Only in York County

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Some more memories of downtown York, PA

The late Betsy Baird, who grew up in York and later lived in  Springettsbury Township, shared these photos a couple of years ago featuring the interiors of some former downtown York businesses, including Wiest's.
The late Betsy Baird, who grew up in York and later lived in Springettsbury Township, shared these photos a couple of years ago featuring the interiors of some former downtown York businesses, including Wiest’s.

Today I’ve got a few more of readers’ memories of former stores in downtown York, PA, to share – I hope you’ll check them out and share your own memories in the comments!

Roy Flinchbaugh wrote and said, “I wonder how many of your readers remember when there were 5 men’s stores in the first block of North George St.? … The stores were: Griffith-Smith, Lehmeyer’s, Gregory’s, Flinchbaugh Bros. (most recently part of First National Bank), and McFalls’. In the same block were also 2 restaurants (The Golden Glow and the Ramona). Where Bistro 19 is now were (in addition to the Ramona) 2 vacant places owned by Mrs. Frysinger Rohrbaugh (daughter of the original owners of Smutz’s leather store across the street). The Penn Hotel was at the northern end of the block, across from the Strand and Capitol. Bear’s shoe department and Whelan’s drug store (on the square) are all the other places in that block that I can remember. Perhaps your readers can fill out the block. I really enjoy reading your columns for both the nostalgia and the new information.”

Interestingly, I was just wandering around in that first block of North George last week when I went to a concert at the Strand, and it’s amazing to me to think about all of the things that have come and gone just in that one small area!

I also heard from Joyce Moul about downtown memories a couple of blocks over; Joyce writes, “I grew up in York in what I guess would have been considered an alley. It was called Grant Street and had a big gas tank behind a fence. Bentzel’s Poultry House was on the corner of Grant and Philly. The next real street going West on Philadelphia was Newberry and, if you turned north at the corner you would come to an auction house on the right and then, across a small alley, was Warner’s grocery store. Down that alley used to be Smittie’s Soft Pretzels. I think my dad’s first job after the war was making pretzels with Les Smith who owned it. My mom always said she wished he would have gone into the business with Smitty when he had the chance. Warner’s was a mom and pop place with a pickle barrel and a candlestick phone. Further north on Newberry on the other side of the street was a cigar store where my grandpa used to play poker in the back room. Cross over the railroad tracks and there was a building on the left that used to get the most amazing huge icicles in winter! Many times on the way walking to Garfield Elementary, I would try to break one off so that I could chew on it. I guess we were poor when I was a kid but we never felt poor. We had such great adventures in that neighborhood, putting pennies on the railroad track for the “fair train” to flatten in September, riding the seesaw in the small park on Cottage Hill Road, even sleeping in the living room in front of the open front door in the summer because it was too hot to be upstairs. It was a short walk down across Philadelphia Street to the butcher shop on Market St. where mom bought meat. The “Food Fair” was up on Philadelphia and Beaver where a garage now stands (I have a pack of needles with their ad on it that they gave out at possibly their grand opening. It belonged to my mom.) We could walk up to the Bon-Ton and try to dip our fingers in the perfume fountain or go to Wiest’s to see the big bird on an upper floor, get a grilled hot dog when we had money from one of the 5 and 10 cent stores. Walk west on Market and get rock candy from Mike’s Nut Shop. Yes, we had a better home when we moved to the suburbs and left the old neighborhood behind, but we took a lot of memories with us.”

And on the other side of Market, longtime commenter Audrey Lerew recalls, “24 S. George St. was a clothing credit store that was called Livingston’s. They were there through 1959. It was a chain store not locally owned. I became a bookkeeper there when I graduated from high school. Terminal Luggage was across the street at 25 S. George St. They moved across to 24 S. George when Livingston’s went out of business. 24 S. George was a larger store. I can’t remember the name of the people who owned it. When Livingston’s closed, I moved up the street to 152 S. George St (where McDonald’s is located today) to Regal Clothiers Inc. That was a privately owned credit clothing store owned by Charley Lyons. I was a salesperson and bookkeeper there. When Livingston’s closed, Terminal Luggage moved into their location, Charley moved down to the old Terminal Luggage location at 25 S. George St. until he closed in the mid ’60s. He use to go to Schmidt & Ault paper mill Wednesdays and cash the guy’s checks and they would automatically give him money to put on their accounts they had with him. He sold a lot of work clothes to them. KayBee clothing store, another credit store, was located on the corner at 101 S. George St. They were there through 1961.”

I’m very interested in hearing more about all these areas and their various stores and businesses through the years, as well as from other neighborhoods in downtown York and elsewhere around the county. I get tons of memories, but I’m trying to share and document as many as possible so we can, as Joyce mentioned, keep these memories with us!

Previous posts
· Dec. 20, 2010: More memories of stores in downtown York
· March 5, 2011: An amazing treasure trove: A walking tour of historic downtown York
· March 15, 2011: Downtown memories from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s
· March 29, 2011: Memories of shopping on West Market Street, and a wonderful gas price of 17 cents a gallon!
· April 29, 2011: Letters about even more downtown stores and restaurants
· April 30, 2011: Remember our downtown walking tour?
· June 18, 2011: Mail call: A downtown map and thoughts on Green Stamps from the Staub family
· Oct. 21, 2011: Some possible additions to our detailed map of downtown stores
· Dec. 13, 2012: Mail call: Downtown York photos from Charles V. Goodwin
· Feb. 21, 2013: Business advertisements from the York High Weekly in the early 1940s
· Apr. 5, 2013: Yet more memories of downtown York from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s
· Feb. 13, 2014: More memories of downtown York cafeterias

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