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Jane Moyer Looks Back on 100 Years in Easton

Jane Moyer, the longtime Easton librarian, talks about a century in the city.

Jane Moyer was all business.

She will turn 100 on Feb. 5, and while that sort of thing that tends to make the news, she had no interest in discussing herself.

Instead, she talked about the library at the , the one that bears her name, and the one where, at 99, she works four days each week.

A few hours earlier, a man from Harrisburg had called, wanting to know about a forgotten Easton company, so that would be one of her projects for the day. Calls like that, said, aren't that unusual, but it's nothing she and her staff can't handle.

"Sounds like I'm selling the place," she said. "But I guess I am."

'An Icon'

Moyer has been around books her whole life. Her father worked as a janitor for the . 

"Of course, that was our second home," she says. "My brothers were the book-shelvers, things like that."

Young Jane, a 1930 graduate of Easton High School, would wander the stacks, devouring books.

"I read everything. I read all sorts of adult stuff," she said. "I outgrew children's literature very quickly."

As she grew older, Henry Marx, the city's first librarian, become her mentor. When she graduated college in 1934, Marx gave her a job. (Moyer would later get a masters in library science from Columbia University.)

She worked at the library until 1977, spending 23 years as the head librarian and director. 

Since her retirement, she's continued to volunteer for the Northampton County Historical & Genealogical Society, which will hold a birthday celebration for Moyer next Friday.

Moyer is "an icon" for local historians, Barbara Kowitz, the society's director, said in a news release. "Her knowledge is extensive; her love of history is profound; and her commitment to sharing the stories of county life follows the traditions of the consummate story-teller."

Easton at War

Speaking with Easton Patch on Friday, Moyer told stories about the Easton of her childhood.

Downtown had four 5 & 10 stores, plus stores that just sold hats and shoes. The Easton Farmers' Market was there, of course, but there was also the Market House, which sold other goods, and the Mohican market on Fourth Street, which housed several different merchants.

Merchants were the first thing Moyer mentioned when asked about Easton during World War II. 

"You had ration tickets for meat. You had ration tickets for butter," she said. "You stood in a butter line to get a pound of butter."

Her husband, Ronald -- who would eventually serve as principal for Palmer and elementary schools -- was stationed at the Panama Canal. "I wrote him every day," Moyer said.

Back home, Eastonians lived with black-outs, and the fear that local industries could come under attack.

"We had Ingersoll-Rand in Phillisburg. We had Bethlehem Steel," Moyer said. "These were areas that could've been bombed, you see."

'A pretty good detective'

There's a walker in Moyer's office, and she says she doesn't exercise as much as she used to -- arthritis, she explained. For years, she bred and showed dogs -- Great Pyrenees and Irish Setters, not exactly "little-old-lady" dogs.

Four times a week, she gets a ride into Easton from her home in Forks Township and investigates the region's past.

"I've learned to be a pretty good detective," Moyer said. 

People will contact her looking for genelogical information, and she'll comb through books, photos, records and family trees to find the answers. 

"I learn a lot about their families. I learn a lot about life from their families," Moyer said.

Learning about where you come from is important, Moyer maintains. There's a practical aspect to it: if your great-grandfather had some sort of medical condition, that's good information to have. 

But there's also a philosophical side about what she does, the idea that that in researching our past, we learn to accept the good and the bad within ourselves.

"Of course there's going to be bad people in the family," Moyer said. "So what? List them all."

Moyer said she's had friends who've asked her why she spends so much time looking into other people's pasts.

"These people lived. They must have done something important in their lives," she said. "I think life is exciting. I think everyone has a different story to tell."

 

 

 

Brenda Fox January 29, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Happy 100 birthday N many more.

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