up in northern New Jersey, seeing the words “Washington Slept
Here” was a normal site. Colonial era buildings claiming to host
commander-in-chief of the Continental Army can be found not only in my
state but throughout the original thirteen colonies. Few people
history have gained the type of reverence among Americans like our
first president. But at a great brewpub in Bethlehem,
same type of respect is being shown for the man being inaugurated this
month as our forty-fourth president.
Photo courtesy of the
Photo by EMMANUEL
DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images and courtesy
of the Bethlehem Brew Works
the long grind that was known as the 2008 Pennsylvania
Democratic Primary, then Senator Barack Obama traveled the state for
weeks, fighting for support in a race against opponent Senator Hillary
Clinton. On April 20th, Obama made a surprise visit to Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania and stopped into one of downtown’s most popular
the BETHLEHEM BREW WORKS. The
tavern must have buzzed with excitement
as the Senator and a caravan of followers descended on the place.
Photo by EMMANUEL
DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images and courtesy of the Bethlehem
| WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE A BEER WITH
|A METAPHORICAL HALO; FORTUNATE
ACCIDENT OF GEOGRAPHY, OR A CLEVER POSE?
Fegley, the marketing and public relations director and a member
of the family that owns the Brew Works, was there to greet the
candidate. Fegley had long been a supporter of Obama, so you can
imagine his excitement when he had the chance to meet him face to
face. Mike brought me to the table where the president-elect sat
sampled some of their fine craft beers. Like a proud father, Mike
still gleams with excitement when he recalls how the candidate sipped
the Fegley’s ESB and exclaimed, “That’s good stuff!
our conversation, I couldn’t help but recall that famous moment
in Indiana during the same month when Hillary Clinton was on video
pounding beers and a shot of Canadian whiskey. I mentioned it to
and asked if Obama’s Brew Works visit was before or after that
incident. Mike said he wasn’t sure, but he was sure that whatever
was drinking it “wasn’t as full-bodied and award winning as our beer!”
|AN ASSORTED SAMPLER OF THE "GOOD STUFF"
|OBAMA ACTION FIGURE AND HIS IDOLIZED GLASS
an understanding of the history that could be made if Obama were
to be elected, Mr. Fegley and his family decided to do what they could
to preserve the moment. They immediately pulled the chair he sat
off the floor and now keep it safe from the crowds at the pub. He
kept the glass he used to sample the “good stuff”, which I don’t
believe they ever cleaned, and even the utensils. The Fegley’s
that should the candidate be elected president, these would all be
invaluable pieces of local history. Someday, years from now,
will come to this place and perhaps see these things once used by this
historic and groundbreaking president.
Later, Mr. Fegley became a delegate at the Democratic National
Convention and now he boasts a huge collection of Obama memorabilia he
|DELEGATE FEGLEY'S CAMPAIGN MEMORABILIA
is the perfect place for a candidate to visit, especially
during an election that was focused largely on economic issues and
change. The city is itself is undergoing a dramatic
decades it thrived as the home to the nation’s second largest producer
of steel. Dating back to the 19th century, Bethlehem Steel was
lifeblood of the city. But during the 1990’s the plant closed for
good, ending a century long symbiotic relationship with Bethlehem.
Other towns and cities would have succumbed to the hardships and
realities brought on by the loss of such a major part of the financial
fabric. But Bethlehem has persevered and continues to be a vibrant
community that offers its residents, workers and visitors a quality way
FAITHFUL SONS AND DAUGHTERS HAVE ALWAYS WORKED HARD . . .
. . AND THE BREW WORKS' WALLS PAY HOMAGE TO THEIR LEGACY
it is the philosophy of its Moravian population that settled
here in 1740, or the influence of its great educational institutions,
such as Lehigh University; but the city
has always been much more than
just an American industrial icon. There is a spirit, intellect and
cultural sense that transcend fiscal concerns.
|LEWIS, ONE OF THE ACCOMPLISHED BREWERS
|TIM, A CONGENIAL BARTENDER
Fegleys and Barack Obama talked about the campaign and about
Bethlehem’s difficult recent economic history. Mike Fegley
recalls the candidate’s kind words about how Bethlehem stands as a
model of strength amid severe economic adversity. Maybe that’s
what brought a candidate with a message of hope to a town like
Bethlehem. If there ever was a place where “Yes We Can” was a
motto long before Barack Obama made it a household phrase. Bethlehem is
that kind of place.
|IT'S A TOUGH DECISION, BUT A GOOD KIND OF
maybe some smart campaign official just
knew where to send a man with good taste to find a great beer.
Either way, just like those old colonial buildings can lay claim to
hosting George Washington, the BETHLEHEM BREW WORKS
now proudly boasts
“Obama Drank Here”. I like the sound of that.
Photo by EMMANUEL
DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images and courtesy of Bethlehem Brew