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Mail call: Memories of Stoverstown from Larry E. Slagle

Today’s letter is actually some time in being published, owing to the volume of mail I receive daily! But it is one I wanted to be sure to share, as it details an area we haven’t talked about much on the blog, the Stoverstown area of North Codorus Township.

It’s from Larry E. Slagle, who provided incredible detail on the area. I will note that since a few months have passed since Larry sent this letter, all age references are as of this spring and I can’t be sure if some of the folks mentioned therein might not have had some birthday since!

Larry writes:

“As a person born and raised in the small town known as Stoverstown, I would like to reflect on the town itself and some of the people who have made this small town a place that I am proud of.

“To begin with, my grandfather, Robert D. Gentzler, joined Charles Baer, owner of the first grocery business in the town in 1902. I worked for my grandfather and my uncle, Donald W. Gentzler, when it became known as R.D. Gentzler & Son, beginning my employment in the mid to late 1940s. In addition to groceries, fresh meat and produce, there were gasoline pumps for the residents’ vehicles, kerosene for their lamps and heaters, and a hardware section.”

“Donald continues to reside in Stoverstown and at age 89 is one of two surviving children of Robert ‘Rob’ and Orpha Gentzler. Donald’s sister, Flo, age 100, also survives. The other four children of Robert and Orpha have passed: Arthur at the age of 88, Ethel Miller at the age of 101; Pauline Slagle (my mother) at the age of 100; and most recently, Richard, who was almost 91.

“My grandfather was later elected to the office of Clerk of Courts of York County. Two other born and raised residents of Stoverstown were also elected to county offices: the late Ray A. Gunnet, who worked in domestic relations, and the late Marlyn ‘Curly’ Holtzapple, York’s longest serving Clerk of Courts. Two other natives of Stoverstown worked at the courthouse for many years: the late Ethel (Gentzler) Miller (daughter of Robert D. Gentzler) and the late Ruth (Sheffer) Gentzler (daughter-in-law of Robert D. Gentzler).

“Curly’s father, St. Lawrence Holtzapple, owned and operated a restaurant named Pinter’s in Stoverstown. It was famous for its home-cooked meals and delicious homemade pies by Pinter’s wife, Eloise. Pinter and Eloise had a well-known tent for many years at the York Interstate Fair where you could actually sit down and have one of their home-cooked meals. A lot of native Stoverstonians worked at the fair tent.

“A well-known bar, Goodling’s (later named the Stoverstown Inn) was also located in Stoverstown and was owned and operated by William ‘Bill’ and Lottie Goodling, the grandparents of Stoverstown’s car-racing starts, Eugene and Bobby Goodling.

“Stoverstown also had its own barbershop owned by M. (Michael) Earnest ‘Duck’ Leppo, as well as its own shoemaker, Austin Shaffer.

Larry also spoke about Sonnewald Natural Foods, one of the businesses in Stoverstown with which I’m most familiar! The YDR recently wrote an article about that business’ past and future as part of a combination reunion and early birthday party celebration for Grace Lefever, the business’ founder, who will turn 90 this December. You can read much more about Grace and Sonnewald here, including its plans for the future under the direction of its current owners: Willa Lefever, an awesome lady who I’ve had the privilege to meet on several occasions, and her husband, Bill Kaiser.

But back to Larry’s letter; he continues with something my husband is quite knowledgeable on!

“Stoverstown had its own baseball team in the York County Central League. The Stoverstown Tigers play on the field donated by ‘Pinter’ Holtzapple after the 1950s. For many years, Pinter’s son, Marlyn ‘Curly’ Holtzapple, initially played and later managed the team. For part of his tenure, Curly played and managed simultaneously. Curly also played professional baseball with the York White Roses when Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles played with the team in York at the beginning of his career.

“The first church in Stoverstown, St. Paul’s Union Church, established in 1880, was one of the many union churches of its kind in York County, with the Lutheran and United Church of Christ (Reformed) congregations sharing the building until around 1984, when the United Church of Christ constructed its own facility and named it St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. The Lutheran congregation remained in the building and renamed it St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. Prior to that, in 1941, the original church, which was located on the corner of Stoverstown and Lehman roads, burned and was rebuilt at its present location. A memorial cross now stands where the original building was constructed. An additional church, Old Paths Baptist Church, is now located in Stoverstown, which gives this tiny village three choices for worship.

“Finally, Stoverstown is the home of a very active volunteer fire company, which provides an extremely important service to those citizens in and around Stoverstown.

And Larry concludes, “So, as you can see, for a small town, Stoverstown was home to many well respected and well known people over the years, connected to one another by birth, marriage, neighbors and many other ways. Sadly, that’s not the case in today’s world, but I have many fond memories to last me for the years I have left on earth.”

Larry, thanks for sharing those memories! I’m interested to hear what others remember from the Stoverstown area as well; please do leave a comment!

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