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Memories from Avalong’s and Rutter’s restaurants
Has everyone enjoyed the many weeks of music memories? Today I’m switching things up and returning to something that I know is a true passion for many Yorkers – food!
First, from reader Richard “Dick” Wolfe of Oxford, Pa., I received a great letter about the former Avalong’s, which was near the intersection of Whiteford and Mount Zion roads in Springettsbury Township.
Dick noted, “Joanne Long was my sister and I grew up in the business… Alva Richard Long was the patriarch in the family and my sister dropped the l because she didn’t like the sound of Alvalong’s. (My sister named me after ‘pappy’ and because she liked the song ‘Open the Door Richard’ in the 1940s.)”
He continued, “I believe we were first with lime, grape and pink lemonade rickeys. (I remember the three dispensing machines and the special tall serving glasses that my sister always grumbled as being expensive.) My dad, who was assistant manager of the restaurant, made the clam chowder, and my mother made the apple dumplings people rave about and until about 1960 made all the pies.”
Dick also confirmed as fact something I had previously heard – that a particularly special York County food originated at Avalong’s. “Avalong’s was first with broasted chicken and because we bought the first franchise, all other franchises (for a time) had to be approved by Clyde and Joanne,” he said.
Dick also mentioned a previous commenter and someone mentioned by him. “I remember George Figdore although I was very young when he worked there. *I started work at the age of 7 in the summer of 1955 picking trash off the parking lot.) And, of course, I remember Bill Kralowitz when he worked there and later when he was my history teacher for three years at Central.”
And, he continued, “Avalong Fairways Miniature Golf was built in Spring 1960 and I was the ‘kid’ (at age 12) who sold the golf balls. Arnold Palmer Driving Range and Miniature Golf was built in the spring of 1965 and I, as a recent high school graduate, managed it that first summer. The dining room and curb service areas with the ‘car call’ communication system were built in 1961. The design of the curb service roof and the ‘car call’ system with 60 speaker boxes came from observations Clyde and Joanne made while vacationing in California. (I fell off that roof, luckily into soft earth, when my dad and I were driving nails during construction.)”
“Clair Long (Clyde’s brother) taught me to drive a tractor at age 9 in the field where The Bon-Ton built their warehouse,” he continued, adding, “Avalong’s was the first dairy east of the Mississippi to install glass pipeline milking. (Milk was conveyed from the milking machine to the storage tank by overhead glass pipes.) When wholesale sale of milk was approved by the milk marketing board, I believe we were first to get rid of milk trucks and sell milk (first by refilling 1 gallon jugs and later by exchange of half-gallon bottles) from the restaurant.”
Then he got to one of my favorite topics – ice cream! “Clete Snowberger (the husband of Clyde’s sister Jean) made the ice cream usually on Thursdays and also worked as a security guard at Caterpillar,” Dick noted. “On ice cream-making days many members of the family helped with filling, labeling and moving the ice cream to the freezer. (Some of my best memories.) Ernie McCall sold his ‘North Pole’ York Fair stand to Avalong’s and we operated it at the north end of the grandstand in the 1960s when the fair only ran for five days. (Jack the blanket man was around the corner from us and I can still hear his barkers.)”
About the origins of Avalong’s, Dick notes, “The business was first Long’s Dairy, Blue Knob, PA (on top of the mountains between Altoona and Johnstown). The dairy was sold, became Long’s Dairy, Tyrone, PA, and the Long family bought the Robertson farm in York in late 1949/early 1950. The milk from the cows was sold to another dairy that later became a competitor. The land between Memory Lane (a dirt road at the time) and Mount Zion Road was bought by Caterpillar around 1951 for the manufacturing plant and the family used that money to build a dairy plant, the restaurant and buy the 204-acre Martin Schaffer farm where the Springettsbury waste treatment plant is located today.”
He concluded, “Clyde died in February 1997 and Joanne died later that year in September. They were role models for me and although Joanne was a sister, she was like a second mother to me. I’m sorry I’m rambling and not putting things into chronological order! I probably have hundreds more memories, but for now, it’s enough.”
Dick, I loved hearing all of your Avalong’s memories! Thank you so much for sharing your family’s story.
The other letter I have to share today features the same location – in a later iteration as a restaurant I remember fondly from my own childhood! Rutter’s, at the time, was not only a convenience store but also a restaurant, and a letter about that comes from longtime reader Tom Keasey.
Tom writes, “The second of Rutter’s two restaurants was opened on the corner of Whiteford and Mount Zion roads on a tract of land that was once the site of the Avalong Dairy Bar, which was the topic of some of your past columns. As soon as it opened, Rutter’s quickly became a favorite ‘breakfast spot’ for many Yorkers. The restaurant’s luncheon and dinner entrée featured many local favorites.”
He continued, “But, there was another side of Rutter’s, their banquet facility, which was located on the Mount Zion side of the building. The banquet room could be used as a single large room or divided into two or three smaller rooms depending upon the size of the group. Rutter’s became a preferred location for hosting banquets and parties celebrating any and all occasions. Several service clubs called Rutter’s Restaurant their home for their luncheon or dinner meetings. The Springettsbury Lions Club, of which I was a member, was one of those clubs. We met at Rutter’s for the entire time the restaurant and banquet center was in operation. There was a lady named Millie who oversaw a small group of servers who worked the banquets and meetings.”
And, Tom concluded, “When the closing was announced, we were told the Rutter family wanted to focus all of its efforts on expanding the number of convenience stores, one of which sat just to the rear of the restaurant and banquet center facing Mount Zion Rd. Following the raising of the restaurant and banquet center, the parcel of land became the home of a branch of a bank which I can’t name because it has changed its name at least twice and possibly three times. Regardless of the bank’s name, I must applaud their efforts to give long-time residents a “tie-in” to their past, by displaying large murals of the Avalong Dairy Bar and Rutter’s Restaurant on a wall just off the main customer lobby.”
One of those murals (the part depicting Avalong’s) appears with today’s column, as seen in 2011! I was so glad that Tom mentioned it.