Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Catasauqua WPA Projects - Catasauqua Pool and Playground

As promised this is the second blog I am reprinting in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Playground. Originally blogged on June 3, 2011 -  My Grandfather, George Temos worked on the pool area when he worked for the WPA, along with my bff's  Judy CB and Cathy's fathers.  Let me just say this, I love Catty, it is rich in history and there is a story everywhere you look.  From the history to now.  Don't believe me - drive up Pine Street rich in history, but then look at Ben Ferenchak's house and see Tour de Fence - history in the making.  So - here you go -


When funds became available to the Borough of Catasauqua they first changed the channel followed by the Catasauqua Creek and enclosed the creek bed with limestone walls. With the creek now flowing along the eastern edge of the playground, planners now had enough area (255 feet by 410 feet) to build an athletic field. Catasauqua resident L. James Boucher, plant manager of Atlas Cement Company brought crews from the cement company who surveyed and leveled the ground and they erected the chain link fence that surrounded the area.

On October 1, 1932 the field was dedicated as Thomas Field. The Catasauqua Drum and Bugle Corps led a procession of teachers, school directors and students from the High School to the field. The following resolution was read:

"The newly built athletic field of the Catasauqua Playground be known and distinguished as the Thomas Athletic Field in honor of William R. Thomas Jr. and in memory of Millie Milson Thomas in recognition of their distinguished service to the youth of our Borough in aiding the playground movement"

The second WPA playground project was the swimming pool and bathhouse. Depression unemployment relief contributed largely to the construction. The cost of labor (WPA workers, my grandfather was one) and materials was $75,000.00.

The area fenced in was 90 by 300 feet, the pool measured 60 by 220 feet and was from six inches to nine feet deep. It was constructed of concrete and could accomodate 1500 people. When filled it held 588,000 gallons of water.

The water was pumped from artesian wells by pumps in the brick pumphouse.

The bathhouse was of wood construction and the wood came from Oregon via the Panama Canal. (I thought this was cool).

The pool opened for swimming in 1935 but the official grand opening of the pool and bathhouse was July 11, 1936. Six life guards were on hand, Bud Winters, Jack Morgan (WHO was also a WPA worker and my good friend, Cathy Reiter's Dad!!) Sis Lynch, Ray Guzynski, Bill Mullins and Tony Imhof who handled the crowd of 1500 bathers!!! Entrance to the pool that day was free and the weather was perfect....however, a thunderstorm late in the day postponed a formal program which was to include aquatic skills, fancy swimming and diving.

In 1938 WPA workmen built four tennis courts and leveled and area for rollerskating in summer and ice skating in winter (that area is now the parking lot for the pool).

New playground equipment was also installed with WPA funds. These included a slide, two sets of swings for younger children, a small merry-go-round, a set of large swings for adults, two thirty foot chutes (?) and one ocean wave (ok, someone please tell me what that is?)

Generally, the playground provides an area for fun, play and relaxation and wow, what an area of history in Catty and that's.......Another day in Catasauqua.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Catasauqua Playground Celebrating 100 Years!!

Since this weekend was the 100th year celebration for the Catasauqua Playground I wanted to re-publish two blogs I wrote back in 2011 - I was laid off at the time and spent some time researching the history of Catasauqua.  On Friday night I was down at the park to hear the Large Flowerheads.  Deb Mellish did give a little of the park history - so it made me look back - please enjoy this blog from June 2, 2011 -


So, I just rediscovered a great place in Catasauqua and that is the Catasauqua Public Library. Got myself a new Library card, haven't seen my old one for over 25 years probably. But, I wanted to do research on the Catty Swimming Pool and couldn't find the information online so it was off to the Library. I must say I will be stopping in more often they have a lot of James Patterson books, who I love to read and since I am not working and I am almost through the books I had piled to read, it will be a great place to go.

Anyway, I found what I wanted and so much more. Here we go. John and Lesher Yeager sold 15.728 acres of land for $3,145.60 to the newly formed Catasauqua Park and Playground Association, with the stipulation that the area remain as a playground for 30 years. In 1921 the Association bought the area known as "the Dips". Bascom and Sieger Construction was hired in to do the work of building a playground and on July 3, 1916 the playground opened with 2 basketball courts, 4 tennis courts, 2 volley ball courts and a band shell.

A hand dug lake which was dammed below Bridge Street was built. The lake was 600 feet by 100 feet and was 5 to 6 feet deep.

During the post war years the park and playground where the hub of the community.

The only disappointment was the lake, the water was good for a couple of years, but then it began to drain. It became muddy after rains, it developed sink holes and eventually turned into a marsh, which kids loved to muck through.

There was a park curfew at 9:00 PM, the whistle from the water works would blow and it was time to go.

Improvement came to the Catasauqua playground in in the form of funds from the WPA Program (Works Projects Administration) and the Borough used these funds to develop the playground.

The Works Progress Administration (renamed during 1939 as the Work Projects AdministrationWPA) was the largest and most ambitious New Deal Agency, employing millions of unskilled workers to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. It fed children and redistributed food, clothing, and housing. Almost every community in the United States had a park, bridge or school constructed by the agency, which especially benefited rural and Western areas

There are TWO (we all know the pool was one, but what was the other?) great projects that were built by the WPA at the playground, and I will discuss them in my next blog and with that...... it's another day in Catasauqua.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Seeing the Solar Impulse

On Wednesday night after choir we all came outside to go home, when Rusty looked up and said there is the plane.  Sure enough overhead was the Solar Impulse, eerily quiet and large.  What a wingspan.  The wings are so long that when the plane lands people on bikes hook up to the wings to bring it down safely.

If you saw it overhead on Wednesday you know it flies slow - 30 mph.  It glides gently overhead making me thing of gliders, but no glider ever attempted a trip around the world solely on solar power.  YES, flying completely clean using only the power of the sun.
Tail Section

The vision of  two pilots Bertrand Piccard, psychiatrist and explorer with his avant-gardist vision, and AndrĂ© Borschberg, engineer and entrepreneur with his managerial experience fly the solar impulse.

The airplane is a flying laboratory full of clean technologies.  It took 12 years of research and development, to develop an aircraft powered by dozens of environmentally friendly products and processes.

Panoramic shot from tail to right wing
It took 5 days to fly from Japan to Hawaii, 5 days & nights, 1 pilot. Yup, and I saw the cockpit - it is small.  I read that the pilots use meditation techniques and yoga on the plane to endure so long.  Of course I wondered how they went potty, their suits are designed on the same basis as astronauts, so that answered that.

Energy efficient engines
With a speed of 30 mph Parke wondered how they take off.  So we asked.  They told us it takes of at 30 mph with no help and that it is a short takeoff.  WOW.  We were told that the majority of the weight of the plane comes from the energy dense batteries.  The whole top of the plane is covered with solar panels and it has 4 energy efficient electric motors that do the flying.

The Cockpit
I guess what astounds me most is that it is here - right in Catasauqua's backyard.  How cool is that.  This plane took off from Abu Dhabi.  It has made 13 flights so far and has been in the air for 384 hours and 50 minutes.  Granted it is not the fastest, but just think of what kinds of doors this opens.  I don't know about you but I find this so exciting!!! 

Kudos for the airport for being ready to handle the crowd seeing the plane.  Tickets were available on line to see it.  Ticket were free.  Luckily I saw an article on the Morning Call site of Facebook and immediately booked our tickets.  Our time was from 1 to 2pm, and I was truly in awe of it, Parke was not.  I am not sure why, but he did take some of these pictures and he wants photo credit.

The next piece of history will be when the Solar Impulse does a fly over NYC and then it's next flight will be across the Atlantic Ocean, they told me this would take another 5 days.  WOW again. 

Safe flight Solar Impulse, thanks for including us in a piece of history and that's....another day in Catasauqua.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Concert in the Park

Well, summer has officially begun for me.  No it's not because it has been 90 degrees for the last two days.  No it's not because I put the air conditioners in and no it is not because it is Memorial Day Weekend - it's because I saw my first Concert in the Park.

A friend from my school days, Tim, told me to check out the band Reaction, that they would be playing the first Concert in the Park.  So, I woke Parke up and made him go with me.  He was napping because watching me carry and put in the 3 air conditioners tired him out.  Anyway - we headed down to the Catasauqua Playground.  It is a really short walk for us but it did help me get to the number of steps I want in a day on my fitness band-bonus.

We found a great spot at the top of the hill with a clear view and a breeze.  It was a vantage point to people watch and listen to the band. Great thing about the Amphitheater is that the whole area is in the shade by 7:00 PM

The band Reaction is a classic rock cover band.  The music is tight, I will give them credit for that. AND they definitely need to learn the first part of Free Bird, I have the feeling that the range might be too low for their lead singer, Luis Rivera.  He has a voice more like Axl Rose than Ronnie Van Zant and it is definitely a great rock voice.  The guitars, base, lead and rhythm are fantastic and the drummer is not bad at all, although I was not a big fan of his singing, Parke pointed out that he had the lyrics wrong.  That happened a couple of times, but unless your a purest like Parke it didn't really seem to matter.

They did songs from Cheap Trick, Journey, Kiss, Doobie Brothers and much more.  As the night went on they just seemed to get better and better.  We left after their second set.  Parke slept through supper so he was hungry.

There website is in case you want to check them out. They are also on Facebook at

All in all I give them two thumbs up and a shout out of thanks to Tim for pointing me in their direction. 

To the Band - learn the first part of Free Bird - let the drummer sing it. 

And now as I drink my first Margarita of the season - another sign Summer has begun for me, let me say this, "If I leave here tomorrow would you still remember me? For I must be traveling on now 'Cause there's too many places I've got to see....and that's another day in Catasauqua...rock on!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Walk in the Park - Coca-Cola Park

 Yesterday was a special day, it was our Annual Iron Pigs Suite night at Coca-Cola Park.  Once a year a group of us from Salem UCC rent the Iron Pigs Suite, we each chip in to cover the costs and we have a night of FOOD, friendship, fun and baseball. 

I decided to take some pictures to share here in case you haven't had a chance to be in one of the suites yet. 

First we headed to the park with cloudy skies overhead, we knew that there was a chance that the game might be rained out.  But, whether the weather co-operates or not, you have to go for the food part of the night. 

We hopped into the elevator to the 2nd floor even though the suites are numbered in the 300's - tricky.  Off the elevator and pass the bar and food to the hallway leading to the suites. 

My plate
Besides being with friends the food is my  next favorite part.  This year it didn't let me down there was fried chicken, pulled pork, hamburgers, hot dogs, baked pasta dish, potato salad, a salad with dressings, condiments and fixings.  On another table was potato chips and the best cookies, the sugar cookies being my favorite!

The Buffet
I have it down to a science, I usually eat a hamburger, sometimes I just eat hot dogs, this is only because I love hot dogs, but Parke does not and the ball games are my time to get hot dogs.  We are 18 game plan holders so I usually get my share during the season, especially on Dollar Dog nights.  Last night, I ate to much, but it was so good.  I am of the mentality that I have to get my monies worth.  Thus why I am sipping peppermint tea as I write this!

A note to self - do not drink a beer after consuming a large quantity of food - I felt like I just poured vinegar in a stomach full of baking soda, can you say BLOAT.  My muffin top turned into a sheet cake over my jeans.  
John and Tammy

BFF Tammy was to throw out the first pitch for our group, and she was so excited to do so, but after she left to line up the rain started, the tarp came out and Tammy came back up, they were told to wait in the tunnel, but it was a good thing she didn't, the game eventually was rained out.

Super Ferrous
As usual Ferrous made a quick visit to our suite - it was Super Hero Night and he was dressed for the occasion.

Me with my cookie
I don't mind a rain out when we are in the suites, because you get tickets for another game and they will give them for the 2nd level which is called club level!  I like the club level because if it happens to be a bad weather night or if it is too hot out you can take shelter inside.  And to top it off this time they are giving us an additional $15.00 credit on each ticket to use for food - GO PIGS - hot dogs, here I come.

The suites are sweet, sofa and chair - high tables and stools - sorry Shayna for accidentally grabbing your boob to hike myself up on the stool.  But the night is about laughs, talking with friends and usually rooting on the Iron Pigs, well it was still good friends, laughter and food....maybe next year we can "root, root, root for the Iron Pigs, if they don't win it's a shame, cause it 1, 2, 3 strikes your out at the old ball game......and that another day in Catasauqua.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

and Whispered in the Sounds of Catasauqua

Did you ever listen to the sounds of Catasauqua; especially in the early morning hours.  Before the weed wackers and the lawn mowers start.  Just the sounds of Catasauqua.

My view
This morning I joined Petey (my dog) outside on the back porch for about 15 to 20 minutes with my cup of coffee.  A must have, brewed by the Keurig - a caramel Starbucks with caramel creamer.....ahhh. 

Oops I started to drift away there for a moment.

Anyway, if you live in Catasauqua you know the one sound well, you might even be so use to it that you don't hear it anymore; and that is the sounds of airplanes.  In the quiet morning they don't have to compete with the sounds of cars and people.  It almost sounds like a majestic roar that builds up until it is overhead. 

Mix the airplanews with the far off train sounds from down below Front Street.  The horn blowing as it crosses the intersection at Race Street and it almost sounds meditative. 

And more view off the back yard
And let us not forget the sounds of the BIRDS - can they chirp or what.  They chirp, whistle, squawk and peck the tree, if you have a woodpecker in the neighborhood.  Thanks to being "Tree City USA" we are also Bird City.  I sometimes hate the early morning chirping when you are trying to sleep and they are singing at the sunrise - who knew such tiny little creatures could be so loud. 

Along with the occasional dog bark and
the sounds of cars made up my morning.  It was nice.  "And the vision that was planted in my brain. Still remains within the sound of Catty" take a moment to stop and listen to........ another day in Catasauqua.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Catasauqua, Pennsylvania the only place ......

Yesterday was one of those days in Catasauqua.  I changed into my gardening clothes and it started to hail.  Then the sun came out and I pulled some weeds and it started to rain.  Then the sun came out and I took the dog out and got some herbs out of the hothouse and the wind was so gusty I gave up and went inside to watch Hunger Games Mocking Jay Part 1.

Catasauqua seems to be the home of crazy weather lately but did you know.....

Did you know that the original name of the town was Craneville, but changed to Catasauqua in 1854.  Catasauqua comes from the word gattoshacki -the name is derived from the Lenni Lenape Language and means "burnt ground" "parched land" or "thirsty ground". (Sounds alot like my garden).

Did you know that Catasauqua is the only town in the USA or the world with that name.  There is no other Catasauqua. Well, unless you count us old timers who tell people South Catty, North Catty, East Catty and West Catty when referring to a part of town.

Did you know that Catasauqua encompasses a land area of only 1.29 square miles (825 Acres)?    Lets compare that to the Lehigh Valley International Airport which owns 2,629 Acres around us.

Did you know that Coca-Cola park can hold 10,178 (8,278 seats) but that Catasauqua has a population of 6,512 (in 2014).  That means we could hold a Catasauqua Day at Coca-Cola Park and not be able to fill it.

I guess we put the small in small town - but you know what - I like it.

and that's another day in Catasauqua.