Pennsylvania Furniture, the West York-based fine furniture manufacturer operated for about 70 years after its founding in the 1890s. By 1949, the York County, Pa., company had manufactured more than 100,000 bedroom suites. Its craftsmen were an example of York countians who did not seek higher education, but performed their fine art with their hands. The old Pennsylvania Furniture building, center, still stands along Sumner Street in West York borough. Background posts: These antiques bear the York, Pa.-made Pennsylvania Furniture Co. label and Red Lion’s Ebert Furniture: From bedroom suites to gunstocks and Bethlehem Furniture Co. woodworker carved JFK statue.
York Town Square viewers have read the story of William Henry Hubley before.
A 1949 newspaper article about Hubley caught up with the 75-year-old in his 47th year at Pennsylvania Furniture, maker of fine bedroom suites, among other high-end furniture.
Hubley had missed only about 10 days of work in his tenure and could not recall being late for work.
“The dean, whom everyone familiarly called ‘Willie,’ would like to stay on the job so long as he is physically able,” the newspaper reported.
Willie comes to mind at a time that a study claims that the York area lacks brainpower… .
The research, put forth by online business magazine Portfolio.com, ranked the York area at 170 out of 200 in brainpower.
Somehow, the magazine assessed educational attainment and earning power of adults older than 25 years in age.
For years, York County has been moving its percentage of population with at least high school degrees upward.
In 2000, only four out of five adult York countians had a minimum of a high school degree. In 1970, that total was less than 50 percent.
Blame our agrarian heritage and a formerly healthy industrial base for that. Historically, people could get jobs without post-secondary degrees, and often without high school diplomas.
Times have changed, and York County schools are quite correctly emphasizing the value of post-secondary education, either at universities or trade schools.
They must keep drilling on that need, and students must realize that education doesn’t stop after 12 grades. Indeed, education is a lifelong process.
That said, does all this mean York countians lack brainpower?
It is true that York countians sometimes hold onto unenlighted ideas. The idea that tiny governments or police departments can manage efficiently in 21st century is one of them.
And the notion that York County can turn its back on the City of York and not suffer downstream consequences is another. So, you’ll hear stuff like: I’m not going into there (York) any more.
But York countians are clever and shrewd and practical.
And their interests are more varied than they’re given credit for.
So we’re back to William Henry Hubley.
Willie regularly attended York Symphony Orchestra concerts and avidly read
newspapers, to keep up with world happenings.
He enjoyed church concerts and regularly listened to “better musical programs” on the radio.
An accompanying newspaper photograph showed Hubley, clad in bib overalls, one hand on a piece of fine furniture.
That crafted, durable dresser, no doubt, sits in a bedroom somewhere today.
People who work with their hands can be Renaissance men and women, too.
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