Meat market and Mailman’s memories continue
I’m dipping back into my collection of letters via postal mail today, in a Sesame Street-like collection “brought to you by the letter M.” I’m making this on a Monday, mulling mail about Mailman’s and meat markets.
I hope you like it mightily!
I last wrote about local meat markets or butcher shops of the past in a September column where I’d mentioned a butcher by the name of Hamburger and Sons Meat Market. Longtime reader Eugene Wise wrote to get me the exact location of that shop, which was at 524 S. Duke St. “I lived at 526 during the ’30s,” he added.
He noted about Hamburger and Sons, “They got national attention when they were featured in the ‘Strange as it Seems’ national cartoon column, similar to ‘Believe it or Not’ Ripley’s column in the York Dispatch.”
He concluded, “The had delivery anywhere in York by bicycle. The delivery boy was Leighton Hatfield, later known for organ recitals on York TV shows. Couldn’t read a note, all by ear.”
And, Eugene added, “On South George Street was Sechrist and Folkomer Butcher Shop in the 400 block, and Fisher’s in the 300 block… the floor had 5 inches of sawdust at Fisher’s.”
Another longtime reader, Charlotte Halpin, also wrote to me about some of these shops. She noted, “We lived across the street from City Market, so it was very handy for us. The market had a large special for all the meat market stands. I believe Fisher’s was the most popular. Well, that brought back memories for me. My mom would go over there and they had calf heads they would be hanging on the wall, in a row. They had all the inside parts and a tongue hanging down. They were either 50 cents or $1. A good buy in those days. She would buy one and bring it home and clean it and then cook it. I never watched because I didn’t want to know what parts she used. My dad would cook the tongue and then slice it and pickle it. That was tasty.”
She continued, “She made soup out of it using potatoes and other vegetables. It was very good… we just called it calf head soup. I don’t know if she used the eyes and brain and all the other innards. Those were tough times and my mom could make something out of anything that was given to her. My dad went hunting and fishing and she used whatever he brought home. My dad would cook some things that she didn’t like to handle. He brought eels home and they wiggled in the frying pan when he cooked them. We ate all kinds of meats. I used to like the fish eggs. They were really good.”
“So,” Charlotte finished, “That is the story of calf head soup!”
What is interesting on a personal note is that I just finished reading a book called “A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression.” My mother grew up at the tail end of the Depression (she was born in ’35) and she and I have been talking a lot about exactly what Charlotte mentions – eating what was available and making the most of it. I can add a hearty recommendation for the book if you’re interested in food history, as I’m guessing many readers of this column are.
My final letter for today switches to a different M – Mailman’s department store. In the past month or so, I shared a letter from Carla (Mailman) Morgan, the daughter of Stanley and Evelyn Mailman. Today, I have another great story about Mailman’s to share, this one from Mary Elizabeth Lucabaugh of Seven Valleys, who begins, “Let me tell you about my boss – Mr. Stanley Mailman. I worked right with him for over 16 years – the store closed up in December 1990; it was the saddest day I and my Mailman friends ever had. We were family.”
She recalled, “We were so packed on Friday nights and Saturdays and everyone loved the store! Our prices were great. But we had something that stores do not have today – and they never will. And that is, we knew what we were selling – we knew the product inside and out. We all were trained, and I mean trained. We read books, we went to meetings. I worked with Mr. Mailman in major appliance and TV department and I was trained by him.”
Mary continued, “He was the best salesman I ever saw. He was stern only when you didn’t take what he was telling you seriously! Let me tell you, the training I got when I started in the major appliance department… He said, “Mary, I want to show you how to sell a refrigerator.’ He opened the door and he said, ‘These shelves are all adjustable cantilever glass shelves – they are strong…’ and he took his hand and slammed his hand so hard down on that glass shelf – I about croaked! And he turned to tell me, ‘Make sure you show the customer this!’ Wow! Every time I look at a glass shelf in a refrigerator, I laugh!”
She continued, “That was how Mr. Mailman trained us – the right way.”
“Also, we were all told you never point your finger when someone asks where to find something in our store,” she added. “You better take then, and I mean take the person in a very sweet manner, to that product they are looking for! Because if it ever got back to Mr. Mailman that you didn’t take them, well, that redhead could get mad!”
Mr. Mailman “was a real working boss,” Mary said. “He was always there on the floor selling. He never sat down. He greeted everyone always with a freckled, happy smile. If he did go to his office on the working floor, his office door never got shut. Anyone could pop in at any time! After 26 years, lots of people who see me say, ‘Boy, I miss Mailman’s store, I loved that store – everyone knew about everything. I wish that store was still here.’ It was a great store. You don’t hear that much any more… wonder why? It was part of my life that I really can say I loved and miss.”
She concluded, “I would like to add one more person who made Mailman’s what it was. Mr. Herb Morgan – he was Stanley’s son-in-law.” (And this is the husband of Carla, who wrote earlier!)
Mary said, “He was a man who worked every day – really hard. He did everything to keep Mailman’s store going. He was a top salesman, and a great friend to all of us at Mailman’s, as was all of the Mailman and Morgan family. I thank them all, that they gave me a great job all those 16 years in a great store!”
Mary, I hear a lot from people who remember how great the Mailmans and family were, but I don’t know if I have ever heard all those details before! I know that I remember going to visit my sister Linda Smith at the Mailman’s in the North Mall when I was very young; she worked there as a salesgirl. I only wish my Mailman’s memories stretched into my adult life as well!Have questions or memories to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.