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.
Mr. Jack R. Santo was reared in Nazareth. His family has a long history in the cement industry. Many relatives worked at the Penn Dixie Cement Company. Jack graduated from Nazareth High School in 1973 where he played both baseball and basketball. He continues to follow the motto of Tony Reluas his basketball coach: “Never give up; if you work hard, you will benefit.”
In researching the Allentown State Hospital farm in Weaversville, I convinced Mr. John McDevitt, former assistant farm manager and well-known East Allen Township Fire Company member, to write his recollections of the farm. A fine gentleman, he consented, with this writer attempting to twist his arm.
Mr. McDevitt kindly wrote “My recollections of the Allentown State Hospital Farm,” by John McDevitt, with collaboration from Charles W. Miller:
In this third column, Mr. John McDevitt, former assistant farm manager of the Allentown State Hospital farm in Weaversville, helps us remember the farm colony. His words:
Mr. Jason Rauch moved to Lehigh Township from Slatington at age 14. He graduated from Northampton Area High School in 1991, where he was a member of the tennis and cross country teams.
“My favorite subject was history,” he recalled. “My history teacher was Mr. Bob Mentzell.”
At age 18, Jason enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After training, he was assigned to the Wasp, an aircraft carrier stationed at Norfolk, Va.