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Monday, June 27, 2016

The "Remembering Rebman's" Story

Rebman's old sign still remains on S. Queen.
It was an ordinary day.  Carol and I were on our way home from lunch in Chesapeake City and had just passed the vacant and crumbling Rebman's Store at 800 S. Queen Street in Lancaster when it all began. Remember when we took the kids to see the "Moon Room" at Christmas? ..... or remember when we bought all our Easter candy, for years and years, at Rebman's? ..... or remember the quoit set we bought at Rebman's when we moved into our "Beach House" twenty years ago ..... or remember when Tad bought his pool table at Rebman's after he moved back home and took up residence in the basement?  It was back in 1909 that Mr. Rebman began a candy business at the corner of West King and North Water Streets in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  
Rebman's store on South Queen St. in Lancaster, PA.
Forty years later he moved into a 32,000 square-foot store at 800 S. Queen Street and added a party supply business to his candy business and added pinball machines and pool tables to his paper plates, plastic cups, school supplies, toys, candles, trains as well as wedding and funeral items.  Oh yeah, he also was in the carnival business and sold and rented carnival equipment. 
The "Moon Room" in black and white ....
But, it was his holiday items that brought many people to his store on South Queen.  Our three kids enjoyed his ever popular "Moon Room" which was decorated with a multitude of artificial Christmas trees.  Trees of all colors and sizes and decorated in just about everything from traditional lighting to the old time bubble-candles to more modernized lighting.  
... and in color.
His Halloween costumes, Fourth of July decorations and Easter candy were always a favorite in our family.  In 1984 he he opened yet another store on Columbia Ave. to sell his products.  It was a young Earl F. Rebman Sr. who worked at Central Market in downtown Lancaster  and sold newspapers on street corners who began working in the candy business and renting carnival goods.  
The first store at King and Water Streets in Lancaster.
It was these jobs that formed the foundation of his business in Lancaster.  He was not only a good business- man, but was an active civic-minded community man.  He established Lancaster's Salvage Drive that he coordinated in just three days in 1942.  He collected steel, paper and silk which were needed for the war effort during WWII.  
How the property looks today as a pawn shop.
He was chairman of the Lancaster County Salvage Committee from 1942-1946 and kept records of the committee's activities.  Mr. Rebman's homemade coconut cream eggs were extremely popular, followed by his peanut butter eggs.  American troops received personalized chocolate eggs from Rebman's during WWII.  
The store as it looked on S. Queen St. when it was first built.
When I was a student at Millersville State Teachers College from 1962-1967, I met Bobby Rebman, a member of the family who operated the business on S. Queen St.  He became a good friend and when I got married in 1967, Carol and I would often visit him at the store where he went back to work after college.  
The fleet of Rebman's carnival trucks in front of the store.
He died tragically, shortly after a divorce in the 1990s.   On March 29, 2005, Rebman's closed their store along Columbia Ave. and began a "Liquidation Sale" which would be the end of the business in Lancaster as we knew it.  The big discount stores had driven them out of business.  Earl F. Rebman Jr.'s sons, Patrick and Peter decided to continue in business and formed Rebman Brothers.  
The store on Columbia Ave is now a strip mall.
They would sell gaming and pool tables, flagpoles, carnival supplies and try to continue the candy business.  They had hopes of negotiating a lease on a portion of the Columbia Ave. store to continue their new business.  Well, today as I travel around Lancaster to take a few photos of the old Rebman stores, I found the Columbia Ave. store to be renovated into a series of businesses.  
Interesting BINGO card I found featuring Rebman's
advertisement on the bottom of it.
I have no idea what might have happened to the Rebman business, but Carol and I still have the happy memories from the years we made our visits to the store on S. Queen Street.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 


  1. Rebman's small store behind state liquor store @ Wheatland shop ctr. Open.

  2. I'm writing from Atlanta, Georgia and have never been to your area, but love this wonderful blog post! You see, I'm researching my ancestor, Simon Rebman, and his family and suspect that this immigrant grandfather of mine, who I also suspect (but haven't proven) was fleeing the unrest of the Napoleonic Wars in 1806...possibly attempting to prevent his sons from being conscripted into Napolean's army, was quite likely the patriarch of the guys who started these stores, which impacted so many people here in the United States. I'm looking now for the ties, but meanwhile thought I would say hello. I'm a writer also, and posts such as this one, you should know, keep your town and your time alive for always! Thanks for this! Laura Armstrong.

    1. Laura, Thank you so much for your comment. I have been writing my blog for 9 years now. That's quite a few stories! But, I have more to tell. I'll see if I can dig up anything else on the Rebman family. Bobbie was perhaps one of my best friends in college. He married after college, his wife divorced him, and shortly he died ... of a broken heart! It really does happen!!