THE MAYOR'S REPORT: "Hang-outs" on the Square, Thanksgiving and Christmas in Greencastle

Ben Thomas Jr./Greencastle Mayor

So, over the past two weeks I’ve heard from the experts who read my article about the south-west corner of Center Square “hang-outs” pre- , during and post-World War II. Those that lived it contacted me — with all of them being in their 90s. I was so glad to receive phone calls and emails. I’ll write about my errors and their experiences in just a minute.

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Most of the leaves are down. Thanks to last week’s high winds we shared our leaves with the neighbors for mower mulching or raking to be collected by Greencastle public works crews.

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

What an exciting time in G-A! The beautiful Christmas tree is lit. Thank you Gay Buchanan and family along with Antrim Township for the contribution. She and her late husband, John, planted the tree some 40 years ago. The Christmas parade was well attended. Thanksgiving was quiet. Shop Small Saturday was busy downtown and in the shopping areas of Greencastle. Thanks again for supporting our community. When you “shop small” you’re really shopping big for our community’s economy. Oh, and don’t forget, deer season came in Saturday.

OK ... did you get that hot cup of tea ready? I just heated up a cup of coffee from this morning. The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing this afternoon. Not looking good at half-time. Take a break and join me as I reminisce from the words of those celebrating their 90s who lived it and enjoyed growing up in Greencastle. I so cherish my conversation with Peg Baker and Earl Young and their sharp memories. Now here’s the facts. Merle (Mo) and Genevieve (Gem) Hollinger’s two-lane bowling alley and pool room were in the far south-west corner building on the first floor and not in the basement. Do you remember me describing those steep steps below the Hardware Store? That’s where Cletus Zimmerman’s Bucket of Blood and Roy Neady’s Restaurant was located. I wonder why the restaurant was named “bucket of blood?” Hate to find out.

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Bob Martin of Washington State advised me they had the best hamburgers with steamed buns there. Just a counter and stools were down below. They did a lot of take-out food. In some ways, times haven’t changed. Do you have the book “Images of Greencastle-Antrim Revisited” by Bonnie and Kenneth Shockey with the Antrim-Allison Museum? Turn to pages 109 and 115 to learn more. So before Earl Young went into the Navy 22 days after turning 18, he set the pins at the bowling alley along with brother Bobby. Earl served on the USS Leyte and was on the flight deck on Oct. 16, 1953, when an explosion on board killed 37 sailors and civilians. Quite a tragic event for this young sailor to be involved with. Earl said the phone company connected eight to 10 phones on the ship’s deck so the survivors could call home. Seaman Young called his parents about 10:30 p.m. that evening. The explosion had occurred  some seven hours earlier, being the largest loss of life in the history of the Boston waterfront.

This Christmas season, take a walk downtown, view the beautiful tree and imagine going bowling at 29 Center Square to the right of where the Chatty Chameleon Learning Language Center is located. Even today, when you walk in, go to the right where the one room was the pool room and then you entered the bowling alley. Yes, the pins were hand set by Earl and Bob.

So where was the second bowling alley in downtown Greencastle? Somewhere in the east side of the first block of South Carlisle Street. I’ll rely on my experts to contact me after reading this article for the exact location. I’ll let you know. Peg advised me that she would make hoagies, sandwiches and sweet treats and deliver at lunchtime to my Dad’s business, the Greencastle Coach Company, along Hykes Road (where the Jerr-Dan plant is located). Grove Manufacturing was another lunch spot for these treats.

As written previously, it was a quiet Thanksgiving. Every holiday I think of the men and women whose professions or volunteerism takes them away from family and friends. Greencastle Police were on duty. Rescue Hose Company responded on nine 911 calls for assistance. Health care workers dedicate themselves to providing their professional services every day as well. I remember working many a holiday over the decades, conducting criminal investigations and serving others. The holidays can be the best of times or the worst of times for individuals. A special thanks to the Greencastle Presbyterian Church volunteers for serving over 200 meals to our citizens. This is a mission that I really appreciate as I visited the church Thursday morning and spoke to several who were receiving the meals. They were so appreciative. To the volunteers who were there at 4 a.m. and served the to go meals into the early afternoon, again thank you.

Christmas is just around the corner. Your support of family, friends and neighbors makes the G-A community strong. We’ll sit down again before Christmas and write about whatever happened to Civil War Lieutenant Ulric Dahlgren, who protected Greencastle, rising to the rank of colonel.

Meanwhile, what a beautiful sunset it was this afternoon! Time for a piece of oatmeal pie. Next time, I’ll give you the recipe for Tina’s delicious oatmeal pie. We are so, so blessed.