Hazleton Area Business Citizen March 2014 - Page 25
Promoting a free market in the Greater Hazleton Area
Lite and a Little Off
My friend Bernie and I were talking about the Hazleton
streets which we grew up on, and how some of those street
names had obvious backgrounds while others seemed just
plain made up. Bernie grew up on Broad Street. Bernie said
that, in the early days of Hazleton most people walked in order to get from one place to another and that “Broad” was an
I thought I was thinking the same as Bernie because I said
that “Broad” was indeed obvious, because the thoroughfare is
Bernie said I was an idiot.
He said that more females than males used that street back
then to get to where they were going, and since those early
days were chauvinistic, the width of the street had nothing to
do with the name.
What is obvious to Bernie is rarely obvious to me.
I grew up on Hayes Street, which I said was named after
one of our 19th century presidents. Bernie reminded me that
I was an idiot and corrected me straight away.
He again referenced Hazleton’s early days when automobiles did not yet exist and transportation was, other than walking, performed by horse and horse towed carriages of all types.
Like the gasoline of today, hay was the gas which fueled those
four legged “engines.” Many hay depots existed on that street
and people began calling the street “Hay Depots Street.” After
a while the common practice of shortening long names took
hold, and “Hay Depots Street” became just “Hayes Street.”
Standing corrected, we continued our conversation about
the origins of the names of Hazleton streets. Church Street, he
said, was named for the numerous Chinese street urchins who
congregated there waiting for train rides to New York City
after working on the many rail ways which were constructed in
Pennsylvania in the 1800’s. “Chinese Urchin Street” eventually
became just “Church Street.”
I was going to say something about the road being called
Church Street because of the number of important churches
which were built there and which still exist today, but I thought
better and kept my mouth shut.
Bernie then told me about Pardee Street. Originally a back
alley full of shacks where off duty miners would hold after
hour celebrations, this street was known as the “Party Street.”
The miners would, after their long shifts in the shafts of Stockton, be know to say in a raucous manner “ Time to Par-Tee!”,
with elongated emphasis on the first syllable of the word followed by an abrupt loud second syllable. Bernie said that eventually “Par-Tee” became “Pardee” due to the Italian-Slovak
linguistic anomaly of pronouncing “t” sounds as “d” sounds
as in “lets go dair” as compared to “lets go there”.
I said that people often mis-pronounce “th” sounds, not
“t” sounds, as “d’s”. Bernie said I should never split hairs.
March 1, 2014
This time I spoke up and told Bernie that Pardee Street
was named after an important Coal Barron who developed
the mining industry in the area. Bernie became incredulous
and chastised me. I apologized once again, and after he calmed
down we continued our conversation about the origins of the
names of Hazleton streets.
Bernie suggested we go to the Key Club on Nanny Goat
hill for some refreshments. He knew somebody who was a
member of the Club so we were to meet him there and gain
entrance to that prestigious establishment. Not just any body
gets to go the Key Club.
Driving up to the club Bernie continued his history lesson
on the route we took. We traveled north on Cedar Street—
named after a tree, then turned right on Diamond Ave.—
named after a rock—and finally left onto Monges Street.
I agreed with Bernie that Cedar and Diamond were most
probably named after a tree and a rock respectively. Why
streets in Hazleton would be named after a tree which grows
out west and expensive rocks which are mined in South Africa
is beyond me, but who am I to argue.
The history of Monges Street is a little more culinary in
nature, according to Bernie. Like most of the streets in this
section of the city, Monges Street was settled primarily by Italian immigrants. Some of the older houses still have kitchens
in the basements, known colloquially as “summer kitchens”.
Many pounds were gained and many arteries clogged in those
places. But any way, when people would go to visit somebody,
invariably everybody would be in the summer kitchen cooking,
and when entering the kitchen, they would be greeted with
a hearty command to eat in a mix of Italian and English –
“Mangi please!” Eventually this too was shortened and kind
of anglicized to Monges.
Bernie and I spent some time at the Key Club until our
host got tired of our company and decided to leave. We exited
with him and decided we’d go to West Hazleton to Bottlenecks
for further refreshment and further street conversation.
Like Hazleton, some of the streets in West Hazleton
are named after famous people. There is Madison Avenue—
named after Dolly as in the snack cake, Harvey Street—the
invisible rabbit, and Warren Street—where the rabbit lived.
West Hazleton has a Broad Street too. I couldn’t help but
argue that the street was named that way simply because it was
wide in the style of a European Grand Boulevard.
Bernie became angry and told me he had had enough of
my intransigence and said that if I wasn’t going to learn from
his vast knowledge of street history, he would rather that I just
I agreed. A lot of the streets in West Hazleton are beyond
pronunciation anyway, and besides, I was tired. A person can
only learn so much in one day.