Only in York County

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An unnamed reader shared this York Mall ad from a 1983 issue of the York Daily Record. The mall, which sat where the Springettsbury Township Walmart is today, was promoting its new Sunday hours.

Ask Joan: York Mall memories, pest house, Felty’s and Mrs. Gaubeart

I write my columns sometimes a week or more in advance of when they appear in the York Sunday News, but they appear online immediately at my Only in York County blog at yorkblog.com/onlyyork. As of the moment this is being published online, I am moments away from finding out who wins Super Bowl LIV.

Let’s hope that, just as you know the results of the game as you’re reading this more than I did while writing, that you might have some more information on some of this week’s questions/topics than I did while writing!

An image shows the phrase Ask Joan in large letters above a line and the phrase What's to love about York County below it.

What’s inside

1. Memories of stores at the York Mall
2. Info about York’s pest house
3. Felty’s and “stocking lady” memories

1. Memories of stores at the York Mall

I received a letter from a reader who did not give their name that included an April 1983 newspaper clipping, which you can see with today’s column, and a short note that said, “I wonder how many readers remember the stores in the old York Mall. This sat where Walmart and Burlington sit in the East Market Street area.”

I was thrilled to see this ad, which was an amazing find in that it listed all of the stores at the mall at that time! This will be a huge help the next time we get a question about whether something was at that location or not. (Obviously it only tells us how it was in 1983, which was fairly late in that mall’s history, but it’s still pretty great.)

The stores listed are: Anderson Little, Atheletes Foot, Bakers Shoes, The Barbers, Bavarian Soft Pretzel, Bears Shoes, Blair’s Cards & Gifts, The Bon-Ton, Bookland, Captain Mac’s, The Card Mart, The Double Image, Fashion Bug, Father & Son Shoe, Fulton Piano & Organ, Funderland, General Nutrition Center, Gordon Jewelers, Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie, Gregory’s, Hanover Shoe, Hickory Farms, Household Finance, Jacks, Jewelbox, K&K Toys, Kay Jewelers, Kinderfoto, Kinney Shoes, Listening Booth, Main Ingredient, McCrory’s, Miller’s Auto Supply, Montgomery Ward, U.A. Movies at York Mall, National Shirt Shop, Ormonds, Pearle Vision Center, Peoples Drug Co., J.C. Penney, Picture Barn, Piercing Pagoda, Radio Shack, Ram’s Horn, Regis Hairstylists, Showbiz Pizza Place, So Fro Fabrics, Spencer Gifts, Things Remembered, T Shirts Plus, Tally House Cafeteria, Thom McAn, York Bank & Trust Co. and York Federal Savings & Loan.

What’s interesting to me is that this list has an important split to me. It’s from just a few months after I was born, and the stores include all of the following:

  • Things that were gone before I was old enough to remember them – including major local chains like Jacks and Gregory’s
  • Stores I remember but that did not survive until I became an adult – like McCrory’s and Showbiz Pizza
  • Stores that are still going strong and that my teenage son shops at – like Spencer’s and one of my favorites, Hickory Farms!

I’d love to hear some York Mall memories, especially from the ’80s, and especially of some of the lesser-known ones listed here, like Jewelbox, K&K Toys and Ram’s Horn.

2. Info about York’s pest house

A letter came last summer from Virginia Lease with a topic of special interest to me and that we haven’t yet discussed.

Virginia wrote, “As a child, my father had no car, but on special occasions his friend took us places in his car. Once I vaguely remember going by Richland Avenue and Kings Mill Road. To the left in a low-lying area was an old long, low red brick building. Someone remarked, ‘There’s the old pest house.’ I’d like to know the purpose and history of the ‘pest house.'”

I was particularly interested in Virginia’s question because, just about a month before I received her letter, I completed my master’s degree in public health preparedness from Penn State. Pest house was an old name for a building where people with diseases believed to be contagious were quarantined – often forcibly. Possibly good for public health, but very, very bad for many of the individuals there.

Pest houses were built on the East Coast starting in the later 1700s, often used for people who had or were thought to have yellow fever, cholera, tuberculosis and smallpox. I did not know whether York had one, and certainly not that it may have had such a building that survived into the mid-1900s.

I spent a good amount of time doing some internet research and could not find reference to a pest house in York, despite combing through many late 1800s and early 1900s copies of public health records. But that was only a cursory, preliminary search, and this is now a topic that gives me a good excuse to explore the resources of the Pennsylvania State Archives. I am certainly interested in anyone else’s contributions to this research as well; if you’re interested in the topic of a potential “pest house” or quarantine house in York, or if you have any information on the same, please let me know.

And Virginia, that means I hope you’ll stay tuned for future columns on this topic!

3. Felty’s and “stocking lady” memories

Also last summer, I shared a column with memories from Joann Hano, who had written about Felty’s, a newsstand on South George Street in the ’40s and ’50s. She also shared information about her grandmother, Katie Gaubeart, who was known as “the stocking lady” because of a hosiery business she ran from her home during World War II.

In reply, I had a letter from reader Donna Rogers, who was 85 at the time of her letter and who I believe has since celebrated her 86th birthday.

Donna wrote, “When I was a very small child, my grandfather, William Brown, owned a light hauling business and one of his jobs was delivering newspapers to many of the newsstands around York. These newspapers came to the railroad station in large bundles on a train from Baltimore every day. He picked them up at the station and delivered them in bundles to many newsstands in York to be sold. Even though I was a very small little girl, my parents allowed me to go with him on these deliveries.”

She continued, “Felty’s, if I remember correctly, was the only newsstand that he delivered to that was on a lower level. I seem to remember that there were just a few steps to the lower floor. Again I am guessing, but if I remember correctly, I was between 9 and 12… it was a very long time ago.”

Donna continued, “Also, I remember Katie Gaubeart. A friend of mine who has long ago passed away, Gertrude Smith, rented a room from her on College Avenue. I was never in the house but when I went to pick up my friend Gert at that address, sometimes Katie was outside and would wave to us. If I am correct, Katie had a son, Harry maybe, and if that name is correct, a daughter-in-law, Dot, and if I remember correctly, they lived on West Market Street very near Andres Fur Shop. They both were members of the B.P.O. Elks #213 on North George Street and we became friends.”

Donna concluded, “Over the years I lost track of so many people that I used to know and it is so good to have you jog the memories. I certainly hope that this info is correct and we are talking about the same Gaubearts.”

Donna, I think it must be the same family, and while I couldn’t confirm all the names, it was very nice to hear a bit more about Katie and her family. While looking things up, I also found a record of Katie having been granted a patent in 1953 by the U.S. Patent Office for her “Misty Queen” stockings, which I thought was neat.

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.

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