Ask Joan: Orange cats edition

I’m sad to say that this week marks the last one for my (until now) boss, April Trotter, at the York Daily Record. April has been amazing to work with, and I’m excited to step into her shoes as the editor in charge of community news here at the YDR!

April is moving to Virginia, and she is excited because her new apartment permits her to have a cat. She’s eyeing up fat orange cats. So in her honor, today, please accept this gratuitous fat orange cat image. I’m told he looks somewhat like a loaf of bread, which isn’t entirely wrong.


What’s inside
1. Memories of 1500 Club sought
2. Seeking Dillsburg-area school information
3. Two follow-ups on past questions
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Ask Joan: Following up on stores and more

Today I’m playing catch-up with some mail I’ve received about past questions; I hope you enjoy today’s fun follow-ups in reverse chronological order.

What’s inside
1. 5&10 in downtown York
2. Remembering Stillman’s Store in York
3. A note on Himmelright’s Grove
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Ask Joan: A half-dozen questions edition

I keep thinking that maybe, sometime, I’ll get closer to “caught up” on Ask Joan questions and memories. But the more questions I put out there, the more answers I receive, and thus the more mail piles up. I’m trying! In that spirit, today I have a quick follow-up and five new questions to share.

What’s inside
1. Following up on weathering steel
2. Memories of Fisher’s restaurant oysters
3. Name of Brodbecks one-room school
4. History of Lockport on river
5. Seeking Mount Rose Elementary photo
6. Connecting with local Slovenians
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Ask Joan: York Township questions edition

All three Ask Joan questions today are from York Township. I don’t normally get that many geographically specific questions, so that was neat!

What’s inside
1. Following up on Innersville/Spry
2. Why is road School Street?
3. Steel beams unpainted – how come?
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Ask Joan: New questions, new logo edition

Like my new Q-and-A image? My friend Dan made that for me, as the old one was kind of getting tired-looking. I mean, hey, you can only hold up fake letters for so long before your arms give out, right? ;-)

What’s inside
1. Seeking name of 5 & 10 store
2. and 3. Using the Polk city directories
4. Swimming spot in Pigeon Hills
5. More thoughts on Boeckel’s Landing
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Ask Joan: Welcome to fall edition

By the time I write Ask Joan again, it will be October. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

What’s inside
1. Another Knaub’s bakery recipe sought
2. Where to place tribute notices
3. Hellam Township’s beautiful sunflower field
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What does it mean to be a York Countian? A look at why I’m still here

Bob Fitzkee arranges hand-rolled vanilla butter crème chocolates atop the sales counter inside Fitzkee's Candies on Route 74 in York Township in 2005.

Bob Fitzkee arranges hand-rolled vanilla butter crème chocolates atop the sales counter inside Fitzkee’s Candies on Route 74 in York Township in this 2005 YDR photo. Fitzkee’s mother started making chocolates during the Great Depression and the family has been in the candy business ever since. The sign on the wall is from the 1940s. Only in York County author Joan Concilio grew up selling Fitzkee’s and other candies at her mom’s business, Joan’s Candy Corner, at the Market & Penn Farmers’ Market and spent plenty of time seeing the Fitzkee family making chocolates.

It all started with a trip a few years ago to the Smithsonian.

Our family happened on a small piece of an exhibit. A few computers were set up with a prompt that simply asked, “What does it mean to be human?” Responses were limited in length, and visitors were asked to answer with whatever was meaningful to them.

Answered veered from serious — my daughter, Sarah, then 12, said “to be able to have our own beliefs and meet people from different parts of the world” — to silly, like some husbands who will remain mostly nameless, who mentioned petting cats and the general agony of being a Phillies fan.

But as I looked at the answers from around the world, I was struck by how much it feels great to be a part of something.

Fast-forward to this year’s York Fair, at which, per custom, YDR staffers planned to spend 10 days hanging out, meeting people, and generally talking about what it is that we do as a local news organization.

Our signup sheets were full of ideas. Political reporter Ed Mahon was going to show off some of his digital work related to the governor’s race. April Trotter and Rebecca Hanlon, leaders of our “No Sweat, York” fitness initiative, arranged for on-site health screenings. They were all cool, but I felt like they didn’t get at what I love most about going to the fair, an annual event I don’t think I’ve missed more than once or twice as far back as I can remember.

I love the fair because it feels like home. I feel like part of something when I’m surrounded by 10,000 of my closest Yorker friends. It actually gets at why I’m still here in York County, 32 years after I got here at 3 days old, even though I swore for years that as soon as I was done with high school, I was headed for Anywhere But Hereville.

And that made me wonder about why everyone else is here.

Look, I get it. There are lots of practical reasons to be in a place like York County — you got a job offer here that paid more, with a lower cost of living and better weather than the heat of New Mexico; you met someone in college who needed to move back after graduation to take care of a family member; you have a house that’s been in the family for years, fully paid off, and you can’t afford not to live there.

These are real stories from people I know. But they’re reasons to arrive — not the reasons you stay.

And that’s what I wanted to find out.

What does it mean to be a York Countian?

Or, to put it another way, what is it that keeps you here? That’s what led to the ongoing project that I’m featuring here on Only in York County, and that’s being highlighted in this story and in our print Living section on Sunday, Sept. 21.

For me, being a York Countian means not being able to go anywhere without running into someone I know. Sometimes people who’ve known me since I was a baby, sometimes high school or college classmates, former coworkers, people from 4-H, from previous jobs, people who read my column in the paper… there’s almost nowhere I go where I don’t know someone from somewhere.

It means eating Lola’s waffles and ice cream at the fair and drinking Kohr’s orangeade.

It’s that moment when you cross the bridge from Lancaster County and just know you’re “back.”

It means feeling at home, whether it’s at a high school football game, around a campfire, at the dirt track, at market, or out for a night of shopping and food downtown.

Those aren’t the reasons that brought me here. But they’re the reasons I’m still here.

Tell me why you’re still here.

I can’t wait to find out.

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Ask Joan: Trying to catch up edition

As happens a few times each year, I’ve spent the past week both clearing out my email inbox (which feels great) and stressing out over the number of not-yet-fielded Ask Joan questions I have in it (which feels less great).

In honor, I’m putting a couple of extra questions out there today, including several I could particularly use your help with!

What’s inside
1. Recipe for Knaub’s bakery cake
2. Seeking info on Stillman’s store
3. Apple Pan Dowdy recipe sought
4. Naming North Mall jewelry store
5. How to find older articles
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Ask Joan: Are you ready for the fair?

Ready for this year’s York Fair? I’ve already been there twice and it hasn’t even opened yet! (Dropping off contest entries, and helping set up the YDR’s booth in Memorial Hall.) I hope you’ll come see me there next Wednesday, Sept. 10, from 2 to 4 p.m. Make sure you say hello!

What’s inside
1. Is it really “first fair”?
2. and 3. Seeking info on name origins
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Assorted notes on Bury’s and Playland


Last week, reader Andrew Diehl asked a question about what was immediately to the right of the Playland skating rink as you looked at it head-on from Market Street.

I’d heard previously from a few people that it might have been Bury’s burgers, but some of us in the local history community were a little confused, because we’d heard of Bury’s being in other slightly different locations in the area.

This is one of the things I love most about what I do: I am surrounded both in-person and digitally with people who have a passion for the things I’m interested in, and who love to work together to find out more about them.

In this case, fellow Yorkblogger Stephen H. Smith of YorksPast took the ball and ran it to the goal line, to use an overdone metaphor appropriate for football season, showing that all of the above is basically true; Bury’s was at many locations in the area of Playland, and he details them complete with years!

Check out his research here: Bury’s in Springettsbury Township was not just hamburgers. (There’s a great street-view photo of Bury’s there, too, that is well worth checking out!)

Since Stephen did all the work, that leaves me the fun of sharing some memories readers sent when flooding me with memories of Bury’s, Playland and that area in general, which I am very glad to do, especially now, since, with the York Fair gearing up to start again on Friday, Sept. 5, you’ll soon be able to take your choice of the two modern Bury Burger incarnations!

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