Sharing more memories of local butcher shops
One thing we’ve talked about a lot in the past, but not recently, is former butcher shops in York County, PA.
I last shared some thoughts on this topic a year ago, in August 2015, when reader Don Runkle talked about a meat market called Hamburger’s! Today, I’ll start with more Hamburger memories and go from there!
Reader Eugene A. Wise of York wrote that Hamburger’s Butcher Shop was at 524 S. Duke St., York, and said the shop’s name was on the window – Hamburger & Son Meat Market.
Eugene writes, “It was operated by Carl Hamburger and his wife. Carl closed it in World War II and entered the army as a dog trainer (which was his hobby). Leighton Hatfield (later a loud organ player in York) stayed out front with his bicycle waiting to deliver orders.”
He continued, “Also I remembered from the 1920s, a butcher shop on South George St. The floor was covered by 6 inches of sawdust (later illegal). Also in the 400 block was Sechrist and Folkcomer’s (now a wash house). They were famous for their hot dogs. Our relatives living in Philadelphia would drive up just to get them, and bring back 10 to 15 lbs. for their neighbors.”
I also heard from reader J.K. Stump, who wrote, “Should you do another article about butcher shops in York, in the future, don’t forget the C.W. Bankert Meat Market at 661 W. Philadelphia St. My grandfather was Curvin Washington Bankert. There was and still is a brick barn in the backyard where he butchered animals, including deer for the hunters. He made hot dogs, sausage and scrapple in that barn.”
The letter continued, “As a child, I helped by turning the old equipment to make the hot dogs and sausage… and to take the feathers off of the chickens. He had huge cast iron kettles over a wood fire, if I recall. I believe he made pudding too. There was a smokehouse in the backyard. His sausage was delicious but he never shared his spice recipe for it. He also raised chickens, guinea hens and pigeons. I helped him deliver meats in an old panel truck to neighbors on the Avenues.”
Longtime reader and commenter Roy Flinchbaugh of York noted, “Concerning butcher shops, you may already have Smith’s on South Pershing Ave. near Jackson St. We lived close by and not only did my mother buy meat there, but other kids in the neighborhood and I used to go around to the alley by the shop when they were slaughtering animals. They kept the door closed when the actual killing was done, but just afterwards they opened the large door to the alley and we could watch them actually butchering the animals. This was in the ’30s and ’40s, as I was growing up. Mr. Smith (I don’t know his first name) was a brother to the Mr Smith of Smith Village, Jacobus. That store still thrives. The butcher shop is long gone.”
Finally for today, I want to share a letter from Fayne Neff Gross, who wrote, “I am the daughter of Howard S. Neff who founded, owned and operated the meat market of same name until his death in 1949” in Yoe.
She writes, “The Meat Market was in the other half of our home with a large walk-in refrigerator that was accessed from the store or the outside, which was where the Butcher Shop was located in a separate cement block building. In the store there was the large roll of butcher paper on a cast iron dispenser, cash register, windows which opened to the refrigerator, which stored the meat for sale, a counter, two huge butcher blocks on which the sides of meat were cut and prepared for sale, and a slicer on which slabs of bacon were placed, sliced and laid out on half-pound papers.”
Fayne continues, “In the Butcher Shop there were five rooms and each had its purpose and use. The back room was the area in which they butchered the animals with stalls that housed the animals that were to be butchered that day. There was a rail with large meat hooks on rollers that ran from the butcher shop outside and into the walk-in refrigerator at the store. My aunt made special large shrouds of muslin into which the sides of beef were wrapped after they cooled out properly. They were then rolled into the walk-in refrigerator. This cooling out was done in a second large room. The third room housed two cast iron kettles set over a wood-burning oven. This was where the meat was cooked to make various products. They made souse, pudding, and scrapple, and lard was rendered in this room. The fourth room contained two large butcher block tables on cast iron legs and several meat grinders. There was also a sausage stuffer in this room. The casings which were used for bologna, fresh, and smoked sausage were hand-cleaned on a board that was placed between the legs of the person cleaning them and scraped and scraped by hand until they were clean. My aunt made muslin bags of certain size to be stuffed with the meat mixture for summer sausage. Each product had its own recipe. The fifth room housed a built-in smokehouse. The bologna, smoked sausage, summer sausage, bacon, and ham were smoked over a slow-burning wood fire. There was a restroom and supply area in this room.”
She continued, “Once a week, Rabbi Moses Friedman from York would come and Kosher kill beef to be sold to the Jewish community at the store owned by Benjamin Golombeck on East King Street in York. What an interesting conversationalist and a deeply religious man Rabbi Friedman was!”
Then, she said, “My father had a stand at Red Lion Market on Friday nights, and on Saturday we attended Central Market in York. He sold meat from a truck that housed blocks of ice to keep the meat fresh through routes in Yoe and Spry. He then later was able to afford to buy a walk-in refrigerated truck that served these routes. My mother tended the store and cooked breakfast and lunch for the employees. My brother worked in the butcher shop, at market, and on the routes that sold meat to various customers. I tended Central Market from the age of 12 until I graduated from high school. After my marriage, my husband delivered orders that were placed with the driver of the Tuesday route. They were delivered on Friday night. There were hobos that became regulars as my mother fed them on a bench on the back porch.”
I very much enjoyed hearing all of these memories of our area’s butcher shops! Thanks to all for sharing.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.