It seemed like everyone was outside enjoying the fine weather on March 21 when the Palmerton Area Historical Society was holding its Founders' Day at the Heritage Center. But gradually the room filled with people who wanted to congratulate the society on its achievements or find out more about it.
Sister Virginia Stephanie, principal of St. John Neumann Regional School, along with Palmerton resident Tammy Bubser came bringing flowers to accompany their good wishes.
"We came just to celebrate, to congratulate you for 20 years," said Sister Stephanie.
Larry Yeakel, along with wife Darlene, was the first president of the society. He was among the first of the officers to be there to answer questions at a "meet and greet" with early officers.
In a display case is the original seal of the society. A newspaper article about the founding of the society listed the first officers as Yeakel, president; Dennis Smith, vice president; Kathy Long, secretary; and John Parsons, treasurer.
On the board of directors were Gary Curran, William Pitt and Kermit Geary Jr. There were 30 charter members.
Betsy Burnhauser, secretary, said Palmerton was the first to have a historical society.
"When we started, a lot of others came," she said.
The original name was Lehigh Gap Historical and Preservation Society and Museum Inc. because there was no society south of the Gap. Now that there are several in the southern locations, the name was changed to Palmerton Area Historical Society and includes the four municipalities of the Palmerton School District.
Peter Kern said he had offices in many of the buildings belonging to New Jersey Zinc Company, including a new 40,000 square foot lab near the intersection of Routes 22 and 512. There was a smaller 10,000 square foot pilot building. One morning he went to work and the smaller building was no longer there. A huge sinkhole had swallowed it.
Kern said 50 umbrellas were purchased to sell as a fundraiser. One is on display in the Heritage Center. It was pointed out to the company who supplied them that Palmerton was spelled wrong. The company did not want the wrong ones returned. It merely replaced them with corrected ones. The misspelled ones brought higher prices than the correct ones.
Permanent displays include the chain bridge, Zinc Company, farming, the Horsehead story, the Neighborhood House and its focus on health and education, Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls who went to Sparta, N.J., where New Jersey Zinc held a summer camp and the birth of Palmerton in a display entitled A Town Taking Root.
The temporary display is about the society and how it grew.
An early slogan for the town was "Palmerton People Prosper." They (residents) held high religious and moral values with a strong work ethic, said a posted story.
Among future anniversary events will be a visit to the archives, a walking tour around the park, a visit to the Kibler School, and a celebratory banquet open to the public to be held Saturday, April 24, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., at First United Church of Christ, 457 Delaware Ave., Palmerton. Tickets may be purchased at the Heritage Center or the Palmerton Library.
George Ashman, who points out that he is not a member of the board of directors but attends because he heads several committees, brought a message from Dennis Smith, the first vice president, saying "I'm pleased to see how it has developed."
For more information check www.palmertonhistorical.org. Membership forms are available at the Heritage Center."We are always looking for new members," said Jim Burnhauser, a member of the board of directors.
Meetings are held every second Monday either at the Knights Gallery on the second floor of the library or on the road.