May 25, 2022

When Allentown Worked

Regular readers of this blog know that I often visit Allentown's better days of the past. I even belong to a nostalgia group, where someone recently asked where everyone's parents worked. Many group members are in their 50's and 60's. Here was the question; When we grew up the best jobs for our dad's was the Bethlehem steel and mack trucks unless they were lawyers or doctors or had another profession occupation I know my my mom worked in a factory all her life and I think most of them have closed. Where did you mom and dad work and are the companies are open? Over 90 people responded, actually constituting a survey. In current Allentown, this would be a study, which taxpayers would have to pay for; Here, it's on the house, no charge. Fourteen of the fathers worked at Bethlehem Steel, while five worked at Mack Trucks, and five worked retail on Hamilton Street. The others worked at Allentown's many other industries, one or two here and there. Only two respondents said that their fathers weren't much for working. Twenty mothers were stay at home, while eight worked in various sewing factories. The remainder worked as teachers, nurses, factory workers and various other jobs. One person wrote, "My parents sound like the scene you described. My dad worked at Beth Steel and my mom at Penn State Mills on a sewing machine. They owned their own home and sent me to college where I graduated without the burden of a loan. Thanks, Mom and Dad." Shown above was the General Electric plant on S. 12th Street, just beyond the old Mack 5C.

reprinted from November of 2013.

ADDENDUM October 21, 2016: There is a current proposal to convert the enormous Adelaide Mill into apartments. Although, we hear catch words like loft and middle class, that won't happen; The size and location of the building,  dictate more young, single mothers and children, living in a former factory now broken up into an urban motel. There is something ironic about a former place of production now being a warehouse for people. 

ADDENDUM MAY 25, 2022: The original post was written in 2013. The above update hails from 2016, and here we are again in 2022. In addition to this blog, I now administer the facebook group  Allentown Chronicles. It's another local history group, but I also allow non-partisan politics and social commentary, which in these polarized times occasionally results in somewhat of a commotion. Sometimes people threatened to quit, or even start their own group.

Tonight Allentown City Council is meeting to decide what to do with $39 Million in unspent stimulus funds. Imagine with this happening all over the country, how many $Billions were squandered? Anyway, the public is invited to attend the meeting and speak their two cents. My input would be to amortize it over a number of years and freeze the city tax rate. However, tonight's reality will be a parade of do-gooders, presenting one cause after another...affordable housing, alternatives to police, gender identity equality and any/all other flavors of current social engineering. 

Yesterday's profound tragedy in Texas will put a local violence reduction program front and center, but my preference remains with traditional law enforcement support, moderate gun reform* and enhanced security for our schools.


  1. Old enough to clearly remember the 50's and 60's .Many youth quit school at 16 and went to work, there were jobs in manufacturing everywhere. Making shoes, electrical fixtures or the manufacture of clothing . There were sewing factories from Northampton to Easton.

    While many jobs did not pay a lot to start, it was job experience and an understanding of work. There was lots of room for advancement.

    Macks and the steel required that you had to have served your military requirement demanded by the draft.

    The area was self sufficient, being able to make most any product, with energy from the north, steel produced locally and foundries to make the castings.

    There was a positive feeling of unlimited opportunity, and hope in the future.

    This has been replaced by the hope of a government job with a cushy pension or some other service or fast food industry. Admit it, our manufacturing ability has been destroyed.

  2. I don't think i've ever heard the term, "moderate gun reform." And today I've already heard, "I told you Biden is coming for your guns." In the US we love our kids, but we love our guns more.

    1. I'd say most legal gun owners love their families, and are willing to take personal responsibility in protecting them. I also think Biden was quite clear he wants guns confiscated, both in the past and in his unfortunate political rant last night.

  3. anon@12:52, after Gifford got shot, she and Mark Kelly started Americans For Responsible Solutions(ARS). Both were gun owners and target shooters. At the time I found ARS's position reasonable..more so that the NRA's slippery slope doctrine. Since that time (2014) ARS has morphed into Gifford's Law Center. Although I preferred the more straight forward ARS, the current version still protects our basic 2nd Amendment rights.

    1. Texas (GOP) Politicians Did Nothing to Protect the Lives of 18 fully developed Fetuses.

    2. anon@4:33, unfortunately the same thing occurred in Democratic Connecticut. Don't expect such future partisan comments to be printed.

  4. Common sense gun laws would hold those committing the crimes accountable with harsh penalties for wrongdoing. I'm all for that.

    But the common sense gun laws, or "moderate gun reform", that the Giffords group is pushing is aimed at the ultimate goal of taking guns from the public, not just criminals. That's very clear in a short read of their website.

    I can certainly unite around mandatory sentences for those committing a crime with a gun, and more police in schools. We need more police anyway, so why not have them there?

  5. As far as the $39 million in unspent Covid funds, the federal government should be asking for it back. They printed the money, and having the City inject it into the money supply by spending it will only make the inflation problem worse. And multiply that by tens of thousands of cities and towns across the country, and the big picture is bleak. Our grandchildren will be paying for the government excess.

    Not that our city leaders will return it, or even think about any of that.

    So I agree that the city should hold onto it and freeze the tax rate, or ideally lower the earned income tax rate to make Allentown competitive (relative to surrounding municipalities) for potential residents. Right now, residents who work are charged nearly double what other municipalities charge. That's a tremendous disincentive for higher-income workers (something the city could use) to locate in the city.

    I'm sure that tonight they'll say that they can't use the covid money for tax reduction (or even tax stabilization), but the reality is that money is fungible (interchangeable). Find some core city function that the city is already doing and use the covid funds for that. Then use the savings there to reduce taxes or stabilize them for the future.

    As it is, it sounds like they're just searching for some way to spend the money. Another term for that would be that they're going to waste it. Most likely, it will be doled out to politically-connected individuals and groups.

    Pawlowski may be gone, but very little has changed in City Hall.