Whitehall-Coplay Press

Sunday, February 16, 2020
Anthony Pany works on the Smith farm in East Allen Township in 1930. Anthony Pany works on the Smith farm in East Allen Township in 1930.
Photos courtesy of Bob Mentzell and Larry OberlyCorn is planted on the Smith farm using a horse-drawn planter in 1931. Photos courtesy of Bob Mentzell and Larry OberlyCorn is planted on the Smith farm using a horse-drawn planter in 1931.
William Smith stands proudly on his farm. William Smith stands proudly on his farm.
Farmworkers are busy collecting wood for winter. Farmworkers are busy collecting wood for winter.

Remembering: Anthony Pany’s life on the farm

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by Ed Pany Curator, Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum in Columns

A few weeks ago, Bob Mentzell, a friend, former outstanding teacher at Northampton High School and current school board member, forwarded this writer a series of photographs showing my father, Anthony Pany, working on the Smith farm in East Allen Township during the Great Depression.

Anthony emigrated to the United States as a youth from Austria. His education in this new country was limited. In order to help his large family, he was hired as a farm hand on the Smith farm.

The series of photographs depicts farm life in the ’30s. Farm life was quite different during that era. Agriculture lacked the modern equipment of today’s farms. Manual labor performed many of the daily chores.

They still used horses to supplement their first tractor, a solid steel McCormack tractor on steel-spiked wheels. There was no automatic starter. A hand crank was used to start the tractor.

Corn was planted with a two-row horse-drawn planter. The farm was in excess of 100 acres, so days were long. The work day had no set hours. You worked until the fields were planted and harvested.

The farm raised corn, wheat, oats and alfalfa. The crops were needed to support the dairy herd, and the excess was sold. Prices were very low during the ’30s.

All cows were milked manually, and the milk was hauled to the Northampton Sanitary Dairy.

Corn was husked by hand, so the harvest, on occasion, continued until the first snowfall. Hay was not baled but rather loaded on wagons with trusty pitch forks. The farm had a Model T truck and automobile.

During the summer, wood was sawed and split for the long winters. They did not have chain saws!

The home was a solid stone structure. There was no central heating system. The kitchen stove was the main source of heat. Water would freeze in the upstairs bedroom on those cold winter nights. Heavy blankets and feather ticks kept you warm.

My father rarely left the farm. The radio, checkers and cards were the major sources of entertainment. My father recalled hearing Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” radio show, which was so realistic it frightened many listeners. Welles directed the Mercury Theatre radio dramatizations.

After years on the farm, Anthony would be employed by the Universal Atlas Cement Company and worked there for 35 years.

He always reflected on his days on the farm even when he was employed at Atlas. He remained loyal to William Smith and continued to help him on the farm.