Only in York County

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Mail call: Gizzy’s history of the Yoe area

Today’s letter comes from a wonderful gentleman I’ve had the privilege to correspond with for a couple of years. His name is Gizz Davis and he titled his note, “Life in a small town.”

He writes, “I love all of the fond memories I’ve read in your articles, lately! I would like to contribute a few of my own. My wife calls them Fond Remembrances (Real or Imagined) of an Old Coot. Many are just random memories as are most of my thoughts these days. At any rate, please use them as you see fit (including filing them in the circular file), with the understanding that they are as accurate as my ninety-one-year father and I can recall.”

Gizz kindly broke his “history” up into parts, and I’m glad to share all of them for your Tuesday reading pleasure. I’ve tucked in a photo from our archives of the Yoe area, as well!

School Life

“When I was very young, we lived in Yoe, PA. Some of my fondest memories are from that time, including my absenting myself from school quite a few times. The elementary school was located on steep hill at the intersection of Springwood Road and Yoe’s main street. The school’s ‘playground’, if you could call it that, consisted of nothing more than a steep hill covered with gravel and pyrite (I think that’s what it’s called). Pyrite was tiny cubes of what everyone knew in those days as “fool’s gold”. I loved the stuff and probably collected more than my fair share!”

He continues, “One of my favorite memories was ‘hooking’ from school. I was never a good student, I hated sitting in school, and, apparently no one even cared when I went missing! One time, I ‘hooked out’ of elementary school and went to the park at the top of a big hill in Yoe. I crouched in some weeds when I saw our neighbor walking up the sidewalk. Not being terribly bright, I stood up, waved at her, and yelled, ‘Hi, Mrs. ____.’ (I don’t remember her last name after all these years). Mrs. ____ went straight to our house (which sat high up on a ‘terraced’ bank) and ‘ratted me out’ to my mom. Mom came up, got me and, literally dragged me by my hair back to school. When the principal called my teacher out of the room, my teacher said that I was in class. At the time, I sat almost directly in front of the teacher’s desk and she hadn’t even missed me!”

Yoe park in shambles
This photo shows the damage left at Springwood Park near Yoe after the York flood in 1933.

Yoe Miscellany

“In those days, railroad tracks ran between York and Baltimore and passed through Yoe, and, as far as I can remember, they called it the ‘MA and PA Railroad’ because they went from Maryland to PA. My buddies and I used to put pennies on the track and collect them after the train flattened them. Older and wiser people kept telling us that trains could be derailed by the pennies. We ignored their cautionary tales until my dad read an article to me telling of a derailment in the northern part of the state. While that derailment had nothing to do with pennies on the tracks, we never put pennies on the rails after that!”

He adds, “Just about a half-block from the elementary school and right next to the railroad tracks was an ‘old-time’ (in this day and age) general store. Everybody knew it as ‘Gibby’s’ and I think the owner’s last name was Mr. Gibson. I fondly remember a few things about Gibby’s:

• First, Gibby was one of the nicest people I have ever met
• His store had almost anything anyone could ever want to buy – from groceries and household staples to excellent butcher shop meat
• As one walked through the front door there was always the indentation on the wooden floor of many, many footsteps passing over that threshold
• I guess my favorite memory of Gibby’s is that, Mr. Gibson, although may not have been very well educated, himself, he had a very high regard for education:
– Any time we went into his store, Mr. Gibby would always asked if we went to school that day. If we said, ‘Yes,’ he would give us a piece of penny candy
– When it was report card time, Mr. Gibby always gave any kid who could show him As on his/her report card a free ‘nickel’ candy bar or ice cream treat for each A we had earned that marking period!!!!! Sadly, being the dummy that I am, I seldom ever got many ‘nickel treats,’ but, Mr. Gibby somehow always managed to find a reason to give me something as a treat, anyway.
• Behind Gibby’s and the church were the railroad tracks EXCEPT that between Gibby’s and the tracks, there was also a cigar factory. The tobacco smell from the factory was quite pungent and very strong on most days. Most of us “boy brats” enjoyed the smell since in those days most of our fathers used tobacco in one form or another. One of my fondest memories was of picking up discarded cigar bands and making engagement/wedding rings of them for the girls I loved back then! Sadly, none of those girls was ever interested in my rings!”

(I liked hearing Gizz’s stories, because I admit I was one to skip school more often than I should’ve – until my parents decided to home-school me, which put an end to that temporarily! In high school, though, I was pretty close to failing on attendance despite good grades. It’s a shame – I wish now I hadn’t done that, but oh well!)

Gizz inserted one more memory at this point, but I’m going to hold on to it because it deals with an Ask Joan question I’ve got coming up! You’ll have to wait and see!

Gas Prices

“With our current $4.00-a-gallon gas prices, it may seem very hard to realize that, at one time, there were actually ‘gas wars’ going in the other direction! In the mid ‘60s, Stewartstown gas merchants fought to sell gas at its lowest price. Both my wife, Jinny, and I can remember gas prices going from 25-cents-per-gallon to 18-cents-per-gallon to, finally, 15-cents-per-gallon! Later, in the 1970s, we had a different kind of gas war. This time, we were dealing with extreme gas shortages! In the early ‘70s, for some strange reason, gasoline became very scarce here in the United States.”

Gizz continues, “The results of that shortage included:

• Gasoline rationing and, in some cases, being able to purchase gas only on odd or even days, depending upon your license plate, and even then only for limited amounts.
• Extremely long lines at service stations, often resulting in patrons running out of gas before they could get to the pumps!”

And, he concludes, “Wow! How times have changed!”

Indeed they have, Gizz, but I’m glad you were able to recall some of those fun days for us!

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