Catasauqua Press

Friday, September 22, 2017
photos courtesy of larry oberlySnow closed Walnut Street and Weaversville Road. photos courtesy of larry oberlySnow closed Walnut Street and Weaversville Road.
A winter wonderland on the state farm A winter wonderland on the state farm

Digging out from a snowstorm

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 by ED PANY Curator, Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum in Columns

Today, I am continuing to look back at the old Allentown State Hospital Farm in Weaversville. The farm closed in 1981 after 61 years of operation. One of the early employees was the late Mr. Harold Yohn of Weaversville. Harold’s father also worked on the farm and resided in a state farmhouse.

Harold recalled, “I was later hired to work on the farm for $27.50 for a two-week period during the Depression. The crops raised on the farm were of top quality. All the produce, milk and fruit was sent to the state hospitals.

“Weaversville was a quiet village. One winter we had a monster snowstorm. The wind and snow blew for days. When the storm subsided, Walnut Street had 20-foot snow drifts.

“In those days, the townships did not have the snow equipment of the present day, so we had only one choice — shovel out Walnut Street by hand. Our family, employees, hospital patients and neighbors gathered their shovels and started opening up the street. It was hard, backbreaking work, but in a few days, the street was opened to (Route) 329 and Weaversville Road. We were all tired and hoped we saw the last snow of the winter season.”

Mr. Yohn not only worked on the farm but became very friendly with a neighbor Ms. Helen Danner, whose father, Preston Danner, was an old-fashioned carpenter.

Preston replaced the state farm barn roofs with heavy slate. Harold used rope and tackle to raise square after square up to the roofs of the multistory barns. Some of that slate is still on one of the remaining barns.

Harold married Ms. Danner and moved across the street to the home, where he resided for the rest of his life.

He also remembered, one day, a well-dressed man appeared at the doors of Weaversville homes. It was World War II, and the gentlemen said, “Mr. Yohn, the Bethlehem Steel needs workers; come to the plant tomorrow.”

Harold was hired and, with other local residents, waited and boarded a Roberts bus for the trip to the Steel.

“The bus was crammed full. Every seat was taken, the aisles were full and the last to board stood on the steps,” he said. “My days on the farm were over, but I always remembered those days working on the state farm. They were good days.”

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In my next column, happiness in a country store.