Only in York County

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Ask Joan: Piano concert edition

A somewhat little-known fact about me: I played the piano for about 15 years – from the time I was 4 years old until part way through college. Then, having no piano, I just didn’t play at all for several years. Around Christmas, we were incredibly blessed to be able to get a nice piano for almost nothing, and I’ve been trying to play daily.

I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m definitely still pretty OK. I was able to play a few things for my sister and her husband when they came to visit from New Jersey this weekend, and that was neat.

In that spirit of revisiting “old favorites,” today’s Ask Joan is an all-followups edition. Enjoy!

What’s inside

1. More on finding ZIP codes
2. The where, when of Wolfgang’s
3. Memories of Springwood Pool, park

1. In an earlier Ask Joan, Gayle Ambridge had asked how to find the full ZIP code (ZIP+4) for a particular address. I suggested Mapquest, in part because it does double duty for me and allows me to get directions while I’m at it.

Several commenters took me to task for not going “straight to the horse’s mouth.” I admit, I gave the answer based on what I personally use, but it is only fair to add that ZIP+4 codes can be found by visiting usps.com and clicking “look up a ZIP code” at left!

Many thanks to Paul Miller and several others who pointed that out.

2. An even earlier Ask Joan contained a question from Dave Hoover, now of Seattle but formerly of the Harrisburg area, about the former Wolfgang’s Sporting Goods. Dave had bought a fly rod on eBay bearing a Wolfgang’s sticker, and he was curious about when it had gone out of business.

MANY memories came in on that store! (Get comfortable… I am sharing lots of them!)

One anonymous commenter wrote, “Wolfgang’s Sporting Goods store was located on North George Street in North York. The back of the store was sporting goods and the front was Wolfgang’s Shoes. My husband bought his sporting goods there in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It was right beside the York Bank and Trust Building. The location later became a bakery. I think the name was Long’s Bakery.”

Gary Figdore called with the same location, and told me he bought a rifle there 60 years ago. He was also able to clarify for me where it was based on a current landmark – it’s a little north of the culinary school restaurant; commenters Deb Coho, Bob, Charlie Wintermyer, Shirley Cover, Vicki Baker and Mark Grubic also helped out with the specific location. Philip Welsh remembered specifically the shoe store part; he says, “Bought many a shoe from them while being a letter carrier.” I bet so, Philip!

Then came the comments on Facebook. Jane Duke says, “I was going to respond to you about Wolfgang’s Sporting Goods – the original location was on North George St – right next door to the York Bank branch at 1705 N. George St. (I think that was the right address.) Not only did I grow up in North York but I started my first job as an audit control person for York Bank and then entered teller school and my first teller gig was at the North George St. location. My parents knew both Wolfgang families – one side was the candy company folks (who every year bought back their chocolate from me to support St. Mary’s Catholic School and then York Catholic High School) The other side of the family owned the sporting goods store – they carried everything and were the frontrunners for Dick’s & Gander Mountain. They later opened up the 2nd location near Stoney Brook and for the life of me I can’t remember when they closed.”

That second location, by the way, is the one I’d found out about in answer to Dave’s question, and I am glad to have confirmation that it was related. (And to have confirmation about the two “big-name Wolfgang’s” in York being somewhat related!) Meanwhile, frequent commenter Bill Landes said the Wolfgang family who owned the sporting-goods shop were relatives of his; small world! Bill’s cousin told him the store might have closed around 1996 or 1997 – not too awful long ago!

Also on Facebook, Dale Boyce shared, “Back in the ’60s there was a Wolfgang’s Sporting Goods on George St in North York. Right next to it was a soda fountain store called Baylor’s. They had a pool table and sold magazines, papers, etc. They sold root beer floats and real cherry cola! I lived right down the street when I was a kid.”

Jason Gross says, “According to the Central HS yearbook of 1964, Wolfgang’s Shoes & Sporting Goods at 1121 N George St was ‘Selling Quality Footwear for 45 years’. In the ’60s my dad bought all his and my shoes there. I don’t think he bought many sporting goods there. He bought our fishing gear at J.W. Crone Grocery and Sporting Goods near the square in Dover.”

And Brad Ely, back on the subject of Wolfgang’s, said, “I think I got my fishing or hunting license there probably 35 or 40 years ago. They sold guns, hunting clothes, shoes and all kinds of fishing rods and fishing gear.”

Ron Ellis also remembers a Wolfgang’s purchase; he says, “I am not sure exactly when they closed, but I do know I bought a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber Chiefs Special from them in 1972. I know that this store was around in the early 1960s, if not earlier. I worked part-time for my Father and Uncle, at Ellis Brothers 66 Service, at 337 North George Street. I did service calls late at night, and took it along for protection. Thankfully, I never had to use it. There were about a half dozen gas stations between 337 North George Street and Parkway Blvd. We were open until about 10:00 at night during the beginning of the business. I must say that almost everyone one we met was a very pleasant person. Rarely did we have any problems. We knew most people on a first name basis. Many had credit with us that was carried on by the station, with no interest. Everyone was very honest in those days.”

Back to some specifics on the store’s ownership and its possible closing date, friend Betsy Baird provided the following, some of which was found in “Forgotten Cigar Kings of York County”: “Millard and Dora Wolfgang opened a shoe store at 1211 N. George in 1918. Millard Jr. and Donald, Millard Sr.’s sons, added the sporting goods store. Donald retired in 1991. … Donald’s daughter, Beverly and her husband Sam, opened the bakery at that site. I remember the store having been there at least in the 1990s.”

Sarann Boring gave more details on Millard Sr.; she writes, “My father always bought my shoes there as a child. Millard was born 3/14/19 & died 9/20/11.” I’m actually amazing by that timing, as it was only a month or so after Millard’s death that this question was published.

But the gold standard of all answers came from Donald Wolfgang. He writes, “The original Wolfgang’s was actually Wolfgang’s Shoe & Sporting Goods & this store was at 1121 N. George St. in North York. The store began in 1918 as a shoe store by my Grandfather & the Sporting Goods section was added in 1940. Millard Wolfgang Sr. was the founder, later joined by Millard Wolfgang Jr. (Bud) & Donald Wolfgang as a 3 way partnership. Millard Sr. never fully retired & Millard Jr. (Bud) retired in 1978. Business was then owned solely by Donald Wolfgang & operated by his family, Wife Jane, Son Dennis, Son Donald & daughter Bev. The shoe store closed in 1991 & the Sporting Goods & the name were sold to Dave Shindler, also an employee of Wolfgang’s. The sporting goods store later moved to Stoneybrook Shoppette. The original Wolfgang’s Store offered Lay-a-way @ no charge/fee, had a ‘point system’ (worked much like green stamps) & the store also housed a postal sub station. I have much more information on this business as I am of the 3rd generation & grew-up at the store & operated the Sporting Goods section for 15 years.” Don also mentioned that the store “traded” ice skates, sold American-made footwear, and was the headquarters for purchasing North Hills Jr. High and Central High gym uniforms!

WOW – Dave, I bet you never thought you’d get so much of an answer to your question, did you? 🙂

3. Family friend and longtime reader Jim Goodling had asked some time ago, “My sister-in-law wonders who remembers about Springwood Pool. It was on Springwood Road before you get to Yoe. Can’t see any remnants of it from the road. It’s not safe to stop there and look. I remember my grandmother taking me down there on the train, leaving from East Market St.” Leon Henise had also wondered about that.

Well, to follow up on memories of the Springwood area, I want to share a memory from Gizz Davis, who you might recalled shared some awesome memories of the Yoe area in this November post.

“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. Dad owned his own truck and was a long-haul truck driver for many years and would sometimes go to Swords’ Service Station for parts and repairs on his truck. 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 building wasn’t much more than a hole in the wall. The rather small structure was actually built into a very steep hillside. Dad tells me that movies cost 10 to 15 cents, depending on the quality of the movie. 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!”

And, finally, another Jim, Jim McClure, has several posts on his York Town Square blog about Springwood Park and the Springwood Pool. Check them out here, here and here.

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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