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Years Ago
William Gieske
Sep 15, 2002
I write of the past and things I remember best of our Lehigh Valley. Today as we travel through our valley too many are unaware of what some of the places they see were like in the years gone by. Lets take a stroll much like I did as a small boy growing up in the thirties in Bethlehem. We will start a Second avenue and Prospect Street and go to town as we said it then. Head down the hill on Prospect toward Conestoga Street. Route 378 now blocks the way but back then it didn't exist so we could continue on our trip. As we arrive at the bottom of the hill look around. Before I cross the street on my left I see the house where the man who invented the bangsite cannon lived. I can still picture him sitting out on the porch, covered by a blanket. He was hurt in a train accident and became disabled.

Across the street those apartments once housed a sewing mill but long before that was the home of the Avondale Milk Company. Just before you cross that little stone bridge they had a window where you could get a big double scoop of ice-cream for eleven cents back then. Lets cross that bridge and continue our trip to town. The buildings on the right was the Electric Laundry and was larger back then. On our left that building was a grist mill and was closed up until they started redevelopment on fourth street across from where the B.O.F. Once stood. When the steel took that land the large automobile junkyard then moved in.

All that stonework we passed along the stream was done during the depression by the WPA workers. Much of it has been neglected and allowed to deteriorate. After passing the laundry you could take the road that came out along side of Hotel Bethlehem or find your way up the steps at the rear of the hotel and between the rickety houses that stood there. If you chose the road and looked to your right at where the pottery wall stands you would see several brownstone buildings, well kept up to when they were demolished.

Going north on Main street we pass stores that at one time were the backbone of the North side of town. On the right side of the street P.P.and L had an office where you could pay your bill. The largest bank in town was here and next to it Dennis drug store. Then we had the five and ten cent store and on the corner Bush and Bull. Across from that store was Weinland;s hardware store where you could get anything from a rifle and clothes for hunting to a screwdriver to repair your door, Other than looking through the window at all the neat things that could catch the eyes of a boy there wasn't much else he could do.

We are almost there now so lets keep going. We turn right on Broad street and cross over to the north side. Just a little ways now, past the United Cigar store with its pool hall upstairs and there it is, the Savoy Transit. What you never heard of it and you lived here all your life. I guess you only knew it as the Nile Theater. I remember when they remodeled and were closed down for a while. They had large signs outside on the walk promoting the name. I remember the signs because they had the picture of a palm tree on them to promote the name. Got ten cents for your ticket ,OK lets go on in. We will be here all afternoon soaking up all the cartoons and westerns before the feature film.

We have many great things to see and do here in our valley, we had many great personalities here also. When you walk uptown or any where else in the valley think about how it was years ago and the changes our valley has seen.

- the old codger

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