A Glimpse into an Earlier Way of Living

A century ago the Saucon Valley was home to countless farms on which Pennsylvania German-speaking residents lived and worked.

Recently while reading "Pennsylvania German Dialect Writings and Their Writers" by Harry Hess Reichard, Ph.D., published in 1918, I was struck with the feelings of joy and appreciation due to many interviews of Saucon Valley residents who grew up on local farms within the 20th century. Their anecdotal remembrances are classic and have given me glimpses of an earlier way of living that I never had the opportunity to experience first-hand. The Gubish farm in Lower Saucon Township is one example.

Reichard cites the writings of Lee Light Grumbine who composed the following portion of a poem titled "Der Alt Dengelstock."

Dort hoert m'r laute stimme,

Die Buwe sin am schwimme,

Im Damm wird gebotzelt un' gekrische;

Un dort drunne im Krickle,

Im Loch un' er'm Brueckli,

Wahrhaftig sin sie a' am fische!

Following this, Grumbine comments as follows: "Whoever has seen a Pennsylvania-German home on a prosperous eastern-Pennsylvania farm has seen the most perfect and idyllic picture of contentment, of manly independence, of plenty, of comfort, of good cheer, of peace of body and mind that is to be seen anywhere on the face of the globe."

I'm sure that Stanley (Wally) and Gladys Wohlbach would agree. Just about everyone knows these two local citizens of Hellertown. Now, if only I can convince them to translate the above.

The rest of the story follows. The Wohlbachs gave it the "old college" (or farmers') try and a few words were apparent. Next, I consulted another friend whose identity will remain a Saucon secret. Here are the results plus some poetic license.

"The Old Scythe"

Over there my heart's voice is the lute

The boys are at swimming

In the stream there loom watercress and herbs

And around them everything crawls

In the hole beneath the bridge

The truth is where you and I fish

This brings back fond memories like "The Rock," where generations have swum in the deep and cold spring-fed swimming hole just north of the Silver Bridge and, before that, the old covered bridge over the Saucon connecting High Street, Hellertown, with Seidersville Road, long ago Lower Saucon Township.

The title suggests the many farms in these areas where the hay needed to be cut. I envision the Riegel Summer House and nearby Limekiln Church and school. Sweet memories prevail as Denman Thompson expressed in his play, "The Old Homestead." In conclusion, his words seem appropriate.

Take me back to the days when the old red cradle rocked,

In the sunshine of years that have fled,

To the good old trusty days when the door was never locked,

And we judged our neighbor's truth by what he said.


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