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Thursday, June 2, 2016

The "Childhood Memories Of Farmers Supply" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Driving around the city of Lancaster, taking photos of the three locations that housed at one time or another, the Lancaster business known as Farmers Supply.  I recently read in the Lancaster newspaper that Farmers Supply closed this past May 13 after 82 years of doing business.  Farmers Supply was one of my favorite stores in downtown Lancaster as a child.  Starting in early November they would begin to set up their model train display and I would stop every Saturday morning after church choir practice to check their progress.  I can still see that wide staircase to the left as you entered the store through those double glass doors.  
My Christmas present from Farmers Supply.
Up at the top of the stairs stood this really neat train yard that featured a few Lionel trains and a myriad number of Plasticville houses and accessories.  The hand-crafted mountains in the rear always had openings in them for the trains to run through.  I would meet my dad at Farmers Supply those few Saturday mornings before Christmas and we would watch the trains run and talk about eventually building a train yard in the basement of our house on North Queen Street.  
The building that housed the original
Farmers Supply as it appears today.
Well, one Christmas, when I believe I was perhaps 12 years old, there under the tree was a big package that I opened and right away knew what my gift was after seeing those familiar Lionel orange and white boxes.  Mom and Dad had given me a Lionel Sante Fe F3 O-Gauge train that featured a double-engine that made engine noises, had a diesel horn and bell sounds as well as three passenger cars, all in bright silver with red and orange trim on the engines and cars.  I was in heaven.  Shortly after our tree came down that year, dad set up a wooden train table in the basement next to the oil burner and we began to spend many an evening setting up the three-rail track in the familiar oval configuration.  OK, enough reminiscing for now, since my story today deals with the closing of an icon in the city of Lancaster.  
The second location of Farmers Supply at 25 E. Fulton St. 
Farmers Supply opened in 1934 at 137 E. King Street, moving to 215 E. Fulton Street in 1965 and then again to their last location at 515 North Franklin Street in 1990.  I'm not sure if their location, a short distance off of the main street, was the cause of their demise, or if it was the many chain stores and online businesses that featured the same products that they carried.  For years and years they sold "truckloads of stuff" to the farm community of Lancaster County.  
The final location of Farmers Supply before they closed.
They sold toys in their early years to go along with their farm supplies, but eventually concen- trated on lawn-and-garden products and became an Ace Hardware store in recent years.   A few of their employees will work for another Service Supply Company in nearby Harrisburg, PA.  Farmers Supply will always hold a warm spot in my heart for the many memories they gave to me as a child.  As I wrote this story I could almost hear the horn and bell echoing throughout the basement on North Queen as they did back in the 1950s.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.       

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