Ask Joan: Third-grade teacher edition

Today’s Ask Joan features a bad-news update; the cat I mentioned last week had to be put to sleep, which was devastating for our family; but in good news, my week was made by receiving a letter from my third-grade teacher in response to a previous Ask Joan, which I’m glad to share today!

What’s inside
1. American Toy, Novelty Works sled
2. Seeking photo of Frederick St. Acme
3. Italian Oven recipe book sought
4. Info on Brook Leaf Love Nest
5. Memories of Weigelstown’s North Pole
Continue reading “Ask Joan: Third-grade teacher edition” »

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Ask Joan: Sick cat edition

This week has been rough – we’re having a problem with our air conditioner at home, but more worrisome, our oldest cat, Salem, is pretty sick. He’s been at the vet since Sunday, and he’ll be there til at least Friday. I’ll be honest; when he comes home, I’m not sure how much time he’ll have left.

I try to keep things pretty happy here as it relates to telling you what’s up with my life in York County, and I do have a slightly fun story to tell – I’ve gone to visit Salem a few times, and in the next cage to him is a lovely cat called Skittles, belonging to one my middle-school teachers and his wife! Very York County. So send good thoughts for Salem and Skittles, OK? And if you want to help me answer some questions, I’ve got a few I could use a hand with!

What’s inside
1. Liberty Bell replica follow-up
2. Looking for copies of yearbooks
3. Information sought on Washington House
Continue reading “Ask Joan: Sick cat edition” »

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Ask Joan: Summer fun edition

Today’s Ask Joan questions all focus on fun summer things to do. We’re officially done our eighth-grade homeschooling year, having finished our evaluation and gotten our portfolio ready for the school district, so we’re in full-on summer mode!

What’s inside
1. Where is this mystery bell?
2. Looking for summer kids’ activities
Continue reading “Ask Joan: Summer fun edition” »

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Some more memories of downtown York, PA

The late Betsy Baird, who grew up in York and later lived in  Springettsbury Township, shared these photos a couple of years ago featuring the interiors of some former downtown York businesses, including Wiest's.

The late Betsy Baird, who grew up in York and later lived in Springettsbury Township, shared these photos a couple of years ago featuring the interiors of some former downtown York businesses, including Wiest’s.

Today I’ve got a few more of readers’ memories of former stores in downtown York, PA, to share – I hope you’ll check them out and share your own memories in the comments!

Roy Flinchbaugh wrote and said, “I wonder how many of your readers remember when there were 5 men’s stores in the first block of North George St.? … The stores were: Griffith-Smith, Lehmeyer’s, Gregory’s, Flinchbaugh Bros. (most recently part of First National Bank), and McFalls’. In the same block were also 2 restaurants (The Golden Glow and the Ramona). Where Bistro 19 is now were (in addition to the Ramona) 2 vacant places owned by Mrs. Frysinger Rohrbaugh (daughter of the original owners of Smutz’s leather store across the street). The Penn Hotel was at the northern end of the block, across from the Strand and Capitol. Bear’s shoe department and Whelan’s drug store (on the square) are all the other places in that block that I can remember. Perhaps your readers can fill out the block. I really enjoy reading your columns for both the nostalgia and the new information.”

Interestingly, I was just wandering around in that first block of North George last week when I went to a concert at the Strand, and it’s amazing to me to think about all of the things that have come and gone just in that one small area!

I also heard from Joyce Moul about downtown memories a couple of blocks over; Joyce writes, “I grew up in York in what I guess would have been considered an alley. It was called Grant Street and had a big gas tank behind a fence. Bentzel’s Poultry House was on the corner of Grant and Philly. The next real street going West on Philadelphia was Newberry and, if you turned north at the corner you would come to an auction house on the right and then, across a small alley, was Warner’s grocery store. Down that alley used to be Smittie’s Soft Pretzels. I think my dad’s first job after the war was making pretzels with Les Smith who owned it. My mom always said she wished he would have gone into the business with Smitty when he had the chance. Warner’s was a mom and pop place with a pickle barrel and a candlestick phone. Further north on Newberry on the other side of the street was a cigar store where my grandpa used to play poker in the back room. Cross over the railroad tracks and there was a building on the left that used to get the most amazing huge icicles in winter! Many times on the way walking to Garfield Elementary, I would try to break one off so that I could chew on it. I guess we were poor when I was a kid but we never felt poor. We had such great adventures in that neighborhood, putting pennies on the railroad track for the “fair train” to flatten in September, riding the seesaw in the small park on Cottage Hill Road, even sleeping in the living room in front of the open front door in the summer because it was too hot to be upstairs. It was a short walk down across Philadelphia Street to the butcher shop on Market St. where mom bought meat. The “Food Fair” was up on Philadelphia and Beaver where a garage now stands (I have a pack of needles with their ad on it that they gave out at possibly their grand opening. It belonged to my mom.) We could walk up to the Bon-Ton and try to dip our fingers in the perfume fountain or go to Wiest’s to see the big bird on an upper floor, get a grilled hot dog when we had money from one of the 5 and 10 cent stores. Walk west on Market and get rock candy from Mike’s Nut Shop. Yes, we had a better home when we moved to the suburbs and left the old neighborhood behind, but we took a lot of memories with us.”

And on the other side of Market, longtime commenter Audrey Lerew recalls, “24 S. George St. was a clothing credit store that was called Livingston’s. They were there through 1959. It was a chain store not locally owned. I became a bookkeeper there when I graduated from high school. Terminal Luggage was across the street at 25 S. George St. They moved across to 24 S. George when Livingston’s went out of business. 24 S. George was a larger store. I can’t remember the name of the people who owned it. When Livingston’s closed, I moved up the street to 152 S. George St (where McDonald’s is located today) to Regal Clothiers Inc. That was a privately owned credit clothing store owned by Charley Lyons. I was a salesperson and bookkeeper there. When Livingston’s closed, Terminal Luggage moved into their location, Charley moved down to the old Terminal Luggage location at 25 S. George St. until he closed in the mid ’60s. He use to go to Schmidt & Ault paper mill Wednesdays and cash the guy’s checks and they would automatically give him money to put on their accounts they had with him. He sold a lot of work clothes to them. KayBee clothing store, another credit store, was located on the corner at 101 S. George St. They were there through 1961.”

I’m very interested in hearing more about all these areas and their various stores and businesses through the years, as well as from other neighborhoods in downtown York and elsewhere around the county. I get tons of memories, but I’m trying to share and document as many as possible so we can, as Joyce mentioned, keep these memories with us!

Previous posts
· Dec. 20, 2010: More memories of stores in downtown York
· March 5, 2011: An amazing treasure trove: A walking tour of historic downtown York
· March 15, 2011: Downtown memories from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s
· March 29, 2011: Memories of shopping on West Market Street, and a wonderful gas price of 17 cents a gallon!
· April 29, 2011: Letters about even more downtown stores and restaurants
· April 30, 2011: Remember our downtown walking tour?
· June 18, 2011: Mail call: A downtown map and thoughts on Green Stamps from the Staub family
· Oct. 21, 2011: Some possible additions to our detailed map of downtown stores
· Dec. 13, 2012: Mail call: Downtown York photos from Charles V. Goodwin
· Feb. 21, 2013: Business advertisements from the York High Weekly in the early 1940s
· Apr. 5, 2013: Yet more memories of downtown York from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s
· Feb. 13, 2014: More memories of downtown York cafeterias

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Ask Joan: Seeking more memories edition

I’m spending this week fighting a spring cold, or some other kind of upper-respiratory “ick.” Seriously? It’s May. That’s ridiculous. I hope you’re feeling well, and I hope you enjoy today’s trip to my mailbox; these are all questions that were sent via postal mail – in some cases quite a while ago – all seeking memories of former locales!

What’s inside
1. Heard of Boeckel’s Landing?
2. More memories of People’s Drug Store
3. Seeking Pilot Haven Garage info

Continue reading “Ask Joan: Seeking more memories edition” »

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A couple more memories about Ernie McCall

Today’s trip to my mailbox brings a quick set of memories about Ernie McCall, known through the years as the owner of many restaurants around York County.

Previous posts

Feb. 23, 2011: Diners and drive-ins: Gino’s news, plus Burger Chef, Western Sizzlin’, Ernie McCall’s and more
March 23, 2011: Eating at Ernie’s, and memories of The Flamingo
May 24, 2013: Even more memories of the North Pole and Florida Room
June 10, 2011: Temperature opposites? Memories of the North Pole and The Florida Room

More memories of Ernie McCall and his restaurants

Reader Dareen Angel wrote after seeing an item in my print column in August of last year, “I read … about Ernie McCall’s subs. Well, maybe you didn’t know but Ernie started his sub business in the first block of North Beaver St. My sister worked at Bell Telephone as a long distance operator and she brought Ernie’s subs home in 1947. After North Beaver Street, Ernie had a restaurant up by Shiloh. I don’t remember the location, everything is built up around there now. I used to drive there on my lunch hour for Ernie’s subs. That was all before the North Pole.”

You can see the North Pole pictured above in a photo shared by commenter Steve Kohler, at the area of Whiteford Road and Sherman Street, for reference!

From Roger Brunner, I received the following: “I would like to reflect on the write-up about the North Pole and Florida Room. Ethel and Ernie McCall were my aunt and uncle. Back in the 1960s my brothers and sisters would stay with Ernie and Ethel. There was a pool with a bathhouse and palm trees. My oldest sister Barbara and my older brother Stacy worked at the North Pole. My mother worked as a hat check and coat check person. I can remember the wishing well with a waterfall inside the Florida Room. The remainder of the pool is still there – it was just filled in – there are trees that grew there. My aunt Ethel and Ernie McCall were really good to us.”

Larry R. Reiber wrote, “Interesting article on the North Pole/Florida Room … One of your readers mentioned there was NO pool. Others said there was. The fact is, there was. And they also offered one of the first York sidewalk café services. I have a Yellow Pages ad, as well as the complete phone book, from 1961. The ad is a little larger than a 1/4 page… advertising these facts. The address was 1225 N. Sherman St. Even points out that it is Air Conditioned, and they have a Television Room. Important features of dining out comfort at that time.”

Larry also recalled Mr. McCall’s earlier business, and wrote, “Here is a more interesting fact about Ernie McCall. His prior business, late ’40s into the ’50s, was Ernie McCall’s Delicatessen, located at 52 N. Beaver Street. Next door to the upscale Alberta Lee’s Dress Shop. And now the southern tip of the White Rose Bar and Grill property. They (WRBG) purchased it when he moved to his new business on Sherman St., around 1959-60(?). While on Beaver Street, his reputation was build around those wonderful submarine sandwiches. And his very likeable personality. I know these facts because I grew up about 200 feet from his Deli, and my family was close friends with him.”

And George Figdore who had shared memories with me about working at the Avalong Dairy Bar, also wrote, “I also worked at Ernie McCall’s North Pole on the corner of Sherman Street and Whiteford Road. Believe it or not but there is still a remnant of Mr. McCall’s home still visible in the ground close to where 11th Avenue cuts off from Sherman Street. I was about 12 at that time. My duties included picking up the trash from the parking area, peeling potatoes and slicing them into five gallon milk cans filled with water. I also sliced all the cheese, salami, bologna, tomatoes, hot dogs, pulled stems from chili peppers and ground them for the sub. I learned how to clean soft ice cream machines and to fill them with mix from Crowley’s. I am not sure of this, but Russell Hoffman who lived up the street from me also worked there. On another note, child labor laws were not what they are today, some of these tasks are forbidden today. I think you can tell I have some very fond memories of those days.”

Discussing years of these various restaurants, dear helper Ann Funk from the Martin Library reference desk shared notes from the York City directories showing the first reference to a North Pole Candy & Nut Shop (Ernest E. McCall) at 9 W. Philadelphia St. in 1954, then a North Pole Drive-In, 1225 N. Sherman St., in 1958, same Ernie. In 1962, the listing appears for the North Pole, but adds The Florida Room restaurant, also to Ernest E. McCall, at the same Sherman Street address. That listing shows up until 1967, and by 1969, the North Sherman Street address is listed as “vacant.”

On a final note, regarding earlier commenter Dareen’s note about there having been a restaurant of Ernie’s in the Shiloh area, I had earlier received this question from fellow Yorkblogger Stephen H. Smith of Yorkspast: “Were there two North Pole Drive-Ins? Were they owned by the same people? I’m well aware of the North Pole Drive-In on the corner of Whiteford Road and North Sherman Street; ate there many times. I was told today that there was a second location, at least in the late ’60s along Carlisle Road near Weigelstown.”

Anyone have any information on that? Was it a North Pole? Was it owned by Ernie McCall? Comment and let me know what you recall!

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Ask Joan: Bevy of lemon sponge pies edition

Yvonne Welt of York shared this photo taken in 1979 of a former Jay's Market at Mount Rose Avenue and Haines Road, where Ollie's is today. Her son Steven worked at the store and is seen with a cart at right.

Yvonne Welt of York shared this photo taken in 1979 of a former Jay’s Market at Mount Rose Avenue and Haines Road, where Ollie’s is today. Her son Steven worked at the store and is seen with a cart at right. Only in York County readers had been looking for the Jay’s lemon sponge pie recipe, and today, we might just have it!

What’s inside
1. Long-awaited lemon sponge pie recipes
2. Pennsylvania Dutch church service Sunday
Continue reading “Ask Joan: Bevy of lemon sponge pies edition” »

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Ask Joan: New car edition


Yep, that happened yesterday. I’m now the proud owner of a brand-new (as in, only 8 miles on it) 2014 Honda Civic, thanks to Tanya Healy at Apple Honda. I don’t get anything for saying so, but it was as good as the experience of buying a new car – when you REALLY didn’t want to – could possibly be.

Also, in true Only in York County fashion, I know Tanya because she sold my best friend his car, and two of my coworkers THEIR car, and the assistant manager of the car wash at Apple is a guy I’ve studied martial arts with off and on since I was in elementary school.

What’s inside
1. Belmont Pharmacy – soda, or no?
2. Seeking details on neighborhood reunion
3. Another Jay’s restaurant recipe sought
Continue reading “Ask Joan: New car edition” »

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Ask Joan: School memories edition


Don Seidel acquired this photo along with some old artwork at an antique store, but does not know where or when it was taken. He wrote to Ask Joan looking for resources to help him identify it… any ideas, Yorker friends? It may not be local, but it might be!

I’m sharing several “Do you remember”-style questions today from my inbox, all of which deal with readers’ memories from their school days.

What’s inside
1. Pine Street School building history
2. York Township Elementary’s Mr. Smith?
3. Central Elementary students to reunite
Continue reading “Ask Joan: School memories edition” »

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A smorgasbord of food memories

Today’s post is just a quick dive into my inbox to share some miscellaneous memories of yummy foods and restaurants of the past. Where I can, I’ve linked to previous times we’ve talked about these particular eateries, so dig in!


April 17, 2013: An Ask Joan question from Jackie Sprout seeks Moser’s memories
Feb. 28, 2012: eBay becomes a source for memories of Moser’s, other local businesses

Meg Zarfos wrote, “Moser’s served great food back in the ’60s. Every Thursday we would travel there to order giant shrimp cocktails and T-bone steaks that really hit the spot.”

Karen Boyle said, “I remember eating at Moser’s Restaurant in West York all the time in the late ’50s through the late ’60s. My grandmother lived in the 1200 block of West King Street and we would go to Moser’s when visiting with her. One of the first discount stores in York (Franklin Discount) was next door for a period of time. Moser’s always did a terrific business. There was a nice dining room and they served very good food. The waitresses were all there a very long time – very outgoing, friendly. Mr. Moser usually was seen in the restaurant. There were unique pictures all through the dining room that were lit from behind. There was a banquet room in the back with a sign that the West York Rotary Club met there. Next door was an area with a counter and stools that was more casual. They served food from the same menu – always had delicious deserts, especially great pies. I particularly remember an attractive waitress – I think her name was Betty – she was always so friendly with the customers (most were “regulars”) – seemed like more fun to sit on that side of the restaurant, especially when Betty was working!”

And regarding the dates Moser’s was in business, my friend Ann at the Martin Library research desk shared that there were iterations of a restaurant mentioned in the Polk city directories as early as, possibly, 1933 at 1210 W. King St., with a more official restaurant listing under that name at 1251 W. King St. showing up in 1943, and then various addresses between 1251 and 1257 W. King St. continuing to appear through 1998!

Dixie Cream

April 5, 2013: Reader Linda E. Roelke seeks the name of a doughnut shop on West Market Street
Feb. 25, 2013: Reader Steve Eaton shares doughnut memories, among others, in an Ask Joan reply

James Herman noted that a doughnut shop we’d mentioned previously as being on West Market Street was Dixie Cream, owned by Jack Lutz. “I worked for Wolcott catering and we bought all our donuts here,” he wrote.

And Bev Hildebrand said, “It was Dixie Cream (or Creme) Donuts and was one building east of the current Junior League. Whenever we shopped downtown, my dad would take all four of us to Dixie Cream. First we would watch the donut man work his magic. He would roll out a huge slab of dough. Then came the fun. In one motion, he used the cutter with his right hand, collecting the dough rings on his left thumb. When his thumb was full, he would transfer the rings gently but quickly into the hot oil. Then he repeated the work. There are no adequate words to fully express the speed of this process. I doubt any machine could have worked with greater speed. And oh those warm donuts! Dad always said they were the best donuts in York County. I only know they were delicious. Those warm treats accompanied with the free ‘show’, were one of the highlights of childhood.”

Pizza Villa

March 1, 2013: Tom Gracey remembers a neighborhood pizza shop in an Ask Joan column

I heard about this from Deborah (Barnhart) Nelson who wrote after reading this previous column with a question from Tom Gracey, “My mom was the owner of the pizza shop that was mentioned and her mom also worked there. It was the Pizza Villa on Parkway Blvd. My sister, Doris, worked there before our mom bought the business, owned by ‘Jeep’ Myers. At that time, pizza was sold only by the whole pie – I think he was the first to sell by the slice in York and he was also the inventor of the ‘Flying Saucer’ sandwich. It was a kind of take off on the submarine (long roll) and the flying saucer was served on a round roll. People still talk about that sandwich to this day! The pizza was made on a huge tray that yielded 24 slices of pizza. There was one piece of pepperoni in the center of each slice used as a garnish. (Mom did away with this some time later). One more thing before I end this story – I met my great husband, Terry Nelson, of 45 years there, and after we got married, we bought his parents’ house which was next door to Tom Gracey. So Tom, thanks for taking us down memory lane!”

Thanks to everyone who shared memories here for taking me down memory lane… a yummy one!

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