Toying with nostalgia

The Underground Lair sells history with GI Joes and Atari games.

Did you ever stumble upon a toy from your childhood that makes you pause, remembering the days of carefree playtime?

Well, that's exactly what happened to me days ago when I discovered a Tonka Truck rig at the recently opened The Underground Lair classic toy shop behind Ripper's Pub in downtown Bethlehem.

I was tempted to pick up the Tonka and play, but … this column had to get done!

The Underground Lair is the brainchild of Dan Wirth, an avid toy collector that has been stockpiling toys, board games, sports cards, video games, comic books and action figures for more than 40 years. At last count, his house and storage spaces were lined with "hundreds of toys," Wirth said.

Now, some of those toys line shelves in the quaint shop Wirth owns with his wife, Khrys.

I toured The Lair a few days ago. With every turn, I found a toy to stop and reminisce about: Atari's Donkey Kong video game, GI Joe action figures, Michael Jordan's rookie card, Aqua man (still in its original box), stuffed animals, old metal lunch boxes and a sea of board games, such as Dune and The Beatles "Flip Your Wig." I'm an '80s baby, so some of the shop's toys are before my time. That didn't matter, though, because Wirth was like an encyclopedia of knowledge on each item.

The shop also houses a gay pride section, and offers an appraisal and search service for classic toys. On Wednesday, tables come out for game night, a social event around board games and toy talk, Wirth added.

This shop is like a nostalgic play land. For "Seinfeld" buffs like me, it means you don't have to knock out your toy-collecting date with boxed wine and turkey to play with some old games. Remember that episode?

As for my Tonka truck … turns out my parents may have it in their attic. So, you know where I'll be this weekend.

Those looking for exotic reptiles or organic pet food can find their fix at a new place in Bath.

John and Leanne Gaughran recently opened Dart Frogs to Dogs animal and supply store at 6007 W. Main Boulevard., next to the Valero gas station.

The 1,800-square-foot former Curves space has been renovated with hardwood floors, forest colors and a mural of forest and animals designed by John Gaughran's mother.

Gaughran said he initially thought about opening a restaurant, but after research, he settled on a pet supply store.

In addition to natural pet food, supplies, vitamins and other accessories, the shop also sells an array of animals, including: hamsters, birds, dart frogs, leaf frogs, snakes, bearded dragons, chameleons, geckos, ferrets, turtles and amazing tortoises.


The abrupt closure of the Burger King on Hamilton Boulevard in South Whitehall Township has come as a surprise to many, including Burger King.

On Wednesday, a spokesman at the fast food chain's headquarters in Florida said its location at 3105 Hamilton Blvd. was not authorized to close and the company has advised the franchisee to reopen.

"RVD Inc., the franchise operating company, made the decision to close the restaurant without [Burger King's] knowledge or consent," Burger King spokesman V.J. Monzon said in a written statement.

My messages to RVD Inc. were not returned as of Friday afternoon.

The fast-food restaurant's closing ignited a groundswell of reader emails in recent days. Still, however, word of the closure hasn't reached everyone. I witnessed several cars enter its parking lot around noon Wednesday. They quickly turned away when greeted by the bright green "closed" sign taped to the window. Other pieces of paper taped to the doors and windows said "Temporarily closed. Will reopen ASAP."