Speaking of Bethlehem traditions

See Dana’s comment on the “Helms and Haines” post earlier today.

Gadfly #1 Stephen Antalics sent the following:

“The Globe Times [1925-1977] gave the city a paper dedicated to the city. The demise of the paper ended many of the local traditions. One interesting one was the celebration of the first-born in the new year.”

This page from December 31, 1949:

First Baby

Any other traditions we’ve lost and maybe forgotten about? Oldies but goodies?

Helms and Haines, this one’s for you!

Nicole Radzievich, “On Christmas Eve, turn your wondering eyes to Hotel Bethlehem’s rooftop.” Morning Call, December 20, 2018. 

“On Christmas Eve, all might be calm at the Hotel Bethlehem, but not everything will be bright. The word ‘hotel’ on the iconic rooftop sign will go dark so that only the word ‘Bethlehem’ is illuminated in neon red from dusk Monday until sunrise Wednesday. The display revives a 1970s tradition meant to pay homage to the city’s birth.”

“’I can’t think of a better way to remind our proud residents and visitors of the extraordinary history associated with this site and to honor our community heritage,’ said Bruce Haines, managing partner of the Hotel Bethlehem. Haines said he was notified of the tradition to only light up the ‘Bethlehem’ portion of the sign by Debbie Helms, a hotel employee from 1972-1990. Helms, of Bethlehem, said the memory just popped into her head recently when she was walking to choir practice at the Central Moravian Church. ‘By turning off the ‘hotel’ part of the sign, we were transforming it from being an advertisement to showing the location: This is Bethlehem, a place to enjoy the holidays,’ she said. Bethlehem, she said, has so many beloved holiday sights — single candles in the windows and the Moravian Star. The sign, she said, was another special one that lost traction over the years. She said it likely started in the mid-1970s under Bethlehem Steel, which had taken control of the hotel in 1962 and sold it in 1984. She doesn’t remember the tradition continuing in the 1980s.”

Gadfly thinks this is absolutely wonderful! How about you?

So wonderful that he hustled to the archives (those he could find open) to try to determine when the tradition started.

According to the December 21, 1969, Morning Call picture below, the practice was older than Debbie even thought.

Hotel Bethlehem

A tradition worth re-newing!

If you see Debbie or Bruce over the holidays, give them a high-five.

More love at the library

(5th in a series of posts on Northside 2027)

Jacqueline Palochko, “Ornaments made from books to help Bethlehem students.” Morning Call, November 21, 2018.

“Old, tattered books usually end up discarded at the Bethlehem Area Public Library. It’s not that the library wants to toss books away, but sometimes it’s saddled with the same aged cookbook or numerous copies of a bestseller from a decade age. But staff and volunteers are putting those books to use by turning pages of used books into tree ornaments.Proceeds from the sale of the ornaments will go toward helping to pay off lunch debt and overdue library fees of Bethlehem area children.”

“It’s recycling old books and giving them purpose again as ornaments on a tree.”

“Last year, the state passed a new law that bans schools from stigmatizing children for having debt. Under the law, schools must give every child a meal, regardless of how much is owed on a child’s account. Districts have reported an increase in their debts since the law went into effect. Bethlehem Area saw a 50 percent jump in its debt — the biggest among area districts. In August, the district reported its debt at $154,590. The library understands the debt the district is facing. After library patrons hit a $10 overdue fee, they can no longer check out books. Many times, it’s children who have accumulated debt on their library cards. Library fees add up, too. Children from Thomas Jefferson Elementary in North Bethlehem alone have racked up $1,500 in overdue fees, Berk said. Berk speculates that many families who are struggling to pay their children’s meals are also finding it difficult to pay off library fees.”

Gadfly filed this November story because of its reference to CM Reynolds’s “beloved” Thomas Jefferson School (along with William Penn). It’s one dramatic example of the need for a Northside 2027 plan.

Gadfly kind of forgot about the story till faithful follower “ssider” sent an email reminder that “School lunch is sometimes the only meal children may have, when they live near, at, or below the poverty line” and reminding me of the library fund-raiser.

Bethlehem Area Public Library  **********  Kindness is Magic

007Gadfly hustled down to the library and bought several ornaments in fact. As shown here, one is tentatively nestled at the top of a small tree ‘neath a picture of Gadfly and his six “boys.”

Gadfly won’t say that they were all readers as kids. But they were always surrounded by books. And the eldest has recently confided that he used to sneak out of bed at night and grab one (probably above his maturity classification!) for midnight reading. Now it makes sense that he had one eye as well as one arm of his glasses going east and one north as I rousted him out of bed. Six boys, one shower. They were supposed to go chronologically, oldest first. He could never make it first. Now I have a better idea why.

Lunches and books — kids need ’em.