Only in York County

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Truly miscellaneous York County memories and questions

Scott Becker shared this photo. He wrote, “My grandfather Harvey Becker worked for York Hoover Casket for almost 30 years. I’ve attached a picture we have hanging in our family room… My grandfather is in the second row, second person in from the left (holding his hat). A story my father told was that when my grandfather passed away in 1951, York Hoover Casket looked for a casket that my grandfather had helped to build. They had one shipped back to York for him to be buried in.”

Some days, I can dig into my mailbox and come up with questions and memories that fit some kind of loose theme.

Today is not one of those days. But that’s OK too; I hope you’ll enjoy today’s truly miscellaneous mashup of York County questions and memories!

Kermit E. Dickson of Fawn Grove wrote some time ago and asked, “Could you find out what happened to Joe Matthews’ walking horses? He had a sale barn and stable on 24 by the Route 30 bypass. Maybe some of your readers know about it. Thanks!”

We had talked very briefly about Matthews Stables in the past, as well as Heindel’s and Scotland Stables in the same area, but had not given much detail to Joe Matthews. I’d be very interested to know what we can find out for Kermit!

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Here’s one that will be hard to pin down, but made me think. Ron Miller of York asked me an interesting question about World War II’s influence on York County. This is a historically Germanic area, he noted, and he wondered how many places might have changed their names during that time – for instance, a place named Germantown might have become something else given the wartime sentiment.

This reminds me a little bit of the short-lived “freedom fries” campaign in 2003, but even so, it seems an interesting question. Anyone have any leads on World War II-era name changes around York County?

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Dean Barley of Red Lion asks if anyone knows about the movie house on Springwood Road outside of Yoe.

We had talked about that theater in the past, when reader Laura Seitz of York Township recalled, “Regarding the theatre along Springwood Road, I lived about a block from it in a large Victorian house that sat up on a hill. I remember going to the movies there whenever they were showing. This was a big treat for us. I also remember seeing a live magic show there. I had never seen anything like it before so we kids were really awed by this. This theatre was owned by a Mr. Swords.”

Longtime reader Gizz Davis had also previously written to me about that theater. He recalled, “Few people know this but at one time there was a tiny theater along Springwood Road between Yoe and York. Dad tells me that the building originally was a service station operated by a man named Swords… According to Dad, Mr. Swords worked on cars and trucks by day, but would set up twenty to thirty folding chairs and show movies at night (at least on weekends). The very first movie I ever remember seeing was at this tiny theater and it was Gone with the Wind. For me, as a very young kid, the magnificence of it made my heart race at the wonder of it all!”

That’s awesome, Gizz! Any other memories of that theater to share?

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Speaking of Gizz, he wrote to me last week with another York County memory to share – this one involving noted wrestler Andre the Giant! He says, “I spent much of the my life teaching at Hannah Penn Middle School. In those days it was the custom in our building for faculty to be given free admission to such events, the goals being to keep an eye open for disruptions by students and to help identify unruly kids if necessary. Naturally, I took my son, Ryan, to see the show. Ryan was pretty young, slightly built and not very tall.”

He continued, “At intermission, Ryan had to go to the bathroom. The gym lobby and entrance were crowded and Ryan struggled to get back inside. As I looked on, I heard a deep, almost gasping voice saying, ‘Excuuuuse meeee’ to my son. Startled and more than a little frightened, I think, Ryan turned around and came eyeball to belly button with Andre, the Giant!”

How awesome!

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And speaking of longtime readers, another gentleman, Maurice Hildebrand, wrote wondering who remembers the York streetcars. “Good memories to ride the streetcar from First Avenue area to downtown,” he recalled.

Anyone else have streetcar memories to share?

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Phil Piermatteo of Shrewsbury says he usually walks on the Rail Trail, weather permitting, from the Railroad parking lot north toward Glen Rock. About 150 feet along, looking toward the right, he says, there is an immense wall about 150 feet high. “What is it there for, and who put it up?” he wonders.

I know I’ve walked that section of the trail, but for some reason, I can’t place the wall. The next semi-warm day we have, though, I’d like to get down to check it out. In the meantime, any ideas for Phil?

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Well, I think that’s enough for today’s memory smorgasbord!