Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hotel Bethlehem: Memorable Beauty


One night years ago, I had a brilliant dinner in Hotel Bethlehem. My husband and I still talk about that dinner and name it as one of Our Favorite Dinners of All-Time, though the food was probably not any better than food we've had in other fine places on our travels. What made it so memorable, was that Hotel Bethlehem, in the old steel town of Bethlehem Pennsylvania is truly a Place that leaves a feel on the skin, a feel on the mind.

It was unexpected really. On a business retreat in faded eastern Pennsylvania with friends, we discovered, like discovering a diamond in a drain, the thriving, artistic Main Street Community of Bethlehem, and there, the vast hulking Bethlehem Hotel that contained the Mural Ballroom, one of the most glorious rooms I've seen in the world. Great columns, sky-high ceilings, hand-painted murals of Bethlehem's heyday, at once making me breathless and able to breathe. I'll always remember how rich the piano sounded, how beautiful all my friends looked, how decadent the food tasted in that magnificent room so unexpected there in that defunct steel town, brought alive again by many who understand treasures and jewels and joy.

In Winchester last week I ran into a gentleman who told me he was born in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. "Have you heard of it?" he asked me. I smiled wide and said, "Oh yes, I love that place. I had one of the best dinners of my life in the old hotel there." And I delighted in recounting the memory, and his eyes were unexpectedly bright as he listened.

3 comments:

Mike Cunningham said...

Marilyn,

Mr. BrightEyes here. Glad to see my Hometown mentioned. Did you investigate Musikfest.org ? I just found out it's starting a week earlier this year. And like anything else there is quite a controversy. Local Paper Story and Commnets at http://tinyurl.com/cx6oe6
We also talked about the reason Bethlehem is so "Musik"ly oriented. Here's a link to a picture of the Moravian Church, where the Trombone Choir (founded 1754) plays. http://tinyurl.com/d26zda
And the Page for the Church. http://tinyurl.com/dh96xh

You know I could just go on and on about Bethlehem, It's a wonderful environment, much better than the '50s. When I remember being told "you don't want to end up working at the Steel". It was Dangerous, unhealthy and dirty. Yes, it supported almost 25K working men (very few women employees) at its peak in the WWII years and earliy in those '50s. However those numbers dwindled sadly for the local economy and now it is no more.

I am going on and on! Stop!

Mike Cunningham
http://twitter.com/mike1mb
WebHomeTown.net http://webhometown.net

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Marilyn Finnemore said...

Thank you indeed!