Boys Plunge through Thin Ice
Seventy-seven years ago York experienced a daring rescue of boys who had plunged through thawing ice on the Codorus Creek. I’ve annotated this 2008 Aerial View, from the York County Tax Assessment Office, to show the locations of features from that time. Click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.
The boys broke through the ice on the Codorus Creek next to the Racquet Club on South Richland Avenue. The Racquet Club was established at this location in 1918. Clay tennis courts were maintained just south of their clubhouse. Their tournaments drew tennis players throughout the Middle States District and were sanctioned by the United States Lawn Tennis Association. The location became a restaurant, Rose Haven, after the clubhouse was sold in 1950.
A newspaper article, describing the rescue, noted the boys attended “Highlandtown School on Salem Road.” Betty Wiley, who pointed out this 1939 article to me, inquired why Highlandtown School was not on my Index of York County One-Room Schools. Betty also had comments and questions about Bon Ton Potato Chip factories in the area; these will be the subject of a future post.
Highlandtown School and Highlandtown Park School are informal names of the schoolhouse that stood at 1441 Old Salem Road in West Manchester Township. The schoolhouse was built as Markel’s School in 1905. It retained that name through the 1920s and in the 1930s the schoolhouse took the name Park School or more formally Park Grammar School. These are the names appearing on my Index of York County One-Room Schools.
The Highlandtown name is tied to the neighboring trolley recreational park in West Manchester Township; Highland Park. I’ve shown the Trolley Route to Highland Park because the date of the rescue was January 29, 1939, a week before the last trolley ran in the City of York. Trolley service in and near the City of York existed from August 18, 1892 until February 4, 1939.
The January 30, 1939, issue of The Gazette and Daily reported on the rescue of three boys. A Gazette and Daily photo of the rescued boys is captioned:
“Gee, That Water Was Cold!” That’s what these three young chaps told the cameraman after they escaped from the icy clutches of the Codorus River. Reading from left to right are Raymond Wiley, 12; his step-brother, Donald Maulfair, 10, and Robert McCleary, 13, who plunged through the ice near the Racquet Club yesterday morning. The step-brothers were pulled to safety by ropes. Robert scrambled back to safety unaided. The trio lives in Highlandtown.
Seventy-seven years ago York experienced a daring rescue of these boys who had plunged through thawing ice on the Codorus Creek. A full copy of the front-page article from the January 30, 1939, issue of The Gazette and Daily follows:
“Two of three boys who plunged through the thawing ice of the Codorus River were rescued yesterday morning by a policeman and citizens who used ropes to drag them to safety. The scene of the rescue is just behind the Racquet Club on South Richland Avenue.
“Thirteen-year-old Robert McCleary managed to reach shore unaided after he broke through the ice in an attempt to reach his playmates, Raymond Wiley, 12, and Donald Maulfair, 10, step-brothers. The three boys live in Highlandtown.
“Jacob Sweitzer, who was at the Racquet Club at the time of the near tragedy, happened to look out a rear window and saw the boys floundering about in the water. It was about 11:15 o’clock. He called to other members of the club who hurriedly obtained ropes and threw them to the step-brothers, who were unable to emerge from a hole through which they had plunged.
“Patrolman J. W. Rutter, of the city police, happened along at the time and attempted to walk out on the ice to reach Wiley and Maulfair, but as soon as he stepped from the bank he sank in to his knees. McCleary had already managed to reach the bank unaided.
“By this time, rescuers had managed to throw a rope to the step-brothers, who were dragged across the icy surface to safety. Spectators said the Maulfair boy was the first to break through the ice. His step-brother went to his side, but he, too, broke through. McCleary tried to reach his playmates and after going through a hole in the ice, managed to scramble back to the bank.
“The three soaked and shivering boys were taken into the Racquet Club, where they were given hot shower baths and massages under the supervision of Guerney “Fritz” Keesey, club steward. After they had made short work of hot soup served them, they were bundled up and taken to their homes in a machine.
“Their parents were overjoyed to learn of the rescue, but Mrs. Lena Wiley, mother of the Wiley and Maulfair boys, told reporters her joy didn’t stop her from giving them a spanking, because “they disobeyed me—they did not tell me they were going to play on the river ice.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Clarence McCleary, parents of the other boy, said they thought Robert deserved a spanking, too, but “we just couldn’t do it.” The boys appeared to be none the worse for their harrowing experience, but admitted they were “plenty scared.” They attend the Highlandtown School on Salem Road.”
Related posts include:
- York County One-Room Schools (A-B)
- York County One-Room Schools (C-D)
- York County One-Room Schools (E-G)
- York County One-Room Schools (H-K)
- York County One-Room Schools (L-M)
- York County One-Room Schools (N-P)
- York County One-Room Schools (Q-R)
- York County One-Room Schools (S-T)
- York County One-Room Schools (U-Z)