Only in York County

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Ask Joan: School memories edition

Don Seidel acquired this photo along with some old artwork at an antique store, but does not know where or when it was taken. He wrote to Ask Joan looking for resources to help him identify it… any ideas, Yorker friends? It may not be local, but it might be!

I’m sharing several “Do you remember”-style questions today from my inbox, all of which deal with readers’ memories from their school days.

What’s inside

1. Pine Street School building history
2. York Township Elementary’s Mr. Smith?
3. Central Elementary students to reunite


Children’s Home of York is trying to learn more about the Pine Street School – at 301 East Philadelphia Street. Currently, the Children’s Home offers an array of services form this building and wants to get in touch with this beautiful building’s history. It is also know as the Sylvia Newcomb building and operated as a Recreation Center.
– Laurie Anne Spagnola

Laurie, thanks for sharing this question! This 2012 post on Jim McClure’s York Town Square and this earlier 2009 one do offer a bit of background and some photos, but I’m interested in any further details as well; please do comment if you can tell us more!


In 1972, I attended York Township Elementary School in Spry. I was in the 5th grade. I’ve wondered over the years about my teacher, Mr. Smith. He had a profound effect on me. Does anyone know about him. He was scarred horribly on one side of his face and had a glass eye. I remember being frightened at first, but he was a wonderful teacher. I even stayed in over recess to help correct papers. I would appreciate any info you may have. I’ve lived in Southern California for nearly 30 years now, and find myself longing for those good old days in Spry, where I spent my childhood enjoying the strawberry festivals, Halloween costume contests at the firehouse, and Friday night dinners at Spurg’s. I get back to York for visits, as most of my family still lives in the area. I love reading your blog and look forward to hearing from you.
– Belle Ahrens-Hamed

I’d love to collect any further memories of Belle’s wonderful teacher; please do leave a comment and share!


Carole (Kuhns) Bradfield wrote to me some time ago seeking memories of the former Central Elementary School, which was at 32 W. King St. in York and closed in the late 1950s, later becoming an annex to York’s City Hall and later yet being converted into apartments. Classmates have a reunion each year; this year, the 55th anniversary of the closing, the group will meet on Monday, April 28. Carole mentioned that anyone interested in attending is welcome to email her at

I had promised Carole I’d try and spread the word about the reunion and seek out some memories, so please do email her if you want to catch up, former Central Elementary students!

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!

1 comment on “Ask Joan: School memories edition

  1. In response to question #2 about Mr. Smith: I went to York Township Elementary School too, and also had Mr. Smith as my fifth grade teacher. This was back in 1969/1970. He was a great teacher with a very positive attitude, and was well-liked by students. I believe he once told us that the reason for his facial scarring and glass eye was that he was in a bad car accident. He also used to joke about Mrs. Smith always burning his meals. We kids thought that was funny. I have good memories about other York Township Elementary School teachers like Mr. Kerr and Mrs. Vasallis. They were all great. That time period in York was something I’ll always treasure.

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