Spotlights of the humans in our community who make a big impact
If you want to know anything about the history of racing in the Lehigh Valley, look no further than Nazareth's own Bob Snyder. As a lifelong resident, Bob has seen the rise and fall of the Nazareth Speedway and has the photographic evidence to prove it.
Bob's love of racing began as a kid. His family lived next door to local racing legend Bill Tanzosh, who was honored by Mayor Colondo at the Dirt Track Heroes Show in early March of this year. Bob said he would hang out next door at Bill's barn, watching him build and modify cars for dirt track racing. Two of Nazareth's most famous residents also got their racing start at Bill Tanzosh's garage- Mario and Aldo Andretti. As teenagers, they all spent countless hours together, working side-by-side on their prized possessions.
In the early 60's, the Nazareth Speedway was owned by Jerry Fried and consisted of a ½ mile dirt track where Giant is now located. In 1966, Fried built the 1⅛ mile dirt track that most people know as the Nazareth National Speedway. Bob applied for his media credentials in 1973 and the rest, as they say, is history. Thus began his career as the official track photographer.
For the first two decades, Bob worked a full time job and served as track photographer in his off time. It was in 1993 after his 30yr career at Andrew's Dried Beef ended that he started doing it full time. The quiet man jokes that he probably would have been happier taking pictures his whole life and considers himself "very fortunate" to have witnessed so many historic racing events. "I was at the right place at the right time."
He estimates he has taken over 500,000 photos over his lifetime, most taken at local tracks like Dorney, Snydersville, Flemington, Reading and Borgers. Bob also has over 15,000 images published in various racing magazines and programs. He also specialized in "color composites" - a type of image where the racer's head was on the top of the photo and the car was on the bottom.
When asked if he had any favorite memories, he just says "Oh, there's lots of them," giving the impression that they were all meaningful to a man that spent his life behind the lense, chasing the winning shot.
Bob still lives in his childhood home in Upper Nazareth and has no plans to change that in the near future. His answer to the question of whether or not he ever considered living elsewhere is a simple one, "There was no reason to leave."
It was a cold January day, Wednesday, to be exact. I was off to interview a young lady who had recently celebrated a special day - her 100 the birthday. As I drove to a senior facility, I thought about a conversation starter and a few questions I would ask. In my mind, I thought, would she be willing to share her life with me?
I arrived, walked down the hall, and entered the room of Julia Kutos. I took one look, shook her hand, and instantly, the room filled with a warmth that radiated, touching every heart that entered.
Julia dressed in a royal blue sweater adorned by a silver pennant, and light blue slacks, was ready to share. Her soft blue eyes filled with so much love, started the conversation by talking about her family. As she spoke about her two daughters, Delores and Margaret (Peggy), Julia pointed to pictures on her dresser, taking our chat on a great adventure. She continued by sharing that one of her daughters was a model for Bethlehem Steel. Julia is a grandmother to three and a great- grandmother to two. It was particularly touching as she held a 50 th musical wedding anniversary plaque, gazing at a small picture of she and her husband. Julia lost in the moment was quiet, as if remembering the many years of love and marriage to Stephen.
Julia was born at home and raised in Catasauqua. Her parents were born in Czechoslovakia. She has one sister who is 97 years young. As a child, she liked playing games like hopscotch. One of her earliest memory was the first day of first grade. Then she added, “When I was in high school, my father wanted to build a ladder against the back fence. Then all I would have needed to do was climb over and go up the steps.”
Growing up, she helped tend her parent’s garden and learned how to preserve fruits and vegetables while watching her mother work in the kitchen. Julia recalled everything was fresh when she was a child. She continued her love of gardening for years to come.
Julia shared that her first job was to babysit, where she earned fifty- cents. She smiled as she said, “I should have framed that fifty-cents!” Later in life, she worked in a ribbon factory in Catasauqua.
Julia loved to shop! Especially at Hess’s. Along with shopping, she always enjoyed dancing and still does, traveling, which included two trips to Europe, reading the newspaper from cover to cover, playing the scratch-offs, bingo, and singing. In fact, she sang a beautiful song in Slavic. It was a song her mother had taught her as a child.
I asked Julia two last questions before I left. “What is the biggest change you have seen in your one-hundred- years?” She did not to hesitate to answer, “ The children are spoiled. They have too much. It was different when I was growing up.” Then I asked, “ What advice would you give a twenty- year- old person today?” Her response, “ Don’t drink!”
After the interview, I asked this remarkable, sharp as a tack, sweet, talkative, friendly, loving woman if I could have a hug. She reached up, and I reached down, putting our arms around each other. As we hugged, I could feel her love for life.
Driving home, I thought about the era that encompassed Julia’s life: eighteen presidents, the stock market crash leading to the Great Depression, World War Two, Korea, and every conflict to the present day. She read first- hand about segregation, the Space Needle, and every invention since the turn of the century Of course, I cannot forget the change in ladies’ fashions over the decades.
Julia Kutos is a beautiful woman filled with wisdom, a good sense of humor, and a loving heart who treats everyone she meets as if she had known them all her life. I, Cynthia Deluca, am honored to now call this sweet 100-year young woman, my friend.
When I thought about the many ways to write the More than just a Mayor story, I took all the facts into consideration along with everything that Lance was and still is involved in and decided to take a different approach. So, to speak, I am starting my story with the end to get to the heart of a man dedicated to everything he does.
It was at the 2019 Halloween parade, as my husband and I were sitting in front of the YMCA, when Lance, walking behind the police cars leading the parade, veered to his right towards us. He walked up to my husband, who was wearing his veteran’s hat, shook his hand, thanked him for his service, turned and joined the parade. My husband was taken back by his acknowledgment. I was impressed. It was then that I decided to learn more about Lance, our Mayor, who made the day for a veteran.
I started my research by talking to some business owners, attending events, listening to conversations, and eventually interviewing the Mayor. And this is what I learned.
In 2014, Lance was appointed to the Nazareth Borough Council. He served a two-year term. Lance was then elected to Council in 2016, where Lance served another two years. In 2017, he ran and was elected to a four - year term as Mayor of Nazareth. He has served as the Borough’s liaison to the Nazareth Area Council of Governments and the Nazareth Economic Development.
Lance was also a Fire Committee Chairman and Law Chairman. He served as Chairman of the Board of the Nazareth – Bath Area Chamber of Commerce from 2015 – 2017. Lance is employed by Unity Bank of Bethlehem as a Branch Relationship Manager/ Assistant Vice President. He has lived in the Lehigh Valley for more than thirty – years.
Part of Mayor Colondo’s responsibilities is to work closely with our Police Department. He is proud of the department’s hard work and their continued efforts to work together for the good of the community. Lance also initiated the Neighborhood Watch, where he stresses; if you see it, hear it, report it. He feels the importance of a good police presence within the borough helps to strengthen positive relationships. Soon, residents of Nazareth will be seeing officers walking and riding bikes throughout the town.
He also believes that good communication is essential and is always ready to listen to ideas the residents may have, or questions concerning borough services.
Lance’s vision for Nazareth is to keep the quaint historical charm of our town, along with proactive business fronts, and continued police presence.
Lance Colondo is a family man who lives in Nazareth with his lovely wife, Bobbie.
This writer’s final thoughts; Mayor Colondo wears many hats, but his love and compassion for Nazareth and those who reside in our beautiful town, along with his hard work, encouraging and positive attitude is the best hat of all.
Crossing guards, by definition, are people who help pedestrians, especially schoolchildren, to cross intersections safely, but in Nazareth crossing guard Robert Fringe is known for more than that, he is Bob.
Bob has been an Upper Nazareth resident for 22 years serving as a crossing guard on the corner of North New Street and East Center Street in front of the Memorial Library of Nazareth and Vicinity for the past five years.
His career as an accountant ended in 2012 after the insurance company he worked for downsized. Just as he decided he needed to have something to do, he saw an advertisement regarding crossing guard posts in one of the local newspapers and applied for his current position. It was then that Bob would become one of Nazareth’s most recognized faces and a true pillar of the community.
“There are several things that I love about being a crossing guard, but the best part of my post has been the waves and smiles I get from children, especially the little ones. Many of the older kids wave as well, enthusiastically, with big smiles on their faces to and from school each day”, Bob says.
“I also get waves from the commuters, school bus drivers, contractors, and truck drivers, which says to me that they appreciate the simple gesture of kindness that crossing guards provide”, adds Bob.
The primary role of a crossing guard is to guide children safely across the street, but they also must remain diligent in their own safety as well. Crossing guards are considered role models in helping children develop the skills necessary to properly cross streets in a safe manner. They also bring a sense of kindness to the community that helps teach children the meaning of a happy smile and a nice wave.
“Being a good crossing guard is knowing that first and foremost the safety of the children is most important. My corner is probably the busiest in town with cars, school buses and tractor trailers. Every day when I step off the curb even my safety is at risk” Bob comments on safety.
You can visit Bob at his post during one of his three shifts Monday through Friday, 7:30-8:05 a.m., 2:15-2:50 p.m. or 3:15-3:50 p.m.
“Nazareth is a great community and I am a representative of that. It is a friendly town and a great place to raise a family, so it’s important for me to reflect that” Bob says.
Service with a smile, that’s what they say, so today our Human of Nazareth is Bob. We thank him for his dedication in providing safety to the children and residents of Nazareth and for all the smiles and waves they appreciate and love.