For those new to campus, the First Friday in South Bethlehem is the monthly event where local businesses and venues have a big party. In the general area of central South Bethlehem, one can walk around and stop in to find sales, samples and smiles. There’s a great family feel to this regular community event.
If you plan to venture into the city, try to make your way to the Northampton Community Center Fowler Center at 511 East 3rd street to see the multiple art installations with the “More Serious Business” show. The artists (more than 60) will be on hand to talk about their work. Then make your way west to stop in the many stores along 3rd street. On the other end, you’ll find hot glass blowing demonstrations at the Banana Factory. Head inside and upstairs to find even more artists in their studios.
Back on the street, be sure to stop by the Maze Garden on 3rd and New to meet the Faculty and students who were part of the South Bethlehem Community Gardens. Mayor John Callahan will also be there.
Try to reserve some energy for the businesses on 4th street. If you don’t get to everything Friday, you’ll have another chance next month, and the month after that. But don’t wait too long. You’ll need to gather some good stories to tell your friends and family back home soon enough.
When I first arrived to campus, there were many people who helped me learn about my newly adopted campus and local community. Colleagues I now consider friends helped me settle in. I immediately felt at home with the generosity of strangers.
One such stranger to me was Bob Thompson. He and his wife, Nadine Sine invited my family to their home in Fountain Hill for dinner. It is a lovely home, close to campus, with a spectacular backyard view of the Bethlehem star. I was nervous that my toddlers would break something precious, so we ate on the side porch. Throughout dinner, Bob told me stories of the people and the city of which he was very proud. We talked about art, community and civic duty.
When I would see Bob at a Music Department concert, he would always smile and want to chat a little longer; even when the house lights were dimming. He always made me want to slow down and appreciate his company.
It happens too often that we learn about the amazing life of a person after they have died. I learned more about Bob’s beautiful life by hearing other peoples’ stories. He was a champion of the youth in our community, an advocate for equal opportunity and preservation of local history. He embraced all people with generosity, respect and patience.
The community will come together to remember Bob Thompson next Tuesday in Packer Chapel. We will gather to honor a man who has done much for the city. And to learn how one man’s life touched so many.