I’ve been thinking about all the small-scale dairy operations still in operation back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. While I did an article about Hoover’s a few years ago, it was part of a personal effort to preserve some of South Bethlehem’s history. I’m not sure that anyone has ever put together a Pictorial History of South Bethlehem or anything similar.
Over on this side of the “crick,” we had Hoover’s. There was Bish’s Village Dairy Store on Broad Street on the other side, now the location of the Leach insurance agency. For some reason when thinking of it, I always see Bobbie Andrews setting at the counter having a club sandwich.
There was probably a pretty good reason for her lunching there on a regular basis. Newspapers used to set up swaps with local businesses, trading advertising for goods and services. I would bet good money that the Bishes and Tom Andrews had this sort of arrangement.
The dairy store was a popular hangout for teens back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. For me and my little crowd, it was a good place to relax between school and home. Once we got afterschool jobs, it made a convenient refueling stop.
I was vaguely aware of something going on in a back room. Being more than a little repressed and shy as a teenager, I never checked it out because I suspected there were evil doings going on. Golly, kids might be playing pool back there or something.
Imagine my delight and surprise when Fred Anderson told me a couple of years ago what the back room was all about. He and some cronies put together something of a teen center where kids could hang out and just be themselves with a minimum of adult supervision.
I have no idea why playing pool had such a bad reputation at our house. As a result, I never picked up a cue until I was in college, and even then I felt as though I was doing something naughty and kind of edgy. This was all over an innocent piece of wood that you use to whack little balls into pockets if you’re lucky.
Back during the hard years of the Depression, my dad worked as a pin setter at the Magdovitz building’s bowling alley. That’s right. Small boys set up the pins in the days before a machine was invented to do the job.
That building burned down when I was in second grade, but I remember walking past it with my family when I was very small. Imaginary evil seeped out the door and onto the sidewalk, or at least my impressionable young brain said so. I mean, there were people bowling and playing pool in there, and goodness knows what else.
The stigma attached to bowling and pool playing didn’t make much sense to me, but my dad’s word was law. I suspect that he objected to the small wagers that people might have laid down, especially if they were underemployed and spent their free time hanging around a pool hall.
As a result, his daughter still doesn’t know how to play pool properly. She learned to bowl at the lanes in a building now occupied by Char-Val, and did well when taking bowling for a phys-ed requirement in college. Surprisingly, her soul seems to be intact.
Dad also caddied at the golf course as a young teen. He never talked about it. His daughter doesn’t know how to golf and now needs to learn for unspecified reasons.
Now, I’m not about to rush out and turn all wild in the streets. But I am curious about a few things that weren’t on my radar as a teen, and a couple that weren’t even invented yet.
For instance, the Distant fire company’s mud run intrigues me. My participation this year was limited to writing an article about it. But there’s something about unleashing my wild-woman side one last time that captures my imagination.
The Manns in Distant informed me this morning that there were more than a couple runners last year who were north of 80 years of age. I’ll be 65 next year. And now I have no excuse other than a mildly creaky knee that can be shored up with strength training and a good brace.
Let’s say I’m thinking about it. There are no guarantees that it will happen. I still tend to regard running as gym-class torture.
Still, I like the idea of refusing to settle for being just an old lady carrying a camera and a reporter’s notepad, always on the lookout for ways to annoy or embarrass the townsfolk. Heck, anybody with a small disregard for good manners and a gift for gab can do it.
I might even take up poker or playing pool or something. Stay tuned.
[Susan Kerr is a semi-retired freelance writer living in her hometown of New Bethlehem. Previously, she was the managing editor of a regional-interest magazine and a business journal in State College.]