Marvin Simkins has lived in York County for more than 60 years: He moved into an apartment in the second floor of a private home in the 2000 block of West Market Street in 1952.
He worked for 35 years at a company then known as Blue Bird Silk, a job he considers one of the best parts of his life. His family contemplated taking their savings and leaving York during the hysteria of Three Mile Island. He’s written for the editorial section of the York Daily Record. And, plenty has changed in six decades.
“(York) is much different now,” Simkins, 94, said. “There’s been a leavening of the population, a lot of people coming in from many places.”
Simkins has chronicled his memories for the future generation in a 302-page memoir, “The Best 90-Plus Years of My Life,” self-published this summer. Although it began as a World War II memoir, Simkin’s writings quickly morphed into an autobiography.
“I began to think about my youth and what brought me to this point in living,” Simkins said. “What I wanted to do was bring … people up to speed on what it was like to live in the early 1900s. I thought it was a rich period, and a period that had many crises.”
Simkins begins with his childhood growing up in a Jewish neighborhood in Philadelphia. Although it included Italian families, each group maintained its diverse beliefs, practices and cultures, Simkins said.
During and after his military career, much of the book is devoted to his travels across the U.S. and throughout much of Europe.
But his love for words goes back to junior high and his classes in Latin and French. When he was asked to edit the class book in college, Simkins didn’t think twice.
“A lot of writers have writer’s block,” Simkins said. He paused.
“I have writer’s diarrhea.”
He spent 4 1/2 years on his memoir, enjoying the chance to relive his happy experiences. Legally blind and diagnosed with osteoarthritis in his fingers, Simkins uses a computer program that allows him to type and have the words read back to him.
“I couldn’t have done it without that, no way,” he said.
Copies of the book sell for $20 locally or $20 plus shipping and handling for out-of-town orders. Readers can send a check to Simkins at 2730 Pine Grove Road, Apt. 2209, York PA 17403 or send inquiries via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I wouldn’t do anything different,” Simkins said. “To change anything in my past could conceivably change everything in my future, and I wouldn’t have liked that, because I really enjoyed the life I lived. I’ve been very fortunate.”
Lives in: York Township
Family: Wife, Bea; one daughter, one grandson, two step-grandchildren
Hobbies: Reading, being with his wife (“She’s great,” Simkins joked. “As wives go, she’s gotta be in the top tier.”)
To purchase: Local readers can send $20 to Marvin Simkins, 2730 Pine Grove Road, Apt. 2209, York PA, 17403. Nonlocal readers can send an order to email@example.com; cost is $20 plus shipping and handling.