Sep 27, 2012

The Radiation Mystery: Wetherhold & Metzger

The Shoe giant Wetherhold & Metzger started in 1908 on Hamilton street's south side. When business began to prosper, they moved across to the more prominent north side of Hamilton Street. Their store at 719 Hamilton was recently demolished, along with most of Allentown's mercantile history. It was a two story store, with the children's department on the lower level. This post originally was scheduled for sometime in the future, and was to include a Buster Brown poster. Today's Morning Call has a story on the mystery radium 226 found in the debris of the former buildings, and I thought perhaps the molovinsky on allentown historical division could help. Wetherhold & Metzer's downtown store was quite the adventure for a kid. In addition to your mother's money being transported away in a tube system like the bank drive-ups use today, you could look inside your shoes and see your feet.

Needless to say, eventually these shoe fluoroscopes were banned, but for many years one stood in the lower level of 719 Hamilton Street. Many a child, including myself, saw our foot bones in our new Buster Browns. Wetherhold & Metzger also had an uptown store in the 900 block of Hamilton Street.


  1. You might be interested to know, Mr. Molovinsky.

    When I do something like this :


    The fact of the matter is, I always seem to draw influences from independent bloggers such as yourself, but never from the so-called trained and trusted professionals down at The Morning Call.

    Funny how that works out.



  2. That's interesting. I had heard that X-ray machines were once commonly used in shoe stores, but never read anything about it.
    In any case, the fluoroscope likely had nothing to do with the radium-226 that was discovered. That isotope isn't used to generate X-rays. It was, however, commonly used for luminescent paint.

  3. Please follow this story MM. If this radiation 'discovery' was under a Republican mayor we'd already be hearing about filling in the 'save the children.'
    Also, the Shoen's story is also revealing. Take note of how the "local" investor is described: having had a 'career in financing with Citibank in New York" Remember when Pat Toomey was just a evil "Wall Street Banker?"

  4. Wasn't it inevitable that something like this was going to pop up? Those buildings were taken down far too quickly and without the proper preparation/remediation. What else now sits in landfills, soaking into somebody's water supply, to suit one person's self-serving delusion?

    That's what happens when those who are supposed to regulate these things are part of the process.

    I guess we'll add this to the growing list of environmental tragedies put upon us by our all-democrat city hall - the very same people who lie to us each year by saying it's the other party that wants to ruin our planet.

  5. @2:39, a reasonable comment until the last sentence.
    i believe repetitive partisan sentiments undermine the effectiveness of this blog, and will not always print them.

  6. Sorry if that comment crossed the line.

    Maybe I'm just getting tired of being falsely accused of harming the environment because of MY party affiliation. Those hurling the accusations are often the same people willing to overlook the REAL damage being done by members of their own party. And the damage is being done locally, right in front of their eyes.

    Ten years ago, if you had told me any politician (of any party) could degrade the Parkway, propose logging South Mountain, promote a trash facility to pollute our air, and propose selling our water system - AND NOT BE RUN OUT OF OFFICE - I'd have told you you were crazy.

    Now, I just wonder what will come next.


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