Only in York County

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Ask Joan: Third-grade teacher edition

Today’s Ask Joan features a bad-news update; the cat I mentioned last week had to be put to sleep, which was devastating for our family; but in good news, my week was made by receiving a letter from my third-grade teacher in response to a previous Ask Joan, which I’m glad to share today!

What’s inside

1. American Toy, Novelty Works sled
2. Seeking photo of Frederick St. Acme
3. Italian Oven recipe book sought
4. Info on Brook Leaf Love Nest
5. Memories of Weigelstown’s North Pole

1. Reader Harland Smeigh writes, “I have a wooden sled. I am not sure if it was my mother’s or my grandmother’s. I wonder if you can tell me when it was made … in York.” He says that on the sled, it says:
56 – Mfg By American Toy and Novelty Works – York PA – Patent Co

Anyone have any ideas about American Toy and Novelty Works? I’d love to be able to give Harland some more info.

2. I have another reader, E. Kerstetter, who writes, “We are having a 50th class reunion and are trying to locate a picture of the Acme grocery store on Frederick St. in Hanover. This was in the late 50s, early 60s, where they held block parties. I’ve contacted the Hanover Historical Society, Borough and Library with no success. I thought you may have an idea where I can find a picture?”

I checked our archives and we didn’t seem to have a photo of that Acme, but I thought perhaps someone reading might! If you do, please drop me an email to so I can share!

3. A while back (like, several years ago), we shared memories of The Italian Oven restaurant. But earlier this year, Patrick McGuire wrote and said that he’d worked at an Italian Oven in Ohio for a few years and would love to get his hands on one of their recipe books.

He asked if anyone who had one could write to him directly; his email is If anyone has those recipes, please feel free to pass them on to Patrick!

4. Reader Ann Lutter of New Freedom wrote me a letter and shared a copy of the postcard seen here, of the “Brook Leaf Love Nest” in the Hellam area.

She wrote, “I came across this postcard with damage but mostly intact in my aunt’s possessions. Do you think any of your readers have ever heard of it? The Brook Leaf Love Nest in Hellam. Not sure if it was a private residence or maybe rented for honeymoon couples. The name is on the left corner of the platform and on the steps going up to the platform. The postcard has no writing on it nor a date.”

Well, in good news, Ann, I’m quite familiar with the Brook Leaf Love Nest; our editor, Jim McClure, wrote extensively about it in 2008 on his York Town Square blog, first in a post titled Brook Leaf Love Nest tree house known as Hellam honeymoon spot and then later, in 2012, in this “Part Two” post. Another fellow blogger, June Lloyd, wrote about the Love Nest on her Universal York blog in a post titled Hellam Tree House Makes the Movie News Reels.

As Ann mentioned was possible, this was often rented out to honeymooners; that is, until its demise via fire in the late 1940s. It was owned by Howard Emig and family, who rented it out through the 1920s and 1930s and into the 1940s. Quite a place; I wish I’d been able to see it, as I have a real soft spot for treehouses!

Ann, I hope you’ll take a look at those other links for much more detail about the Brook Leaf Love Nest.

5. One last memory/note for today; this one made me smile because I knew, as soon as I opened the envelope and saw the handwriting, who wrote the letter, in true Only in York County fashion.

It comes from Shirley (Coble) Hite, my third-grade teacher at Dover Elementary School, who I still remember quite fondly! She wrote in response to an earlier column about the various eateries owned by Ernie McCall, many under the name of The North Pole, specifically about a second North Pole location that some readers wondered about.

She wrote, “As a young girl, I remember the North Pole (located at the present site of the Turkey Hill Mini Mart at the corner of Emig Mill Road in Weigelstown now known as part of Dover).”

She continues, “My parents, Dale Sr. and Dorothy Coble, along with my two brothers Dale (Smokey) Jr. and Brian, and myself lived in a “double” house (now called a duplex) across from B&B Garage (later to become part of the land where Spangler’s Supermarket and now a vacant building and large macadamized parking lot). About every 1-2 months, our Dad would treat us to a “trip” to the North Pole to pick up submarine sandwiches which we took home to eat. They were ‘so good’ and to this day are probably the best ‘subs’ I have ever eaten.”

“I was sorry when it closed,” she concluded.

I was so happy to hear from Mrs. Hite, and especially when she signed her letter “Joan’s teacher at Dover Elementary School.” I love that about living in York County my whole life – that couldn’t happen if I went anywhere else. And with the added benefit of being able to shed some light on this other North Pole location? Well, that makes today pretty good.

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, but I will feature three each week and answer as many as possible!

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