This final column concludes our visit to the Bath Museum with a community with over 200 years of history.
We were happy when Japan surrendered in August 1945, “V-J Day,” WWII was officially over. Men and women returned to their homes and family celebrations were held worldwide. In Bath it was a return to civilian life. There was a G.I. bill to help veterans adjust to civilian life.
Men and women married, homes were sold and new ones built, and new families created. Veterans returned to their jobs at Bethlehem Steel, cement plants, Mack Trucks, family farms and many other companies. A new booming industry, the garment industry, provided thousands of jobs for women.
We hoped the end of World War II would end world conflict, what an impossible dream! Bath would send 24 men and women to serve during the Korean War and 27 in the long Vietnam struggle. Many were sons and daughters of fathers who had served in World War II.
A day Bath old timers will never forget was the Flood of 1945. July 9, 1945 was one of the biggest storms the borough has ever encountered. There were high winds, hail, torrential rain; six inches fell, overflowing the Monocacy Creek. The first floors of both the Bath Hotel and the Slate Exchange Hotel were filled with water. In the Seem apartment, a resident was evacuated by a stretcher and the Spengler Barbershop was pushed off its foundation.
The cleanup was intense. Twenty-five German prisoners of war from the Tobyhanna Army Barracks were brought in to Bath to aid in the cleanup. To their shock and surprise, some Pennsylvania Dutchmen in Bath were able to converse with them.
This writer and my friend Larry Oberly have attempted to give a brief look back at a community with over 200 years of history. We do not compare to Asa McIlhaney, who penned Bath’s first history from 1728-1901. Asa taught school for over 50 years; he was both a school board president and writer. Bath has faced many problems during its history, but it has been sustained by its citizens, volunteers, historical society, churches, schools, fire department, American Legion, fraternal organizations and a government dedicated to keeping Bath a friendly community.