Only in York County

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Ask Joan: Groves and lions and landing crafts, oh my!

I have a fun, very random mixed bag of Ask Joan questions and follow-ups to share today!

What’s inside

1. Wondering: Where was Himmelright’s Grove?
2. Remembering pet lion in York
3. Seeking name of Red Lion factory

1. I am 84 years old… when I was about 3 or 4 years old, my parents and their friends would go to a place called “Himmelright’s Grove.” I can’t remember where it was located but believe it was somewhere in the Long Level area although it may have been on the Lancaster County side. It had a makeshift stage for wannabe country players and the audience would sit on blankets on the ground and have a picnic-type lunch. I recall my dad talking about some of the acts that performed and the only one that I remember was Andy Reynolds. I am just curious if anyone would know about the park. My inquiring mind wants to know.
– Herm Myers

Well, now mine does too, Herm! The description reminds me very much of Valley View Park in Hellam Township, another spot we’ve remembered often, and I’m hoping we can share some details on Himmelright’s Grove for Herm too!

(I did find one neat reference – in our sister paper, the Pottstown Mercury, a short item in the social column on Aug. 10, 1939, says: “Mr. and Mrs. G. Paul Benner and Mrs. A. G. McCardell motored to Himmelright’s grove Sunday to hear Uncle Jack and his Gang from Reading.” You can check that out here!)

2. Back in March, reader Cyndi Page wanted to know if anyone remembered a lion kept as a pet in York in the 1970s, a feat I’m very sorry I missed out on!

Well, I heard from Sam Rudisill of Manchester, who wrote, “I remember the pet lion. (As a cub.) He belong to Ron Billet, who owned a head shop a few doors away from the Diamond Pool Hall on the 300 block of West Market Street. He used to take him to Be-Ins at Kiwanis Lake.”

So, Cyndi, there’s confirmation: There was such a lion! I’ve been happy to see the resurgence in the Kiwanis Lake Be-Ins, but gonna guess no lions will be appearing.

3. I remember as a kid the older folks talking about a factory in Red Lion that built Higgins boats (a landing craft) in Red Lion. Do you know the name of that factory?
– Greg Moul

Greg shared this question with me on Facebook, and I admit, I had to turn to Wikipedia for a quick look into exactly what Higgins boats were!

Official U.S. Navy photo of a Higgins boat or LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) used during World War II.
Official U.S. Navy photo of a Higgins boat or LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) used during World War II.

Once I saw the photo from the U.S. Navy archives, though, I knew exactly what he meant; I just didn’t know them by name, so I learned something new today!

But as to where such boats were made in Red Lion, that, I’m not sure of. Any input for Greg?

Got any questions? Ask Joan using the form at right. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future “Ask Joan” column on this blog. I get a large volume, but I will feature three each week and answer as many as possible!

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