Joan Concilio found this Food Fair promotional needle-holder at an antique shop in Adamstown, Lancaster County.
Memories from a Midwestern Yorker
After a couple of weeks of very focused columns talking about the York Fair, now it’s time to mix things up a little. I decided to pick the oldest item in my inbox, whatever that might be, and post about it today, and thankfully, it was something fun!
Rich Anthony wrote to me a couple of years ago from the Chesterfield, Mo., area, after reading one of my columns on ydr.com. That column was about Mailman’s department store, Food Fair grocery stores and York’s downtown trolleys.
Rich said at the time that he visited ydr.com almost every day “to see what is happening back in good old York, Pa.,” and he had some memories to share as well.
He began, “When I was very young, at approximately 6 years old, my parents moved to our new home at 424 W. Philadelphia St. This was probably late 1954 or early spring 1955. I remember attending first grade at Stevens Elementary School after the school year started. Our row home was approximately a quarter of the city block up from the Roosevelt Tavern.”
The earlier column he mentioned had people recalling a Food Fair at Roosevelt Avenue and West Philadelphia Street, and potentially another at West Philadelphia and North George. Rich did not remember those, but recalled a Food Fair on the northwest corner of West Philadelphia and North Beaver and another on the northwest corner of West Philadelphia and Richland Avenue (the former Print-o-Stat building). “My parents shopped at both of those stores,” he said.
Based on some letters I’ve received since that time (because I get a lot of grocery store memories, I know there’s a lot of question because of store mergers going on about the time Rich is remembering. There was a small set of stores under the Giant name (not clear that it’s any relation to the current chain; I haven’t found any documentation suggesting they are at all connected), but at least one of those merged into Food Fair, and Food Fair then merged in Pantry Pride. There were also a number of A&P stores around at the time as well (including one on West Market Street near Penn Street, more or less where the parking lot for the Market & Penn Farmers Market is now).
I’d love to do a project in which I make a map of former grocery stores in York County… maybe that’s a project for this winter!
Rich also recalled the former Mailman’s department store, writing, “I remember when Mailman’s was built out in North York about a block west of North George Street. Mailman’s was having a promotion one weekend and brought in a young promising Philadelphia Phillies pitcher by the name of Art Mahaffey. Since I was Phillies fan, my dad took me there to meet him and get his autograph.”
And, by way of background, he noted, “When I was finishing my studies at Penn State York in the spring of 1978, I was hired by McDonnell Douglas Corp. (bought by Boeing in 1997), which is in the St. Louis area. I still have family and friends back in the York area with a sister in the Red Lion area. My wife and I have lived in the Chesterfield, Mo., area for more than 20 years.”
Rich, I appreciate you sharing those memories with us – and I’m sorry you had the dubious honor of winning the “Joan’s oldest email” award! I hope you’re still checking in from Missouri.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.