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Barbara Little of York Township shared this newspaper clipping from a teen safe driving event that took place in 1958. Her husband, Brad, is pictured at center; he was the event's winner.

Readers recall Road-E-O, block parties and York Eastern phone company

Today’s column spans years in many ways – we talk about a company founded in 1903 and events from the 1950s, and the letters they’re about came to me via both mail and email from 2017 to present. What a mixed bag!

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What’s inside

1. Remembering the Road-E-O
2. Who recalls Wayne Avenue block parties?
3. Seeking info on York Eastern Telephone

1. Remembering the Road-E-O

Barbara Little of York Township shared this newspaper clipping from a teen safe driving event that took place in York County in 1958.

Some time ago, reader Barbara Little of York Township wrote and shared a few newspaper clippings with me, along with a note wondering if anyone remembered the Road-E-O event held in 1958.

She wrote, “Back in ’58 there was a teenage safe driving contest held by York Junior Chamnber of Commerce. A dinner was held at the Lincoln Woods Inn. Rewards were given to four young drivers. The Road-E-O was at the Caterpillar plant.”

Her husband, Brad, was one of those four winners. I’m curious if this event was only a one-time thing or if it was held in other years as well! I’d love to hear more.

Barbara Little of York Township also shared this newspaper clipping from the 1958 teenage safe driving Road-E-O event. Her husband, Brad Little, was the winner from Spring Grove mentioned here.

2. Who recalls Wayne Avenue block parties?

Quite some time ago, I had a letter from reader Rick Horn. Rick wanted to know if anyone remembers the block parties held on the 800 block of Wayne Avenue in the late 1950s. “I think it was for the Goodwill Fire Company on East Market Street,” he wrote. “Every year, they would close off the block in the evening for several days and had a big block party with games of chance and entertainment. I can remember going to my uncle’s house on the block and sitting on his front porch all evening and playing the games.”

He continued, “We always played the bucket game where you could win a galvanized bucket full of canned goods. This is the same game the post office always played at the Fair. The canned goods helped with our large family but the buckets were even better as we needed them to help do the laundry plus that was what we used to keep cool in the summer along with mom’s wash tubs.”

Rick, that sounds like a great time – and I’m hopeful that you were a regular winner! If anyone else remembers these events – or other area block parties – I’d certainly love to hear about them.

3. Seeking info on York Eastern Telephone

Finally for today, I want to share a request from Lee Manifold, a reader from the New Park area of southern York County.

Lee wrote, “I’m looking for info on the York Eastern Telephone Co., which I think my father may have been instrumental in back in the 1940s or 1950s. There is some of their old phone equipment on display at the Ma & Pa Railroad site in Muddy Creek Forks, but information is hard to come by… Any info you have or can point me to would be appreciated.”

I did read just a little about that display on the Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village website, which states that the telephone room, a small cubicle in the A.M. Grove General Store building, contains one of the switching machines from the Stewartstown exchange of York Eastern Telephone and a period telephone. While the village is closed now due to COVID-19, it says it will post updates at maandparailroad.com when available.

A few other interesting things I found:

  • A 1916 copy of the Industrial Directory of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, published by the Department of Labor and Industry, lists York Eastern Telephone under “Telephone and Telegraph Companies – Active” with H.C. Manifold of Muddy Creek Forks as president; Lee, might that be your father?
  • I also found a 2004 obituary for Elizabeth Evelyn (Gibbs) Manifold, who it says was born in 1904 and who was a telephone operator for the former York Eastern Telephone Co. (Muddy Creek Forks office) and the former York Telephone Co. (Stewartstown office), retiring in 1961 after 27 years of service. She did not have any children, it doesn’t appear, so I’m not 100 percent sure of her relationship, but I would think it’s likely she is related to the other Manifolds of that telephone company somehow.
  • A 1917 copy of Moody’s Manual of Railroads and Corporation Securities (Vol. 2) notes that York Telephone and Telegraph “owns a majority of the capital stock of the York Eastern Telephone Co.,” so I’m fairly certain this smaller company was fully subsumed into the more well-known York Telephone and Telegraph at some later point.
  • An interesting in helping me pinpoint the company’s dates of operation was a digitized copy of Telephone Magazine from March 1903. Under the heading of “New telephone companies incorporated since our last issue,” the magazine lists York Eastern Telephone Co., with capital of $8,000.
  • And in even more detail, I found a March 1903 copy of Electrical Review, under the “Telephone and telegraph” header, which notes, “YORK, PA – The charter of the York Eastern Telephone Company has been recorded, with the following directors: A.M. Grove, M.H. McCall, Henry S. Merryman, John H. Wilson, B.F. Norris, Joseph A. Gaily and Calvin M. Shaw. The authorized capital is $8,000. The charter states the purpose of the corporation to be erecting, constructing, purchasing, leasing and operating telephone and telegraph lines and exchanges in and through the county of York, with the right to make connections with similar lines in other counties of this state.”

While none of that is particularly helpful, it was fun for me to look into, and I’m hoping some readers can give us more info on this phone company!

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at joan@joanconcilio.com 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.

1 comment on “Readers recall Road-E-O, block parties and York Eastern phone company

  1. Recall well the Wayne Avenue block parties! I lived in the 800 block of Philadelphia Street in the late 50’s thru the late 60’s. Looked forward to the block party every year! Also looked forward to the carnival at Allen Fields every summer! Helped setup and cleaning to earn ride tickets!!

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