Dec 30, 2010

Free Houses for Christmas

No Virginia, there really are no free houses. When the previous owner was paid at settlement, somebody came up with real smackers. Now, I know you heard that because the mortgage was packaged and sold so many times, and the mortgage was being serviced by a collection agency, that there is no longer a real mortgagee; But there is my dear, real smackers were exchanged for that paper all along the trail. I know you heard the adult cry babies say that the mortgage servicers make more money forcing foreclosure than just doing their job. You know Virginia, they wouldn't have their business very long if that happen often. You can only cheat and sell your employer short so many times before he fires you. I know you heard that some man forgot to cross a T on the foreclosure form, but that still doesn't make the house free. No Virginia, too many people bought a house on a Yes We Can, and that house of cards collapsed. When you grow up we want you to be able to buy a house. It's important now that mommy and daddy give back the keys, and you all go live with grandma. That way dear, when you meet your Prince Charming, investors will once again be willing to come up with the smackers.

Dec 29, 2010

Avi Cohen

Israel's legendary soccer player, Avi Cohen, has passed away from injuries sustained in a traffic accident. I refer you to Rolf Oeler's great soccer site, Between the Sticks, for five tribute posts.

The Tracks of Allentown

Up to the early 1950's, you pretty much drove over tracks wherever you went in Allentown. While the trolleys moved the people, the Lehigh Valley Railroad freight cars moved the materials in and out of our factories. Shown above, the Lehigh Valley Transit trolley moves across the former steel Hamilton Street Bridge. The huge UGI gas tank can be seen on Union Street. While the trolleys gave way to buses by 1953, the freight rail spurs would tarry on for two more decades.

Dec 27, 2010


Yesterday in BlogoMania 1, we lost a blogger. LVCI was tossed out of the ring by Bernie O'Hare, and vows not to return. LVCI explains his reason to stop blogging on a post called Fi-ni-to. The match started with Jon Geetings labeling both LVCI and myself as old nay-sayers, with no positive suggestions for the valley. This is when O'Hare jumped in the ring and helped Geetings throw LVCI over the ropes. Geetings later justified his ageism by claiming that back in October, on a third blog, I called him a young Democrat, dismissing his opinion. I have requested assistance in this dispute from the AARP. The third blogger was presenting an article that Geetings found about real estate. I thought perhaps after 35 years in the business locally, I might know more than Geetings found on the internet. In the past I have praised a local landlord who is younger than Geetings. My use of "young" and "democrat" were adjectives. What I dismiss is the importation of all these "solutions" to Allentown. Geetings and associates think that if they find and present some ordinance passed by another city, that they are doing something positive. They refer to this process as harvesting idea's. LVCI and myself, over the years, have seen dozens of idea's harvested and enacted, to no improvement. A good idea in Charleston, may not be so good here. There never was a shortage of idea's, there has been a deficiency in the implementation of existing policy. Anyway, time for my prunes.

Dec 26, 2010

Christmas in Crank-osphere

While normal people were roasting chestnuts and reveling in the warmth of their family, the bloggers were having a cage match. Seems as if LVCI was miffed for thirty seconds, at some girl who lived here for thirty minutes, and thought she knew more about the valley than he does. Being a Christian at Christmas, he deleted his harsh words almost immediately. In conversation we say that we're sorry, and apologize for what we said. In the blogosphere, the equivalent may well be the delete key. Anyway, quick deletion aside, never the less his words were captured, reprinted, and taken to task by Jon Geetings, on the Lehigh Valley Independent. Please go there now, read the post and comments, then return. If you took that little trip, you saw that Jon decided to drag me into the ring also.
Allentown sure has prospered under the wise stewardship of the old timers. What exactly is the LVCI game plan for Allentown anyway? What's the Mike Molovinsky plan? Protect the WPA heritage, but oh wait, can't raise any of the revenue you need to pay for it! Y'all can't even manage to come up with coherent complaints, let alone any ideas for how to move the region forward....I realize it would be asking too much of the crank-osphere...  

Now, considering that LVCI, Chris Casey and Bernie O'Hare all came to my defense, a wiser man would leave it alone, but what kind of third rate crank would that make me? I'm a first rate crank. I don't disagree with LVCI's frustration about the LV Renew type agenda. Gettings himself brags that they harvest outside idea's from the internet to move the valley forward. He forgets to mention that the studies and hired staff all cost the taxpayer money, even if it's from outside grants. I believe the goal of the train to NYC would cost about a million dollars a mile to build. Gettings also forget to mention that although he lives in NYC, he likes to dine here on weekends, and the train would be convenient. Anyway, back in the ring, O'Hare criticizes LVCI for anonymous slams. First of all, although LVCI does wear a mask, it's always the same man behind the mask; his name is unknown, but he has an identity. Now the question is, what would four old fat men look like in the ring, and what kind of costumes would we wear?

Dec 25, 2010

Christmas City

In 1937, Bethlehem was still struggling from the Great Depression. In December of that year, the Star was built on top of the mountain, elaborate street decorations were installed, and the city began calling itself                                                Christmas City.

Dec 24, 2010

Christmas Lights

Best Wishes For The Holiday Season

Photocredit: molovinsky
reprinted from December 25, 2009

Dec 23, 2010

Allentown On My Mind

I'm a baby boomer. I was born in December of 1946. As soon as my mother climbed out of the hospital bed, another woman climbed in. I grew up in the neighborhood now called Little Lehigh Manor, wedged between Lehigh Street and the top of the ravine above Lehigh Parkway. That's me on our lawn at the intersection of Catalina and Liberator Avenues, named after airplanes made by Vultee Corporation for the War. We had our own elementary school, are own grocery store, and the park to play in. On Saturdays my older brother would take me on the trolley, and later the bus, over the 8TH Street Bridge to Hamilton Street. There were far too many stores to see everything. After a matinee of cartoons or Flash Gordon, and a banana split at one of the five and dimes, we
would take the bus back over the bridge to Lehigh Street.

Not that many people know where Lehigh Parkway Elementary School is. It's tucked up at the back of the development of twin homes on a dead end street, but I won't say exactly where. I do want to talk about the photograph. It's May Day, around 1952-53. May Day was big then, so were the unions; Most of the fathers worked at the Steel, Mack, Black and Decker, and a hundred other factories going full tilt after the war. The houses were about 8 years old, and there were no fences yet. Hundreds of kids would migrate from one yard to another, and every mother would assume some responsibility for the herd when it was in her yard. Laundry was hung out to dry. If you notice, most of the "audience" are mothers, dads mostly were at work. I'm at the front, right of center, with a light shirt and long belt tail. Don't remember the girl, but see the boy in front of me with the big head? His father had the whole basement setup year round with a huge model train layout. There were so many kid's, the school only went up to second grade. We would then be bused to Jefferson School for third through sixth grade. The neighborhood had its own Halloween Parade and Easter egg hunt. We all walked to school, no one being more than four blocks away. Years ago when I met my significant other, she told me she taught at an elementary school on the south side, but that I would have no idea where it was.

compilation of two posts from June 2008

reprinted from December 21, 2009

Abusing the SouthSide

Allentown's SouthSide has been under one pressure after another since Pawlowski's first election. A couple years ago this blog went to bat for Bicentennial Park. I conducted a Speak Out Meeting at Faith Baptist Church, which attracted, among others, the Hunsicker family and a couple City Council members. The Hunsicker's were responsible for the fund drive which built the current stadium. Pawlowski backed away from a sale to Lanta at the time, but according to a recent Morning Call article, pressure on the park still continues. Over the years, thousands of Allentown kids got to play Under the LIghts. History and tradition are both unknown and uncared for, by the outsiders running this town. I have also been involved in defending Lehigh Parkway, which is used for an entertainment venue at the expense of the traditional features. While irreplaceable WPA icons are overgrown and neglected, paths are paved, sewage spills, and electric lights shine.

Allentown's neglect and failure to properly paint and maintain the 15th Street Bridge has threatened the historic Schreibers Bridge near Regency Tower. The bridge was built in 1828. Because the north bound side of the 15th st. bridge has been closed, lines of cars and trucks now go over the old stone arch bridge.

Pawlowski now wants to sell the Queen City Airport for a quick, one time infusion to the city budget. We would lose a important open space asset to fund a few new restaurants on Hamilton Street. It was at this airport Vultee built planes to defend this country during the world war. The airport creates a safe barrier between small planes and the commercial aircraft at LVIA. Pawlowski would prefer more homes to burden the school system and a couple of strip malls to sell more litter.

                                                               Please Click Here

Dec 22, 2010

Allentown School District

One of the most amazing things about Allentown is that the population, despite the problems, has remained about the same since 1928. That was the year Allentown celebrated reaching 100,000. Today, we are about 106.000. Although the numbers stayed the same, the demographics have changed drastically. We are now officially a minority city. When I grew up, there was a saying, If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much. How's that for political correctness? Today, if you want to see a Pennsylvania Dutchman, you have to look at the picture on a bag of pretzels.

During my school years, a delinquent was a kid smoking a cigarette in the alley. Today, we have machete attacks, and parents beating someone else's kid in a classroom. In this environment, should we be concerned about math scores in Singapore? There is a disconnect between the discipline problems and the preoccupation for better scores on the standardized tests; Increasing civility is much more important. If we could get that math score up, will the public overlook the machete attack? We'll build a new school next to Jackson Elementary, move the students, and put the machete attackers in the old Jackson. Then, we'll take the real achievers and put them in an academy of excellence. Let's hope not too many parents insist that their child belongs in the academy. Let's hope that the prison school works out. We all agree that all the students are a precious commodity. What we really need is safe classrooms, conducive to learning. We need supervised streets, conducive for getting to and from school safely. Isn't it interesting that a child can leave Central Catholic at 4th and Chew, and be safer than a child leaving William Allen at 17th and Chew?

The photograph, from the late 1940's, shows a kindergarden class before Lehigh Parkway Elementary School was completed. One of the twin houses served both as the neighborhood school and church.

Dec 21, 2010

The Sabaean Mandeans of Iraq

I'm glad that the plight of Christians in Iraq is starting to attract main stream media attention, but there is another persecuted group you may not hear about. The Mandeans predate Christianity, do not believe in Christ, and are believed to have been followers of John the Baptist. Accepting no converts, their numbers have always been small. Apparently, they migrated to the swamps south of current Baghdad after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Their writings are in Aramaic, the language of the Bible in the time of Jesus. Their rules and ethics are similar to Jewish tradition. Baptism is their central ritual; they call the water Jordan.

Dec 20, 2010

Say Now

Say now, do you remember when Neuweilers was a brewery on Front Street, not a redevelopment project? Say now, do you remember when Park and Shop validated your ticket for free parking, not a Parking Authority that fined you for coming downtown? Say now, do you remember when Hamilton Street was filled with neon signs and shoppers, not ordinances and vision plans? Say now, do you remember when City Hall didn't have all the managers, planners and directors we have now? Say now, we must have been stupider then or something.

Dec 19, 2010

Bill White's Christmas Lights

I was never on Bill White's Christmas Lights tour, but all I could think of was Chevy Chase, putting together the plug in his Christmas Lampoon Movie. I imagined that in Bill's mind, the more the better, aesthetics beside. Yesterday the newspaper showed photographs of some of the houses; Yep, I was right. Now, I understand the appeal of wattage, especially for children. As a child, my father would drive us by a house on Union Street, just beyond Union Terrace. It was a ranch house with easy access to the roof. This man did the whole shebang; roof outline in lights, Santa sled and reindeer on roof, and lots of lawn ornaments. As the gentleman and his display aged, less would appear each year. Fortunately for children, Santa, although no spring chicken and fat, never gets too old to deliver.

Blogger's Note: Christmas lights are enjoyed by people of all ages and faiths. Bill White and his crew have spent many hours locating those houses which best give what he calls the gift of WOW. Pictures and directions for the light tour can be found on The Morning Call Website.

Dec 17, 2010

Better Work By FAR

When Rohrbach told City Council that the Bill will hurt competitive construction for Allentown, Allentown should have listened. You couldn’t walk in Allentown, especially near City Hall, without stepping on Rohrbach work, including the new Arts Walk. Quality cement work, and F A Rohrbach, has been synonymous in Allentown for 35 years. The disconnect shown between City Council voting for the ordinance requiring union labor, and the history of Allentown, is staggering. It was here in the valley that both the national cement and steel industries began. Our local tradesman and fabricators became world renowned for quality work. In all the years of the All American City's pride, former leaders knew better than to chop off the legs of our esteemed craftsmen. Now the glory days are behind us, and we are in the days of petty self serving. Our local politicians grovel at the union hall, pandering for a block of votes. Rohrbach came to City Hall out of principle and loyalty to his employees. Where was Lee Butz? Many quality contractors who work for his construction managed projects are not unionized. Butz speaks out about how nice and safe Hamilton Street is; He should have spoken out about the quality work of local tradesman, union affiliated or not.

The Bill, sponsored by Pawlowski, D'Amore and Schweyer, passed 5 to 2. Pawlowski is from out of town, and unfamiliar with the traditions of our local tradesmen. D'Amore is a certified union sycophant. Schweyer is employed by Jenn Mann, who is union co-dependent. Guridy doesn't assert himself. As an advocate for minority businesses, he should have thought about the small contractors starting up. Schlossberg is a machine politician in training. Ray O'Connell's vote was a disappointment. I applaud Donovan and Eichenwald, neither originally from the area, for their dissenting votes.

Morning Call article by Jarrett Renshaw

Dec 16, 2010

Doing It His Way

He was Frank Sinatra's favorite fighter. Tami Mauriello started fighting professionally when he was 17 years old, as a light heavyweight. After two loses to Gus Lesnevich for that title, he moved up to the heavyweight division. In 1943, Sinatra paid $10,000 to buy an interest in his fellow Italian American. Sinatra sang the National Anthem before one of his fights. Eleven straight wins set up his title shot with Louis on September 18, 1946, in Yankee Stadium. This incredible photo shows the first round knockout. Mauriello ended his career with an 82 - 13 record. He later appeared in the movie classic, On The Waterfront, with fellow heavyweights Tony Galento and Abe Simon.
click on photo

Dec 15, 2010

Israel Bashing

Early yesterday morning, there was a story on The Huffington Post, headlined with the caption that Netanyahu says that he will never share Jerusalem. Under the headline and Netanyahu's picture, the story went on to say that the Prime Minister's office has distanced itself from Ehud Barak's statement that Jerusalem should be divided among Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. The story did not contain the quote shown in the headline, or any statement from Netanyahu. I checked other sources, which emphasized that there was no comment from Netanyahu himself, about Barak's statement. Recently, I had researched if other readers find the Huffington Post anti-Israel; Apparently, many share my perception. Many of the anti-Israel articles are written by Jewish writers; This ploy is even used by Al Jazeera. Back to yesterday; Like my cousin Popeye, I could take it no more. I went back to Huffington to copy the article's address for a post on the deception. Although less than an hour later, the article had vanished: Unfortunately, the attitude remains.

Photograph of the Sea of Galilee, with Tiberias in the background.

Dec 14, 2010

St. Matthew's Monastery

St. Matthew's Monastery in Kurdish Iraq, one of the oldest Christian Institutions in the world, was built by Christians fleeing persecution in 363 AD. Today, 16 centuries later, Christians are once again seeking shelter there. In the last decade it has been estimated that half the Christians have left Iraq. Since the Baghdad Church bombing in October, some Christians are afraid to be seen wearing a cross; Others have fled with little more than the clothes on their back. Pray for them.

St. Matthew's is part of the Syriac Orthodox Church

Dec 13, 2010

A New Look

Two posts ago, commenter Monkey Momma found it ironic, that as a blogger, I was not a fan of silicon chips. When I made the statement, I actually had social media more in mind, not the internet per se. I'm aghast at all the drivers on cell phones. Who are they talking to, and what is so important? I'm aghast at people reading the newspaper on a small iphone, scrolling up from the bottom. Admittedly, I am a dinosaur with technology; So today, I give myself a new look. You will now find a cropped version of my high school picture with my comments.

graduation picture, Allen High, mid 1960's.

Dec 12, 2010

Mount of Temptation

The Palestinian Authority unsuccessfully tried to increase tourism to Jericho this year, no rush, the town might be the oldest inhabited city on earth, 10,000 years. In 1895 the Greek Orthodox Church built the Mount of Temptation Monastery, where the devil tried three times to tempt Jesus during his forty days of prayer and fast. Steeped in both the Old and New Testaments, next to Jerusalem, it is the most excavated city in the Holy Land.

related post on Jericho

Dec 10, 2010

A Road Runs Through It

Once there was a time when gasoline was twenty five cents a gallon, there was no internet, and a family would go for a drive on Sunday. There was no traffic congestion or road rage. The cars were large, and they all came from Detroit. You could drive through a park, even an amusement park. There was no rush to get back to the television; It was very small, with only a few channels. Life now seems to revolve around small silicon chips, I preferred when it was large engines.

photograph shows the road through Dorney Park

Dec 9, 2010

The Faker Forces D Game

According to The Morning Call,  Lehigh County Commissioners are being forced to play defense against Cedarbrook's new union. Prior to Don Cunningham taking office in 2006, Cedarbrook was not unionized. Cunningham's predecessors, to insure the continuation of a historic vital service, passively resisted attempts to unionize Cedarbrook for twenty years, by thoughtful management-labor communications. Cunningham's first act as County Executive was to encourage and accept a CardCheck, dooming Cedarbrook to Gracedale's fate. Now, only five years after Cunningham's first election, County Commissioners must deal with the consequences of The Faker. With a wink to the union, Cunningham has said that neither side will get everything they want.

related post by Bernie O'Hare

Dec 8, 2010

Prescription for Doctor

Abraham Twerski was a Chief Rabbi of a Hasidic branch of Judaism, and an world renowned Torah Scholar. He is also a medical doctor specializing in Psychiatry. He was a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, and founder of the famed Gateway Rehabilitation Center. He is author of over 60 books. In one book he writes about his own low self esteem. If the good doctor had only taken the time to run for Allentown City Council, not only would it have improved his self-esteem, he might instead have delusions of grandeur.

Dec 7, 2010

A Man for the Times

Recently, a king maker in New Hampshire looked over Rick Santorum, and said that he had the right look to run for President. Nobody is saying that about John Bolton, but he has the right stuff. Bolton, in addition to being a former United Nations Ambassador, was involved in national security positions with both Bush Administrations. He may well be the most informed candidate, on national security issues, the Republicans could hope to find. He believes that Obama's foreign policy emboldens our enemies, and the recent North Korean aggression seems to bear that out. Domestically, he favors repealing old laws, not passing new ones. Although Bolton feels that Obama has put world interests ahead of that of United States, he realizes that after three and half years in office, Obama will be very articulate about world affairs. Nobody would have more international expertise, to go toe to toe with the smooth talking Obama, than John Bolton.

Dec 6, 2010

The News

It's not easy to find the news anymore. MSNBC hosts the condescending Olberman and Maddow from the far left, while Fox has it's right wing showmen. CNN has decided that comedians are qualified to analyze the state of the nation. Viewers looking for insight, are instead given a performance by Bill Maher or Jon Stewart. As a guest on a national news hour, young viewers must assume that these clowns are informed. This weekend, Bill Maher explained away the shift in independent voters from Democrat to Republican, as people who "don't pay attention." I'm glad that Bill and Jon are now pundits, because they were never that funny as comedians.

Dec 5, 2010

The Trees of Israel

Northern Israel is in a state of emergency as the worst ever fire in the country's history incinerated a bus carrying dozens of young cadets of the Israel Prisons Service on their way to evacuate inmates, killing everyone on board, destroying thousands upon thousands of dunams of forests on the Carmel Mountain ridge and injuring dozens.
                                                                  The Jewish Federation

The photograph above, taken in 1937, shows the hills of Ephraim being prepared to plant trees. The trees of Israel were planted by hand, one by one. The fire, which is still burning, has destroyed half the forest on the Carmel Mountain, over five million trees.
Please consider planting a tree in Israel, either through the Jewish National Fund or the non-denominational   Trees for the Holy Land.

Dec 3, 2010

The Train of Lehigh Parkway

This holiday season, as people drive over Schreibers stone arch bridge to get in line for Lights in the Parkway, few will be aware of the industrial past surrounding them. The Barber Quarry railroad branch line crossed the road, just beyond the bridge. On the left was the Union Carbine's Linde plant, the concrete loading dock is still visible. Although the last train ran in the early 1980's, the wooden railroad trestle is still there, to the west and south of the bridge. The area is now used as part of the disc golf course. The photograph was taken by Dave Latshaw in 1976, and is part of the Mark Rabenold Collection.

Dec 2, 2010

Rewarding Good Ideas

Last evening, City Councilman Michael Schlossberg voted to give Allentown's non-union managers a raise, for their good ideas. Michael also voted against the amended lower tax increase, favoring a higher increase by default. I didn't attend the meeting last night, but over the years I've met a few of the managers.* Where do I start, and how do I maintain my usual decorum of politeness? Lets start by asking if their jobs are necessary, considering nobody knows what they do? Lets say they don't work hard, but hardly work at all. Lets say they had their last idea in 1989, and it wasn't that good. Since they don't have to pick up a shovel, push a broom or change a lightbulb, are they not supposed to even have ideas? Is this raise for being slightly less than totally brain dead? Was I polite enough?

*I'm certain that there are indeed some city managers who work hard, and have good ideas. However, in this recession environment, I agree with Jeanette Eichenwald that now is not the time for a raise.

Dec 1, 2010

Business (Still) Doesn't Matter

Business still doesn't matter to Tony Iannelli, never did. Here's an excerpt from installment one on Jan. 25, 2010.
The local Chamber has indeed been a curious hybrid, business/public wise, for many years. Iannelli's weekly show on WFMZ, Business Doesn't Matter, seldom deals with business. Iannelli teamed up with Pawlowski in 2006 giving Lou Belleterri the famous Mystery Job. Like Lanta, they have had no dialogue with the majority of local merchants for many years, while remaining closely aligned with the Parking Authority. Both the Asian and Hispanic merchants have formed their own groups. Many of the Chamber's personnel have been active with the more progressive elements of the local Democratic Party. Although I have never attended one of his network meetings, I must assume Tony throws a good mixer.

Tony has now announced that The Chamber will not oppose Pawlowski's earned income increase, despite the objections from PPL, center city's largest employer (by very far). You can accuse Tony of whatever you wish, but you could never say he's pro-business.