A letter from a York County ‘codger’


I received a great letter in the mail recently from Bill Houseman of York.

Bill, who described himself as “an old WWII vet,” had a lot of great downtown memories and one really funny attachment to his letter.
He starts, “Hi Joan, I’m an old codger of 86 yrs. and have lived all my life in York, Pa. I enjoy your column and also Gordon Freireich very much.”

In response to some earlier downtown memories, Bill writes, “There was another drug store in downtown York, Dale & Co. Also another sporting goods store, Cohen Bros. Going south on George St. was a small model shop run by Sam Gotwalt, a science teacher at William Penn. Also going south on the right hand side was a pet store, and Grieman Bros. men’s clothing store.”

He adds that there was “a drive in south of the city, The Orange Top, and west of York the White Swan. What made this unique was young ladies on roller skates called car hops that would take your order, then hook the tray on your car-door.”

Interestingly, I have plans to talk more in coming weeks about both Cohen Bros. and some other sporting goods stores, as well as the White Swan.

But most interestingly, Bill mailed me something that’s starting to seem a bit familiar. He sent a version of our downtown York walking tour by Mykl Lau!

This thing sure made the rounds! In Bill’s case, he writes, “I am enclosing a list of businesses that may be of help to you. It was given to me by my good friends Jim and June Herman at their 50th wedding anniv. party.” Bill had no idea who had put the list together, so I’m glad that I can tell him I’ve found its source. I’m also immensely glad to hear it has made the rounds in various circles. That is awesome. Maybe someday, people will pass around their iPads and look at old Only in York County posts at anniversaries?

Anyway, Bill, thank you very much for your letter, and for those memories.

For those wondering about the photo at the top of this post, I’m trying something new, at the suggestion of both my husband and my friend Kara Eberle, who is our Smart magazine editor. They suggested I post images of the actual mailed letters to help preserve not only the words, but some of the original handwriting as well. So starting with Bill’s letter, when I can, I’m going to try to do just that!

About Joan

My name is Joan and I'm a lifelong Yorker. Throughout high school and college, I swore I was getting out of here as soon as possible. Now, a few years later, I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be. I love my town, and I hear every day from readers who love their towns, too. So please, connect with me and let's share what makes life in York County great. I'm here to help you enjoy this place as much as I do!
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3 Responses to A letter from a York County ‘codger’

  1. Terry Parr says:

    I remember Dale & Co. I dabbled in chemistry in the 60’s and bought a lot of my chemicals and equipment there.

  2. Ron Brown says:

    Hi! I’m from northern York Co, several years ago I made a purchase of a lot of old vintage, new still in the boxes and on display cards, of fishing equipment from a gentelman who was a relative of the Cohen Bros. Sporting Goods store in York Pa. Would love to know more on the history of Cohen Bros. I sell and buy old vintage fishing equipment and like to share the history of the vintage fishing equipment I sell, for there is a story behind everything and anything in life that seems to make it more interesting when I sell or buy.

    Thank You
    Ron Brown
    “For Today is Yesterdays Tomorrow, Live for Today”

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