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Mail call: Memories of Mailman’s, Food Fair and trolleys

Trolley tracks entered and exited York’s Continental Square in the heyday of York County’s far-flung street railways in the first third of the 20th century. The tracks led to York’s northwest area – the Avenues, long one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods.

Last week, I shared some of the many responses to my 17 Ask Joan questions for 2017; this week, I want to switch gears a little bit and empty out some of the many mailed letters I’ve had filed for some time. As I hope to always make clear, the fact that it sometimes takes me a while to share a particular note from a reader is in no way a reflection of my interest in their thoughts, but simply a reflection of the volume of physical mail and email I get.

Today’s letters run the gamut of topics – including an article sent for my perusal by someone who knew me when I was 7 or 8 years old! I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Food Fair

I want to start off today by sharing a letter from Norma Ort Berkheimer, who actually wrote to me more than a year ago about Food Fair. Norma grew up in the 400 block of West Philadelphia Street.

She recalled while reading a late 2015 column about the downtown York Food Fair, “I recall one off Philadelphia Street on Roosevelt Avenue and one on South George next to a moving and storage facility. I’m writing about these stores, before Green Stamps, they issued sections of a Webster’s Dictionary that the final item was a binder to enclose it. It has everything in it!”

(Side note: You can search for “Green Stamps” at to read some thoughts on this staple of the past!)

Anyway, back to the dictionary premium: Norma writes, “Final book is 4 1/2 inches thick, 11 1/2 inches long and 9 inches wide. Weight 10 pounds. Titled ‘Webster’s Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language – Unabridged.’ Rockville House Publishers, MCMLII.” She noted that she still relies on her old dictionaries for spelling and pronunciations “and help with crossword puzzles,” which I really appreciate as a longtime puzzler.

Norma also recalled, “I think Kottcamp later moved into the old Food Fair building on Roosevelt Avenue.”

I appreciate hearing about both these locations and that cool premium… thanks, Norma! (My favorite grocery store premium was a set of Grolier encyclopedias that I read cover-to-cover, but I’m pretty nerdy.)


Another letter I received, this one just a few months ago, was from Carla (Mailman) Morgan, who wrote in response to an October column that shared some memories of Mailman’s department store.

Carla wrote, “Master’s was a chain store out of New York owned by Steve Masters and my father, Stanley Mailman, managed that store for about eight or nine years. He left there to open his store, Mailman’s, in 1963. He was an extremely smart businessman who valued every customer who walked through his doors. Among many goals he had was to provide name-brand merchandise at the best possible price to the customer.”

She added, “The store offered a wide variety of products from major appliances, TVs, electronics, photography and even fine jewelry. I have many wonderful stories about what he did behind the scenes for people and businesses in York who at some time needed help either financially or obtaining product. He made sure that the customers always left the store with a great shopping experience. I know that many people had Christmas because of him and their children had gifts.”

She continued, “My mother, my brother, my husband, my sister-in-law and I were always on hand to make sure the store was the success it was. Mailman’s closed in 1990 and my father remained active in SCORE, which is a group of businessmen who advise young entrepreneurs about starting their own businesses until his death in 1999.”

She concluded, “So many people still stop me today to reminisce about Stanley and say his flair for business and service can’t be duplicated in today’s world. When the store closed he sold some real estate investments to pay creditors. He always honored his word in business. This is a small sampling of who he was and what he stood for in this community. Today his granddaughter Whitney Morgan continues as third-generation his retail and community legacy with her beautiful store Collage on South George Street and commitment to helping Access-York, a women’s shelter to help victims of domestic violence. He would have been extremely proud.”

Carla, I am sure he would and I greatly appreciate your letter to tell us all more about your father and his legacy!

York’s trolleys

Several times in the past, I’ve written about the former trolleys in York. In response to one of those columns last year, reader Phyllis Oberlander sent me a 1989 York Daily Record article by a longtime friend of mine, Linda Weiner Seligson, about the restoration of one of the former trolley cars, York Railways Car 163.

The 163 now operates as part of the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Rockhill Furnace, PA, and Linda’s 1989 article was written the week before its rededication. It’s still in operation today, having been a part of the trolley museum longer than it operated in York! You can see photos of this trolley through the years by visiting and searching the Car Roster for 163.

When I saw the return address on Phyllis’ letter, I recognized her name immediately – and she remembered me as well. “I remember you when your family attended Mount Royal Church. I was married to Dick Oberlander.” I remember Dick and Phyllis well and was so thrilled to receive such interesting reading from someone who’d known me so long ago!

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at 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.