Jan 7, 2010
Velcome to Vendig and Allentown Photographic
In 1933, with the end of Prohibition, my grandparents(maternal) started operating the Vendig Hotel. They were the working partners, another immigrant family, here longer, were the silent backers. The hotel was directly across from the current Main Street Depot Restaurant in Bethlehem, which was the old New Jersey Line Terminal. With my grandmother cooking, they became well known for crab cakes and other shelled seafood. What wasn't known, was that she was strictly kosher, and never even tasted anything she prepared. As some may recall, my grandparents came from Hungarian Transylvania (now Romania) in the early 20's. Family lore says Bela Lugosi visited the hotel. Lugosi was born in the same area of then Hungary, and started his acting career playing Jesus in Passion Plays. In 1931, after immigrating to America years earlier, he got his big break playing Dracula. Typecast as a villain, Lugosi was reduced in later years to drug addiction and playing in low budget monster films. He died in the mid 50's and was buried in his Dracula cape.
My last uncle, who as a boy lived above the hotel, had no recollection of Lugosi. The partner families would later merge through marriage and 40 years later come to own the old vaudeville theater in South Bethlehem known as The Globe. It too is gone.
My experience with Allentown Photographic in the late 70's, at 12 N 8th Street, was not unlike my grandparent's with the Vendig Hotel. Neither were particularly successful, both only lasted a few years, but provided many memories. Now, Bela Lugosi never came into my shop, but my custom darkroom did attract numerous characters. I printed negatives supposedly smuggled out of Russia of the Romanov Family, while my strange anonymous customer watched by the door for KBG agents.(If they were real, I made no copies, nor did I keep the negatives) I once rented the darkroom to the local Porno King for his art directors to produce Puritan Magazine. His former building is now becoming the new Mayflower Condominiums. I snuck into a local high school to photograph an old circus juggler perform his act, one more time, on the stage. This photo gem, of a midget skating between legs, is from the jugglers' memento's.
posts combined and reprinted from July 2008