Nov 17, 2017

A Former Proud Block In Allentown


When the north side of the 700 block of Hamilton Street was demolished in early 2012, this lone blogger was there early in the mornings and weekends to document the end of an era. Although Hess's ruled Hamilton Street in the 60's and 70's, the 700 block had the classic mercantile history and facades.

The new arena monstrosity looks pretty much like the renderings did, except those middle class people pictured in the illustration never materialized. I'm referring to the west end housewives with their baby strollers and disposable income. The apologists say wait, it takes time. It's only half done, wait until they build the mega towers on the south side of the street. The suburban housewives will still have no interest or motivation to come downtown.

 Reilly will build the towers. As long as Pennsylvania taxes are being used for his debt service, why wouldn't he?   Never mind that the state is so broke that they may have to put slot machines in elementary school cafeterias to harvest junior's lunch money.

Nov 16, 2017

Treasures Lost On Hamilton Street


                                                   click photograph to enlarge
The merchants who built Hamilton Street counted on architecture to attract shoppers into their emporiums. Large neon signs wouldn't appear for another fifty years. The soffit and fascia shown above, halfway between 7th and 8th on Hamilton, is one of the most elaborate facades in Allentown. One thing you can say about Allentown City Hall, they never let culture, art, or history get into the way of their plans. As successful cities come to value and profit from their history more and more, Allentown keeps using the standard catalog of proven failures. I know from other projects on Hamilton Street that Pawlowski isn't big on history. The Cityline Building in the 800 Block was permitted to stucco over beautiful brickwork. Sad that the puppies, who are directors at the Art Museum and Historical Society, remain silent on the planned destruction. It's hard to describe the magnificence of the skylight shown below, also in the targeted block. It's very large in three sections, in pristine condition. Should be quite a snack for Pawlowski's bulldozer.
The bulldozer prevailed, and the former architectural treasures of our mercantile history were not preserved, save for this blog's archives. Above is reprinted from May 2011

ADDENDUM:   This past weekend, a member of Old Allentown Preservation Association, and an active local Democrat, bragged on facebook about how he had recycled an old second floor office door from the demolished buildings in the arena zone. In truth, Old Allentown also turned a self serving, callous eye to the destruction noted in the above post. Although I'm glad the door was recycled, allow this post to note the irony and hypocrisy of the Association.

reprinted from January of 2015


UPDATE NOVEMBER 16, 2017: Although there's always some group bestowing some award on any new development, the Allentown NIZ is certainly no architectural destination.  Although I've taken hundreds of photographs in Allentown, including the ones shown here,  I have yet to buy film for any new building in the NIZ.

Nov 15, 2017

It's Raining Candy Sprinkles In Allentown


If you picked up the Morning Call on an airplane seat in Atlanta,  and were never here,  you would think that Allentown is the jewel of the northeast.  After all,  its new district with a $Billion dollars worth of new buildings just won a  Global Award of Excellence.  However,  if you decided to detour your trip to a real paradise to instead visit Allentown, you would be in for a rude awakening.  Walking down Hamilton Street you would find virtually no stores,  much less anything upscale.  Your few fellow shoppers would resemble the urban poor in the most depressed cities.

The Lehigh Carbon Community College, now on Hamilton Street, will be moving into the Morning Call Building, which is now owned by J.B. Reilly, along with most of the new buildings in the NIZ.  I suppose the students can study journalism and intern with the paper.  However, like the paper, they will have to be very careful what they write about Reilly and the NIZ.  Maybe their professor would allow them to intern with a blogger?

Nov 14, 2017

An Invitation To Pawlowski


Students of this blog know that I supported Nat Hyman for mayor, and have been a long time critic of  Ed Pawlowski.  I have even been critical of those who supported him. I see no benefit of continuing to beat that drum.  I believe that you will see a shift in this blog that will appear more conciliatory.   He will certainly be submitted to enough public scrutiny when the trial begins in January.  I don't think that you will be reading much about that, if at all, on this page.  I don't operate as a reporter,  but rather a commentator on local politics and history.

That is not to say that I won't be critical of the administration in regard to policy.  I will always strive to improve the priorities,  especially in regard to the park system.  I'm inviting Mayor Pawlowski to take a tour with me of the WPA structures.

Nov 13, 2017

When Allentown High Was Pennsylvania Dutch


In 1950 when 16 year old  Jayne Lichtenwalner made this plate in art class,  Allentown for the most part had a Pennsylvania Dutch demographic.  Jayne's family lived at 642 Chew Street.  The principal of Allentown High was Clifford Bartholomew.  After Bartholomew retired from being principal,  he later would go on to become mayor.

Move ahead seventy years, and the Pennsylvania Dutch student is an endangered species in the Allentown School System, perhaps even extinct. The new superintendent of the system is from Detroit,  and the mayor is from Chicago.  The dominant demographic in center city is now Hispanic, and they just elected the Chicago mayor for a fourth term, even though he's indicted for corruption.

I grew up on the south side near the Mack Truck assembly plant. I graduated from Allen in the middle 1960's, and remember when Bartholomew was principal and then mayor. I worked in center city when the stores died and the neighborhoods changed.  This blog was designed to be the juncture of local history and politics.  Because I find the politics at the moment so distressing,  I'll be conducting  more history classes.

Nov 10, 2017

Where's Waldo Molovinsky?


I have been a citizen participant in local government for decades.  Over those years I have championed for and against proposals by numerous mayors and councils.  Needless to say to those that know me, many of those efforts were in the against camp.

In 2005, I ran as an independent for mayor.  It was at that time I noticed some things about Pawlowski that differed from his public perception. In 2007, when I started this blog,  even fellow bloggers Bernie O'Hare and Chris Casey dismissed my complaints about Pawlowski as sour grapes from a losing candidate.  In 2014,  I ran as an independent for state representative against an eleven term  Republican incumbent and a Democrat. I received 13% of the tally in Lehigh County.

I'm not a people person.  The last organization I belonged to was the Cub Scouts in 1954.  I wasn't at any campaign parties on Tuesday night.  I don't play well with officials, bureaucrats or the press. I don't curry favor with any elected officials, nor do I regularly visit them with praise.  In recent years my attendance at  county, city or township meetings is usually to defend our history against political correctness and sacred cows.

I think that you will find the observations on this blog informative.   I only write about those issues with which I have experience and knowledge. I occasionally get calls from people researching a local topic or place that have found information about it here on this blog. My current efforts have gone toward saving historic structures within our park systems. Although I do not accept anonymous comments, comments may be made by pseudonym.  Registration for a pseudonym name is through third party entities, such as Google, and I have no access to actual identities. Your readership is appreciated.

Nov 9, 2017

A Statue Of Pawlowski


Pawlowski's upcoming fourth term may well be less than the full four years.  Although he won the election with 39% of the voters,  his next evaluation will be by a jury.  However,  I suppose the lesson from election night is not to underestimate Mr. Pawlowski's ability to overcome obstacles.

Ray O'Connell supporters harbor the hope that Pawlowski will either resign in a plea deal,  or be removed from office when found guilty in the upcoming trial.  It is their understanding that City Council will appoint O'Connell mayor until a special election can be held. At that point he could then run as the incumbent.

There will be much speculation about how the election may have turned out without the write-in and independents.  However,  such speculation seems less than productive at this time.  Although the upcoming trial may change the political dynamics once again, at this point Ed Pawlowski is mayor. The city and his distractors,  myself included,  can best proceed accepting that reality.

Ed Pawlowski was elected for his 4th term for the most part with the support of the minority communities. While I have referred to these voters as low information,  many in fact were aware of the charges against the mayor.   Although several of their members, with their own political aspirations, say that they think that he is innocent,  others are more blunt.  They simply don't consider criminal charges a deal breaker,  and certainly not charges pertaining to corruption.

It was a given for years in Allentown that you had to be an ethical Democrat to win.  Now perhaps  you no longer even need to be ethical.  In Washington D.C.  they are erecting a statue of Marion Barry.  Barry was re-elected mayor after finishing a federal prison term.  Perhaps a statue awaits Ed Pawlowski.

Nov 8, 2017

Post Election Revelations


Although I have previously recommended candidates,  my efforts towards yesterday's election were much beyond my normal.  I felt that whatever influence I may wield,  this was the time to use it.  The idea of electing a fourth term mayor who would immediately be completely preoccupied with a corruption trial was something which I had to fight against.  In the course of such combat I have been uncomfortably harsh against some other candidates and officials.

I've always had a good rapport with Ray O'Connell and considered him worthy of the mayorship.  However, as a write-in, I felt that he would siphon votes from Hyman,  who I considered the  preferred  alternative to Pawlowski on the ballot.

Probably the city official I have been most critical of is park director Lindsay Taylor.  This is because the park system is the part of the city I know and care the most about.  Although I believe that the department needs new priorities,  I do not believe that it needs a new director.  The city could benefit from Taylor's experience and growing familiarity with the large park system.

I have been critical of The Morning Call and their coverage of the election.  Although Emily Opilo co-authored many of those stories, I find her an excellent reporter,  whose efforts have benefited  Allentown.

Here in the local blogosphere,  earlier in the year I speculated that a commenter, Monkey Momma, might be Bernie O'Hare.  Recently,  Monkey Momma introduced herself to me.  Although I immediately disclosed the encounter to O'Hare,  it's also necessary to disclose it to my general audience.

Last night a woman told me that she voted straight Democratic as a protest against Donald Trump.  It appears that she was not alone with her inappropriate use of the ballot on the local level.  The anti-Trump sentiment could well have been a factor in many county races.  In the close Allentown mayoral race,  Hyman would have easily prevailed, had he been alone on the ballot with Pawlowski.  Ray O'Connell may well end up mayor as Allentown's Trial Of The Century starts in early 2018.

Nov 7, 2017

The Last Hurrah


Sunday was the last hurrah for The Morning Call trying to shape the election;  the paper's circulation is much less on Monday and Tuesday.  Ed Pawlowski must have been very pleased with the article.  It said that he shepherded in the new downtown development. Although it happen on his watch, and Brown and Reilly let him to cut a few ribbons,  he was less than incidental.  Actually, he tried to use those backdrops as his ticket to ride out of town. with campaigns both for governor and senator.   The paper also said  "In October, he triumphantly opened the city’s long-shuttered Cedar Beach Pool for a one-weekend event, weeks after the rest of the city’s pools closed for the season."  There was no mention of the overcosts, or that he knew that the pool was leaking, but went ahead with the pre-election ploy anyway.

In addition to glossing over Pawlowski's indiscretions,  the article took a shot at Hyman, saying that he spent less than what was anticipated.  Anticipated by whom? Considering that Pawlowski and Hyman raised about the same amount of money, and presumedly will spend about the same, the statement about Hyman was pejorative.

 I suppose from a newspaper point of view, a sitting mayor on trial for corruption is about as juicy as it gets.  However,  for those of us who have a stake in Allentown's  future, let us hope that Hyman prevails.

Nov 6, 2017

Parasites For Pawlowski

                                           artwork by Mark Beyer
Readers of this blog know that I don't have much respect for those who support Pawlowski.  I think that they are limited to low information people, and those who put their own self interest above that of the community.   They might want to consider that all this pay to play occurred when he was interested in running first for governor,  then for the senate.  Although Pawlowski is now claiming to care so much about Allentown,  he was doing his best to use the town as a stepping stone.

What bodes poorly for Allentown's future is that Pawlowski might just win the election.  The fact that segments of the population would consider using their vote in such a fashion helps explain the crime and violence.

This is a critical juncture for Allentown.  It's time for completely new leadership.  It is essential that people of character come out,  cross party lines,  and vote no to the corruption.  I support Nat Hyman because he has the qualities to restore Allentown's pride, and allow the new construction to become  truly a revitalization.

artwork by Mark Beyer 

Nov 3, 2017

City Hall As Campaign Machine


Although incumbents always have the advantage, Pawlowski is exploiting the taxpayers in an unprecedented fashion. While City Council reacted to a town hall mailing,  it pales in expense to his other exploits.  The street department has been concentrating in the deep West End,  where Pawlowski hopes to wedge away a few votes from Hyman and O'Connell.  However, unlike with the minority demographic downtown,  I doubt that this ploy will yield many votes.  The Cedar Beach Pool stunt cost the city millions of gallons of water and overtime for dozens of employees.  That dog and pony show also involved the sodding of the grass and other items not in the original pool budget.  The Park Director has been acting as no less than a hand maiden for the Mayor's campaign.

We must understand that ethics are no longer a factor to Pawlowski.  He faces 54 criminal counts,  and at this point he could care less about any perception of misusing city hall.

Nov 2, 2017

Political Strategy and Blood

A few weeks ago when I reported that the new Cedar Beach Pool was leaking, a media production guy who has done work for Pawlowski criticized me for negative speculation.  When Allentown Public Works confirmed the leak five days later, needless to say the filmmaker had nothing to say.  A public relations guy from NYC is now saying that Pawlowski is innocent.  Pawlowski's lawyer has asked that the indictment be dismissed.  Both these news releases are just last minute attempts to deflect from the gravity of the charges against him before voters go the polls.  The Morning Call took the bait and put an alert breaking news banner in red across the top of their website. They used an out of context distortion as a sub headline.  WFMZ also treated the political ploy as a legitimate news story, and even went farther.  They taped Pawlowski's attorney making his case that Pawlowski is the victim of an over zealous prosecution. His attorney could well have a second career as a political strategist.

Meanwhile, back in Dodge City, aka Allentown, the bullets and knives have been flying.  Pawlowski's paid mouth pieces can deny the criminal charges against him, but the blood and bodies speak for themselves.

Nov 1, 2017

Besides The Mayor's Race


While this blog and been focusing on Allentown's mayoral race,  lets examine some other contests.  Although there is no contention for the 4 year seats on Allentown City Council,  one of the four candidates will be a new voice on council.  Ed Zucal is a former police officer and has been waiting for the opportunity to serve again.  The only contested race is for the 2 year seat, and here the voters have a unique opportunity.  Lou Hershman is once again willing to serve Allentown with his deep institutional memory and no nonsense approach.  Lou is both a former councilman and controller. The voters are fortunate that he is on the ballot.

The Allentown School Board has five people seeking four seats.  I'm hoping that Robert Walker(R) prevails on Tuesday evening.  Walker is a life long Allentonian, and devoted to helping the district progress.

South Whitehall has the first contested race for commissioner in several election cycles.  Mark Pinsley(D) would add some new blood on that entrenched board, and they certainly need it. I would encourage the voters to cast only one vote in the both the Allentown School Board and South Whitehall Commissioner races.  This under-voting technique amplifies your vote, and their probability of winning.

Oct 31, 2017

A New Mayor For Allentown


One week from today Allentown elects a new mayor, hopefully.   I believe next Tuesday will be a long night for the top three contenders.  On Facebook this morning I saw a Hispanic congregation rooting and praying for Ed Pawlowski.  He spoke there on Sunday,  and apparently they believe in him more than the FBI, which has 54 counts of pay to play against him.

It still appears to me that The Morning Call is doing all they can for Ray O'Connell. They position his ad at the top of their webpage, and feature one letter of praise after another for him.  I remember in 05  when they buried my ad on the inside bottom of a middle page.

Nat Hyman has been endorsed by Charlie Dent.  Dent is popular across party lines, and hopefully his endorsement will be sufficiently conveyed to the voters.

While a Pawlowski win might still give O'Connell a delayed victory in 2018,  after Pawlowski is found guilty, the city would remain in paralysis for another 6 months.  It would be much better for  Allentown to awaken from its coma next week, and elect Nat Hyman.

Oct 30, 2017

Influence and Politics In Allentown


I found the Pawlowski campaign financial report very discerning.  Although he faces 54 counts of pay to play,  he led the pack in campaign contributions.  It demonstrates how much self-interest drives so many people, and how little integrity plays into their thinking.  Leading the pack for Pawlowski were the labor unions.  Although the Hispanic Community are Pawlowski's biggest fans,  their shallow pockets couldn't pony up much money.  However,  the Syrians filled that void.  Like the labor unions, the Syrians vote and contribute as a block, betting on keeping their influence.

It's informative to understand the bet on Pawlowski.  Although he might win in November, his time in City Hall is limited. At some point the trial will end,  and he will be packing his bags for prison.  Apparently, those who contribute to him are counting on his appointed replacement to honor historical backroom understandings.  It is for that reason that I support Nat Hyman.  Allentown really needs a fresh start. 

Oct 27, 2017

Excuse Me


Yesterday was a sad day in the local political peanut gallery.  A political strategist for an independent mayoral candidate released links pertaining to two old court cases involving Nat Hyman.  What drives candidates and their surrogates to such desperation? As Douglas Slifkin noted on Facebook, the night after the election the independent candidate will be home watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond.  Most of us are way too small in business to be involved in any litigation with international corporations.   I made the mistake of referring to this strategist as a campaign manager,  and he adamantly corrected me.  All I can say is  EXCUSE ME.

According to the FBI,  Allentown City Hall has been for sale for years. Of the three top candidates,  only Hyman can come in with a clean broom.  Pawlowski, win or lose,  will be spending January and February across the street on trial in federal court.  As a council member, the write-in candidate voted yes for Pawlowski's schemes dozens of times.  I'm concerned about Allentown's future, not some old dug up court case.  If Allentonians wants the sun to shine on a better city, they best work to get Hyman elected.

Oct 26, 2017

Allentown's Mayoral Debate


As it turns out, Tuesday's mayoral debate organized by Robert Trotner was the only one which will occur this election cycle. Trotner's square off only attracted the two independent candidates,  John Ingram and Solomon Tembo.  The Morning Call reported that Tony Iannelli  announced that the debate between Pawlowski and Hyman scheduled for Business Matters has been cancelled.  Although,  the article contains an old comment from this past summer by Hyman stating who he would agree to debate, he had no part in yesterday's cancellation.

Both Schlossberg and Schweyer have endorsed Ray O'Connell.  While I understand their desire to disassociate with Pawlowski,  for party politicians to endorse a write-in is unconventional.   Is it that they think that O'Connell is such an opportunity for Allentown, or is it their partisanship?  Perhaps sans the partisanship,  they would have endorsed Hyman.

ADDENDUM:  I have a hunch that Iannelli cancelled the debate because he couldn't justify wedging O'Connell onto the podium, and that The Morning Call didn't want the optic of only Pawlowski and Hyman without O'Connell.  Anybody who doubts the channel between Iannelli and The Morning Call hasn't seen the full page ads of him praising the paper as his source for local news.


UPDATE; While Ray O'Connell's ad dominates the top lead space on the paper's website, not one more word has appeared either on The Morning Call or WFMZ about the cancelled debate.  Only the local politicos ponder that here and on Facebook.

photo by Ed White

Oct 25, 2017

Gays For Pawlowski


Ed Pawlowski wants the voters to continue the success under his leadership,  to finish what they have started together.  This message has resonated well with the minority communities.  In these last weeks before the election, Ed is throwing everything against the wall that he can find.  He has announced body cameras for the police department.  With the exception of a former police chief's son,  there haven't been allegations of discrimination against local police departments.  The body cameras won't help with Allentown's biggest crime problem,  thugs shooting thugs.

Ed and the gay community have always gotten along well.  Allentown's gay activists have come to maturity during Pawlowski's endless terms.  We now have an LGBT community center behind Hamilton Street.  Yesterday Ed announced on Facebook that Allentown received some designation as gay friendly.  We all know that there is no shortage of organizations which award endless commendations for endless reasons.   While Ed's posting of this designation was clearly placed to attract the gay votes,  I'm wondering how many he will actually receive.  The gay community is highly informed.  I don't know if they're inclined to vote for a soon to be convicted felon.  However, for the most part they are Yellow-Dog Democrats,  and may well figure that when Pawlowski reports to prison,  fellow Democrat Ray O'Connell will take over.  I'm hoping that they will decide to make their vote more meaningful for Allentown, and vote for Hyman.

Oct 24, 2017

Art Museum Pie In The Sky


The head of Allentown's Art Museum,  who has been here four whole years now, wants to double the size and scope of the Museum.  When I read that every R.B. Reilly Strata tenant would get a free membership, I had to smile.  This town is certainly putting high hopes on these new tenants. Apparently, they're considered more cultured than the previous tenants, who were displaced by the construction.

I can appreciate an ambitious bureaucrat (not really), but this guy is really taking J.B.'s City Center Real Estate brochures to heart.  I haven't seen them taken so literally since the Morning Call promotions. This museum director should consider that these tenants didn't support a book store or a steak house. If he had arrived in Allentown before the Arena, he would know that Hamilton Street hasn't been upgraded in either merchants or clientele; There is actually less of both now.

He wants to build a performance center as part of the enlarged museum.  It would be better if Symphony Hall. one block over, got more use.   He also wants to build artist residences.  Will there be a wing for bloggers? Will it be outfitted for the needs of elderly bloggers?  I think that I could use a grab bar in the shower.

photo credit:The Morning Call

Oct 23, 2017

A Challenge For Nat Hyman


On Facebook I see people who are equating candidate Nat Hyman's success in the business world with Donald Trump,  which isn't helping his campaign.   In reality, Hyman's success would work well for Allentown in City Hall, but he must first get elected on November 7th.  Another issue stemming from Hyman's success is if he has a conflict of interest because of his apartment business? This question headlined The Morning Call on Sunday.   In my informed opinion, rather than a conflict, Hyman has a unique understanding of the Allentown's housing situation,  which is one of Allentown's biggest issues.

A number of years ago Allentown codified the conversion of commercial buildings into apartments by changing the zoning law.  While previously such conversions were a matter of special variance only, they now became allowable.  The thinking was that after decades of sitting idle, with no prospect of reuse as factories, it was time to make these buildings again productive.

I must question the motive of the Morning Call's article.  Was it intended to convey that Allentown doesn't need another possible conflict after Pawlowski's abuse of his power,  as Daryl Hendricks spells out, in case anybody missed the implication.   That would leave only Ray O'Connell as the viable alternative.  Of course the article conveniently omits any history as O'Connell as a Pawlowski enabler for the first three terms.  For someone who lost the primary, the paper is certainly treating O'Connell very well.   Hyman is not running for Mayor because he is seeking or needs special treatment from the city.  He truly wants to restore honor back to city hall.  Hopefully the voters will avail themselves of the offer of his time and energy.

Hyman owned Livingston Apartments

Oct 20, 2017

Supermarkets Come To Allentown


The concrete monolith still stands five stories above Lehigh Street at the Parkway Shopping Center. Currently it sports a clock and a sign for St. Luke's medical offices. It was built in 1953 as the modernistic sign tower for Food Fair supermarket, which then was a stand alone store. Behind it, on South 12th Street was the Black and Decker Factory. The shopping center would not be built to decades later, connecting the former supermarket to the bowling alley built in the 60's. Food Fair was started in the 1920's by Russian immigrant Samuel Friedland in Harrisburg. By 1957 he had 275 stores. 1953 was a rough year for the butcher, baker and candle stick maker; the huge supermarkets were too much competition, even for the bigger independent markets, such as Lehigh Street Superette; it was further east on Lehigh, now the site of a Turkey Hill Market. The sign tower also remains at the 15th and Allen Shopping center, which was another stand alone Food Fair. That parcel remains an independent supermarket. Food Fair would eventually absorb Penn Fruit, which had a market on N. 7th Street, then turn into Pantry Pride. When the Food Fair was built, there was as yet no 15th Street Bridge. Allentown only connected to the south side by the 8th Street Bridge and the Lehigh/Union Street hill. (stone arch bridge, near Regency Tower, was route to West End) Allentown was booming and Mack Trucks were rolling off the line, a block east off Lehigh Street, as fast as they could build them. The factories on S. 12th st. are now flea markets. Mack Headquarters is being sold to a real estate developer. Perhaps those concrete monoliths are the monuments to better times, by those of us who remember.

reprinted from November 2013

Oct 19, 2017

The Corner Market


Although I doubt that there will ever be a show at the Historical Society, or brochures at the Visitors Bureau, perhaps nothing encapsulates the history of Allentown more than the corner grocery stores. Allentown proper, is mostly comprised of rowhouses built between 1870 and 1920, long before the era of automobiles and suburban supermarkets. Most of the corner markets were built as stores, and over the years many were converted into apartments. Up until the late 1940's, there may have been well over a hundred operating in Allentown. Some specialized in ethnic food. The bodega at 9th and Liberty was formally an Italian market. Live and fresh killed chickens were sold at 8th and Linden, currently H & R Block Tax Service. A kosher meat market is now a hair salon on 19th Street. The original era for these markets died with the advent of the supermarket. In the early 50's some corner stores attempted to "brand" themselves as a "chain", as shown in the Economy Store sign above. That market is at 4th and Turner, and has been continually operating since the turn of the last century. Ironically, as the social-economic level of center city has decreased, the corner stores have seen a revival. Most of these new merchants, many Hispanic and some Asian, know little of the former history of their stores, but like their predecessors, work long, hard hours.

above reprinted from March 2012

photo of Yost Market by Carl Rubrecht, 1970 

ADDENDUM: The enamel Economy Stores sign has been removed.  I hope that the owner sold it,  because it was valuable. As for the A-Treat sign, the era of painted signs on brick buildings is long over, although some ghost images still remain in Allentown.

Oct 18, 2017

A Tailor From North Street

The Allentown Housing and Development Corp. recently purchased a home at 421 North St. That block of North Street was destroyed by fire, and the agency has built a block of new houses on the street's south side; it will next develop the other side of the street. The deed transfer caught my attention because Morris Wolf lived in the house in 1903. Wolf signed up with the Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry on July 18, 1861, in Philadelphia, when he was 22 years old. He was a private in Company A, of the 3rd Cavalry. This unit was also known as the 60th Regiment and was later called Young's Kentucky Light Cavalry.It defended Washington, D.C., until March 1862, then participated in many of the war's most famous battles: Williamsburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. Wolf had signed up for three years and was mustered out Aug. 24,1864.

Recently, to commemorate Memorial Day, the local veterans group placed more than 500 flags at Fairview Cemetery. If that wasn't enough of a good deed, the group also set upright more than 300 toppled grave markers. Visiting Fairview recently, I saw they had not overlooked the graves of either Mr. Wolf, or another veteran, Joseph Levine. I have concerned myself with Allentown's Fairview Cemetery for the last few years. I first became interested in the small Jewish section, called Mt. Sinai. This was the first organized Jewish cemetery in Allentown. Currently, all the synagogues have their own cemeteries, and Mt. Sinai has been mostly unused for many decades.

Mr. Wolf lies next to his wife, Julia, who died in 1907. Morris would live on for 30 more years, passing away in 1937, at age 98.
Mr. Levine, a World War II veteran, and his wife, Ethel, were the first and last people to be buried there after almost 25 years of inactivity. When Ethel died at age 93 in 2000, it was the first burial at Mt. Sinai since 1976. Joseph was 103 years old when he passed away in 2006.

The Housing and Development Corp. and North Street are now part of Allentown's new neighborhood initiative called Jordan Heights.Although soon there will be a new house at 421 North St., there is a history that will remain with the parcel. Once a tailor lived there who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg.

reprinted from 2015 and previous years.

Oct 17, 2017

When 6th Street Was West Allentown


In 1903, the 600 block of 2nd Street housed one Russian Jewish family after another. They built a small synagogue there, which was kept open until about twenty years ago. My grandfather, who then worked at a cigar factory, had just saved enough to bring his parents over from the old country. They lived in an old house at 617 N. 2nd. The current house at that location was built in 1920. By the time my father was born in 1917, the youngest of five children, they had moved to the suburbs just across the Jordan Creek.


My grandfather lived on the corner of Chew and Jordan Streets. He butchered in a barn behind the house. The house is still there, 301 Jordan, the barn is gone. He would deliver the meat with a horse and wagon. On the weekends, when the family wanted to visit friends, the horse insisted on doing the meat market route first. Only after he stopped in front of the last market on the route, would he permit my grandfather to direct him. excerpt from My grandfather's Horse, May 13, 2008

Allentown has just designated the neighborhood west of the Jordan to 7th Street, and between Linden and Tilghman Streets, as Jordan Heights. The area encompasses the Old Fairgrounds Historic District. Allentown's old fairground, in the years between 1852-1888, was in the vicinity of 6th and Liberty. It was an open space, as is the current fairground at 17th and Chew Streets. When my grandparents moved to Jordan Street it was a modern house, just built in 1895. Many of the Jewish families moved to the suburbs between Jordan and 7th. The Jewish Community Center was built on the corner of 6th and Chew, today known as Alliance Hall.
I wish the Jordan Heights initiative well. There's a lot of history in those 24 square blocks, and hopefully much future.

reprinted and retitled from previous years

photo: Opening of Jewish Community Center, 1928, 6th and Chew Streets.  Now Alliance Hall

Oct 16, 2017

The Butchers Of Allentown

photograph by Bob Wilt

A&B (Arbogast&Bastian), dominated the local meat packing industry for almost 100 years. At it's peak, they employed 700 people and could process 4,000 hogs a day. The huge plant was at the foot of Hamilton Street, at the Lehigh River. All that remains is their free standing office building, which has been incorporated into America on Wheels. Front and Hamilton was Allentown's meatpacking district. Within one block, two national Chicago meatpackers, Swift and Wilson, had distribution centers. Also in the area were several small independents, among them M. Feder and Allentown Meat Packing Company.

reprinted from February 2013

ADDENDUM MARCH 2016: Allentown Meat Packing was owned by my father and uncle. The area was criss-crossed with tracks, owned by both LVRR and Jersey Central. All the plants had their own sidings. molovinsky on allentown will be revisiting this area in upcoming posts. This is an era when commerce was measured in factories and production, not just relocated office workers.

ADDENDUM OCTOBER 2017:  Molovinsky On Allentown occasionally takes a break from the local political discourse to present local history.  My grandfather came to Allentown in 1893 and lived in the Ward on 2nd Street. By the time my father was born in 1917, they lived on the corner of Chew and Jordan Streets. 

Oct 13, 2017

A Lehigh Parkway Vendetta


Over the years each summer people began to look forward to the wildflower garden,  which surrounded the Stone & Log House in Lehigh Parkway.  In the winter, occasionally someone would joke that the bearded man who lived there should dress like Santa Claus for Lights In The Parkway.

Needless to say, Michael Adams was shocked and upset when he was recently evicted from the house, where he lived for over 10 years.  He felt  assaulted again when the park department completely tore away the flower gardens that he cultivated for over a decade.

He'll be the first to tell you that for a long time he was a Pawlowski supporter.  He was surprised when he first got the eviction order referencing a large amount for unpaid rent.  He had a long standing agreement that in exchange for living there,  he would at his own expense both upgrade and maintain the property. Unfortunately for Michael, that arrangement was never written out.


Much like Pawlowski turning on his former supporter, the changes made to the house's outside by the park department are both startling and stark.

Oct 12, 2017

Moral Turpitude Deep At Cedar Beach


According to The Morning Call, Mayor Pawlowski is upset that Public Works revealed to City Council last night that the new swimming pool has a leak.  He thinks that the pool is under the purview of the Park Department, and any such announcement should have come through them.  Actually, the announcement should have come from Pawlowski, and it should have been made last week.  Pawlowski should have announced that he was sorry to report that the new pool has a leaking pipe, and that it won't be open this season after all.  Instead, he directed the Park Department to engage in an expensive, elaborate charade, so he could stage an election stunt.

After I reported on this blog last week that the pool was leaking,  I was confronted on Facebook by a media person in Pawlowski's employ, who criticized me for my negativity.  Replacing thousands of gallons of leaking water every day isn't a matter of positive or negative attitude,  it was simply a fact.  Pawlowski and his park director, instead of announcing the leak,  sodded the grass just for the weekend. (Instead of just allowing the grass seed to grow as previously planned). They paid the park staff overtime for the weekend to stage Pawlowski's pre-election meet and greet, all the while adding water to the leaking pool.

It seems so indicative of Pawlowski's character that he is upset that the truth came out, rather than the fact that the pool is leaking.

Pawlowski's hoax took a lot of extra water.

Oct 11, 2017

South Whitehall Determined To Destroy Wehr's Dam


It's been almost a year since the voters of South Whitehall Township told the Commissioners and Administration that they wanted to keep Wehr's Dam,  even if it took a few of their tax dollars.  However,  the Commissioners and Randy Cope, the park director,  still wanted to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy, and demolish the dam.  Randy Cope has multiple ties to the Conservancy.  In addition to his father being a director of that organization,  he has commissioned it to implement the township Greenway Project along the Jordan Creek. In the last 11 months since the referendum passed, the township hasn't said one word about the dam, giving no confirmation that they would abide by the voter's wishes.

The large tree trunk seen above has sat on top of the middle of the dam most of the summer.  The tree has a branch stuck in the silt behind the dam.  It should have been pulled away from the back of the dam months ago, taken to shore and disposed of.  Randy Cope is now Director of Township Operations.  A tree contractor is being hired to bring in a backhoe below the dam, and pull the two ton trunk over the dam with chains, even though it is caught up behind the dam.   Randy Cope must be hoping that the process smashes the dam, or at least destroys the cement buttress and platform below it.

Although, the dam has survived for over a century, and was supposed to be saved by the voter's referendum,  the forces waged against it remain very real.  The Wildlands Conservancy/Conspiracy has undermined the dam with contrived accusations questioning its structural integrity with the state. The township administrators and commissioners have done nothing to defend the dam against those accusations. Although, I have documented the correspondence between the Conservancy/State/Township, The Morning Call has refused to print my exposé about these sacred cows and their scheme.  This blog serves as the last line of defense for the historic structure.

Oct 10, 2017

Rumble In The Morning Call Jungle

In my post last Thursday,  I called the Morning Call/Muhlenberg College Poll flawed.  Somehow, almost arbitrarily,  they assigned 22% to Ray O'Connell, although he wasn't included in their original question about choosing a candidate on the ballot;  Ray is a write-in, and not on the ballot.  Blogger Bernie O'Hare wrote about this topic yesterday, and the Morning Call editor provided an explanation that is as vague as the original article in the paper.  I can certainly understand why Nat Hyman was perplexed about how contrived and labored it was for the paper to justify covering three candidates,  when they appear to ignore their own guidelines in doing so.

Hyman brings some unique qualities to the race and hopefully on to City Hall, come November 7th.  While Ed's surrogates deride Hyman because he's a property owner,  in truth housing is perhaps the biggest issue in Allentown, and Hyman knows the subject, inside and out.  The paper endorsed Pawlowski in his first term, and generally supported him until his behavior rose to the current criminal accusations.  It is refreshing to see a candidate who is willing to question the paper.  But Hyman didn't become the success he is by obsessing on perceived slights.  Allentown City Hall needs a completely fresh start, and Hyman has the skill set to provide it.

Oct 9, 2017

Answering A Critic


On social media this weekend someone wrote about me;  Have you ever published anything positive about Allentown?  Although,  this person apparently has a professional agenda for his question, let me respond first as if he didn't.  This blog was never intended to promote a particular party,  public official or policy.  Rather, it was meant to try and safeguard some unique  aspects of Allentown.  Consequently, I defend the traditional park system, among other institutions.

My critic(s) can't suggest that I attend meetings and try to change policy,  because I've been to countless ones.  My critic(s) can't suggest that I run for office, because I have.

I think that what Allentown actually needs is more critics.  Public meetings are sparely attended.  There are plenty of smiling faces to come out for a free swim. Give them a free hotdog, and they could care less about how much the project cost,  or what else was ignored to build it.

This is a focused blog with a mission.  Entertainment, popularity and/or comments are not my objectives.  I do appreciate the readership of those who find the posts here worthwhile.

Now, getting back to this weekend's criticism of me.  He was complaining because I posted that the new pool may be leaking.  My critic has done media work for Pawlowski.   I wonder if he also considers the FBI  to be naysayers in regard to his client.  Lisa Pawlowski liked his comment about me.

I use the Sidewalk Superintendent Photograph, shown above, as a representation of my efforts to scrutinize city hall.   

Oct 6, 2017

Pawlowski's Pool Party


I suppose with the trial judge coming, and the election a month away,  Pawlowski doesn't have much time or reason to act dignified.  He has been campaigning hard among the least informed in the city.  On those notes, he has announced that Cedar Beach pool will be open this weekend.
“It has been a long haul to overcome the setbacks and get the project completed,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski.  “The walls are plaster, so the pool is never emptied. The weather is going to be warm, and the pool has passed all the necessary inspections, so I want to give our residents an opportunity to enjoy it, or just come out to see it, even if it is only for this weekend.”
As an advocate for the park system, especially the crumbling WPA structures, I can only shake my head about Lindsay Taylor, the park director.  She apparently goes along with Pawlowski's nonsense, or has no say in decisions concerning her department.  If she's not embarrassed, she should be.

ADDENDUM:  I have observed city employees adding water to the pool every day.  A well placed source now informs me that indeed the new pool is leaking.  This delayed, over budget pool project originally started because the previous version of the pool was leaking.  Three years and $3 million later,  is it still leaking?

UPDATE:  Somebody on Facebook asked me if I'm sure the pool is leaking. That answer is NO.  I am sure that I observed them adding water every day.  My source tells me that the pool  is losing up to 6 inches of water overnight.

Oct 5, 2017

Muhlenberg Poll Flawed


Nat Hyman better not put too much faith in the current poll released by Muhlenberg College, and campaign as if he's behind, because he just might be.  The Muhlenberg polls are historically wrong, and this one seems no different.  Their lead question asked about the four candidates on the ballot, which excluded Ray O'Connell.  Although, the Morning Call article states that the poll puts O'Connell's support third,  behind Pawlowski,  it's unclear as it where that piece of data came from.

These polls are a joint project by the Morning Call and Muhlenberg College.  The article quotes one gentleman.
Leonard Glazier, a 91-year-old Democrat who lives in the West End, said he voted for Pawlowski in the primary but likely will support O’Connell in this election. The city is in pretty good shape under the mayor’s leadership, Glazier said, but the criminal charges against the mayor make him uncomfortable.“He’s going on trial supposedly after the election. What happens if he is convicted,” Glazier said. “The city doesn’t need that.”
What the article doesn't reveal is that this gentleman is closely related to a city official, and was well aware of the pending charges against Pawlowski when he voted for him in the primary.  Frankly,  I hope that Nat Hyman takes my warning to heart. Neither the paper or the college currently have the institutional memory to truly understand this election. In the 2005 mayoral race, The Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll was off by 26%.  

Oct 4, 2017

Stagecoach Back To Allentown


This past Friday I wrote a post referring to Allentown as Dodge City.  That post resulted from our police department determining that a shooting was justified.  Yesterday's double daytime shooting and killings have managed to get the police chief's attention.  He considers the daytime shootings less acceptable, because of the risk to school children.  A local coffee shop owner said that such things can happen anywhere,  even in the suburbs.

Actually, the incidence of such things happening in the suburbs is much, much less than downtown Allentown, north of Linden Street.  Normally, such violence for an incumbent mayor running again would be a problem. However, here in Dodge City/Allentown, nothing is normal.  We have an indicted mayor running for his fourth term while awaiting trial for corruption.  The dominant Puerto Rican/Hispanic downtown population rarely sees or hears anything, before the ambulance and police come to pick up one of their own off the street.

If this post seems insensitive,  you're at the wrong blog.

Oct 3, 2017

Disappointments Beyond Allentown

I was disappointed that United States objected to the Kurdish referendum on Independence. As John Bolton observed, Iraq as a sovereign nation is so shattered,  a new boundary in the north wouldn't much matter.  The Kurds have provided the only security afforded to Christians and other minorities in that strife ridden part of the world.  They have been on the front line fighting against our common enemies in both Iraq and Syria.

I was disappointed that Trump undermined Rex Tillerson with  his tweet about Rex wasting his time in regard to North Korea.  Tillerson was the adult in the administration, and his appointment was one of the main reasons that I have defended Trump on several occasions.  I would not be surprised to see Tillerson resign within two weeks.

Yesterday, the stock prices went up on firearm manufacturers. After each tragic mass shooting legislators react by threatening to restrict guns, and the public reacts by buying more.  I believe that we need to adopt the Giffords/Kelly* endorsement of the enhanced Brady type regulations, which puts more scrutiny on the who/purchaser, rather than the what/type of gun.

I wish that none of these above noted events happen, and that I could instead complain about Pawlowski and Cedar Beach.

*Giffords/Kelly started Americans For Responsible Solutions.

Oct 2, 2017

A Contested Race In South Whitehall


Come November 7th, the Lehigh County once again features many UNcontested races.  The political apathy of this area is truly remarkable;  It's a good thing that in addition to politics, I blog about local history.   Even the mayors race in Bethlehem is uncontested, as is that city's council race.  However, there are a few contested races, one of which is for South Whitehall Commissioner.

Mark Pinsley's campaign emphasizes that he is running to add a Democrat to the all Republican board of commissioners.  Both his opponents are Republican incumbents.  and voters are to pick two of the three candidates.  As an advocate who fought long and hard to save Wehr's Dam, I support Mr. Pinsley as someone who wasn't involved in the conspiracy to demolish the dam.  No one was more shocked when the referendum To Save The Dam passed, than the commissioners.  That ballot question was a disingenuous attempt by them to do away with the dam, with no political consequence to themselves. Before they connived  the referendum, they had ignored eight thousand signatures to save the historic structure.  Since the referendum passed,  the township has fallen silent, with not one word about the dam.

South Whitehall needs some new blood on its board.  With me, it's not an issue of Democrat or Republican,  but being responsive instead of arrogant.  I will cast only one  hyper-vote for commissioner, and it will be for Mark Pinsley.

photo: Wehr's Dam by K Mary Hess

Sep 29, 2017

Justified Killings In Allentown's Dodge City


Earlier in the week it was announced that a shooting death in August was justified, and that no charges would be filed.  A stabbing yesterday is being evaluated to see if it was justified.  I have no knowledge or interest in these particular cases,  but what grabs my attention is the number of potential predators downtown with lethal weapons.

In the old TV series Gunsmoke, all the cowboys carried a gun, and if the other person drew first, the shooting was deemed self-defense.  The marshall,  Matt Dillon would often comment that eventually civilization would come to the west, and men wouldn't have to carry guns.  I suppose in some ways civilization must have left downtown Allentown.

Sep 28, 2017

Signs Of The Times In Allentown

The other day I posted that Ray O'Connell was helping John Ingram's manager install a sign on Tilghman Street. Actually, Ingram's manager, Ed White, is doing quite well without any help. Scott Armstrong sarcastically noted on Facebook that the Phoebe Home must be supporting Ingrams, because his signs go down the 19th Street Hill. Likewise, apparently Sunoco Gasoline Corporation and The Lakes Apartments must be on board with his campaign, as his signs line Cedar Crest Blvd.

It's not the first time a candidate has been loose with sign placement, but it may be the most flagrant.  I must confess that as a blogger who concerns himself with local politics, among other topics,  I find this sign controversy funny.  Now,  if someone injected me with truth serum,  I might even admit that I find the signs themselves amusing.

Sep 27, 2017

Hurricane Maria And Pawlowski

As I reported before,  Pawlowski has been courting the minority voters, especially the large Puerto Rican community.  He does very well with them;  While some may be uniformed about his legal dilemma,  others simply don't care.  A sizable group of these constituents winter on the island,  and spend the spring and summer here in town. Maria has been a disaster and heartbreak for Puerto Rico, but for Pawlowski, that storm has a rainbow.  With the damage on the island,  many will stay here and/or return in time for the election.

I believe that Pawlowski will win the Puerto Rican vote in a landslide.  Although, Hispanics now comprise about half the population,  his opponent(s) are still viable because the Hispanic voter turnout has been historically low.  They support Pawlowski,  but if he can get them to the polls remains to be seen.

Sep 26, 2017

A CyberVisit To Allentown

The responses and comments to the political posts are usually within a day or two. The historical posts have a much longer shelf life. People using search engines find something of their youth often years after I wrote the post. I still occasionally get a comment from someone who worked at a Mohican Market, often somewhere in upstate New York. Yesterday, a former post on the 6th Ward received such a comment.

 Hello molovinsky, I found your blog today. I was born in the 6th ward in 1933. My grandfather, who died very young, long before I was born, was Emanuelle Markowitz and was, I believe, the first religious head of Aguda Achim. His wife was Ida Markowitz. We lived at 234 and then 244 Hamilton St. and went to Harrison Morton grade school before departing permanently to New York City. Arnold Fein (brother is Barry)

 My grandparents lived on Second Street in around 1900, and belonged to the Agudas Achim congregation. After Arnold and I exchanged a couple comments, I invited him to send me a note about Allentown via email.

  Yeah, Michael, I went back for a visit about 3 yrs. ago. All of lower Hamilton St,is part of a highway and the Jersey RR Station ,I was told, failed as a restaurant.The stores I remember on Hamilton between 2nd and 3rd were, Queenies Luncheonette, Bucky Boyle's Bar, Harry Gross Shoes,an A&P on the corner of 1st (Front?)and Hamilton, a "holy roller" storefront church, a travel agency with a large steamship model in the window,Taylors Plumbing Supply (now Weinstein's-I visited the place when I was there), a "Giant" supermarket on 5th and Hamilton across from the P.O., Francis the barber on the hill,the Colonial theatre,etc.Harrison Morton is still there and 2nd St.off Hamilton is still the same including the "A Treat" sign on the little store near HM, which I remember. Some friend's names from that time are: Stanley and Nancy Kulp (Culp?) who lived in an old wooden house next to the Lehigh Valley RR Freight terminal across from Taylor's. Michael Miller, Bobby Kressler, George Mevrides(sp?), Andrew Kent,Dickie Catalina(whom I'll never forget as the guy who came running out on Hamilton St. on 12/7/ shouting, "the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor"), the 4-5 Delaney kids,Dickie Gross who lived in a stone house on 2nd St.just off Hamilton where his father had his dental practice, Lucille Wiener, Phyllis Malatrott,Victoria Minner,Ronald DiLeo whose father was a Dr., (told me my first "off color" joke in the 1st grade while we were standing side by side at a HM urinal)), Marvin Karll, 2 HM footballers (who were not friends as such), Barney Garulla(sp?) and Albert Casium, whom I believe was Albanian.Other places were the slaughter house, Arbegast and Bastion (sp?). Couldn't miss that!, Riverfront Park, and a horse watering trough on the corner of Hamilton and Front(?)Lots of others. Something priceless about childhood, no matter where it's spent.

 Even in Allentown.

UPDATE: More memories from "Arnie" Fein
Also, my grand parents owned a store on 2nd St. around Tilghman, before I was born. My mother always remembered the few words she knew in Slavic because some of the customers spoke only "Slavisch".Another recollection was in 1943 when a lot of us went to the JerseyRR terminal to watch a train full of German POWs being transported west. Larry and Jimmy Whitman lived above the A&P on that picture you sent. Their name was anglicized from a Polish name their parents shortened.Harry and Jean Getz, friends of my mother, owned a small shoe store between 2nd and 3rd Sts.The name of the travel agency was, if I'm correct, something like Bortz. On Walnut St. around the corner from Weinstein's was the "Perkiomen Transfer Co." The local movie house was the Townie which I believe was in the 6th ward.Further up the hill were the Colonial, the Midway and the Transit.There was a trolley named the Liberty Bell which went from 8th St. to Philly and a trolley to Bethlehem along the "Bethlehem Minsi Trail". Other memories as they come from the distant past...

 photo supplied by Arnold Fein, showing him, brother and mother at Hamilton and the current American Parkway, next to the current Weinstein Supply Company.

reprinted from August of 2012

Sep 25, 2017

Allentown's Complicated Mayoral Election


I drove past Ray O'Connell's car wedged in between Ed White and John Ingram's vehicles off the  side of the road.  Although, I felt like an ambulance chaser,  I phoned Ray and asked what was going on.  Seems as if Ray had stopped to help Ingrams and his manage put a sign in hard ground.  That's what I call sportsmanship.

Ray's not concerned about Ingram's candidacy. Now, of course understand that it would be difficult for a write-in candidate to complain about an independent on the ballot.  Ray is miffed that Nat Hyman has been complaining about O'Connell as a spoiler, helping Pawlowski's chances of getting elected once again. He feels that Hyman should work on getting enough votes himself to win on November 7th,  rather than worrying about who is siphoning off what votes.  Of course, Ray is hoping that if Pawlowski is elected,  that he then resigns in a plea deal, and that Ray is appointed mayor by City Council.  Meanwhile,  for an independent,  Ingram is making a concerted effort,  with multiple billboards.

It is not a simple election to cover;  With all these candidates,  I'll have to assign more staff election night.

Sep 22, 2017

The Trump Speech


When I asked a liberal friend what she thought of the Trump speech to the UN, she replied, Well, he stayed on script. I suppose that is about all the credit a liberal in our current political environment can muster for Trump. On Facebook, I saw the usual anti-Trump cut and pastes. One said that he read a speech he didn't write or understand. Actually, Trump understood the speech completely. There was nothing in it that he hasn't said before.  Trump is no orator; He has less of a gift for the spoken word than any president in memory. Never the less,  he gave the exact speech needed on today's world stage. He bluntly stated that both Korea and Iran are roque regimes, threatening the world and their own people.  With which of these two countries would being subtle be more effective?

Sep 21, 2017

The Mad Men Of Allentown


Back in the day, the titans of Allentown would fill the five barberchairs of the Colonial Barbershop, 538 Hamilton Street. That was when the town had three department stores. That was when Wetherhold and Metzger had two shoe stores on Hamilton Street. That was when Harvey Farr would meet Donald Miller and John Leh at the Livingston Club for lunch, and discuss acquiring more lots for Park & Shop. By 1995 all that was gone, but Frank Gallucci, 82, would still give some old timers a trim. The Colonial Barbershop property, closed for many years, has been purchased by J.B. Reilly. It is my pleasure to present this previously unseen portrait of Gallucci, toward the end of his career.

photocredit:molovinsky

reprinted from January of 2015

Sep 20, 2017

Allentown, Activism and Anonymity

There are several subjects which strangers occasionally contact me about.  One of them is Fairview Cemetery on Lehigh Street.  The cemetery has a myriad of problems, and exasperated family members find my name after doing a google search.  In the past I have written numerous posts,  generated a newspaper story and conducted a public meeting on the issue.

This recent caller was wondering what could be done to organize other families, and exert some pressure for more upkeep.  I suggested a group Facebook page,  perhaps calling it Families Of Fairview Cemetery.  I then suggested that he start the page, which is free, and only requires a couple clicks of the mouse. At that point he started wondering if the cemetery operator might retaliate with some legal action against him.  It's not my intention to be critical of the caller, but I  realized that once again, another person probably wanted Mikey To Do It.  I suppose it's like anonymous said here on the blogosphere.  Most people using that name for comments do not have a sensitive job,  they just don't want to stand out. Understand, that unlike this fellow,  I do not even have a family member buried there.  In fairness to him, he seems like a conscientious  guy, and may well start the page himself.  However, if he doesn't, I think that assignment will have to be picked up by someone other than myself.  This mule is looking to lighten the load.

Sep 19, 2017

The O'Hare/Molovinsky War

Recently, I had written in both a post and comment that Bernie O'Hare excludes this blog from his blogroll because of a feud that started because of my comment that his disclaimer about Morganelli in March of 2016 was inadequate. Yesterday, he posted a piece which he claims proves that he deleted my blog because of hate, because it was 14 months after our Morganelli issue before he deleted this blog.  Of course, the only thing that proves is that O'Hare thinks of his readers as sheep, which he can lead to any conclusion he wishes.  This past May, Knit Knee Lion wrote in a comment on Bernie's blog, "he...kept a link to your "blog" on his sidebar whilst you have banished his from ye olde blog roll........ I'd say your treatment of Ken Heffentrager was very hateful, it was a real punch and judy show." Bernie replied;


I would have preferred if Bernie had let my explanation of why he excluded my blog from his sidebar stand, rather than have to expose his distortions.  However, since his post yesterday states that I was being loose with the truth, and that I'm hosting a hate blog, an answer is required. After I pointed out how much Bernie understated his support for Morganelli with his $25 contribution disclaimer,  O'Hare started taking shots at this blog. He would routinely refer to the Molovinsky Tabernacle Choir and other slurs. A number of people mentioned his increasing hostility toward me. I held my tongue for months, but then decided to start defending both myself and this blog. It was only then, after I started pointing out Bernie's flaws,  did he delete Molovinsky On Allentown from the list.

ADDENDUM: For viewers on mobile devices, in Bernie's screen shot shown above, he replies;  I have no obligation to link to a blog that repeatedly attacks me.  There is no mention of it being a hate blog.

UPDATE: Bernie now updated his post from yesterday, falsely claiming that I admitted that I lied. (He found an awkward sentence he could take out of context)  While others might enjoy his kind of propaganda,  I'm inclined to disengage from defending against his distortions.

The Lemon Trees Of Oxnard


In the summer of 1963, I got on a bus in Allentown headed for Oxnard, California, where I planned to work in the lemon orchards. I had with me a Give the kid a job letter from the boss of the Trexler Orchard in Orefield. The boss in Oxnard also owned a car wash, and I ended up working there. During WW2, homeowners in Oxnard were encouraged to build cottages for extra GI housing. I rented a small one room cottage at the far end of a back yard. The bathroom was added on to the backporch of the house. Every day I would walk to the square in Oxnard, and catch the bus to the carwash. In early August, I was rescued by Ken Huthmaker, whose family had moved years earlier from Lehigh Parkway to Hawthorne, California.  Ken was five years older,  and his friends were into body building, custom cars and gate crashing. They would attend events all over the Los Angeles area, and their sport was to sneak in, without paying. Ken would end up being a celebrity photographer and journalist in LA, and wrote a book on gate crashing*. I stayed at his house for two weeks. The next summer I would use my learned gate-crashing skills to see the Beatles in Atlantic City.

* The Gate Crashers by Ken Huthmaker, Which reveals the secrets of the society of the uninvited.  Huthmaker would become the photographer for Mickey Hargitay's televised exercise show.   Huthmaker photographed Hargitay and his wife, Jayne Mansfield,  by their pool. 

Sep 18, 2017

Charlie Tuna and The Allentown School District


Allentown School District is going the way of the old Charlie Tuna ads,  trying to convince students and their parents that it is the best option for their education. Like the tuna campaign, they're going to be using billboards, radio and social media. They will be creating a new communications position to implement this new strategy. Supposedly, the effort is directed to help stem the student flow to charter schools.

As someone with a background in both education and communications, I find the new approach truly uninspired. Apparently, this idea is the current fad of the day, and Bethlehem is also doing it. Bureaucrats are bureaucrats, whether at a city hall or the school district building, and seldom think beyond the ideas presented in their profession's current magazines.

Before large public school systems were gutted by cost cutting, after-school activities offered a large menu of activities and sports. These were the lures which attracted students, whether it be theater or football. As a taxpayer,  I would rather see the money spent the old fashion way, on coaches instead of communication directors.

photo: the former Little Palestra at Allentown High School