Memories along Route 74 in Dover from the 1950s and beyond
Today, I have a letter to share from longtime reader and commenter David F. Spangler, who now lives in York Township but noted he’d lived in Dover Township off and on since 1938. In this letter, he shared with me some memories starting in the 1905s and continuing to the ’60s and ’70s.
“Our travel will begin at the little stone school house, north of Dover on Route 74,” he writes. “This old one-room school building, currently used as a business, is where I started school in 1942 during the height of World War 2. Sometime during the 1950s the school building and grounds were sold to Al Kuhn, who operated an auto salvage yard, more commonly known to everyone as a “junkyard,” also spread into an open field across the highway that was later acquired by the salvage yard owner. In toward Dover borough, about three-quarters of a mile, was Lloyd Crone’s farm supply store operated by the Crone family, and is the present location of the veterinary office and animal hospital.” I’ll just add a note here to those who remember another Crone’s store in the borough proper… yes, this is a different one, and we’ll work our way south to the other one presently!
David continues, “Further in the road, on the same side of the highway and at the intersection of Route 74 and Harmony Grove Road, was Reggie’s service station, known to most as Reggie’s Y, or the Y. The owner, Helen, was also Justice of the Peace, and there was always at least one or more state police cars parked outside. Besides the gas pumps sitting outside, Helen sold groceries, cigarettes and other tobacco products, as well as a long list of other sundry items known in today’s market as junk food. The Y was a typical hangout for the locals, playing cards, spitting tobacco juice and spreading local gossip.”
“A short distance back Harmony Grove Road was Jim Straley’s farm implement business, operating out of an old barn, with his house across the road. Years ago the business relocated to East Canal Road across from Dover Elementary School,” he wrote.
Back to Route 74, though, he added, “Next we come to Jim and Nena’s restaurant, being at that location since the late 1950s or ’60s, once the location of the old Dover Auction House. The building alone sat on a sizable parking area. This unpaved piece of ground was literally a large mud puddle during heavy rains. The auction house, a large-one story unpainted wooden structure, had a dirt floor, however it had electricity and indoor plumbing. The heat during the winter was supplied by a number of 50-gallon oil drums converted into homemade heaters, with stove pipes going through the roof. I don’t know what they used for fuel, but it heated very well. Not only was this a place to buy just about anything you could think of, everything was very reasonable. This was also a gathering place for the community every Friday and Saturday night.”
He continued, “Eimerbrink’s Grocery Store, located at the corner of North Main Street and Butter Road, existed into the late 1950s, along with the bus stop for riders outside the store. The York City Bus Company completed a number of trips between York and Dover on a daily schedule, dropping off riders along the way. Mitzel’s Shoe Repair shop was located on North Main Street, across from the Dover Garage owned by the Mummert family. This was a Kaiser-Frazer dealership during the late ’40s and into the 1950s. Across the street was Miller’s Barber Shop; this was just across the alley from Gentzler’s Meat Market. The alley now has a name, Herrold; years ago it had no name, like so many of the other alleys in Dover borough. Coincidentally, the alley where the meat market was located apparently was named for Lewis Herrold, M.D., the only doctor in Dover for years. His office was across North Main Street next to this un-named alley that crossed North Main. The Dover Cigar Factory, 28 N. Main St., employed many women from the local area. You could stand on the sidewalk outside, looking through the large plate glass windows at the employees making cigars.”
Now, David comes to the other Crone’s, noting, “Another grocery store… was Crone’s Grocery located on the southeast corner of the square. Besides groceries, Lester sold everything imaginable, depending on the season.” That’s a location that I remember a bit later on, as being Ralph’s Exxon in the 1980s. My father and the namesake Ralph were friends, and Dad would take me there on Saturday mornings while my mother was working at the Market & Penn Farmer’s Market.
David’s memories continued, “Raymond Lankford’s Barber Shop was next door to Crone’s grocery store. I and my brothers often had our hair cut by Mr. Lankford; the price was 25 cents at the time, and this also included a few verses hummed in your ear of a church hymn. The AMACO service station was on the opposite side of the barber shop, at the top of the hill. This was one of many full-service gas stations at that time. If you stopped for gas, the attendant checked under the hood, included was radiator, oil, battery and anything you asked for. The windows were cleaned and tire pressure checked, then after pumping gas, you paid the attendant with money, not credit cards. Service station employees always wore uniforms, included was a patch sewn on the shirt pocket with the oil company logo of the particular service station. The attendant usually handed you a piece of tableware and some S&H Green Stamps. All this and gas was only a few cents a gallon. Across the square on the southwest corner was Bertha Linebach’s restaurant and grocery store, later taken over by the Bentz family.”
David continued, “The next business on the hill, to the left is Baughman Memorials, in Dover since post-Civil War era. At the bottom of the hill on the right side was Quickel’s Lumber Yard. It was very pleasant to… enjoy the aroma of the fresh lumber, especially the white and yellow pine.”
Onto West Canal Road, David noted, “Past the present high school and across the street was Beck’s Dairy, a favorite hangout for the high school students, before, during lunch and after. Beck’s consisted of a lunch bar, jukebox and pinball machines. Of course, smoking was allowed. Past Beck’s and across a small bridge on the opposite side of the road was Dover Township’s polling location, where all of Dover cast their ballots.”
David then jumped back to Route 74 and added a few memories going farther south into Weigelstown. “Where the Davidsburg Road branches off of the Carlisle Road, as Route 74, is often referred to, was located one of my earliest recollections after moving to Dover. The Green Hedge service station, named for the green hedge that ran across the front side of the building, was where CVS Pharmacy is located. Beyond the Davidsburg turn-off, a short distance further was Cook Motors. Used cars and garage work were their mainstay, including the traditional set of gasoline pumps. PeoplesBank now occupies that location. Just to the south was Baldwin Oil Burners, sales and service of oil burner furnaces. The Baldwin family owned the business and continued into the late ’50s or early ’60s. Weigelstown Roller Rink was located to the left of Route 74 behind a patch of woods on what is now Alta Vista Road. The building is still there, currently occupied by York Tractor. Across the road was the Weigelstown Bowling Lanes. What seems like ages ago, where Anderson’s Car Wash stands, was a brick, one-room school house.”
David, I appreciated all of these memories! I grew up north of Dover on Blackberry Road and then later moved into Weigelstown, first back Fox Run Road on Fox Chase Drive, then right off Carlisle Road on Locust Road, before moving to West Manchester Township when my daughter was in kindergarten. So all of these places are very familiar to me and, I hope, to many other readers as well!Have questions or memories to share? Email me at email@example.com 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.