Our little family of four moved in 1943 and arrived in Lancaster County. We first moved into the barroom of the former Swartzbaugh hotel on Hollinger Road, which was between Lyndon and Willow Street.
This was because my aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Musser Landis, bought that hotel to house their family of eight children. There was adequate room in the basement barroom for our family of four. We were Mom, Pop and brother Gerald. Then during this time, our family was increased by Ted, my baby brother.
My Pop, Miles Foose, had one of those boxlike, gunmetal gray, four-door Fords. This he drove to work and for all else. One trip every week brought us to Eli Witmer’s grocery store in Lampeter, at the corner of Lampeter and Village roads, Pop would give old Eli the grocery paper Mom (Mary Foose) had written, and Eli would go along the shelves behind the front counter as we waited for him to fill the order. When potatoes were needed, they were bought by the sackful. We had potatoes for every meal, and that was always a complaint of us kids. I suppose to keep that many potatoes from going rotten, you had to use them. Rationing was still going on, and so there had to be stamps for certain items and for gasoline for the car. I still have my cobalt-blue Shirley Temple glass from that time.
There was a restaurant at the corner of Village Road and Beaver Valley Pike; I knew it as Norm Leib’s. A remarkable memory was all the photos of the servicemen and women who were in the armed forces, which took up all the space on all the walls in the public seating area. Norm seemed to know everybody who entered his restaurant.
Remembered also was the time when two of my older boy cousins thought it would be great to play hide and seek (with a twist). We were to hide, and when they found us, they would shoot at us with their BB guns. Fun for them, perhaps, but not so much fun for the targets. I had one of those BBs land on my ankle, and it did hurt!
I was 7 years old when we moved there, and so I started first grade in the Willow Street Consolidated elementary school. A short green bus picked us up and delivered us back home every school day. I called it “the grasshopper.”
Our next move was to a little house on Penn Grant Road in Willow Street. Here I recall that one of my jobs was going to the dark bins in the dirt-floor basement to push the eyes off the potatoes.
Also up that road to Route 222 there was a restaurant that Mert Flowers ran in the basement of that former schoolhouse. From time to time, Mom would send me up there with my dimes to buy ice-cream cones for us at home. So I would carefully carry those four cones of ice cream, dripping down my hands — along the way popping the tar bubbles along the side of the road with my bare toes.
I do not recall at what age, but one fine day Mom took me downtown to the Lido beauty salon on King Street in Lancaster. There I had my very first permanent wave. Did it look nice? I cannot remember, but the big, black, spidery permanent wave machine I do remember. It seemed to drop down from the ceiling, and all the many clips had portions of my hair wrapped around them. Some of them got very hot — that, I remember.
Remembered also is Woolworth’s 5 & 10 that had the soda fountain counter in the mezzanine. At that time, I thought being a soda jerk was an admirable goal.
The movie theaters on King Street are gone now, but every Saturday, Pop would take us kids to see Westerns at the movies. Pop also would take us to Rocky Springs Park to hear the 101 Ranch Boys play in the little amphitheater. This always ended up with us being allowed a few rides in the park.
So, enough of memories, precious to me, that bring a smile in recalling a remarkable youth in Lancaster County.
The author, a 1955 McCaskey High School alumna, lives in West Hempfield Township.