The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things. I do have a moustache, so maybe I am not really plagiarizing as I begin. The way-back machine is set for January 1970 and the place is Beverly Hills Road, Coopersburg, PA. We actually did not live in Coopersburg itself which was perhaps 3 miles from us to the East, and is a small borough in Pennsylvania. Our home was about 10 miles to the south of Allentown, PA. Allentown is part of a three city greater metropolitan area. The three cities were Allentown, and to the east Bethlehem (mostly in Northampton county), and to the east of Bethlehem, Easton whose boundary line was the New Jersey state line. I have included an area map below which I hope is useful in placing the site to which we moved.
The area is in Lehigh County, PA. Lehigh County in southeastern Pennsylvania in the area known as the Lehigh Valley, and Allentown is its county seat. Lehigh County’s location is in the corridor between Philadelphia and New York City, with quick and easy access to these major metropolitan areas. The area is accessible via I-78, Rt.22, Rt.309, Rt.33 or Rt.476 (Pennsylvania Turnpike).Lehigh County is in the Delaware River watershed. While most of the county is drained by the Lehigh River and its tributaries, the Schuylkill River also drains regions in the south of the county via the Perkiomen Creek and the northwest via the Maiden Creek.
Most of the county’s climate is considered to fall in the humid continental climate zone. Summers are typically hot and muggy, fall and spring are generally mild, and winter is cold. Precipitation is almost uniformly distributed throughout the year. For the city of Allentown, January lows average −6 °C (21 °F) and highs average 1.3 °C (34.3 °F). The lowest officially recorded temperature was −26.7 °C (−16.1 °F) in 1912 . July lows average 17.6 °C (63.7 °F) and highs average 29.2 °C (84.6 °F), with an average relative humidity (morning) of 82%. The highest temperature on record was 40.6 °C (105.1 °F) in 1966 . Early fall and mid winter are generally driest, with October being the driest month with only 74.7 mm of average precipitation.
Snowfall is variable, with some winters bringing light snow and others bringing many significant snowstorms. Average snowfall is 82.3 centimetres (32.4 in) per year, with the months of January and February receiving the highest at just over 22.86 centimetres (9.00 in) each. Rainfall is generally spread throughout the year, with eight to twelve wet days per month, at an average annual rate of 110.54 centimetres (43.52 in). I hope all this detail is helpful in setting the scene of our sojourn in PA.
My job was with what was then Pennsylvania Power and Light (PP&L) company the electrical utility provider for about 20% of the state’s population. Like many utilities, it has acquired other properties and is known as PPL Industries (PPL) I worked at the company headquarters at 7th and Hamilton Street in Allentown. This building was 19 stories high and the highest building in the city.
The PPL Building, constructed between 1926 and 1928, is Allentown’s tallest building at 322 feet (98 m). If you look closely, you can see it rising in center left of the picture It is 23 stories high and is at the northwest corner of 9th and Hamilton Street. A Lehigh Valley icon, this Art Deco tower is seen from places throughout the Lehigh Valley; in clear weather, the tower can be seen as far north as Blue Mountain. The building, designed by architect and skyscraper pioneer Harvey Wiley Corbett (who would later have a hand in designing New York’s Rockefeller Center) and supervised by his assistant, Wallace Harrison (who would later design Lincoln Center, La Guardia Airport and the U.N. Headquarters Building). The building exterior features bas reliefs by Alexander Archipenko. In 1930, the PPL Building was named the “best example of a modern office building” by encyclopedia Britannica, and featured the world’s fastest elevator. It was and is an impressive building and I felt pleased being employed by this first rate company.
Our home’s location was 10 miles to the south of Allentown. There were slightly different routes to go home but the general route is to go from 7th and Hamilton east to 4th Street. Then I continued south and 4th became what is now PA-145. Then I made a right turn to what was then the Limeport Pike. Limeport is a very small hamlet with one gas station and a few houses. I would then make a left turn on to Beverly Hills road, now State Rte 2040.
I enclose the pictures above as it is the only one I have and at that is a scan from the realtors sale listing in 1980. The color image on the center is the best I could do with Google. Our house was better I believe, but at least you can get an idea of the geography and size of the housing at the time.
We lived about 1/3 of a mile up Beverly Hills. The area itself was mostly suburban 1/2 acre lots but also was home to some working farms so it was an area in transition. Beverley Hills Road continued up about 1/2 mile more where it crested on Chestnut Hill Road, and from there indirectly into Coopersburg which was slightly to the northeast of us. The rear of our lot sloped rapidly to the south of us and slightly to the north of us. We were living on the side of a hill with the two gradients just mentioned. The house a ranch style built into the hill, ours more so than that in the color photo. It was as I can remember, at least 2200 sq. feet and certainly not more than 2500. There was a full cellar under the home as was the normal practice in that area. One-quarter of the cellar was a 2 car garage which could easily be reached by a drive connecting to Beverley Hills as you can see from the photos.
The front door was in the center of the house and was reached by a concrete entryway with 4 steps leading down from the house to the front yard. The house was a single level frame house with a brick veneer. The foyer hall was at least 8′ X 16″ with linoleum tiles on the floor. I can’t remember anybody having ceramic tiles then. There was a dark diamond shaped center part of the floor with a white diamond tiled center. Our cats really loved to get on that and sit for a while. The remaining floors were oak wood parquet. to the immediate right of the hall was the living room with a pleasant bay window overlooking the street.
Going a bit further to the back on he immediate right was a small but functional kitchen, and to the far right was the dining room. There was a small bay window in the dining room with a grand view of the valley. Beyond that It was a rec. room as then called 11′ X 25′ with dark oak paneling and a substantial fireplace at the end.
The hall also had entry to a small 1/2 bath. This was unusual in that the toilet was a triangular shape tucked into a corner. It was a medium green color as was the wash basin. There was also a door opening from the hall to a staircase that lead to the cellar. The left side of the house was the family area with 4 bedrooms and a full bath. The master bedroom was the largest and it had its own bath with a spacious walk in shower. The shower door had an image of a mermaid on it, a touch of class. Ingrid had the bedroom next to us, Louise had the bedroom across from us. The second bath was at the end of the hall. The remaining bedroom was Marge’s sewing room. Later on I improved this room with some custom cabinets I built and installed, but more of that later. Marge loved Iris plants and had planted them around the base of the house to brighten up the yard.
All in all, a pleasant place in which to dwell as the saying goes. In 1960 we lived in a one room apartment, I worked for Crucible Steel, and Marge was finishing college, a few semesters at a time. She missed her school companions and it was not easy socializing in the apartment complex. The plant where I worked paid well and had good health insurance…but. It was called “The 4th Reich” by people in other plants so you can get a good idea of what an unpleasant place it was, and the job was so-so at best. Definitely a place to leave. Syracuse had served its purpose for both of us.
We did leave in 1963 for Binghamton and this time we rented half of a duplex, so that was a step up. Marge had finished college and was able to make friends in Binghamton. We bought the house in Vestal in 1965. It was a nice place to live in but about 40 years old in an established area. There were no local amenities except a rather barren playground. Marge expanded her friends there and we were able to get another car so she was not dependent on me and had more freedom of movement. The school that Ingrid went to was mediocre at best.
The first 3 years at GAF (formerly Ansco) were drudgery that a technician could do easily. I received a promotion in the company to work in the larger Film Factory as a Statistician/Operation Researcher. The work was fun and challenging and the boss was very bright and good to work for. But, I was being underpaid, as were most of the people there, as the plant manager told me when I complained about my salary.
So, when I got my MS degree in 1969 from what is now Binghamton University, I shopped around, got a considerably better offer at Pa. Power and Light. I took it and we sold the Vestal house. We had put a fair amount of money in improvements and at best broke even on the sale. So, we learned some life lessons from that.
We now owned a new home, in a developing suburban community. I worked at a first-rate company, Marge did not have to work and was able to make friends with people in Coopersburg and other near-by communities. The school system was good and Louise was able to go to a pre-school. We were slowly moving up the ladder.
We still had simmering personal differences that were with us for decades. Unconsciously we compensated for this by assuming the roles of concerned parents. All in all we were making progress fitting into the life styles that we had expected.
That’s enough for now. More thrills, chills, and adventures to follow later.