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Robert Weisel vs. Robert Weisel

Two men with the same name lived just miles apart, but apparently never met.

Seldom do two men with the same name lead parallel lives in nearby communities without being aware of each other.

Post-World War I, minstrel show comedies became very popular in Coopersburg and the Coopersburg Dramatic Club even competed against the Muhlenberg College thespians. Joseph Bechtel began the shows in Coopersburg in 1921 and "Front Page" was selected for competition with Bob Weisel playing the role of the telegraph operator, according to the history book, "Coopersburg, the Town of Possibilities," published in 1979 and written by Evelyn Borger for the Coopersburg Historical Society. In Hellertown, it was Bob Weisel's younger brother and WWI veteran, Herb Weisel, who was the Weisel family's actor for American Legion productions that went "big time" after the completion of Ackerman Post 397's Legion Community Building in 1927.

Brother Robert Weisel, who had built his first house just south of the new Legion building, decided to move his family to northwest Hellertown on Jefferson Street because he knew that there would be too much commotion coming from their new neighbor, the Legion.

While working at Bethlehem Steel, he constructed two identical bungalow kit homes north of his in-laws' homestead, one to house his family and the other for his brother-in-law, Lewis Kies. Today in 2012 the Weisel bungalow is occupied by the Mosher family, originally from Coopersburg, John and Kristen having graduated from Southern Lehigh. These ties between Hellertown and Coopersburg are uncanny.

According to "Coopersburg...," Robert C. Weisel in 1979, at the age of 87, stated that his great-grandfather, George Blank, had served as Justice of the Peace. Next, his uncle, Frank Haring, served in the same capacity. Then Weisel followed in the family tradition, serving as J.P. for 48 consecutive years. His cases included those of "non-support, beating of wives, 'fallouts' over horse deals, fathering of illegitimate children" and so forth. His home at 545 Thomas Street included his office, where his wife Elsie witnessed wedding ceremonies. Their daughters, Betty and Doris, recalled some out-of-control offenders who were delivered by the state police and managed to tear apart the office.

Bob Weisel also worked as the Coopersburg News reporter for the Morning Call for 23 years. He became Borough Treasurer and president of the fire company (source of Weisel data found on pp. 99 and 123-124 of "Coopersburg...").

Robert Weisel of Hellertown led a quiet, non-public life. He was an excellent carpenter who built four homes, the last at 824 Detweiler Avenue, where his father Ed Weisel, the town's harness maker, and his wife spent their retirement. The couple had one daughter, Beatrice, who eventually married Guy Weidner from Hellertown.

As far as his grandson, this writer, remembers, Weisel belonged to one of the town's many fraternal groups, but only for a short time. His vocation was steel-working, operating one of the hot saws at the Bethlehem Steel's Saucon plant. He never learned to drive an automobile but bought several Chevys during his time while depending on his daughter, son-in-law and steelworker friends for transportation. His wife, Elizabeth (Kies) Weisel, kept an immaculate home for the three-generation household.

Mrs. Weisel was a longtime member of Hellertown's branch of the Betsy Ross Club and was not hesitant to attend Borough Council meetings when she strongly objected to council's actions or inaction. Her grandson inherited this trait from his grandmother.

Bob Weisel's man avocations included woodworking, fishing and gardening, while being able to repair just about anything except for new appliances, which exploded on the scene during his lifetime in the latter part of the 19th century and the 20th century. He was a quiet man with strong family traditional Pennsylvania German values. He led a productive non-public life, setting a good law-abiding example for his only grandchild.

As far as this writer knows, neither Robert Weisel ever crossed the path of the other, despite living only a short distance away from each other.

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