Sniffles dolls and toy machine guns at York’s Joe the Motorist Friend store.

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Fellow blogger Joan Concilio discovered York countians have lots of memories of Joe the Motorists’ Friend stores, and she has shared them in several of her blog posts. The regional chain sold tires, automotive items and other things, but the toys stand out at Christmas time.

I’m sharing two full page Christmas ads from Joe’s in this post and the next one. They are both from the December 13, 1956 Gazette and Daily. The text reproduces too small to read, so I’ll pick out some highlights from each ad:
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Remember your letters to Santa?

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Do many children still write letters to Santa? According to this article from the December 15, 1956 Gazette and Daily, the post office was inundated with them then.

Billy, the writer who wanted a monkey, must be about retirement age by now. I wonder if he is still looking for Santa to bring his monkey. The account reads:
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Christmas at the York Post office in 1956

“ROBOTS GIVE YULETIDE MAILING ADVICE—Verses painted on a couple of robots in the lobby of York Post Office urge postal patrons to put three-cent stamps on Christmas cards (for forwarding and return service) and pack boxes carefully, label them correctly and mail early.  Reading verses are Maurice E. Peters, clerk, at left and Richard D. Kisiner, sub-clerk.  A group of postal employees volunteered their time to write verses, letter the robots, or put up streamers, a Christmas tree and other decorations in the lobby.  A York firm constructed the robots free of charge and two others donated materials.”

“ROBOTS GIVE YULETIDE MAILING ADVICE—Verses painted on a couple of robots in the lobby of York Post Office urge postal patrons to put three-cent stamps on Christmas cards (for forwarding and return service) and pack boxes carefully, label them correctly and mail early. Reading verses are Maurice E. Peters, clerk, at left and Richard D. Kisiner, sub-clerk. A group of postal employees volunteered their time to write verses, letter the robots, or put up streamers, a Christmas tree and other decorations in the lobby. A York firm constructed the robots free of charge and two others donated materials.”

Here’s more on the 1956 Christmas season from the Gazette and Daily. At that time the paper published many photos taken by their staff with long captions, so there was no need for an additional article. These two, found on microfilm at York County Heritage Trust, concern the post office, a busy place then, as now, during the season. I’ve transcribed the captions for easier reading.

The robot piece is from the November 26, 1956 Gazette and Daily. I had forgotten that you used to be able to send Christmas cards and other greeting cards unsealed and get a cheaper rate. It may have cost two cents instead of three for each unsealed piece.

The November 29, 1956 Gazette and Daily reported an addition to the letter carriers’ seasonal burden–this doesn’t sound like the best timing from the unnamed manufacturer: Continue reading “Christmas at the York Post office in 1956” »

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Downtown York tried to keep those ’50s shoppers

"CAROUSEL PLACED IN SQUARE—Police Commissioner William J. Bynane and Patrolman Kenneth L. Lauer look over a carousel which was placed in Continental square yesterday by Downtown York, Inc., to provide free rides for children of shoppers.  The youngsters also receive copies of the Christmas story."

“CAROUSEL PLACED IN SQUARE—Police Commissioner William J. Bynane and Patrolman Kenneth L. Lauer look over a carousel which was placed in Continental square yesterday by Downtown York, Inc., to provide free rides for children of shoppers. The youngsters also receive copies of the Christmas story.”

My previous post showed a December 1956 Gazette and Daily full page ad for the one-year-old York County Shopping Center. It listed the 28 stores and businesses and stressed the free parking.

Downtown businesses did try to counteract the shopping drain that year by placing a real carousel in the square, offering free rides. They also instituted a free shuttle bus from a city lot at Harrison and Wallace Streets in east York to the downtown shopping area. That location doesn’t seem very convenient to me, but, according to the photo caption, some shoppers were using the service.

“SHUTTLE-BUS SERVICE from a city-built lot beside Wallace Street at Harrison Street to downtown was begun at noon yesterday [November 30].  Among the first users was Mayor Fred A. Schiding (above).  Shoppers may leave their cars free of charge at the lot and ride free, during December, to the center of the city.  Buses leave at 10-minute intervals.  The service is sponsored by Downtown-York, Inc., a group promoting the center of the city as a shopping district.  One of the drivers said about 150 persons rode the buses yesterday.”

“SHUTTLE-BUS SERVICE from a city-built lot beside Wallace Street at Harrison Street to downtown was begun at noon yesterday [November 30]. Among the first users was Mayor Fred A. Schiding (above). Shoppers may leave their cars free of charge at the lot and ride free, during December, to the center of the city. Buses leave at 10-minute intervals. The service is sponsored by Downtown-York, Inc., a group promoting the center of the city as a shopping district. One of the drivers said about 150 persons rode the buses yesterday.”

One tradition still carried on today is the Christmas tree in York’s square. The 1956 version is pictured here:
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Where did all the downtown York shoppers go?

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It was Christmas season 1956, and the battle lines were drawn between downtown and suburban shopping centers. The first stores in the York County Shopping Center in Springettsbury Township probably opened in the fall of 1955, since the center celebrated their second anniversary in October 1957 by giving away a Renault Dauphine automobile. (The center is now named York Marketplace, but I don’t know anyone who calls it that. Google maps is even confused, trying to put York Central Market in front of the York County Shopping Center.)

By December 1956 the shopping center was in full swing with 28 stores and other businesses. They pushed their advantages, as seen in this full page ad in the December 7, 1956 Gazette and Daily. Free parking was stressed, as was having 28 stores clustered together, as well as their being open every night until nine.

How many of the stores do you remember? I recall Feller’s clothing store because my mother worked there about ten years later. I also remember some of the larger stores, like Food Fair, McCrory’s and Sears. Eugene Jacobs was menswear and the Darling Shop might have been women’s clothing. I have no idea what some of the others were, especially if they don’t have clues like shoes, toys or gifts in their names. Burt’s? Sa-Lee of York, Inc.? I’ll have to check the city directories at York County Heritage Trust unless someone can help me out.
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Posted in 1950s, advertising, business, Christmas, retail stores, shopping, Springettsbury Twp., Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

More on school consolidation in York County

ChancefordInteriorYork County Heritage Trust Director of Library and Archives, Lila Fourhman-Shaull, shared a dedication program for Chanceford Elementary School with me. As noted in my previous post, the school was dedicated on August 31, 1958.

The program gives a history of public education in Chanceford Township. Many school districts were consolidating their one-room schools into modern elementary schools during the 1950s and would have a similar history, except for the names of the individual schools being closed. The history page of the program reads, in part:
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Posted in 1830s, 1880s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, Chanceford Twp., education, high schools, schools, students, teachers, Universal York, York County | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Chanceford school used for only fifty years.

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As often happens, while looking for something else in the newspaper microfilms at the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives, I came across a December 1956 Gazette and Daily article with an architectural perspective of the planned Chanceford elementary school at the Brogue.

The construction would bring about the closing of some of the last one-room schools in the county. The article reads:
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Posted in 1950s, architecture, buildings, Chanceford Twp., schools, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Shadow of World War Two loomed over York County in 1939

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Although the United States did not officially enter World War Two until December 8, 1941, the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Americans knew it was coming. By the fall of 1939, it was beginning to affect people in different ways, as you can see from two items transcribed below. They are both from the November 4, 1939 York Gazette and Daily:
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Finding Nicholas James

Nicholas James from Lewis Miller's People, recently published by York County Heritage Trust

Nicholas James from Lewis Miller’s People, recently published by York County Heritage Trust

Nicholas James was a York County teenager during the closing years of the Revolutionary War. He was evidently learning his trade as a butcher, and part of his job was distributing provisions for the guards and British prisoners of war at Camp Security.

James states, in affidavits filed with pension applications for guards, that he was familiar with them and with Camp Security for most of the nearly two years of its existence. He did try to get a federal Revolutionary War pension himself later in life, but it was denied because he would not have been 16, the legal age of service until several months after the end of the war in 1783. He might have had a pension for his serviced from Pennsylvania. I’ll be looking at that later.

I’ve used James as an example of how you can start with just a mention or so of an individual from the past and build upon that information, finding more about his whole life. My recent York Sunday News column below demonstrates what I found in just an hour or so of searching for Nicholas James at the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives.
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Posted in 1780s, apprentices, Camp Security, food, Lewis Miller, prisoners, Revolutionary War, soldiers, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

More on National Art Week

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My last post listed all the artwork, mostly paintings, displayed in downtown York storefront windows during National Art Week in 1939. It caught my eye since The Parliament arts organization is promoting a similar venture, utilizing vacant display windows.

I also found another Gazette and Daily article from November 1939 listing other National Art Week activities. I wondered if there was still a National Art Week, so I did some internet searching: National Art Week seems to have come out of the WPA (Works Progress Administration), created in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create jobs during the Great Depression. The FAP (Federal Art Project) was the visual arts division of the WPA, and that seems to have been the impetus behind National Art Week, which officially lasted only a few years. The Great Depression was coming to an end, and focus shifted quickly to the United States entry into World War II.

A catalog entry for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art references papers from National Art Week from Washington State in 1940 and 1941. We know from the Gazette and Daily articles that is was being observed here in 1939, and an online article from an Alexandria, Louisiana newspaper tells about their National Art Week events in 1938.

Some other countries, such as the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia, seem to be currently observing their own National Art Week. The United States now commemorates Arts in Education week, established by a 2010 resolution passed by the House of Representatives.

Here’s the 1939 article:
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Posted in 1930s, 1940s, artists, education, museums, photography, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments