Most of these items were found tucked away inside a box of freebies during a roadside walk, though the Newswanger's bottle opener came in a care package from a reader.
Ask Joan: Things found around York County
As a surprise benefit to being home during quarantine, my family and I have been enjoying walks of an hour or more on most days. We live in the Weigelstown area of Dover Township, and we can get to a number of different neighborhoods entirely on foot. So we have been all over the greater Dover metroplex, and we’ve been thrilled to see everything from pop-up pantries to painted rock gardens to full Little Free Libraries to DVD-giveaway bins and more.
One of the coolest finds, though, was a random box marked “free” that included, at first glance, some older Bibles, a copy of Gone With the Wind, and some other odds and ends of books.
As I flipped through, though, I realized that some of the books had things tucked away inside. Having once been married to arguably York County’s most noted ephemerologist, Chris Otto of Papergreat, I cannot stand to leave those photos, clippings and other memories to languish. So, I left most of the books behind (though I did deposit Gone with the Wind in the Little Free Library a few blocks away), but retrieved the various memorabilia tucked away between their covers.
Some of it actually went to Chris, who shared on his own website things like a Polaroid of a tiny model house sitting in the corner of a room; another mystery Polaroid of two dogs; and an unused postcard from Florida and a praying hands bookmark.
But the YORK-themed ephemera – that was all mine, and I thought today it’d be fun to talk our own “walk” through it.
First, let’s talk about the least York-centric item in the bunch: That autographed photo to “Connie.” I couldn’t tell who the celebrity was immediately by the signature, but I immediately was pretty sure I recognized the woman as one my mom teased my dad about having a crush on multiple times as I was growing up. I had a couple names come to mind who it might have been, and after some fun online searching, quickly realized it’s a younger Sophia Loren. This holds up with my memories pretty well – my dad, a good Italian if there ever was one, certainly thought that this Italian beauty was one of the best things to happen to movies in his lifetime. (If, like me, you weren’t sure: Yes, Sophia Loren is still alive; she’s 85 and lives primarly in Switzerland.)
Then there’s the pressed flower. That, of course, could be from York County – there were a handful of local wedding and funeral announcements also in the “tucked away” collection, and those are pretty common flower-pressing occasions. I have no idea, but my sentimental side was totally unwilling to part with it, so it’s now nicely tucked away inside one of my own oldest books, for someone to find one day and wonder upon what occasion I saved it!
The most York thing of all, though, was that great “Gift of Beauty” gift certificate for Darleen Myers Beauty Shop, 1132 E. Market St., York, good for one wash and set. No date, but it’s when gift certificates were still written out by hand but after phone numbers changed to the current seven-digit format. My best idea is mid-1980s to maybe early 1990s, but that’s truly just a guess.
The name has changed, but this location is still a hair stylist – now Randy Lehr’s Beauty Shop, and the phone number is the same! Unfortunately, they are, of course, closed until York County reaches the “green” zone for coronavirus reopening, as are our other local beauty shops.
Interestingly, you’ll notice if you look close that the certificate itself says “Darleen” Myers and the envelope says “Darlene.” Any records I found to the beauty shop online said Darleen, so that’s what I’m going with! I’d love to hear from anyone who remembers this shop when it was Darleen’s, so if that includes you, please let me know!
The final item “found” today did not come from my roadside walks, but it came in my quarantine mail. It’s a lovely Newswanger’s bottle opener from reader Bill Landes, a former Yorker now living in Kentucky who has been sending me all sorts of York care packages as he sorts his home. We’ve talked much about Newswanger’s in the past, but I would always be glad to hear more memories about that menswear store, too.
Also, just as a bonus “find” – if you have not yet read Kim Strong’s great story on a great York County wedding held amid the coronavirus, you really should. It involves so many York County things – Harley, Walmart, the Hawks Gunning Club, occasional colorful language – and, most importantly, finding happiness right where you are. (If you’re reading this in print, you can find it by going to ydr.com and searching for “Tilly,” which is the groom’s nickname.)
Taking my cue from reader Bill, I realized recently that I could “rehome” some things after I write about them. The York County History Center has VERY graciously agreed to take some of my York items if they don’t have other homes, but I’m first trying to get things mailed to people who have a special tie to them. The Newswanger’s bottle opener and Sophia Loren photo from this post just went to good homes, but if you have an interest in a gift certificate that will probably not get you a wash and set but may have some happy memories if you frequented this shop in the past, drop me an email to email@example.com and let me know where to mail to! First-come, first-served.
I’m also still open to any takers on two photos from the former Wilson School on Carlisle Road in York, which ran in a column some weeks ago. Previous attempts to find those a new home were thwarted by the fact that York County had at least two Wilson Schools… and those interested were interested in the other one, which was in North York.
So, reach out if you’re interested. I’ll update this post as things find homes!Have questions or memories to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.