Laser tag 1994

From left, John Emrick, Jeremy Denlinger and Isaac Williams exit Laser Runner after a battle in December 1994.

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Excerpts and summaries of news stories from the former Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster New Era and Sunday News that focus on the events in the county’s past that are noteworthy, newsworthy or just strange.

Nine new stands would be opening at Central Market, thanks to the latest auction for standholders, the Dec. 8. 1994, New Era reported. Among the newcomers were Patricia Heckenberger, who planned a new seafood stand; J. Steven Brown, who wanted to bring in healthy and unusual fruits and vegetables; Frances Roschel, who planned to fill her new booth with fresh and dried flowers for sale; and Elton Moshier, who would sellmaple syrup for his new stand.

Several other stands and their businesses changed hands as part of the auction.

A laser tag arena arrived in Lancaster in the form of a giant 32-by-45-foot inflatable battle cruiser. The cruiser housed a game called Laser Runner. Players wore special vests that tracked hits and shot each other with lasers while dodging hits in the darkened cruiser.

Brought to the county by Jerry Kaye, the popular new activity shared temporary quarters in Park City Center and then Manor Shopping Center until Kaye finished a permanent “Star Wars Room” in his Columbia Avenue M.H. Kaye Pavilion.

Kaye also expected to make the fair circuit with his giant inflatable ship.

Popular with “everyone from kids to moms to grandpas,” enthusiasts shared a lot of reasons for playing.

John Emick, 16, said the addictive game was all about escapism: No thinking about schoolwork.

Kaye touted the fact that it helped you release aggressions, but Jeremy Denlinger probably said it best when he declared simply, “It’s fun!”

Check out the New Era front page from Dec. 8, 1994 here.


Today, many people sign up to take the SNAP Challenge.

The Challenge is usually a fund-raiser for anti-hunger groups. Participants agree to shop, cook and eat using only the funds provided by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Currently, that amounts to $4.46 per day for food.

Whether the Challenge is used to raise funds or to raise awareness, it highlights the difficulties faced by those who must rely on government benefits to eat.

The Challenge, and the struggle, are not new. In 1969, Intelligencer Journal reporter Rose Alice Hoerst began her “Welfare Dieter’s Diary.”

Hoerst and 35 others volunteered to eat for one week on what welfare recipients received for food in 1969: $6.10 for the week.

Hoerst outlined making spaghetti sauce to last a week, planned lots of peanut butter sandwiches, and found comfort in the fact that she was only cooking for herself and not for a family.

Diary entries on other days expressed concern at living on 87 cents per day. Toward the end of the Challenge, the author expressed an uncharacteristic craving for hot dogs.

Overall, Hoerst reminded readers that while the Challenge was a bit of an adventure for participants, the reality of having to eat for less than a dollar a day was serious. Recognizing that was a main point for the Challenge, both in 1969 and today.

Check out the Intelligencer Journal front page from Dec. 8, 1969, here.


Ration calendar 1944

This is an example of the ration calendars printed in daily newspapers during World War II.

Lancaster home cooks faced a slightly different food challenge in 1944. No matter how much money a home cook had, rationing determined just what could be purchased, and in what quantity.

Shoppers had rigid guidelines, schedules and stamp books to follow just to feed their families.

The newspaper printed daily ration calendars, schedules, recipes, tips and menus to help readers stretch their food budget to the fullest.

Check out the Intelligencer Journal front page from Dec. 8, 1944 here.


“Cho Cho” the Great Health Clown was announced with great fanfare. The popular entertainer was coming to Lancaster for a two-day visit.

Made possible by the Tuberculosis Society, the performances were billed as “The greatest treat in the entertainment line that was ever offered to the children of Lancaster City.”

Cho Cho was part of the Child Health Organization, “a wonderful performer” who “brings the value of health to the child in such a forcible and entertaining way that a lasting impression is secured.”

Cho Cho’s repertoire included singing, sleight of hand tricks, and drawing health cartoons on a blackboard with colored chalk. The drawings transformed into stories and jingles that taught children about healthy food and other topics.

Every child who had helped with the year’s Christmas Seal Campaign was eligible to attend the performances.

Check out the New Era front page from Dec. 8, 1919, here.