January 16, 2020 Things Change - But Not Our Love of the Outdoors by Karen Gradel
For a while now Barbara Wiemann has been organizing and digitizing the Club’s archives. I was interested in seeing how the club has changed over the years, so I took the 1st box that covered 1931 to 1943 home.
The box is filled with meeting minutes, pictures, membership lists, newspaper articles and more. I started reading the first minutes and found that the first meeting was held Wednesday, Dec 2nd 1931 at Allentown City Hall. At that meeting the first officers were elected and the members picked the name as Allentown Hiking Club and set the fee to join the club at $1.00. They decided on a schedule of 2 Saturday hikes, one Sunday hike and a business meeting every month. The club’s first hike was Dec 6th to the Pinnacle. They were informed they were responsible for maintaining of the Appalachian Trail from New Tripoli-Tamaqua Rd seven and a half miles west to Tri County Corner.
A big difference is how the hikes were scheduled. There was a Program committee comprised of 3 members that would create a hike schedule for the next 3 months. The upcoming hikes were announced at the meeting and ‘sketches and descriptions were distributed to the members.’ If there was a change in the schedule a postcard would be sent to each member detailing the change.
Photo from a hike on October 11, 1936
While reading through the minutes of the first few year’s meetings, one of the most frequent subjects for discussion was transportation. We take for granted how easy it is to get to a hike. We just get in our cars and go but back then not everyone had a car. At the January 1932 meeting it was voted that everyone on a hike give 10 cents to the treasurer for a gasoline fund. In August 1932 the club decided to hire a truck and driver who would transport hikers a distance of fifty-seven miles for $5.50. At the August 1933 meeting a motion was approved to put out a box at each hike that required a car and every one could put in what they can and then it would be divided evenly among the drivers. And in September 1934 it was agreed that the cost of transportation to the hike would be determined during the planning and be announced with each hike.
While there was a lot different there were also some things that were the same. The most obvious is our love of the outdoors. One of the other similarities is the effort to recruit new members. Today one of our main sources is Social Media but back then it was more of a word of mouth approach. At the January 1938 meeting when it was announced there were 62 members the President urged members to ‘try to interest other people and to make our club sound so interesting that other people would think it is a privilege to join.’ And in January 1939 the Club President suggested everyone bring a non-member friend to the next hike to encourage new membership. Both are also good ideas for today.
Jan. 5th., 1936 at the break of day, 18 daring pedestrians arose, packed their knapsacks with rations and reported at 7th. & Hamilton Sts. at 8:00 am to survey the hills, valley and wild life of Lowhill Township.
Twenty-three had registered for the first ramble of 1936 but ten failed to answer the roll call. Five hikers not on the list joined the robust bunch. The sky was overcast with heavy clouds, ceiling low and a cold gale from the North; not very inviting for an all day trek.
E.J. Schantz headed and Mr. John Leiby, first aide-de-camp was pathfinder and custodian of charts, maps, compass, pedometer, thermometer and the first aid kit. Messirs. Barnes, Danner, Maier and Santa Maria transported the company to Schnecksville where the cars were parked at the Buffalo Inn. Now we headed into the Trexler Game Preserve with rapid tread and collars up; the wind being stronger than in Allentown. The roads were icy and the field covered with snow, we arrived at the U.C.C. Camp and had a stroll around the dormitories and the mess hall. After a short pause, we continued on our march and found the less traveled roads had more ice, and we had to be more careful. Almost everyone expereinced [sp] some comic performance to retain a perpendicular position and about one-third of the party had a real flop including the leader. The streams were swollen much above normal and carried large pieces of ice.
At near 12 Noon, the weather changed. The clouds disappeared, the sun shone bright and calm and cheerful was the remainder of the day. We arrived at a cluster of beautiful Eastern Hemlocks at a steep incline on the banks of Mill Creek and here we tarried to cook and eat. Two of the party lost their grip on their thermos bottles which slipped into the stream below. One was recovered and the other continued with the swift current.
Our next visit was at one of Trexler's sheep ranches. Mr. Santa Maria took a group picture of the ladies each holding a lamb. Here we tested some rich cottage cheese made from sheep milk. The men in charge seemed glad to tell us about their flock and making cheese.
A few more miles and we beheld the ruins of a house and a pathetic little shack, the domicile of Mrs. Holben and her brood. Here law & order and law defiance clashed. Mr. Holben killed the late sheriff Mark Seuseubach and his deputy, Harry Siegfried with a shotgun. Later the home was burned where Holben had barricaded himself inside and he was killed by a shotgun blast.
We saw deer, pheasants, and rabbits but no elk or buffalo. it was sunset when we reached the autos and about six in the evening when we arrived home. We had tramped twenty miles on our all day outing.
The following were in the party: Misses Dorothy Hamstreet, Evelyn Newcomber, Jennie Hillaird, Helen Schaeffer, Clarissa Krommer, & Mrs. Homer Sleakel, Messers. John Leibv, Louis Bechtel, Sam Vivian, Kenneth Yocum, Henry Shields, Les Maier, H. Diehl, Sam Hillaird, Harold Barnes, Jacob Santa Maria, Mr. Danner and E. J. Schantz.
On a cold and rainy Sunday in October a group of Club members took coffee and snacks to the Trail Crew who are working on the relocation of the trail from Ashfield Rd to Lehigh Gap. They had been working on the section for 6 weeks and completed one mile of trail. The crew came from all over, including West Virginia, Michigan and Maryland.