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Readers recall more past York County bakeries

As I write this week’s column, I’m looking out into my kitchen, which is full of boxes as our family prepares to move (not far – just up to Weigelstown!) in the coming month. It’s hard to be hungry with that much of a kitchen mess, but today’s reader memories of local bakeries are managing to do it anyway!

Way back in 2013, a reader wrote asking for a recipe from Gehm’s Bakery. I still haven’t found the cheesecake recipe that Barb Moncuse had asked for, but I did receive more information on this bakery.

Jim Shindler of West Manchester Township wrote, “Gehm’s Pastry was located on South George Street and George Geisler became the owner probably in the 1960s. Gehm’s was known for very special French pastries such as their delicious, delicate eclairs. His brother, Charles, worked for him and was an excellent baker and cake decorator. In spite of the delicious baked goods readily available to George’s children they seemed to prefer Tastykakes, so he had the delivery man deliver them to the store on a regular schedule.”

He continued, “The Luckenbaugh family owned a bakery located in the 900 block of North Duke Street in North York directly across from my home. Also located in North York was Hoke’s bakery in the 1300 block of North George Street. We youths were often permitted to remove scraps of dough from the floor that we kneaded into excellent carp bait for our fishing trips to Kiwanis Lake. The bait was much better than the wet bread balls we had been using, which didn’t stay on the hooks very well. They also made delicious pigs in blankets (hot dogs baked in dough) which were often bought for social functions in church.”

And, he concluded, Fox’s bakery was also mentioned in a previous column, which “brought to memory their long loaves of what they called hearth bread. It was great.”

Jim, thanks for those great memories… you made me hungry!

I also heard from Steve Bancroft, who wrote, “I know of another bakery, unfortunately I do not know what the name was. Located at 1317 N. George St., which was the site of my family’s and my business, H.G. Bancroft Inc… prior to our occupancy, a restaurant supply business, Louis Weiss, occupied the building. We know it was once a bakery because there was an insulated room used for proofing the dough. It was made of a double wall of wood filled with saw dust. The second-floor floors were soaked and coated with very thick grease around where the ovens were and the square wood posts were all rounded at the same height from the wheeled bread racks rubbing them for many years. There was also a very old wooden hoist to lift sacks of flour up from the beds of (what were) probably horse-drawn wagons, up through the floor to the second floor. The building is now loft apartments (second floor) and commercial space on the first floor.”

Steve, how cool!

I have a bakery-related question, too, from Don Portner, who was writing about a previous column, in which we’d mentioned Zech’s Bakery, which formerly had locations in Yoe and Red Lion. Don wrote, “I grew up in Red Lion and visited many times a pie bakery on Pine Street named Barnhart’s. Was that the same bakery or was Smith’s another bakery, and where was it located?” I’m guessing those were two separate establishments, and I’d love to hear more about the location of Zech’s in Red Lion.

Finally for today, I have a note to share from Bob Wolf of Shiloh, who writes, “I remember Hershey’s Bakery. I grew up a half-block from there. On days when I had thirty-nine cents left over, I would stop in on my way home from Jefferson School, and buy a box of six chocolate cupcakes.”

He recalled, “One day while playing cowboys and Indians, I jumped off one of their cement platforms onto a rusty spike that came up through my sneaker and my foot. At age seven, it cost me three months in a wheelchair until I learned how to walk again following several surgeries. When I was discharged from the Army, I needed a job quickly, so I began work at Manbeck’s Bakery in West York (in the old Fishel’s Bakery plant). One of our route salesmen was Freddie Bosserman. A delightful, mild-mannered man he was. I didn’t know he once worked for Hershey’s. If memory serves me correctly, Fred passed away at least 10 years ago.”

Thank you all for these great bakery memories! They’ve motivated me to do some more kitchen packing!