Only in York County

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Temperature opposites? Memories of the North Pole and The Florida Room

Could you ask for two more climatologically different names for one business location than The North Pole and The Florida Room?

Well, Only in York County! We had ’em, at Route 30 and Sherman Street. We talked about the North Pole a little back in February. Some people remembered it as Ernie’s or Ernie McCall’s North Pole; that’s the right place! (Though, as reader Betsy Baird reminded me, some people called Ernie Rhodes’ Trail Coffee Shoppe at Violet Hill “Ernie’s” too, if that isn’t confusing!)

Commenter Karen Gunnet says the North Pole was her bus stop during her high-school years! She adds, “The lounge/bar was built later and that was the Florida Room.”

Bill Schmeer remembers that second part. He writes, “When we moved to York in December 1968, we rented a home on Tenth Avenue in the Cape Cod development right behind the Florida Room.”

Another reader, who didn’t give a name, wrote, “Sherman and Rt. 30 eatery was called the North Pole (I helped dismantle it) and close by was the Florida Room (it had a simulated palm tree outside) which could be the reason one reader thought there was place called the Tropical Bar.”

And, I feel a little bad for this, but we’re driving reader Joann Waltersdorff, a Caterpillar retiree who now lives in Florida, a little bit nuts. Why? Well, she says, “I cannot remember the North Pole at the bottom of Pleasureville Hill. We lived near there when we were children. My brother tells me our Dad would go there and bring home delicious subs. He is 3 years younger then I am. I can’t believe I don’t remember eating something.”

Caller George O’Neill also remembered the Florida Room. “That’s where my uncle met his wife,” he said!

And Carol Matson, who is the mother and mother-in-law of some friends of mine, also shared with me at a recent get-together that she remembered the North Pole and the Florida Room. The funny thing is, she says she was there, as well as at the former Gino’s, with her husband, Melvin, but he didn’t seem to remember them!

Rosemarie Runkle of Manchester writes that the North Pole had soft ice cream and a pool. She said it later became the Florida Room – so I’m guessing these were not open at the same time? Anyway, Rosemarie write, “The reason I remembered the Florida Room is because they had a really neat bar in that place and when they were in the process of tearing it down, my Dad (Robert Runkle) bought it. He and his partner, Charlie Ness, owned the Water St. Cafe in Spring Grove at the time and they replaced the bar with the bar from the Florida Room. It was too big to fit through the door at Water St., so a bunch of guys got together and they put it in through the window to get it in.”

WOW! Now that’s pretty cool.

I also got a letter in the mail from Jean A. Fix of Springettsbury Township. Jean writes, “Florida Room and N. Pole Drive-In were both owned by Ernie McCall. Before that Ernie had a small restaurant, on North Beaver St. across from Central Mkt. When I worked at Photo Greetings (N. Beaver St.) I went there often for lunch. First time I had pizza and he made a fried sweet bologna sandwich with melted American cheese, mustard and sweet relish on gummy white bread. Also, first time for a sub sandwich. Just thought of Florida Room and there was a woman playing piano while you dined. I have fun reading… so many memories!”

And one last memory – this one pretty fun and detailed, from a recent email!

“Joan, My name is George F. Figdore. I was born at 1442 N. Sherman St. which is one-half block north of the former North Pole. I think they opened in 1950. I was eleven at the time and needed spending money, so down the street I went and introduced myself. Wow, I got hired to clean the parking lot every day after school for maybe fifty cents, I don’t remember for sure. The McCalls liked my work and it wasn’t too long till I was asked whether I wanted to work inside. I gladly accepted. I learned how to peel potatoes, make french fries out of them and put them in five gallon milk cans. I then went on to learning how to use the meat slicer. Sliced lettuce, tomatoes,salami, bologna, cheese, onions, and wonderful garlic pickles which were in a large wooden barrel. I also destemmed hot peppers and ground them for the subs. Boy, did my hands burn from the vinegar they were packed in! After a short time I was taught how to operate the two soft ice-cream machines which were out front in the glass enclosed serving area. Of course, operating them also involved cleaning them at night after closing which I did on weekends and weekdays during summer vacation. Someone mentioned the Florida Room which came later, I don’t remember when it came about. The swimming pool was mentioned. If you know where to look there is a remnant still visible along Eleventh Avenue just off N. Sherman St. at the curve eastbound on your left. I left there in July 1953 to go to work at the new Avalong Dairy Bar. That’s another story! I worked there until April 1958.”

George, I can’t wait to add your Avalong stories to our memories of that establishment!

Also, I apologize – this was a long post with NO pictures. Guess what, though? You can help! If you have photos of the Florida Room or the North Pole, I’d really love to see them! You can submit them via; just choose the “Historic photos of York” category.

Thanks again for all these memories!

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