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Betty J. Massa of West Manchester Township wrote to share her memories of growing up in the area outside of Dallastown. She passed away just over a month after her recent letters, one of which is seen here, were published.

“A result of an afternoon of remembering” – Part 2

Last week, I shared some wonderful memories from Betty J. Massa, who went to school from first through eighth grades at the former Kohler schoolhouse outside of Dallastown.

Betty shared so many great memories with me that I wanted to continue with those this week, but first, I will let her describe how I came to have two letters from her almost back-to-back in my mailbox and why I didn’t share the first one alone, but rather waited until the second arrived.

Betty writes, “Joan, this will come to you as an apology. I had written to you regarding Red Town, the downed airplane, etc., and I signed it Bjm. My apology for not using my name – Betty J. Massa. Some background on Bjm. I worked as a secretary and it was customary to sign all my work. Back then it was ‘bjr.’ Although I have been retired for many, many years, I find I still use ‘bjm’ to sign cards, letters, etc. When a recipient sees ‘bjm,’ they know it is me.”

So now that I knew who the first letter was from, I was excited to be able to share both! (If you missed Betty’s earlier memories last week, you can find them at

Betty had been remembering a lot about an area known as Red Town or Red Front outside of Dallastown. In an earlier column, reader Mark Raffensberger had talked about some of the people who lived in Red Town.

Betty had her own list of people from that area tha she shared, including:

  • Ed and Harriet Innerst – “Their meadow received the downed aircraft. Ed had a brother… he and his wife, Ruth, lived on an adjoining farm. Together they worked the farm and a dairy operation. Brothers married sisters; Ed married Harriet Raab. Ruth married Ed’s brother. We knew him as Dick.”
  • Bill and Gladys Raab – “Dr. Groff’s new dining facility is located in the Raab’s former barn.
  • John Raver and wife, Katie
  • Claude Stern and wife, Mabel
  • John and Lola Brant
  • Edgar and Margaret Ruff – “My parents,” Betty noted.
  • Bill and Lizzie Shaw – “Their children I can recall – Little Bill, Charlie, Howard and ‘Speed.’ Speed and Howard may be one and the same. All I ever knew was Speed. The Shaw brothers were frequent ‘visitors’ to the Red Town store (loafers).”
  • Ed and Ida Livingston
  • Ness family – “Mother, Lydia, father, children were Leroy, Alverta, Walter and a younger son.”
  • Eberly family – “Parents’ names, I don’t believe I ever knew their names. Children, I remember from elementary school: Kenneth, Preston, Treva. The Eberly family was a Pennsylvania Dutch family and ‘Dutch’ was used as the family language. School was a challenge for teacher and students.”

She continued, thinking about mailmen, “Red Town did not have a post office. We definitely had delivery to our farm mailbox, by Sam Ness, our mailman. Some things I remember about mail: I remember when mother had a need for stamps, she would puta note and money in the mailbox at the end of our lane, and Sam would put stamps in our mailbox. I was often told, ‘Go and get the mail.'”

“Mailmen knew their customers, patrons, etc. One incident: Mother had an aunt, who lived in Hershey… they corresponded. One day Mother received a letter from the aunt. It was addressed – Mrs. Margaret, RD 1, Dallastown.”

Moving away from Red Town slightly, Betty continued, “I’ve been thinking of Rye, but to date nothing is remembered. Along the road from the Swamp to the Red Lion/Winterstown road, thee is/was a little development – Rye, maybe?”

Betty concluded that section of her letter, “This communication contains a lot of ‘maybes.’ Maybe it will all fit together someday. Anyway, I’ve had fun trying to remember names, events, etc. My brain archives isn’t all that active, but this has given me an activity and opportunity to think of things from the past, and I have had a L-O-N-G past.”

She went on to remember some other things:

  • “Does anyone remember the York Trolley Car, traveled the center of Main Street, Dallastown, on its way to Bittersville?”
  • “One rail line, but known as the M and P, the Ma and Pa, the Maryland-Pennsylvania line. On its way south it would make a stop in Dallastown, if it was necessary to deliver coal yard – North Walnut Street. The engineer would take the engine and necessary cards and back from Red Lion to Dallastown over a high wooden trestle to make the delivery.”
  • North Walnut Street area was not only home to the coal yard but also the ice plant. Blocks of ice were made there to be delivered to home ice boxes. The ice cream the man in carge made was really, really good.”

Finally, she said, “An unrelated incident: There was a drowning at the Swamp. A group of boys from Dallastown frequented the Swamp to swim. A boy by the name of Flinchbaugh (?) dove into the water and struck his head on a hidden object. This I remember as being told. I was quite young at that time.”

Betty, it was so nice to receive your letters and spend time remembering this area of York County!

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.

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