Bethlehem Moment 8: Operation Book Move

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Bethlehem Moment 8

BM Beighe
Ed and Eleanor Beighe

City Council
March 19, 2019

Barbara Diamond, 425 Center Street

A Bethlehem Moment: November 11, 1967

For 43 years Bethlehem’s Public Library served the community from its location on the corner of Market and New Streets (currently occupied by Moravian Academy Middle School), but by the mid-1960’s the library had outgrown this circa 1860s home. With the potential for a $500,000 federal library construction grant, Bethlehem Globe-Times publisher Rolland Adams offered a gift of $250,000 provided it was matched by private contributions. City Council also pledged $500,000 if the gifts and other funds were forthcoming. With that the city launched a fundraising drive, and within one month the citizens of Bethlehem pledged over $292,000. Construction of the new library commenced on August 17, 1965, and was completed two years and three months later.

At 9:00 am on Saturday, November 11, 1967, a singular event of civic participation occurred when the community again stepped up to support their library.  “Operation Book Move” was a massive effort to physically move 80,000 books and hundreds of periodicals from the old library at the corner of Market and New Streets to our current library on Church Street.

JayceesPic1
Students enjoying carrying the books!

The move was planned and coordinated by librarian Amy Preston and the Jaycees under the leadership of committee chairs Ed Beighe and John Horvath. A call went out for volunteers to assist in this massive task; the response was overwhelming. Seven hundred members of the community answered, among them boy scouts and girl scouts, high school students, Lehigh fraternities, Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, Trinity Church Youth, the Bethlehem Woman’s, Sertoma, Key, and MORA Clubs, the Junior League, AAUW, Lehigh and Bethlehem Steel’s Libraries, and many private individuals. Seven crews working four three-hour shifts were planned with the expectation that the move would take 12 hours, but by 4:00 the job was done.

Volunteers, some as young as 12, packed books into cartons. Another crew formed a line to move the cartons down a waxed ramp over the steps into large hampers and then onto a flatbed truck for transport to the new library. Another human chain of Lehigh fraternity men moved cartons of bound periodicals from the basement of the old library to the second floor of the new library. According to librarian Preston, all 30,000 books in the children’s library were moved in two hours, many by the children themselves. “We chose to send the heavy encyclopedias and oversize books, the odd sizes and shapes with the walking groups. Some could carry only one or two books at the most. But everyone was in good humor about it.”

By all accounts, Operation Book Move was an enormous success and a wonderful tribute to the people of Bethlehem who stepped up to support their library. This proud moment of civic engagement says a lot about Bethlehem of that day. When people care about their community they are motivated to participate; to give their time, attention and other support for its benefit. That so many people stepped up to perform this important community task suggests a high level of community cohesion. The nature of the project itself motivated public support. Institutions like the library that broadly benefit the community are unifying forces that can bring people together and enhance cohesion and civic engagement. In this time of partisanship and disengagement, we could use more such opportunities.

Many thanks to Bethlehem Area Public Library for access to resources used in this Bethlehem Moment.

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“Library Move Planned to the Last Book,” Morning Call, November 1, 1967.

“Shelves of Public Library are Bare,” Morning Call, November 9, 1967.

“Volunteers Put Muscle into Library Moving Day,” Bethlehem Globe-Times, November 11, 1967.

“Bethlehem Library Ends 43-Year Location,” Morning Call, November 13, 1967.

“Hill to Hill,” Morning Call, November 13, 1967.

“Book Moving Project Ends, More Volunteers Needed,” Bethlehem Gobe-Times, November 13, 1967.

“Bethlehem Library Opened for Public,” Morning Call, November 21, 1967.

“Bethlehem’s New Library Ready For Public,” Morning Call, November 24, 1967.

(Beighe photo credit, Douglas Graves, Bethlehem Press)

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Bethlehem Moment 7: H.D. and The Ceremony on Monocacy Creek’s Wunden Eiland

Bethlehem Moment 7
City Council
March 5, 2019

Ed Gallagher 49 W. Greenwich

A Bethlehem Moment: January 17, 1943

On January 17, 1943, Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961), known as H.D., Bethlehem native, whose family home, in fact, was on this very spot, world-famous writer, the Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure, was living in London when the German Luftwaffe resumed bombing raids after months of inactivity. H.D. had previously endured nearly one hundred straight days of night bombing we now know as The Blitz – a sustained systematic attempt to break the fighting will of England by inflicting abject terror on its civilians. H.D. was then a middle-aged woman “shattered by fear” as the “tidal-wave of terror” swept over her again, ironically, through bombs possibly made before the war by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. You can imagine what she was thinking. What sense did this brutal war make? Why did she have to go through this bombing again? Hadn’t she endured enough? What madness had gripped her entire world? “I could not visualize civilization other than a Christmas tree that had caught fire,” she felt as the bombs dropped. In this agonized state, H.D. has a vision of a ceremony during the 1740s on Wunden Eiland, the Isle of the Wound, an island in the Monocacy Creek, now gone, down behind the Brethren’s House on Church St. A ceremony of cultural exchange in which the Moravian Anna von Pahlen is initiated into the Native American culture and the Native American Morning Star is baptized Moravian. A ceremony embracing a wisdom that could make “a united brotherhood, a Unitas Fratrum of the whole world” but which the later more conventional Moravians condemned as a scandal and erased from Moravian cultural memory. In H.D.’s vision, though, Anna’s voice is still “pure and silver and clear like a silver trumpet.” The original Moravian possibility of Unitas Fratrum is still there. And H.D.’s subsequent work is marked by the energetic urge to engage and transform world events with a vision of power and peace.

 

H.D., The Gift, New York: New Directions Press, 1982.

Bethlehem Moment 6: “Whites Only” service on 4th St.

Bethlehem Moment 6
City Council
February 19, 2019

Ed Gallagher 49 W. Greenwich

A Bethlehem Moment: November 13, 1967

Twilight Zone theme

History is time travel. But this particular Bethlehem Moment seems less a journey in time than a wrong turn into the Twilight Zone. For on November 13, 1967, a Bethlehem black man had to argue that he was a human being with equal rights with whites. The Warner 3 Bethlehem black man was Malloy Warner, son of the first black trash hauler in the city, founder and president of the Colored Voters Association, president of the Bethlehem Trash Collectors Association, and member of the historic St. John’s AME Zion Church. In a bar on 4th St. in which I spent many a Friday Happy-Hour around the same period, Warner was several times charged double the white price for a bottle of beer. Bethlehem was not Mississippi or Alabama. Or so I thought. And it was 1967 not ’57 or ’27 or ’97. Or so I thought. Yet the message was clearly “Whites only.” Tension flared. The husband of the bar owner reported a death threat. “Some elements” in the black community were eager to “wreck the place.” But Warner neither turned tail nor turned tiger. He chose the “wiser course” of filing suit with the State Human Relations Commission. It was “humiliating,” Warner said, for a “human being” to be treated in this manner. “I’m not interested in financial reimbursement,” he said, “but I am concerned with the principle involved.” And again: “I personally felt that the injustice had to be brought before a court of law and handled through legal rather than violent means.” Justice was done. The Bethlehem Globe-Times called it a “community victory.” But for this researcher 4th St. will never look quite the same after learning of this uniquely brazen example of racism during this trip to the Twilight Zone.

Twilight Zone theme

“Trashman Wins Right to Fair-Priced Beer,” Bethlehem Globe-Times, November 13, 1967.

“Owner of Bethlehem Taproom Ordered Not to Discriminate,” Morning Call, November 14, 1967.

“A Community Victory,” Bethlehem Globe-Times, November 15, 1967.

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Additional notes:

Six months earlier, in his role as president of the Bethlehem Trash Collectors Association (made up of 27 haulers), Warner argued before City Council for private enterprise against a city plan to institute municipal trash collection, in what was described as “the most impassioned debate to happen in the 5 ½ year span of mayor-council form of government,” and for which the citizen-gallery “literally surrounded the council table, reached down the stairway, stood on tables and sat on the floor.”

Warner 2

Warner had a successful hauling company, with such clients as Food Fair, Bethlehem Steel, Dixie Cup, and Air Products. After leaving the business, he owned a bar in Easton.

Some of the language in the news stories is of interest: Warner, for example is described as a “well-spoken Negro,” and the bar owner is described as “blonde.”

“Install Officers,” Morning Call, May 10, 1949.

“Trash Collectors Appeal to Bethlehem Residents,” Morning Call, April 4, 1967.

“Crowd Protests Bethlehem Garbage Collection,” Morning Call, April 5, 1967.

Denise Reaman, “Father was first black refuse collector in city.” Morning Call, February 26, 1995.

Recruiting the developers

(No answer yet. If you know any of these gentlemen, please put in a good word for the Gadfly.)  

49 W. Greenwich St.
Bethlehem PA 18018
February 8, 2019

Dennis E. Benner, Lou Pektor, Michael Perruci, Jim Petrucci, Michael F. Ronca

Good Sirs:

I write you because Bethlehem Councilman Callahan cited you five at a recent Council meeting as developers who have made important contributions to the city. And who will continue to do so.

I have an idea that I ‘m going to pitch to Council soon, and I’d like to invite you to be part of it.

I’m just your average citizen who on retirement from Lehigh University recently as a Professor of American Literature for almost 50 years has been enjoying learning about and commenting on our City government.

One thing I could not help but notice is the importance of our history to the City’s identity.

You folks are instrumental in creating the present and the future of the City, but that work should always grow out of a connection with and feeling for the City’s past.

I’ll bet that you have all attended Council meetings for one reason or another and are aware that each meeting begins in traditional fashion with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance.

I am going to propose to Council that we add a third element to the opening ceremony – a “Bethlehem Moment.” The Bethlehem Moment – literally 1-2 minutes – would be a slice of Bethlehem history. For instance, I did one as part of public comment last meeting on the opening of Memorial Pool in 1957.

I’ll need to suggest to Council who would do these Moments. I have approached the School District about involving students, and I will be contacting Historic Bethlehem and many other organizations and individuals.

I’m wondering if I could count on each of you to do one Moment a year. You might think of it as a charitable contribution of a non-financial kind. I’ll bet that you have never received this kind of request, and I can well imagine you saying, O, my, this is not what I do! But I and others would be available to help you select a Moment and prepare the paragraph of text if needed.

Nothing definite required at this time. All I’m hoping for is a nod of willingness to hear more and to participate once we get organized.
Sincerely,

Ed Gallagher
610-691-2456
ejg1@lehigh.edu

Hitting the pause button on Bethlehem Moments

Gadfly has done 5 “Bethlehem Moments” now.

See the link on the sidebar or under Fun Stuff on the top menu.

Time to reflect a bit.

The idea was for Gadfly to do some to give a sense of what this “Bethlehem Moment” thing was all about.

And then to pitch it to Council to see if they were interested in incorporating it into the opening ceremony after the prayer and the pledge.

It could always continue randomly even as part of public comment without Council involvement.

But if the idea has interest and value at all, it deserves to be at the “top” of the meeting and not in public comment where it would follow, like it just did Tuesday, a guy complaining about neighbor dogs.

If I pitch this idea to Council for consideration, I’ll have to suggest how to staff 24 Moments a year. The idea is no good if it becomes somebody’s hassle to fill out a roster.

I have made very preliminary contact with BASD about students participating. I see a lot of pluses educationally for the students in doing the Moments, and it would bring them and their parents to meetings.

I will be contacting such various organizations as Moravian Archives and Historic Bethlehem to sound out interest, and, a less obvious but intriguing source of Momentors, I’m even asking developers in a letter I will share with you.

But I should ask Gadfly followers. If you personally would like to do a Moment (help available if needed) or if you belong to an organization that would like to participate (help available if needed), perhaps doing a Moment connected to the  nature of the organization, please let me know.

The Bethlehem Moment idea, I know, might seem a bit fluffy, and now that Council meetings are filmed I’ll be able to see if people are yawning, and if it goes bust, so be it. But I’d like to give it a good chance of catching on.

Bethlehem Moment 5: A Handless Hero helps dedicate Memorial Pool, pleading for peace

Bethlehem Moment 5
City Council
February 5, 2019

Ed Gallagher 49 W. Greenwich

A Bethlehem Moment: May 30, 1957

“Amputee Veteran Pleads for Peace in Dedicating Pool as War Memorial,” Morning Call, May 31, 1957.

On Memorial Day May 30, 1957, there were two stars in Bethlehem, one a half-million-dollar pool, the newest addition to our “recreational parade of progress” on Illick’s Mill Rd., and the other an honest-to-goodness movie star. The 75’ x 165’ pool was to be a “living memorial” – a tribute, as the now age-stained plaque to the left of the entrance says, “a tribute to those citizens of Bethlehem whose services to our nation in times of peace and war have preserved our freedom and independence.” Mayor Earl Schaffer touted the pool as the “greatest shot in the arm” to his ambitious recreational plan. ButHarold Russell 1 the fittingly somber tone of a war memorial dedication was set by the daunting appearance and foreboding words of Harold Russell, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a disabled World War II veteran returning home in the brutally frank film The Best Years of Our Lives, which is ranked 37th on the American Film Institute’s 100 best films of all time. Both Russell’s hands were blown off in a demolition accident on D-Day, and he bared his stumps as well as exhibited his consummate skill with a pair of prosthetic steel hooks in the 1946 film that had just been re-released in 1954. In a “stirring message” to an audience of 500, Russell, “Mr. Veteran,” as he was called, who enlisted right after Pearl Harbor and went on to become National Commander of AMVETS and a founder of the World Veterans Foundation, cautioned that we find ourselves in a “death struggle” with “international gangsters” led by the “evil” Soviet Union and under the “threat of a dreadful atomic war” — and that the elusive path to peace lay in sincere international brotherhood. It is a sobering and chilling reflection on this “handless hero’s” hopeful words that in 1957 the Vietnam War was already two years old, that the first Bethlehem mortality there was only eight years away, that each of the 32 Bethlehem men killed in that war might have innocently swum in those inviting waters before which Russell spoke and pleaded for peace, and that one or more might even have been there that very day.

“Brotherhood Key to Peace, Pool Dedication Crowd Told.” Bethlehem Globe Times, May 31, 1957.

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Further info on the pool:

The pool cost $460,000, a sum, as Mayor Schaffer liked to point out, raised mainly from sale of the Lehigh golf course (now the site of the Lehigh Shopping Center) and a contribution by Bethlehem Steel and only minorly by tax money. Even so, as you can see from the design sketch, a canteen and a wading pool to the east of the adult pool were cut for financial reasons.

Memorial Pool design

Further info on Harold Russell:

Harold Russell 3“Russell received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1947. Earlier in the ceremony, he was awarded an honorary Oscar for ‘bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans.’ The special award had been created because the Board of Governors very much wanted to salute Russell, a non-professional actor, but assumed he had little chance for a competitive win. It was the only time in Oscar history that the Academy has awarded two Oscars for the same performance.”

Russell was one of only two non-professional actors to win an Academy Award for acting.

Richard Severo, “Harold Russell Dies at 88; Veteran and Oscar Winner.” New York Times, February 1, 2002.

The Army film Diary of a Sergeant (1945) showed Russell cheerfully in his daily Harold Russell 2activities.  He would write, “the human soul, beaten down, overwhelmed, faced by complete failure and ruin, can still rise up against unbearable odds and triumph.”

Moving clips from The Best Years of Our Lives:

“Dependent as a Baby”

“And for what?”

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The first Bethlehem soldier to die in the Vietnam War was Robert S. Ruch, October 30, 1965.

Bethlehem Moment 4: Zoning comes to town

Bethlehem Moment 4
City Council
January 2, 2019

Ed Gallagher 49 W. Greenwich

A Bethlehem Moment: February 24, 1926

On February 24, 1926, the Bethlehem version of the open-range Wild West ended. The new sheriff in town, two years in the studying, was Bethlehem’s first zoning ordinance, whose purpose, in the exact same words of our zoning ordinance today, was to “preserve the health, safety, and general welfare of the community.” If the zoning ordinance was Wyatt Earp, the Real Estate Board was the villainous Clanton family. The ordinance was ready to go in November 1925, but the Real Estate Board succeeded in getting it delayed till the next Council took office. If this ordinance becomes law, Bethlehem’s industrial growth is at an end, they said. Commercial interests constitute the life blood of the city, they said. Taxes will rise, they said. “You can sewer us up, but don’t zone us,” they said. The ordinance is so lengthy, complicated, and obscure, it’s utterly impossible for even the most intelligent man to digest, they said. The Real Estate Board generated a large crowd that turned an informational meeting heated. They claimed that 98% of businessmen on the West Side were opposed to zoning. On February 15, the day of the first reading, a petition to abandon the ordinance signed by 114 residents was delivered to City Council. On February 24, the day of the second reading, the Real Estate Board presented a 10-point manifesto climaxing in the claim that the Zoning Board of Appeals was open to favoritism and discrimination. But the ordinance prevailed. As one wise head remarked at the time, “more property values are destroyed for lack of zoning than by fire.”

 

“City Engineer Tells Real Estate Board of Zoning Ordinance,” Morning Call, December 15, 1925,

“Voices Opposition to Zoning Ordinance,” Morning Call, December 29, 2015.

“Real Estate Board Wants Zoning Plan Further Considered,” Morning Call, January 4, 1926.

“Zoning Ordinance under Discussion, Morning Call, January 13, 1926.

“’Special Interest’ Talk Heard at Zoning Ordinance Hearing,” Morning Call, January 23, 1926.

“Several Banks Join Real Estate Board,’ Morning Call, February 2, 1926.

“Zone Bill Passes the First Reading,” Morning Call, February 16, 1926.

“Zone Bill Passes Second and Final Reading in Council,” Morning Call, February 25, 1926.

“Council Faces Problem in Zone Bill Appeal Board,” Morning Call, March 1,1926.

“Realtors Discuss Multiple Listings, also Fire Final Gun at Zoning Ordinance,” Morning Call, March 2, 1926.

“Permits Refused under Zone Ordinance,” Morning Call, February 7, 1927.