May 29, 2024

Flash From Past

Occasionally, some of the older boys in Lehigh Parkway would get saddled with taking me along to a Saturday matinee in downtown Allentown. We would get the bus from in front of the basement church on Jefferson Street. It would take that congregation many years to afford completing the church building there today. The bus would go across the 8th Street Bridge, which was built to accommodate the trolleys operated by Lehigh Valley Transit Company. Downtown then sported no less than five movie theaters at any one time. Particularly matinee friendly was the Midway, in the 600 Block of Hamilton. Three cartoons and episode or two of Flash Gordon entertained our entourage, which ranged in age from five to eleven years old. We younger kids, although delighted by the likes of Bugs Bunny, were confused how the Clay People would emerge from the walls in the caves on Mars to capture Captain Gordon, but our chaperones couldn't wait till the next week to learn Flash's fate. Next on the itinerary was usually a banana split at Woolworth's. Hamilton Street had three 5 and 10's, with a million things for boys to marvel at. The price of the sundae was a game of chance, with the customer picking a balloon. Inside the balloon was your price, anywhere from a penny to the full price of fifty cents. The store had a full selection of Allentown souvenirs. Pictures of West Park on a plate, the Center Square Monument on a glass, pennants to hang on your wall, and picture postcards of all the attractions. Hamilton Street was mobbed, and even the side streets were crowded with busy stores. Taking younger kids along was a responsibility for the older brothers, the streets and stores were crowded, but predators were limited to the Clay People on the silver screen.

reprinted from April 11, 2011


  1. Mike said: "the streets and stores were crowded"... crowded, my eye... it was akin to "human bumper ball"!!! If my Mother didn't have a death grip on me as we walked thru the wave of humanity, I would have been lost. That was in the late 50s and early 60s.
    Does anyone remember "Thursday Night is Shopping Night"??? Waves of shoppers, most carrying shopping bags. It was truly amazing... and everyone dressed to the nines... class... now... nothing... Sad!!!

    1. Absolutely remember. Those were the highlight days in Allentown. So sad that they are gone.

  2. As difficult as it may be to process, this was the same scenario of us city kids in The Bronx in those days. Wonderful memories.