Apr 24, 2019

East Side Middle School


The local news has been covering Nat Hyman's lawsuit against Pennsylvania's plan to sell the State Hospital parcel. Also covering the case today is fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare.  I take exception to one premise in his otherwise excellent piece,  that another middle school isn't needed on the east side.  While I don't know the student figures for the existing middle schools, or even if they are overcrowded, I do know that no east sider can easily walk to Harrison Morton, which is the closest middle school to the east side.  Now as the crow flies, perhaps Harrison isn't that much farther than Raub is to the west end,  but there is only one practical route across the Lehigh River.*

Community activist Dennis Pearson has long said that the east side always gets shortchanged.... I believe that there is a lot of evidence for his accusation.  Allentown city council has also asked the state to put the planned sale of the property on hold, so that they can hold a hearing, and get community input on the parcel's future.

* Only the Hamilton Street Bridge connects to a populated area of the east side.  Both the Tilghman  and the new American Parkway Bridges are of little use to students.

Apr 23, 2019

Boxing Eggs


When I was a little boy, I would work at my father's meat market, boxing eggs. The job was pretty straightforward. I would take eggs from a big box, and put them in small boxes with folding lids, each of which held a dozen. If I did a whole crate without breaking an egg, I did a good job. The real adventure was the drive to the shop. We lived just off Lehigh Street, and would take it all the way to Union Street. The many landmarks are now gone forever, only remaining in my camera of the past. Shown above in 1952, is the portion of Lehigh Street near the Acorn Hotel, which is not visible in the photograph. Before reaching the Acorn, you drove under The Reading Railroad bridge overpass, which recently has been dismantled and removed. That line served the Mack Plant on S. 10th Street. Just beyond the area pictured, the Quarry Barber railroad spur also crossed Lehigh Street, at the bridge over the Little Lehigh Creek. That line also crossed S. 10th, and served Traylor Engineering, now known as the closed Allentown Metal Works. Just last week Mitt Romney was there, to rebuke Obama's former visit to the site. Mayor Pawlowski is now rebuking Romney, but none of them really know anything about its past. A half block away, on overgrown steps built by Roosevelt's WPA, a thousand men would climb home everyday, after working at Mack and Traylor. Freight trains, on parallel tracks, from two different railroads, were needed to supply those industrial giants.

After my father rounded the second curve on Lehigh Street, we would head up the steep Lehigh Street hill. It was packed with houses and people. At the top of the hill, we would turn right on to Union Street. Going down Union Street, Grammes Metal was built on the next big curve. Grammes made a large assortment of finished decorative metal products. Beyond Grammes were numerous railroad crossings. The Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks crossed Union, as did the Jersey Central and several spurs, near Basin Street. It was not unusual to wait twenty-five minutes for the endless freight trains to pass. A two plus story tower gave the railroad men view and control of the busy crossing. A few more blocks and we were at the meat market, in time for me to break some eggs.

reprinted from July 2011

Apr 22, 2019

Preaching To Allentown's Choir


This is part 2 of the post on the candidate debate conducted by the Allentown Coalition for Economic Dignity.  On Friday, in the first part,  I tried to be somewhat objective about what transpired at the debate. Although I made it clear that this wasn't the Chamber Of Commerce crowd cheering Reilly's NIZ success,  I limited my opinion to revealing that I declined to sign the inclusionary zoning petition. That document is meant to require developers (i.e. Reilly's Stratas) to set a portion of the new units (10-20%) aside for affordable housing.  I wrote against the NIZ before the first building was demolished to make way for the arena.  I defended the former merchants before anybody else. I do not believe that privately owned buildings should be financed with public tax dollars.  Everybody else went along, hoping for their own little taste of the promised prosperity.  That said, I do not believe that any developer needs to provide new apartments at anything less than market rate.

It was pointed out by both the moderator, Rev. Gregg Edwards, and the candidates, that Allentown is now a minority majority city, with a sizable portion of the residents hovering near the poverty line. This reality was the predominate theme of the evening.  All the candidates, both for mayor and city council, told those attending at the inter city church, that they felt their pain about any inequalities in the city. That ranged from housing blight, to not enough minority officers on the police force.

Among other recommendations advocated by the sponsoring Coalition ( a subgroup of POWER Lehigh Valley) is that if the city would compile a database of "good" and "bad" properties, it would be easier for tenants to navigate the rental process.  Center city housing is challenged, but by whom, I disagree. I think that the city should compile a list of good and bad tenants.

I'm not running for office, so I don't have to pander to anyone. Actually, when I did run, I didn't pander then either.

photocredit:molovinsky

Apr 19, 2019

Democracy In Allentown


Last night I stopped into the candidates debate at Rev. Gregory Edwards' Resurrection Church. Those interested in knowing who all the candidates are, and what they said, will have to look elsewhere. The debate was hosted by the Allentown Coalition for Economic Dignity. Although I declined to sign their petition for inclusionary zoning, the reception desk made me feel welcome.

The theme of the night was the needs of Allentown's growing diversity, and on that note, Ray O'Connell was astute enough to stress his attempts to make the city hall staff resemble the population.

The debate was very well attended.  Anybody of political consequence was there, including Congresswoman Susan Wild.  Rev. Edwards, as moderator, had several questions centered on the economic inequity of the NIZ. I couldn't help to think that just the day before, J.B. Reilly addressed the Chamber Of Commerce, where the NIZ was praised. Although the two events were only a few blocks away from each other, their points of view are miles apart.

photo courtesy of John Mortensen

Apr 18, 2019

Wrestling With Trump


The headline of a letter to the editor caught my attention, Trump’s policies more important than his faults. Although the particular letter didn't elaborate much on anything, that headline captures my dilemma. I agree with Trump on numerous polices, he is just so very inappropriate with his messaging. To many people who don't disagree with the policies, the messaging is so offensive, they can give no credit to policy. To them he is a constant irritant, who must go.

I recognized and wrote about the Trump Derangement Syndrome before the term was coined. Trump is the first thing they lament upon wakening, and the last thing they despise before sleeping. I have lost numerous readers by giving him any credit for anything.

This blog is produced in both web and mobile versions. Those who read the web version can see the Bill Weld For President logo on the sidebar. Nobody, including myself, gives Weld much chance in the Republican primary. To me he symbolizes the concept of keeping the current policies, but with a different messenger.

Apr 17, 2019

Opening In Allentown Government


In the Pawlowski era, most opportunities to get on Allentown's council came from appointment. There was no opportunity to become mayor,  even after Pawlowski was indicted.

When Schlossberg and Schweyer moved on to Harrisburg, their seats became available for appointment.  Michael D'Amore resigned when elected magistrate.  Jeff Glazier also was appointed,  and his successor was appointed, when he became controller.

This year with Roger MacLean's decision not to run again, there is a rare opportunity for a new face to be actually elected. While another chronicler might list all the candidates running this year, I prefer to ponder the election environment, and speculate, rather than ask, why people aren't running. MacLean, as a long time public servant, has probably decided to enjoy his amenities, and forego any controversies about them. Nat Hyman might have decided to concentrate on his rental business activities, and forego the inevitable conflict of interest allegations.

Apr 16, 2019

Old Allentown's New Problem


An Old Allentown resident linked to an article on Philadelphia gentrification on his Facebook page.  The link caught my attention, because I have been exploring that area of Philadelphia recently...the former black neighborhood south of Rittenhouse Square.

His interest in the topic is apparent, he lives in a mixed income area in the 400 block of N. 8th Street.  You have the solid middle class income attracted to the historical district, and the lower income apartment tenants. You have those who volunteer to beautify the neighborhood, and the indifferent tenants, who don't even obey the basic trash night rules.

Unfortunately for him, the gentrification of Old Allentown never really materialized.  The founders of the historic district were too ambitious, and made the district too large. Like minded people were spread out from 7th to 12th Streets, from Linden to Liberty.   Although now concentrated in the 300 and 400 block of 8th and 9th Streets,  another situation now confronts them.

Former Mayor Pawlowski, who himself lived in center city, befriended Old Allentown.  When plans were formulated for the arena and the NIZ,  OAPA (Old Allentown Preservation Association) stood silently by.  Never mind that historic buildings of architectural significance were being demolished and replaced by new construction without any visual merit.  The arena plan even called for event traffic to exit up and out historic 8th Street. Old Allentown should be grateful that the arena was really only a pretext for privately owned, publicly financed office buildings, and has a minimum schedule.  But all this is the good news, the bad news is Strata Lofts.

The owner of the privately owned, publicly financed office buildings has also built loft apartments, supposedly for millennials.  These apartments are being promoted by the local newspaper, The Morning Call. Whatever middle class is still being attracted to center city,  they are now being steered to City Center Loft Real Estate.  Although I have noted this irony and problem before, OAPA still stays silent, hoping for a cookie thrown their way that never comes.

Apr 15, 2019

Mt. Sinai Cemetery


Jews have been buried in a small section of Fairview Cemetery, called Mt. Sinai, for over 138 years. Although the markings on several stones have worn away, Hannah Dreifuss was buried there in 1868. The September 10th Chronicle in 1875 reported that two members of the Jewish faith, prominent Hamilton Street merchants, Joshua Schnurman and Simon Feldman, purchased a section from Fairview Cemetery and applied for a charter for Mt. Sinai Cemetery, thus creating the first Jewish Institution in Allentown.
Fairview Cemetery itself was not formally laid-out until 1870, when the renowned architectural firm Lathan of Buffalo was hired to create the premiere resting place in the Lehigh Valley. The giants of Allentown would be buried there, among them Harry Trexler, the Leh's, and the Mack's of truck fame.
The History Lehigh County, published in 1914, notes Mt. Sinai contained 29 graves. Among them was Julia Wolf, who died in 1907. Her husband Morris served with the local regiment in the Civil War, and lived to be 98 years old. Feldman and Schnurman were among the earliest Jews in Allentown, immigrants from Germany who practiced the modern "Reformed" Judaism. These gentlemen and their extended family members would go on to form the "Young Ladies and Men's Hebrew Society" in 1883, a predecessor to the Keneseth Israel Congregation organized in 1903. Mt. Sinai remained the resting place for Reformed Jews till 1928, when Keneseth Israel established its own cemetery. Burials continued at Mt. Sinai through the 1940's as spouses and passing family members joined those previously departed in family plots. Today there are 78 graves. In July of 2006, thirty years after the previous burial in 1976, Joseph Levine was laid to rest at the age of 103.

Blogger's Notes: Mt. Sinai Cemetery is unaffiliated with any synagogue, and with few exceptions, has been unused for 60 years.

The photo of the fence with Jewish star is a representation. There is no fence around the Mt. Sinai portion of the Fairview Cemetery.

reprinted 

Apr 12, 2019

Allentown's New Oligarchy


In the past I have written about the Livingston Club and that era of Allentown's heyday.  The leaders of the period (except Max Hess) would meet at the Livingston Club, and decide Allentown's future.  The group consisted of John Leh, Harvey Farr,  and Donald Miller.  As a common venture, they owned and operated Park&Shop. The Livingston Club existed because in addition to the oligarchy, there was a hundred other successful business men in center city.

Move ahead fifty plus years, and now there is a new oligarchy, J. B. Reilly,  Lee Butz and Mark Jaindl, but no surrounding business men. Tomorrow night J. B. Reilly is being honored at the library for his contributions to downtown.  That must be some sort of insider rich man's joke. We the taxpayers are financing a $billion dollars of  private property(Center City Reality LLC) for him,  and he is being honored for his contribution to Allentown?

ADDENDUM: This post is in no way meant to vilify these men, neither in the heyday past, or now.  They shaped the town, then and now.  Their enterprise was rewarded with great wealth.

Apr 11, 2019

General Trexler's Bridge


The 8th Street Bridge is one of the marvels of Allentown.  It was built to facilitate the Liberty Trolley run, from 8th and Hamilton to Philadelphia.  I posted about it before, with its impressive statistics. At the time it was the largest concrete bridge in the world.  It involved two business interests of Harry Trexler,  both the transit company and the local cement industry.

Harrisburg and The Morning Call have been braying about the bridges scheduled for improvement and replacement in the area.  Although, I virtually stopped attending municipal meetings,  I still partake in field trips to the local construction sites.  I don't announce myself, and try to be quick and quiet on these unauthorized inspections.  I would prefer not to vanish like Jimmy Hoffa.  I want to inspect the bridge, not end up in the bridge.

On first glance the work on the bridge looks very impressive. The bridge walls have been replaced with new concrete walls, almost identical to the original, even including the lighting pillars. My question is that the roadbed has been raised about 18 inches, but is still supported by the same arches. Eighteen inches of additional concrete on the roadbed and sidewalk is an enormous additional weight load. Furthermore, I have learned that there was bonding issues between the older base and new concrete. Only the approaches, on both ends of the bridge, have been replaced.  This was done because they are the lowest part of the bridge, and the most feasible parts to replace.  However, they were replaced with pre-stressed concrete beams, and the new arches are only decorative panels.  The original approach bases were massive constructions, which probably would have stood another 1000 years.

Only now is the part of the project which I knew to be necessary beginning.  The massive bridge arches has been showing spalling damage over the last decades.  That is the process where old concrete lets loose from the steel re-bar used as the construction frame.

When the project is completed, I do not expect to be invited to the ribbon cutting.

reprinted from July of 2016

Apr 10, 2019

Wehr's Dam, Family Magnet


In 2014,  the South Whitehall commissioners conspired with the Wildlands Conservancy to demolish Wehr's Dam.   Commissioner Tori Morgan assured Abigail Pattishall, from the Wildlands, that it would be an easy deal.  After all, the township's park director(Randy Cope) was the son of a Wildlands director,  and the Wildlands had already formulated the township's master plan park, which called for the destruction of the iconic dam.  Never mind that it is a magnet destination that has attracted generations to its beauty. Never mind that nowhere else can you see water flow over a dam and under a covered bridge in the same spot.

As myself and others rallied to protect the dam,  the Wildlands called in some sacred cow favors. Bill White wrote a column that he wouldn't allow his dog to swim in the water above the dam.  He didn't mention the unique beauty that keeps attracting him to go there,  even though he lives next to a local Allentown park, which also has a pond.  I had to battle for months to get a pro-dam letter printed, finally going over the local editor's head to the publisher.

The commissioners came up with a plan to accommodate the Wildlands.  They would tie keeping the dam to a tax hike, and put it to the voters in a referendum.  When the voters chose to keep the dam anyway,  the township now is ignoring the mandate, and not maintaining the dam. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the Wildlands is corresponding with the state to have the dam condemned.  Although I documented the correspondence,  the Morning Call refused to print my letter, or investigate the situation.

Meanwhile, the township has hired the Conservancy to plan and build a  $multi $million $dollar walkway through the park, as if the dam won't be there.

HERE'S THE IRONY, despite their illegal schemes (ignoring a legal referendum), the dam on Sunday was teeming with families fishing together at the dam.  There is no higher calling for a township and their park department,  than to attract families enjoying themselves. The dam has been doing that for over 100 years.

THE TIME HAS COME FOR THE TOWNSHIP TO DECLARE THEIR INTENTIONS CONCERNING WEHR'S DAM.

Apr 9, 2019

Wehr's Dam Conspiracy Against Voters


The South Whitehall Commissioners never expected the voters to approve the referendum in November of 2016 to retain Wehr's Dam, especially when they had associated it with a possible tax increase. They thought that they could accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy in demolishing the dam, with no political consequence to themselves.

In July of 2014, the Commissioners gave the Conservancy permission to conduct a study of the dam, which was intended to justify its demolition. The engineering firm for the Conservancy then claimed that the dam was leaking under itself, at one small spot. On February 13, 2015, the DEP wrote the township; "The Wildlands Conservancy has recently brought to our attention that there is some confusion relating to the current condition of the Wehr's Dam..." For the Commissioners to have granted the Wildlands Conservancy permission to interface with the state was improper. The dam is the historic property of the township residents, not an outside party.

A subsequent study of the dam by another engineering firm could not confirm the above referenced leak. It is now necessary for the Commissioners to put aside their agenda of accommodating the Wildlands Conservancy, and honor the results of the referendum. They must change their Park Master Plan, which still calls for the dam's demolition. They must now advocate for the dam with the state DEP, and correct any misconceptions about its condition.

Although its been over three years since the referendum, the township hasn't applied one dab of cement to the dam. On the contrary, last year they tried to breach the dam by having a contractor pull a large tree trunk over it. The township has not said or written one word about the dam since the referendum.  The Morning Call has never made one inquiry or written one word about the dam since the referendum. The dam sits in a state of benign neglect, waiting for the state to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy and condemn it. Only this blog defends the dam, its magic, and the voters' wishes.

photograph by Gregg Obst

Apr 8, 2019

Disgrace On Front Street


Students of this blog know that I'm not a big fan of the Allentown Economic Development Corporation.  Under the Pawlowski regime, they adopted his practice of fluff and puff, devoid of much substance.  Up until now my biggest complaint was their ridiculous plan on restoring the Barber Quarry branch rail line to S. 10 Street.  Although I always oppose removing existing tracks,  there is absolutely no reason to restore now missing tracks on speculation.  The probability of them attracting an industry heavy enough to need rail service is no better than zero.  So far, in about 15 years,  all they managed to do is put a go-kart track in a former Mack factory.  Although they have a $multi-$million $dollar budget, I know landlords who better manage more properties with a pickup truck and cellphone.

But today's post is about the former Neuweiler Brewery.  Mike Fleck, Pawlowski's former indicted campaign/business manager,  hooked up Ruckus Brewing with the AEDC,  which gave them the Neuweiler property.  Although Ruckus is primarily a couple young marketing guys with no actual brewing or property development experience,  they were given several extensions on their Neuweiler option.  They are now allowed to harvest income from renting storage space in the former distribution portion of the brewery, but have made no repairs to the brewery portion itself.  Understand that Pawlowski had the former owner actually jailed for conditions at the property, which is in much worse shape now.

The current condition brings us to a new chapter. Despite its imposing industrial architecture, the building may be beyond feasible saving at this point.  Now anything can be saved, but at what cost?  The building is under the public expense program called NIZ.  The NIZ is a unique program, which uses public tax dollars for private ownership.  I would prefer that my state tax dollars not be diverted to save this wreck,  only to enrich some NYC owners.

Now for a reality check.  Only this blog (later joined by LV Ramblings) sounded the whistle on Pawlowski's Allentown.  Only this blog chronicled the situation down at the former brewery.  Bureaucrats and profiting  law firms are always reluctant to cut bait on their previous poor decisions.

Apr 5, 2019

Syrian Flag Controversy


When I read about the Syrian flag controversy at city council,  I sighed somewhat.  Syrians and Allentown have a special bond that goes back over a hundred years.  That community started, and to a large extent stayed, in the 6th Ward since the late 1890's.

During the 1960's they developed a political base, first with D.A. George Joseph, then blossomed under then Mayor for Life, Joe Daddona.  They were Democrats who voted as a block, and held sway over more than one local election. Consequently, their employment by city hall also was noticeable.  Their allegiance to the Assad family is steadfast,  because the Assads were protective of the Christian minority in the homeland.

Paul Muschick has a column in the paper that states that city hall should raise no flag except our own, he writes...The United States is in a trade war with China. We’re haggling with Mexico over illegal immigration. I bet there are plenty of people in Allentown who would object to those flags, too.

Ironically, center city or probably City Center, is scheduling to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Of course that celebration is a transparent attempt to bring some foot traffic to the thirsty for business bars downtown. In blunt reality, all these flag risings in Allentown have always been political pandering, dressed up as cultural appreciation.

By yesterday, another longer established Syrian group came forward to express their support for the mayor's position.

Now, when they're ready for the Molovinsky On Allentown parade, let me know....

Apr 4, 2019

Stealing Businesses Is Now Our Industry


When I was a kid growing up in the 1950's, I couldn't begin to tell you everything that was manufactured in Allentown. If it was transistors at Western Electric, toaster ovens at General Electric, or thousands of shirts and pants at dozens of textile mills, Allentown produced product. We now call distributing all the products Made In China an industry. Commercial Development  is reduced to stealing existing businesses from a neighboring town. We pay people to direct Development Authorities, which orchestrate these musical chair jobs. The tax incentives given to facilitate the musical chairs do nothing for the residents but increase their tax burden. Although having no new product, these Authorities and incentives have become an industry in themselves. They have become the talking points for our politicians. Maybe not as a region or a state, but as a country, we would be much better off producing more, and playing musical chairs less.

photo shows toaster ovens being manufactured on S. 12th St. in Allentown

reprinted from February of 2015

Apr 3, 2019

A Crime By The Wildlands Conservancy

photo by Tami Quigley

The top photo shows the Robin Hood Bridge, before the Wildlands Conservancy demolished the little  Robin Hood Dam, just downstream beyond the bridge. The dam was only about 10 inches high, and was built as a visual effect to accompany the bridge in 1941. It was the last WPA project in Allentown, and considered the final touch for Lehigh Parkway. Several years ago, the Wildlands told the Allentown Park Director and City Council that it wanted to demolish the dam. The only thing that stood between their bulldozer and the dam was yours truly. I managed to hold up the demolition for a couple weeks, during which time I tried to educate city council about the park, but to no avail. If demolishing the dam wasn't bad enough, The Wildlands Conservancy piled the broken dam ruble around the stone bridge piers, as seen in the bottom photo. I'm sad to report that the situation is now even worse. All that ruble collected silt, and now weeds and brush is growing around the stone bridge piers. I suppose the Wildlands Conservancy considers it an extension of its riparian buffer.



The Wildlands Conservancy should be made to remove, piece by piece, all the rubble that they piled around the bridge piers, despoiling the bridge's beauty. City Council should refrain from ever again permitting The Wildlands Conservancy to alter our park designs.

It has been six years since the dam's destruction in 2013, and the bridge piers look more disgusting than ever.  The hypocrites at the Wildland Conservancy, insisting that dams be demolished to improve  the health of the streams,  have never has said one word about the raw sewage that overflows into the Little Lehigh during storms.  The hypocrites didn't want to antagonize any municipality from which they get grants.

Apr 2, 2019

Allentown Parks Victimized


Among the victims of Pawlowski's long corrupt tenure was the Allentown Parks system.  His managing director, Fran Dougherty, hired three park directors in a row with the same background...recreation.  All three of them looked to outside advise in regard to managing the parks' lands.  The Wildlands Conservancy took advantage of this opportunity to dictate Allentown policy and expand their presence in the Lehigh Valley.

They recommended Riparian Buffers along the creeks. Because the storm sewer system is piped directly into the creeks, these buffers are only token, and serve no purpose as true buffers.  However, that reality was of no concern to the Wildlands Conservancy.  They were even given a taxpayer funded grant to plant buffers along the creek in Trout Creek Park. As a consequence of this misguided policy, city residents have lost a unique feature of the iconic parks,  view and access to the creeks.  Ironically, every fall the buffers must be cut down anyway, to prevent invasive species from taking hold.  Also, because of the Wildlands Conservancy policy, we lost the small WPA Robin Hood Dam, and Harry Trexler's Fish Hatchery Dam.

Although Pawlowski is in prison, and we have a new park director,  the system is still under their influence. Along the way, with Allentown's former help, the Wildlands Conservancy became a local sacred cow.  The son of a Wildland's director became park director in South Whitehall, and they dominated that system, even creating that township's park masterplan.  Because they had control of both Allentown and South Whitehall, they are now officially in charge of the $multi $million$dollar Jordan Greenway, which encompasses both municipalities.

Criticism of the Wildlands, a self serving sacred cow, is limited to this blog.  The Morning Call, itself owned by the outside Tribune Corporation, with a succession of outside imported publishers, could care less about such things.

ADDENDUM: It should be noted that the so called environmentalists at the Wildlands Conservancy have never said one word about the raw sewage that spills over into the Little Lehigh Creek.  These hypocrites don't want to antagonize any municipality from which they get grants.  They are allowed to keep 15% of the grants for administrative costs, in other words, their salaries.

photocredit:molovinsky/former Robin Hood Dam

Apr 1, 2019

Allentown Parks Should Lead, Not Follow


I spend quite a bit of time in our park system.  Because of this blog,  people who recognize me often share their park peeves.  Recently, someone complained to me about how many trash containers have been removed from a certain park.  I spoke with a park official and was told that the new fad in park management was encouraging people to take out what they bring in.  I know that is fashionable in natural areas like our national parks.  I'll bet it is fashionable with the Wildlands Conservancy, who has been negatively compromising Allentown Parks, trying to turn them back to au naturel.

Allentown Parks are not state game lands.  You cannot install recreation attractions like disc golf and the prison yard exercise equipment at Jordan Park, and expect people to take out what they bring in. Those who make such decisions should visit downtown on a Monday morning, and survey the litter. If anything, our parks should have more trash containers, not less.

Allentown has an iconic park system that can be improved by trying only to duplicate our previous better days. The park system was widely envied, and graced dozens of souvenir postcards.

vintage postcard of Trexler Park

Mar 29, 2019

Pawlowski's Poor Priorities


The former Barber Quarry rail spur is no secret. The line ran along the Little Lehigh, under both the 8th Street and 15th Street Bridges, ending up near the present day Hamilton Family Diner. I have posted about it often; The Train of Lehigh Parkway, also The Train of Union Terrace and The Junkyard Train. It has played a role in several City plans. It's former railbed would be incorporated into the Trail Network Plan, and the AEDC received a grant to perhaps reinstate the rail line. Both these projects have been covered here at molovinsky on allentown. Today we are told that construction of the 15th Street Bridge replacement will be delayed because of arsenic found by the former railbed. Arsenic, and other pesticides were previously used to make railroad ties. This also is no secret. We are a city which can work with the state government to fast track development for political and private benefit, but are content to have the entire southside isolated. When construction finally does begin, it was suppose to start last November, the bridge will be closed in both directions for over a year. Schreiber's Bridge, the 184 year old stone structure a quarter mile west, has been taking a pounding.*  In 1957 the 15th Street Bridge opened, finally providing a good connection between South Allentown and the remainder of the city. Because Pennsylvania was considering it's replacement, Community Development Director Pawlowski, under Afflerbach, didn't have it's metal beam structure painted. Because Mayor Pawlowski has been consumed with Transforming Allentown, no haste has been applied to the bridge project. While the politicians and press lament about the Hole at 8th and Hamilton, I'm concerned about the quality of life issues; That bridge is one of them.

*This blog has noted the on going damage to Schreiber's Bridge from heavy use with just one lane of 15th Street Bridge currently closed.  This blogger personally informed Mayor Pawlowski of the damage. 

reprinted from May of 2012

Mar 28, 2019

Grumpy Old Men


The incoming emails have been signed Grumpy Hahn. Grumpy rang a bell with me, because the moderator of local facebook page called me bitter. Seems like such adjectives are used for those who find the ethics of Allentown less than pristine.

The facebook groups which are supposed to focus on issues in Allentown, instead find fault with anybody who criticizes the NIZ. Grumpy Hahn is aka Tom Hahn. In 2015, Bernie O'Hare did a piece on him and his challenge to City Council on their ethics. Hahn was grumpy about the city paying Abe Atiyeh considerably more than the apprised value of two parcels it didn't need for the park system. I advocated against the purchase at the time, and since then that they should be sold, even at a loss. 

Tom Hahn is life long resident of the east side, and still isn't on board with the city's agenda. He agrees with Dennis Pearson, who is still complaining about the east side always getting the short end of the stick.

If Hahn expressed himself on these facebook groups instead of emails,  he would most probably be branded a naysayer.  If we naysayers are all gray haired seniors,  and the young activists think Allentown is on the right track,  perhaps Ed Pawlowski can be re-elected when his prison term is over.

Mar 27, 2019

Capernaum By The Sea


Matthew 4:13: And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum,...

Capernaum, the city of Jesus, is on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The foundation of the Synagogue of Jesus, is beneath the ornate 4th century synagogue, partially restored by the Franciscans in the early 1900's.
Mark 1:21: he entered into the synagogue and taught
Nearby, the modern Church of St. Peter's House was built by the Franciscans in 1990. It's glass floor reveals the lower walls of the 5th century octagon church, which was built around the walls of St. Peter's House. Also there, shown in the photograph, is the Greek Orthodox Church of the Twelve Apostles. It was built in 1931, during the British Mandate period (1917-1948).

reprinted from December 2014

Mar 26, 2019

Hard Words From Soft Machine Gallery


John Mortensen opened his Soft Machine Gallery in a hard neighborhood, Ridge Avenue down in the 1st Ward. Selling art and culture in Allentown is a hard sell. However, I don't think John need fret about his choice of location, because selling art on Hamilton Street is equally a hard sell. Although there is a $billion dollars of new buildings on the Hamilton Street NIZ District, being financed by $70million of our tax dollars annually, even the Moravian Bookstore's annex couldn't survive there.

What brings me to John's Gallery is his continuing struggle on a local facebook group about Allentown Issues. He has documented how desolate the NIZ is, despite the massive public financing of privately owned buildings. Some group members, rather than appreciate his input, think that they should be cheerleaders for the NIZ. They accuse him of being negative. One person even claimed that they could take pictures of desolate Ridge Avenue. John replied.... you are comparing Center City to the 1st Ward.. first mistake. Our gallery is in a long forgotten about neighborhood that is typically avoided so bringing people to events are sometimes challenging.

I applaud John for his efforts on Ridge Avenue. Likewise, I applaud Billy Mack for his efforts on 4th Street. These counter culture efforts, in off path locations, make for an interesting city.

John Mortensen is a write-in candidate for Allentown City Council

Mar 25, 2019

Joe Collins, Fraternal Order Of Police


About six times a year, for the last 20 years, Joe Collins from the Fraternal Order of Police calls me in his deep official voice.  Joe doesn't mention that he's not from the Allentown Fraternal Order, or any other local order, but rather from a for profit phone solicitation business, which gives a couple cents on the dollar to some police department somewhere.  Never mind that I'm supposedly on the useless Pennsylvania Do Not Call List.

Several years ago Joe got so mad at me that he actually called me back twice in a roll. Lately, rather than confront the deception,  I simply tell him that I'm not interested,  and hang up.  I assume that Joe is that businesses' best producer.

I suppose that after this post Joe might change his name, but not his game.  I think that it is long overdue for the local police departments to clarify their skin in these calls, if any.  If none, all the more reason for some public clarification.

Mar 22, 2019

Reading Eagle Files Chapter 11 Protection


As the crow flys (or eagle), Reading isn't far away, but its always been a long ride, even with the new by-pass. Their newspaper, The Reading Eagle, like the Morning Call was years ago, is family owned. Unlike the Call, now part of Tribune, it remained family owned. While Allentown is bigger, both papers report to have about the same circulation. While the Call's employees are hoping to unionize, the Eagle amployees are hoping to keep their jobs. The Eagle has filed Chapter 11, which holds back creditors, while the owner searches for a buyer.

Considering that it is the dominant media in the Berk's County area, I suspect that a buyer will be found.  In the meantime, I don't see their employees unionizing.

Mar 21, 2019

Rumble At Allen


There's a fight at the Allentown School District, but it isn't students, rather it's the school board members.  As reported in The Morning Call, Charlie Thiel has challenged fellow board member Bob Smith's petition signatures.   Smith posted his reaction on his Facebook page.

I received a call from fellow board member Charlie Thiel, former friend and a gutless coward  Charlie stated he is challenging my petitions .Charlie wants to get rid of the last Republican on the board, and is very scared I will get more votes then him. Charlie does not understand I love doing this job, but do not need it as a stepping stone for mayor, like Charlie does. As a Catholic I know how Jesus felt when betrayed by Judas, Charlie is a Judas. I know how Charlie has lost the respect of myself, my wife, children, and grandchildren and any real friend I have.I have lost elections, and i have won them, but never attacked or challenged the will of the people.That is what Charlie does not understand,.... I am not going away and plan to work and expose the many mismanagements of his tenure as President, and his not do anything but stay down middle that he never makes a decision. I fight for our students staff, and taxpayers, not fighting for my next political job like Charlie...

To continue posting from Facebook, here is Scott Armstrong's take on the challenge. Scott served on the board for four years.

Charlie Thiel Challenges the filing petitions of a real hero! Bob Smith has been selflessly serving on the Allentown School Board for many years, he has at times been elected by fellow board members to be board president. All have praised dedication to duty. What many people may not know is that several years ago Bob risked his life to save someone and in the process he nearly lost his own. The woman he saved was relatively uninjured, but Bob was hospitalized for an extended period and needed many surgeries to recover. Bob's comeback is a testament to his fortitude.It is also worth mentioning that while hospitalized Bob made every effort to stay current on school board duties.This said, the truth is no one completely recovers form a thirty foot fall onto concrete, and Bob's mobility is limited. Therefore one can rightly be disgusted and shocked that able bodied Charlie Thiel would challenge Bob Smith's petitions. Has this self proclaimed man of God any scruples? Apparently not. What he does have is an ugly and competitive partisanship that has no place on the school board.

Although Bob and Scott both use unflattering religious imagery against Charlie,  Thiel is entitled to challenge the petition.  Although such challenges are unusual in a school race, they are common place in other elections.  Regardless of the legal outcome, nobody can ever question Bob Smith's dedication to Allentown Schools.

Mar 20, 2019

Allentown's Teeming Success


These two photos, together showing Allentown center square, were taken on Monday afternoon (March18,2019) at 4:30PM, by John Mortensen. Readers of The Morning Call would never know what a failure the NIZ is. While diverting $70 million dollars a year of taxpayer money to private debt service, nobody has benefited, except one man, who owns most of the new buildings. 

Meanwhile, back in Deceptionville, the paper promotes the NIZ district as if it was a humming, teeming success. Meanwhile, back in Deceptionville, they report the ANIZDA meetings as if they are real deliberations.

Mortensen's pictures were posted to a local facebook group.  In addition to the paper providing no balance to the NIZ story,  neither do the facebook groups, for the most part.  This particular group found the pictures misleading and negative.  I was actually called a "bitter old man" by the moderator, and muted.

John Mortensen is a write-in candidate for city council.

Mar 19, 2019

Depot At Overlook Park


Old timers have noticed that the contractor's building on Hanover Avenue transformed into a community center for Overlook Park. But only the oldest, or train buffs, realized that the building was the freight depot and office for the Lehigh & New England Railroad. Lehigh & New England was formed in 1895, primarily as a coal carrier. The line ran from Allentown to Maybrook, New York.

In 1904 it was acquired by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. The line ceased operation in 1961. Among it's infrastructure were impressive bridges across both the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers, both of which were dismantled. Ironic that a remnant of our industrial era is being utilized by the successor of a public housing project.

reprinted from February of 2014

Mar 18, 2019

Another Morning Call Infomercial

As an advocate for the park system, seeing the above photograph from the Morning Call article on the Lehigh River parks, was a harsh joke.  The article is subtitled, Insider's Guide To The Lehigh Valley. It actually is an outsider's guide. The reporter states that he has never been to these parks previously, and his tour gulde is Pawlowski.  I'll go further, and doubt that any of recent park directors have ever been to Canal Park, which is in a condition somewhere between neglect and hazard.  Before I go further, let's be clear that the Morning Call asked Pawlowski, whose negligence allowed the iconic Lehigh Parkway entrance wall to collapse, to be it's tour guide in the parks.  Nothing has been done in Canal Park since Pawlowski was elected as mayor in 2005, or before that, when he served as Community Development Director, under Mayor Afflerbach.  Pawlowski even refers to the train line through Canal Park as a problem.  Someone should inform him that it is the main west line of Norfolk Southern, and more relevant to Allentown than he is, certainly at this time. As if that wasn't enough irony, Pawlowski is considering a new park to neglect,  for boat launching. All this attention about the river is part of the paper's hype for the new NIZ construction, soon to begin by the Tilghman Street Bridge. In a recent exchange with a Morning Call writer/editor, he defended the informercials
concerning the NIZ. Although I have been sending notes to the paper about the deplorable conditions in the existing parks, they choose instead to engage in a puff promotion for the NIZ, featuring a future indictee. Pass the Tums.

ADDENDUM: In regard to an earlier post, regarding emergency repairs needed at Union Terrace, shared by somebody on facebook,  Joe McDermott commented, "Fine, who is willing to pay more taxes to make those repairs, Mike Molvinsky, maybe?"  This is disturbing, because McDermott is a former Morning Call reporter who now pens for Pawlowski.  So, although this administration paid Abe Atiyeh $1.4 million dollars for land it's not using or needs for the park system, it employs a hack to link park maintenance with higher taxes.

photo by April Bartholomew/The Morning Call

above reprinted from October of 2015

UPDATE MARCH 18, 2019: Pawlowski is gone. The park department has a new director, and while I'm more optimistic about the parks than I have been since 2005, Canal Park's neglect and isolation is still a problem. My advocacy and outspokenness for the parks continues...

Mar 15, 2019

Best By Test


Growing up in Little Lehigh Parkway, now called Little Lehigh Manor by the Realtors, the milkman was an early morning fixture.  Almost every house had the insulated aluminum milkbox.  The milk trucks were distinctive, and the drivers wore a uniform, indicative of their responsibility.  Freeman's milk was the best by test, or so the slogan said.  Their trucks were red and immaculate.  The dairy building  still stands, a quarter block north of 13th and Tilghman Streets.  They competed with a giant, Lehigh Valley Co-Operative Farmers.  That dairy, on the Allentown/Whitehall border, just north of the Sumner Avenue Bridge on 7th Street, even sported an ice cream parlor.  Milk, up to the mid 50's, came in a bottle.  The milkman would take the empties away when delivering your fresh order.  In addition to white and chocolate,  they produced strawberry milk  in the summer.  About once a week the milkman would knock on the door to settle up;  times have changed.






Occasionally the bottle, and later the cartons, would feature themes and advertisements.  A picture of Hopalong Cassidy would entertain young boys as they poured milk into their Corn Flakes.  Earlier, during the War, (Second World) bottles would encourage customers to do their part;  buy a bond or scrap some metal for the war effort.

reprinted from 2015

Mar 14, 2019

Smelling The Roses In Allentown


Paul Pozzi started working for the Allentown Parks Department in 1979. In 1985, he joined the small crew at the Rose and Old Fashioned Gardens. For the last decade, the gardens have been solely under his magnificent care. We who take solace in that magic place owe him a debt of gratitude. 

Unfortunately, the rose garden has been infected by a disease, and some drastic measures are necessary. The Morning Call reports that a large portion of the roses must be removed, the planting beds sanitized, before new rose bushes can be planted. We are fortunate that Paul is on hand for this project.

photo by Molovinsky, flowers by Paul Pozzi

Mar 13, 2019

No Mercy For Little Lehigh Creek


Over the years I have documented the sewage leaks in Lehigh Parkway, both into the creek and onto the adjoining banks. The EPA was on Allentown's case for over a decade. Allentown ran down the clock with different proposals, until they leased the water systems to Lehigh County Authority. The different municipalities, then on the hook, came up with bandaid solutions. For instance, South Whitehall, rather than improve their pipes, decided to bang the homeowners. Each house would be inspected, and any condensation from central air conditioning would have to pumped out of the house, rather than dripping into a basement drain. The floor drains, which were installed to protect the house from leaks, would have to be closed off.

According to a Morning Call article, this past summer saw more sewage than ever flow into the Little Lehigh. Despite this worsening reality, the EPA has withdrawn their mandates, and will settle for a drop in the bucket...the banging the homeowner plan.

While the rate payers of LCA might, I say might, enjoy a reprieve, clean water advocates should be outraged.

photocredit:molovinsky

Mar 12, 2019

The Mad Men Of Allentown


Back in the day, the titans of Allentown would fill the five barberchairs of the Colonial Barbershop, 538 Hamilton Street. That was when the town had three department stores. That was when Wetherhold and Metzger had two shoe stores on Hamilton Street. That was when Harvey Farr would meet Donald Miller and John Leh at the Livingston Club for lunch, and discuss acquiring more lots for Park & Shop. By 1995 all that was gone, but Frank Gallucci, 82, would still give some old timers a trim. The Colonial Barbershop property, closed for many years, has been purchased by J.B. Reilly. It is my pleasure to present this previously unseen portrait of Gallucci, toward the end of his career.

photocredit:molovinsky

reprinted from September of 2017

Mar 11, 2019

Allentown's West End Train

The Lehigh Valley Railroad operated a train branch line which served Allentown's commercial west end. It ran along Sumner Avenue servicing the scrap metal yards, warehouses and numerous coal dealers located there. The line then crossed Tilghman Street on a diagonal at 17th, before looping back east by Liberty Street at the Fairgrounds. The line ended at a rail yard now housing the small shopping center at 12th and Liberty. Although many of former commercial buildings still exist, all now house more retail type businesses. The B'nai Brith Apartments occupy the site of the former Trexler Lumber Yard. These historical shorts are difficult to write. Most current residents have no frame of reference to our former commercial past. True historians, such as the local railroad buffs, cringe at the lack of detail and specific location of the tracks. Suffice to say, that once upon a time, the mid-section of Allentown had much more commerce.

photo of train crossing Tilghman at 17th Street taken by Kermit E. Geary in 1974, from the Mark Rabenold Collection.

above reprinted from March 2014


Although there are several Facebook groups about Allentown, I decided to fashion and start another. Like this blog, the group will focus on local history and politics, but with a markedly different tone.... It is intended to discuss the city's past, present and future in a non-partisan manner. It will neither be liberal nor conservative. It is not a nostalgia site for the best pizza, nor a gripe site about the worst city council member. Posts will not be restricted to Allentown, but anywhere in the Lehigh Valley. Unlike this blog, most of the posts will be submitted by members other than myself. While I start out as the default moderator, I may be joined by others with a local history background. You're invited to join. The group is named ALLENTOWN CHRONICLES, and another link can be found on my facebook page.

Mar 8, 2019

When A Mack Factory Made Trucks And A New Page


In yesterday's post, I called Site Selection magazine's praise of business in center city Allentown distorted.  It's based mostly on J. B. Reilly's poached tenants from surrounding areas.  Now the Morning Call cites the same article with a piece praising a recycling business in the former S. 10th Street Mack Factory.  They fill the building with contruction debris, and then sort the trash.  While the former factory once employed 1500 men,  the Morning Call portrays that using a former factory for a dump, with less than 20 employees, constitutes some sort of success.

In the past I have posted about the Mack factories on S. 10th Street, and their part in Allentown history. They produced trucks for WW1, and also played a part in WW2. Hundreds of men would use the WPA steps everyday on their way to work.

Although there are several Facebook groups about Allentown, I decided to fashion and start another. Like this blog, the group will focus on local history and politics, but with a markedly different tone.... It is intended to discuss the city's past, present and future in a non-partisan manner. It will neither be liberal nor conservative. It is not a nostalgia site for the best pizza, nor a gripe site about the worst city council member. Posts will not be restricted to Allentown, but anywhere in the Lehigh Valley. Unlike this blog, most of the posts will be submitted by members other than myself. While I start out as the default moderator, I may be joined by others with a local history background. You're invited to join. The group is named simply ALLENTOWN, and another link can be found on my facebook page.

photocredit:Monica Cabrera/The Morning Call

Mar 7, 2019

Cummingham's Used Cars


If ever there was a successful used car salesman, it has to be Donny Cunningham.  I saw an article on WFMZ about how successful the Lehigh Valley has become.  Needless to say, the article quotes both Donny and J.B. Reilly.  What it doesn't reveal is that all the new tenants in downtown Allentown were poached from suburban Allentown. What it doesn't reveal is that this transfer of jobs from taxes previously going to Pennsylvania,  to the taxes now going to Reilly's debt service, has actually created a massive tax loss to all citizens of Pennsylvania..  Furthermore, even Allentown itself has not benefitted from the new construction...the city just experienced its own tax increase.

The article was based on some business magazine article, which took its data from Reilly and Cunningham issued publicity...  Now Reilly and Cunningham are citing the article as proof of the success they are sponsoring.

Mar 6, 2019

Trump And The Media


I'm continually astounded by the media and Trump. From my point of view,  the media, especially CNN and The Washington Post, have set their sights on the president. The front third of CNN every day centers on Trump, and what he supposedly did illegally. A column in the Washington Post accused Fox News of casting aspersions against legitimate inquires. While this scrutiny of Trump has been going on since the inauguration in 2017, now the news is the news.

The Morning Call, which is essentially in a search for readers and survival, featured the Washington Post's Opinion piece. I suppose, with the mid-term election results, that their bet might make business sense.

Mar 5, 2019

Ce-Ce Walks The Walk


Ce-Ce Gerlach is running for Allentown City Council.  My first encounter with Ce-Ce was in September of 2013, when she organized a fundraiser for school uniforms.  The post below appeared at that time.


Ce-Ce Gerlach rocked South 16th Street this afternoon with a block party to raise funds for school uniforms. The block was packed with people enjoying several carnival attractions, music and food. From all reports, the new Allentown school uniform policy seems to have gotten off to a good start, but one issue is the cost of the clothes.  With a large, low income student body, this can become a family hardship.  I'm sure Ce-Ce's organizing abilities will help with this problem.  I've had a couple of conversations with Ce-Ce this past month, and I believe she will be a factor in Allentown's future. (reprinted from September of 2013)

Mar 4, 2019

Israel In Today's American Politics


These are trying times for American support of Israel.  As Democrats and the media obsess against Trump,  that vilification is being smeared on Netanyahu, and Israel itself. The media is delighted by corruption charges against Netanyahu, and paints him and Trump as brothers from the same mother.  Between Netanyahu being described as Trump's friend,  and new critics of Israel in Congress,  American support is being tested.

This new packaging of Israel by the left creates a dilemma for American Jews, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic.  I'm sure that support of Israel will remain as part of the party's platform,  but historical canards about Jews and Israel will only increase in the new climate.

Mar 1, 2019

Voting Machine Madness In Lehigh County


The old voting machines were 800 pound monsters. They resembled old time photo booths found in arcades. In Lehigh County, these heavy steel booths would be trucked and placed in the various polling locations by prisoners of the county jail. When the county was mandated to replace them with  electronic machines for the 2006 election, I felt it was unnecessary. When they immediately disposed of the old machines, I knew that was a mistake. Those old monsters were reliable, foolproof and verifiable.

Governor Wolf has decreed that votes must now have a physical receipt. Although, Tim Benyo, Chief Clerk of Elections, claims that the new paper ballots are not going back in time, it sure seems that way. Some off the old mechanical machines, in addition to tallying the votes, also had a adding machine type of paper verification. Of course the expense of replacing those old mechanical wonders would now be prohibitive. So the new plan is paper ballots, which will then be electronically scanned.

The old mechanical machines were hack-roof.  The current electronic machines are also hack-roof, not being connected to the internet.  Their replacement and disposal will be another knee-jerk reaction.

Feb 28, 2019

Flights Of Fancy


Readers of this blog can learn from my search engine, (right sidebar of web version) that I'm a long time critic of projects at the Lehigh Valley International Airport. The fact that there are few flights that hardly go anywhere, never stops them from expanding the underused facility. In my previous criticism, I took them to task for planning a separate transportation hub, when convenience of the existing one was one of their few advantages. When the airport's largest incoming flight arrived yesterday, no taxicabs were on hand. The airport will have a new transportation hub, with no transportation.  Now they want to build a hotel?

What people want are flights and destinations. What this airport needs is a new executive director, and a new board of directors.

Feb 27, 2019

Allentown Photographic


My experience with Allentown Photographic in the late 70's, at 12 N 8th Street, was not unlike my grandparents 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 at night 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 juggler's mementos.

reprinted from 2014

Feb 26, 2019

Welcome To The Vendig


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 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.                                                      

reprinted from 2016

Feb 25, 2019

Union Rumbles At Morning Call


An article on Lehigh Valley Live, web version of the Easton Express, reports that elements at the Morning Call want to unionize.

While the group has already created a website and facebook page, as of 5:00PM on Monday, there is still no report about it in the Morning Call itself. While those employees interested are pictured in a photograph, I noticed that some of those who might be considered senior staff are not involved, at least as of this writing.

While those organizing are fearful of Tribune policy and job security, ironically a journalism professor at Lehigh has a column in the paper stating how the industry is holding its own. Talking about Lehigh Journalism teachers, Bill White likes the group's facebook page. I sincerely doubt that he would be part of the effort if still employed by the paper.

Although, I'm generally not a union guy,  I wish the group success with their mission.

UPDATE: At 7:25PM an article on the unionization effort appeared on the paper's website. The article states that the request for union (The News Guild) recognition was signed by 48 employees, which is 79% of the staff.  The article was written by Morning Call Staff.

Citizenship The Hard Way


According to my mother, a Gypsy prince was buried in Allentown years ago, 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 Nazis... Even the cemeteries were desecrated. As you can see from the document above, my grandfather earned his citizenship the hard way.

reprinted from previous years

Feb 22, 2019

The Livingston Club, Allentown's Benevolent Oligarchy


Back in the day, when the town had three department stores, the major decisions affecting Allentown's future were made at the Livingston Club. Harvey Farr would meet Donald Miller and John Leh at the Club for lunch, and discuss acquiring more lots for Park & Shop. The bank officers of First National and Merchants Bank would discuss loans with the highly successful merchants, many of whom had stores in all three major Lehigh Valley cities. As the heydays wound down, likewise the exit plans were made there. The City of Allentown acquired the Park & Shop lots, becoming the Allentown Parking Authority. Leh's became the Lehigh County Government Center.

The new oligarchy consists of much fewer men, they could all meet at a small table in Shula's, and be entertained by watching street people arrested. The former 1st National Bank location is now a new Reilly building. The former Livingston Club building is now a parking lot, and future site to another Reilly building. Shula's is also a Reilly building....

reprinted from August of 2015

UPDATE: Dear readers,  I found the demise of older Allentown depressing, and new Allentown painfully boring.... Shula's, referred to above, didn't last... of course referring to an alley as an Art Walk, didn't make it so.  In spite of the Morning Call (now also a Reilly building) compromising its journalistic integrity to outright promote the NIZ district, it remains a sterile collection of new tasteless buildings.

Feb 21, 2019

History Of Union Terrace



The area now known as Joseph S Daddona Lake and Terrace has a rich history. The stone arch bridge dates back to 1828.  If Lehigh County had its way, the bridge would be gone now. I'm proud to have played a large part in saving it.  The park consists of the former city ice skating pond, and the WPA amphitheater.

This blog previously featured the train of Union Terrace, which was near the end of the former Barber Quarry Branch line... Talking of tracks, shown above is the freight station of the Allentown and Reading Traction Company.  Their trolley would go under the Dorney Park roller coaster on its way to Kutztown.  Many of you would know the freight building many years later, as the store and home of Joe and Ann Daddona.

reprinted from April of 2013

Feb 20, 2019

French Hill




French Hill went straight up from the old mill along the Nashua River, in Nashua, New Hampshire. It was always a poor neighborhood, housing mill workers and immigrants going back over a hundred years. Almost all the buildings on the narrow streets were wood, except the churches. The name came from the many French Canadians drawn there to work. I lived on the Hill during the early 1970's, on the top floor of a triplex.



The old wooden three unit was heated by gas space heaters and the whole building would rumble and shake when a vehicle came down the street. In the morning I would walk down the hill, through the mill property and over a pedestrian bridge to the old main street, where I worked in a photography store. A google search tells me that the neighborhood now houses street gangs. Nashua is right over the border from Massachusetts, yet I would have never imagined such urban problems reaching so far north.


The above post is a reprint from 2010.  Years ago I also never imagined Allentown having gangs,  nor the shootings and stabbings which are now occurring.