Jan 7, 2010

Velcome to Vendig and 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

5 comments:

West End Betty said...

My parents from Bayonne stayed at the Vendig, I think. Did it have bar on the first floor? Did you work there? What great photos and memories.

michael molovinsky said...

i believe they only had the bar for a few years, maybe till 1936. i was born at the end of 46.

Polish Eddie said...

MM: Please tell me you had nothing to do with Puritan Magazine. You did not profit as its landlord, right? The answer is important to me.

michael molovinsky said...

eddie, since this is the second question i received on this subject, i will answer this one. i rented my darkroom out once to one of their art directors for a couple of hours. although i did see one of their magazines once. i was never interested in porn. so perhaps, one photo for one magazine was produced in my darkroom; perhaps not, maybe he worked on material for an advertisement or other graphic art. allentown photographic was at 12 N. 8th, their building was in the next block. i was a tenant at my photo shop, the building was owned by Farr shoe company. please understand that the local blogosphere is under attack by someone who wishes to demean as many reputations as possible. eddie, in the future do not expect to see such a question printed, much less answered.

Polish Eddie said...

Thanks MM--I knew you would not be involved in such things.