Impink is quoted about the irony of some governments privatizing functions to save money, while Lehigh County seeks to take over something already privatized. Cunningham will hire five new Deputies, although Constables pay their own insurance and support staff. Although those opposed to this scheme will have to make their feelings known very quickly to County Commissioners, there is an opportunity today to confront The Monster itself.

Craig Friebolin asks all citizens of common sense and fairness to join him today at 4:00 pm as he confronts the Parking Authority at its Board Meeting, 10th and Hamilton Streets.

Sep 22, 2009

The Blogger

We here in the Valley are blessed to have the THE BLOGGER EXTRAORDINAIRE to both inform and conform us. Tirelessly attending one meeting after another, five nights a week at the midnight hour he bestows praise upon the deserving and criticism upon the weak. Bending the truth like putty, faster than a speeding Lanta Bus, all opposing comments are dismissed as non sequiturs, personal attacks and off be continued


This posting is intended to provide an opportunity to comment on any topic, or on an earlier posting.

Sep 20, 2009

Getting Carpentered

There are many politico's who would rather not hear Paul Carpenter's voice on the other end of the phone. A few told me in the past they hoped not to be "Carpentered", meaning they didn't know if they would end up being flattered or battered until they got the morning paper. Carpenter has been kind towards me; He defended me against a NAACP official who implied my 2005 Platform contention that Allentown has become a poverty magnet was racist. My efforts to have the WPA stone structures put on the park department repair agenda were accomplished by the publicity his article generated. Today, Tony Phillips benefited from his perspective. Carpenter believes Tony's right to privacy was abused. His point of view is not much different than O'Hares, but Carpenter doesn't defend Tony by personally bashing those who feel differently. Although the news staff at The Morning Call has been reduced to a skeleton crew, thankfully, both Bill White and Paul Carpenter have been retained; That is, unless I end up in White's Hall of Fame, or get Carpentered.

Sep 19, 2009

Parking Authority Preys On Poor

Although the shopping district in Allentown has shrunk down to only Hamilton and 7th Streets, the meter district remains as it did during the heydays of the 1950's. The meters extend from Walnut to Chew, from 5th to 10th, well over 1000 meters in 20 sq. blocks. Parking meters extend out to 10th and Chew Sts, three full blocks beyond the closest store.* These meters are a defacto penalty for the residents, mostly tenants. In essence, it is a back door tax on Allentown's poorest citizens. The apologists claim the tenants can purchase a resident meter pass, however their friends and visitors cannot. To add insult to injury, in 2005, to help finance a new parking deck for the arts district, the Parking Authority doubled the meter rate and fines. Testimony to City Council permitting the rate increase indicated it was favored by the merchants. At that time I documented to the Council that in fact the merchants were not informed, much less in favor. The vote was 5 to 2, with Hershman and Hoover dissenting
* I used the above copy on my posting of October 3, 2007. In the past several weeks the Parking Authority finally removed the meters in the 900 block of Chew St, 50 years beyond their legitimate need.

There's a new thorn in the side of the Parking Authority, his name is Craig Friebolin, and here's his message

Come One, Come All! To what may just be the greatest show on earth! The Wednesday September 23, 2009 - Allentown Parking Authority Board Meeting at 4pm! I'll be there (with a few others) to amaze and astound you! It will be a board meeting like none you've witnessed before! Chock-full of News Worthy information the general public WANTS TO KNOW! While it may not be the Jerry Springer Show; Tempers will Flare and that always makes for entertaining news, right?

Sep 18, 2009

More Parlor Tricks by O'Hare

The blog dispute occurring between Bernie O'Hare and myself will certainly not be one of the posts which I repeat in a year or so, it's somewhat embarrassing. However, it is necessary for me to use this venue to set the record straight; Bernie now declares not only was my post of last week on Tony Phillips mean spirited, but I'm dancing on Phillip's grave. Over at O'Hare's blog we go back and forth; me explaining how Bernie double talks and him double talking, until we reached the banned in Boston stage; Bernie announced he will delete my replies, so here's the rest of the debate;

Bernie O'Hare said...

In Pennsylvania, assault includes the battery. In Pa., a person is guilty of assault if he attempts to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another. Even if there is mutual consent, it is an assault.

Police filed no charges. I do not have the police report. From everything I've read, I'm unable to conclude that Tony was guilty of assault. It seems more like self-defense, pushing someone away who launches an assault herself.

Bernie O'Hare said...
LVCI, There is nothing in Jarrett's account that leads me to conclude there was an assault. If someone attacks you and you push the person away, that is NOT an assault. That's why Tony was never charged. Bethlehem police, and many of our local police departments, take allegations of domestic abuse quite seriously.

2:13 PM

Here is what Jarrett Renshaw actually wrote in The Morning Call Sept. 16th

During the investigation, Lopez repeatedly insisted that she was not interested in filing charges and that she just wanted Phillips to pay her medical bills, the police report states.
Police talked to Phillips and he claimed Lopez was physically aggressive with him and she pushed him and then he pushed her to the floor, according to the police report.
Bethlehem Detective Mark DiLuzio said Tuesday the incident is listed on the police report as a simple assault. He said no arrest was ever made.
"We are reopening the investigation because the victim said all she wanted was Phillips to pay her medical records, which he never did." Diluzio said.

It is not my purpose to print the above news report to rehash this incident between Phillips and the woman, but to show the hypocrisy of O'Hare, who routinely presents distortions as facts rather than concede an error on his part, and accuses anybody who points this out of attacking him.

The biggest damage to Tony in the blogosphere wasn't from my blog, it was from O'Hare. His absurd distortions and contradictions ended up keeping the topic on the front burner all week.

* The Morning Call reported this morning that the Phillips will not face simple assault charges because the statute of limitations has expired.

Sep 17, 2009

New Graveside Tears

In August of 08, after about a year of blogging on conditions at Fairview, The Morning Call ran the story shown above. I did manage to organize a small meeting between the cemetery operators and the public later that fall. Yesterday I received the following comment, submitted to a posting from that period.

Patti from California has left a new comment on your post "New Graveside Tears":

My family is buried at Fairview and 2 weeks ago I visited and was appalled at the horrible conditions and total lack of maintenance throughout the cemetery. I have been trying to reach Loretta or David most of the summer and was told they had taken an extended trip out of the country. (business must be good) They seem to be back now - but still no way to actually talk to them.

My mother is 97 - plans to be buried there with her parents and my Dad. I could cry at the thought ....

I googled Fairview and was led to your blog. Loretta told me in May I could get our plot maintained if I invested in their endowment for $1000. After seeing the total lack of care there, I feel like I would be throwing the money away. What do other people think or do about this appalling condition?

I feel sorry for this family, Fairview may have been a well maintained place when the father was buried there many years ago. I believe the cemetery is in better condition than it was two years ago, but that's not saying very much. I will occasionally revisit this topic, to at least continue a small noise on behalf of these families.

Sep 16, 2009

O'Hare's Bag of Tricks

This morning when I read The Morning Call, I knew Bernie O'Hare
would be blaming everybody but Tony Phillips. Bernie keeps pulling the same tricks out of the bag. He gets away with it by pummeling the commentators who disagree, and intimating the other bloggers. Bernie is the Pope of the local blogosphere; nobody has more readers or produces more posts.

I wrote a post titled 'Stupid Is As Stupid Does', although I did question Tony's intelligence in the last line, the post itself makes a case that Tony acted stupidly, people in his camp had said the same thing, and I suspect Tony would concede as much. In the comment section I later elaborated that I don't think that Tony is stupid, but certainly did a stupid act.

Bernie so often refer to snarks, so often refers to ad hominem attacks. UNLESS THEY SERVE HIS PURPOSE. In his last three posts about Tony, here are some of the things he said about me; mean spirited, likes to kick people when their down, silly, made a stupid claim, holier than thou...

Bernie's usual reply to such criticism is that the comment is a non sequitur or off topic. In his bash anyone in his way defense of Tony, he made a distraction out of the difference between a "setup" and a "conspiracy". He justified this semantic word-game because a reporter from the Express Times pointed it out. Two days later when I commented that a columnist from The Morning Call used the "setup" expression, he mockingly asked if I thought this person was an authority?
Bernie, he's no authority, but neither are you.

In Bernie's post today he chides two other bloggers beside myself, and ends by raising the race card.

As a new guest poster on Lehigh Valley Poliblog, I considered placing this post there; but just yesterday they made peace with Bernie after a year of discord, and I don't want to upset their apple cart. Most bloggers would rather take a few shots from the Pope than challenge him, not me, I had enough.

Tony Phillips was contrite and publicly apologized. It would have been nice if Bernie let him have that dignity.

The Final Crack

Tony Phillip's candidacy suffered another crack today; The Morning Call revealed that the infamous internet chat was really with a former mistress posing as a fresh item. Although Tony tried to do some damage control, even blogger Bernie O'Hare won't be able to put him back together again. Last week Bernie took off the gloves defending Tony, accusing critics and myself of being mean spirited and worse; also not properly distinguishing between the terms "setup" and "conspiracy"!

After the previous articles Tony was already toxic. At a recently held Republican Rally he was neither present nor mentioned. There are those who feel that personal life, especially sexual, is private and should have no bearing on public officials; Tony has given them a full plate.

Sep 15, 2009

More Weeding, Less Talking

From the archives, July 31,2007
Allentown has a few icons, such as the PPL Tower, the 8th Street and Tilghman Street Bridges. In Europe many bridges date from the middle ages, there are even Roman bridges still in use. It seems here in Allentown we cannot even keep an 80 year old bridge together. Earlier this year County Executive Cunningham and Mayor Pawlowski had a press conference under the Tilghman Street Bridge, while on the top weeds and saplings were growing out of the road bed. The bushes and weeds are still there, on both bridges, eroding away magnificent irreplaceable structures. Lets hope these great silver tongued planners stop waiting for penn-dot, and get around to buying a bottle of weed begone.
UPDATE: When I was a kid I grew up in Lehigh Parkway South, this was a development of twin homes built for the returning GI's, the streets were named for planes built during the war; Liberator, Catalina, and Coronado.(Queen City Airport was a WW2 plane factory). Getting into the rest of Allentown was a bit inconvenient. To go downtown(Hamilton St. was the Shopping Mecca of Lehigh Valley) you would have to go over the 8th Street Bridge. To get to the east side you would go down the Lehigh Street hill, up to Union and then over the river. Getting to points west required going over the stone arch bridge near Regency Towers. Construction of the 15th Street bridge finally connected the south side with the rest of Allentown. The metal deck, which was annoying from day one, was supposed to be temporary. So here we are, fifty some years later, being told the bridge is ready to be replaced. Is there anyone in authority who remembers how difficult it was to navigate Allentown before the bridge? So now the decaying 8th Street Bridge will absorb the traffic during construction of the new 15th Street Bridge? Allentown meanwhile defers simple maintenance, like rail painting, because of promises from Harrisburg? We truly are slow learners.

UPDATE: Lipstick on a pig; Allentown now has hung banners on the 15th St. bridge lightposts, distracting drivers attention somewhat away from the rusting rails.

UPDATE: Sept. 15, 2009. The railings on the 15th St. Bridge have been painted. The Linden Street Bridge, an iconic stone arch bridge over the Jordan Creek and Historic Rail lines has been torn down. No repairs have been done to either the 8th Street or Tilghman Street Bridges. Both the silver tongues are insured of re-election. We're still slow learners.


Sep 12, 2009

Saints and Sinners

This blog has a little tabloid in it; I'm not above using a racy photograph or catchy titles. There is an interesting story in today's Morning Call* about the Rev. William Kuntze, who refused to compromise his principles over an offered contribution from the Sands Casino. Rev. Kuntze directed the New Bethany Ministry, which administers to the area needy in Bethlehem. Kuntze feels that the last thing the area poor need is to lose their money in a casino, and was an opponent of the casino project. Seems that the Casino offered to donate $7,500 to New Bethany, and that the board President wanted to accept the money, hence Kuntze's resignation.

Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States; as such they have school boards, churches and all normal facets of community life dependent upon the revenue stream from the casino industry. Surfing the net for a photograph for this blog, I even came across the Vegas Hookers for Jesus(not photo used). In submitting his resignation Rev. Kuntze said "In my view, our hands should remain clean."

I'm personally not against gambling (I don't gamble), nor do I think Las Vegas is sinful, but I do admire the Rev. Kuntze for his refusal to rationalize compromises to his integrity.


Sep 10, 2009

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

This past May I conducted my fifth in a series of town hall meetings which I call Allentown Speak Out. This one concentrated on the parks and Bicentennial Field. With 30 plus people in attendance, I asked Tony Phillips what he could do for us; he replied that we should organize and make our feelings known to City Council. I told him that we are the public, he represents us, and that he should take the ball. As he stood blankly by, Michael Donovan said he would prepare a resolution. Six weeks ago he told over 70 people who attended his Park Committee Meeting, in the Council Chamber, that they should organize and make their feelings known to City Council.

Tony has made page 1 in both The Morning Call and the local blogosphere for two days in roll now. He never made the front page before, actually he has hardly made the paper at all, always promising to start his campaign in another week. Some pundits think the real issue is that he was set up; I felt it was his judgement. Today I learned that the famous conversation took place on his own campaign facebook page; now I think the issue is his intelligence.

Sep 9, 2009

Tough Crowd

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my mother's cousin Abe Simon. After knocking out Jersey Joe Walcott he got a shot at Louis and the title in March of 41. Louis knocked him down in the first round and Abe took the 8 count grinning. He battled Louis for the next 12 rounds. All boxing fans know he didn't win, but he did earn another shot at the title. Its not easy for a conservative to be on the Lehigh Valley Blogosphere, I'll grin and bare it and hopefully make a point or two about really improving Allentown.


Sep 7, 2009

King of the Gypsies

According to my mother, a Gypsy king was buried in Allentown in around 1960, she knew about such things. She was born in Galgo, Hungary, an area of Transylvania, now part of Romania, near present day Gilgau. In Galgo, the Jews and Gypsies lived on the edge of town. In the early 20's, my grandparents, along with their Gypsy neighbors, came to Bethlehem to work at the Steel. On weekends, to make extra money, my grandparents would open their house and show Hungarian movies. None of their relatives, Jew or Gypsy, save one cousin, survived the nazi's; even the cemeteries were desecrated. As you can see from the document above, my grandfather earned his citizenship the hard way.


Sep 3, 2009

Relics Of Our Past

One of the surviving relics of our industrial past is the right of way of former railroad spur lines. Allentown literally had hundreds of factories serviced by dozens of spur routes and rail sidings. The area between Second and Front Streets was crisscrossed with dozens of spur lines. Even the west end had service. A line ran behind the current site of B'nai B'rith Apartments, across 17 th St. and up along side of the dry-cleaners. The B'nai B'rith was the site of the former Trexler Lumber Yard, which burned to the ground in a spectacular fire in the mid 70's; The heat from the fire could be felt in West Park. The rails and ties are gone, long ago sold to scrap yards. In many cases the space occupied by the right of ways can still be seen to the knowing eye. They appear as alleys which were never paved. Here and there a surviving loading dock provides another clue. Show in this photo from 1939 are the Mack Truck factories on S. 10th Street, now part of the Bridgeworks Complex. Here the components for Mack Trucks were manufactured. The parts were then trucked to the Assembly Plant (5C) located on S. 12 Street, right off of Lehigh Street. "Built Like A Mack Truck" became a figure of speech across America. It was a prouder time than the lyrics from Billy Joe; little did we know that things could get worse.

Beating World's Smallest Horse

Last night I attended the fair. This morning's Morning Call has a feature called Midway Callaway. It's about making cotton candy while wearing rubber gloves, putting it into a plastic bag and selling it behind a glass window. Brian (Callaway), that's not cotton candy, that's not a food joint, it's not even a midway. What I saw last night, despite perfect weather, was a sparse crowd on a sterile strip with glass and formica food trucks.

The night I took the attached photo, in the early 70's, music blasted from the hoochy-koochy shows. Andre the Giant easily defeated his opponent and Willie Restum held court outside the Beer Garden. Generations of Allentonians would gather once a year for a community reunion. I hope somehow there's still more to the fair than my aging eyes can see, and that today's children can still make a tradition out of it's current incarnation.

photocredit: stage on midway outside Hoochy-Koochy Show, Allentown Fair, early 70's, by molovinsky

Sep 2, 2009

An Unauthorized Interview

There is a nice little authorized interview with Greg Weitzel, Director of Parks, on Andrew Kleiner's blog. ( Here is an unauthorized one, maybe even worse. This morning at the Rose Garden, after Weitzel generously afforded me some time, he asked if our conversation would be on my blog, I made a gesture indicating it would not. Although I meant my answer at the time, as I drove back to the bunker where this blog is created, his words kept repeating in my reluctant mind. I say reluctant, because it was my intention to decompress for a few days with my historic type postings on Allentown's better days. Upon reflection, I found Weitzel's words need some discussion; maybe sort of an unsolicited reality check for him and a flag for us.

Weitzel claimed that the Rose Garden neighbors are delighted with the improvements in the garden, and that their property value will increase because of it. He stated he can prove property values go up with improved parks, citing several studies. MR. WEITZEL, PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THE ALLENTOWN ROSE GARDEN WAS MAGNIFICENT, AND YOU COULD NEVER IMPROVE ON IT. It was my hope, and all of us who rallied to defend this gem of Allentown, that your plans didn't destroy the classic ambience that people have been coming to admire for 80 years. Please try to understand that any study or statistic you could cite does not apply to Allentown's Rose Garden, and it's surrounding beautiful neighborhood. It makes me very nervous that you cannot differentiate between the iconic Allentown Park System and the generalizations citied in your college textbook. Do yourself a favor, and don't tell the neighbors that you have improved their property values, you will only peeve them off.

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!


Sep 1, 2009

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 it's 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.