Oct 27, 2021

The People's Candidate

In the late 1970's, neighbors would gather in the market on 9th Street to complain and receive consolation from the woman behind the cash register. Emma was a neighborhood institution. A native Allentonian, she had gone through school with Mayor For Life Joe Dadonna, and knew everybody at City Hall. More important, she wasn't shy about speaking out. What concerned the long time neighbors back then was a plan to create a Historical District, by a few newcomers.

What concerned Emma wasn't so much the concept, but the proposed size of the district, sixteen square blocks. The planners unfortunately all wanted their homes included, and they lived in an area spread out from Hall Street to 12th, Linden to Liberty.* Shoving property restrictions down the throats of thousands of people who lived in the neighborhood for generations didn't seem right to Emma. As the battle to establish the district became more pitched, Emma began referring to it as the Hysterical District.
Emma eventually lost the battle, but won the hearts of thousands of Allentonians. Emma Tropiano would be elected to City Council beginning in 1986, and would serve four terms. In 1993 she lost the Democratic Primary for Mayor by ONE (1) vote.

Her common sense votes and positions became easy fodder for ridicule. Bashed for opposing fluoridation, our clean water advocates now question the wisdom of that additive. Although every founding member of the Historical District moved away over the years, Emma continued to live on 9th Street, one block up from the store. In the mid 1990's, disgusted by the deterioration of the streetscape, she proposed banning household furniture from front porches. Her proposal was labeled as racist against those who could not afford proper lawn furniture. Today, SWEEP officers issue tickets for sofas on the porch.

Being blunt in the era of political correctness cost Emma. Although a tireless advocate for thousands of Allentown residents of all color, many people who never knew her, now read that she was a bigot. They don't know who called on her for help. They don't know who knocked on her door everyday for assistance. They don't know who approached her at diners and luncheonettes all over Allentown for decades. We who knew her remember, and we remember the truth about a caring woman.

* Because the designated Historical District was so large, it has struggled to create the atmosphere envisioned by the long gone founders. Perhaps had they listened to, instead of ridiculing, the plain spoken shopkeeper, they would have created a smaller critical mass of like thinking homeowners.

reprinted yearly since 2010

Although it has been almost two decades since Emma passed, she still incites controversy. A Republican supporter of Heydt still resents her opposition to the Rental Inspection law. Some Hispanics still wrongly believe that she was a racist. I could tell both of them that Emma was a Democrat,  when Allentown was still a two party town, and that voters were much more engaged then than they are now.

Oct 26, 2021

Morning Call's Hot Air

Readers may recall that not so long ago I took the Morning Call to task for promoting an announced candidate, Mark Pinsley, in one opinion piece after another.  Pinsley is a political opportunist, who has run for higher offices after just getting elected to a lessor one. Within the last few years he has run for South Whitehall commissioner, Lehigh County controller, and state senator, now for the second time. 

My first post on this topic was triggered by the frequency of his editorials, complete with a large portrait of him. In the last year the Morning Call ran his opinion pieces about once a month.  

What brings us to today's post is his current editorial on airship travel from LVIA to NYC.  Never mind that no such thing exists anywhere, and its only purpose is to provide another opportunity for candidate Pinsley's oversize portrait. Perhaps the paper, rather than submit its paid readership to nonsense editorials, could go ahead and feature Pinsley's picture on the front page every day, but leave space on the editorial page for other people writing about real issues.

Oct 25, 2021

Weak Link On Parkland Ballot

Friday's post on Phoebe Harris inadvertently flushed out an unqualified candidate for Parkland School Board. When the post was shared on a couple of Facebook pages,  a few supporters of Harris came to her defense. Among them was Michael Millo, who wrote Big deal...she asked for a loan. Seems hyper political (referring to my post). I thought it was a big deal, or I wouldn't have written the post. I also find Millo's comment a big deal, because he's running for the Parkland School Board. 

South Whitehall hasn't recovered from its own ethical breaches,  embezzlement by a former controller and no audits for a decade.  The Parkland School System is very much a large part of the township's success. It's vital that candidates for the school board have both the savvy and ethics required, Millo doesn't appear to.

Phoebe Harris is a Democrat. Mike Millo is a Republican.  It's essential that voters disregard political affiliation in local elections and pick the best candidates.  We need sharp people, not red pencils or red ink.

UPDATE 8:00AM:  I have been informed that Mr. Millo withdrew as a school board candidate in August. When I met him last spring and he told that he had just moved here from Texas,  my thought was that he should hold off running for any local office until which time he became familiar with the issues, i.e. some institutional knowledge.  While I didn't see his withdrawal preparing this post (his withdrawal is not even stated on his campaign facebook page, only that he will be out of "commission"), I did see  numerous endorsements from local members of the Republican party. I found the endorsements disappointing, considering the candidate's lack of local background.

Oct 21, 2021

Ethical Question At Allentown School Board


Allentown school director Phoebe Harris requested a personal loan from longtime district solicitor John Freund late in 2019. When Attorney Freund declined the loan request, her demeanor toward him changed drastically. This year he was replaced as solicitor to the district. 

This sequence of events raises numerous questions. Did Harris use her influence with the other directors to retaliate against Freund for denying her a personal loan? Did any other school directors know of the loan request and denial? 

For someone who sat at her mentor Pawlowski's trial, she must have known that her actions were ethically tainted. 

UPDATE OCTOBER 23: I have changed the word Violation to Question in the title. While it's certainly a question,  a violation should be determined by her peers on the board. I have deleted the last sentence calling for her resignation.  With only ten days remaining until the election,  the voters will judge her actions.

When 6th Street Was West Allentown

In 1903, the 600 block of 2nd Street housed one Russian Jewish family after another. They built a small synagogue there, which was kept open until about twenty years ago. My grandfather, who then worked at a cigar factory, had just saved enough to bring his parents over from the old country. They lived in an old house at 617 N. 2nd. The current house at that location was built in 1920. By the time my father was born in 1917, the youngest of five children, they had moved to the suburbs just across the Jordan Creek.

My grandfather lived on the corner of Chew and Jordan Streets. He butchered in a barn behind the house. The house is still there, 301 Jordan, the barn is gone. He would deliver the meat with a horse and wagon. On the weekends, when the family wanted to visit friends, the horse insisted on doing the meat market route first. Only after he stopped in front of the last market on the route, would he permit my grandfather to direct him. excerpt from My grandfather's Horse, May 13, 2008

Allentown has just designated the neighborhood west of the Jordan to 7th Street, and between Linden and Tilghman Streets, as Jordan Heights. The area encompasses the Old Fairgrounds Historic District. Allentown's old fairground, in the years between 1852-1888, was in the vicinity of 6th and Liberty. It was an open space, as is the current fairground at 17th and Chew Streets. When my grandparents moved to Jordan Street it was a modern house, just built in 1895. Many of the Jewish families moved to the suburbs between Jordan and 7th. The Jewish Community Center was built on the corner of 6th and Chew, today known as Alliance Hall.
I wish the Jordan Heights initiative well. There's a lot of history in those 24 square blocks, and hopefully much future.

reprinted and retitled from previous years

photo: Opening of Jewish Community Center, 1928, 6th and Chew Streets.  Now Alliance Hall

Oct 20, 2021

Bob Smith For Allentown School Board

Regular readers of this blog know that I'm non-partisan, a registered independent, and very reluctant to make endorsements.  I have often encouraged people only to vote on those ballots on which they are informed, and pass over the other contests. In my opinion a few informed votes are much more meaningful than random picks.  As for straight party voting, I think that it should be very much discouraged.  

With all the above said and out of the way,  the purpose of this post is to inform you about Bob Smith, with the hope that he will gain your vote. I've known Bob for twenty-five years, and you would be hard pressed to fine someone more dedicated and sincere.  Years ago Bob was seriously injured saving the life of a suicidal nursing home patient, who pulled them both over the edge of a roof.

Bob was on the school board previously, and is again making his experience available to the taxpayers. We who pay Allentown school taxes could find no better friend than Bob Smith. Nobody is more familiar with the structure and needs of the school system. 

I'm grateful that he is again making himself available to serve our students.

Oct 19, 2021

Ce-Ce Praises Philly Pro-Crime Policy

Philly's newest pro-crime policy is not to stop cars for minor violations.  The rationale is that the stops disproportionately affect people of color.  Never mind that large sections of Philadelphia are predominantly Black.  Allentown's own Defunder, Ce-Ce Gerlach, praises the new policy.

Several years ago they decided not to arrest people for shoplifting, until the merchants finally protested loudly enough.  Over the weekend a woman was raped on a subway, with no fellow passenger even calling for help.  Philadelphia appears out of control.

Years ago, when Ce-Ce first expressed interest in Allentown government, this blog supported her.  At the time I published  numerous posts on her behalf.  A few years ago my independence was misconstrued as a lack of loyalty.  While some might consider that a character flaw,  support for public officials has to be reevaluated when their policies change.

Oct 18, 2021

Promise And Promotion In Allentown

While the Morning Call promises us the news in its promotions, it mostly promotes Promise Neighborhood and other woke distractions from our grim reality. While the shooting  at the Lancaster Mall still didn't make the Morning Call by Monday morning, the weekend paper was full with an essay on Hasshan Batts' Promise Neighborhood,  marching against the shootings in Allentown last week.

My issue with the Hasshan Battses of Allentown is not only the distraction from what I call the grim news of Allentown's reality, but also the effort to divert precious public safety funds from actual law enforcement.  While Batts' employee Cynthia Mota  and other distractors actually sit on council, so far the mayor's office realizes that our survival lies with the police department. Nevertheless, those seeking office must pay homage to Batts and other opportunists in the new violence industry.  It doesn't help that the paper and their cub reporters drink the woke kool-aid which will eventually be our demise.

While our aspiring politicians must appease the defunders to harvest enough votes to win, and our paper also wrongly wallows in that mentality, this blog understands that our future relies on the Blue.

Oct 15, 2021

Shootings In Allentown

Over the weekend there was another shooting in Allentown. Funny thing about these shootings, in most of the cases, nobody knows nothing. Nobody hears, sees or says anything to help the police solve these crimes. However, let someone get pushed down by a police officer, then we have videos and testimony against police brutality.

The recent shooting was on 4th Street, but don't expect to see any advocacy groups protesting the violence, or the public's lack of cooperation.

molovinsky on allentown is published weekdays Monday thru Friday.  You will find a perspective and candor here not found anywhere else in the valley. Comments are accepted using your name or by establishing a pseudonym. Pseudonym identities remain unknown to both myself and other readers. Your readership is appreciated. 

reprinted from September of 2018

UPDATE NOVEMBER 10, 2020: Although the above post is over two years old, in regard to this past weekend's shooting, it could be a new post.  Once again, the advocates against police brutality, who have been louder than ever in this past summer, are silent about the shootings this weekend. Some of these advocates have been hyped as leaders by the Morning Call, and now are candidates for mayor. 

UPDATE OCTOBER 15, 2021: This is my second post this week about violence in Allentown, but it's also the second shooting this week. As I stated yesterday, we have a good chief, but it's time for many more policemen in Allentown...Many more boots on the ground.

Oct 14, 2021

Allentown Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Yesterday, Allentown event promoter Alfonso Todd wondered aloud why Allentown's  political establishment was distracting itself with doing away with English as the official language, when wholesale shootings were occurring on main streets during the day and early evening.  Todd knows that nothing hurts or slows down an event or city as the much as people feeling unsafe.

While our progressives concern themselves with defunding the police and social issues,  our reality demands more police than ever on the streets.  We have a popular, excellent chief, but he needs a bigger force to cope with the Allentown of 2021.

While this blog is steeped in history,  the Allentown of yesteryear is no more.  A recent resident commented that Allentown is a better place now than it was ten or twenty years ago.  That's a hard statement for me to evaluate,  having graduated from William Allen in the mid 1960's.  Like the strawberry pie at Hess's, the Allentown of my reference is never to return.  However, as Mr. Todd observes, we must at least make our main corridors a safe place.  Call me old fashioned, but my prescription would be for many, many more policemen.

Oct 13, 2021

Allentown Memorabilia

The time and market for Allentown memorabilia has come and gone. With a changing population, and the graying of the older town folks, objects of our history are destined for the landfill. Even the local historic society concentrates on shows of general interest, such as Abraham Lincoln. In addition to having been a retail mecca, Allentown manufactured a large assortment of products. Allentown was stamped on tools, knifes, and metal products of all kinds, distributed nationwide. A local regional food product was the hard pretzel, a variation of the traditional German soft pretzel. Allentown had several pretzel companies. Miller's operated out of their factory at 732 Tilghman Street, between 1944 and 1978. In the coming months this blog will profile some of these Made In Allentown products, before litter and meaningless slogans became our legacy.

reprinted from July of 2013

Oct 12, 2021

The Morning Call Assassinates Marty Northstein, Twice

The first assassination of Marty Northstein occurred in 2018, just prior to the congressional election, in which he was a candidate.  They reported that he had been suspended from a cycling directorship because of an obscure allegation almost twenty years prior. Although the allegation was found to have absolutely no merit, the adverse publicity probably cost him the election.

While Northstein rightly sued the paper, he recently dropped the effort. The paper's editor, Mike Miorelli, crows about how right and courageous they were in printing the story back then.  Strange rationale from someone who just defended not printing an actual confession from another candidate,  just prior to this past primary election. 

The current article put another bullet into Northstein, by not noting his innocence from the allegation until almost the end of the article.

ATTENTION: Any local candidate for the November 2021 election is welcome to forward a short position piece for publication.

Oct 11, 2021

The Legend Begins

On July 4th, 1934 Joe louis made his debut as a professional fighter. Eleven months and nineteen straight victories later, most by knockout, 62,000 fight fans would jam Yankee Stadium to watch the new sensation fight the giant, Primo Carnera.

New York, New York - Primo Carnera, giant Italian boxer and former heavyweight champion of the world, and Joe Louis, hard-hitting negro heavyweight from Detroit, Michigan, weighed-in this afternoon at the offices of the New York State Boxing Commission for their fifteen round bout tonight at the Yankee Stadium. - 6.25.1935

Although badly battered from the first round, Carnera would gamely stay in the fight till it was stopped in round six. The legend of the Brown Bomber was clearly established.
photo of Primo Carnera

This blog has produced 24 posts chronicling the Joe Louis boxing era, many featuring Abe Simon, a Jewish heavyweight of the era... Simon and my mother were cousins. Lately, Allentown violence has allowed me little time and space to visit Madison Square Garden in the early 1940's. During the next few weeks I will reprint some of these posts, while still assigning staff to the city beat. One of my attractions to the boxing world is the black and white photography produced during that era. The public would listen to the fights on the radio, and then see the photographs in the newspapers the following day. While reproducing these posts, I may in some instances substitute alternative photographs, all classic images from the age of film and flash bulbs.

reprinted from 2012 

UPDATE OCTOBER 11, 2021: I postponed my scheduled post today in reaction to the Fury fight this past weekend. I think that Fury and Carnera had a lot in common, very large men with little skill. Fury is actually larger than Carnera was.

Oct 8, 2021

Allentown's Blind Spot

When it comes to scrutiny by the major media in Allentown, WFMZ and The Morning Call, it's fair to say that there isn't any.  While I have long criticized the Morning Call about their wholesale promotion of Reilly's NIZ Kingdom, allow me to now include the TV station.  

In a report about the recent NIZ meeting, the city Deputy To The Director Of Economic Development, as if we need such a position, endorses upgrading the gateways to Reilly's Kingdom. Thank you anyway, but Pete Lewnes has been doing fine on 7th Street with our money for over a decade already. We were also reminded that Reilly can trade out parcels he already owns in the NIZ, for parcels outside the original map. That map and all the rules were written in pencil by Pat Browne.  The report richly claims that Reilly is president of City Center Investment Corp. The company has invested about $800 million in the city, changing the Allentown skyline and attracting residents and businesses. Reilly sees more to come.  Because these NIZ investments are paid for by diverted public tax money, but privately owned by Reilly, to write and broadcast that the developer invested it is disingenuous, either by ignorance or deception.

Occasionally I get contacted by someone doing research on the WPA.  I'm always told that my writing on that topic is mostly all they can find.  I think that when it comes to future students scrutinizing the NIZ,  again this blog will be about all that they will find.

Shown above is the north side of the 700 block of Hamilton Street, just prior to its demolition for the arena. Almost all images on this blog can be enlarged by clicking on the photo. 

Any local candidate for the November 2021 election is welcome to forward a short position piece for publication.

Oct 7, 2021

New Problem For Allentown's WPA

For the last five years I have been advocating for the landings on Lehigh Parkway's Double Stairwell to be repaired.  I have recently learned that the city is holding off until a consultant for the Trexler Trust makes a recommendation about which kind of mortar mix the mason contractor should use.  This is truly a case where the perfect is the enemy of the good.  Flagstone patios and landings need to be repaired about every twenty years.  Because leaking water can undermine the structure and steps, it is much more important that the repairs are done in a timely fashion, than exactly which cement composition is utilized. 

A personal mission of mine is to advocate for the preservation of our remaining WPA structures, we have already lost several. If in the course of this mission I offend any city officials and/or Trexler Trust members, while I apologize for that,  I have no regrets about pursuing the mission.

The picture above showing the deteriorated top landing of the Stair Structure is five years old. It and the landings below have only further degraded, and are in immediate need of repair.

ATTENTION: Any local candidate for the November 2021 election is welcome to forward a short position piece for publication.

Oct 6, 2021

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.


reprinted since 2013

ATTENTION: Any local candidate for the November 2021 election is welcome to forward a short position piece for publication.

Oct 5, 2021

Our Elected Goodness Squad

While I normally maintain a firewall between Molovinsky Property Management and Molovinsky On Allentown,  a recent letter to the editor must be addressed.  County Commissioner David Harrington and City Councilman Joshua Siegel recently wrote that tenants being evicted should be represented by public defenders. 

As a manager involved in evictions over the decades, I can attest to the fact that a large segment of tenants don't pay rent out of choice, rather than any hardship, even during the pandemic.  A public defender is a lawyer paid for by the taxpayers. Needless to say their first move would be to request a continuation, or more time and loss for the property owner. Most property owners never recover the rent not paid prior to eviction. Landlords have been squeezed between the eviction moratorium and municipalities & banks wanting their taxes and mortgage payments.

While the public at large never loses sleep over the problems faced by landlords, if Harrington and Siegel had their way, they would be subsidizing the delinquent tenants.  With so many businesses not being able to find employees to hire, we know that there are people eagerly milking the pandemic.

Taxpaying homeowners should also wonder what else these elected officials are being so generous about with their money.

Any local candidate for the November 2021 election is welcome to forward a short position piece for publication.

Oct 4, 2021

The Trexler Greenhouse

The former greenhouse at the current Trexler Park was the pride of Harry and Mary Trexler. The General was very specific in his will about its future;
I, Harry C. Trexler declare this to be my last Will and Testament: ......into the Treasury of the City of Allentown, for the perpetual maintenance of said Park, (Trexler) as well as the Greenhouse thereon located. This bequest shall include all the plants and other contents of said Greenhouse (1929)
Although nobody in charge of Allentown remembers, the greenhouse was a thing of wonder... Full of banana trees and other tropical plants, it was a true escape from winter for all visitors. The park director at the time touted all the money in maintenance to be saved if it was demolished. A couple years later the same director replanted the creek banks by the intersection of Cedar Crest Blvd. and Cetronia Rd.. That planting cost $750,000. I recall the price, because Longwood Gardens built a new greenhouse for that same amount, we had just lost our greenhouse, and only had a new creek weedwall to show in its place.  

Several years ago Allentown Park Department cut down all those plantings, and we now have nothing to show for our loss of the greenhouse. Even back then, I was an advocate for the traditional park system. Current visitors to Trexler Park don't notice that the weed wall has been cut down, and certainly don't know that they lost a beautiful greenhouse in the backstory.

reprinted from 2014. Postcard of Trexler duckpond from the glory days of the Allentown Park System

Any local candidate for the November 2021 election is welcome to forward a short position piece for publication.

Oct 1, 2021

Allentown Archeology

When it comes to the history of industrial Allentown, the railroad buffs are among the current experts. Our heavy manufacturing base moved it's materials on the tracks of several railroads. The Front Street area was crisscrossed with tracks and sidings. The West End Branch ran along Sumner Avenue, crossed Tilghman Street, looped around 17th Street and ended near 12th and Liberty. The Barber Quarry Branch ran along the Little Lehigh until it then followed Cedar Creek. It crossed Hamilton Street near the current Hamilton Family Restaurant and ended at what is now the Park Department Building. The rail buffs are current day archeologists, looking for remnants of those glory days. Shown above is a portion of the Barber Quarry pier and track. This is at the bottom of Lehigh Street hill, near the former bank call center, near the former Acorn Hotel, in a former city still called Allentown.
photo courtesy of Mike Huber, Coplay
related posts
The Train of Lehigh

The World of Mirth
Lehigh Valley Railroad Piers
Depot at Overlook Park

ADDENDUM: This remnant of the previous railroad bridge is part of the Wire Mill Bridge over the Little Lehigh 

reprinted from 2011 

ADDENDUM: Any local candidate for the November 2021 election is welcome to forward a short position piece for publication.

Sep 30, 2021

Only The Best For Public Housing

For an Allentown historian with an interest in photography, the photo above is as good as it gets; Eleanor Roosevelt visiting Hanover Acres, Allentown's new public housing project in 1942.  Paul Carpenter has a column where he brooded about public housing recipients complaining that they can't smoke, while living on our dime. I'll do him one better. They're now griping about it in new housing, Overlook Park. Hanover Acres and the newer project, Riverview Terrace, were both torn down several years ago to construct new townhouses. It's supposedly a mixed income project, with homes both for sale, and Section 8 rentals.
Over the years Hanover Acres became a "terrible" place to live, a crime-ridden eyesore. Overlook Park, the $88 million development that's sprung up in its place, however, is "beautiful." Daniel R. Farrell, executive director of the Allentown Housing Authority, described turning Hanover Acres into Overlook Park as "an amazing transformation."The development features 269 rental apartments and room for 53 single-family homes.
It was built by Pennrose Properties, which specializes in politically correct and politically connected housing for profit. They have done well in Allentown with Mayor Ed. Not long before Hanover and Riverview were demolished, they were completely remodeled, with high end kitchen cabinets and counters. Shown below is yours truly, in Little Lehigh Manor, built in 1944. Those brick houses of the same vintage are still new enough for home buyers today. Most of Allentown's existing row houses were built between 1895 and 1930. If Carpenter is upset about smoking, he should drive over to Overlook Park and see what they're now smoking in.

reprinted from July of 2012

Sep 29, 2021

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 2011

Sep 28, 2021

Mike Schlossberg For Himself

In an exchange this weekend on facebook, Mike Schlossberg revealed that he is opposed to the most sought after reforms in the State House. He said these are things that he doesn't want to do.  He is against term limits, or reducing the statehouse size, and would happily fight against such reforms.

In December of 2015 he was caught ghost voting, which is reaching over and casting the vote of someone not present. The missing representative confirmed that Schlossberg did not have his permission.

Schlossberg typifies the worse problems in Pennsylvania state government...Career politicians focused on their pensions, not value for the taxpayers. Consequently, we have one the highest income tax rates, one of the highest gasoline tax rates, and one of the largest state houses.

Sep 27, 2021

Quick To Cast Judgement

Allentown's upcoming squad of political hopefuls is very quick to cast judgement. When a school board member cited systemic racism in defending a salary, and I used the word reparations in a blog title,  I found myself on the wrong end of their bullhorn. Never mind that the blog premise was overpaying for unknown results, they were eager to brand someone. 

Joining the fray was none other than vote seeker state rep Mike Schlossberg.  He took the opportunity to comment that just because a person has a blog doesn’t mean they have an opinion with any value.  I think the same can be said about of the opinions stated by some state representatives. 

While there certainly isn't anything wrong with people in positions of leadership looking like the majority of citizens they serve, such as with new police chief Charles Roca, making that the criterion can be very limiting. In regards to the school district, the school board was obsessed with the superintendent "looking" like the students, as if the students ever knew who the super was anyway.

Sep 24, 2021

Allentown To Pay Dearly For New Superintendent

Allentown School District has stepped up dearly by giving the new school superintendent a salary($230,000) beyond the average taxpayer's dreams. It is  probably beyond the new superintendent's dreams also, because it exceeds what his superiors were earning back in Ohio. 

School board member Phoebe Harris defended the salary because of the years of systemic racism. She believes that we are paying up for the best. Mr. Stanford may turn out to be the best, but needless to say that should be determined by performance and longevity, not proclamation. Sorry to report that the board's decision was unanimous.

On the bright side, for both reason and taxes, former school board member Bob Smith Jr., (who is running again for his old position), criticized the starting salary as ridiculous. 

ADDENDUM: This morning, when this post was placed on an Allentown issues group, it created quite a controversy. An Allentown activist declared that the title was a slap to the face of every black person in Allentown. The premise of the post was that the new unproven superintendent was being paid or overpaid an incredibly high salary. The genesis of the early morning quippy title was the school director citing systemic racism in the discussion defending the salary. I hope that black readers take the title as unintentionally insensitive,  as opposed to an intended slap. 
UPDATE 3:46: State Rep Mikey Schlossberg decided to join the fray and accuse me of racism. I can only hope that if he writes such a resolution, that he only votes on it once. In the back and forth, he didn't acknowledge my comments about his ghost voting.
UPDATE 9/25/21: I modified the post title to end the distraction from the salary issue.  If the new super works out, how much will they have to pay him at the contract renewal? How much will it cost for parity in the administration office?

Phoebe Harris shown above in 2017

Sep 23, 2021

The Boat Landing

Getting to the Boat Landing, for six year old boys who lived above the park in 1953, was quite an adventure. There were three other wonderful WPA structures to navigate on the journey. Unfortunately,  poor foresight by a previous park director has erased some of the WPA's monuments in Lehigh Parkway. As the postcard from the mid-50's above shows, the Boat Landing (my name for the structure) was a source of pride for the city and park system. It is located at the end of the park,  near Regency Apartments. I use the present tense because remnants of this edifice still exist,  buried under dirt and debris. Other attractions lost in that section of the park include the Spring Pond near the Robin Hood parking lot, and the bridge to the "Island", plus the mosaic inlaid benches which were on the island. ( Island halfway between parking lot and boat landing). Neither the Mayor or the Park Director knows that these centerpieces ever existed. These are irreplaceable architectural treasures well worth restoring.

UPDATE: The above post was written in May of 2009. Later that year I organized a small group of volunteers, and we unearthed a portion of the boat landing. The next year I prevailed on the Allentown Water Shed Foreman, Michael Gilbert, to expose the remaining stones around the Spring Pond and remove the growth hiding the Miniature Bridge.

Trexler Smiles, Landing Revealed
I believe that today, for the first time in decades, General Trexler had something to smile about. Most people never understood why three steps were near the lower entrance of Lehigh Parkway; they seemed to lead nowhere. This morning eight people joined a grass root effort to unveil, for the first time in decades, the structure I called the Boat Landing.
Buried under the dirt and grass were several more steps leading to a landing. Chris Casey was the first to arrive and cleared these steps and the first landing himself. A second set of steps led from the landing to the main landing on the creek. These second steps had a foot or so of ground and plants.
The quality and condition of the stonework is excellent, as was all our WPA icons. I will be polite and say only that it was a crime to have let this neglect occur. On the main landing the accumulated earth was two and half feet thick. The crew dug out the curving retaining wall several yards in each direction, and cleared off the top of the wall.
Eight people working four hours managed to reveal about one third of the landing at the bottom of the steps. It was a thrill to realize we were standing at creek's edge as the WPA architects had envisioned. I stood there often as a boy. There still remains a large portion of dirt to remove at the steps base, but you can now experience the Boat Landing.
The retaining wall and the landing continue for fifty feet or so in both directions. Unfortunately a huge tree has grown on the landing to the right, but the left appears reclaimable.
We who worked there today, hope to return and clear off the remainder of the dirt at the bottom of the steps.

Perhaps others will be motivated to clear off the remaining portion of the landing to the left. Now that might even be an idea for the City; imagine restoring an irreplaceable icon instead of buying something from a catalogue. I'm most grateful to all those who helped today, and will reveal their names with their permission.

Michael Molovinsky,
I just wanted to thank you for organizing today’s cleanup at the “Boat Landing” in the Lehigh Parkway. It’s not often that one gets to help unearth a treasure while barely leaving home, but that’s exactly what happened today.

It was truly impressive what big difference a small group of people can make. I can’t even estimate the amount of dirt that was moved with nothing more than a few shovels and a lot of hard work.
We can only hope that the City and the Trexler Trust will become aware of this location and start giving all the great structures in the Parkway the care they deserve.
However, the best part of the story for me came after we all left. I got home and my daughter Lucy (age 7) wanted to know how things went. We hopped in the car and soon we were walking up to the stairs leading to the landing. The sun was shining, and the sunlight trickled through the trees and onto the freshly-exposed stairway.
Lucy asked if she could go down to the landing by the water and next thing I knew we were both there at the waters edge, standing on what had been buried only a few hours earlier and marveling at the beauty of the location.
We spent a few moments there - a father and daughter both enjoying something completely “new” to us (even though the landing is over 70 years old). We talked briefly about what was – and more importantly what could be again.

Thank you for making that moment possible, and I hope many others take the opportunity to visit the landing in the near future.

Mike Schware
P.S. – After visiting the landing, Lucy and I walked further upstream and saw the remnants of the bridge to the island (near the water fountain). The remaining supports of the bridge confirmed what you had told me earlier about the island being much smaller years ago.

I organized the excavation shown above in 2009. We did return and remove the remaining dirt at the bottom of the steps.
reprinted from two separate posts combined

Sep 22, 2021

A Personal Memoir

I'm not sure memoir is a good title, rather than facts and records, I have hazy recollections. Assuming my memory will not improve at this stage of the game, let me put to print that which I can still recall. In 1960 my father built Flaggs Drive-In. McDonalds had opened on Lehigh Street, and pretty much proved that people were willing to sit in their cars and eat fast food at bargain prices. For my father, who was in the meat business, this seemed a natural. As a rehearsal he rented space at the Allentown Fair for a food stand, and learned you cannot sell hotdogs near Yocco's. He purchased some land across from a corn field on Hamilton Blvd. and built the fast food stand. In addition to hamburgers, he decided to sell fried chicken. The chicken was cooked in a high pressure fryer called a broaster, which looked somewhat like the Russian satellite Sputnik. The stand did alright, but the business was not to my father's liking, seems he didn't have the personality to smile at the customers. He sold the business several years later to a family which enlarged and enclosed the walk up window. Subsequent owners further enlarged the location several times. The corn field later turned into a Water Park, and you know Flaggs as Ice Cream World.

I'm grateful to a kind reader who sent me this picture of Flaggs

reprinted since 2009

ADDENDUM: Allentown and its environs have changed considerably in the last 60 years. While Yocco's is still a very viable business in the suburbs, the center city demographic changes no longer supported selling hot dogs at 625 Liberty Street. After 85 years, that store closed in the summer of 2016.  Flaggs (Ice Cream World), rather than being outside of town, is now on the way to Hamilton Crossings.

Sep 21, 2021

Have Wrench, Will Travel

During the Pawlowski regime, the city vehicle maintenance contract was given to the mercenary contractor Constellis, which had absorbed the infamous Blackwater soldiers of fortune. 

One division of Constellis dedicated to such vehicle contracts is named Centerra. The annual Allentown contract is for $2.4 million, plus additional expenses. 

When the FBI came to Allentown to investigate Pawlowski the potential menu was very long, eight years of contracts. I was told recently by some current and former city workers that their work is sometimes hindered by a shortage of working vehicles. Also this summer Centerra employees threatened to strike over wages, supposedly less than industry standards. Ironically, their quest for higher wages was supported by the local municipal union and city council members, which will eventually increase the cost of privatization. 

While the current contract is good through 2023, hopefully the new mayor will evaluate what option is actually in the city's best interest.

Sep 20, 2021

Manny Pacquiao Not First Boxer To Run For President

In California these days, everybody walks around with a yoga mat strapped to their back. That certainly wasn't the case in the 1930's, when heavyweight contender Lou Nova studied yoga. Nova was the World Amateur Heavyweight Champion and a proponent of clean living. He won his first twenty two fights as a professional. His promoters said he perfected the Cosmic Punch. Only 6'2", he fought in the era of giants. He handed giant Abe Simon his first defeat after thirteen victories, eleven by knockout. Nova knocked out 6'4'' Max Baer twice. The 1939 knockout is one second away, in the above photograph. Baer himself had won the championship by knocking out Primo Carnera, the Italian giant who was 6'6" and weighed 284 lbs. Baer lost the championship to the Cinderella Man, Jim Braddock. Joe Louis took the belt from Braddock and held it for twelve years, being arguably the best fighter in history. Clean living didn't serve Lou Nova so well with the notorious dirty fighter Two Ton Tony Galento. Galento almost gouged his eye out, putting him in the hospital for weeks. Nova got his shot with Louis on September 29, 1941, but fell in six. Nova would go on to act in movies and even was a write-in candidate for President of the United States. He dropped out of the campaign because his mother was afraid he would catch a cold shaking so many hands. She wasn't afraid of him being in the ring with some of the toughest men in the world.

reprinted from December of 2012

Sep 17, 2021

Moshe Dayan

Moshe Dayan on born on a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee in 1915. When he was 14, he joined the outlawed Haganah, an underground defense force to protect Jewish settlements from Arab attacks. Although caught and imprisoned by the British for two years, he would fight for them in Lebanon during WWII, losing his eye. In the 1948 War of Independence, he fought on all the fronts defending Israel... By 1953 he was Chief of Staff of the Israeli Armed Forces. In 1956 he led the Suez Campaign.

In 1967 he was Defense Minister for the Six Day War. He remained in that position through the War of 1973. Although a genuine hero in every sense of the word, he was held responsible for the initial success of Egyptian forces in the surprise attack on Yom Kippur (1973), and would resign from his position.

Israel is too small of a country and its enemies too numerous, for any miscalculations regarding its security.

reprinted from April 2010

Sep 16, 2021

Ezekiel's Tomb

Ezekiel's Tomb is south of Baghdad, in Al Kifl. The tomb dates back to the 6th Century B.C., during the Babylonian exile. Prior to creation of Israel in 1948, 100,000 Jews still remained in Iraq; Today, there are eight.

Last year Hebrew lettering was covered over in fresh plaster, in a process to turn the ancient Jewish shrine into a mosque. Fortunately, word leaked back to Israel and to the Jews of Iraqi descent. That community's history in Iraq spanned 2,700 years, 1,000 years before the birth of Islam. The renovation is now under international scrutiny, and hopefully the Jewish elements will remain. The photo shows Iraqi Jews in front of the tomb in 1932.

Conflicting reports: There are conflicting reports, both about the condition and intentions for the shrine. Here is an article from The Jerusalem Post, dated May 2010, which claims that there has been no damage (recent) to Jewish inscriptions.
NY Times recent article, Oct. 19, 2010

reprinted from previous years

this post was pre-programmed to post on September 16

Sep 15, 2021

In The Public's Best Interest

I always snicker when I read that J. B. Reilly's latest proposal has to go in front of this commission or that committee. None of those appointed puppies have ever turned down one of Reilly's NIZ projects.  Shown above is the frame and plywood construction of the Strata Flats building #1. Many years ago when I built a very small four unit building in center city, I was told it had to be all masonry to meet fire codes.

The other day Matt Tuerk praised Reilly's City Center Development Company's completion of the Lanta Terminal. The terminal was reconfigured so that City Center itself could build yet another apartment complex. The compliment bothered me, because Matt may be Allentown's next mayor.  Councilperson Candida Affa followed suit with a comment that City Center gets it done right and fast. Our public officials and the people that they appoint are supposed to scrutinize development and construction in our city.  It is inappropriate for them to hold preconceived ideas that someone always does the job correctly.

Candida Affa was Ed Pawlowski's biggest fan on council, and the last member to concede that he violated the city's trust.  City Center construction may indeed do good work, but taking that for granted is not good policy.

This post is not meant to imply that plywood plaza shown above does not meet current codes. However, in this era of public/private partnerships, it is not in the public's interest to make assumptions that everything will done properly.

photo of Plywood Plaza aka Strata Flats

Sep 14, 2021

The Misconception Of Hamilton Street

There's not many mid size cities that can boast having two national chain stores within one center city block, Allentown could. Not too many cities could say that one of those stores was one of the biggest producers in a chain of over 7000 stores, Allentown could. There's not many cities that are ignorant enough to tear down their most successful block, a virtual tax machine, Allentown is. This horrible mistake took a combination of political arrogance and public misconception. The arrogance is well known, so let me concentrate on the misconception. The perception was a few undesirable people, buying cheap things. The reality is Family Dollar sells the same merchandise in their suburban and rural stores. Rite Aid fills the same prescriptions and sells their standard merchandise. The new upscale stores, visioned for the arena front, will never produce the sales tax produced by Family Dollar and Rite Aid. The arena will never have that amount of employees, nor produce that much earned income.* The traffic congestion and lack of parking for arena events will destroy the new restaurants. Welcome to the white elephant, welcome to the ghost town.
Shown above and below is the early morning delivery to Family Dollar, every week of the year.
*sales tax and earned income currently going to city and state will now go to debt service for arena
reprinted from December 5, 2011

ADDENDUM OCTOBER 8, 2019: While The Morning Call promotes Allentown's new NIZ zone, only this blogger documented the reality of the former Hamilton Street. While the Moravian Book Store could have been restocked from a small hand basket once a month, the previous Family Dollar Store needed a full tractor trailer every Sunday.  Retail is virtually destroyed on Hamilton Street. Over seven years later, and the Morning Call is still deceiving about Hamilton Street, and this blog is still delivering the truth.

Sep 13, 2021

City Hall Insults The Neighborhood

This is a post which I spend a week trying not to write. It is a story of favoritism and abuse of power. About four years ago a homeowner, in a quiet south side neighborhood, moved out and rented the house to his brother. Under Allentown regulations this property hence became a rental property, and subject to license and inspection procedures. As it turns out, these brothers are childhood friends with an Allentown inspector. The second brother, the tenant, has been disruptive in the neighborhood by every criterion relevant to code enforcement. The property became unkempt and subject of numerous police calls, including the SWAT team. All calls for relief from surrounding properties seemed to end up with the family's inspector friend, and brought no relief from the problems. Allentown has been very pro-active with problem properties. In the first eight months of 2010, 342 properties received orange tags, forcing the property to be vacated. Most tags were issued for problems significantly more minor than those occurring in the subject of this post. This past October, the bank foreclosed on the property. The tenant legally became a squatter. A neighbor's complaint resulted in another inspector discovering that the bank owned property was an unregistered rental, and he issued a 30 day to vacate tag for illegal occupancy. It appeared that finally the neighbors would get relief from the trash, noise and police calls. The childhood friend inspector intervened, and the 30 day notice was never enforced. My efforts with the inspector on behalf of the other property owners (including myself) were to no avail. I have spent the week documenting the problem up the chain of command, right to the Mayor's office. Although the property is in gross violation of code, the illegal tenant is allowed to remain. Although in the last eight months police have surrounded the property several times in complete violation of the disruptive tenant ordinance, the occupant remains. In typical City Hall fashion, they have circled the wagons around the inspector, around their own. They are now actually trying to work with the bank and make him the homeowner. The top photo is the back yard on May 9, 2011, with years worth of garbage. You will be happy to know that a city contractor has now been hired to clean the property and cut the grass, at your expense. The City's course of action is a total insult to the neighbors. I did see some inspectors today, they were walking around my property. 
UPDATE: I understand that the occupant is a disabled US Veteran so that may have played into the equation. City Official June 16, 2:02pm Mr. XXXX, I understand that he is a disabled veteran. I don't know if you have received all my emails, first to the inspector, then XXXX, then XXXX. Two years ago I had to treat his unattended green swimming pool with bleach, (because the city complaint was repressed) last year I had to paint his totally peeled porch.... He has no legal basis in that house whatsoever..... Frankly, the situation is an outrage. You may want to check the police reports. Twice police have surrounded the house in the last 8 months alone... Is this social work or code enforcement? Michael Molovinsky p.s.. he is not physically disabled, and I don't know if his mental health issues are military related, nor is it relevant to code enforcement. I do know that he is family friends with an inspector who has put myself and other neighbors off for years. He is the same inspector who has issued hundreds of orange tags to other properties in the same period for much less problems. Being a disabled veteran is not the reason for this favoritism, but the excuse now being used. I have no doubt that at least some of the hundreds and hundreds of units vacated by the same inspector, also housed a few disabled veterans.

above reprinted from June of 2011

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 13, 2021: During the Pawlowski regime, city code enforcement was weaponized.  As both a landlord and blogger, I took on substantial personal risk to expose the Pawlowski regime for its corruption.  While the Morning Call borrowed some my other blog posts without attribution, they never once used ones about city hall shenanigans...That's why Pawlowski got away with things for so long. 

I'd like to tell you that city hall is completely cleaned up, but it isn't. Just two years ago I had to defend an east side woman from code abuse. While things are certainly better at city hall, it's still filled with people who were appointed and promoted during Pawlowski's three terms. While there's still a residual arrogance of power there, I'm hopeful for a more accountable city hall as time passes.  

Although the years have slowed this blog down somewhat, I'm still on patrol.

Sep 10, 2021

Morning Call Pushing Pinsley

The Morning Call editors continue to publicize Mark Pinsley, trying to help him fulfill his current quest to become a state senator.  They are currently using bold type for Pinsley's name on his letter to the editor, featuring it on their digital version. Normally those blocks do not contain a letter writer's name, much less in bold type, normally reserved only for a reporter's by-line.   

There's only two constants at the Morning Call anymore...A local political agenda, and the silence of the former and remaining staff. While a recently departed reporter told me that she was free to write what she chose,  she still put out the company line, even through she was being shown the door. I suppose even those recommendation letters have a price.

Sep 9, 2021

A Good Vote For The Wrong Reason

On Wednesday night Cynthia Mota made a good vote for the wrong reason. When voting for Charles Roca as the new police chief she said “We need our leaders to look like the people they’re serving and Chief Roca reflects that..." When a city puts color or ethnicity first before competence, it's compromising the best results for the citizens. 

This time for Cynthia Mota the result was good, which is more than can be said for many of her votes. During the Pawlowski corruption rampage, her first vote as a council person was for a private company to import garbage to Allentown, which they wanted to mix with sewage and burn for energy. Fortunately, that plant was never built because of funding shortages. She also nominated Hasshan Batts for replacement mayor after Pawlowski's resignation, without revealing that she worked for him. That conflict of interest story was first broken on this blog, and used by the Morning Call without attribution.

Roca appears to be an excellent choice for new chief. A Dieruff graduate, he rose through the department ranks. He's taking the top post for a very hardscrabble job. It burnt out his predecessor, who moved away to Mayberry. I for one will be giving the new chief latitude. I won't be looking at short term crime reports, but instead for long term trends.

photocredit:Wanda Genao de Salas

Sep 8, 2021

Violence And Tooth Fairies

When this blog first began in 2007, I would write about the poverty magnet.  Those bureaucrats and agencies set up to assist the poor managed to attract a lot of clients to Allentown. They offered free move in money and were very successful in their mission.... Allentown is now officially impoverished.  In addition to the poverty industry, we now have graduated into the violence industry.

We are told that if we redirect some of our policing funds to those agencies set up to combat violence, we will reduce crime in the community.  I will leave details of the program to those woke enough to believe in such notions.  However,  they might want to consider that despite spending $155 million dollars on such programs, Philadelphia had 500 killed from its 2,200 shootings last year.

Although I write about things which are thought about by many but left unsaid by most, I have no delusions about effecting change.  However, I will note that many who care about quality of life issues have already moved out of Dodge. 

artwork by Mark Beyer

Sep 7, 2021

The World Of Mirth

Allentown at one time had two very productive railroad branch lines; The West End, and the Barber Quarry. The Barber Quarry, for the most part, ran along the Little Lehigh Creek. It serviced the Mack Truck plant and Traylor Engineering on South 10th, and continued west until it turned north toward Union Terrace, last ending at Wenz's tombstone at 20th and Hamilton Streets. (years earlier it crossed Hamilton St. to the former bottling plant in the park dept. garage) The West End, for the most part, ran along Sumner Avenue, turning south and looping past 17th and Liberty Streets, ending near 12th St.

The wonderful photograph above shows the World of Mirth train at 17th and Liberty. World of Mirth was the midway operator at the Allentown Fair during the 40's and 50's. In the background is Trexler Lumber Yard, which burnt down in the early 1970's. The B'nai B'rith Apartment houses now occupy the location. 

reprinted from 2010

photograph from the collection of Mark Rabenold

Sep 6, 2021

Hootchy Nights At The Allentown Fair

Morning Call columnist Bill White had a piece earlier in the week where he lamented that  Bobo the dunking clown was no longer at the fair. Although that's about as funky as it got for Bill in his era,  we older Allentonians remember much hotter nights at the fairgrounds. Up to the late sixties the fair had girly shows. I'm going back to the era of Gooding's Million Dollar Midway and Benny's Bingo. I'm going back to three midways packed between the Farmer's Market and Chew Street. I'm going back to when the fair only started after Labor Day.

I mentioned in one of my previous fair posts that Fred Schoenk and I made and sold printed t-shirts at the fairs during high School. At the Kutztown Fair we were hired by the burlesque show owner to letter a new banner for his show tent...as high school boys we would have paid him for the experience.

reprinted from September of 2018

photocredit:molovinsky...Black rock and roll review with strippers, 1969 Allentown Fair

Sep 3, 2021

Wildlands Conservancy Takes Over South Whitehall Township

When the Wildands Conservancy placed the son of their Chief Financial Officer as park director about a decade ago, they never imagined that they would actually officially take over the township.  At that time the township was still being professionally managed, and positions were filled by job searches.  In the ensuing years, mostly under the leadership of Tori Morgan,  loyalty and obedience replaced professionalism.  When one director moved on, his assistance was moved up. When that person moved on, perhaps his secretary would then be appointed director.

Former park director Randy Cope, who morphed into public works director, is now the new township manager.  His father's Wildlands Conservancy was given the Greenway Project contract.  Their  deceitful backchannel communication with the state, trying to condemn Wehr's Dam financially,  has turned that $50k repair into an unnecessary $750k capital project. Cope never defended the dam's structural integrity, although he knows how massively overbuilt it is. In my world, rather than being promoted, he should have been fired.

I was hoping that with a couple new commissioners, and more to come, that South Whitehall was turning the corner from the Morgan era.

A new facebook friend on Allentown Chronicles suggested that I befriend both candidates for Allentown mayor, in order to help my WPA advocacy.  Although the advice is sound, she doesn't know me or this blog very well.  Likewise, although I was encouraged about the new faces on the South Whitehall dais,  their poor decisions will be front and center here.

ADDENDUM: I'm shown above at Wehr's Dam in 2014, when I started the fight to save the dam. At that time the commissioners were more than willing to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy and allow them to demolish the historic dam,  which was already a destination for over 100 years and the reason that Covered Bridge Park was created.  That 2014 fight resulted in the 2016 dam referendum, which the commissioners never expected to pass. It took me five years to get the Morning Call to write about the damn dam story, and then rather than report what really happened, they instead whitewashed what had occurred. 

Sep 2, 2021

The Great Allentown Fair

The Morning Call website is hosting an archive of Fair Pictures from over the years. Being a fan both of fair pictures and black and white photography, looking at the 111 photos presented was a treat.

The photo shown above, which I will get back to, reminded me of one of my unique fair experiences. In previous posts, I have discussed that both my father and myself had stands at the fair. While my father learned that you couldn't sell hotdogs near Yocco's, I learned that drunks leaving the beer garden loved to buy printed T-shirts.

But today's post has to with George Kistler, long time City Clerk during the 1950's and 60's. George loved the fair, and loved sharing his fascination with a large group of people. I was fortunate enough to be invited several times. The routine was always the same; Dinner at a local stand on the eastern side of the fairgrounds, followed by the wrestling show. I remember photographing Andre The Giant.

The Morning Call fair picture above is none other than Jim "Super Fly" Snuka, who was recently back in Allentown, for a most regrettable reason.

reprinted from September of 2016

Sep 1, 2021

The Mighty Atom

Years ago at the Allentown Fair, as one would push through a sea of carney delusion, tucked back by the 4H animals was an island of reality. There, in an old battered truck, an ancient Jewish strongman performed incredible feats of strength, to sell only homemade kosher soap. Standing on a platform on the rear of his truck, flanked by photographs from his performing youth, he would bent horse shoes and bite through nails. Many years earlier, my mother as a little girl in Bethlehem, saw him pull a truck uphill with his hair. Even as an old man, like a reincarnation of Samson, his grey hair was still long.
In the summers of 1964 and 1965, myself and a friend,(Fred Schoenk, retired Allentown art teacher) made and sold printed tee-shirts at the fair. We had the honor to know Joseph Greenstein(The Mighty Atom) and his wife. For those interested, there are various articles on the Mighty Atom and even at least one book. Enjoy the fair!

reprinted annually since 2007