Jun 30, 2008

Velcome To The Vendig

In 1933, with the end of Prohibition, my grandparents(maternal) started operating the Vendig Hotel. They were the working partners, another immigrant family, here longer, were the silent backers. The hotel was directly across from the current Main Street Depot Restaurant in Bethlehem, which was the old New Jersey Line Terminal. With my grandmother cooking, they became well known for crab cakes and other shelled seafood. What wasn't known, was that she was strictly kosher, and never even tasted anything she prepared. As some may recall, my grandparents came from Hungarian Transylvania (now Romania) in the early 20's. Family lore* says Bela Lugosi visited the hotel. Lugosi was born in the same area of then Hungary, and started his acting career playing Jesus in Passion Plays. In 1931, after immigrating to America years earlier, he got his big break playing Dracula. Typecast as a villain, Lugosi was reduced in later years to drug addiction and playing in low budget monster films. He died in the mid 50's and was buried in his Dracula cape.

* My surviving uncle, who as a boy lived above the hotel, has 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.


Mrs. Dottie said...

Neat story MM. Do you have any memorabilia from The Vendig?

michael molovinsky said...

dottie, there was no memorabilia. the old tavern, which had been closed during Prohibition, was rented from victor gehman by my grandparent's partners, and my grandparents did the work and lived above it. by this time my grandfather no longer worked at the steel and was a plumber during the day, bartender at night. by 1936 the arrangement had ended, and they moved out.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I love these stories. I don't think there is anything at that site anymore. Could you imagine going out to eat and seeing bela Lugosi?

Bill Weber said...

Ya know, Michael,
Diarrhea is hereditary. It runs in your genes.
Nostalgia consists mainly in forgetting the things that sucked.

michael molovinsky said...

the above comment is from the son of Herman L. Weber, aka Namreh,aka Weber the Wizard, a well know magician from the blackstone and houdini era. hopefully bill will accept my offer and do a guest post; bill, it's better than having me soil your genes