Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by ED PANY Curator, Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum in Local NewsKevin Toth
Mr. Kevin Toth was reared in Nesquehoning, graduating from Panther Valley High School in 1984, where he was a member of the wrestling team. He learned the cobbler trade from his brother and became skilled in shoe repair, working in their shops in Lansford and managing the Lehighton Plaza location. When the business closed, he was employed by J.E. Morgan Knitting in Hometown.
Recently, Larry Oberly and this writer visited Essroc, now Lehigh Hanson, in Nazareth, to look at some old records of the Coplay Cement Company. Coplay constructed the plant, which became Essroc on 1978.
We found a treasure of historic photographs. The photos in today’s column were taken in 1944.
During World War II, the cement companies in our area continued operation, but their machine shops took on extra responsibilities. The War Production Board directed the companies to utilize their shops to manufacture equipment to support the war.
“Remember” when you were a student in elementary and high school? For some of us, that’s a long, long time ago. The day most dreaded was report card time. Would our parents be pleased with our effort and achievement?
One of my teacher friends at the Northampton Middle School shared with me a report card from the Siegfrieds Grammar School — the year, 1896-97.
Siegfried was one of the three villages that would later, in 1909, be incorporated as the Borough of Northampton. Siegfried was basically located in the borough’s present first ward.
Today I return to the old Indian Trail Park in Pennsville. The year is 1947. My father had just purchased his first post-war automobile: a 1947 Plymouth. We drove to the park on a sunny summer Sunday to enjoy the day.
Back in the Revolutionary War era, an old grist mill, which ground wheat, oats and corn, was still on site but no longer in operation. Community groups attempted to preserve the old mill, but their efforts were unsuccessful.
Recently, some of my loyal readers requested I recall Indian Trail Park in Pennsville. As a youngster, it was a treat to visit the park. My parents would visit the park on many Sunday afternoons. There was always plenty of activity. I wonder how many of my readers have been at the park!
My friends at the Lehigh Township Historical Society wrote a great book of Lehigh Township giving us an accurate history of the park far superior to my youthful memories.
Mr. Rick Murphy was born in Long Island, N.Y., moving to Berks County when he was 13 years of age. He graduated from Reading High School and was hired by Quaker Maid Kitchens, making doors.
When the company closed, he started a cement career at Evansville, now Lehigh-Heidelberg Cement.
Rick recalled, “I started as a laborer in 1990, transferring to the pack house in 1993. I was trained to be a bulk loader by Dean Witman, a position I currently hold.”
My friend and fellow historian Mr. Larry Oberly of Allen Township also has fond memories of the Allentown State Hospital farm in Weaversville. In today’s column, Larry turns back the clock and revisits the farm colony in this concluding column. He recalls:
Growing up in the environs of Howertown and Weaversville might lead one to be told that he led a sheltered life in the 1950s and ’60s. It may have been true, but it was certainly not isolation from the world outside. Our schools and churches that occupied so much of our time saw to the expansion of our horizons in many ways.
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.
Mr. Mike Newhall graduated from Liberty High School in 1975.
He recalled, “I especially enjoyed a new course as computers became part of the curriculum.”
The young graduate started at Keystone Cement Company in the laboratory as summer help.
He said, “I worked with Al Brobst and Ernie Jacoby, old-timers who taught me laboratory procedures.”
This led to a full-time position in 1978.
As a mix chemist later, he progressed to assistant physical tester. In 1988, Mike was promoted to physical tester.
In this continuing series, Mr. John McDevitt, former assistant farm manager of the Allentown State Hospital Farm in Weaversville, continues his recollections from his days at the landmark farm. John recalls:
Speaking of the Northampton and Bath Railroad, the farm used to receive freight car loads of peanut hulls (shells) used for livestock bedding.
How many even remember the railroad? There was also a railroad siding to the west of the crossing.