Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
PHOTOS COURTESY OF STERLING ROTHROCK, LERCH FAMILY AND LARRY OBERLY Sterling Rothrock on the farm PHOTOS COURTESY OF STERLING ROTHROCK, LERCH FAMILY AND LARRY OBERLY Sterling Rothrock on the farm
Marguerite Rothrock on the farm Marguerite Rothrock on the farm
The Rothrocks on their 50th wedding anniversary The Rothrocks on their 50th wedding anniversary
The Rothrock family, from left, Doris, Linda, Lorene, Marguerite, Debra, Sterling and David. The Rothrock family, from left, Doris, Linda, Lorene, Marguerite, Debra, Sterling and David.
Sterling Rothrock, right, visits with Ed Pany at the Atlas museum in Northampton. Sterling Rothrock, right, visits with Ed Pany at the Atlas museum in Northampton.

Remembering

Thursday, November 14, 2013 by ED PANY, Curator Atlas Cement CompanyMemorial Museum in Columns

Buying a farm with a handshake and $3,000

In this concluding column I am up in Lehigh Township speaking to Mr. Sterling Rothrock and daughters Doris and Lorene. Sterling was born in 1921 and is one of the most senior retirees from the Universal Atlas Cement Co. in Northampton.

While being employed at the Atlas he desired to purchase a farm. The year was 1947.

"I went to a farm auction at Bossards Corner," he remembers. "The farm was 45 acres in size. The last bid was $2,800. The owner would not sell at the bid so I went to the owner and offered $3,000. We shook hands and went down to lawyer Berg and the Cement National Bank for the loan. In those days there was trust between buyers and sellers. The deed dated back to William Penn."

In a few years another farm was up for sale. It was 200 acres in size.

"The owner went to school with my father-in-law. I drove up to Jim Thorpe where the owner lived and purchased the farm for $10,000," Sterling says. "Once again I drove down to the Cement National and met cashier Mr. George Spanger. We shook hands, the sale was final in a couple of hours. Today it could take weeks, that's what trust will do for you."

The farm livestock included cows, steers, chickens and goats.

"I realized corn would be more profitable than some other crops so I raised quite a bit of corn," Sterling says. "We would butcher steers and hogs. I knew your father [Anthony Pany] from the Atlas, I knew he was a self-taught butcher and butchered for Willie Smith in Weaversville.

"I asked Tony if he would butcher some steers for me. He agreed. Willie hauled the steers down to the slaughter house. Your father was strong, fast, clean, the best butcher I ever saw."

This writer's father was an immigrant from Austria. One of 14 in a family, as a young man he worked on the Smith Farm in East Allen Township before he became a Universal Atlas Cement employee.

The Rothrocks were a true hard-working family. They shared the work load.

Sterling is very proud of daughters Doris, Linda, Debra and Lorene and son David. Doris was a fine student of this writer over at Northampton High School.

"We all worked together and we all shared our thoughts at the supper table," Doris recalls. "By the way, I was raised on goats' milk."

Sterling, at age 92, still recites the names of men he worked with as if they were sitting in the living room speaking to us – Snyder, Ruch, Deemer, Peterson, Hawk, Miller, Smith, Oplinger, Kohler, Curtis, Christman, Jones, Getz, Strohl, Hartman and dozens more.

Sterling and his wife, Marguerite, have been married for 62 years.

Mr. Rothrock farmed and spent 34-1/2 years at the Atlas. He loved his job, the farms and, most of all, his family. The work days were long and some were difficult, as all farms are always dependent on the weather.

Recently, he made a visit to a physician and was asked, "Sterling, what does your diet consist of?"

With a smile on his face he said, "I like fried potatoes, scrapple and sausage."

The doctor replied, "Sterling, just keep eating them."

In 2007, Mr. Rothrock sold his farm, but the fond memories of raising a family and working together will always be cherished.

It was a pleasure to interview Mr. Rothrock, especially hearing of his memories and his friendship with my father.

Many thanks to his daughters Doris and Lorene and son-in-law Bill, who were very gracious and cooperative in assisting me with these columns. I was certainly warmly welcomed in their home.

I also thank Mr. Larry Oberly for his aid in preparing the photographs used in this series.

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In two weeks, I'll be serving some Konkrete Kid lore for Thanksgiving.