Nov 30, 2022

7th Street As The Combat Zone

Years ago, in addition to being a blogger, I was also an activist.  I fought against the dislocation of the former Hamilton Street merchants, as their properties were being assembled for the coming NIZ.  They were threatened with eminent domain and other heavy handed tactics by City Hall.  Those interested can find the stories here in this blog's archives, but not in the Morning Call, which was part and parcel of the NIZ from the get-go.

While those merchants were considered a "cancer" on Hamilton Street, the same merchants are now called a "success story" on 7th Street. On a recent post, someone comments that they will no longer patronize 7th Street,  which they now consider rude, crude and dangerous. 

In the 1970's, downtown Boston had a section called the combat zone.  There, the riff-raff could enjoy themselves, and not despoil the upscale shops elsewhere in the city. We have created a combat zone in Allentown, called 7th Street. Credit a street manager with doing a great job dressing up the buildings, but the double parking attitude remains. 

Unfortunately for Allentown, no upscale shopping has taken hold on Hamilton Street. But, actually the Hamilton Street NIZ wasn't really meant as an urban renewal project, but rather a privately owned, publicly financed, real estate bonanza for a few connected individuals. Again, it's a story you'll only find in this blog's archives.

photocredit:Boston Combat Zone/molovinsky

Nov 29, 2022

Allentown Police Believe This Is An Isolated Incident

Early Sunday morning there was a shooting at the VIP Lounge in Allentown.  Police issued what has become their standard disclaimer... Police believe this is an isolated incident and there is no threat to the community. 

In reality, this was neither an isolated incident nor not a threat to the community. As these shootings become more commonplace, we need an administration which does not attempt to normalize them. Mayor Tuerk has been flirting with the Hispanic community... They have been in turn very flattered. The current chief, Charles Roca, is both of Guatemalan descent and a native Allentonian...Politically, that is as good as it gets from Tuerk's POV.  However, Roca became chief by default. Those ahead of him in rank became Chief For The Day, and then left Dodge while their reputation was still intact. If Roca isn't really up to the position, Tuerk will have to man-up and replace him, politics aside. 

What I just wrote above is of course heresy in Latino Allentown...but that's why I'm a blogger.

photocredit:WFMZ69

UPDATE: The first version of this post misindentified Roca as Puerto Rican 

Nov 28, 2022

A Bastard Blogger and Lights In The Parkway


As dusk falls, cars start entering Lehigh Parkway to enjoy the annual Christmas light display.  In the darkness they drive past the top of the Double Stairwell, built by the WPA in 1935. It was designed as the signature structure in the park. In daylight they would see that the top landing is breaking up, and the subsequent landings down the double stairs are even in worse condition. These cracked landings allow seeping water to undermine the steps below them,  jeopardizing the entire structure.  I have been reporting these deteriorating conditions to the Park Department for six years. While nothing has been done to rehab this irreplaceable structure, the department is actively seeking grants to build another new park, near the old incinerator plant off Basin Street.

As a long time public critic of the former Pawlowski administration,  his park directors may have dismissed my criticism of park policy as political discontent. However, with the current mayor and park director I have a long time rapport, but to no apparent avail.

When I drive through the park I don't see the pretty lights, but a sad situation. I see crumbling WPA structures. I see neglect and misplaced priorities.

reprinted from December of 2019 

UPDATE DECEMBER 2020: The Park Department did repair the vertical surfaces on the stairwell structure this past summer through a Trexler Trust grant, but not the landings. Because the landing surfaces are essential to maintain the structural integrity, I will keep up my campaign for such repair.

UPDATE DECEMBER 2021: 
In a few weeks we'll have a new mayor, but this old blogger will to continue to focus on the same shortcomings to our park system. Rather than seeking outside grants for the WPA structures, they must become main park budget items. They must be given the priority their place in our history deserves.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 28, 2022: Another year has passed, and the landings on the Double Stairwell  have still not been repaired. The city has announced that this will be the last year for the Christmas Light display. While at this point it has almost become a tradition, I remember when the attraction was new and controversial. Electrifying the park didn't sit well with park traditionalists, myself included. Long traffic lines, wrapping back and over the stone arch bridge, didn't sit well with neighbors. However, things become old, including the lights and bastard bloggers.

Nov 25, 2022

Covid Corruption

I'm not qualified to opine on the value of the Covid-19 vaccine, but the stimulus money which followed the pandemic has been squandered in wholesale fashion.  Even so, there is still more to dispense than they know what to do with. The most recent plan in Pennsylvania, to fund homeowner repairs up to $50,000 each, is a testament to the weak minds of our elected officials.

The decision to allow chosen, so called non-profits, to pick who the lucky homeowners will be, is a testament to our embrace of corruption.

Before they realized that they had more funds than they could find uses for, even the infrastructure projects were compromised. For instance, here in Lehigh Valley, rather than widen traffic-logged Rt. 22, we're building a special exit, to create a new warehouse complex for a connected developer.

While the virus stubbornly continues on, hopefully Washington will be cured of the ill-advised spending.

Nov 24, 2022

Molovinsky and Wehr's Dam

On June 26th, 2014 the Parkland Press reported my initial presentation to the South Whitehall Commissioners to save Wehr's Dam.  I knew from previous experience with the Wildlands Conservancy that they would seek quick approval, and even quicker demolition, when they obtained the green light. The commissioners had already approved a new park master plan, which called for the dam's removal. 

My efforts alerted others, including descendants of the dam's original builder and owner, to join the battle. The commissioners, for political purposes, went through various insincere gestures in response to the public outcry to save the iconic dam. They sponsored a referendum in 2016, never expecting it to pass, tying it to a tax increase.  Although the referendum did pass, the commissioners managed to stall committing to the dam for another five years. 

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the Widlands Conservancy interacted with Harrisburg, using their influence to mandate repairs five times more complex and expensive than necessary,  attempting to undo the referendum by cost limitations. The previous commissioners never ceased trying to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy.  During this period I had become a persona non grata at the Morning Call, and they refused to print my submitted letters on the situation.  When I finally prevailed upon editor Mike Miorelli to assign a reporter to the topic,  they ignored Right To Know information I provided them, and then white-washed the entire conspiracy against the dam.

While I was barred from the Morning Call (I still am), I continued to advocate for the dam here on this blog, and revealed the culprits working against the dam. I'm happy to report that all involved in the conspiracy are now out of office, and also out of the township's administration. The dam is now being repaired for state approval. While the reconstruction is much more extensive and expensive than it needed be, at least future residents will still be able to continue enjoying both the beauty and history of the park's landmark feature...water flowing over the dam and under the covered bridge!

ADDENDUM: Those interested in more details about the conspiracy can refer to my previous post on the dam. Those with still further interest can type Wehr's Dam into the search engine box on this blog's  web version sidebar. That search will yield over a dozen posts on the topic.

Nov 23, 2022

Shootings In Allentown No Threat

Yesterday Allentown was assured by the police and Morning Call that the shootings on 5th Street were no threat to the public.  While the victims were hauled off on the conveyor belt to the ER by the EMS, life continues in center city as usual.

We have a mayor, about Hispanic as a Taco Bell sandwich, telling everybody in Spanish that he understands both their language and sentiments. 

We have a school board that only hires Black people, who in turn only hire Black people, so that they look like the brown people that they're supposed to teach.

We have a local NAACP calling everyone racist.

We have a newspaper who proved that they wouldn't know corruption if it occurred under their nose for over a decade.

artwork by Mark Beyer

Nov 22, 2022

Growing Up Allentown


Life in Allentown during the 1950's was pretty easy, compared to nowadays. Whether you were an office worker or factory worker,  there were plenty of jobs. Whether you lived in the west end or center city, all the neighborhoods were clean, well maintained and relatively crime free. The school system was the envy of the county, and people finagled to get their children enrolled in it. Allentown High School had championship teams in multiple sports, and the football stadium was one of the most lavish high school stadiums in the country. The park system was the subject of numerous picture postcards. Likewise, downtown was widely known, with Hess's being a destination. All the above attributes would stay in place throughout the 1960's, into the early 70's.

I bill this blog as the intersection of politics and history in Allentown, and the greater Lehigh Valley. Although I will continue to speak out on current events of concern, I suspect that this page will turn more and more to history. Perhaps nostalgia is so appealing because the current reality is so disillusioning. 

Although my archive of older Allentown pictures is extensive, I invited Ozzie and Harriet Nelson to illustrate this post.

reprinted from July of 2016

Nov 21, 2022

Lunch At Allen


Up to the mid 60's, students at Allen High could leave the building for lunch. Scattered in alleys around the the school, garages had been converted into lunch shops and hangouts. The Hutch was in the alley between 17th and West Streets, in the unit block between Hamilton and Linden. Suzy's was behind the Nurse's Dormitory, between Chew and Turner. Another was across Linden from the Annex. They all had the same basic decor, a few pinball machines, a few tables and a small lunch counter. Most of the business was during lunch period, and before and after school. It's my understanding that occasionally a kid or two would skip school and hangout all day. Today these garages, turned into luncheonettes, have long ago reverted back to garages. Most of the current residents of West Park probably don't even know about this commercial history right behind their houses. I missed photo day at Allen for my yearbook, but if anybody has a picture of the gang from the Hutch, I'd appreciate a copy.

reprinted from previous years

ADDENDUM NOVEMBER21,2022:This year I was tempted to retitle this post Allen Out To Lunch. While I was a delinquent at Allen, that designation now appears to belong to the School Board. They hired a supposedly interim superintendent, but now are allowing her to indulge in full blown press coverage, more than normally allotted to a permanent hire. In my day, a student who acted like the board would have been sent to the principal's office, but at Allen they now paddle the principal!

Nov 18, 2022

The Hamilton Street Bridge


The current Hamilton Street Bridge was completed in 1959, replacing the former steel trestle bridge. With the new Hamilton Street entrance ramp aligned further to the south, a small portion of front street and a few houses were vacated. Additionally, an entrance ramp was added from Union Street, which previously ended at Front Street. The photo above shows a portion of the earlier bridge and the former A&B meat packing plant, beyond their office building.  The office building has been incorporated into the America On Wheels Transportation Museum.

lower photo shows entrance to former steel trestle bridge, with entrance ramp skirting A&B Packing House.

above reprinted from May 2013

Nov 17, 2022

Velcome To The Vendig & Allentown Photographic

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

posts combined and reprinted from July 2008

Nov 16, 2022

The Shadow Returns

In 2009, I presented a series of posts as the Shadow Mayor. I contended that I donned a janitor outfit and worked undetected in City Hall, where I was able to ascertain secrets and shenanigans concerning the Pawlowski Administration.  Whether that disguise was real or fictional, this blog's disclosures, along with those of blogger Bernie O'Hare, became of interest to the FBI years later, in their investigation of Allentown.

The Shadow retired during Ray O'Connell's time in the fifth floor, but now is coming back, to monitor Matthew Tuerk. I must clarify that I suspect no shenanigans or illegality from Tuerk, whatsoever, but rather think that his policies need surveillance. 

I have been told that he has run out of flags to raise from the Caribbean, Central and South America, and now is looking to Africa for sister cities. He also supposedly wants to make Genderfluid Identity Support a cabinet position.

I apologize for being a dinosaur, and thinking that Mayor Tuerk is too concerned with things beyond the proper scope of city government.  Although I will not reveal my new disguise, I will admit that I have dyed my hair. Although Tuerk wants to protect every possible type of personal choice, I heard that regard for the elderly isn't high on his priority list. In Tuerk's younger and younger City Hall, my gray hair would have given me away.

Nov 15, 2022

N. 6th Street

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 301 Jordan Street, it was a modern house, just built in 1895. The suburbs then were 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. 

excerpted from a July 2010 post 
photo of N 6th St. from 1949

Nov 14, 2022

McHistory in the Lehigh Valley


Readers of this blog know that I'm upset about what little value history is given in this community.  Yesterday's Morning Call story on the Lehigh Valley Trust Bank building goes a step farther, and significantly alters the story of an important structure.  After reading the Morning Call article, one would think that the bank closed,  Abe Atiyeh purchased it and then sold it to the Jaindls,  who are now opening an event center after restoration.  The real story is so different,  I can only conclude that this current article was only meant as another NIZ promotion, not a serious background of the building.

When the building was purchased by Seigfried Braun, unmentioned in the article,  it had been modernized.  He and his family spend years and most of their assets lovingly restoring it.  The famed skylight and other adornments were covered over decades earlier, by a massive new lowered ceiling.  What you see now is the fruit of his labor. Restoring the skylight alone took over a year.  In addition to that bank,  he also purchased the Dime Bank and the Elks Club.  The Dime Bank has now been incorporated into the new Renaissance Hotel.  The Elks Club was demolished to make way for J.B. Reilly's aborted massive Two Towers project.

Unfortunately, illness forced Mr. Braun to quickly sell these significant structures for pennies on the dollar, to Abe Atiyeh.  We should thank Braun for saving these magnificent structures.  Although, I like to think that my local political opinions have merit,  my better calling is to defend and advocate for local historical structures, when I have the needed endurance.  Meanwhile, I use this blog to present local history, and occasionally point out misconceptions about it.
 
reprinted from previous years

Nov 11, 2022

Teaching Mayor Tuerk English

Two women were shot the other day in the 700 Block of St. John Street...That's right around the corner in the photo above.  I'm pretty familiar with that  neighborhood, I went to the elementary school also shown above.  I got my childhood haircuts also around the corner, in the 800 block.

The photo heralds back to 1940. If two women had been shot back then, it would have remained a headline for weeks afterwards. However, such violence then was inconceivable.  Most of you probably don't even know about the shooting, because it is now so routine that it was only in the news for a few hours.

Mayor Tuerk hasn't mentioned it, in either English or Spanish. It's time for Tuerk to stop talking Spanish, and start talking crime, and quality of life. We all know by now that he is bi-lingual and supports bi-sexuals. What we don't know is how he really feels about crime and the mayhem plaguing Allentown.

Nov 10, 2022

A Bad Night For Trump

When Trump campaigned for Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, I hoped that Oz could prevail in spite of it...He could not.  Although Oz was a markedly more qualified candidate, Trump proved to be a liability, not an asset...In Pennsylvania no less, a supposed Trump stronghold.

For some of us who supported Oz, Trump's apparently waning influence was the only consolation.  If Trump couldn't push Oz into the Senate, there's no way he can again push himself into the White House.  If Trump cared about the Republican Party, he would turn his focus to a library, not another run for office. However, nobody, even his supporters, believes that he cares about party above himself. If his supporters, his base, could not elect Oz, neither can Trump be re-elected in Pennsylvania, or enough other key states.

While Tuesday was a bad night for Trump, it was a good night for the conservative movement. Now perhaps a candidate will emerge who can win in 2024.

photocredit:Red Bokeh Society

Nov 9, 2022

My Vote For Oz

I'm not much for making endorsements. When I do so, I usually limit it to one person. For yesterday's election, I promoted Mehmet Oz. Besides for those inflicted with partisanship, there was little to really compare between the two candidates.  

Fetterman's government experience was nominal, with mayorship of a small town of only 1,700 people, and a lieutenant governorship, where he was known mostly as a no-show. His hoodie sweatshirt image garnered him many more followers than his actual experience.

While Democrats tried to besmirch Oz for his television show, he was previously a renowned heart surgeon, especially qualified to understand our country's health care issues. His family's middle eastern background has familiarized him with many issues in foreign policy. 

Although the polls had the race neck and neck, partisanship and the hooded sweatshirt seems to have carried the day for Fetterman. Besides reinforcing Pennsylvania's blue image, the result provides no encouragement to Trump...That's the up side to this unfortunate result.

photocredit:Red Bokeh Society

Nov 8, 2022

Cry For The New York Times

There was a time when the NYT was synonymous with journalism...When people repeated the slogan All The News That's Fit To Print.  On the Sunday before the election, when the Times now leads off with the headline that the future of democracy itself is at sake this election (if the Republicans win), their days of journalism are over, and they have become just another tabloid.  Perhaps more sophisticated than most, but a tabloid nevertheless.

In today's world of Twitter and paywalls, headlines have much more significance. For many, they are the news. In fairness to the Times, quality old school journalism may be an extinct commodity. 

Once the ultra wealthy bought sports teams, now they buy newspapers and social media. Apparently, new gauges are needed to measure the quality of today's journalism. 

Nov 7, 2022

The Patheticness Of Partisanship

Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of John Fetterman caught my attention.  Partisan Democrats will say that she knew Oz, he was on her show 55 times, so with that insight she chose Fetterman. However, a little research reveals that she helped produce his recent Dr. Oz show, all 1000 plus episodes. Truth be told it was just another partisan endorsement, perhaps an accommodation to Obama.

I find all partisanship pathetic. For the rank and file party soldiers, I suppose it's in the line of duty. For a celebrity like Winfrey, it only compromises her reputation and credibility.

As a blogger who accommodates comments, I must host some partisan appeals, or practice censorship...That is a difficult choice.

Nov 4, 2022

A $Million, After The $Billion

Those who listen and read such things, have learned that the new owners of the former Banana Joe's repurposed train station, received a grant for $One Million of our tax dollars.  The former station will be used for a not yet determined use, beyond subsidizing another chosen developer.  There are no handouts like handouts in Pennsylvania, when an administration is going out the door.

What caught the attention of this cynical blogger was the myth that we were told about the NIZ. We were told that, rest assure, after the tax funded redevelopment starts, private money will start pouring in for private development. So here's the reality...A $million in public money for a private developer with no tenant in sight.

I don't know the developer, but I do know that he/she has friends in the right places. Welcome to Pennsylvania.

While other media will show you the Hamilton Street front view, I choose to show the back view of the train station (New Jersey Central), long before it was renovated into Banana Joe's. Likewise, I choose to tell you the back stories.

Nov 3, 2022

The Fairfax Diary


In around 1968 I purchased a old piece of furniture in Fairfax, Virginia. Tucked in back of a drawer was a daily memorandum calendar from 1920, written by an unidentified young man. At the time, I thought it would be interesting to track down the man who would be 70 or so years old then, and return his memories. I never did, and now another 40 years have passed. It's too late to find him, and I suppose the information is now too old to ring any bells. What grandchild, or great grandchild, would recognize that there was an Helen, Mary and Whit in their family, which lived in the Virginia area in the 1920's? Never the less, in this age of Google searches, I will type in the days of this man's life in 1920. The booklet, which I hadn't touched for many years, is literally disintegrating as I flip the days.

This is a year in the life of a 20 year old man in 1920. Although I don't know his name, we learn things about him. During the year he worked at two different insurance companies in Washington D.C. He loses the first job the day after his 21st. birthday, which is on Labor Day. He commuted during the summer from the family vocation house in Garrett Park, Maryland. He and his father were excited that Harding was elected President.

I have added question marks where I have difficulty with the handwriting. There are a number of heartfelt notations which I will highlight in bold type. I will present January in its entirety to give the feel, then only the more interesting days for the remainder of the year.

Jan.1,Aunt Helen, Mary and uncle Whit came up to dinner, 2, Received $1.50 com. on fire insurance. 3, Worked half day being Saturday. 4,Went to church came home and stayed in house in afternoon because it is very cold. 5,Collected $1.55 today Went back to school ?for 1st time in two week 6 worked pretty hard today 7Went to school tonight 8,went around to Moreland(?) to night 9, Went to school tonight. O.W &R Kowens(?) agree to give me 1/2% on every cust(?) I get for them to sell the house (?) them. 10,Went around to office tonight 11. Went to church and in the afternoon went to Garrett Park(?) 12. Went to school13.Virginna's(?) finger is not doing so well today. Dr. Davidson is going to bring Dr. White tomorrow. 14.Dr. White did not come today. did not go to school tonight.15. Virginnias finger is pretty bad off 16. Went to school tonight 17.fixed up back porch today Virginna's finger is better18. Stayed home in morning but went down to see uncle whit this afternoon19went to school tonight20. Went to see the Moreland tonight21. stayed home from school22.very bad day snowing and sleeting all day23did not go to school tonight24read this afternoon. Mr. G. Fred Thompson funeral was today at 2p.m. from his home 57 21(?) St. N.W. He was a man of few words but was kind to everyone. He was our neighbor in the summer time at Garrett Park.25. Papa is home sick with a cold. I went to church today. Doctor(?) is still coming to see Virginia.26.stayed at home27.Went to see the Moreland28. Went to school tonight29Worked pretty hard today30Went to school tonight31went around to office
February 7, Went around to office tonight. H.R. Howenstein is going to give $70 per month and pay twice month.12, Today is Lincoln's birthday. The man who loved and help weeked(?) and who keeped the U.S. from being divided.18 Papa has been in the Pension office 57 years today20admiral Perry the one who discovered the north (?) died today 21 Maj.Pulman head of police in D.C. is very sick might die 22 Today is the birthday of that great man who loved his fellow man and his country more then himself. George Washington will live in the love and mine(?)forever 23. Maj. R.W. Pulman chief of police died at his home 55 Ivy St. S.E. at 8:05 P.M. Feb.22 He was a square(?) man in every way. went to moreland 29 went to church went to see uncle Whit
March4, Virginia thumb is not so well today Dr. Davison is going to bring Dr. Whit here tomorrow 5, Virginia thumb is better It is snow and blowing very hard 7, Virginia is going up to have exra(?) taken of her finger tomorrow.13, snowed hard today15, every thing gone wrong17, did not go to school. everybody that lives in this world is more or less a fool 21, Mr. Kadn(?) the preacher at Kinsington(?)church is go to leave after next sunday so I went out to hear him and then after service went to garrett park 28, Papa and I went to hear Mr. Kady(?) preach his last sermon at Kingsinton(?)
April 1, walked all day motor broken down 3, went out to garrett park with mama(?) 4, went to church. 25 people gonen(?) 6, going to hospital to have eye fixt(?) No entries from April 7 through 21 22, came home from hospital today 23, went to moreland tonight 26, went up to N.E. office, main office hospital and Emmerson institute 27, collected to rents(?) today 28,Mama is sick tonight Dr. Davidson came to see her
May 1, went to office at night 3, going back to work tomorrow 5, went back to work today, made 40 call 7, went up to see David Clark(?) tonight he brought me home 11, went to Dr. Wilman(?) at 5P.M. 22, went out in country 28, took a long ride this evening on my motorcycle
June 4, Motor broke down 6, went out to garrett park on 9:25 and took long walk about 8 mile and came back on troly(?) 19, went out to G.P. and painted back porch. 23, We moved out to garrett park Md. cost $10
July 3, My vocation starts today at 1:P.M. and back until July 13 , July 4th. (There is a drawing of a flag) 5, had fire work about 3:30 I went over to Kensington to see the army tank and other things 6, This day is the start of my leave. sent motorcycle in by express to have repaired 10, Went to town to get motor cost $10 to repair 11, stayed on front porch and read most of day 13, went to eye Dr. 14,worked 17, road to work on motor 18, Uncle Whit came out to see us 26, Smith motor broke down
August 3, road into Wash and am back 5, road Smith lost top to gas tank cost 1.25 for new one 9, Papa was notified that he would be drop(?) from office on the 20 19, worked 20,Papa's retirement from office starts today 22, went to church at chevy chase start vocation 23, Went to town on business saw one dubasir(?) about making(?) office move 25, repair on wagon, repair on walking beam
Sept. 4, took a ride Papa Mama Virginia in auto up to gatherburg 5, Mr. Dubore came out to see me on 1:37 train and went back on 6:19 6, This is labor day and my birthday I am 21 years of age now 7, Ralph and Owen Howenstein told me that they did not want me after the 15 day of Sept. 1920 8. Owen and Ralph Howenstein or not worth working for (there is another sentence crossed out) 14, tomorrow is my last day with Mr. Howenstein 15, left howenstein today 652 H N.E. 17, am going to take it Mr. Terry got it for me his office. I will be insurance reppre(?) 18, I stayed at home all day will start on new job Sept. 20 19, stayed at home took papa over to church mama went to see Dr. Jones for cold 20 started to work for Barr and Phelps in insurance department 23, made 15 calls 29, we are going to move back to city tomorrow but papa and i are going to stay a few day longer

October 3, going back to city tomorrow 17, Mama Papa Virginia and I went to garrett park on 9:25 train and came back on 6:19 22, painted front and back porch at garrett park 23 Papa and I went doror(?) so far for Harding 30 (Saturday) started to work for Singer sewing machine co. branch off 1630 14 N.W. Mr. Smith work on com
November 1, made 4.10 in fire insurance com 2, Papa and I went down to see come returns come in Harding is the next Pre 3, Harding is the next President Harding got 372 and Cox democrat 137 (written much neater than any other entry so far)
December 17, have not had time to write any been so busy working 23, took off today to shop 25, we had aunt Helen and Mary and Uncle Whit up to dinner. We are not rich but we are happy. God alone knows what is in store for us in the next year. we should take our happy days as may come

above reprinted from February 14,  2010


ADDENDUM NOVEMBER 3, 2022: The power of the internet is rather amazing. Four years after publishing the post above, the post received the following comment.

Anonymous June 6, 2014 at 9:58 AM

 I think the young man is Thomas W Sargent. He was the younger brother of Virginia Sargent, and their father was Theodore F. Sargent. Their mother was born Sarah Hyatt Whittlesey and two of her sisters were named Helen and Mary. http://www.garrettpark-md.gov/imap/224/10922-MONTROSE-AVE.html The first owner of the rebuilt house was Theodore Sargent who worked for the Pension Office. His daughter, Virginia Sargent was a colorful Garrett Park character who founded the Animal Protective Association, Inc. and was known to house on her property many stray animals. She was also fond of feeding the local raccoons peanut butter sandwiches made only with Skippy brand peanut butter. -

 Abigail Kabaker  Garrett Park Town Archivist

Nov 2, 2022

Secrets From The Blog

I publish one of the oldest blogs in the Lehigh Valley, and I might be the oldest blogger, a distinction I don't relish. Anywho, over the years I have been asked to keep many secrets, and I do.

Yesterday, I republished a post from 2012 about Arnold Fein's youth in Allentown. Back in 2012, he revealed to me that he was Madison Arnold, the actor known from Law & Order, among many other roles.   Recently I asked him if he would release me from our confidentiality understanding, and he agreed to do so. 

Although I kept the secret referred to above for over a decade, most are revealed by circumstance, much sooner...A politician makes an announcement, or the press gets wind of the story from some other source. 

Getting back to age...  I still produce the blog every weekday,  and I still receive many complaints about various politicians and policies. However, I must confess that my enthusiasm for such issues is currently subdued... The current city administration is completely consumed with inclusion, with no apparent interest in quality of life issues. 

photo of Madison Arnold from Law&Order circa 1996

Nov 1, 2022

A CyberVisit To Allentown


The responses and comments to the political posts are usually within a day or two. The historical posts have a much longer shelf life. People using search engines find something of their youth often years after I wrote the post. I still occasionally get a comment from someone who worked at a Mohican Market, often somewhere in upstate New York. Yesterday, a former post on the 6th Ward received such a comment.

 Hello molovinsky, I found your blog today. I was born in the 6th ward in 1933. My grandfather, who died very young, long before I was born, was Emanuelle Markowitz and was, I believe, the first religious head of Aguda Achim. His wife was Ida Markowitz. We lived at 234 and then 244 Hamilton St. and went to Harrison Morton grade school before departing permanently to New York City. Arnold Fein (brother is Barry)

 My grandparents lived on Second Street in around 1900, and belonged to the Agudas Achim congregation. After Arnold and I exchanged a couple comments, I invited him to send me a note about Allentown via email.

  Yeah, Michael, I went back for a visit about 3 yrs. ago. All of lower Hamilton St,is part of a highway and the Jersey RR Station ,I was told, failed as a restaurant.The stores I remember on Hamilton between 2nd and 3rd were, Queenies Luncheonette, Bucky Boyle's Bar, Harry Gross Shoes,an A&P on the corner of 1st (Front?)and Hamilton, a "holy roller" storefront church, a travel agency with a large steamship model in the window,Taylors Plumbing Supply (now Weinstein's-I visited the place when I was there), a "Giant" supermarket on 5th and Hamilton across from the P.O., Francis the barber on the hill,the Colonial theatre,etc.Harrison Morton is still there and 2nd St.off Hamilton is still the same including the "A Treat" sign on the little store near HM, which I remember. Some friend's names from that time are: Stanley and Nancy Kulp (Culp?) who lived in an old wooden house next to the Lehigh Valley RR Freight terminal across from Taylor's. Michael Miller, Bobby Kressler, George Mevrides(sp?), Andrew Kent,Dickie Catalina(whom I'll never forget as the guy who came running out on Hamilton St. on 12/7/ shouting, "the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor"), the 4-5 Delaney kids,Dickie Gross who lived in a stone house on 2nd St.just off Hamilton where his father had his dental practice, Lucille Wiener, Phyllis Malatrott,Victoria Minner,Ronald DiLeo whose father was a Dr., (told me my first "off color" joke in the 1st grade while we were standing side by side at a HM urinal)), Marvin Karll, 2 HM footballers (who were not friends as such), Barney Garulla(sp?) and Albert Casium, whom I believe was Albanian.Other places were the slaughter house, Arbegast and Bastion (sp?). Couldn't miss that!, Riverfront Park, and a horse watering trough on the corner of Hamilton and Front(?)Lots of others. Something priceless about childhood, no matter where it's spent.

 Even in Allentown.

UPDATE: More memories from "Arnie" Fein
Also, my grand parents owned a store on 2nd St. around Tilghman, before I was born. My mother always remembered the few words she knew in Slavic because some of the customers spoke only "Slavisch".Another recollection was in 1943 when a lot of us went to the JerseyRR terminal to watch a train full of German POWs being transported west. Larry and Jimmy Whitman lived above the A&P on that picture you sent. Their name was anglicized from a Polish name their parents shortened.Harry and Jean Getz, friends of my mother, owned a small shoe store between 2nd and 3rd Sts.The name of the travel agency was, if I'm correct, something like Bortz. On Walnut St. around the corner from Weinstein's was the "Perkiomen Transfer Co." The local movie house was the Townie which I believe was in the 6th ward.Further up the hill were the Colonial, the Midway and the Transit.There was a trolley named the Liberty Bell which went from 8th St. to Philly and a trolley to Bethlehem along the "Bethlehem Minsi Trail". Other memories as they come from the distant past...

 photo supplied by Arnold Fein, showing him, brother and mother at Hamilton and the current American Parkway, next to the current Weinstein Supply Company.

reprinted from 2012

Oct 31, 2022

An Atlantic City Memory


The picture above by the Associated Press appeared on Facebook yesterday, in regard to the death of Jerry Lewis, the famed comedian. If the picture doesn't look like funny Jerry, there's a reason.

When I was about ten years old, my cousin and I stayed with our aunt, who had rented a house for the summer at the shore. Walking on the boardwalk, my consin and I were delighted to see on the marquee that Jerry Lewis was entertaining on Steel Pier. We both ponied up our week's money and went in to see the funny man. A rather gaunt man came out onto the stage and sat at a piano. When he started singing Great Balls Of Fire, we were confused. When he started pounding the piano with his feet, and his hair started unraveling, we were shocked.

Apparently, the young person at the Associated Press also confused Jerry Lewis with Jerry Lee Lewis, whose picture appears above.

reprinted from August of 2017

ADDENDUM OCTOBER 31, 2022: Jerry Lee Lewis passed away on Friday.  When I saw the announcement, I remembered my childhood experience and this post. The obituary said that Lewis was 87, only a decade or so older than me. At the time, sitting there as a boy on Steel Pier, the man on stage seemed so much older than me... age has shortened that distance.

Oct 28, 2022

Fetterman Wins Debate

Supposedly a man walked up to Oz at a rally and said  If not for you, I'd be dead. The heart device you invented saved my life, but I'm voting for Fetterman anyway. That pretty much sums up these polarized times in which we live. 

I believe that the Oz/Fetterman debate did not change one vote.  I believe that the undecided in today's world is a myth, propagated by the polling companies for the purpose of keeping their business relevant. I haven't spoken to one person who changed their mind because of the debate, as lopsided as it may have been.

There are, however, the unmotivated...Those who, for one reason or another, were not intending to vote. A small percentage of them will now be motivated by the underdog....Fetterman will pick up the empathy vote.

In politics it doesn't matter who won the debate, it only matters who gained a few votes because of it.

Oct 27, 2022

Too Quick To Judge Superintendent


The recent Morning Call report on the firing of the Allentown superintendent was rather startling! 

The dismissal of the superintendent wasn't racist, but his hiring was!  

At the time of his hire, and that of his predecessor, school board members were saying that the superintendent should look like the students,  i.e., someone of color.... that was their main criterion.

Besides knowing that the dismissal was not racist, I have no insight on that actual decision. I do know that it is a tough job in a difficult district. I do know that discipline problems come in contact with the principal and his/her assistant. In my time, I was sent there so often that my shoes could find the way on their own. Despite all those trips, I never met or even knew who the superintendent was.

I would hope that the next hire is based solely on ability, and that the person is given enough time to prove their worth.

Oct 26, 2022

NIZ Injuries To Allentown


The NIZ has fostered various injuries on the city and it's citizens.  Reilly's dashed hopes for a mega project, encompassing an entire block, 7th to 8th and Hamilton to Walnut, resulted in the displacement of numerous  businesses and residents.  Furthermore, we lost rich history, such as the Elks Club.  Yesterday afternoon the paper ran its second story of the day promoting Reilly's much smaller, substituted office condo project. The article is called  Five Things To Know about the new project.  There's actually six, and the sixth is that the paper never stops promoting Reilly's interests. This morning the paper continues with its third piece on the new building, within two days.  Putting aside this endless cheerleading by The Morning Call,  the NIZ has surely peaked. Although a number of tenants were poached from different locations,  there was no net gain for the region.  A responsible Harrisburg would be analyzing  the consequences inflicted on the area.  However,  responsibility and Harrisburg have never been acquainted.

As I commented yesterday, Talen workers will be isolated down at the river, almost punished, if you  will.  The surrounding 6th Ward certainly doesn't provide much ambience.  Expect our local and state taxes to be expended there, to embellish Jaindl's position. The tearing out of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Old Main tracks through that parcel is another history victim of the NIZ.

photo of former Elks Club on S. 8th St., prepared for demolition, to make way for now cancelled mega-project by J.B. Reilly

above reprinted from May of 2016 
 
UPDATE FEBRUARY 10, 2021: Four years later from writing the above piece, an update is in order.  Reilly did build out the square block with more offices and apartments. He also did so at 6th and Walnut. It all looks the same, devoid of architecture and any feeling of community.  He also secured Talen as a tenant, slowing down Jaindl's waterfront plans. Jaindl is now just starting his first building. The Morning Call continues their promotion of Reilly's City Center Real Estate, and Reilly now owns the Morning Call building. While resented for it, I continue to speak out against the loss of the town's identity.

UPDATE OCTOBER 26, 2022: Reilly continues to build on Hamilton Street, with his debt obligations serviced with our diverted state taxes. With a Hail Mary pass, departing state senator Pat Browne gives  Reilly the State Hospital site, endorsed by State Rep. Mike Schlossberg. The Morning Call continues to promote Reilly, yesterday on cue with a story about new vendors. I remain outspoken.

Oct 25, 2022

Morning Call as A Madam

The Morning Call is featuring, for the umpteenth time, another new store on the Arts Walk.  A real headline would be Another Failure On The Artwork Being Replaced.  I have been complaining about the Morning Call promoting the NIZ since before it began. When I saw that their former newspaper building, on the wrong side of Linden Street, was being included in the NIZ map anyway, I knew that their reporting would be less than objective. However, I never expected them to be an outright madam.  I use the M word, instead of the W word, because of search engines. Last time I used the W word, I got too many inquiries from the weirdo crowd. 

Students of this blog know that I also maintain that there is something weird about the supposed occupancy of the apartment buildings, Strata This, That and Whatever. Why can't all these supposed people keep any of these stores in business?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I do know that you won't find them in the Morning Call.

Oct 24, 2022

A Bitter Pill For Allentown


On Saturday night, while the pale skinned from Catasauqua, Northampton, Fullerton and other points out of Allentown, wearing their orange Phantoms sweatshirts, were being directed by the Allentown Police Department to the various parking decks along Linden Street for the season's first game, chaos was raging down in the ward.

A large pack of dirt bikes, at least 100 in number, were wheeling through the stoplights and stop signs, with no police to be seen.  I suppose that for now, despite a pledged crackdown by Mayor Tuerk and Police Chief Roca, as long as the pack stays on the wrong side of the tracks, it's OK. But what's going to happen when the NIZ financed new riverfront projects come on line?  Will the chaos still be tolerated? 

One must wonder if Tuerk and Roca realize that for now they're sending the wrong message to the pack. Meanwhile, those too young for motor bikes practice their wheelies on Hamilton and Tilghman Street, looking forward to joining the pack in a few years.

Needless to say, this post is neither politically correct, nor culturally sensitive. However, I think that there must remain at least one place in Allentown where hard truth, even if it's a bitter pill, is still dispensed.

photocredit:Noah Rabinowitz/12 O'Clock Boys/Baltimore

Oct 21, 2022

Allentown Taxpayers Pay A Premium

For years under Mayor Pawlowski, Allentown taxpayers paid a premium for services rendered to the city. Rather than best value, contracts were given on the basis of contributions to the mayor's campaign chest.  

Allentown has now passed a new ordinance giving minority businesses a special scorecard in awarding contracts. While no previous discrimination was alleged,  the new ordinance is a fix to a problem which didn't exist. However, a crystal ball isn't necessary to see what problems such latitude and exceptions may foster in bid evaluations.

Pawlowski is now incarcerated for his cost to the taxpayers.  This new contract system will legally short-change the taxpayers.

ADDENDUM: Bill 72 was presented simply as one line on the Agenda, with a link to a stock disparity study, which was not Allentown centric. As it was passed, it allows the city Contract Preferences for identified Business Enterprises. Council members stated that they will fine tune it with amendments after its passage.                                                                                                                                

UPDATE 11:00AM: The above addendum earlier erroneously stated that there was no previous notice that the item was on the agenda.

Oct 20, 2022

Rising and Falling Stars in the Tuerk Administration

Lucinda Wright occupies Karen El-Chaar's former office space in the Park Department building.  El Chaar was asked to relinquish the space already a couple of months ago, and moved into another space in the building. She has since been terminated. 

Wright, currently Marketing and Special Events Manager, graduated Muhlenberg College this past weekend. Attending the ceremony was Mayor Matt Tuerk. 

Wright is heading up the Halloween festivities scheduled for October 29th, including sponsorship opportunities.

These festivities replace the traditional parade, which was considered one of the oldest in the country, starting in 1905. Although tradition doesn't seem to have much cachet with the new administration, it is on this blog a highly valued commodity.  I write for a dwindling population, which both remembers and appreciated those parades.  While I note the changes taking place in Allentown, it is not apparent to me that they are improvements.  Regardless, I hope that they provide memories for today's kids that are as fond as those provided by the parades of the past.

photocredit:Glenn Koch Collection

Oct 19, 2022

Reconvening The WPA Group


Karen El-Chaar, new director of the Allentown Park System, has asked if I would reconvene the WPA group I started in 2011. She is interested in cataloging an inventory of all structures built by the WPA, something which Allentown apparently doesn't have.

In yesterday's post, which was written in 2015, I concluded by saying that I was optimistic that Allentown would continue repairing the iconic structures. Actually, that optimism turned out to be unfounded, as nothing more was done. However, I am now again encouraged about the future. Karen El-Chaar does have an appreciation of the structures and their importance in the parks, something which all her predecessors lacked.

I invite my former committee members to contact me, and anyone else interested in this important endeavor.

In the photo above,  El-Chaar and I are standing in front of the double stairwell in Lehigh Parkway.  That structure is in need of repair.  Director El-Chaar will attend our upcoming meeting when scheduled.

above reprinted from October of 2018
 
ADDENDUM OCTOBER 19, 2022: Karen El-Chaar was terminated from the park directorship last Thursday. While I knew about this action by Mayor Tuerk over the weekend, I preferred not to address it yet here on the blog. However, an associate blogger also heard of the story, so now my opinion is becoming overdue. Although I like to limit my commentary to policy rather than personnel, El-Chaar was the only park director in twenty years to care about the park system's WPA legacy. 

I have a hunch who her replacement might be, and that the park emphasis will shift exclusively to recreation and events. I will remain an advocate for the traditional park system and the WPA structures, and remain available to the administration if my advice is ever sought.

Oct 18, 2022

Tuerk's First Budget


Back in 2005, I actually studied Allentown's budget, line by line. Since then I have been nicer to myself about such details. Yesterday, Lindsay Weber of The Morning Call reported that Mayor Tuerk announced that there would be no tax increase for 2023, but warned that one would be necessary for 2024.

Although we could use another 80 policemen by FBI standards, the new budget only provides for four new officers. Tuerk did mention that finding qualified candidates is difficult. 

In addition to studying the budget years ago, I would also attend the Community Block Grant meetings, where the city decides which $organizations$ will receive what $federal dollars$.  I recall seeing the administrators from these supposedly non-profit organizations as feeding vultures, competing for roadkill.

These grants are distributed to a growing number of non-profits, which use our money to make instant business people, instant home owners and of course support dozens and dozens of jobs administering the funds. These organizations and foundations have become a growth industry in the Lehigh Valley. Admittedly, some of these programs have social value, such as emergency shelters. Besides the questionable mission of many of these programs ( i.e.,making a business owner), another problem is the  duplication of these organizations. The money spent on offices, utilities, overhead and administrators using these grants could be put to so much better use. Allentown, because of our economic demographics, would be allowed to apply much of this money directly to infrastructure. This approach would benefit the tax payers in multiple ways. More capital projects could be completed with less millage.

Tuerk foresees a 2024 tax increase necessary for infrastructure. Although I don't see it in Tuerk's MO, letting some of these young vultures fend for themselves would make for a better city.

Oct 17, 2022

Allentown Flood Of 1936


In 1936, northeast United States was decimated by extensive flooding. While Johnstown, Pa. and Nashua, N.H. made national news, Allentown certainly wasn't spared. While locally flooding of the Lehigh and Delaware received the most attention, the Jordan and Little Lehigh Creeks also caused widespread damage. Shown above is Lehigh Street, in the vicinity of the Acorn Hotel, south of the Little Lehigh. The building on the far left would become the Sherman Hotel, which operated for about twenty years, from 1942 to 1961. None of the buildings pictured still stand.

The low lying areas between the Jordan Creek and Lehigh River were flooded.  Numerous people were rescued by rowboat from porch roofs. At that time there was still many houses on the lower section of Hamilton and nearby Streets.

photo courtesy of the Schoenk family.

reprinted from April of 2020

Oct 14, 2022

Hurricane Diane, 1955


Hurricane Diane hit the Lehigh Valley in August of 1955. Living in Little Lehigh Manor, I remember huddling in the house, while the metal garbage cans of the era flew around the neighborhood. My father, whose meat market was on Union Street by the Lehigh River, worked throughout the night. Fortunately for him, his market had an second floor backup cooler, and a small freight elevator. While the retail business district on Hamilton Street is elevated enough to be unaffected from flooding, center city Easton was devastated by the Delaware. The next morning was rather surreal for a nine year old boy. A large willow tree on the corner of Lehigh Parkway South and Catalina Ave. was lying on its side. Although the Little Lehigh receded quickly, the park road and basin had been flooded. Diane remains a record in flooding and damage. Let us hope it remains that way.

photo from August 1955. Lehigh River rising by former A&B Meats. The row of houses shown were demolished to make way for a new bridge approach several years later.

reprinted from previous years

Oct 13, 2022

Icon Of Allentown's 10th Ward

While the pulpit section of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Orthodox Church is adorned with murals and icons of Mary, parishioners may notice that there is no such imagery on the beautiful stained glass windows. More careful inspection reveals that while there are no graven images in the glass, Stars of David and scrolls can be seen. As the ancestors of the current members came from eastern Europe and the Czarist Russian Empire, so did the building's original congregation. The gothic edifice was built as a synagogue in 1909 by Allentown's Russian Jews. The Orthodox Jewish congregation, Sons Of Israel, utilized the structure for 50 years before it was repurposed by the current American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox congregation.


This was the synagogue I attended as a boy with my father, as he did with my grandfather, growing up on the corner of Chew and Jordan Streets. In the front, under those golden domes with the crosses, are Stars of David. I rekindled my memory of those times when I visited the church last year. The stained glass windows are surely among the most beautiful in Allentown.  The synagogue turned church is located on the northeast corner of 6th and Tilghman Streets in Allentown.  The area, Allentown's 10th Ward,  has a strong neighborhood group. The exterior photograph of the church is from their facebook page.  The large round window shown in the top photograph is behind the balcony,  in the front of the church. Inside, the congregation faces east,  toward Jerusalem.

reprinted from 2016

Oct 12, 2022

Morning Call Headlines

It's no secret nowadays that headlines are clickbait... I confess to occasionally succumbing to the temptation here on this blog. I've noticed that most of the election headlines in the Morning Call are more often than not favorable to Democratic candidates. In the Morning Call the consequences of the clickbait are more severe than elsewhere, because they have a dwindling subscriber base and such a strong paywall...So very often the headline ends up being the message.

With that in mind, when the paper recently asked Dean Browning for clarification of the gay black man tweet*, he should have seen what was coming.  I have known Dean for many years... He's very white and ungay.  He may however be a little naive concerning media, especially the Morning Call.

* In the article Browning does explain the controversial tweet...who actually said it (a gay black man from Philadelphia), and how it became associated with Browning's twitter feed.

ADDENDUM 9:30AM: I was contacted this morning by the Morning Call  wanting to know why I reprinted their article from 2020 without revealing that it was a reprint?  I didn't notice that the story was dated 2020 when I read it YESTERDAY on MCALL.   THE REAL QUESTION NOW BECOMES WHY DID THEY REPRODUCE A TWO YEAR OLD STORY NOW, RIGHT BEFORE THE ELECTION?

ADDENDUM 4:00PM: The Morning Call states that [they] didn't reprint or repost that article. It appeared on the home page because it was trending yesterday in Google Search for some reason and those stories get pulled automatically into the collection where it appeared. No one posted that purposely and if [they] had known it was there, [they] would have had it taken down.

I would think that they wouldn't want their MCALL homepage dictated by Google.

Oct 11, 2022

Messaging Mayor Matt


Mayor Tuerk, 

                    First off, forgive me using English, but even if I knew it, Spanish wouldn't be appropriate for this post.  The local Hispanics are very flattered by all the attention you're bestowing upon them, and as you well know, they're 53% of Allentown's population.  But, this post concerns the other 47%, who aren't flattered by the pandering, but concerned with quality of life issues and your priorities. 

In fairness to the Hispanics, there are those among them less flattered than you may hope, and also upset with crime, littering, double parking and other problems of life here in Allentown.

I think that it's time, and perhaps would even be politically expedient, for you to metaphorically take off the sombrero and put on an Allentown cap.  Although you may think that I'm the only one not enchanted, you would be mistaken...I'm just more outspoken.  While people care about their culture, they moved here for their quality of life, and that should be the administration's priority here in Allentown.

Oct 8, 2022

Surviving Hurricane Ian


Michael Adams and I became acquainted about fifteen years ago. Although he's more to the left and greener than me, we became comrades in arms about local government. For many years Michael resided in the Parkway's Log & Stone House, until he was inappropriately evicted by Pawlowski for revenge and vengeance. That inequity was covered by this blog. Michael landed on his feet in paradise, Pine Island Florida to be exact. Things were very well until hell descended upon him, his significant other, and their pets ten days ago. They live on the northern tip of Pine Island or ground zero.

Michael Adams reports:                                                          Many people evacuated but a significant number of hard core Island people stayed. They are a tough, resilient and generous people. 
We were dead on the X ring in the center of the eye. Storm surge 3.5 ft. Wind speed down our lane, 154 mph.  
After the bashing of the first half and the super-natural calm and beauty of the eye we thought, okay, we can take another round. The third and fourth quarters will be survivable. Then came the here-to -fore unimaginable winds following the eye wall and the storm surge flowing up the lane and suddenly we were IN the Gulf of Mexico. Our stilt house was rocking like a ship at sea. 
One wall is gone, another hanging on by a thread. Shingles gone. Roof itself intact. It will take an engineer to determine any structural damage. Plumbing kaput. Electricity shot. 
The first time we saw the Red Cross was today.(Saturday Oct. 8) We have not seen FEMA. The Sheriff and Fire Department were MIA for over 72 hours and largely absent for several more days after.
A bunch of youngish veterans coalesced around the gun shop and a couple of small, independent Christian groups set up immediately and and started bringing in a stream of supplies of all sorts, water, hot meals, tarps and all sorts of material by boat. It was utterly extraordinary. I’m talking about tons of food, water and supplies.generators, gasoline, propane….….hot food!
On day six or so the firefighters dropped off the MREs. Publix’s ferried out employees and opened after a week with free ice. The road link to the mainland has been restored and a convoy of semis has arrived with high line poles. Police and rescue teams from as far away as Nebraska. 

Michael Adams is a native Allentonian and was a well known community activist throughout the valley.  His friends and family are grateful that he is healthy enough to report on this ordeal.

photo from Michael Adams

Oct 7, 2022

Allentown's Quickly Vanishing History

For the last twenty years or so I have been a soldier for Allentown's history. As a long time advocate for the park system's WPA structures, I've harassed numerous mayors and park directors. I recall interrupting Joe Daddona jogging in Hamilton Park to complain about a repair necessary at Union Terrace, now named after him. I recall interrupting Bill Heydt and his wife walking by their former home near Cedar Beach. 

By the Afflerbach/Pawlowski era, in addition to park advocacy, I became politically active as an independent. The reason for this Reader's Digest condensed personal history is a revelation that while we all know how much Allentown has changed in the last decade, among its latest victims is its very history itself.

As the new administration embraces the changes and discards one tradition after another, I realize that soon neither those traditions, nor the memory of them, will exist. With the Morning Call building now being a cigarette warehouse, even their archives are limited to some rented space on the data cloud, wherever and whatever that is.

A few like minded people such as myself peck away on our Smith Corona typewriters, hoping we can save some of those memories before the ink on the ribbon dries out.

Oct 6, 2022

Growing Up Parkway


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




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

reprinted from June of 2008