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Amber Light drive-in on Queen Street

A month ago questions about the Amber Light drive-in were asked of me. Then, a few days ago Terry Downs brought up the Amber Light. These, out-of-the-blue, queries were unusual, for it had been at least 30-years since I last heard about that drive-in; located near the intersection of South Queen Street and Springwood Road. In terms of today’s road numbering, it was located at 2055 South Queen Street.

This Amber Light ad appeared in the November 15, 1947, issue of The Gazette and Daily. The Amber Light drive-in sold hot and cold sandwiches and featured Warner’s ice cream.

I selected this specific ad because there was an additional story to go with it. The ad notes, “A Good Place to GO after the Show.” The following day, November 16, 1947, was the first day when the blue-law ban on showing Sunday movies was lifted in York.

I answer Amber Light questions and provide memories with aerial photos later in this post, PLUS a 2022 UPDATE is provided. That update is in response to Ted Schaefer inquiring about the name of the Veterinarian with a practice on the triangular plot of land between South Queen Street and Springwood Road. In that inquiry Ted pointed out this YorksPast post incorrectly identified that veterinary business as the Amber Light Drive-In.

My dominant memory about The Amber Light is when my parents were reminiscing, close to 30-years ago, about building their first home. The 2150 South Queen Street house was constructed during 1948 on a quarter-acre lot at a corner of the farm of my grandparents, Emanuel and Cora Barshinger.

After the house was put under roof, Dad, Harold L. Smith, and my grandfather, Luther S. Smith, finished the house. Mom, Esther L. Smith, and Dad would also often work on the house a few evenings and during weekends. They enjoyed using the curb service at the Amber Light drive-in, since they were usually in their work clothes. Mom enjoyed seeing many of her friends and children of friends who did the curb service. On the west side of Queen Street, near that location, was the farm of Mom’s grandfather; John H. Barshinger.

John and Ellen Barshinger had 15 children; 10 boys and 5 girls. Son Wilson W. Barshinger was the next owner of the 10-acre farm of his father; its address: 2038 South Queen Street. Most of the other boys, including my grandfather, had farms along South Queen Street, stretching to Spry. The produce from many of these farms was sold at the City Market in York.

I’ve annotated the following 1955 aerial photo. For this post, I use it to point out the UPDATED location of The Amber Light drive-in and the strange intersection of roads at that point. South Queen Street was the through road. Springwood Road and Hollywood Drive had stop signs. Due to a high number of accidents, many times ending up in Wilson’s front yard, an amber warning light was placed at that intersection; and hence the name of the drive-in.

The October 9, 1955, aerial photo comes from the York County Archives. The handwriting, on the photo, is from country planning in the 1950s and 1960s. The printed annotations and color shading are mine. This photo is also used in a post about the Schaszberger-Dempwolf Farm in York Township; which has the same ownership string as the previously written about Schaszberger-Dempwolf Farm in Springettsbury Township.

My research indicates Joseph S. Stees was the original owner of The Amber Light drive-in. He purchased the property from Clay J. Snyder on February 15, 1947 and had the drive-in open later that year. Ted Schaefer recalled the Queen Street entrance to the Amber Light was where he “got the city bus going to and coming from York to go to St. John’s Lutheran School at 140 W. King St. He sat on the concrete base of the neon sign of a girl dressed in a uniform with a short skirt like they wore to wait on customers at their cars back then. She had a mechanical arm that waved up and down to attract customers driving by on the Queen St. side. There was also an amber light on the roof of the building that either blinked on and off or rotated; I don’t remember which.” The Amber Light drive-in also had a back entrance, off of Springwood Road.

About 1951, the drive-in is operated by Bob & Laura Fix under a new name; The Sun-Dial. It is later known as Kauffman’s Sun-Dial for a number of years. In 1955 a branch bank purchased the property, of the Amber-Light Drive-In, and their follow-up establishments. Where upon, the First National Bank & Trust Company of Red Lion operated a small branch bank at 2055 South Queen Street.

In 1960, the First National Bank & Trust Company of Red Lion purchased the southeast section of the neighboring 2045 South Queen Street property from B & K, Inc. On their combined properties the distinctive circular bank building was constructed and opened in May of 1961. I point out the location where The Amber Light was located using the following 2017 Google aerial photo.

Related links include:

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts