STEEL WAY OF LIFE Exhibit Opens at the Goundie House in Bethlehem, PA, 6/22
See their faces. Hear their voices. Feel their stories. Historic Bethlehem Partnership is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit at the 1810 Goundie House: The Steel Way of Life.
Visitors to the exhibit will meet first-hand the men and women who worked at Bethlehem Steel in a multimedia experience that includes life-size portraits, audio interviews, and memorabilia from the times. The exhibit aims not to tell the story of the company, Bethlehem Steel, but to showcase the workers’ perspectives of life in the shadow of the steel giant.
Through collaboration with the Steel Workers’ Archives, Historic Bethlehem Partnership is able to share steel workers’ stories with the public for the first time in a free and long-term exhibit that pairs arresting portraits with fascinating oral histories.
Bruce Ward, former steel worker, edited and repurposed the oral histories for use in the exhibit. Ed Leskin, local renowned photographer, photographed and edited the portraits.
Ten former employees of Bethlehem Steel are featured in the exhibit, including Jeanne Brugger, Vincent Brugger, Hank Barnette, Helen Weaver, John Deutsch, Lester Clore, Joe Wilfinger, Bob Burkey, Jerry Green and Richie Check. An attempt to portray all areas of jobs, levels of employment and gender was made, and guests will enjoy a well-rounded social history perspective.
As a compliment to the portraits and oral histories, many artifacts are on display, including a hard hat, lunchbox, brass checks, Bethlehem Steel time books and overtime forms.
Most astounding are the two painted murals, completed by Freehand Murals. One is a view of a South Bethlehem street, serving to transport guests from the Goundie House to the Southside. The second is a life-size look at the Welfare Room, the locker-like space where steel workers stored their personal belongings. Two real welfare baskets hang from the ceiling. One former steel worker in the presence of the mural said, “My god, I’m there again.”