Only in York County

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Ask Joan: Help from my friends edition

It’s magical: I’m on vacation this week, and here you are, still reading Ask Joan. Neat, huh? It’s thanks to some help from friends in answering today’s questions. My plans for the day, because my husband and daughter are also off, might include a trip a little north to see what fall foliage we can spot; maybe we’ll only get as far as Pine Grove Furnace, but I hope it’ll be a pleasant drive.

What’s inside

1. Black spots on home’s siding
2. Question about a dance instructor
3. Help on bullpen church pews

1. What are these black spots which are all over the siding of my house? They are not on the siding in the back of my house – only on the side and front. They are all the exact same size and some can be removed by scraping them with my fingernail, or a sharp object, but they leave a brown spot. Some seem to be oily or greasy too. There is no cleaner or product on the market which will remove them; I have tried everything that is available. Some of my neighbors have these same spots too – but not all of them. … They are driving us crazy. Where are they coming from, and why have they suddenly appeared – never had them before this summer. Please – does someone have the answer to where they come from and how to remove them?
– Connie Haller of West Manchester Township

Artillery fungus on siding
This image of artillery fungus on white siding comes from the Michigan State Extension.
It’s funny – Connie’s letter came in via our Letters to the Editor feature, but we thought I might be able to be some help via Ask Joan. One of our editorial assistants, Jackie Shrader, who was processing Connie’s letter, remembered something from the YDR archives and found it in answer to Connie’s question. Here’s what Jackie found about the black spots, as answered by the York County Extension Master Gardeners.

“They are caused by artillery fungus, which grows on decomposing hardwood mulch. When this fungus shoots out its spores, they often end up on the sides of cars and houses. … The spores, which look like tiny black dots, have the consistency of tar and stick to everything.” The interesting thing comes from another part of Connie’s question. You see, she’d heard of the mulch idea, but couldn’t understand why the spores were not on the back of her home, where she has more mulch. Also, while the fungus grows ON your mulch, it doesn’t come from the mulch originally; that’s just a good host for it.

Well, according to one gardener in our earlier article, the spores are actually SHOT out from the fungus in the mulch, and they can travel as far as 30 feet! So, it’s actually not a surprise that the other sides of your house have more, Connie. And, sadly, you’re right: Experts say there is almost nothing that will clean the fungus off siding. The only solution is to change the conditions in the mulch; you can keep it from getting worse by taking a garden rake and scratching up the mulch while adding a combination of half bleach and half water, said one mulch company owner.

If you’re seeking more detail, you can call the Master Gardeners Hotline from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays at 717-840-7408 or 1-800-441-2025.

2. Today’s second question ALSO comes from Connie Haller! She writes, “I was born and raised in Spring Grove, York County, and when I was about 7 or 8 yrs. old, I took ballet lessons at the V.F.W. (in Spring Grove) from a dance instructor named Dottie Roth. This would have been 1950 or so. I’ve been told she had a dance studio in York at this particular time and evidently held “side classes” for some reason at the Spring Grove V.F.W. Recently I read an obituary in which it read that the deceased woman once helped Dottie Roffe backstage during dance recitals. It listed Dottie’s last name as ROFFE – I always heard it to be ROTH. I’m wondering if anyone out there knows anything about Dottie Roth/Roffe, and which is the correct spelling, and is it maybe even the same person? I would like to know of anyone else who might have taken dance lessons from Dottie at the Spring Grove VFW in the early 1950s. An added note – These ballet lessons were my mother’s idea – not mine. Thanks for any info.”

Connie’s last line really made me laugh, as a former dance student who was admittedly a disaster. I was able to find in the YDR archives several references to “Dottie Roffe’s School of Dance” or “Dottie Roffe’s School of Dancing,” but did not find any similar references to a Dottie Roth. In part, my early searches were hindered by my assumption that Dottie was short for Dorothy.

But then I found out differently, in an obituary from Dec. 13, 1996, for Margie T. “Dotti” Roffe.

EMIGSVILLE – Margie T. “Dotti” Roffe, 85, of Emigsville, died at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday at York United Methodist Home. The service will be 11 a.m. Monday at the Heffner Funeral Chapel and Crematory Inc., 1551 Kenneth Road, York. Entombment will be in Prospect Hill Cemetery. Visitation will be 10 to 11 a.m. Monday at the funeral chapel. Mrs. Roffe was born Aug. 5, 1911, in Emigsville. She was the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Edward K. Emig. She owned and operated the Roffe School of Dancing in York, retiring in 1989. Prior to that, she taught dance at Arthur Murray Studio in Philadelphia. She was a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, York Little Theater, Dutch Club, York Area Chamber of Commerce, Dance Educators of America and Cecchetti Council of America. She was a graduate of Marjorie Webster School, and member and past president of Dance Masters of America, both in Washington, D.C. She was a charter member of the Pilot Club and head of the dance department of Penn Hall in Chambersburg. Mrs. Roffe is survived by a son, John A. Dempwolf Jr. of Dallastown; six grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren. Officiating at the service will be her pastor, the Rev. Dr. Terri Young.

I have to guess, Connie, that this Dotti Roffe is the same as your 1950 dance instructor; she would have been about 38 or 39 at the time, and that seems likely. So that part of the question I can help with directly; also, if anyone has memories of being Dotti’s student, please do share those as well!

3. Our church was built in 1860. The pews are referred to being bullpen style. How many churches in York County have them?
– Sandy Ludwig

Sandy, who attends Kreutz Creek Presbyterian Church in Hellam Township, asked this question about a month ago, and as I note in my footnote on each week’s Ask Joan, I get a LOT of questions – so unfortunately, I hadn’t answered yet. But Sandy is incredibly smart and knew a second person to ask – Blake Stough, whose blog, “Preserving York,” you might remember I’m a big fan of.

Divided church pews
This image of divided church pews comes from an Ohio Lutheran church; this is another name for the "bullpen" style of pews at Kreutz Creek Presbyterian.
Take a look at Blake’s info for Sandy here. He’s got a lot of details on what this “bull-pen pew” style was all about; essentially, it was designed to keep men and women separated during church services. Blake is hoping to help Sandy find other churches in the county with them, and is in fact seeking to compile even more info – on what churches in the York area EVER had such pews.

Head on over to Blake’s blog and read more, and please do leave a comment for me or for him if you have any details on this pew style in York County’s churches!

Got any questions? Ask Joan using the form at right. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future “Ask Joan” column on this blog. I get a large volume, so it might take me a while, but I hope to be able to answer as many as possible!

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