Festival in a fortnight!

(4th in a series of posts on Touchstone Theatre)

Who are we now that the Steel is gone?

Festival UnBound
Ten days of original theatre, dance, music, art and conversation designed to celebrate and imagine our future together!
October 4-13

If this video doesn’t make your hair curl, your nose bleed, your palms sweat, your piggies wiggle, and your loins leap, then you are following the wrong blog!

  • VOLUNTEERS – We’re looking for a monumental volunteer brigade to help us power ten days of community-wide creations! Interested in getting involved? Email mike@touchstone.org or fill out the volunteer form on our website.
  • “STEELBOUND” SCREENING – Curious about the production that inspired it all, Touchstone and Cornerstone Theatre’s Steelbound (1999)? Join us for a screening of that unforgettable production, as we prepare to celebrate where we are twenty years later. Steelbound will play at the National Museum of Industrial History on September 25, with opening remarks by Hank Barnette, former CEO of Bethlehem Steel beginning at 6:30p.
  • HAPPY HOUR AT APOLLO GRILL – Our friends at Apollo Grill are kindly hosting a happy hour to benefit the festival! Join us Thursday, September 26, 5:00-7:00p, where you can enjoy munchies and drink (and the company of the Touchstone Ensemble). We’ll have a raffle basket, and $1 from every Jack Daniels drink goes toward Festival UnBound. A delicious way to support art! Learn more here.
  • JOIN US IN SONG – Like to sing? We are seeking Touchstone friends to be in a Pop-Up Choir, led by the Valley’s Kira Willey, for the Opening and/or Closing ceremonies – since we hope you’re already planning to be with us for performances, why not have a hand in making art as well? Please go to our Google sign-up here to indicate your interest and availability.

Puerto Ricans come to Bethlehem (again)

Festival UnBound
Ten days of original theatre, dance, music, art and conversation designed to celebrate and imagine our future together!
October 4-13


They came from Puerto Rico to Pa. after Hurricane Maria

We owe this interesting article to Councilwoman Olga Negron, whom followers will remember did a recent Bethlehem Moment, “Puerto Ricans come to Bethlehem.”

They are coming again, but as CW Negron says, now things are different.

  • To be sure, Puerto Rico residents have been relocating to Pennsylvania for decades, lured here by jobs in the steel mills, farms and factories. But the migration pattern in the wake of Hurricane Maria has been noticeably different.
  • Not everyone who has left the financially troubled island has needed social or Negronpublic assistance. These days, a substantial number of new arrivals from Puerto Rico are prepared to pivot directly into jobs, professions or college. “This migration is very different than any other before,” said Olga Negrón, a member of the Bethlehem City Council and the Latino Leadership Alliance of the Lehigh Valley. “Many of them are bilingual. They have professions or a level of education capacity to get higher paying jobs. They were ready to work. Ready to interview and get a job.”
  • Two years ago, Negrón, herself a Puerto Rico native, helped spearhead a grassroot effort to assist hurricane refugees find homes, schools and whatever public services they needed in the Lehigh Valley, which became a major destination for hurricane refugees. She found that a substantial number needed little assistance. “We are seeing a lot more at the professional level than we were used to in the last few years, maybe it’s because the influx has been going on for so long,” Negrón said.

CW Negron’s “Moment” awakened an interest in Gadfly to know more about local Puerto Rican historia, and didn’t Gadfly librarian and HomeworkGiver Tony Hanna send him a reference to a book precisely on that subject precisely at that time.

The space for the next Bethlehem Moment is now unexpectedly open, so Gadfly’s going to try to do another moment of Puerto Rican local history with its aid for next Council meeting.

Hmm, Gadfly is also curious about Portuguese in Bethlehem. In old news stories Gadfly has seen political meetings held at the Portuguese Club, and we still have one, don’t we? Gadfly wonders about the Bethlehem-Portuguese connection. Anyone help?

Festival UnBound

Bethlehem Moment: Henrietta Benigna opens a girl’s seminary, 1742

(Latest in a series of posts on Bethlehem Moments)

Bethlehem Moment 12
City Council
September 17, 2019

Jim Petrucci
President, J. G. Petrucci Company, Inc., Asbury, N.J.

Read by Joseph Petrucci

Bethlehem Moment: May 4, 1742

On May 4th, 1742, 16-year old Countess Henrietta Benigna, daughter of Count Zinzendorf, opened a girl’s seminary school in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Initially, the school taught 25 pupils and focused on reading, writing, religion, and the household arts. Seven weeks after the school was founded, it was moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Three years later, it was moved to Nazareth and then returned permanently to Bethlehem in 1749.

In 1785, the school expanded its charter, began accepting girls from outside the Moravian Church, and changed its name to Moravian Female Seminary. The school itself built a tremendous reputation. In fact, as president, George Washington personally petitioned for the admission of his great-nieces.  Eventually, in 1945, the Seminary was merged with a local boy’s school to form the coeducational institution we now know today as Moravian College.

As the first all-girls boarding school in the New World, the Moravian Female Seminary holds a special place in the history of education in America. Not only was it a school founded by women and for the benefit of women, but it was also one of the first schools in the New World to open itself to Native American children. This is the legacy of Henrietta Benigna. Henrietta founded the school on the basis that all deserve a quality education, and she did it in a time when that wasn’t a popular opinion. As various stakeholders in the City of Bethlehem today, we should feel proud of this moment in history and look to replicate the principles that Henrietta Benigna displayed back in 1742.

The J. G. Petrucci Company has been working in Bethlehem since the early 90’s, completing such projects as the Perkins on the Southside, the Moravian Health and Science Center, and ten projects in LVIPVII – including Curtiss Wright, Cigars International, and Synchronoss.








Gadfly turns 1!

Born September 16, 2018, just at this time — 2PM


Definition of gadfly
1: any of various flies that annoy livestock

2: a person who stimulates other people especially by persistent criticism
3: someone who challenges people in positions of power


1,032 posts and 365 days later.

The ceremonial time to touch base with the beginning, with the original purpose, with the original spirit.

A time to take stock.

What is Gadfly about?

That introduction is pretty pompous, pretty idealistic, but I still subscribe to its essence.

And won’t rewrite. In fact, you can’t rewrite what is in effect the creating moment.

At that creating moment you aren’t really in control, and you can’t re-live it.

I still believe that the fantasies we have shape the lives we lead.

Mine is a Norman Rockwell fantasy of Bethlehem as the small town embodied in the “Freedom of Speech” painting and Rockwell’s other works.

A place of good will, a place of mutual respect, a place where residents care and participate, a place where leaders listen as they lead.

I try to run Gadfly as an example of democracy in action, a place for healthy dialog about issues that concern our city.

I love your voices, as I have tried to show you time after time.

I’m not sure I’ll change anything of substance in the upcoming year.

But I would like to see some changes:

  • more original posts from you, the followers — not just comments on my posts or the posts of others, but thoughtful, original, chain-starting posts


  • and this might be a bridge too far in the trust that can be built in just a year, but posts from our elected officials and city administrators providing facts, trying out ideas, sharing visions, correcting misconceptions, combating ignorance — trusting the value of what we can never have too much of, good communication, good conversation

“Good conversation builds community.”

Touchstone Theatre’s “Festival UnBound” approaches — October 4-13

(Latest in a series of posts on the Arts)

Festival UnBound

Ten days of original theatre, dance, music, art and conversation designed to celebrate and imagine our future together!

Touchstone Theatre is truly one of those places that makes Bethlehem special.

Festival UnBound is designed “to use art to bring the community together to explore its future now that it is ‘unbound’ from the Steel.”

Festival UnBound celebrates where “we” — the Bethlehem community! — are twenty years after Steelbound (1999), the production that inspired it. Steelbound will play at the National Museum of Industrial History on September 25, with opening remarks beginning at 6:30p.


  • A “monumental brigade of volunteers” is needed for the Festival: Email mike@touchstone.org or fill out the volunteer form



Festival UnBound

Another source for Bethlehem history

(Latest in a series of posts on local color and Bethlehem Moments)


The last two weeks there have been the kind of history stories dear to Gadfly’s heart in the Bethlehem Press.

Stories about the little things and people, the overlooked things and people.

By bethlehemhistory@gmail.com.

That’s Jason Rehm, Bethlehem native, Liberty grad ’07, a history major at Houghton College, whose final essay on Bethlehem history led Karen Samuels to facilitate his writing occasional pieces for the Bethlehem Press.

Which reminds me to encourage you to subscribe to the BP. BP is our community newspaper. And community is magic for Gadfly.

Subscribe to the BP, and be on the lookout for Jason’s essays.

Two very good things to do.

Jason Rehm, “Life during the Great Depression.” Bethlehem Press, August 27, 2019.

My grandfather, Woody Rehm, 88, grew up the sixth of seven children during the Great Depression. Like most families during that time, they were poor. The Rehms moved often, all over town and sometimes just down the street, looking for cheaper rent.

Jason Rehm, “Old Main Street fountain’s history explained.” Bethlehem Press, September 3, 2019.

The Eliza Richardson Fountain on Main Street has long been a mystery. Who was she and why does the fountain bear her name? Answers were hard to come by, but as various records were unearthed, they began to piece together a picture of a fascinating woman deserving to be remembered.

Just added: new event in the year-long Finding H. D. series

(26th in a series of posts on H.D.)

Finding H.D.:
A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle

Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”

dollar sign

Contributions to fund the museum-quality portrait of H. D. by local artist Angela Fraleigh that will hang prominently in the library are lagging. Can you please help? Visit http://www.bapl.org/hd/


HD sametz 1