1918 Spanish Flu “probably introduced here by German submarines.”

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For perspective on our current coronavirus situation, we are following the entrance of the 1918 Spanish Influenza, that paragon of pandemics, into the minds and bodies of Lehigh Valley residents who got their news through the Morning Call (the files of the Bethlehem Globe are closed to us at the moment).

Think what our current social media could do with this.

Flu 6

Morning Call, September 20, 1918

Muraling the Southside

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One of the meetings Gadfly was sorry to miss was the Historic Conservation Commission March 16 discussion of additional murals to the several already on the Southside.

The Southside Arts District is working with several property owners and businesses to permanently install murals at various sites throughout the south side downtown. Each of the murals is approximately 4’ x 8’ and is constructed of Parachute Cloth adhered to an Alumalite panel that will be adhered to the mortar of the wall.

Gadfly really likes this idea. How about you?

mural 1

Mural 2

Mural 3

Mural 4

Recent sustainability projects

logo The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate
Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council logo


Most readers probably are already aware, of course, that Bethlehem EAC’s ban [of single-use plastic bags] was banned by the state, part of the legislature’s ongoing practice of protecting business interests — no matter how much harm is done to people, wildlife, and the environment.

Those with an interest in such things might also want to take a look at these recent internship projects:

• Sustainability for Cafés and Restaurants [www.sustainlv.org/focus-on/sustainability-for-cafes-and-restaurants]
• Climate Action Planning for the Lehigh Valley [www.sustainlv.org/focus-on/climate-action-planning]

(More sustainability-related projects at: www.sustainlv.org/act-locally/internships-with-the-alliance/reports-posters-articles-by-interns)

Peter Crownfield

First reports of the 1918 Spanish Flu followed by two weeks of relative unconcern

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For perspective on our current situation, we are following the entrance of the 1918 Spanish Influenza, that paragon of pandemics, into the minds and bodies of Lehigh Valley residents who got their news through the Morning Call (the files of the Bethlehem Globe are closed to us at the moment).

So awareness of the Spanish flu “arrived” in the Lehigh Valley September 13, 1918 — through an unprepossessing and not especially alarming story on p. 17 of the Morning Call.

Over the next two weeks the news was dotted with stories every day — short Associated Press releases with headlines like these below, not immediately and not always on the front page, and sometimes two releases on a page in different positions, as if the editor was simply filling the space as releases came in without realizing their connection. All of which went to dilute impact.

Flu 2

Flu 3Flu 5Flu 7Flu 9Flu 10Flu 11Flu 12Flu 13



The news was all about someplace else. And that someplace else was in military camps — remember World War I was going on.

4,000 cases at Great Lakes Naval Station, 3,500 at Camp Devens, 857 one place, 9,313 at another, 3,000 new cases here, 500 new cases there, 1,200 in Philadelphia, 42 deaths somewhere else.

And the news was all about providing assurance. The situation was “in hand,” a “serious epidemic” was not anticipated, civilians were attacked but not in “considerable” numbers, health authorities were “confident,” the outbreak was mainly among Negroes, Pfeiffer’s Bacillus was identified as the possible cause, you could use Dover Powder for pain relief.

Dover Powder

But connecting the dots to bigger trouble was possible. First concentrated on the Northeast coast, the outbreak was recorded in Georgia, then Louisiana. High-level Army sanitation experts were deputized to “combat the disease.” Wives and mothers of afflicted soldiers began to be stricken.

Moravian Academy’s Green Team on Limiting the Use of Plastic in Bethlehem

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This essay by Moravian Academy’s Green Team was generated as part of Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound’s Sustainability Forum and is part of an ongoing initiative to stir our community, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, to think creatively about how we can make our home, our community, a better place to live. It is a challenge we can only successfully accomplish together.

Bill George, Touchstone Theatre

Limiting the Use of Plastic in Bethlehem

One issue that is prevalent in our community is single-use plastic pollution and waste, especially surrounding grocery store policies relating to food preservation. Our perspective on the issue is that our community could do a better job of cutting down on plastic use. This would help the environment by limiting the exposure to pollution from the plastic itself and the chemicals used in or on plastic. Is it possible to completely stop using plastic? In today’s world, maybe not, but it is not only possible but plausible to limit the use of plastic and to use more ecologically friendly options whenever possible. Imagine walking into a grocery store and going to the produce section to get some fruit. When you get there, there is plastic everywhere. Plastic bags to hold the fruit, prepackaged vegetables wrapped in plastic, even bundles of bananas held together by and wrapped in plastic. Why is so much plastic packaging necessary in our grocery stores when nature has already provided a natural package? There are such excessive uses of plastic in our community as wrapping bananas together even though they already have peels, unpeeling an orange and packaging it in plastic, or giving out single-use plastic bags in which to carry produce. These can contribute significantly to plastic pollution that can severely harm our environment.

In order to cut down on our community’s plastic use, grocery stores could provide more environmentally friendly options. These options could include having giveaways of free reusable bags for store members, charging extra for using a plastic bag (something that is already done in some places in the U.S.), using paper bags at the checkout instead, having recycling centers in the store for used plastic bags, and giving customers who bring in their own bags or pre-approved containers a small discount from their purchase. U.S. Senator Tom Udall and U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal are both members of our government that have been pushing for legislation that addresses our country’s plastic pollution problems, specifically in relation to marine, waterway, and landscape pollution. Also, organizations like the Plastic Pollution Coalition seek to end plastic pollution through education of the public and encouragement of people to be more aware of their plastic consumer consumption as well as to encourage eateries worldwide to end their use of single-use plastics. The Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council also submitted a proposal to the City Council in February of 2019 asking the city of Bethlehem to place a ban on all single-use plastic bags and to enforce a ten-cent fee on paper bags.

One reason plastic pollution has become a big problem is because it poses a chemical danger to our environment. When plastic bags are left undisposed of in waterways like rivers, streams, or the ocean, they can leach toxic chemicals into the water and soil and damage surrounding plants and animals, affecting whole ecosystems and the water we drink. Additionally, in marine environments specifically, the plastic in our water can release odors that mimic those of some species’ food. This draws wildlife towards pollution and can cause entanglement and consumption, killing the animals. The microplastics consumed by organisms at the bottom of the food chain accumulate all the way to the top, resulting in our personal consumption of about 120-140 plastic particles a day.

A resolution to the plastic pollution problem requires action from all levels of our community from personal to corporate. We each must take personal responsibility for our contribution towards plastic use and consumption. By being increasingly aware of what we are purchasing and decreasing our use of single-use plastics by using reusable bags, jars, or containers, we can hope to reduce overall single-use plastic waste. We can also reduce our plastic use by buying from local and small business establishments to avoid large-scale plastic use from the shipping and packaging industries. Individuals can also use reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones.

On a business level, it is necessary to create anti-plastic policies to reinforce the benefits of sustainable action. In grocery stores, deterrents should be implemented against the use of plastic by utilizing a baseline monetary penalty for the use of plastic bags. To reduce plastic use, grocery stores can also invest in bulk food sections where the consumer can bring reusable containers or bags to get what they need. This method of purchase also decreases food waste since consumers only take what they need because the price would be based on weight and not what is cheaper, whether it be more than they need or not. Additionally, we believe that grocery stores should advertise and promote proper recycling and anti-food waste practices to the wider community. For example, stores should encourage the use of plastic bag recycling programs to which most people already have access by providing information about their locations, purposes, and benefits. At restaurants an effort should be made to not offer plastic straws or to, instead, offer a biodegradable or reusable option such as paper or metal straws. Restaurants can also replace styrofoam or plastic take-out containers with biodegradable containers.

Not only are personal responsibility and improved corporate policies necessary to reach a true solution but so is reaching out to our local legislatures and such government officials as Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, Jr., to implement laws to protect our environment, health, and natural resources. We must appeal to local governmental bodies like the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council to promote and to continue to protect the environment with legislation like their single plastic reducing ordinance created by the Waste Reduction Task Force. It all starts with voting for those who endorse environmental policies and limiting our plastic production or use.

Green Team
Moravian Academy
Advisor: Cole Wisdo

This essay is also posted on the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council Facebook page March 26.

For the good coronavirus cause

1) Brought to Gadfly’s attention by the Lehigh Valley Monthly Meeting (Quakers):

New Bethany Ministries

New Bethany Ministries is a community of hope and support. We are a caring organization who stands on the front lines serving the most vulnerable population of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley. In 35 years we have never closed our doors, and we are working every day to make sure those doors do not close at a time when our neighbors need us the most.

Volunteer needs
We are encouraging volunteers to be conservative in their decisions to work. As such, we already have had many appropriately cancel plans and we are seeking additional volunteers at this time. Volunteers do not interact with the general public. For those committing to make a meal or help in the food pantry, we are scheduling just one or two people at a time. Please contact Brandy Garofalo at 610-691-5602 ext.210

Material needs
We are accepting all cleaning supplies and any food people can offer (non-perishable, fresh, frozen, prepared). Those can be dropped off at our office weekdays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Monetary needs
We need your help to keep our doors open. Click here to donate.


2) Brought to Gadfly’s attention by the convenor Jillian Pitman of the East Hills Neighborhood Block Watch

📣 Attention 📣

If you need ADULT OR CHILDREN masks, please contact us. Just for Kids is sewing them, They are reversible & washable!

We have supplied a nurse at St. Luke’s with 25 masks, a paramedic, a concerned mom & her kids, Manor Care etc.

Sporting Teams available if you want to represent while keeping safe!

The masks have an extra layer of absorbent padding for extra protection!

There made out of a triple layer of cotton with an elastic ear loop measuring 8″ wide x 5″ high. They are not surgical masks and cannot be put in that category.  We sell them for $4.00 each and do not charge any tax.  We can make arrangements for delivery.




Email Orders to JMPITMAN0713@GMAIL.COM


Jillian M Pitman
Officer Alestas
Cpt. Jon Buskirk
East Hills Neighborhood Block Watch
3) Several other local organizations needing help suggested by the Morning Call.

Reposting: Great idea for Monday, March 30: Light up the Night for Healthcare Workers (and others)

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Tonight! Wouldn’t it be great if Kim’s idea caught on widely. Please distribute on your social media networks.

From Kim Carrell-Smith:


Also this last-minute idea, inspired by something my sister-in-law, a nurse in Phoenix Arizona, is doing with her friends. Hope some folks may want to participate.

Light up the Night

It’s going to be Luminarias, quarantine-style!

So folks could use luminaria bags and candles if they have them, or just put out candles in glasses, or maybe Christmas candles, or Christmas lights?!

Anything to send a message to healthcare workers that they are valued. And as one of my friends said, could we include grocery workers in this too?! I’ll be thinking of those dedicated folks, also, when my candles are burning!



Mrs. Gadfly suggests turning porch lights on works in a pinch too.

St. Michael’s is bloomin’!

logo The Gadfly invites “local color” photos of this sort logo

The sun is peeking out as I post — how about a hike to the Mike!

From Kim Carrell-Smith:

Hi again Gadfly:

St. Michael’s Cemetery [Southside: 4th and Hayes] is in bloom once more! Thanks to Rosemary and Bill Buffington — two Bethlehem-to-Florida transplants who bought and Mike 7sought donations of daffodil bulbs —  thousands of bulbs were planted three or so years ago. They gathered volunteers who did some of the work one brisk Saturday, but Rosemary and Bill planted over 2,000 themselves in frigid fall weather. The result is wonderful!  Of course not all of the originals survive, but there is a wonderful sprinkling of them all over the cemetery.

St. Michael’s is a great place for a walk, especially now when we are stuck indoors so much. The daffodils should be blooming for at least another week.

But at any season the view from St. M is terrific.

If folks want to do a good deed while walking, they could take a bag with them and collect litter . . . just saying . . .


Southside trivia expert needed: why is St. Michael’s cemetery St. Michael’s — that wasn’t the name of the church on the corner, was it?

Awareness of the Spanish Flu arrives in the Lehigh Valley, September 13, 1918

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For perspective on our current situation, we are following the entrance of the 1918 Spanish Influenza, that paragon of pandemics, into the minds and bodies of Lehigh Valley residents who got their news through the Morning Call (the files of the Bethlehem Globe are closed to us at the moment).

We can mark the exact day.

On Friday the 13th, 1918, readers, if they read carefully, found this on p. 17 of the Morning Call rubbing shoulders on both sides with stories about the war.

Flu 1

  • Note that our “officials” are aware of the flu’s “ravage” in Europe (as we were in China) but are slow to be sure it’s here.
  • Social distancing is recognized as the prime defense, but our “officials” hesitate to initiate such “drastic” action.
  • The government “possibly may” have a 15 Days to Slow the Spread plan to combat the disease.
  • Though the European experience is as plain as day, the disease is characterized as, though acutely uncomfortable, short-lived and not serious — how often have we heard that 80% who have the virus will self-treat without consequence — but no mention is made of death, though 675,000 Americans will eventually suffer it.

Readers of their Friday the 13th newspaper would, if they noted the story at all, feel no imminent fear.

Readers of this Monday the 30th blog, however, might well feel distressed at lessons not well learned.

Contextualizing Bethlehem’s bout with the Spanish flu in 1918

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Join Gadfly as he big-picture educates himself on the 1918 Spanish Flu in this cribbed patchwork of encyclopedia-type sources. Join him too in noting the abundance of ever too familiar similarities with our present coronavirus curse. Somebody will be writing an essay like this about us someday.

The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, known today as World War I (WWI), at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351. Known as “Spanish Flu” or “La Grippe,” the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster.

In the fall of 1918 the Great War in Europe was winding down and peace was on the horizon. The Americans had joined in the fight, bringing the Allies closer to victory against the Germans. Deep within the trenches these men lived through some of the most brutal conditions of life, which it seemed could not be any worse. Then, in pockets across the globe, something erupted that seemed as benign as the common cold. The influenza of that season, however, was far more than a cold. In the two years that this scourge ravaged the earth, a fifth of the world’s population was infected. The flu was most deadly for people ages 20 to 40. This pattern of morbidity was unusual for influenza which is usually a killer of the elderly and young children. It infected 28% of all Americans. An estimated 675,000 Americans died of influenza during the pandemic, ten times as many as in the world war. Of the U.S. soldiers who died in Europe, half of them fell to the influenza virus and not to the enemy. An estimated 43,000 servicemen mobilized for WWI died of influenza. 1918 would go down as unforgettable year of suffering and death and yet of peace.

The effect of the influenza epidemic was so severe that the average life span in the US was depressed by 10 years. The influenza virus had a profound virulence, with a mortality rate at 2.5% compared to the previous influenza epidemics, which were less than 0.1%. The death rate for 15 to 34-year-olds of influenza and pneumonia were 20 times higher in 1918 than in previous years. People were struck with illness on the street and died rapid deaths. One anecdote shared of 1918 was of four women playing bridge together late into the night. Overnight, three of the women died from influenza. Others told stories of people on their way to work suddenly developing the flu and dying within hours. One physician writes that patients with seemingly ordinary influenza would rapidly “develop the most vicious type of pneumonia that has ever been seen” and later when cyanosis appeared in the patients, “it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate.” Another physician recalls that the influenza patients “died struggling to clear their airways of a blood-tinged froth that sometimes gushed from their nose and mouth.” The physicians of the time were helpless against this powerful agent of influenza.

The influenza pandemic circled the globe. Most of humanity felt the effects of this strain of the influenza virus. It spread following the path of its human carriers, along trade routes and shipping lines. Outbreaks swept through North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Brazil and the South Pacific. In India the mortality rate was extremely high at around 50 deaths from influenza per 1,000 people. The Great War, with its mass movements of men in armies and aboard ships, probably aided in its rapid diffusion and attack. The origins of the deadly flu disease were unknown but widely speculated upon. Some of the allies thought of the epidemic as a biological warfare tool of the Germans. Many thought it was a result of the trench warfare, the use of mustard gases and the generated “smoke and fumes” of the war. A national campaign began using the ready rhetoric of war to fight the new enemy of microscopic proportions. A study attempted to reason why the disease had been so devastating in certain localized regions, looking at the climate, the weather and the racial composition of cities.

The origins of this influenza variant is not precisely known. It is thought to have originated in China in a rare genetic shift of the influenza virus. The recombination of its surface proteins created a virus novel to almost everyone and a loss of herd immunity. The name of Spanish Flu came from the early affliction and large mortalities in Spain  where it allegedly killed 8 million in May. However, a first wave of influenza appeared early in the spring of 1918 in Kansas and in military camps throughout the US. Few noticed the epidemic in the midst of the war. Wilson had just given his 14 point address. There was virtually no response or acknowledgment to the epidemics in March and April in the military camps. It was unfortunate that no steps were taken to prepare for the usual recrudescence of the virulent influenza strain in the winter. The lack of action was later criticized when the epidemic could not be ignored in the winter of 1918. These first epidemics at training camps were a sign of what was coming in greater magnitude in the fall and winter of 1918 to the entire world.

The war brought the virus back into the US for the second wave of the epidemic. It first arrived in Boston in September of 1918 through the port busy with war shipments of machinery and supplies. The war also enabled the virus to spread and diffuse. Men across the nation were mobilizing to join the military and the cause. As they came together, they brought the virus with them and to those they contacted. The virus killed almost 200,00 in October of 1918 alone. In November 11 of 1918 the end of the war enabled a resurgence. As people celebrated Armistice Day with parades and large parties, a complete disaster from the public health standpoint, a rebirth of the epidemic occurred in some cities. The flu that winter was beyond imagination as millions were infected and thousands died. Just as the war had effected the course of influenza, influenza affected the war. Entire fleets were ill with the disease and men on the front were too sick to fight. The flu was devastating to both sides, killing more men than their own weapons could.

With the military patients coming home from the war with battle wounds and mustard gas burns, hospital facilities and staff were taxed to the limit. This created a shortage of physicians, especially in the civilian sector as many had been lost for service with the military. Since the medical practitioners were away with the troops, only the medical students were left to care for the sick. Third and forth year classes were closed and the students assigned jobs as interns or nurses. One article noted that “depletion has been carried to such an extent that the practitioners are brought very near the breaking point.” The shortage was further confounded by the added loss of physicians to the epidemic. In the U.S., the Red Cross had to recruit more volunteers to contribute to the new cause at home of fighting the influenza epidemic. To respond with the fullest utilization of nurses, volunteers and medical supplies, the Red Cross created a National Committee on Influenza. It was involved in both military and civilian sectors to mobilize all forces to fight Spanish influenza. In some areas of the US, the nursing shortage was so acute that the Red Cross had to ask local businesses to allow workers to have the day off if they volunteer in the hospitals at night. Emergency hospitals were created to take in the patients from the US and those arriving sick from overseas.

The pandemic affected everyone. With one-quarter of the US and one-fifth of the world infected with the influenza, it was impossible to escape from the illness. Even President Woodrow Wilson suffered from the flu in early 1919 while negotiating the crucial treaty of Versailles to end the World War. Those who were lucky enough to avoid infection had to deal with the public health ordinances to restrain the spread of the disease. The public health departments distributed gauze masks to be worn in public. Stores could not hold sales, funerals were limited to 15 minutes. Some towns required a signed certificate to enter and railroads would not accept passengers without them. Those who ignored the flu ordinances had to pay steep fines enforced by extra officers. Bodies pilled up as the massive deaths of the epidemic ensued. Besides the lack of health care workers and medical supplies, there was a shortage of coffins, morticians and gravediggers. The conditions in 1918 were not so far removed from the Black Death in the era of the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages.

Great idea for Monday, March 30: Light up the Night for Healthcare Workers (and others)

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From Kim Carrell-Smith:


Also this last-minute idea, inspired by something my sister-in-law, a nurse in Phoenix Arizona, is doing with her friends. Hope some folks may want to participate.

Light up the Night

It’s going to be Luminarias, quarantine-style!

So folks could use luminaria bags and candles if they have them, or just put out candles in glasses, or maybe Christmas candles, or Christmas lights?!

Anything to send a message to healthcare workers that they are valued. And as one of my friends said, could we include grocery workers in this too?! I’ll be thinking of those dedicated folks, also, when my candles are burning!



Mrs. Gadfly suggests turning porch lights on works in a pinch too.

Sunday March 29: Gadfly goes to meeting

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Followers know that the essence of the Gadfly project is community.

“Good conversation builds community,” he says.

In truth, we are members of many communities from global to national to state to city to work to neighborhood to family — and all the cluster points in-between.

For many of us our religion, our “church,” is an important one of our communities — maybe even the most important.

Gadfly was raised Catholic but over the years drifted away.

A letter to the editor in this morning’s Call reads “Bishop’s streamed Mass is uplifting” and encourages “all who want to feel God’s love during this unprecedented time” to visit www.ad-today.com daily at 8am and Sundays at 10am.

Gadfly was raised Catholic, even studied to be a priest, over the years drifted away, but never lost his need for a religious community.

A year or so ago he started attending the Quaker Sunday meeting (Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting). Why the Quakers, the Society of Friends? He studied them in detail as part of his professional training in 17th century American history and knew from his teaching in 18th and 19th century American history as well as his own lived experience in 20th and 21st century American life that Quakers were/are in the forefront of every social justice movement we’ve ever had. My kind of people.

Well, after a few months Gadfly drifted away from the Quaker community as well — but mostly because of in-house morning commitments.

But this crisis reawakened his need for that religious community, ironically at the very time “meetings” were discouraged.

Circle back to the opportunity for Catholics to “go” to mass in these times through streaming video. Gadfly could understand the value in that. Forgive what will seem a crude analogy purely for the purpose of demonstration that no doubt some followers will vigorously object to — but the Mass happens “on stage,” has “actors,” is a “performance,” and therefore can be “attended,” can be “witnessed.”

But the Quakers do it quite differently.

Quakers believe in the “Light Within.” Quakers “gather in expectant silence with other seekers, open to the movement of the Spirit in ourselves individually and in our worshiping community.” One might think this “living stillness,” this “silent waiting,” this “expectant stillness” would not be affected by restrictions on gathering. One might think that a worship “centered in stillness” would not be affected by but even enhanced by admonitions to stay at home. But no. “Friends find it necessary to be present with others in worship.” (All quotes from the Quaker Faith and Practice.)

So such a liturgy, if you will, can not be replicated by television.

What would the Quakers do, Gadfly wondered?

How have that communal presence, that “congregating,” in which nothing visibly externally happens perhaps for long periods of time — in which there are no “actors,” in which there is no “show,” no “stage,” no “performance” as there is in a Catholic Mass?

Enter Zoom.

Zoom, the conferencing platform.

The same Zoom Gadfly kidded not knowing about a couple posts back.

40+ members of the Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting gathered successfully and effectively this morning through Zoom.

And were for the most part silent.

With Zoom, Gadfly was able to feel part of a religious community again.

Thank you . . . Friends


Do followers have any Sunday stories to tell?

Bethlehem “blanket quarantine”? Been there, done that

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Gadfly is a (literary) historian by trade. The past always beckons him. In this period of coronavirus, he could consult the files of the Bethlehem Globe on the local impact of the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic if the Lehigh University library were open. Sigh. Gadfly does have access to Morning Call files from home, however, and he will see what they yield. For now, here’s all he finds in perhaps the main modern history of Bethlehem.


Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: The Golden Years, 1841-1920 (1976)

What do we see here?

  • In Bethlehem, hospital capacity eventually was not sufficient.
  • And satellite space was needed.
  • Washington School? Where was Washington School?
  • Case numbers escalated quickly to the danger point — within a month.
  • Interestingly, we had no Board of Health — remember that Bethlehem was only born as a city in 1917, inauguration of the first mayor occurred only 9 months before the outbreak.
  • By god, there was a blanket quarantine — a shelter in place.
  • Like now, schools were closed.
  • The list of other closings mentioned specifically includes watering holes and other fun entertainment and food gathering places.
  • So what exactly does “blanket quarantine” mean? Were non-essential businesses closed? Were people advised to stay home?
  • We need to remember that a war was going on!
  • The duration of the shutdown was about a month.
  • Exact number of deaths unknown.
  • I wonder where victims of the disease were buried — Roy, at Fairview?
  • Interestingly, the Southsiders handled the crisis differently.

Wow! Gadfly would love more granular detail about day-to-day life in our town during this time. He can’t wait till he can get to the Globe. Anybody have suggestions for other resources?

But let’s see what the files of the Morning Call yield.

In the meantime, is there any family lore in the memory banks of long-time city residents that you can share?

News and tips from a Bethlehem Food Co-Op-er

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From Carol Burns:

The Food Co-Op had a “virtual potluck” last night — we invited folks to post photos of their dinner, dining companions, and/or recipes as a way to connect. We had a very nice “turnout”!

We’re also encouraging “shopping local” and sharing this list of restaurants/eateries that Fig put together: https://figbethlehem.com/2020/03/support-local-restaurants/

And many local farms/farm stands are open and doing order online/”curbside” pick up — BuyFresh BuyLocal has this list: http://www.buylocalglv.org/local-food-map/

Of course, call first to confirm hours and availability — and consider buying gift cards with money we’re saving on gas and tolls by not going out!

Thanks for keeping us connected!


Thank you, CB!

The times they are a’changin

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Though already an old dawg in the 1995-2005 period, Gadfly explored the new emerging EdwardScholarhandseducational technologies and incorporated them into his courses. He was an “early adopter.” An IT colleague once said, “There wasn’t a tool he didn’t like.” Well, at least there wasn’t a new technology he wouldn’t try. He even explored virtual words, where his avatar was “Edward Scholarhands,” and, because he had Jesuit training, he stayed up late worrying about what his avatar did when he wasn’t “there.”

So, with two decades of online teaching under his belt when he retired, Gadfly enjoyed the scramble to master it that many of his colleagues underwent recently when the virus closed down face-to-face classrooms. So well epitomized in this clever song.

One wonders how some of the changes precipitated by the virus will affect the long-term nature of academic life.

But look at the changes happening right now in the domestic world around us:

  • The Lehigh Valley Monthly Meeting (Quakers) had a test run this morning for a virtual gathering tomorrow on Zoom.
  • I heard the Bethlehem Food Co-Op was going to Zoom a Board meeting too.
  • The BAPL is encouraging us to utilize their substantial online resources.
  • The Gadflys have now had two virtual doctor visits and very efficient and effective they were.
  • The Gadflys have their groceries delivered (PeaPod), which is a real boon — This Gadfly can never find anything in a real grocery store and has always envisioned starting a grocery business for men (only men need this) where the goods are in alphabetical order.

What are you seeing? How is your life changing?

Gadfly, trying not to look dumb, is pretending he knows what Zoom is.


Ron’s rovings: March 21

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Ron Yoshida

Yoshida 3

Saturday, 21 March, in the courtyard behind the Sun Inn.  I was walking and came upon these two women who were practicing social distance.  They told me that they regularly walked their children together before the call for social distancing.  They were getting together to share coffee and their recent experiences.  I liked the “No Parking” sign between them.

Remembering the effect of another pandemic

Gadfly’s maternal grandfather, George F. Coxe, garage foreman, died in the Spanish Flu pandemic, 1918, age 30, when my mother was five, precipitating a family slide into poverty and alcoholism that lasted decades.

This picture and this document is literally all I know about him. He disappeared from history. Leaving a gap in my DNA. Not even a gravestone to visit.

George Coxe picture

George Coxe death certificate

Has your family “escaped” such outbreaks? Ebola? H1N1? AIDS? Asian Flu? Polio?

What stories do you have to tell?

Would you share?

Calling all mask-makers!

From Kim Carrell-Smith:

Greetings fellow quarantino,

Just wanted to share a good deed that Gadfly followers, friends, and relations might be able to do from home, if they have some idle time. St. Luke’s and LVHN have put out a call for protective masks, and I think that some of the great people who are cashiering our groceries, handing out food at schools or food banks to children and families, or doing any other essential things to keep our community functioning might appreciate the gift of a mask.
Here are two resources:
1) The Facebook group Masks for the Lehigh Valley has a LOT of info about how to make masks, how to cut fabric, where to donate.
2) St Luke’s has provided a pdf (linked below) that explains what they want and gives how-tos for cutting and sewing them. Drop-off sites are listed at
https://www.slhn.org/blog/2020/important-information-about-donations-to-st-lukes  –for masks, fabric, and cut pieces (using specs in pdf) are listed in the blog link above

Things to consider:
  1. ALWAYS FIND OUT what a place/group/individual might need before you leap in. That’s why the Facebook group is particularly helpful. But I’m happy to help you get questions answered if you aren’t a Facebook user
  2. If you give a mask to someone, please give it with instructions about how to wash it, and emphasize that they need to do that after every use. These are not foolproof, so you still shouldn’t touch your face, mask etc. and should wash hands frequently.
  3. Please don’t use elastic because of latex allergies (very common)
  4. Think about different folks you may be serving. Kids may be scared of masks so fun fabrics could make them less scary.
  5. You can donate fabric and other supplies if you can’t sew- St Luke’s has asked for it, and I think the Facebook group would be happy to take it, too.
  6. You can cut fabric if you can’t sew; check with the Facebook group or St Luke’s
Good “how to” videos here and here.
Thanks for sharing this opportunity to do good while staying home!
In quarantined solidarity,

Ron’s rovings: March 16

logo The Gadfly invites “local color” photos of this sort logo

Ron Yoshida

Yoshida 1Memorial Walk at Lehigh on Monday, 16 March.  The beloved or perhaps infamous sculpture by Seward Johnson was decorated with the expected mask and gloves.  What was unexpected was a copy of Camus’s Plague.  Note the date when I took the photo.  An article appeared in the New York Times, two or three days later, that discussed the Plague in the context of our current health crisis.  Bravo to the Lehigh students who thought about this idea before the Times article.  The sign that a good liberal arts education might have taken hold with some of our students.

Gadfly checks in

Gadfly’s attention has of necessity turned in-house lately, so original content will probably be lean for a while. But he invites your posts. ‘Tis a good time for followers — especially those who might now have some time on their hands — to grace our pages with their thoughts or pictures.

“Good conversation builds community.”


Keeping up to date on COVID-19:

  • The City web site has lots of info.
  • I’ve been getting a daily email update from the City, I think because I signed up here.
  • Also a regular email from Senator Boscola, sign up here.
  • Pennsylvania state web sites here and here.
  • Bernie O’Hare’s Lehigh Valley Ramblings has been providing good info.


April 2, 2020 Bethlehem EAC Meeting

The EAC meeting scheduled for April 2nd at 7:00 pm will NOT be held in person at Illick’s Mill.

We will convene the meeting with remote access by phone or computer. We hope that you will join us!

To join the meeting via computer, click the following link:
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/780513887 (map)

To join the meeting via phone: Dial 301-715-8592 

At the prompt enter Meeting ID: 780 513 887 #

 Organizer: Elisabeth Cichonski. Please email cichonskie@gmail.com if you encounter any problems.


Brief notes:

  • The great Bethlehem Area Public Library reminds us of their substantial online resources still available for our use.
  • Gadfly #1 Stephen Antalics writes: “I strongly urge all to listen to the first movement ONLY of the fourth symphony of Carl Nielson entitled “The Inextinguishable” for it depicts the fear, chaos, confusion, turmoil and the unknown that we all are experiencing together today.  But the movement ends with a glimmer of hope.  Have faith, endure and be together for, as in the music, all this will pass. P.S. It can be found on youtube.”
  • Good news in the Bethlehem Food Co-Op newsletter: “We are getting closer to finalizing our home! We have signed a letter of intent on a site in the north Bethlehem downtown and have begun the legal paperwork negotiations necessary before we can finalize the lease arrangements. The board feels confident that we will have some exciting news in the very near future!”

Administrators report on coronavirus

logo Latest in a series of posts on the coronavirus logo

The City of Bethlehem Coronavirus page

March 17, City Council meeting

Gadfly didn’t go to last night’s City Council meeting, but like a couple dozen others he watched on the livestream.

It was a good meeting.

Gadfly has made a “modest proposal” or two along the way about city administrators appearing and reporting at City Council meetings on a staggered schedule so that we could get to know them better.

It’s nice to have a face and a voice to go along with the name of who’s responsible for providing city services. It helps establish trust.

Last night we got to know better two key administrators dealing with the coronavirus emergency: Kristin Wenrich and Bob Novatnack.

They were impressive.

Gadfly suggests you access the archived video of the meeting linked above to hear their reports as well as the good questions from Council members.

And, of course, note the City coronavirus web site page and several pertinent Facebook posts relevant to accommodations relevant to the virus.

Be well–