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Ask Joan: The “How do I know what to write about?” edition

After last week’s schnitz un knepp culinary adventures, I thought it would be good to spend this week catching up a little on some letters – recent and not-so-recent. I ran into a reader in the West Manchester area recently who wanted to know how I decide what to write about each week, and whether, like a traditional reporter, my topics were assigned to me.

I was happy to tell her that, for this column, I’m lucky to be able to write about whatever I want. There’s sadly little method to the madness, though. Some weeks I pull out my file of print letters. Some weeks I go through my emails, opening older ones at random and seeing if I have multiples on the same topic. Other weeks I pull an idea from something happening in my life: a place I’ve been, a food I’ve made, the season, you name it. Sometimes I try to group like things together, or write series, and other times I intentionally try to mix it up, writing about Glen Rock if I’ve recently talked a lot about York city, etc.

Then there are days like today, where I grabbed a few letters from my mail folder and figured I’d just share whatever came up. I hope you’ll find something fun herein.

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What’s inside

1. Sharing memories from Boundary Avenue
2. Thoughts on Pappy’s restaurants
3. The Swamp, the one in York
4. Another memory of Valley View Park


A reader named Ronald L. Walter wrote to me some time ago about things he remembers from his youth in York. He wrote, “In the late ’40s or early ’50s, our family lived in the 600 block of Boundary Avenue and we would walk through a cornfield to attend the York White Roses ballgames. The only players I remember were Ted Beard, Gene Crumling and Bill Plate.”

Ronald also remembered a restaurant we’ve talked about several times before, Fisher’s, known for its seafood. Ronald wrote, “My brother-in-law’s sister was married to the cook at Fisher’s for many years and made the crabcakes. He informed me that he used crushed corn flakes, not pretzels.” (This was in response to several readers wondering what was in those crabcakes that made them so good!)

He also recalled some local hangouts. “As to the Teen Age Club on South George Street, my sister belonged there and was a terrific dancer… they had a name for the members. Called the ‘Hep Cats.'” He also continued, “Why doesn’t anyone mention the Orange Top? It was a teenage hangout in the 50s. It was located on Route 30 West at the intersection of where you go to York New Salem.”

We’ve actually talked about the Orange Top briefly in the past – longtime commenters Sis James and Yvonne Leiphart have both mentioned it as a popular hangout – but I certainly would always be glad to hear more!

This is a 1975 menu from Pappy’s, a pizza shop in the Leader Heights area of York Township. The location later became Mr. Bill’s Quarterdeck.


Another letter today came from Gary E. Lehman, who began, “About Pappy’s Restaurant and Pub. I know there were Pappy’s Hamburgs also. Besides the one in East York (now a Wendy’s) and the one on Leader Heights Road (pub), I believe here was another one either on Route 30 bypass or Carlisle Road. I was an East York boy that hardly ever went to west end. The Pappy’s on Leader Heights that sold alcohol stayed open a short time longer. The other Pappy’s did not sell alcohol.”

Pappy’s has been the subject of several past columns; I recall hearing about their pizza, not hamburgers or alcohol, but am always interested in hearing more!


Just a couple of weeks ago, we talked about a swimming area outside Dallastown known as The Swamp. I do have some letters on that to share – but not today; today, I have a letter on another area known as “The Swamp,” the neighborhood of York in the area of North Duke and Arch streets. Reader Will Williams wrote that the residents of this neighborhood came to be known as “Swampers” because, as he described, “The Codorus Creek was very low around the end of Queen Street and would flood back in the street in the old days… after the 1933 flood the Army (Corps of) Engineers took care of that!”

Will also sent me a copy of a Gordon Freireich column from 2002, in which Will and his sister, Bonnie Malehorn, described their neighborhood. Will, who was 61 at the time of that article, gave Gordon a great tour of the area, pointing out all of the things that used to be other things, such as stables, cigar stores and more.

Will, I’m grateful to you for sharing that with me! Many thanks to you and the other Swampers for preserving these memories!


Last for today, I have one more note on the always-interesting topic of the former Valley View Park in Hellam Township. It comes from Janice Neeley of Dallastown.

Janice wrote, “My name is Janice Lease Neeley. My dad, William Lease, managed the park when I was about 12 years old. My mother worked at the hamburger and french fry stand. There was a soup stand run by Mamie and Edward Dietz. I am not sure if the park had Shorty and Sally, or Arthur Wood and the North Carolina Ridge Runners. I can still remember going to the park every Sunday with my mom and dad and my two sisters. The three of us had the run of the park while my mom and dad worked. I think I still have some of the dishes that we won at the stands. I have six pictures and I think they are the Ridge Runners… not sure.”

Janice, thank you so much for adding to our Valley View memories!

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.