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Remembering drug store, Walker’s Menswear and other downtown York businesses

Wayne Breighner of Red Lion shared this photo, saying, This is the soda fountain at Ziegler's Drug Store... on the southwest corner of Market and Penn Sts. My mother, Alverta M. Breighner nee Smith (1908-1972) is shown taking an order from a customer.
Wayne Breighner of Red Lion shared this photo, saying, ‘This is the soda fountain at Ziegler’s Drug Store… on the southwest corner of Market and Penn Sts. My mother, Alverta M. Breighner nee Smith (1908-1972) is shown taking an order from a customer.’

Today, I’d like to share some more memories of various former downtown York businesses, including Ziegler’s Drug Store (seen above), Andes Furs, Walker’s Menswear and more!

Alan Vandersloot saw the photo you see with today’s column when I originally shared it in 2013. A little later, he noted, “What memories! I worked (at Ziegler’s) from 1967 until the store closed as a soda jerk. My wife, Joyce, met me there… I made great orange freezes and sundaes evidently. Fond memories of Bertie, Grace and Edith, who mentored ‘the boys.’ Paul Thomas and Mr. ‘Jimmy’ Ziegler were great bosses. I didn’t drive back then and Mr. Ziegler often drove me home in his 427 Chevy Impala. Zoom!”

About some other downtown businesses, I heard from Linda Copenheaver, who wrote, “My mother’s cousin, Jean Clemmens, was married to Richard Andes, the owner of Andes Furs. My sister still has the fur jacket that my mother bought from Dick. They lived in the beautiful area between South George Street and South Queen Street, just north of Rathton Road, in an unusual southwest style house for the area.”

Linda continued with a note about a corset shop we’d talked about before; different readers had remembered it alternately as Mountford’s or Mumford’s, and Linda confirmed what we ended up with, which was Mountford’s. She added, “It later moved to one of the little shops on the first block of South Beaver Street, across from The Bon-Ton. Ms. Mountford was an unusual individual for her time. When she graduated from high school, her father asked what she wanted to do with her life and she replied that she wanted her own business. Thus began her shop. Her son, Frank Auspitz, who later became well known for the beautiful furniture and woodwork that was produced in his shop, was a traveling salesman for his mother before heading out as his own entrepreneur.”

Finally, Linda noted, “My fondest memories of lunches in downtown York during the 1960s were the cheesecake at the Ramona and split pea soup, which was made once a week in the restaurant on the mezzanine in The Bon-Ton.”

We’d also previously talked about Sol Kessler’s Record Store, and reader Dennis Smith noted, “Next to Sol Kessler’s was International Jewelry Store. International Jewelry sponsored a news program, ‘Red Kain comments on the News.’ On the same block of South George Street was The Hub Clothing Store on the corner of King and George Streets, Cohen Brothers Sporting Goods next to the Hub. At the corner of the Newton Alley and George Street was the Ideal Restaurant, which later moved across the street. I believe it was replaced by a state liquor store. Pep Boys Auto Supply was across the alley. Carl’s News Stand was on the same side between Newton and George Street. Pat Patterson’s Bar was next to Carl’s. I believe it was mentioned before that The Bon-Ton Cooperate Offices were located on the corner of Princess and George Streets.”

Dennis continued, “Commenting further on south George Street between Princess and King Street; the Moose Social Club was located on the George and Princess streets, northeast corner… When I was young boy I best recall Friday nights. My father, mother and sister and I would go downtown on the bus. At that time, the sidewalks were so crowded that one would sometimes have to stop to let other persons pass. Our first stop was at P. Weist and Sons Department Store, where Al Hydeman was the store manager. Al was a city councilman and candidate for mayor.”

Weist’s, Dennis noted, “was located in the first block of West Market St. and my dad would pay on the charge account he maintained there. I remember watching the vacuum tubes used to send the payments to the office. I also remember the very nice lady elevator operator who would take us to the second floor. After we left there, my mother and sister would go off and do their shopping and dad I would go to Webb and Wolf Sporting Goods Store beside Fannie Farmer Candies on the north side of Market Street in the first block. He looked at used hunting rifles to buy from Scott Stevens for resale. We then walked up to Cohen Brothers Sporting Goods Store on 100 block of South George Street. We would then meet with my mother and sister and proceed to Joe Bury’s Restaurant on the first block of E. King Street where Chet Fourtney or Jim Bates would wait on us. I would eat four of those great hamburgers and a french fry.”

He continued, “If I needed a suit we would go to Murray’s Clothing store in the first block of South George Street just north of King Street. I was ‘flat-footed’ so I needed special shoes (maybe that is why I chose my profession as a police officer) so we went to Newswagners Shoe Store in the first block of East Market Street, south side, to be fitted for my special shoes. Allen Damashek (a highly respected community leader who later became the director of the Jewish Community Center) would have me stand at an X-ray machine to see how my shoes would fit. I am no longer required to wear that kind of shoe,” he noted, since he’s in his seventies!

Reader Margaret Lawson noted that she remembers the 1950s in York, especially “a big hurricane called Hazel.” She said, “It blew out Rehmeyer’s curved windows that led into the store entrance.”

She continued, “The Bon-Ton tea room was on the mezzanine; I used to love looking down at the shoppers on the first floor, especially at Christmas time. My mother would bring me in to see the big display in the corner window, which would be covered with paper till after Thanksgiving. Every Christmas it would be different. Also there was a ladies’ hat store on the other side of Beaver Street. Up Market Street about two or three stores was Grant’s 5&10 store, where I had my first job as a waitress, which paid 85 cents a hour. A lady that worked in the hat shop came in every morning and ordered burnt toast & black coffee. The Hiway theater cost a quarter for Saturday afternoons.”

I also heard from Monica Seitz, who noted, “As a young child, I remember riding in the Bear’s elevator. A person took us up and down! Ahh, The Bon0Ton Tea Room was so mysterious and inviting with its low ceiling. I loved the escalator better than the elevator, though! I remember going in the underground bathroom, which was pretty neat. At the Strand and Capitol I remember my neighbor taking me to see the Mouseketeers. Annette was my favorite. Jimmy Dodd tapped my neighbor on the shoulder and I was in awe! The store across the street had a red-trimmed glass container for soft pretzels. What were they… 5 cents? At the Hiway Theatre I saw ‘West Side Story’ and couldn’t help but dance down the street as I was leaving the show. On the down side I remember pulling the cords on the bus, but not being able to sit in the back where all the great bumps were and seeing signs that said ‘Colored’ in some of the stores. As a child it struck me as odd, but later I was able to put this into context. I am glad that has changed. I love York and enjoy its architectural features.”

Readers Bob Keller and Ray Kornbau both wrote in about the location of Walker’s Menswear, which was at 29 W. Market St. in the late 1960s. Ray noted, “My dad bought clothes for us boys in the ’50, upstairs.”

A reader named Katharine mentioned another store, saying, “My grandmother used to work at Bell’s Ladies Shop! This would have been in the mid-1900s. And, my mother worked at Archie K. May’s Jewelry Store in the late 1950s to early 1960s.”

I also heard from Robert E. Werner about the Grant Street neighborhood, which I’d talked about back in 2014 when a reader named Joyce Moul shared her memories of that area.

Robert noted that he formerly lived at 144 N. Grant St., and now lives on Princess Street. “I read your column on Grant Street. I was born and raised there from 1940 to 1958. There were a couple of places there that Joyce Moul missed: Smith’s coal yard, Ken Eisenhour Coal Yard and Eyster Weiser Foundry. I used to play with Lester Smith’s son when the pretzel factory was behind my house. The grocery store was owned by C.J. Eyler. My brother Marshall Werner operated it for C.J.”

He continued, “Gruver’s Bakery was on the opposite side of Newberry St. They had the best cakes and pies… Those were the best years of my life.”

Finally today, I had a note from Steve Bancroft, mentioning that a former brewery at the northwest corner of East King and South Queen streets was Helb’s. “The Helb Mansion was on the southwest corner of West Market Street and Richland Avenue,” Steve noted, adding, “The carriage house is still there behind the mansion site; it is owned and occupied by Pace Resources (Buchart-Horn).”

Thanks to everyone who shared these great memories today! I love hearing about downtown York in the past!

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at 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.