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Ask Joan: Family scrapbook edition

Donna Kober shared her mother-in-law’s collection of old York County postcards.

As I sit down to write this column, I’ve just finished up a marathon family photo-sorting session with my mom and sisters in advance of some dedicated scrapbooking time. I’m sort of the person in our family designated to deal with the decades and decades of pictures and ephemera we’ve collected, but when it comes to things that happened before I was born, I just plain need help.

So, since that was on my mind, I figured today would be a good day to dig through my mailbag and find a couple of photo- and ephemera-themed questions and memories. I hope you’ll enjoy and, if possible, help answer any questions these readers pose!

What’s inside

1. Looking back at bazooka shell accident
2. Seeking information on family photo


Last summer, I shared a question from Dave Flinchbaugh, who wondered if anyone remembered an accidental bazooka shell explosion in the Dover area in 1957, which killed four boys.

Since that time, I received a couple of letters that I wanted to share to fill in more of this tragic story. From Jim Shindler, I received the following:

“To answer Dave Flinchbaugh’s question ‘does anyone remember any of this,’ I answer yes. I was employed as a licensed funeral director at the Shindler Funeral Home and Furniture Store in North York and was alone in the furniture store when I received a phone call from George Emig of Emig Funeral Home in Dover. He and his brother Dick, who owned his own funeral business in East Berlin, had removed the remains of these young boys and requested that I assist with the preparation at the Dover location. Although the furniture store was not scheduled to be closed until a few hours later I left a note, locked the store and went to the Dover location. I recall missing my evening meal so the time was probably early evening.”

He continued, “The details provided by Dave are similar to what I was told. As I recall someone had visited a military base to visit a relative who was in the military and picked up a rocket launcher ‘dud.’ The boys were playing with it while a grandfather watched from a nearby porch. I recall being told that one of the boys had already dropped it from a tree he had climbed, simulating a bomb being dropped from an airplane, but it did not explode; however when they were later standing close together and it was dropped again… it did explode.”

He concluded, “Although this happened many years ago and details fade, this disaster ranked among the worst cases I worked on probably due to the young ages of these boys. Another was the crash of the S. Morgan Smith airplane in New Salem.”

Jim, I am very sorry to hear that but very grateful to you for sharing your memories of the sad event.

I also heard from Donna Showalter, the sister of Glen Showalter, a friend of Dave Flinchbaugh’s who was mentioned in Dave’s original question. Donna said that while working on her family genealogy, she came across the original article from The Gazette and Daily about the explosion, which she sent me in its entirety and which I was finally able to forward on to Dave this week, and the introduction to which you can see with today’s column.

Donna Showalter shared this image of a page from The Gazette and Daily featuring the story of the bazooka explosion in the Dover area in 1957 that killed four boys.


Also some time ago, I heard from Donna Kober, who wrote, “I am writing to you on behalf of my mother-in-law. She has some old York postcards and an old family photo that she found behind a picture she had purchased at a yard sale many years ago.” She added that the family photo appears to be from the early 1900s and was taken by a photographer in Gettysburg. Donna was thinking of taking it to the Gettysburg museum. “I am not really not sure it could be traced to find out who the people are, but I thought that might be a good starting point. The photo is very interesting,” she wrote.

While it has been a while, I wanted to share that photo to see if anyone might be able to offer some ideas.

Donna Kober shared this photo, which her mother-in-law found behind a picture she bought at a yard sale. They think the photo may have been taken in Gettysburg, and some editing instructions were found on the back.

The instructions on the back of the photo found by Donna Kober’s mother-in-law seem to say “Trim the old lady and put her over the one in the door and if you can remove the baby at the door post wherever suitable.”

If anyone has any thoughts for Donna and her family, please do share!

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.