"The Soda Shop"
After the success of “Old Home Week”, the desire from the Slate Belt community for an encore mural was immediate. More than just an image, residents recognized that the process of creating a public mural- the design, visioning and realization, energized the community.
It became a source for recollections of old stories, reflection on times past and the recalling of the people and places that are the core of a community’s sense of itself.
Fortunately, “Old Home Week” could provide a financial foundation as well for the next project. As planned, poster sales of the mural provided seed money for the project. Along with a grant from the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and an investment from the building owner, Paul Huggins, as well as other community support, the design process could begin.
The site selection, on the side of a local business “Dinky’s Ice Cream Parlor” provided the inspiration. Bangor was active in the heyday of the 1950s, the era of sock hops and visits to the soda fountain. The request went out for photos and stories.
The call was answered by the teens of the era. Now in their 70’s, this core group of residents dusted off yearbooks and opened up shoe boxes to begin to recollect. They were high school sweethearts who would meet at the local soda fountain to play records and socialize, and they provided the photos and stories that became the basis of the design.
Thomas “Doc” Leverington, and Harry Delano “Del” Callie were proprietors of the most popular hang-outs in Bangor. In the mural, a little artistic license allows them to work the counter together, and the rest of the composition is filled with faces from this bygone era.
As with the two prior murals, “Our Town” and “Old Home Week”, “The Soda Shop” was painted by local students. From age 10 to 17, these teens and pre-teens were able to engage with the “teens” of the past while learning elements of mural design and painting. From perspective to paint composition, layout and glazing techniques, students explored practical painting design and technique.
A film workshop with independent film maker Adam Benn, provided further lessons to the group as they recorded the oral histories of their subjects. Their tales of living life without cell phones and computers amazed the young artists, while other stories of teen romances and mischief let them know that some things never change.
The success of the dedication ceremony for “Old Home Week” with its procession of re-enactors in period clothing was replicated on “The Soda Shop” dedication day, this time with 1950’s cars and poodle skirts. The nine teens depicted in the painting all attended, some wearing their original varsity sweaters and clothing of the era. Over 150 were in attendance.