Helen Reeves Thackston’s name lives on in York, Pa.
Helen Thackston at work at Crispus Attucks. Also of interest: York’s first public housing units giving way to Homes at Thackston Park.
Helen Thackston Memorial Park sits obscurely between West Princess and West College near the Codorus Creek in York.
Not many people know where the park is, much less the woman whose name is on its sign.
But even a cursory reading through Crispus Attucks Community Center history brings Helen Reeves Thackston’s name to the forefront. She touched the lives of virtually every senior leader in the black community today.
She did this by directing the center’s preschool program from 1932 until 1964. For many years, she volunteered her services.
Her community peers and former students speak of her with awe:
‘Helen didn’t just teach children, she taught them to be proud,’ Sylvia Newcombe, retired York Recreation Commission head, stated in 1979.
Community leader Ray Crenshaw described Helen Thackston in 1969, the year she died. An edited version follows:
E (verybody was special to her)
E (enlarged CA for 30 years)
N (oble Lady)
T(he first and only pre-school director)
A (n intuitive appreciation for what is fit)
C (hurch, community and children)
K (indergarten was her forte)
S (o many owe her so much)
T (he 10 commandments always with her)
N (oble lady)
Helen Thackston lives on in the hearts of many. But since 1972, the York park unknown to many outside the neighborhood has carried her name forward. The park’s sign says this about Thackston: “Whose unselfish services brought happiness to lives of children.”
So there it is, overlooked York County landmark No. 19, Helen Thackston Memorial Park. Other overlooked York County sites and landmarks (See posts under York Town Square):
— The Little Courthouse
— Prospect Hill Cemetery
— War Mothers Memorial
— Work War II USO at former York County Academy gymnasium
— York’s Salem Square soldiers monument
— York’s Cookes House
— The Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge
— Memorial trees along highways Route 30 & Susquehanna Trai.
— The Inches
— Camp Stewartstown
— The Wrightsville Bridge supports
— New York Wire Co.’s factory whistle
— Mary Ann Furnace
–York’s Hartman Building
— Hanover’s Iron Mike and The Picket
— York’s Eberts Lane