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Ask Joan: Recent follow-ups edition

Mark Raffensberger shared this photo of the former P.H. Grove & Son service station in the area known as Red Town or Red Front outside of Dallastown.

Last week, I shared some of the newest Ask Joan questions I’d received, and this week, I want to share some follow-ups – from those questions, as well as from other more recent topics.

What’s inside

1. Following up on The Cove
2. More about Red Front, The Flats
3. Sharing an L&H memory

1. Following up on The Cove

Last week, we talked about The Cove and its predecessor, Emerson’s Pub, on South George Street. Reader Raymond wanted to know more about that location’s history, and readers were glad to help.

Courtney Halpin noted that it was Charlie and Johnny’s before it was Emerson’s. And before that, many readers were glad to note, it was The Trail Lounge or The Trail Coffee Shop.

Marie Fink said when she came to York more than 40 years ago, it was The Trail Lounge, and Karen Bjorkman noted the same name, adding that she went there in the late 1960s. “It featured good, live music,” she said.

And Nancy Lipschutz mentioned that in the 1950s, after rehearsals for the Legion shows (another past column’s topic!), their group would all congregate at The Trail. “A friendly place with good food,” she wrote> “Don’t know who the owners were but it did change hands over the years. I’m sure others have good memories of ‘The Trail’ too.”

Frequent commenter William Hoffmeyer noted, “The Cove was the Trail Coffee Shop, which was owned by Ernie Rhoads. He subsequently sold it and opened the Fireside Restaurant on Arsenal Road, now a swimming pool sales outlet. When Ernie sold the Trail it became Charlie and Johnny’s. Charlie was a local doctor and Johnny (whose daughter worked for me at the time) was a bartender at the Lincoln Woods Inn.”

William also helped us out with another question on a restaurant I knew to have been in the area, but couldn’t place specifically. He said, “LoPiccolo’s was on what is now Wellspan maintenance department’s property on the east side of South George Street, on the right when you come off of the I-83 Downtown exit (across from Rest Haven). Phil LoPiccolo became the manager of the Lincoln Woods Inn when he closed his restaurant.”

2. More about Red Front, The Flats

In early October, we’d talked about an area known as Red Front, outside Dallastown, where a plane crash happened in 1960.

Reader Richard L. Brown wrote following that column “I just passed the site of the plane crash… on the way to Browns Orchard. Every time I go down there I think of the crash. When the plane crashed I was living in the 800 block of West Broadway in Red Lion. We were just walking home from school. We saw the black smoke rising in the distance while Burg’s Funeral Home ambulance and Red Lion Fire Department were coming down West Broadway. There was no ambulance service in those days except from the funeral homes. The next week my dad said that there were military personnel looking for things from the plane while he travel home from York. I cannot remember if or how many airman were killed. I would go fishing at Red Front many times in those days. Thanks for the memories.”

Jim Ruth also wrote to me, noting, “As kids we would ride our bicycles out of town on South Pleasant Avenue, which is Route 214 west, and continue for about 2 miles to the top of a very steep road. As you turned left, following 214 winding down the hill to the bottom, you first crossed a small creek named Barshinger Creek and then the east branch of the Codorus Creek. We called this area Red Front or others called it the Swamp. I think the real name was Dunkard Valley. We fished, swam, camped overnight many, many, many times as a teenager. Sometimes when we didn’t ride our bicycles our mom would load the neighborhood kids into her station wagon and drop us off there. We either walked home or hitchhiked although there wasn’t much traffic on the road back then.”

Those were great memories and I was so glad Richard and Jim shared them. I was even more excited, though, by the letter I got from Mark Raffensberger.

Mark wrote, “After reading your… column about Red Front and ‘The Swamp’ I asked my parents, Jim and Loretta Raffensberger, about the area’s history. Dad is 95; Mom is 94 and both have lived in or near Dallastown all their lives. They have a lot of history about the area between them. Dad grew up on a farm just down the hill from Red Front (Red Town as Dad always calls it) and has lots of stories about the village. First, I’ll give you Dad’s answers to the questions and then I’ll give you some of the history I learned from my parents.”

He continued, “How did Red Front (Red Town) get its nickname? The nickname came from the village’s general store, which was painted red. More on that in a bit. How did ‘The Swamp’ get its name? Dad thinks the general area was named ‘the Swamp’ because the area along the creek between Dunkard Valley Road and Graydon (Swamp Road) was fairly swampy. Dad can remember beavers building a dam there at one time, which probably made the area even swampier. The area’s been called the Swamp as long as both of my parents can remember.”

And, Mark added, “Both Dad and Mom remember when someone named Wagman bought the bungalow property near where ‘The Swamp’ swimming hole was located – I’m guessing this was in the 1930s. The property owner cleaned up the area, and it became a very popular swimming spot. I assume the swimming hole just got the name from the general area’s name.”

Mark Raffensberger shared this photo (from Google Map Street View) of the location fo the former general store and P.H. Grove & Sons service station in the area known as Red Town or Red Front outside of Dallastown. The general store itself had been painted red, hence the town’s name.

Then Mark shared some Red Town history:

“Red Town is located at the intersection of South Pleasant Avenue (extended) and Hess Farm Road. As you noted in your column the village is also known as Rye. Dad believes the name Rye was given to the village when the Postal Service created a post office in the general store there. This was the era before rural delivery when mail was delivered to small post offices in rural areas and folks had to pick up their mail there. Dad never heard why the name Rye was chosen for the post office, though.”

He continued, “As I mentioned, the general store was painted red. Since the store was the central gathering point in the village, the building’s color lent itself to the town’s nickname. When Dad was young, the store was owned by P.H. Grove & Son. They also owned an automobile sales and repair business next to the general store. Sometime in the 1930s, the Groves sold the property and business to my Dad’s brother, Emory Raffensberger. Emory continued running the store and the auto repair shop, but no longer sold cars. When Dad was a teenager, he worked for his brother tending the store. Dad has many stories about the interesting characters who would visit and hang out there.”

He did add that the buildings that housed the general store and the auto businesses are still standing, and can be seen on Google Maps, but concluded, “Sadly, the building that was the general store is no longer painted red so the town’s name has lost its meaning.”

Mark, thank you so much for talking with your parents and sharing that information with us!

As a tangential note to this, related to both the same area and an unusually named place: My longtime friend Jennell Moser often has the opportunity to hear about places of the past in York County. She was recently talking to one gentleman about an area between Red Lion and Dallastown called “The Flats,” and was mentioning a drive-in theater in Spry. Does anyone have memories or details about either of those places to share? Jennell and I would both like to know more.

3. Sharing an L&H memory

Also last week, I shared a letter from Bernadette Tuscano, who was hoping area readers would share their memories of shopping at L&H 5 and 10, in honor of the 100th birthday of owner Philip Lookingbill this month.

I received a nice note from Nancy Swonger, who wrote, “It was always great to make a trip to the L and H store in Dallastown. We walked there after school to get candy. The ladies who worked there were always very kind to us kids too. In those days the candy was in large bins on the counter and the clerks would weigh out whatever amount you wanted (or had the money for). You could get a really big bag for a quarter or less! Loved going there. This was in the 1950s.”

Nancy, thank you so much for sharing that!

I also found a note in my archives from June Lauer, who wrote that she used to live on South Belvidere Avenue. She wrote, “From my earliest memories (that would take you back to the ’30s) our local 5 and 10 cent store on the southeast corner of Market St. and Belvidere Avenue was/or became at that time, L&H 5 and 10 store – owned by the Lookingbills and the Hellers (ergo, L&H!)”

She continued, “There were three L&H stores. The other in York was in the east end on Market Street, left-hand side between the Old York Theater and the railroad track, and later they moved a little further east on the same street, on the hill, still on the left, nearer to Grove’s Athletic store. The third L&H 5 and 10 was in Dallastown.”

Reader Paula Bramhall grew up in the same neighborhood (also on South Belvidere), and noted that she remembers the L&H on Market and Belvidere as she used to catch the bus on that corner to go to York High in the ’50s.

And Nancy Reever recalled the same location, adding, “As a child in the ’50s I went there many times with my grandfather. When you entered the store there was a three-sided candy counter. They sold candy by the pound and also ‘penny’ candy. There were two levels to the store, the main floor and the basement. In the basement they had a little hardware/housewares department and a toy department. Loved to go there with my grandfather on Saturdays.”

Thank you all for sharing! I hope other readers will have a chance to share their L&H memories as well.

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.