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Baby Boom Baby

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My parents, Russel and Jean Rutman, bought their house at 2122 Blossom Lane in Beth-Allen Gardens in 1958, when the house was only a few years old. They were the second owners. Beth-Allen Gardens was one of the first post-World War II housing tracts in Bethlehem. The neighborhood was overrun with Baby Boom kids. I remember at least 30 just on our street, which only has 24 houses on it. Most of us attended Clearview Elementary School or Notre Dame of Bethlehem School (and yes, we walked to school!), followed by Nitschmann Junior High School (we were bused there). Before 1967, kids from Beth-Allen Gardens attended Liberty High School or Bethlehem Catholic High School. After Freedom High School was completed, public-school kids from our neighborhood went there, but the boundaries were changed about 1974 and those kids once again went to Liberty.

The families on our street represented a wide range of nationalities. I remember Polish, Italian, Hungarian, Slovak, Pennsylvania Dutch, German Jewish, Welsh, and Scottish surnames among them.

The house would be in our family until 1999, when my father passed away. He made many improvements over that time, including adding a garage, enclosed rear porch, front patio, and raised garden bed. The three bedrooms and single bathroom in our 1,200-square-foot house were divvied up among two adults and four kids—my brother, Jerry; my sisters, Patti and Susan; and me (everyone but me is shown in the attached photo). It was a tight squeeze, but somehow it never felt crowded. We didn't accumulate as much stuff back then. The open ranch design provided good air flow that kept the house relatively cool without central air conditioning (though we added that later). The homes in Beth-Allen were partially sided with asbestos shingles (little did we know!) and were very solidly built, with maple hardwood flooring throughout. There was also a full basement, which we divided into a laundry and sewing area, a workshop, and a playroom.

The Beth-Allen Gardens subdivision includes the following alphabetical streets: Aster Road, Blossom Lane, Cypress Road, Dogwood Lane, Eden Lane, Fleur Lane, Grove Road, Hedgerow Lane, and Iris Place. Iris Place is a circle with no outlet that bypasses the original homestead belonging to the farm that was subdivided to make the development. Each 1/4-acre lot was a piece of the American Dream.