Only in York County

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Ask Joan: Say hello to my brother edition

Some readers might hear me talk now and again about my various siblings. I’m the youngest of five – and my three sisters and my brother are awesome. But David, my brother, now lives in Arizona, so I don’t see him nearly as often as I’d like.

He’s visiting this week – leaving Wednesday – so if you want to drop him a “York County welcome,” please leave him a comment!

What’s inside

1. More on Gardner’s Service Station
2. One more story of Lil’s
3. Eddie Herr’s beer distribution house

1. I had shared late last summer this question from my former neighbor, Margaret Hayes, about Gardner’s Service Station at Sherman Street and Route 30.

In response, I got great info from former County Commissioner Bob Bowers, who says, “Gardner’s Gas Station was located on the southwest corner of what is now Sherman St. and Rt. 30. The station was owned by Earl Gardner and his wife Rae. My father worked there part time after his full time duties at the Campbell Chain Co. That was the time when you had your car serviced by the attendant who would fill your gas tank check your oil levels and wash your wind shield. In the winter they put chains on your tires to get around in the snow. I was born in 1936 across the street on the northwest corner, which is the home of the Rutter’s farm store. We moved into the city 6 years later. The gas station was sold to P.A.and S. Small who built a food distribution warehouse on the property. I am not sure of the exact year but I think it may have been in early 1960’s. As a foot note what is now Rt. 30 was at that time Arsenal Road and Sherman St. ended at the railroad tracks just past Hay St. To proceed to Pleasureville you had to go through Windsor Park and then loop back to the Pleasureville Road.”

Bob also wrote again and said Rae Gardner “would invite me over to taste test her pies which were always very good. I would also spend time at the station among the smell of oil gasoline cigaretts and cigars. The lore of the customers and the language, well you get the picture. in 1942 we moved into the city and my thoughts turned to school and other activities. I am not sure when the station closed but your column brought back many memories. I to would like to see the calendar that was mentioned in the article.”

The funny thing is, unrelatedly, we were talking about that same intersection as home to Mac’s Hardware just about a week ago!

Then I heard about another Gardner’s. This letter came from Yvonne Craig Baer, who says, “I noticed recently that your friend mentioned Gardner’s Service Station. If she meant Gardner’s Garage about 5 miles West of New Freedom in the village of Steltz, I lived with my grandparents and siblings in the big white house with the green shutters which was directly across from the garage. It was a big green building with pumps out front. Mr. Gardner owned the other corner to the south where he had a used cars business. Most everyone around at one time or the other bought cars from him. He stood behind everything he sold. In the early 50’s my grandfather took his car to a garage Glenville for repairs where Monroe Gardner worked and he told my grandfather he was going to go back to Beauladean, N.C. My grandfather Clarence Craig really didn’t want to see him go. My grandfather owned the corner and he was offered good money (as he called it), but would not sell. Well, Grandad came home, talked it over with my grandmother Bessie and like they say the rest is history.”

Yvonne continues, “Gardner’s was a thriving business for many years. Mr. Gardner was a was an astute business man and a first class mechanic. Gardner’s garage was a meeting place for the old timers who wanted to hang out and it was a meeting place for anyone who wanted to know what was going on. The neighbor kids hung out there and some of them eventually worked and was taught by Mr. Gardner about how to repair autos. My brothers just loved the soda and popsicles they could get at Monroe’s, and that is what they called the place. When they were little they didn’t get storebought soda and popsicles, so it was a real treat for them. I’m sure he treated them at times, because they came back with more then their few pennies would buy. All four of his brothers, Ott, Ted, J.B. and D.C. worked there at times. Our home being in close proximity to the garage and having a wrap around porch, the front facing the garage, we had a vantage point as to all that went on. We were the first to see a wreck pulled in, an argument and lots of laughter. Him and all his brothers had a very infectious laugh.”

And she concludes, “My grandfather passed away in 1956 and Mr. Gardner was very good to my grandmother after that and to others as well. He had a personality that made him a successful business person, and was kind and generous to all who knew him and like my grandfather often said, there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do when he put his mind to it. As time went on, and age caught up, the neighbohood changed. The older people moved away, Grandma sold the farm which is now an apartment house with eight units and Mr. Gardner started experiencing the ravages of time. The Garage eventually closed. It was sorely missed. Now Mr. Gardner and most of his family and the old time neighbors and friends are gone too. We who lived there and experienced ‘Gardner’s Garage’ in the village of Steltz have lots of good memories.”

Yvonne, who knew there would be TWO Gardner’s service stations – and two sets of such great memories? Thanks for sharing those thoughts from Steltz!

2. Memories of Lil’s Hangout in York just keep coming in! We had last talked about them a few weeks ago in this column, and after that, I received a note from Josie Dick.

Josie writes, “I want to add to the Lil’s Story, although I always called her Lillian. I lived on Mason Alley until our house was torn down so the subsidized housing project could be built in the area. I went to elementary school with Lillian’s youngest daughter, Cheryl. Lillian’s other daughter’s name is Marjorie. I remember Lillian as a very sweet lady. I can still picture the counter with the stools, and the ice cream scoop sitting in water. I think that there were only two booths. The last time that I saw her she was working at a convenience store in Spry. That was probably during the 1970’s.”

Thanks, Josie, and everyone who shared memories of Lil’s!

3. Does any one remember Eddie Herr’s beer distribution house in York?
– Ivan Gromling

Any memories for Ivan? Would love to hear about this, as it’s a business name I had not previously encountered!

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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