Bethlehem Steel stopped making steel in Bethlehem in 1995. In 1998 and 1999, I was part of the Steel Festival produced by Bethlehem’s Touchstone Theater. A group of songwriters interviewed steelworkers and used their stories to create songs. The songs were performed during the festival and some were recorded on Days of Steel, a CD produced by Allentown’s Bummer Tent Records. In November, 2005, The Last Cast, produced by Lehigh University graduate student Amy Senape and directed by George B. Miller, marked ten years since the end of Bethlehem’s steel story. We had a terrific event in Baker Hall at Lehigh University’s Zoellner Center for the Arts. Actors performed monologues from different eras of steel making. I played some of my songs, and we ended with Tom Watson’s beautiful Days of Steel. Lee Daniels accompanied on electric and slide guitar. These are recordings from that night.

The Guy Who Keeps It Going. For my father-in-law Bill Elm, Bruce Ward, and Albert Gonzalez. © Roland Kushner 1999
Ironically. Because company executives were steelworkers, too. © Roland Kushner 1999

Hello, Mr. Wolle. Many steelworkers sang in the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, founded by J. Fred Wolle. © Roland Kushner 1999
Little Mexico, 1938. Worker housing for Mexican steelworkers was razed in 1939. For Albert Gonzalez. © Roland Kushner 1999
Days of Steel, the anthem for the 1999 Steel Festival Songwriters. Written by Tom Watson