Jan 23, 2009

No Past, No Future


Yesterday, I went to the local history room at the public library to continue my research on Mt. Sinai, the old Jewish section of Fairview Cemetery. Sometimes you get lucky, sharing the room with me was Frank Whelan, Allentown's history expert. Many of you may remember Ask Frank, his column at The Morning Call. I found nothing in the card catalog on either Mt. Sinai or Fairview. On a hunch I asked Frank, a Christian, if he knew anything about the obscure Jewish Mt. Sinai; I hit the jackpot. Unfortunately, Allentown is not as lucky. Frank has been laid off from his position at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, operated by the Lehigh County Historical Society. Their director, Joseph Garrera, although an expert on Lincoln, is not even from this area. It seems that the local historical society, with a half dozen or so paid positions, chose to dismiss the only local expert on the staff to save a few bucks. Frank's salary was nominal, I'm sure it costs more to feed the penguins at the zoo. Allentown is changing quickly in every way. It is not enough for the Museum to save the local artifacts, while it discards the local resources.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

MM, this truly is a shame. Again, an example of City components not using their RESOURCES. You should introduce him to the blogosphere and have him create a site where he speaks about interesting unknown and widely known facts about the Lehigh Valley. Nostalgia is quite popular here I have noticed. He should also do a 3-5 minute monthly video that would show him around historical places around the Valley. It could become popular, if he is consistent, and he could get enough hits where he could get some GOOGLE and Yahoo money. Just a thought...

Alfonso Todd

michael molovinsky said...

alfonso, whelan is an experienced journalist and a resilient guy, but he is also the premier local historian. as a citizen of lehigh valley, i hate to see the historical society lose that asset

Anonymous said...

Frank is THE source on local history. It's too bad the historical society didn't recognize that and keep him on staff.

Anonymous said...

Mike,


The historical society lost me when they chose to build a modern structure next to the Allen homestead instead of refurbishing one of Allentown’s many neglected historical structures.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

I am a native of Allentown since my birth in 1948. My fathers' side came here in 1753 and my mothers' in 1713.

Growing up I learned many things on my own, but every neighborhood had a historian.

My historian was Walter Schantz. Walter took his drivers test on a Chain Drive Mack truck. It was owned by the company he worked for. It had carbide headlights. He played football for the Allentown Green Shirts in the
1920s.

Walter lived in our present home or the one next door his entire life. His family, as did all the others on this block, had Victory Gardens on South 10 th. They kept them up long into the 1950S.

Their gardens were across the street from our homes. We never had to worry about damages or thief from anyone except the rabbits.

People were raised to respect their neighbors, their neighbors rights, their neighbors properties and the laws.

One neighbor was an older Italian lady whose family migrated here legally after World War I.

My mother was ill from some so called doctors error. Mrs. Maozetto took care of us like her own.

On the other side of us lived a couple from Germany. They too had come over after World War I. The had the first colored TV on the street and invited us every Sunday to watch Walt Disney.

Both families arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs. But with those strong back and strong desire to be American citizens they made a life for themselves.

All spoke their native language at home and the KINGS English when outside their homes or at work.

In the summer entire neighborhood would sit out on their porches and talk.

We weren't neighbors we were extended families. It was a good time to live and grow up in Allentown.

What we have now is a human land fill. It is being filled continually by the thugs and gangsters who have relocated here.

The other night I mentioned on another site I believe the beginning of the end was when a relocated thug from NY shot a Hesss' security person in their store.

The store was filled with customers and this thug opened fire and hit the man. He recovered, but downtown Allentown and Hesss' did not.

I personally know friends and family who stopped coming into town after this. They did their shopping at the Mall.

However a few years ago a mother was gunned down at the Mall in Whitehall in the parking lot. Another mother was killed when some thug threw ice off a bridge onto Route 22.

Something is wrong with this picture.

Allentown used to be a wonderful place to grow up, a wonderful place to relocate and to make a home for your family.

Now we have some kind of armed robbery multiple times a week, hit and runs multiple times a day and too many killings.

It would appear Allentown is now a place to die, either by a gun on a city street or in your heart when you see what Allentown has become.

Either way I just thank God Walter and Mrs.Maozetto are not alive to see Allentown now.