A log house in York and fastnacht follow-ups


Some time ago, a reader called me and asked if I knew anything about a log house on College Avenue in the city.

After a little bit of a drive, I found the house in question: A home in the 100 block of East College, seen above. This is a private residence (which, as always, means don’t go bothering its occupants!), but what my caller wanted to know was whether I had any information on its past – and how it came to be that in 2015, it’s still standing as-is, and not knocked down for a newer or bigger structure.

I asked my trusted researcher Ann Funk at the Martin Library Information Services Desk what she could find, and she noted that the little house was not a named building or business, nothing that would give a clue to its provenance in her search. In the Polk city directories, it just gives the names of residents, all in the Eyster family, from 1919 to 1955.

I’m certainly interested in knowing more about this building’s past, so if you have any knowledge of its creation to share, please do!

Fastnacht fun

Last week, we talked fastnachts. Appropriately so, for Fat Tuesday had just happened.

I’d asked if you had any favorite fastnacht recipes or memories to share, and I debated not torturing those who gave up sweets for Lent by writing about the responses I received… but my stomach won out after hearing these awesome and very tasty-sounding stories.

Jim Shindler commented, “My favorite fastnacht baker was the late Marie Aughenbaugh, wife of Junior Aughenbaugh of Mount Wolf. For many years I had a standing order for five dozen fastnachts, one dozen for each of our three children and two dozen for my wife and me. My wife and I usually ate only a few while fresh while the balance were frozen until later dates when they were thawed and microwaved in order to stretch the enjoyment. Many dozens were baked for the community including the local employees of the ‘box factory.’ I can recall the wonderful odors and trails of powdered sugar through the Aughenbaugh household. When Marie’s health failed, she told me she was only making them for her family but I was still able to receive my standing order. Since Marie’s passing I have also passed on the celebration of Fastnacht’s Day. It just does not seem the same.”

I can certainly understand that, Jim, and I appreciate you sharing the memory of Marie’s good cooking!

Family friend Lynette Stief writes, “I have been making fastnachts ever since I was a little girl, over 50 years, with my mother, Lura Drawbaugh Flohr. Mom grew up in Dover with PA Dutch ancestry. She enjoyed making fastnachts and sharing them with her family. I have carried on this tradition ever since Mom passed away 13 years ago. I use her recipe, which is a traditional PA Dutch fastnacht, ours are made with mashed potatoes and yeast. One of the modern conveniences I have is being able to knead the dough with my mixer. I usually make three batches of dough which yields about 6 dozen fastnachts. I sometimes have help from other family members, but I always share them with family and friends. There is nothing quite like the taste of a freshly made fastnacht. It is a lot of work to make them and takes most of the day to complete the process but it is always worth the time and effort. I’m thankful for a mother who took the time to teach me and pass on her recipe to future generations, keeping this Pa Dutch tradition alive.”

And Linda Copenheaver notes also that the mashed potatoes are important. She writes, “I have the recipe for the fastnachts that my husband’s great-aunt made. She would be 115 now. The biggest difference that I see in the authentic fastnachts and the commercially made ones, is the cooking and mashing for inclusion of real potatoes. I also have the cutter that she used. It does not make a hole in the center of the dough, which I still see in some of the fastnachts made today.”

I would definitely agree that there are a lot of “fastnachts” sold that are actually just regular doughnuts with no hole. I really liked the ones I had this year because I could taste the potato in them!

And finally, I heard from Willa Lefever of Sonnewald Life Institute in the Stoverstown area, “When I was a child growing up at Sonnewald in the 50s, I remember grinding wheat grown on the farm and making fastnachts from the freshly ground flour. They were darker in color and a bit more dense, but we thoroughly enjoyed dipping them in pure maple syrup or black unsulphured molasses.”

Now THAT made me hungry! I can’t even imagine how good that would be, especially the maple syrup version!

Thank you all for sharing your fastnacht stories!

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Ask Joan: A photo question about York T&T


Just a quick question today based on this photo, which Bob Finke shared of a metal cover he found last fall in Spring Grove borough.

“It’s located in the ground very close to a utility pole, measures 24″ in diameter and has the lettering ‘York T & T Co’ on it,” he wrote.

“Perhaps your research and/or knowledge or that of your readers may be able to shed some light on its history and date of utilization.”

Interestingly, my first assumption was T&T like dynamite, but I think what this actually is, was a manhole cover from York Telephone & Telegraph. I found a 1947 page from the YDR’s predecessor, the Gazette and Daily, that mentions York T&T as a short name for that company, which installed York’s first dial telephone in 1919!

I’ve written previously about that company here; in fact, it’s a several-generations-earlier predecessor to Verizon. It had the York T&T name from at least that 1919 era into the late 1950s, when it was purchased by General Telephone.

As to specifically the use of this plate near a utility line, I can’t say for sure, but it seems likely that it marks the (former) phone company’s access point for its lines in some way!

Any further information for Bob?

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Some fastnacht fun for the week of Fat Tuesday

Paul A. Neiman of Dover wrote to me after reading a column about fastnachts in a December edition of the York Sunday News, saying, “I thought you would like this of my mom, from the 1979 morning paper.”


While I’m only showing part of the article here, featuring a photo of Paul’s mother, Clara, there are some cool notes from it that I want to share in honor of all of the fastnacht awesomeness that’s being eaten this week. (I had mine – from Saubel’s, which has a great bakery – and while I’m feeling much fatter, I’m quite happy, too!)

Clara Neiman was quoted in the article that she has never been able to write down a recipe or procedure for anyone else to follow, just working the dough until it feels “right.” I laughed when I read that, because my own mother is the same way – we’ve long joked that if I knew what “right” was, I wouldn’t need the recipe.

The article also mentions that Mrs. Neiman grew up on a farm near Jefferson speaking only Pennsylvania Dutch at home, and learned to make fastnachts from her own mother, Lovina Rohrbaugh.

I would love to hear more about the fastnacht-making traditions of other families in the area. Do you still use a family recipe, or, like me, do you go crazy for the store-bought variety? (I do admit, though, that I don’t like MOST store-bought fastnachts.)

Would love to hear!

Posted in County customs, Local memories, Things we eat | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Pictures and postcards from Dover, PA


Some time ago, I received a letter and some images from Maravene (Codd) Covert showing several locations in the Dover borough area, where her family lived for many years. I wanted to share those today along with some of Maravene’s notes about the area!

The photo above was shared in a March 2014 issue of the York Daily Record when shared by another reader, and Maravene noted that her house and her great-grandparents’ house later stood on this site, and Crone’s grocery store eventually was where the Hotel Dover is seen in this image.

Continue reading “Pictures and postcards from Dover, PA” »

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Ask Joan: The “Big changes, but not really?” edition


In big news, this week marks my last at the YDR after working here in varying capacities for 15 years. I’ve accepted a job at the Penn State College of Medicine at Hershey Medical Center, supporting the web operations for the research department. It’s a big job, but one I’m REALLY looking forward to. And I loved it when, while cleaning out my closet, I found the two hoodies I’m pictured with above, which I thought were a fun way to note the change.

In “but wait, it’s not really that different!” news, I’m proud to say I’m going to continue writing the Only in York County blog and the Ask Joan column in the York Sunday News, as a freelancer.

So keep those questions and memories coming! In the next few weeks, you’ll see me trying to clear out a backlog of older items as I try to get myself off to a manageable start for the freelance situation!

What’s inside
1. Where can you find smierkase?
2. Memories from York Haven area
3. Schnitz, knepp and ham question
4. Do you remember gas explosion?
5. Sharing thoughts about The Web
Continue reading “Ask Joan: The “Big changes, but not really?” edition” »

Posted in Ask Joan, Local memories | Tagged , | 3 Comments

More Washington House photos



Earlier in the week, I shared a postcard and neat story about the Washington House, formerly in the 300 block of Hellam Street in Wrightsville.

Today, I have two more photos of that establishment to share, from reader Betty J. Massa. What was also fun was hearing from our image technician, Brenda Hake, who lived for a long time in the Wrightsville area, about her memories of the Washington House as she was processing all these photos. She recalled the good Pennsylvania Dutch food served there.

I’ve enjoyed hearing about and seeing this former eatery very much!

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A photo from York Hoover Body and Casket


Just a fun photo and note to share today.

Harry S. Wildasin Jr. came by our office in the past couple of months and shared this picture, which was taken Oct. 20, 1941, of a presentation of the VNA official Hoover Transport, depicting employees of York Hoover Body at the bottom and York Hoover Casket at the top.

Wildasin, who was 7 when this photo was taken, later worked at the casket company from the 1950s until 1997, and when the company was going to get rid of the original image, which is framed and a few feet wide, he said he’d like to have it, and received it.

I’m wondering if anyone remembers this event, or working at York Hoover (either Body or Casket). Would love to hear your stories!

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The Washington House in Wrightsville: Not just a restaurant, also a Greyhound bus stop


I received a note this week from Samuel Kocher of Wrightsville in response to recent memories about The Washington House, a former Wrightsville landmark.

Sam had another story to share; he wrote, “Apart from being a bar and restaurant, this was also a Greyhound bus stop before 1972 when Route 30 moved north of town.”

He continued, “I remember the Greyhound bus part clearly because this is where I got dropped off when I came home from Vietnam 1968. All my worldly possessions were in a 70 lb. seabag that I carried 5 blocks home.”

He shared the postcard you see with today’s post, and concluded, “I’m sure there is a lot more interesting history of this place than I am aware of!”

Sam, thanks for your service – and for making me aware of another point about the history of this location!

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Memories of York County’s Tom Thumb weddings


The photo above comes courtesy of Dale Schaffer of York Township, who brought it into the YDR office on Jan. 20 and shared a bit of his story with one of our reporters, the awesome Brandie Kessler.

Dale is pictured in the photo, standing fifth from the right in the second row from the front. The little girl standing to his right (our left when you look at the photo), who is wearing a covering on her head, is Anna Walton, the girl to whom he was “married” in a Tom Thumb wedding ceremony in the 1930s.

Continue reading “Memories of York County’s Tom Thumb weddings” »

Posted in Around town, Local memories, Northeastern | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Another sampling of York County memories: W.T. Grant, 1500 Club and more

Gary E. Heiland shared the above photo of Mount Zion School, taken in 1905, from his collection of old photos from the area. "The name of the photographer, Wilson, 227 W. Market St., York, Pa., is embossed on the bottom of the heavy board frame," he wrote. Pictured are, front row from left, (?) Sipe, Murray Hoke, Wilbert Reever, Esther Moul, Florence Dayhoff, Florence Baily and Dora Sipe; second row, Charles Bailey, Harry Ferree, Chester Miller, Clarence Kohr, Mamie Shaffer, Naomi Beaverson, Bessie Gingerich and Sadie Kohr; and back row, Walter Spangler, Walter Hoke, Earl Beaverson, David Spangler, teacher Christopher Gingerich, Gary's uncle Walter Heiland, Gary's father John M. Heiland and Bessie Beaverson.

Gary E. Heiland shared the above photo of Mount Zion School, taken in 1905, from his collection of old photos from the area. “The name of the photographer, Wilson, 227 W. Market St., York, Pa., is embossed on the bottom of the heavy board frame,” he wrote. Pictured are, front row from left, (?) Sipe, Murray Hoke, Wilbert Reever, Esther Moul, Florence Dayhoff, Florence Baily and Dora Sipe; second row, Charles Bailey, Harry Ferree, Chester Miller, Clarence Kohr, Mamie Shaffer, Naomi Beaverson, Bessie Gingerich and Sadie Kohr; and back row, Walter Spangler, Walter Hoke, Earl Beaverson, David Spangler, teacher Christopher Gingerich, Gary’s uncle Walter Heiland, Gary’s father John M. Heiland and Bessie Beaverson.

Today, I’d like to share another sampling of some York County memories from my mailbox, as well as the awesome photo above that I’ve been holding on to for a while. As always, don’t forget to check out the York County stores and restaurants of the past directory for more!

Continue reading “Another sampling of York County memories: W.T. Grant, 1500 Club and more” »

Posted in Central/Eastern, Dover/West York, Local memories | Tagged , | Leave a comment