You won’t need Stewie’s time machine, a Star Trek transporter or even Mr. Peabody’s WABAC contraption. Just take a stroll inside , a store in the Tilghman Square Shopping Center in South Whitehall that specializes in antiques and collectables, and escape to a bygone time and place.
You might find yourself in a simpler, less stressful time, or, before you know it, transported an hour or so into the future. It's one way to remember, dream and escape from the here and now.
On a recent tour, I traveled back to the 1970s and 80s, when Allentown’s famous Hess’s department store and its Patio restaurant stood as beacons of success in a booming downtown. Seeing the logo pins the waitresses used to wear ($15), a Patio silver fork and spoon ($27.50), pack of napkins ($10) and kids’ placemats ($9), I could almost taste that mile-high-strawberry pie.
Spinning the dial back another decade, I found President John F. Kennedy’s likeness on a decorative salt shaker and, indicative of the times before women‘s lib, the likeness of “Mrs. John F. Kennedy” on the pepper shaker. Also, Hummel figurines and tailor’s chalk like my mother used to keep.
A box of marbles reminded me of my childhood, when my cousins and I would collect and trade the pretty glass shooters as if they were valuable commodities. Apparently they are, as the small container marked “clay and glass, some rare,“ was selling for $79! (Donna and Jim, do you still have yours?)
From the 1950s and 1960s: crocheted doilies, the kind that adorned all of my grandparents’ furniture; decorative handkerchiefs; and hats with veils, feathers and mink. And nearby, an old hard-sided suitcase to store all the dress-ups. For a few dollars and a bit of imagination, kids could have a ball (and a history lesson) dressing like Mamie Eisenhower or “Mrs. Kennedy.”
Learning in those days relied on another treasure inside the Crafters: a full set of hard-bound Funk and Wagnall encyclopedias ($35). And let’s not forget record-players and floor-model radios.
History buffs might find a framed portrait of a soldier in uniform, labeled “Arch B. Johnston 1919.” A tag noted he was the first mayor of Bethlehem. Also, “soldier of the world” dolls from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s help visitors visualize the styles of each era.
Other local artifacts included a Neuweiler beer bottle, Mack bulldog and Pennsburg pottery.
If time travel is not your cup of tea, there’s always the hand-crafted side of the store, with one-of-a-kind gifts for the hard-to-buy-for: candles, soaps, knitted sweaters for children and teddy bears, a cutting board with the Steeler’s logo in inlaid wood, pens made from deer antlers; and collectibles to bid on, like a Zorro lunch box and American Flyer sled with runners. Delights in textures, smells and craftsmanship.
4636 Broadway, South Whitehall
Store hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday noon-5 p.m.