Only in York County

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Ask Joan: The YES! It’s warm! edition

YES! Finally, an Ask Joan where I’m not complaining about the weather!

What’s inside

1. Following up on W.T. Grant
2. Having some potpie noodles shipped
3. An unusual, sorrowful grave marker

1. In a February Ask Joan, a reader named Rami asked about an eastern York County location for W.T. Grant. Rami was recalling it in a place that wasn’t a Grant’s, along Haines Road in the Kmart plaza. (That’s been a Kmart since it opened, as I mentioned in the earlier column.) So I wondered: Where WAS a Grant’s out that way?

Boy, everyone was willing to help me out on this one!

John N. Fishel wrote, “Here is the entire story of W.T. Grant stores in the greater York area as far as I know. The original Grant’s, a 50-and-10 style store, was at 42 W. Market St. in downtown York, right beside another 5-and-10, F.W. Woolworth, which was at number 444. Grant’s had been at this location since at least the 1930s, perhaps earlier. A second Grant’s was opened in the mid-1950s in the York County shopping Center when that center opened (this was York’s first suburban shopping center and is now known as the York Marketplace; it is on E. Market St. in Springettsbury Township.) That Grant’s store was located on the east side of the center about where Super Shoes now exists. Around 1971, the downtown Grant’s closed as the area’s shopping habits exited the city for the suburbs. In the early 1970s the W.T. Grant management decided to follow the lead of another 5-and-10 chain, S.S. Kresge Co., which had transformed itself into a chain of larger, discount department stores named KMart. Grant’s KMart-styled stores were known as Grant City stores. Three Grant City stores opened in the York area in the 1972-73 time period in newly built shopping centers as the suburban shopping trend reached a fever pitch.. One was in the new shopping center at the corner of S. Queen St. and I-83. This center was originally named Queens Plaza, it was later known as the 83 Outlet Mall and York Outlet Mall, and is now known as the South York Value Center, home of PriceRite, PennDOT License Center, Bookland and Infinito’s Pizza, among other businesses. Grant City was the anchor store at the Infinito’s end of the center. Another Grant City was in another new shopping center named Grant Plaza and located at 4075 E. Market St., straddling the Springettsbury Township/Hellam Township line. Its location was at the east end of this center. A third Grant City opened in the newly built Delco Plaza on Carlisle Rd. at U.S. 30. It was at the southeast end of the center. As these stores opened, the Grant’s store in the York County Shopping Center, designed as a traditional 5-and-10 store, closed its doors. The severe recession of 1974-75 took its toll on various retailers and Grant’s which was trying ot establish these new stores was no exception. The Grant Plaza and Queens Plaza stores were the first to close. These two locations were more poorly thought out of the three York sites. Queens Plaza had poor visibility from S. Queen St. and Grant Plaza was situated too far from the East York shopping area. Grant Plaza eventually went totally bust as a shopping center, the loss of the Grant City anchor store being an event from which it could not recover. The buildings are still there to this day and you can still even see the storefront designs on these buildings. Danskin used this complex for their operations from about the 1980s to the early 2000s. Klinge Corporation is now located there. Queens Plaza eventually went more downscale as a shopping center (although it wasn’t that upscale to begin with, truth be told), changing its name as noted earlier and the shopping center is still chugging along. The Delco Plaza Grant City store lasted a little while longer, but around 1976 W.T. Grant Co. went bankrupt, presumably partially from making bad business decisions like locating stores in places like Queens Plaza and Grant Plaza, and the Grant’s name was gone forever. Soon after, KMart moved into the Delco Plaza site which had been occupied by Grant City, becoming the second York KMart location. A quarter century later, KMart also ran into business problems (WalMart having purloined many of their customers) and they moved out of this location as the Delco Plaza itself was razed and totally rebuilt.”

That was the most detailed explanation, but I also heard from Jeffrey A. Miller, Gaye Stover, Charlie Zambito, Robert B., Glenn Bates, Don Hartman, Bill Schmeer, Keith Collier and Jean Lewis with details on those four locations.

I also heard from several people who were former Grant’s employees themselves, or who had family members who were. Richard Nye said his mother was the office manager at the Grant’s in York County Shopping Center in the 1960s; Tina Rudisill worked at the Grant’s farther east on East Market Street around 1974; and Karen Miller said, “I worked at Grant’s at the York County Shopping Center when I was in high school. That store was the ‘new store’ as the older store was located in Downtown York on W. Market St. Grant’s was located in the area around where Super Shoes is now in the Giant/Lowe’s Shopping Center. After Grant’s closed, Jewelcor moved into that store and after that I believe the remodeling began and Ben Franklin’s Crafts was there before Super Shoes. Grant’s lunch counter was always in competition with Sears for the best hot dogs in the center!”

And Dan E. Snook noted that his mom had worked in the Grant’s in York County Shopping Center after his father died in 1957. “Two months ago I threw out a clock I bought at Grant’s in 1974. We lived in an apartment at Canterbury Court at the time. The rent on a one bedroom apartment was $180.00 per month.”

Mack Smith recalled that around 1959, the manager of the Grant’s store in York County Shopping Center was Lawrence E. Sparrow; Wayne and Reba Deller shared that their son worked in the South Queen Street Grant’s from 1973 to 1974; and Karl Zimmermann recalled of that same South York Plaza store (though it was then Queen Plaza), “Bought a number of items at great prices when they left town here!” Also he mentioned the one on Route 462 east of York. “Their stores always carried name-brand merchandize private-labeled; for example a Mirro Aluminum electric broiler – identical – labeled Grant’s,” Karl added.

Of the downtown Grant’s, Gloria J. Anderson noted that “It was one of my favorite stores. They had a great soda fountain. Every two weeks, my father and grandfather would drop the women off to shop in these stores while they went to H.M. Rehmeyer’s to order tires and car supplies for my fathers garage. Being a child then, the candy section was one of my favorite spots to drool! Back then, you didn’t have to be afraid to walk down the street. My sister and I (ages 9 and 12) were permitted to shop alone from Thompson’s Dress Shop, Stillman’s Dress Shop on East Market Street (across from the old court house) to the railroad tracks on West Market Street where they had a wonderful cheese shop and Mike’s Nut Shop and Julius Music Store.!”

David L. Sharp Jr. noted that downtown Grant’s appeared at 40 or 42 W. Market St. on a York city map he has from 1933, and recalled it was there into the early 1950s. And of the Haines Road not-a-Grant’s location we were talking about, David wrote, “Also many years ago where (the Haines Road) Kmart sits that area was a local airport for small planes. Besides Thomasville airport there was also an airport on Roosevelt Ave. behind where the little strip mall and Sylvania now sit. Food for thought. I bet there aren’t too many people who remember that at the southeast corner of Market and what is now Northern Way just before Playland skating rink there was a tree-lined drive that took you back to a trailer park. Never new the name of it. Now car wash sits on that corner.”

Finally today, I have to give a special shout-out to Judy Smith. Judy is the “deli lady” at the Rutter’s near my home, and she keeps me well-fed with the best hot dogs around now that I can’t get them at Sears! She (and her granddaughter, who calls me the “hot dog lady”) are frequent readers of the Sunday print columns and Judy wrote to me and noted, “W.T. Grant was on Market Street. If you go to the square and look west there was a McCrory’s, Weist’s, a church, then it was W.T. Grant. After they left there was a drug store in the building. My mother (Shirley Shoemaker) worked at G.C. Murphy’s which was right in the square. The Bon-Ton was downtown, Bear’s, Super Shoes and more.”

Many thanks to all for these great Grant’s memories!

2. I grew up in York and now live near Ocean City, Md. When I’m in town for a visit, I try to stock up on York groceries (Stauffer’s Cookies, Wege Pretzels,etc) that I can’t buy down here. I also buy potpie noodles at the Central & Eastern markets. I would love to be able to find some potpie noodles that could be shipped from York (or Lancaster area). Do you know of any places that would do this? Thanks!
– Andrea

I DID find one website called Pennsylvania Pantry that will ship a variety of PA goodies (and I know they’re legit, because they mentioned the bott boi name for the noodles!) But, you have to have a minimum $15 order, so you’d have to buy in bulk.

Believe it or not, you can also buy “Mrs. Miller’s Pot Pie Square Noodles” via Amazon.com! I can’t say these are great, cost-effective options, but they might do in a pinch!

3. I walk in cemeteries and I am puzzled by the epitaph on a particular stone. I tried to find family info on the internet, but have been unsuccessful. The stone is located behind the New Fairfield Church off of Powder Mill road, near Leader Heights. The epitaph reads: Larry Eugene, born in sorrow, lived in sorrow, died in sorrow. Born 1942. Died 1964. The family name is Markey.
– Melissa Ferguson

I’m quite interested in finding out more about Larry Eugene Markey’s life… dying around 22 years old certainly does make me sad, but I wonder at the epitaph, as it’s certainly more unusual than the “loving son of” type that you usually see. Any ideas, legends, or other tips for Melissa?

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: The YES! It’s warm! edition

  1. Larry Eugene Markey
    Born: 8/1/42
    Family home: 4 Merrin Street, York PA
    Permanent residence: Former Pennhurst State School (for the mentally or physically disabled)
    Never had a job
    Death: 9/19/64
    Cause of death: Acute Bilateral Bronchopneumonia
    Secondary cause of death: Idiot

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