York Town Square

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Paper Fair sponsor: ‘York was in the big leagues of the Big Bands’

The colorful Valencia, seen here in this circa 1937 postcard, played host to dozens of national acts. Background posts: The bad, and yes, the good of the Great Depression in York County and Valencia Ballroom became cool place during Depression and Spring Garden Band: ‘It’s like being in the room with history’.

Dave Gladfelder was a regular at Big Band events at the Valencia in the heyday of the Swing era in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
It cost between a quarter and 85 cents to get into the York venue, depending on the prominence of the act. If the name was big enough, admission rose to $1.
Paying a little extra, Gladfelter acquired photos of the stars and stuck around long enough to get their autographs.
He collected about 60 photographs, many of them signed.
The collection of the late David Gladfelter will be up for silent auction during the York Book and Paper Fair on Saturday, April 4, in the York Expo Center.
Photos of the Dorsey brothers, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Woody Herman are included in the collection… .

Gene Krupa was the focus of this publicity photo that is part of the Gladfelter collection. To read about Krupa’s bad experience with York authorities during a visit, click here.
Paper Fair sponsor Jim Lewin of the York Emporium provided this information on Gladfelter.
“York was in the big leagues of the Big Bands,” he wrote in news release.
Lewin provided a glimpse of these glory days of Swing:

“The great bands, and the bands that wanted to be great, came to York to play to capacity crowds in the facility. York became one of the major stops on the tour routes. Located as it was with proximity to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, it was an easy trip.
“The biggest names of the era came to play at The Valencia: Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw…the list is a ‘Who’s Who’ of popular music of the period.
“Bands would travel by car or bus from town to town, with managers attempting to book their gigs within easy traveling distance. But it was a grueling life.
“Years later speaking to an interviewer about the period, Helen Ward, a singer with Benny Goodman’s band in 1936 and 1937 remembered:
” ‘We were always hungry and tired, and the cars would break down in the middle of nowhere. I constantly had to worry about where I was going to get my dress pressed when we finally reached wherever we were going because they usually rolled up the sidewalks by seven o’clock. And the distances we had to travel! I remember driving through one state after another to get to the next location…
” ‘We’d all start singing in the car – what else was there to do? And one time we made up this song to the tune of ‘On the Road to Mandalay’ I still haven’t forgotten the words”
On the road for MCA
Many places do we play
We’re in Dallas, Texas, on a Wednesday.
Thursday, York, Pa
On the road for MCA
Don’t lose the places that we play.
When the dawn is waking
We’ll be breaking
Our necks for MCA.
” ‘But it was also wonderful. We were so young, and everyone was so enthusiastic. It was a way of starting out, and we were doing what we wanted to do. The feeling at the beginning is hard to put into words, but it was inspirational. Every night was something different, something new. Benny would play something we never heard before, or when one of the guys took a particularly good solo, he’d say, ‘Take another’ and everybody would flip and giggle and laugh. It was never the same old notes night after night. And the band kept getting better and better.’ ”
“And Dave Gladfelder was there nearly every weekend to reward the bands for their trouble.”

To see photos in the Gladfelder collection, click here.

This photo is part of the Gladfelter collection.