Catasauqua Press

Friday, July 10, 2020

Coplay Column

Thursday, July 25, 2013 by AL RECKER Special to The Press in Columns

Citizens recall hot summer days

The heat wave has abated a bit, but not without invoking memories of many older citizens.

Very few owned refrigerators in the 1940s. When they did come onto the market, the price was too high for many families.

Many in the borough still remember Gusty Hobel, who operated an open truck delivering blocks of ice. Gusty chipped the frozen blocks of water with an ice pick and used iron hooks with a handle to make the delivery. Children loved the shavings of ice left behind.

As the mornings turned into steamy hot afternoons, youth of all ages cooled off in the Lehigh River. Many learned how to swim on their own.

Youngsters living mostly north of the Coplay-Northampton Bridge swam at The Rocks, which included several large flat pieces of limestone popular with sunbathers.

On the south end of Front Street, the popular swimming hole was known as The Sandy or The Irony railroad trestle. The Sandy got its name from the thick blanket of coal dust on the river banks. Coal burning Lehigh Valley Railroad steam engines with tenders filled with black coal deposited the fine coating of coal dust on the shores.

North of The Rocks, a gray and white substance was spewing into the Lehigh. Undaunted, swimming went on unabated. No one can recall anyone becoming sick from the material. The source was a tannery, now home to Giant Food.