Posts Tagged ‘Hackmans’

This post was made by Jason Bauman, and the original can be found at http://blog.jlbauman.com/2012/04/21/a-firm-handshake-and-an-easy-smile/.   We hope you enjoy his wonderful memories as much as we did.


My Grandfather passed away this morning. My grandmother asked all the grandchildren to think of memories of him to share at his funeral. I have so many memories. I wanted to share a few of them with you, to tell you about a man who had such a huge impact on my life.


Firesides and Fishing Lures

I was fortunate enough to grow up knowing all four of my Grandparents. My childhood was filled with visiting them at their homes, or visiting them at their campsite where all of us spent each Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend. J. Walter Hackman was my mother’s dad, and some of the strongest memories I have of him are from those camping trips.

Grandpop loved camping. He had a silver Airstream at the campsite all summer and he and Grammy would make frequent weekend trips there. Inside the camper there were beds, tables, and it felt like a small apartment, but if you stepped outside you’d see picnic table and his fishing poll leaning against it and a row of perfectly stacked logs placed a few feet away from the fire pit.

I remember riding my bike down to his campsite and seeing him standing at the chopping block splitting a log into kindling to feed into the fire. He’d hear me turn into his lot and would look up, smile and wave me over. He showed me how to place the logs in the pit to make sure they started burning the quickest, and how if you removed the bark from pine before placing it in the fire you wouldn’t get as much smoke.

I remember him walking up to my families campsite, tacklebox in hand, to take my brothers and I fishing. Grandpop loved fishing, but I think he liked taking us fishing more. We’d walk down to the lake and he would show us the perfect way to put the worm on the hook and he’d toss the line into the water until we were old enough to do it ourselves.

We never caught much fishing with Grandpop. When I went fishing by myself, or with my dad, we’d toss the line into the middle of the lake and wait for a curious fish to take the bait, but this took too long for my grandfather. As soon as the bait hit the water he’d start reeling it back in. While this might work for some fish, it wasn’t the best way to catch trout, but he didn’t care. He loved the act of fishing, of sitting on a bench with his kids and grandkids just enjoying the outside with them.

My grandfather was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known but he always took time for his family and he knew how to relax. Whether it was relaxing at their campsite, going on one of his frequent vacations with my grandmother, or just cooking hotdogs on his grill at home, grandpop knew how to have a good time.


Service is the rent we pay…

In his office, Grandpop had a plaque with one of his favorite sayings. “Service is the rent we pay for out stay here on earth.” He had a lot of favorite sayings, but I think I heard him say this one more than any other. To Grandpop, serving others wasn’t an option. It was as natural to him as taking a walk or breathing.

Whether it was volunteering with a prison mission, or giving away something to a customer in need who came to his store, Grandpop loved helping people. He did it quietly though, never making a big deal of it. I didn’t know about his involvement in the prison ministry until someone mentioned it has his 60th wedding anniversary.

He taught me that service was an act of joy, not obligation, that helping others was something you just DID and not something you had to plan out and account for. He founded a church, worked in a prison ministry, and would always be there to lend an ear and offer advice to anyone who needed it.

Service was such a big part of his life, but I can’t pin down a single story to write about here.  Service was who he was, and his whole life is that story.

Success Has No Business Hours

My grandfather was a brilliant businessman, and he started at a very early age. I remember him showing me accounting ledgers from when he was twelve years old and selling peanuts up and down the streets of his hometown, where he neatly listed the costs and profits of each day. He showed me box after box of ledgers where he wrote down each detail throughout his entire life.

He was an entrepreneur. His first “real” business was an old truck he drove around the farmhouses in southern PA as a “Bookstore to your door.” Where he would sell bibles, school supplies, and other items to people who might not be able to make it into the “City” to go shopping.

This mobile bookstore eventually became Hackman’s Bible Bookstore, which grew into the largest independently owned Christian Bookstore on the east coast, one that won the “Christian bookstore of the year” award multiple times before my Grandfather sold the company to my Uncle and “retired.”

The favorite part of the store for him was the Bible Counter where he helped sell hundreds or thousands of bible’s to customers, showing them the different translations (His favorite was the Living Bible) and just getting to know his customers.

He had a mind for business, but he was successful because he had a heart for his customers. He loved getting to know people, not just to pitch them something, but because he loved talking to them. Grandpop loved to know everyone he could, and he’d remember the details you gave him.

From him, I learned the importance of getting to know people as people. In a business world dominated by metrics, efficiency, and things like “Average ticket.” Grandpop seemed more concerned about how a customer’s family was doing, and that’s why so many people loved him.



Watching him go was hard.  At the end they had him on Oxygen and every breath was a struggle.  We were with him last night until almost midnight, singing hymns and telling stories about all of the things he did for us.  When we got the call this morning saying he left us, my Aunt said that right before he went they stood around his bed singing his favorite hymn ‘He Lives.”  At the end he was peaceful, and his breathing a little less labored.  She said he raised his hand up into the air one last time and passed on.  He left surrounded by his loved ones, and I don’t think he’d want it any other way.

He’s inspired me in so many ways and thinking back on his life, the strongest memories aren’t the ones of him in the hospital, battling Parkinson’s. My strongest memories of him are the bone-crushing handshakes he’d give, the smile on his face, and the image of him walking up the path to our campsite, tacklebox in hand.

Rest in Peace, J Walter Hackman. Your rent was paid in full.




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The Hackman family has recently had some sad news; J. Walter Hackman has passed away to be with our Lord and Savior.  We ask you to please pray for the family at this time while we all remember the great man J. Walter Hackman and the spiritual legacy he left behind.

In the beginning….

“We moved up to Allentown to take over a small mission,” says J. Walter Hackman, who co-founded Hackman’s Bible Book Store with his wife, Ruth.  That was in 1947 when Hackman was a meat cutter in Philadelphia.  “A friend say, ‘why don’t you sell something for the soul instead of the stomach?,’ and that’s how we started selling books and Bibles,” he remembers fondly.

Within his Mennonite denomination, Hackman felt the call to service and moved, with Ruth, to Allentown.  While living in a third floor apartment on Sixth Street, Walter carried a basket door-to-door selling books and Bibles.  He eventually had a bread truck outfitted as a mobile bookstore.  With that truck, he covered a 70-mile radius from home, and that’s when Hackman’s Bible Book Store was born.

“I’d approach a home carrying a basket that had three tiers to it,” Walter says.  “On the top tier, I had non-religious items; in the middle, I had books, and on the bottom, I had Bibles.  As I approached, I knew what would be in the customer’s mind: ‘We don’t want any books today.’ But in my mind was, ‘What do you need today?’

This is actually a key insight into what has built Hackman’s to its present stature.  Walter’s focus, from the very beginning, was on the customers and on providing the customers with what they needed at that particular time in their lives.  Most often, that involved inspirational books and Bibles that had the ability to change people’s lives.

“‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he'” Walter quotes. “We tried to provide that right thinking through the books we sold and the Bibles we sold and the products we sold.”

The first bricks-and-mortar Hackman’s Bible Book Store was on Sixth Street in Allentown, right next to the mission they had come to foster.

“It started very slowly,” says Ruth.  “The bill for rent was $35, and a big day was $16.50 at the time.  And we were also paying someone to be in the store!”

All five of the Hackman’s children worked in the store as they grew up.  The store grew too.  “The Lord blesses with sweat,” says Walter.

With a full family effort, Hackman’s relocated to St. John Street, and then after 17 years in that location, moved to an even bigger store on MacArthur Road, where it stayed for another 17 years before the store moved to its current location at 1341 Mickley Rd. in Whitehall, now owned by Joe and Marcia Hackman.

We ask everyone to please share their stories about how J.Walter Hackman has touched their lives, and fond remembrances of him.  Please leave them in the comments section below.

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Earth day is coming up, and we wanted to remind everyone that this is a great time of the year to plant a tree or even your own vegetable garden.  A garden is a great family activity, and a way to get exercise and spend time outdoors.  Not only that, but you can then eat delicious, home-grown produce.  The wonderful tastes and colors of naturally grown fruits and vegetables were created by God, and nourish the body and the soul.  Earth day is also a great time to do crafts with kid’s such as making a pine-cone bird feeder.

For delicious, healthy ways to use the produce in your new garden, Dr. Scott Stoll has some great information and recipes here.  We’d love to hear how you celebrate the Earth and all of God’s wonderful creations!

Keep in mind that we have some events coming up at the store.  On April 20 at 7pm  is Ian Holme’s CD release concert and birthday party.  Everyone is invited, and we’re hoping to have a nice crowd.  You can check out Ian Holme’s and even download some of his music at http://ianholmesmusic.com/.

On April 28 at 9 AM is Christian Education Workshop with Velvet Lozada.  All Christian educators are invited to this free conference.  We have also cancelled our Courageous events this month.  Remember you can keep up on all the latest news on our Facebook page.

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We hope everyone had a happy Easter and was able to stop in to see the chicks.  They were adorable, as always, and the kids loved them!  We were also able to get a picture of some of last year’s chicks- they grow up so fast!


We also had a lot of fun with the kid’s coloring contest, and with our online contests.  Congratulations to the winner’s of the gift cards and the Easter lamb.

We have some exciting events coming up at Hackman’s this month.  You can find all our events listed on our “events” tab on our Facebook page.

Give the store a call to register for “Courageous- Taking it Further” with Dick Parks and David Russiano on April 17 and April 24.

We also have Ian Holme’s CD release concert and birthday party on April 20; everyone is invited!  And for the Christian educators out there, we have a Christian Education workshop with Velvet Lozada on April 28.

We would love to know what kind of topics you would love to read about on our blog.  Leave us some suggestions as a comment, and if we choose yours, you will get an honorable mention and a small gift from us.

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We are excited to announce that our Easter chicks can be found in store again this year!  They will be spending the week with us, so you can stop by and see them anytime before April 7.  They’re adorable, and the kids love them!  We are running a live webcam feed this year of the playful little chicks that you can find on our Facebook page, here.

We are also running a coloring contest for children ages 1-10 this week.  You can pick up the coloring pages in store, or print them out at the links below:

http://www.catholicmom.com/images/coloringpages/cross3.gif http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Kh0CZuWd0T8/TU0e7nAHNGI/AAAAAAAAJhU/014yL1x-xss/s1600/easter+chicks+colouring+page+in+a+basket.gif

There are prizes for all children who color a picture.  We look forward to seeing many wonderful and creative entries!

This past week was also the Immersion Day event with Dr. Stoll that we have been looking forward to, and we certainly didn’t dissapoint.  Thank you to Dr. Scott and Kristen Stoll for a wonderful afternoon, and for all the vendors and people who helped make it possible.  There was amazing food and great conversation, and everyone had a fantastic time.

Starting tomorrow, we will be starting another contest, so keep your eyes out!  Don’t forget, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Foursquare.

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Here at Hackman’s, we’ve been enjoying the beautiful weather and getting ready for the Easter chicks to join us at the store.  They should be joining us the week before Easter.  Here are some of the cuties we had last year:

We will be sharing updates on the chicks to let you know when they hatch and when you can come see them at the store.  If you have kids, or know someone who does, we recommend that you pick up the new Veggie Tales DVD while you’re at it!

Right now we’re getting ready for our Immersion Day tomorrow from 9 AM- 3:30 PM.  We’re so excited to have Dr. Stoll and his wife in here to talk about nutrition and loving your body the way God intended.  We will also be providing a catered lunch.  We encourage you to check out this great video by Dr. Stoll:


If you can’t join us, you can purchase his Fully Alive! Book and Kristen Stoll’s cookbook here at the store.

Make sure to join us on Twitter!  A little birdie told me we might be holding a contest on there.  Tweet, Tweet!


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If you’re looking for a perfect Easter present, I suggest that you check out our adorable little lambs that plays “Jesus Loves Me”.  We’ve been selling these for many, many years and they are always a huge hit.

We’ve heard some wonderful stories from our customers about the lambs.  They make a wonderful Easter or Christening gift, and many families have started a tradition, like Roger and his family:

“Thirty five years ago, we had our first grandson.  I came home from work and my wife said to me, ‘Look what I bought for him’.  It was a small lamb that played Jesus Loves Me.  That was the start of the family tradition.  Since that time we have purchased fourteen lambs for our grandchildren and four for our great grand-children.  I lost my wife Sept. 5, 1995, but I have purchased the last two myself for two great granddaughters.  You keep up the good Hackman tradition and as long as I am able I will keep up our tradition.  When I am unable to do so, I know my daughters will do the same.”

We’re also still looking for entries for our Facebook contest to win 2 tickets to Dr. Stoll’s Immersion Day on March 24.  Just let us know, on Facebook (or here) about your experiences with how Dr. Stoll’s system (or any type of healthy eating) has changed your life for the better, OR how you think Dr. Stoll’s system can help you to change your life.  Immersion Day will be an exciting event with great information on biblical nutrition, and a healthy catered lunch.  The contest will be ending on Tuesday, so there are only a couple more days to enter!

Also, our new website is live!  Please let us know what you think! (www.hackmans.com).  There are pictures and useful information on the site, and we also encourage you to visit our online store.

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