Only in York County

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A plethora of city memories from Greg Halpin

I’m thrilled that Greg Halpin has been commenting since earlier this year on stores and restaurants of York County’s past. That list is ever-growing, so when I get notes like Greg’s, I try to add the missing businesses to our directory as soon as I can!

Today, I’m going to share one of Greg’s earliest letters to me, but first, I’ll let him introduce himself.

Greg writes, “I’m a life-long resident of York City, and recently hit the big 5-0 so I’ve got a lot of memories left in my head. … I’m an assistant fire chief in the city fire department, and have been there for 30 years. I also am an unofficial department historian, so I’m probably your ‘go to guy’ should you have questions about the fire department’s history.

In that capacity, Greg was able to shed some light on the “big ladder” that you see Santa on at The Bon-Ton in this post by Jim McClure, which I referenced back in the April 11 edition of Ask Joan. That ladder, he writes, “is one of the city fire department’s ladder trucks. The fire department always showed up at the Bon-Ton with the ladder truck to help Santa get down off of the roof where presumably he landed his
sleigh. I guess the Bon-Ton didn’t have a suitable chimney to go down through. Some of the older guys in the fire department talked about being a part of these events through the years.”

Regarding some other business memories, Greg was almost unsure where to start – because he remembers so much! He wrote, “I’m going to restrict myself to the restaurants for now, with the exception of the following about a few stores.”

“Sol Kessler’s Hi Fi Shop was in the 100 block of South George Street, across from what is now Sovereign Bank. Many of the 45s in my record collection were purchased at Sol Kessler’s back in the 1970s. I’m also surprised that Sunny’s Surplus wasn’t on the list. They used to be at George & King Streets, then moved up George Street near where Sol Kessler’s was, and later ended up on Memory Lane.”

He continues, “A few restaurants that I remember that are not on the list: Bud’s Drive-In – This was on South George Street on the west side beyond Tyler Run Road about half-way up that hill. I can remember two things specifically about the restaurant… one, was the telephone handset at each table where you ‘phoned in’ your order to the kitchen one when you were ready. You never saw a server at your table until you placed your order. They also had these small, round deep fried dinner rolls that I’m sure were cholesterol laden, but who knew back then … they were delicious! I also remember that the restaurant exploded in what was suspected to be as the result of the owner failing to pay a debt to some unforgiving person or persons. I seem to recall that they opened a different restaurant in the Longstown area under a different name with different food.”

He continues, “Another restaurant missing from the list is J’s Steaks and Subs which was on Roosevelt Avenue just off of Philadelphia Street. It’s now a parking lot at the Industrial Plaza. Up until the end they were the ‘home of the 99 cent steak sandwich’ which may have been part of the reason they had to close.”

Another restaurant Greg mentioned was the former Majestic Restaurant at Market & Newberry streets in York; as he surmised earlier this year when he wrote to me, once that business reopened, it was no longer the Majestic. (It reopened in about the past month as Li’s Kitchen.)

Of course, the most famous thing for many people about the Majestic was its flag mural, now gone, seen here in a 2006 photo from our archives!

On to other memories of Greg’s: “Conrad’s Deli at 95t1 South Queen Street probably qualifies for the list as well. They had a tremendous carry out lunch business, selling sandwiches, soups and salads. There’s also been a plethora of pizza/sub shops that have come and gone in town through the years, and it would probably be close to impossible to name all of them.”

I definitely feel that sometimes my quest to help chronicle all these old businesses is unending. So, impossible, maybe, but we’re certainly willing to try!

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