Tuesday, June 10, 2014

“Work, Work, Work:” Lehighton’s Baking Past -Post #3 of 3

It is believed that many bakeries began baking a pastry similar to Lehighton’s “Persian” after World War I.  It is widely accepted that it was originally created to honor the tough and well-loved Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing.  His last name was somehow altered into the misnomer of the “Persian” pastry.

Young's Bakery Original Location - Below what was known as George Stocker's garage at Second and Ochre and above Fisher Pontiac at First and Ochre, prior to World War II.  Courtesy of T.L. Gregory. 

If Lehighton has a pop-culture baking legacy, it would be the Young “Persian” Doughnut.  The Young family made it a staple treat in Carbon County, making it distinctly their own.  Take an iced cinnamon roll with a dollop of raspberry jelly and you have it. 

(This story is Post #3 of 3 posts on early Lehighton Business.  Please check out the previous two posts as well: #1: Connecting the Dots of Lehighton Business and #2: Lehighton's Vibrant Business Moves Forward.)

We know a few things: James Oliver Young (center, on chair) was as tough as nails.  Many of the men he led into battle
from Lehighton sung his praises.  He came home more or less unscathed, but the war instilled a bit of restlessness in him.  The 1930 census, just after his mother died, showed him living in the Carbon County Prison.  He dropped in on his brother Marcus the baker from time to time, where he was always welcomed.  He'd work there for a stretch until the rumblings of rambling once again took him away.  He fought under General Pershing and some say that this is how Marcus came to create Young's "Persian" doughnut.  We have been able to identify several in this photo of the WWI lads on the night before they shipped out on July 13, 1917.  Can you help us identify more?  Please contact me.  - Numa Snyder, fourth from right, first row.
A list as it appeared in the Lehighton Press
the following day, July 13, 1917.

Marcus Valentine Young was the Young’s Bakery patriarch.  His older brother James O. was one tough cookie.  He not only fought in WWI, but he established himself as a fighting man along the border war with Mexico and Pancho Villa just before the war. 

He had just the right experience to lead the first group of Lehighton men to march off to that war.  And so he did. 

Even years after his death men who served under James came into the bakery with stories of the stone-cold bravery he exhibited.  It is here, through the experience of his brother James, that Marcus was inspired to create this well-known treat.  (There will be more on the Young family military history later.) 

This post will focus on three of Lehighton’s most important baking families, each playing a significant role in Lehighton’s baking legacy: The Kennels, the Blazevichs and the Youngs.

Had it not been for several small tragedies in each of these families, Lehighton may have missed out on this specialty pastry. 

Baking is far from a “cupcake” job.  All these families worked extremely hard, for the business was relentless.  The exhausting early morning hours of hauling hundred pound sacks of flour over a shoulder, the hours of standing while mixing the batches of dough, molding bread by hand at the table, or shuffling loaves in and out of a hot oven every twenty-five minutes, make the baker a slave to both his dough and to the fire of his oven. 

One key root of the Lehighton baking family tree reaches back to North Whitehall Township in Lehigh County.  The Kennel family was one of the frontier families who settled along the Coplay Creek in the early 1700s. 

The Charles Kennel Bakery:
This early Kennel Bakery ad helps date the start of the venture he
started with his mother Alice.

Jacob and Susanna (Schneck) Kennel were farmers and raised their family together starting with Elias (b. 1819), Aaron (b. 1823), Paul (b. 1828), David (b. 1830) and Jonas (b. 1832).  At some point before Jacob’s death 1868, he and his son Elias started a sawmill along the Coplay Creek near Wotring’s grist mill.  

Walter Kennel was born to Aaron and Gloria in 1860.  However Walter would be orphaned by the age of three.  His father died by 1863 and his mother died sometime before that. Walter then moved in with his widowed uncles David and Jonas Kennel on their farm in Neffs. 

By 1880, he had left the family farm and sawmill and was living with and working at Reuben Semmel’s tannery in North Whitehall Township.

Walter married Alice and they had just one child: Charles Kennel, born in 1885.  Walter, like his own parents, died a premature death in 1893.  Walter was just thirty-three and Charles was just eight. 

By 1900, Charles and his mother Alice were still living next to Semmel’s Tannery, though by now it was being run by Reuben’s son Oliver.  Alice was making do as a “house keeper.”  Although Charles was well into what was considered working age at fifteen, Alice could afford to keep him in school rather than force him out to work and contribute to the family income.

By 1910, Charles and Alice were living in Slatington.  He was working as a telegraph operator for the Lehigh Valley Railroad and she was not working.  Still working the telegraph for the railroad, they were living at 122 South Second Street in Lehighton by 1917.  Charles was unmarried at thirty-three and his mother was fifty-two.  Charles and Alice lived this way while he was still with the railroad until about 1925.
Charlie Kennel stands in front of his bakery delivery sedan.  He employed
Marcus Young at his three-story brick factory, later to be named the
"Lehigh Valley Baking Factory."

By then the Kennels were making a move into the baking business.  It has been said that Alice Kennel, not Charles, built the large three-level brick building that would become first Kennel’s Bakery and later Lehigh Valley Baking Factory.  It is unclear though how this young widow came upon the money to do so.  The building still stands there today as a storage unit.

The bakery was more than a neighborhood bakery, it was a baking factory.  It had two ovens with a combined capacity to bake 500 loaves of bread at a time.  Given the twenty-five minute bake time, Kennel’s bakery could produce 1,000 loaves an hour.  By 1930, Kennel’s bakery had three-shifts and employed nine men plus others who ran the bakery route.  (In 1933, the bakery was known to employ five men.)
From the 1926 Lehighton High yearbook.

Despite the widespread use of the car and truck, from the 1930s on up to 1940, one of Kennel’s delivery men still delivered bread by horse and carriage.  Edward Christman, who lived on Alum Street near the First Ward school, made a living in this way, selling loaves of bread, five-cents at a time. 

(My own grandfather, Calvin Haas, ran three such bread routes.  One was for George Strohl’s Bakery in the late 1920s.  He earned enough money to eventually build his own grocery store at the corner of Fifth and Coal Streets - see Haas post by clicking here)

George Strohl's Bakery pre-dated Young's Bakery just two doors to the right
in this picture from Mahoning Street.  This structure has been torn down
and was rebuilt as a multi-unit apartment building not much bigger than
what is seen here.  There is a professional building and parking lot
to the right.  The home with the towers across the street was also
owned by Strohl.

At the end of each day, Christman would unhitch his horse from the delivery wagon and park it in the garage behind Kennel’s bakery.  It was a daily ritual each knew well.  The horse would walk on his own, unescorted, up the alley.  He’d find his stable, walk into his stall, and wait to be fed. 

The size of Kennel’s operation was considerable.  The lower level was used for storage.  Kennel would purchase an entire freight car of 100-pound sacks of flour.  He would hire draymen “Benner and Hartung,” John Benner and Charles Hartung, to haul the flour on their open wagons from the Central Jersey Freight Station. (The station was behind the Lehighton/Mansion House Hotel, most recently Kovatch Jeep at the end of the bypass.  The foundation of the station is still there.)
This advertisement for
Benner and Hartung hauling appeared
in the 1928 Lehighton High

The flour was dumped into a bulk flour bin and raised up to the second level by cup elevator where it dumped into a giant mixer with an automatic scale that also mixed in the correct amount of water. Such an operation was necessary, because at various times of the year, Kennel’s bakery worked all three shifts at full tilt.

One successful avenue for Kennel’s bakery was the Carbon County Fair in Lehighton.  He supplied all the hamburger and hot dog buns sold there.  Buns back then sold for a penny a piece, when hamburgers sold for a nickel.  Kennel also served on the Fair Board during the 1930s and 1940s. 

When you weren’t standing at your mixer or oven, you were standing at the bread table.  Any dough from the table, meaning dough that had to be worked into shape by hand such as Vienna bread, sticky buns and etc would be placed on large racks and placed into a raising machine for the “first raise.” 

Then they were removed and placed into pans and go into a steam closet for the “second raise.”  This closet could hold three large racks at a time.  From this closet the dough entered one of two ovens. 

One of the ovens was slightly larger than the second one, but together could bake 500 loaves of bread at a time.  Consider that each bake would last twenty-five minutes and running three-shifts a day, this Lehighton factory could produce 24,000 loaves of bread a day.

The Youngs Come to Town:
Marcus Valentine Young was born on his family farm back in March of 1884 in Kresgeville.  Theodore and Alma Ann Young started their home on a small farm.  Besides the farm, Theodore also made a living as a blacksmith. 

As a young twenty-six year old and before they had any children of their own, Theodore Young was successful enough to hire and provide board for a blacksmith’s helper.  Eventually, their oldest son Ezra “Ezree” and second oldest Albert would assume that role with their father, thus was the beginning of the Youngs in family business.

Theodore and Alma had seven children and all seven survived to adulthood: Ezra D. (b. January 1881), Albert T. (b. November 1883), Clara (b. June 1887), James O. (b. June 1890), Harry L. (b. July 1893), Marcus (b. March 1894), and Ervin D. (b. 1899).

They lived a long walking distance from the one-room schoolhouse at the present day four-way stop at Wildcreek.  One day in early June 1902 the course of events took an unexpected turn. Father Theodore died at the age of forty-seven. 
Theodore Young's untimely death caused his wife and young family
to move from Kresgeville to Lehighton, thus starting the chain of events
leading to the evolution of Young's Bakery.

Marcus was the second youngest at just nine.  “Ezree” took on the full responsibilities for his family and looked out for his five brothers and one sister Clara.

Eventually mother Alma decided she couldn’t do enough to support her family living on the farm.  So one day sometime between 1904 and 1910 they said goodbye to it. 

Leaving it to oldest son Ezree to continue on, they packed up into a horse and buggy and made the day-long journey into Lehighton from Kresgeville.  In less than a day shewas employed in the kitchen of the Lehighton Exchange Hotel (click here for more details about this business.)  They lived in an apartment on South First St.

Life would be different living in town.  Farm chores were replaced by a wide variety of jobs:  Albert, now twenty-five, was a laborer on the railroad; Clara, twenty-one, was a servant in a private home; Jameswas a molderer at Lehigh Stoves in the Flats; Harry, sixteen, was working at one of the many silk mills in town. 

Second youngest, Marcus, found work at the “BenjaminK. Culton” bakery on first street, (across the street from Alfies Pizza today).  Both Harry and Marcus would make these early careers of their youth into their life-long professions.  (The Benjamin Culton story is chronicled in another post on this blog “Lehighton’s Vibrant Business Past” –click here.)
Marcus Valentine Young's WWI draft card.

By the age of twenty-three, Harry was living in Paterson New Jersey and working for the Eugene Baer “Helvetica” Silk Mill there (This is where the Baer family first got its start before also opening a millin Lehighton - click here for more details.)  

At the age of twenty-seven, Harry moved temporarily to Sherbrooke Quebec, employed as the superintendent of the Julius Kayser Silk Throwing Plant there making $3,800 a year in 1920.  Eventually he ran another mill in Ohio before finally retiring to Florida.  Descendents of Harry and Ethel May (Williams) Young still live there.

Before leaving Lehighton as "Irving Young," Ervin Young formed the band
the "Peerless Sextet."  That's Ervin on drums.  Ervin was a first generation
member of Lehighton's famed "Lehighton Boys and Girls Band."
Youngest brother, Ervin, became a big band musician in Brooklyn, in addition to his career with a pharmaceutical company.  He worked clubs and in places like the Waldorf-Astoria.  He also worked the cruise ship circuit to the islands of the Caribbean.  He toured extensively as "Irving Young and his Californians."  He performed with famous vaudeville acts such as Frank Farnum among others.  

Built in 1924, it was said to be Philadelphia's
most lavish theater.  This picture is of Irving
Young and a band-mate checking out their
near top billing with Frank Farnum.  The
theater was torn down in the 1950s.

Pictures of Irving Young and his Californians appear courtesy
of Young's grandchildren.

Music was a key ingredient in sister Clara Young’s life too.  Her and her Lehigh Valley Railroad engineer husband Harry had one son: Donald Seiwell (1916-1973).  A drummer of certain skill, he turned down a music scholarship offer to work at the rail yard.
A recent picture of Denny Seiwell re-visiting the area
to play in the Carbon County Band Festival in 2015.
Denny never forgot his family and band roots here.
Photo courtesy of Ron Gower.

Donald would have two sons who made a living playing music.  Son Darryl is a retired music teacher at the Jim Thorpe School District. 

The other of Clara Young’s grandsons, Denny Seiwell, later played in ex-Beatle Paul McCarthy’s band “Wings,” playing drums on many songs including his signature hit “Live and Let Die.”  Donald and wife Faye also had a daughter Paula.

Sometime around 1915, Marcus Young married Ella Mae David.  They had two children together: Ethel, born in February of 1917 and Woodrow, born October 3, 1918. 

Just then, the terrible Influenza Pandemic was making its rounds through the area as it did worldwide.  The entire Marcus Young family was sick with it. 
The obituary from the "Lehighton Press" from October 1918.  The
writer was unaware that Ella had just given birth to son Woody
about two weeks prior.

It was only two weeks after Woody was born when Ella Mae died of flu.  Ethel was sent out to be raised by her mother’s parents, Albert and Rosa David of Ninth Street.  Woody divided his time with his father and on his Uncle Ezree’s Polk Township farm.  Even on up into his young adult life, Woody spent his summers out on the farm.

Marcus was still earning a living at B. K. Culton’s Bakery on First Street.  But sometime after 1920, most likely at the same time Culton closed his shop, Marcus and his brother James were working as fire tenders on the Lehigh Valley Railroad engines.  The railroad job would be short-lived, for by 1930, Marcus was working at Charles Kennel’s Bakery on Second Street.

Also around 1920, Marcus married his second wife.  Lulu was the daughter of Mahlon and Della Warner of Ninth Street.  She had one child she brought to the marriage, Clarence Warner, who was being raised by her parents.  Besides their three previous children, Marcus and Lulu had five children together: Albert (b. 1921), Marcus “Marc” (b. 1922), Madalene (b. 1923), Frederick (b. 1925), Russell (b. 1927).

The Kennel’s Bakery job provided enough for Marcus to raise his family on.  By 1940 he was a foreman there.  The last living child of Marcus and Lulu Young is Frederick.  He still recalls many of these early years well and how his father made $30 per week then.  He remembers his father always working middle "bread and bun" shift, and how Lulu would walk down to the bakery at supper time each day, with young Fred in tow, to bring a hot-meal to her husband. 

Bretney the Baker  on Second Street - From the Brad Haupt Collection.  Bretney had a bakery next door to his son's
photography studio on Second Street, between today's Lehighton Hardware and the Lehigh Valley Baking Company.  This could very well be the same delivery carriage Ed Christman used for Charlie Kennel in the 1930s.   (See Post Two of "Lehighton's Vibrant Business" for more details by clicking here.)
That is when Fred recalls seeing deliveryman Ed Christman unhitch his horse and watched in awe as the horse found his way home to his stall.  According to Fred, the delivery wagon used by "Bretney the Baker" was identical to the one Christman used.  Given the Bretney shop was just two doors away from Kennel, it stands to reason that this delivery carriage could be the same.

Sometime after 1942, Marcus began thinking about venturing out on his own.  Until then, Charles Kennel had been a life-long bachelor.  He married a much younger Mahoning Valley woman at about the same time his business began to suffer.  Kennel lost his bakery to the First National Bank of Lehighton around 1940.

Sadly, Charlie died rather young at the age of 65 in 1950.  His mother Alice lived until 1960, to the age of 96.  Some have said she worked as an telephone operator in Lehighton.

By October of 1946, with all his sons home from the war, Marcus rented his first bakery at the corner of First and Ochre Streets at 368 North First Street.  It would be short-lived though. About then, Fisher Motors eyed the lot as a prime corner location for their new Pontiac Garage.  Marcus needed to find a new home.  

Former Lehighton High School teacher Edgar Paulsen was looking for a buyer for his corner grocery store at Fourth and Mahoning.  After a few liens were paid (despite Paulson’s assurances that the title was clear), the Young’s began to set up shop of their own.

After all his sons returned from the war, they began gathering up bakery supplies: mixing bowls, an oven and the lot.  The Young's also started rounding up suppliers for the incessant essential ingredients: flour and lard.  At that time suppliers didn't deliver and these items had to be picked up.  

The Blazevichs Come to Town:
Avram "Monk" Blazevich first worked in Nesquehoning and later
took over Kennel's Baking Factory, renaming it "Lehigh Valley Baking
Company."  It was located in the rear of South Second Street.  The three-
story brick building is still there today, down the alley from the Lehighton
Fire Company.

Another tributary into the stream of Lehighton baking was forming in McAdoo.  A widowed miner’s wife was making do with her three children: Theodore (b. 1924), Eugene (b. 1929), and John Jr. (b. 1931).  Her name was Anastazja “Stella” Yanick (b. February 27, 1897) and she was a Polish Orthodox immigrant. 

Her eldest son Zigmund Yanick (b. April 8, 1917) had already made his way to Nesquehoning and perhaps that is how she met her soon to be new husband Avram “Monk” Blazevich (b. 1890). 
Bonnie and Brenda Benner look happy with their mother in the snow in front of the home of Stella Blazevich.  It also contained the store for their family bakery.  The home is now gone, though Linda still lives in her childhood home next door.  Brenda Benner's aunt Betty Benner married Albert Young.

Blazevich was also recently widowed and living with his son Alexander (b. 1922) at 131 Mill Street in Nesquehoning at the bakery owned by Sofron “Serf” Nikodinoviek (b. 1890).  Avram and Alexander had a truck bread route while tow other lodgers Augen Gerosa (b. 1892), a “cake baker” and Elia Christoff (July 6, 1891) who also ran a truck route, lived there.

It was “Serf” Nikodinoviek and “Monk” Blazevich who purchased the bakery from Charlie Kennel.  By April of 1942, Stella and Avram were married and living at 23 South 2nd Street in Lehighton and were the operators of the Lehigh Valley Baking Company at 128 South Second Street. 
A 1940s deliveryman for the Lehigh Valley Baking Company.

(According to Avram’s draft card at the time, he was listed as 6’ 2” and 170 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes but with a “ruddy” complexion, perhaps from hours a facing the large brick bakery oven.)

Once the new owners, the Blazevich’s, took over the bakery from the bank for $8,000, Marcus resumed working there as their foreman.  At about this time, Marcus concluded he too could start one of his own with his coming of age sons. 

All the Young men (including Clarence Warner) served in the military during the war except for Albert who was “4-F” due to ear troubles from his youth.  (More details of the Young family will be available on a future post).

Albert was working in the Packerton Car Shops and later worked for Interstate Dress Carriers (I.D.C.) of Lehighton.

Russell tried the business for a time and took his father’s advice: “If you don’t like what you’re doing, if you don’t love your job, move on from it while you’re still young,” which is exactly what Russell did.

By the late 1940’s, Marcus and his sons were well on their way into making the Fourth and Mahoning Street location their own.  They did some remodeling, put a garage door on the horse carriage house in the back, and had Charlie Kratzer of Ninth Street put new siding on it.

Then in the early 1950s they began to modernize by installing a new oven.  It came from a company in Baltimore and it was delivered from the Jersey Central Freight station by Benner and Hartung. 

The purchase price included the service installation by a man sent from the company.  Marcus and his sons helped by running each piece and part up from the cellar.  Fred remembers pouring “bags and bags and bags” of insulation into the walls.

When it was supper time, the worker asked where he could go to eat his supper.  Marcus said he’d have none of that.  The man was already so appreciative of all the help the Young’s were giving him, they were finishing the job much faster than he would have do so alone, and still and all, he didn’t want to further impose of their hospitality. 
The Young represented themselves in the Lehighton Halloween parade in the late 1950s, replete with giant replicas of the famed "Persian" doughnuts.  It is believed to be Betty Benner Young as the cake.  Betty was married to Albert Young.

“You eat right here with us,” Marcus said.  And they did.

The oven could make 100 loaves at a time, baking a batch of bread in twenty-five minutes.  It cost them $5,000, which was steep money at that time.  They knew they would have to work hard and non-stop to pay off such a debt.  In a few short years they did. 

The next item need was the 120-quart mixer that could take a 100-pound sack of flour at a time.  This $2,500 investment was also the first to be paid off before anyone thought of taking any extra money for themselves.

Every few days, the sons would take the back seat out of the car and drive to Mauser's Flour Mill at Treichlers for three to four 100# bags of flour.  They would also stop by a slaughter house near Freidens for lard.  Marcus telling them, "Get all that you can get."

And thus Marcus was able to set in motion a business that would carry his family through for fifty years.  Set up well enough that his grandson Fred Jr. and his wife Dawn would end up retiring from the business on November 24, 1995. 

Marcus died in 1955, leaving his sons with a livelihood that would serve them their whole life.  The brothers worked side-by-side, hour-by-hour in the painstaking work of bakers six days per week. 

On Sundays, they’d hike up the old trolley line to Flagstaff Park.  They enjoyed these simply pleasures and they enjoyed all the time they spent together. 

According to Fred, “it was work, work, work in the bakery business.”  They didn’t even think about vacations in those early days.  A few years after their dad died, Marc suggested they shut down one week per year in the summer.  And so they did.

They had built up a good retail and wholesale trade by then.  The baked for restaurants like Trainer’s Inn and others.  In the days leading up to their week’s vacation, they’d bake ahead, storing the bread in large, walk-in freezers in Bowmanstown, where the gas station/pizza shop is today. 

They helped build customer loyalty just like the Blazevich’s did at Lehigh Valley Baking.  Each holiday they offered their ovens to their customers and roasted their turkeys and hams for them for free. 

They also offered their oven space, since it was easier to keep it heated than to restart from nothing, to the area churches when they cooked their large congregational dinners and for their food stands at the Carbon County Fair.
"My brothers and me, we got along real good together." - The Young brothers pose here in their "Brothers of the Brush" outfits.  "Brothers of the Brush" was a social club leading up to Lehighton's Centennial celebration in 1966.  This picture was taken just months before Albert (front, center) died in 1958 after only three months of marriage.  Others in front are Marcus (left) and Woody (right).  Back row, left to right: Russell, Clarence Warner, and Fred.  

“My brothers and me, we got along real good together.”
Albert on his wedding night.  He died three months later.

Fred remembers the occasional nights he and his brothers would stop in the Lehigh Fire Company for a beer and be accosted with shouts of, “Don’t you guys ever get sick of each other?”  Causing Fred to recall his dad’s warnings, when tempers would heat a bit, “If you can’t work together, you’re gonna get the boot.”   So Fred replied, “What do you want us to do?  Fight?”

The Blazevich’s ran the Lehigh Valley Baking Company into the 1970s.  Stella’s sons ran it for several years after her death in 1968.  Though they had good foot traffic in the Stella’s storefront home on Second Street, their business was mainly wholesale. 

One of their larger accounts was through the Hazelton-based Gennetti’s food market chain.  They sold their bread under their own label, but they also sold donuts and pastries.  They were famous for their Kaiser rolls and marble ryes.

One of their employees, George Markley, was a then recent pastry baker from Steven’s Trade School.  Many people in the Lehighton area only know George through his work with the Lutheran Brotherhood.  But today, George still has the pained shoulder from the years of hefting 100-pound bags of flour.

According to George, when they would run specials on their breads, they’d bake “thousands and thousands of rolls per shift.”  George remembers working mostly overnight and also second shift.

“A deliveryman would show up around 5:00 am,” he remembers.  He also recalls working many weeks of sixty hours or more for mere peanuts on the dollar.

Stella’s children inherited the bakery upon her death and tried to keep it operating, some of them running deliveries themselves to area Farmer’s Markets, restaurants, and stores.

I know this may sound as tacky as day-old dough on a dry bread board, but I can remember the days of going into Young’s, with Woody behind the counter with my thirty-five cents my dad gave me each week from his little blue coin purse. 
Celebrating their mother's 90th birthday in the banquet room of Trainer's Inn in 1982: Back row, left to right: Fred, Russel, Clarence Warner, Woody, and Marc.  Front row, Ethel, Lulu and Madeline.  Woody and Ethel were from their father's first wife Ella who died of the Influenza outbreak during the fall of 1918.

My usual was a ten-cent glazed and a twenty-five cent Persian.  But sometimes I’d be tempted by the 5-cent pretzel rods in the jar on the counter. 

I can still picture Marc at the mixer, his lips were in the shape of what I thought was a permanent state of whistling.  I can still see Fred then too, the only one with a full head of hair.  I remember how seamlessly they worked together, with few words.  All of them always dressed in white.   I’d sit on the sacks of flour, all the while they worked around me, allowing me to silently sit and watch. 

When one lives in moments like these, you never think it can ever end.

One day in December of 1981, a heavy slush was lying around the pavements of the bakery, and Woody couldn’t rest knowing it needed tending to.  The strain was too much and he collapsed on the sidewalks.  It broke their hearts.  You could say their life belonged to the bakery.  Neither Marc nor Woody had ever married. 

Even Fred, back at the end of World War II, when asked to continue baking for the troops in the army field bakery, declined the offer, only thinking about getting back to his brothers.

Marc said he couldn’t work another day there without his half-brother Woody.  He missed him too much.
At that time, it was Fred’s son Fred Jr. who wished to make a go at the family business.  And several weeks after Woody’s passing, the oven once again fired with another father and son Young team.  Eventually Marc was able to return and the three men worked together.
The last of the Young crew in the 1990s.  Fred Jr at left, his father center loading a tray of hoagie rolls, while Marcus takes a brief moment's pause.  Only Fred Sr. survives.

Marc passed away a year and a month after the Fred Jr. and Dawn retired the business for the last time.  Shortly afterward, Fred and Dawn moved to South Carolina.  Fred, a Vietnam combat veteran, died a few years ago. 

The famous Young’s “Persian” is history.  Young’s started making the iced cinnamon roll with a dollop of jelly filling from the 1950s until the Bakery closed in 1996.  Since then, a few different names have kept its spirit alive, most recently Bill Gothard at Lehighton Bakery which closed just in the last few years. 

Fred Sr. is widowed from his wife Roberta and lives in Maple Shade in Nesquehoning.  He gets plenty of visitors: his son Allen, his good friend Pappy Warner, and his old neighbors John and Melissa Moser who take the time to take him out for dinner at his favorite spot, the Beacon Diner at Hometown. 
Ask him why he likes to go there, he’ll tell you: they have delicious raisin pie.

Though he’s a bit hard of hearing, his mind is sharp.  And if you are lucky enough to share a word with Fred, one thing is abundantly clear, he is the last of those of the generation that knew how to work. 

Thanks Fred, I too have developed a taste for the stuff. 

Here are some other noteworthy pictures associated with Lehighton's baking past:
Bill Leslie, along with Sylvester "Wes" Solt and Marcus Young who first tried to buy Kennel's Bakery from the bank but were unable to secure the loan.  It worked out anyway, for both Bill's Bakery and Young's went on separately to make their own distinctive products.
The Lehigh Valley Baking Company as it looked this past winter.  Lehighton Hardware is to the photographers rear in the alley.
C. E. or Charlie Kennel's grave engraved on
the end of his parent's stone in Neffs.
Charlie died at the age of 65 in 1950.
The Young Matriarch - Alma widowed from Theodore - She had the courage
to leave the farm she knew to bring her family to Lehighton for more economic
opportunity.  Lehighton Cemetery on the Legion plot.
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Marcus Theodore Young, Fred's brother, son to Marcus and Lulu never married and is buried next to his other unmarried
half-brother Woodrow who is buried next to their uncle James O. Young who served in the first world war.  All of Marcus V. Young's sons served in WWII except Albert who was 4-F due to his ears.
Marcus Valentine Young next to his first wife Ella who died in the Influenza outbreak in October 1918.  Together they had Ethel and Woodrow.  His wife Lulu is also buried here.

Walter and Alice Kennel's grave in Neffs.
Alice lived 67 years as a widow until 1960.
Walter died in 1893.


  1. Thanks for the memories. I remember Persians well. They were my favorite while my brothers preferred the sticky buns and my dad, their prune pie! Also, I didn't know the Kennel family history. I have Granny Kennel (Alice)'s cut glass water glasses that were one of her wedding presents. Her granddaughter gave them to my mother when we were neighbors.

  2. Hello, my name is Bob Morandi. Born and raised in Leighton until 1965 when we move to Long Island.
    My Grandmother, Stella owner of the Leigh Valley Baking as i grew up in Leighton attending Saint Peter and Paul catholic school on 3rd or 4th street.
    The bakery was a big part of my life going there everyday after school and seeing all my Uncles and Aunts so busy running the business including my Mother and Father.
    A ton of memories still exist in my mind along with 16mm film from where we lived out in the country.
    Leighton carbon county fair was a favorite of mine even after we moved to Long Island.
    after leaving Leighton it was always exciting to return for a 2 week visit ervery summer where i would run around the bakery, go on deliveries with my Uncle Bob ( every body else knows him as John)
    It would be nice to see other posting from anybody that has a story about the Leigh Valley Baking Co.

    1. Bob thanks for sharing your memories here. I am in contact with your two nieces or cousins that still live nearby as well as I was friends with Sheila and Debbie Yanick growing up. Surely you remember the Benner's who lived next door. Unfortunately Ss Peter and Paul closed its doors just last year. If you have any pictures to share please email me... rabenold@ptd.net