Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gnome Sweet Gnome

I love Gnomes.  If you pass my front porch you will see two gnomes that light up at night that were presents from my co-workers.  Most of my other gnomes are in the back yard, since several years ago I was gnome-napped.  The said gnome, never returned home and is missed to this day.

The word gnome comes from renaissance latin gnomus, which first appears in the works of a 16th Century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus. He either made up the word or derived is from the Latin word genomos, literally meaning earth-dweller.

Paracelsus described gnomes as two spans high (a span is the distance measured by the hand, from the thumb to the little finger), very reluctant to interact with humans and able to move through solid earth as easily as humans move through air.

The first garden gnomes were made in Grafenroda, a town known for its ceramics in Germany,  in the mid-19th century. Philip Griebel made terracotta animals as decorations, and produced gnomes based on local myths as a way for people to enjoy the stories of the gnomes' willingness to help in the garden at night (hey, why don't mine help with the garden, don't they see the weeds?). The garden gnome quickly spread across Germany and into France and England, and wherever gardening was a serious hobby.

. The image of the gnome changed further during the 1960s to 1970s, when the first plastic garden gnomes were manufactured. These gnomes followed the style of the 1937 depiction of the seven dwarves in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Disney. 

Catasauqua is full of beautiful lawn ornaments, decorations and flags.  When I took my walk this morning I went all different ways to check out all the different lawn ornaments.  I think one of my favorites is the little boy fishing,.  I love the cats next to him, are they waiting for fish or scoping out the ducks?
I saw birdbaths, frog, ducks and bunnies.  Yes Catasauqua's lawns are a feast for the eyes.  Next time you take a walk, check them out and enjoy.....Another day in Catasauqua


Friday, June 24, 2011

What's happening in Catasauqua

This weekend is turning out to be a very busy one in Catasauqua.  There will be lots of stuff happening.  First St. Mary's Block Party started Thursday and continues through to Saturday, 6pm to 10:00pm.  This year did you see the new addition to the block party on Race Street?   A Midway of rides!  They look pretty nice to, I passed by them the other night.  Food, beverages, games and entertainment will still be held on Union Street.

The past couple years when I stopped there to noisy around it was so crowded, I think everyone in town shows up.  I remember the block party when I was young.  My grandmother would send me down for the homemade perogies, one of our neighbors use to help make them, they were super delicious.  I remember also hanging around the stage.  There was always a band up on the stage and we would dance all night, it was so much fun.

The new midway reminds me of the old Catty Carnival that they use to have down on Race Street every year.  Me and my friends would ride the rides all night, gosh that was so much fun.

On Friday Night, June 24, Common Bond will be performing at the North Catasauqua Park for the first of a series of summer concerts sponsored by the North Catasauqua Park Recreation Committee.

AND don't forget Saturday Morning 8 AM to 2:00 PM - the WE SING COMMUNITY YARD SALE (I'll be working there somewhere in the morning).  Last time I heard we had 47 vendors coming, so it should be a pretty big event!!!  (Rain, rain stay away)

So, as you can see there is lots to do this weekend, I hope to see you around town.  I've been toying with the idea of getting a T-shirt that say "Another Day in Catasauqua"  they would be so appropriate on a weekend like this!

and that's......another day in Catasauqua.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Life is too short.......

I just received an email, I thought it was one of those chain emails that fill your inbox everyday. It was titled RE: FW Pink Heart (I hope I get one back), but it was from a man's name I never heard of. So I opened it and it read...

"Was going through my old emails trying to clear things out and ran across this email from Mom! I'm glad I sent one back to her when I had the chance."....Robert

And it was one of those emails....with babies smiling and wonderful words of encouragement. This time when I looked at the email I started to cry, for you see, it was orginally sent by his mom, Carole Browning, on February 10, 2011. It starts out.... 'Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.'

and it ends....Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right.. Forget about the ones who don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.

My friend, Carole departed this life suddenly on March 26, 2011.

I met Carole on the message board, Spiritual Space on Weight Watchers, we talked on the phone and corresponded through emails. I cherish a coffee cup that she sent me one Christmas. She touched my life and so many others, and with a email from her son, reminded us that life is really too short. Carole has touched my life again, when I really really needed it.

and that's another day in Catasauqua

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why 50 year old women shouldn't be on Facebook

Fifty year old women shouldn't be on facebook was something my friend Cathy's children said when she and I joined facebook. I only recently tended to agree with them when I started the organizational facebook page for our church, Salem United Church of Christ, Catasauqua.

First of all, the organizational pages are set up differently than the individual. Individually I am a Bejeweled Blitz, Frontierville and most recently Gardens of Time playing fool. (If you know Cathy, please friend her on Gardens of Time, because she wants a bigger grid) But when it came to a group page I shared the password with 2 other women from church so we could update the pages. One of them being Cathy. The other night we were both of the phone on facebook at the same time trying to figure out how we could tell others about the page, since you really can't friend from the organizational page, after much laughter and a few snorts of my part we finally found a share button. Trial and error is they way we are learning, at first it was more error than trial.

You gotta remember computers were not state of art when I was in school. I was recently thinking about updating my resume and I was looking at a resume builder it said to list your certifications. I don't know, but do you think I will impress anyone since I was certified as a keypunch operator and in the Mag Card Executive Typewriter.

Ah yes, I come from the age of shorthand and manual typewriters, yes I am dinosaur, the nearly extinct stenographious secretarious. But I have come a long way, thanks to a son who went to Penn State, which forced us to get a computer and he taught me a thing or two along the way.
Now I work on a computer everyday. Utilize the internet for work and even figured out how to do this blog.

Well, the Salem page is improving everyday, (check it out!) yesterday I even put pictures on it and manage to change the title, (by the way the average user of facebook is 38 according to a recent study) so I guess a middle aged dog can learn a few tricks, especially if she is from Catty, and that's just.....another day in Catasauqua.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Carnival and Blues Jams

Music is in the air everywhere in Catasauqua this weekend. First the North Catasauqua small Town USA CARNIVAL, it started Wednesday and runs until Saturday, June 18th. Parke and I wandered up Wednesday night and there was a pretty good crowd. The rides look really neat, there is a couple I wouldn't mind going on and of course, there is food. I saw tacos, turkey barbeque, hot dogs, smoothies, ice cream....etc.

I personally like to go just to sit with friends, eat a little something and talk, which I did last night with my friend Shirley, we went and enjoyed the oldies music along with some funnel cake and pizza.

Also happening is the 6th Annual Lehigh River (why it's not near the river?) Blues Jam --June 17 through Sunday, June 19 (Father's Day for those who got 'em). The prices are as follows:

June 17, 2011 ($5 Fri. 6-10 pm)
June 18, 2011 ($10 Sat. 2-10 pm)
June 19, 2011 ($10 Sun. 1-7 pm)

I use to love to go to the Blues Jam because it is just a short walk for me, and sit on the hill and listen for awhile. But since everything is fenced in it lost some of its ambience, sometimes I go down and walk around for awhile. Having to pay and go inside the fenced area spoiled it for me, blues are cool and sitting out in the hot sun isn't cool.

Well, that's it for now, my grandpup goes home today, and my cats can come out of hiding. There is plenty to do this weekend in Catty, so maybe I will see you and with that it's.......another day in Catasauqua.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I've been working on the railroad.....

(*Above sort of the same view now and then)

Erik from Charotin Hose wrote me the other day and said: "After reading your articles on the WPA projects you seemed to enjoy the history of the borough. I'm writing to suggest another idea for your blog that many people probably don't know about.

There is an old train tunnel that starts behind Hartzell's Pharmacy and runs west underground parallel with Wood St and Peach St. The other end is west of Front St if I remember correctly. I could never find it when I was younger and exploring on my bike."

Well Erik, I am just old enough to know about it and also to know where the tunnel is.

The Tunnel, a concrete enclosed railroad passageway lies beneath Second Street, Tunnel Alley and Howertown Road.

There is a great article "Catasauqua-Crossroads of the Anthracite Railroads," written by Joe Yurko. Here is an excerpt:.

"The mills of Catasauqua got much of their ore from pits in western Lehigh and eastern Berks counties. It was moved from mine to furnace by very long teams of horses and carts! A team waiting at the west end of the iron company bridge would stretch out towards the small village of Mickleys, creating an odd parallel to similar later rail activity. The passing of the teams, especially in wet weather, would nearly destroy the roads. These conditions encouraged the building of a railroad. There was considerable resistance to this idea - Heard were the familiar arguments of big business/big profits for, a few against destruction of the land, inconvenience, possible dangers, etc. for others. The opposition eventually backed off largely due to the reality of how the ore teams were damaging the roads, Even so, the initial incorporation on April 5, 1853 was only for a wooden "plank road". Work on the plank road started; as completed portions were quickly destroyed by the ore teams creating a still messy and now treacherous roadway, the need for a railroad became apparent. The charter for the Catasauqua and Fogelsville Railroad was granted April 20, 1854. The C&F would become the railroad most associated with Catasauqua for the next few decades.
Various track expansions went on during 1900-1914."

(*The upper picture is the tunnel in Hartzell's parking lot-the lower just below 2nd Street at the Legion area)

On April 18 1910 the Crane Railroad Company was granted the privilege constructing a tunnel under a narrow strip of the school lot on Peach Street and Howertown Avenue. In consideration of this favor the Rail Company paid into the school treasury three hundred thirty dollars.

By the way, silly me never noticed that the street is named Tunnel Alley, duh.

The Crane Railroad dug a tunnel in town east of their plant, while the LV was four-tracking its mainline. The construction company used a 70 ton shovel dig out the route of the tunnel. The tunnel was actually dug out forming a cut, a concrete arched liner was put in place then filled over. The tunnel was 1110 feet long. The tunnel had a depth of 22 feet at Second Street and 29 Feet at Howertown Road. The tunnel approaches at both entrances has a concrete facing and was composed of reinforced concrete throughout. The entire length of track ran a length of 3,300 feet from Front Street to Kurtz Valley, where the Crane Company dumped its cinders. For years the area was known as "The Cinder Tip."

With the town high school almost directly above, students could detect the rumbling of trains beneath!

Rumors circulating at the time suggested that this was simply not a good enough reason for such a project, that the new rails would eventually be connected to existing passenger tracks. One story had the Delaware Lackawanna & Western involved behind the scenes, preparing to enter town from the east. But this never happened.

When the train appeared out of the Catasauqua tunnel, he would pull up to Front Street and call (blow his whistle) for the signal from the tower-man. This signal to cross the was visible from where he stopped. If a train was short enough, he could come directly to the signal. More typically though, he would be stopped to clear Front Street, it was a routine sight to see a westbound waiting there. In this steam-era routine there was no telephone; to let a train across, tower-men would communicate using hand signals during the day or a lantern or flashlight at night.

In the 1950's some problems started to arise with the area around the Tunnel. In 1953 the High School's gymnasium was starting to crack and deemed unsafe by the Department of Labor and Industry and torn down. The area along the tunnel was paved and used as a parking lot.

As the industrial conditions changed from coal to oil and gas, the Lehigh and New England Railroads began to abandon tracks. In 1964 Catty councilman donned fireman's boots and walked through the tunnel. Finding the tunnel in good shape and structurally safe the Borough entered into an agreement with the railroad to seal the tunnel and make additional improvements to the area.

So this morning I took a trek to the track or tunnel at least - starting in Hartzell's parking lot to the American Legion lot (via Tunnel Alley, double duh...still can't believe I never realized that street existed, I went to the Lincoln School!)

I also found the piece of railroad track that still exists on Front Street, I remembered walking over it a million times as a kid.

You know what I am sad about, besides the trash that litters the Second Street Tunnel site, is that there are no plaques or notations of any sort to tell you this little piece of history. All I ever hear about is the George Taylor House, but there is so much more history in Catty and I keep finding more about it everyday.

and that's another day in Catasauqua!

See this for more information on the railroad:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ode to a dog named Little Joe

Little Joe is her, yes her name, and she is my grandpup and I am dog sitting. She was named by my grandson, Joey, yes Joey named the dog, Little Joe and she is a girl. But don't let those doe eyes fool you, she chases the cats, takes biscuit out of my dog, Digger, a border collie's mouth, and has the occasional accident. But all in all, she's not a bad dog.

On the first night here she slept in the cage, but not with out crying, when I left her out of the cage she ran around the room and wouldn't settle, so it was back in the cage. She knew there were cats somewhere outside of the door and darn-it-to-buttons she wanted to find them. The second night after a few minutes of whining in the cage I left her out whereupon she went promptly to sleep on the bed. I guess she finally figured it out. She slept at our feet and woke up at 5:30 AM when she heard my mom. Why my mother gets up at 5:30 am I will never know. Last night I woke up at 3:00 AM to find Little Joe next to me and me holding her, tonight I can only guess that she will be in my spot and I will be at the foot of the bed.

She sent my cat Tipper into hiding. I tried to show Tipper, Little Joe while everything was calm, but I have huge holes in my shirt to say that didn't work. However after a few days everyone seems to be getting in better sync. The cats are somehow making it to the basement and the attic undetected by Little Joe, and Tipper has figured out that Little Joe is in with me at night so he was at my mother's door promptly at 5:30 AM to be fed. Now after a few days I notice that Tipper is stalking Little Joe, staying just far enough out of range to drive Little Joe nuts.

Little Joe is fiesty, in the afternoon she barks, if she sees people, dogs or hears the slightest little noise, she barks. Yesterday she had every dog in the neighborhood barking. As my neighbors yelled at their respective dogs I held up Little Joe saying "It's not their fault it hers!" and I heard an "Awe, she's cute." Well her barking has inspired me to write this song inspired by the Bee Gees song, I started a Joke.......

I started to Bark, which started the whole world barking
but I didn't see, that I was barking at a tree, oh no.

I started to bark, which started the all the dogs barking
if they only could see, that scary leaf on the tree.

I looked at the sky, running at a man in the alley
and I jumped on the bed, barking off my head at things that were said.

Til I finally stopped barking, which stopped the dogs barking
Oh if they could only see, that the barking was from me.

I jumped up at the fence, barking at Buddy the neighboring pup
and I fell out of bed, chasing the cat who ran up ahead

Till I finally go home, then the cats will start living
Oh if they could only see, I am just a puppy.

Sorry Bee Gees.
and for me ..... that's Another Day in Catasauqua

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Catasauqua WPA Projects

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.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Catty Playground - 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 and 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 Administration; WPA) 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.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What a Strange Place for a Work of Art...or not

So, I was going to do an article about the Catasauqua Swimming Pool. Weather is turning hot and my thoughts were turning to keeping cool. However, I could not find anything on line, so I will be making a trip to the Catasauqua Library to start some research. I know it was built as a WPA project during the Great Depression, but my research online DID lead to something very interest and something that I didn't know about, namely Post Office art. Commissioned around the same time as WPA projects often mistaken for WPA Art, Post Office Murals were actually done by artists working for the Section of Fine Arts, commonly known as "The Section". (why does that sound like and Area 51 thing to me) It was established in 1934 and administered by the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department, which was headed by Edward Bruce, a former lawyer, businessman and artist. The Section's main function was to select art of high quality to decorate public buildings if the funding was available. By putting the art in public buildings, the art was made accessible to all people.

The mural in the Catasauqua Post Office is one of these works! Titled "Arrival of the Stage" the work was done in 1936 and is oil on canvas. The artist was F. Luis Mora
F. Luis Mora, also known as Francis Luis Mora was America's first Hispanic Master, he lived from 1874 to 1940 was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. He was the son of a great sculptor, Dominigo Mora. They moved to New York 1880 and settled in Perth Amboy, NJ. When Francis was 22 he traveled to Europe with mother and there is where he became inspired by the great artists.

In 1900 he married his wife Sophia, who encouraged him to take up the easel, and that was the start of a very successful career. He did a lot of portrait work - he was commissioned by the Section to do the Presidential portrait of Warren G. Harding which still hangs in the White House.

Mora's work are currently held in or displayed in 34 museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art in New York and the Smithsonian American Art Museum and lets not forget the Post Office in our town, Catasauqua, PA.

and that's Another Day in Catasauqua.