Fourth In A Series- A $650 Home

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(Originally published in 2002)

Today, Mr. Clyde Roberts shares some Chapman Quarries memories with our Home News readers. Clyde is a life long resident, whose family worked in the borough’s quarries.

He recalls, “In my youth, we played ball in the streets, which were all dirt. In about 1928, the street was paved. That’s when Gifford Pinchot was governor of Pennsylvania. We hung out at Cyrus Minnich’s General Store. There was no television in those days, but plenty of games of checkers. The old road had so many deep ruts, you could get lost in one. In those days you were lucky to see ten cars drive through Chapman’s.”

I asked about the homes. He said, “All the homes were owned by the Chapman Slate Company. We rented the home for eight dollars a month. When the company sold them, the renters were given first choice. My father paid $650 for the home. Not all the people bought the homes and many were sold to a Moravian Society. The Chapman Slate Company was in need of funds and wanted to sell all the homes.”

Mr. Roberts recalls, “Later they were sold for $1200. If the home had a porch, the price increased to $1600. It may be some years before we see those home prices again.

Chapman’s also had their own post office. Mail was but a short walk from Mr. Roberts’s home.

Mr. Roberts, Rev. Klingborg and Dana Ackerman kindly showed me the company rental book. Some of the monthly rates were: 1919 Thomas Seip, $8, Joseph Durs, $6, 1931 Allen Henry, $5 and Oscar Miller, $8.

The 1928 pay book listed a five and a half day week and a nine-hour day. The pay of William Beal’s, Mr. Ackerman’s grandfather was $6 a day. William Ducey worked ten-hour days in 1911 for $5.50 a day. Jack Gregory, a laborer in 1928, earned $4.50 a day and Henry Miltenberger, an early blacksmith, earned $5 a day.

When we entered World War II, Clyde Roberts enlisted in the Coast Guard. The Nazareth High graduate went to boot camp at Manhattan Beach, New York and Water Tender School in Maryland. He served on destroyer Escort DE391, protecting convoys carrying needed supplies to England. Off Block Island, Long Island, he remembers, “We spotted German submarines close to our shores and took chase. The submarine was a menace to our shipping.”

Clyde was mustered out of the Guard in 1945. Wedding bells rang in 1946 when he married Ms. Lillie Herd in Chapman Quarries Methodist Church.

Mr. Roberts spend most of his working career as a pipefitter at the Bethlehem Steel. He will always be proud of his father and relatives who labored long and hard, producing quality slate at the Chapman’s quarries.

Next time: Mr. Joseph George- a family of slaters.

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