Lawrence “Mickey” Padora has died.
He is the longtime owner and operator of Padora’s Italian Bakery in Tamaqua.
The business announced his passing this morning on social media. He was 93.
The Canary joins thousands across Schuylkill County and the entire anthracite coal region expressing condolences to the Padora family for their loss.
Lawrence “Mickey” Padora (1926-2020)
Mickey was born in Coaldale in 1926, the son of Italian immigrants Paqual and Anna (Palumbo) Padora. He was proud to call himself a first-generation American.
At about age 13, as he tells it, all the boys his age started getting jobs around the Tamaqua area. He started working at what was then just known as Italian Bakery in Tamaqua, operated by Mitty Zaraca. That’s when he learned to start baking bread in the coal-fired oven that fed generations of people in the coal region back to the late 1800s.
It wouldn’t be for more than a decade later that Mickey purchased the bakery business in Tamaqua. He met the woman who’d become his wife, Carolyn (nee Butler), at the Five Points Diner in Tamaqua in 1964. Together, they operated the famed bakery and Padora’s Six Pack House in Tamaqua for decades.
Mickey stopped working at the bakery at the age of 85. That’s more than 7 decades of making bread for a living. Carolyn died in 2017.
Literally, Lived the American Dream
Mickey’s story epitomizes the American dream. An immigrant family from Italy passes through Ellis Island near the turn of the 20th Century.
Hard work leads to opportunity. And that hard work kept a family-owned business going decade after decade.
To this day, it remains in the Padora family, with his son Larry and his family running it and the six-pack/sandwich shop. You can find Padora’s Italian Bakery bread in the plain white bag at local grocery stores in Schuylkill County or at their Tamaqua location.
Over the years with Mickey manning the bread oven in Tamaqua, the secret of his business got out. It’s the secret to any business, really.
The secret isn’t the bread recipe — which is beyond simple (flour, water, salt, and yeast) — it’s the people behind the business.
It seemed that anyone with a camera or a notepad wanted to capture the story at Padora’s Bakery.
You can find the story behind this business and the people behind it all over the internet.
Just a glimpse …
Here’s a look at Mickey operating the bakery’s coal-fired century-old brick oven at the age of 85.
This video was posted to YouTube back in 2006: