I have completed reading the book “Geography, Geology and Genius,” written by Martha Capwell Fox, a friend. Martha is a passionate historian who has authored a number of books pertaining to our local history.
I have used some of her research for my columns. One of my other favorites is “Catasauqua and North Catasauqua,” which she wrote in 2002.
Martha serves as historian and archives coordinator at the National Canal Museum in Easton.
A few weeks ago, Bob Mentzell, a friend, former outstanding teacher at Northampton High School and current school board member, forwarded this writer a series of photographs showing my father, Anthony Pany, working on the Smith farm in East Allen Township during the Great Depression.
Anthony emigrated to the United States as a youth from Austria. His education in this new country was limited. In order to help his large family, he was hired as a farm hand on the Smith farm.
Mrs. Fiori was born in Lock Haven. The family later moved to Skippack, where she attended and graduated from Perkiomen Valley High School in 1971. Answering a newspaper ad, Judy was hired at the Keystone sales office in King of Prussia as a secretary clerk at a salary of $7,000. Keystone later had an office in Allentown before moving to Airport Road in East Allen Township.
Judy recalled, “Our office had 15 employees, and we were responsible for all cement sales. Our president was Gary Pechota, and vice president for sales was Bob Aichele.”
Today, I continue my 2001 visit with Mr. George Maureka on Penn Street in Bath.
At age 15, he started to work for a Bath plumber for $8 a week, allowing George to learn the plumbing trade. World War II interrupted his plumbing career. He would serve with honor in Gen. George Patton’s Third Army.
Returning home, his father wanted him to work at the Penn Dixie Cement Company like the rest of the family. Area cement plants needed employees, and dozens of men were hired daily at local plants.
The year is 2001. I’m over on Penn Street in Bath with Mr. George Maureka, a former Penn Dixie employee, who is sharing his memories of the Great Depression. His son, also named George, was an outstanding student of this writer at Northampton High School.
The family resided in a company home. The home had running water, but they needed the kitchen stove to heat the water. The only heat was provided by a kitchen stove, which was located in what is the present basement of the home.
Remember when our high schools offered courses in typing, shorthand, office machines and bookkeeping? Today, offices have been transformed by computers and modern technology. A number of years ago, Kathy Unger, a friend and former secretary at the Penn Dixie Cement Company, wrote me a description of her position.
Kathy graduated from Nazareth High School in 1956. An excellent student, she was hired and trained to fill in for other secretaries during vacations, maternity leaves and illnesses.
Today, I am a guest of Local No. 14 United Cement, Lime and Gypsum Workers International Union, Coplay. The union is voting to ratify an understanding with Coplay Cement Manufacturing Company.
Our readers may remember some of the former dedicated cement workers. The union leaders were Ralph Talotta, Adolph Wechsler, Edward Klucsarits, Caffiro Bartoni, Joseph Ehrets and Jerry Neuman.
The agreement was for two years: May 1, 1961, to May 1, 1963. The vice presidents of Coplay Cement were Louis Stamburg and Paul Lentz.
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 by ED PANY Curator, Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum in Local NewsGary Butko
Mr. Gary Butko was reared in Northampton, graduating from Northampton High School and vo-tech, specializing in masonry, in 1976.
Gary’s first job was with a bricklaying firm, earning $5 an hour. After a few years, he was employed by MCP, a metal company, for 18 years.
When the plant closed, he started his cement career at Lafarge, recalling, “I started on the tire dock, feeding tires into the plant’s kilns, later transferring to the labor gang and the pack house.”
The painting “A Cement Factory in Autumn” was recently found in storage at Northampton Area High School. The watercolor was painted in 1948 by Garret Conovor, a local artist who at one time resided in Allen Township.
The painting shows the last Coplay Cement manufacturing plant and a view on the west side of the Lehigh River as well as a cluster of homes that were called North Coplay.
When the United States entered World War II, the War Production Board was formed to mobilize American industry for war production. Donald Nelson, a former Sears executive, was appointed the director. He possessed unlimited power to head the war effort.
The factories of America were now manufacturing tanks, planes and anything needed to win the war. The machine shops of our local cement companies worked 24-hour shifts to support the war effort.