Scenes in a Coal Region bar room – 1938

Photographer Sheldon Dick made a visit to the Coal Region in 1938 to document scenes of life and work in the mining towns of northern Schuylkill County.

On an evening during his visit, Dick made a swing by a bar room in Gilberton, Pennsylvania and snapped three photographs that bring the setting to life. The scenes he captured are somewhat of a Coal Region universal: a group of men gathered together after a day of work for a cold drink. While these images were taken at a bar called “Swank’s” (this is the name on the window panes), this could have been seen in hundreds of small bars and taverns across Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The following photographs can be found in the collections of the Library of Congress.

A closer look at the characters in this photograph.
A closer look at the spirits on offer at Swank’s.
An old-timer sitting at the back of the bar. Note the painting above his right shoulder.
The painting is a print of a scene from the Battle of Cambrai in 1917. This World War I battle was one of the first that saw Americans in action in large numbers. It’s hung next to a gaudy poster advertising Moxie soda.

Featured Image: Men drinking at Swank’s in Gilberton, PA. (LOC)

This wasn’t the only Coal Region bar room visited by photographer Sheldon Dick – he also visited Filipek’s Bar in Shenandoah. 


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