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Reflections on Bushkill, Dorney, and the Valley in general
Bryan Edgar
Aug 24, 2005
Ahh, Dorney Park. A sight I haven't seen up close for more than 10 years. I still can remember the smell of the cotton candy and hot dogs, amongst the music and stickiness of spilt pepsi.
I remember riding the old merry-go-round that (almost) took the place of the one I rode as a very young boy in bushkill park in Easton. That carousel has been gone for a long time now, I believe it was sold and moved to some other state. At least it lives on somewhere.
Also the train in Dorney, the one that brought back another bushkill park memory, the Bushkill park express, which was powered by a slant-six from a Dodge Dart. The engineer could never drive it in anything but 1st gear because otherwise the thing would jump the tracks.
I believe the Dorney park one was a lot tamer, powered by a 1-lung engine, but it sufficed.
I remember riding the Thunderhawk, which I heard was torn down to make room for another ride. Nothing can replace the feeling of being beat-up by a old wooden roller coaster. Oh well, times change. I can't believe I'm saying that, as I'm only 28.
I guess in time the Hercules will become the "old" roller coaster, even though it's only 10 years old now.
I remember, one of the last times I went there, of driving to Adorne. I guess the thrill of driving a car took the place, and I haven't been back ever since. I guess the need for jobs and such took much of my time, as it does to everyone.
I've heard that Dorney has gotten a lot of new rides, I must check this out someday, maybe soon.
Due to my current occupation (the Navy) and my location (deployed right now and homeported in California) it's very hard for me to come home. The old recruiter's song rings here with their trusty sales pitch of "30 days paid vacation a year!" What they don't tell you is it is very hard to take leave in the amount or the time you desire, so I've spent a grand total of maybe 60 days in the Lehigh Valley, almost all of it dead-of-winter (13 days were spent in spring)in the nearly 5 years I've been in the Navy. The first time I came back was 2 years after I left, I swear I almost got lost. I can't believe how much it has changed, especially since not much had changed in the valley since about 1993. To start, I grew up in Northeast Bethlehem, about 1 mile as the crow flies from the steel mill. (pembroke and Stefko) I remember as a boy the eerie glow in the southern sky and the constant noise of the trains coupling, and of the blast furnaces. I remember the fun times we spent in Northeast Middle school's basketball courts, and baseball fields (now gone to make room for the new school) I remember sledding down the hill by that school, jumping a snowbank and landing in the middle of Minsi Trail St. That hill is fenced off, and also there are apt. complexes there now, so nobody could possibly use it for sledding anymore. I believe the same fate befell the other good hill, the one going down to Goepp street and Stefko Blvd. I remember riding my bike with my dad to the old steel Minsi Trail Bridge, before they fell it (because it was supposedly unsafe, but they had to dynamite it TWICE before it fell)and built the ugly concrete one. I remember the day the Just Born Factory (on stefko)was brand spanking new. I remember helping my mother run her business, the blackthorn stick, in the short time it had a shop in Downtown Bethlehem, before being run out by Donegal Square.(business is business, and Donegal was there first.) It was still a good time. I remember Broad St and how it was really a "broad sidewalk". I remember walking with my brother Pat to the Boyd to see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I remember walking to Moller's candy on Stefko and gorging ourselves on all kinds of candy. (but especially penny fish)
What else was a 10yr old going to spend hard-earned lawn and paper route money on? I know the min. age was 12 but we got the papers delivered on time so who cared?
I still remember walking to grandma's house, as it was (and still is) on Arcadia St.
I still had the route when I was 15.

That was the year, 1992, that we moved to East Allentown, and bid goodbye to Bethlehem. Apparently, too many drug dealers were taking up residence there and Dad and Mom decided it was time to move. I hope the problem on that block has been solved since then.

I recently went back to check up on my old 'hood, and was surprised at the changes. The time was a nice summer day in April of 2005.
The old house still looks the same, even when I visited it last April. The porch is still the same color, the rear porch that Pat, Dad, and I helped build, is still there. The rusty old shed that wasn't when we built it is still there. The only difference is instead of nice green shrubs in the (tiny) front yard there is now a high chain-link fence. How times change. The owners allowed me to take a tour, and the house is the same inside. It was such a rush. The kitchen is EXACTLY the same, down to the stove. The only difference is the kitchen table that currently resides at the allentown house. (which my parents still live in.)
I took a walk down Minsi Trail St. and the residents were still very neighborly, which told me that the old 'hood is still very healthy. It made me feel better. Minsi Trail was always a very diverse street, and still is, but there is still the Bethlehem hospitality. Obviously the drug dealers either are gone or do their business elsewhere.
Much has changed though. I came home to find out that Broad st. is once again a street.
There is now a road called "American parkway" in Allentown, and at least 3 more lights on that corridor.
I found a million signs advertising Bethlehem and Allentown.
The Christmas star is now lit year-round, and of course, the name "Bethlehem Steel" no longer exists. They were in dire straights when I left but at least the name was still around.
I still sense a very strong renaissance on the horizon for the Valley, and can't wait to experience it for myself.

Just 18 more months. I'll be home for good.

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