Small Town USA, 1950 – Nazareth, Pa.

Small Town USA, 1950 – Nazareth, Pa.

photos from the petegrafton collection

‘X’ marks the spot – Nazareth, Pa.   Map: Grateful acknowledgment Collins Atlas of the World, 2003 edition.

Photos taken circa 1950 in the Nazareth, Pennsylvania area by a local press or freelance photographer, using a Speed Graphic ’45’ camera, the standard press camera of the time.

Speed Graphic 45 camera.

 4″x5″ sheet negatives were used in the press Speed Graphic 45.  The photo scanner used for the negatives reproduced here has a maximum photo scan size that results in the 4″ x 5″ being cropped. However, no significant photo details are lost, but it explains the semi-panaramic nature of the full photo that will be seen below. The format below will first show details from within the full photo, followed by the full photo itself.

How do we know this is Nazareth, PA?  The U.S. eBay vendor that I bought the negatives from described them as being taken in the Nazareth and Easton area.  Nazareth (and neighbouring Hecktown)  is confirmed in details in some of the photos. Others, with no visual identification, are assumed to be in that area.


When these photos were taken in 1950 the top movies of the year were Walt Disney’s Cinderella, King Solomon’s Mines with Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr, Spencer Tracey as The Father of the Bride, MGM’s musical Annie Get Your Gun, and Bette Davis  in the Oscar winning All About Eve. Hit tunes of 1950 included Goodnight Irene,  Nat King Cole’s Mona Lisa, The Third Man theme, from the Joseph Cotten film, and Sam’s Song from Gary and Bing Crosby.

The Jolly Vets, Old Dutch Tavern.   “Vets” is likely “Veterans”, as in Second World War.

The Jolly Vets, Old Dutch Tavern, proprietor J. Scrampf.

The Jolly Vets, Nazareth area, circa 1950.

Dutch?  “Up until the mid-1900s, a large part of Nazareth’s population was of German origin, better known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.  “Dutch” being a corruption of the word “Deutsch”, which is German for “German.” The Pennsylvania Dutch were spread throughout many counties of southern and central Pennsylvania. In addition to the modern nation of Germany, Pennsylvania Dutch from Germany, many also came from Switzerland and the Alsace, region of France.” –  With grateful acknowledgement to the Nazareth Pa Wikipedia entry.

The Al Kurtz band (and tuba player) at a formal dinner, Nazareth, circa 1950. 

Detail of the tenor player and piano player, Al Kurtz band playing at Nazareth, circa 1950.

It’s ten to eight. Waitress seen below, and on the clock “For Good Jewelery and Repairing try Saeger, Nazareth, Pa”.

Bowling and snooker at the club of Loyal Order of Moose No 623, believed to be Bloomsburg, to the north west of Nazareth. However, there is a mystery about the location as Bloomsburg is the same distance as New York is to Nazareth – fees for taking the photo would not cover the photographer’s gasoline money.  Further, there is a possibility that Lodge No 623 has since amalgamated with another Lodge.

The photographer has put their Speed Graphic on a firm surface or a tripod, and taken the photo with a long exposure time. The ghost like people have come in, or gone out of the picture, whilst the lens was open.

General view of the bowling and snooker area and bar of the Loyal Order of Moose No. 623.

Band identified by letter “J” only. This is a a larger band than the Jolly Vets and the Al Kurtz band, with a full line up of trombone, two trumpets, drummer…

.. piano player and four horn players, two with clarinets for an Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman sound.

The “J” band swings out, and what looks like a wedding cake.

Unknown location, assumed to within the Nazareth area. Fred Astaire likes Sunbeam bread.

Going by the informal nature of the clothing it is assumed that this a celebration cake, not a wedding cake. A lady slices from the tray-bake.

Youngsters in fancy dress, believed to be in the Nazareth area, 1950.

More youngsters in fancy dress, believed to be the Nazareth area, 1950.

Fancy dress for youngsters, believed to be in the Nazareth, PA area, 1950.

“Bake a Cake!” for Father’s Day window display, possibly Heckman’s Market, 1950. (I.D. on negative sleeve, assuming the I.D. and the negative aren’t mismatched)

Bake a Cake for Father’s Day and glimpse of a 1940s auto. Possibly Heckman’s Market.

Window display at possibly Heckman’s Market, circa 1950.

Atlas Tires & Accesories, car items shop with large flower display in window.

Atlas tubes and Esso Products in a shop with large floral display in the window.  The poster is advertising the 3rd Carnival of Hecktown Firemen and Sportsmen.

3rd Annual Carnival, Hecktown Firemen & Sportsmen poster, circa 1950.

The Hecktown Volunteer Fire Company was founded in 1917 and serves the Lower Nazareth Township. See

Window full of flowers, Atlas products and a poster for Hecktown Firemen and Sportsmen 3rd Annual Carnival. Circa 1950.

Formal photo of Young Girl Scouts, believed to be in the Nazareth area, circa 1950.

Formal photo of Young Girl Scouts believed to be in the Nazareth area, circa 1950.

Young Girl Scouts (Brownies) believed to be in the Nazareth area, circa 1950.

A former British Girl Guide comments on the above photos, based on her experience of being a Brownie then Guide (Scout in the US) in the U.K. 1950s/1960s.    “I am surprised that they have not got more badges on the uniform but then it is possibly a new pack. The girls at the back without uniforms have not yet been enrolled….a wee ceremony after you have learned your brownie promise etc. Only then do you get to wear the uniform! There are a lot of new ones so maybe just starting up.” (1.)

“They Gave. Will you?”. Teens, Nazareth/Easton area, circa 1950.

“America’s Token of Thankfulness – Wear a Poppy”.  Teens and adult, Nazareth/Easton area, circa 1950.

“These Co-operative Merchants are working with Santa”.  J.M.Kieffer, Hobby Hang Out, Litwak’s Juvenile Sore, Grube Betts Sporting Goods, Sherwood Products Co.  Toys for Christmas display, believed to be 1950. Nazareth area.

Christmas toys display, Nazareth area, 1950. A small toy rocking horse and a MIG 15 jet fighter.

Detail of Christmas display: a boxed Russian MIG 15 (left).

The inclusion of a Russian MIG 15 model in the display suggests the year is 1950.  The MIG 15 jet fighter came into service of the Red airforce in 1949, and at the start of the Korean war (1950) was the fastest jet fighter in the world, outclassing  U.S. aircraft until the North American F-86 Sabre was introduced. It is not known whether there was a US news embargo on reporting the superiority of the MIG 15 until it was countered by the F-86 Sabre. On the display box the MIG 15 has just downed an unidentified plane.  It’s possible that in a 1951 Childrens Christmas Toys display the MIG 15 model would not be displayed.

TV repair shop with Motorola Television poster and man at repair/assembley work. Believed to be the Nazareth/Easton area, circa 1950.

Shelves in a TV repair workshop, Nazareth/Easton area, circa 1950. Note the partly assembled valve TV.

TV aerials reaching for the sky, Nazareth, circa 1950.

After the Second World War  TV developed quickly in the United States and by 1950 there were those in Hollywood who saw the danger of TV taking audiences away from their movies. This gave a boost to colour movies, wide-screen presentations and experiments with 3D film. At the time of writing, 2019, no U.S. company manufactures TVs from US made parts.

Pet Snatchers from Outer Space. Nazareth, 1950.

“Give us your pets, or else!”. Nazareth, 1950.

“You have one minute to hand them over! Or else.” Nazareth, 1950.

The high elevation of the downward looking shot suggests a flying saucer. Presumably the photographer is up a step-ladder. He’s using a strong flash – note the shadows.  Unpleasant aliens/beings from Outer Space threatening Earth were to become a theme of many 1950s Hollywood movies. Human bodies and not pets were snatched in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

Setting off for a winter wedding in the snow. Believed to be in the Nazareth area, circa 1950.

… Setting off for a double winter wedding in the snow. Believed to be the Nazareth area, circa 1950.

Setting off for a double wedding in the winter snow, believed to be Nazareth PA, circa 1950.

One and one makes two, two and two makes four, four and four….  Formal photograph of a large family. Believed to be in the Nazareth area, circa 1950.

The young baby girl in the photo above will be, in 2019,  approximately seventy years old, four years younger than the writer of this Post.


The Moravian Church, Nazareth. Vintage postcard.

The Lutheran Church, Nazareth, Pa. Vintage postcard.

Cement works, Nazareth, Pa circa 1908.

The present population of Nazareth is around 5,746.  Nazareth was created in 1740 by religious Moravian immigrants from Germany.

In terms of jobs, historically cement mills have been a large employer in the area.

In addition, a world-wide name for excellence in acoustic guitars, Martin guitars were founded in Nazareth in 1833 by German emigre Christian Frederick Martin. The Martin headquarters and primary factory are still in Nazareth. Contemporary players of the Martin guitar include Ed Sheeran. Back in the 1960s Martin guitars were favourites with singer-songwriter Jackson C Frank (born 1943, Buffalo, N.Y.), who took a boat to England and in 1965 recorded an LP in London, with Paul Simon producing.

1908: A workshop in the C.F.Martin & Co factory. Photo Unknown. Source pininterest.

Martin & Co Inc., Nazareth.  Photo  Grateful acknowledgment C.F.Martin & Co.

A young Jackson C Frank with Elvis, Graceland, Memphis.



  1. My thanks to Elspeth Wight for her thoughts re. the photos of the young Girl Scouts.

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11 Responses to Small Town USA, 1950 – Nazareth, Pa.

  1. Elspeth Wight says:

    Hi, I enjoyed the post! I spotted a couple of date clues. In the carnival if the weeks events ran Monday to the Sat with the big event being Sat ( like our gala days) , then you are right it was 1950. But the Xmas photos of toys was 1951 if you ask Siri what days of the week 22 nd Dec was in 1951. It confirms Sat as it says on the poster! Fun detective work! I do hope you get some comments! E.

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Ben Miller says:

    The Old Dutch Tavern was on 2nd Street in Catasauqua


  3. Ben Miller says:

    The Al Kurtz Orchestra is playing at the Catasauqua American Legion in the picture you displayed. Adolf “Al” Kurtz was an Allentown resident, owner of Allentown Glass and Paint, and he played with his orchestra strictly in Allentown, Whitehall, and Catasauqua.


  4. Ben Miller says:

    Heckman’s Market, owned by Eugene Heckman, was on S. 4th Street in Allentown. He passed away in 1984.


  5. Ben Miller says:

    Several photos you posted include a two-level area with tile and carpet floor, with a cutout in the wall and wooden balusters. One photo talks about local stores working with Santa. That is the State Theater in Easton, PA and the stores mentioned are also in Easton, PA


  6. petegrafton says:

    Ben – Many, many thanks for your identification of places and background information. Very much appreciated. – Pete.


  7. Christina Brodt says:

    The photo of the young man playing sax with the Vets is my great Uncle Albert Meixner!


  8. petegrafton says:

    Lovely to hear about your Great Uncle Albert Meixner, Christina.


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