Reader letters recall York streecars, Pulandi’s, Discorama
Today, I have a few reader letters to share on a handful of recent topics. I continue to get much, much more mail than I can possibly share each week, so please do bear with me. I often jump around – sometimes using very recent letters, sometimes older ones, depending on the topics we’ve recently discussed. I hope you’ll continue to watch for any memories you’ve shared, and I hope you’ll continue to share them… it’s a great “problem” to have!
Back in February, I shared a request from one of my favorite letter-writers, Maurice Hildebrand, asking who remembered the streetcars in downtown York.
I hear from reader Phyllis Koch Witmer shortly thereafter, who did recall those. “I think the last cars ran either 1938 or 1939,” she wrote. “We lived at 115 S. Newberry Street. I also remember how noisy I thought the trolley was and how loud the clanging bell.”
Phyllis, thank you so much for sharing those memories! Those interested can read more about the York trolleys on Jim McClure’s York Town Square blog, which is where I found the photo seen today!
Another great letter I received recently was from Andy Spataro, now of South Carolina, who certainly had a lot of good information about a Grantley Road restaurant called PulAndi’s, which we talked about in February.
Andy writes, “The original liquor license was owned and operated as the Bungalow Inn, owned by Ken Gass. He passed and the owner of the building which he leased told his widow she was not going to renew the lease. I was called ‘Andrew Spataro’ and I was an investor in the York area. She offered the liquor license to me as there was nowhere to place its use in Spring Garden Township. I knew the Schmidt family of Schmidt & Ault and made a deal to lease the dilapidated building on Grantley Road, as long as I made the renovations for use.”
He continued, “I hired a construction company and they worked to make the restaurant a viable building. I invited my brother Paul Spataro to help run and own the restaurant which became ‘PulAndi’s.’ It became very successful for 2 years and two investors bought the restaurant for the business. They failed after 1 1/2 years and returned it to us. We cleaned and reopened and along came a restaurant operator with a backer saying the wanted to buy our interest. We sold and after one year he returned the restaurant back to us.”
Andy concluded, “We decided we would sell the liquor license to our older brother who then made a success of a restaurant on Edgar Street; the end of PulAndi’s. Thanks for the memories!”
Andy, I was so thrilled to receive your letter and hear more about the business and its many ins and outs of ownership!
Finally for today, I have a letter to share about Discorama, in response to a November 2016 question from William Stambaugh.
Reader Andrew P. Smith of Springettsbury Township writes of Discorama, “The Discorama was founded in 1947 in Dallastown. At first they sold phonographs and audio equipment as well as records. It was owned by the Ehrhart family.”
He continued, “In 1961 they opened a store at 515 E. Market St. in York. Shortly thereafter, they closed the Dallastown store. The East Market Street store was very popular. It was run by Burnell Ehrhart and Rodney Nagle. They stocked all kinds of records. They had a large selection of 45 RPM and LP records. They carried a lot of music that others stores did not carry.”
Andrew writes, “This store was very popular with teenagers who hung out there every afternoon and on Saturdays. It also catered to the black community and many white kids too with a large selection of rhythm and blues. They also carried a large selection of country and western music.”
“At one time,” he noted, “the Discorama had stores in York, Harrisburg and Carlisle. The York store closed in 1969 as most business had fallen off and migrated to suburban shopping centers and malls. It was, however, a very interesting store. People really remembered Bernie and Rodney. Bernie and Rodney operated Altland’s Ranch in Abbottstown after closing the Discorama. Burnell Ehrhart passed away several years ago.
On the topic of record stores in general, Andrew noted, “Another place that had a huge record business was the Bon-Ton record department. It was on the first floor of the old Bon-Ton store at Market and Beaver streets downtown. It had its following. It never attracted the crowds like the Discorama did though.”
Andrew, thanks for sharing! That sheds a lot of light on this popular business!