THE MAYOR'S REPORT: Rescue Hose Co. anniversary, looking back to 1965

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

So, it’s time to put the outdoor furniture away, begin raking leaves, and enjoy the colors of autumn. Tina and I were out for a walk early this Sunday afternoon and just made it in before a shower arrived. Certainly good for our water table as we will soon venture into winter. Please take a break, grab a cup of tea as I’m doing here in the family room, and join me as we reminisce about Greencastle in 1965.

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

But first, congratulations to the Rescue Hose Company celebrating their 125th year of service to G-A and beyond with the company’s founding Oct. 26, 1896. The fire station was at borough hall, 60 N. Washington St. where police headquarters is located. The building had a hose drying tower and a fire bell in the cupola to alert the community when a fire alarm sounded. Following World War II, the company bought Lininger’s Garage at 48 S. Carlisle St. and converted the facility into a fire station with several apartments upstairs. The volunteers would take over ambulance service 20 years later constructing a building along East Franklin Street, where two ambulances and a service truck were housed with second floor storage. Volunteers had duty crews every evening. Otherwise, volunteers were called by telephone while they were at home to take calls. A new engine room would be constructed in 1970, when the front portion of the former Lininger’s Garage was razed for the brick and steel structure. That would house all of the apparatus and ambulances until moving to the current fire/EMS station in 1997 at 842 S. Washington St. The old station was quite crowded.

So do you have that cup of tea? Let’s go back to 1965 in Greencastle. Andy’s Esso was selling gas at 31 cents a gallon. New housing developments were under construction with homes selling for well under $20,000. Interstate 81 had just opened and Antrim Way (Route 11 bypass) had been there for 10 years with various businesses and houses already built. Mr. McCandless’ High School Dance Band would rehearse every Tuesday evening. Senior Peggy Myers was crowned May Day Queen. Lyndon Baines Johnson was president. Troops were now being sent to the little known southeast Asian country of South Vietnam.

This photo of Greencastle's South Carlisle Street in 1965 was taken by Vaden Richards of The Record Herald.

The Greencastle Planning and Zoning Commission was forward-thinking with the borough obtaining financing in part through an Urban Planning Grant in 1963 from the Pa. Dept. of Commerce. With I-81 under construction those Greencastle planners knew a change was a comin’. The 1965 Comprehensive Development Plan, Greencastle, Pennsylvania, was authored. The writing stated “Growth will mean new jobs, new homes, and increased commercial activity; but it will also mean increased traffic volumes on local streets, increased burdens on the water and sewer systems, new schools and parks, and a generally increased number of public services. It will also mean good industrial sites must be identified and kept available, and that residential areas must be protected from nuisances such as heavy traffic and industrial noise, smoke, and odors. These are the challenges which the Borough must meet if its future development is to contribute to the desirability of the existing community.”

You see at that time industry was located in town where citizens would still walk to work. Industry was here because water and sewer service was available for these facilities. In the decades that followed these services expanded outside of town allowing for additional mixed use growth in the township.

I love our downtown. In 1965 Center Square was open with retail stores, restaurants, and services. Your doctor, lawyer, dentist, banks, and other professions were within walking distance. Parking meters were a penny. South Carlisle Street had the News Agency, Potters Restaurant, JJ Alleman Electric Co, Belle’s Dry Goods, Barkdoll’s Market, Elliott’s TV and Appliances, Zarger’s Plumbing and Heating, Maxine’s Beauty Salon, and Marley Walck would make you beautiful as well. Barber shops dotted all sections of downtown. RadiosStation WKSL would go on the air in 1967 at the former home of Ralph and Georgie Rowe at 203 S. Antrim Way. Nothing was open late at night back then except Anderson’s Laundry Mat where Mikie’s Ice Cream is now located. There were vending machines inside so we could get a soda and snack. There were no fast food restaurants. Some downtown restaurants would try to stay open 24 hours for a time, however, it didn’t last long.

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The Jerome R. King Playground was and remains a community recreational gem. The plan suggested an expansion of the playground to the north which would ultimately occur thanks to the volunteers and their vision for the additional facilities. A junior high school was proposed to be built along South Ridge Avenue ,which came to fruition. The “new” Lilian S. Besore Library would open in 1963 at a cost of $50,000 replacing the difficult to access library on the second floor of borough hall at 60 N. Washington St.

The last page acknowledged Mayor Robert Schenkel, Council President David Warren, Planning and Zoning Commission Secretary Edwin Bittner, and Schools Superintendent W. P. Conrad. The document closed with a “CONTINUING PLANNING PROGRAM” that, to me, is so important. Today’s Comprehensive Plan was a joint document with Greencastle, Antrim Township, and the G-A School District. You may view the latest document on their various websites. All too often comprehensive plans draw a lot of dust. I am pleased that many recommendations 57 years ago have come to fruition. Thanks to our past leaders for looking out for us six decades later.

So remember to be supportive of your friends, neighbors, and your family members. Veterans Day is Nov. 11. Thank the veterans in your life and be sure to attend the Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.., 60 N. Washington St., in front of the Veterans Monument and Memorial. Shop small in G-A and support those businesses that support us. Please join our fellow citizens for the tree lighting Friday evening, Nov. 19. For these and many other positive things in G-A, we are blessed.