Extraordinary Stories

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

The "Lancaster When It Was .... Well, You Decide" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading a Lancaster Facebook page which features stories and photos from the past.  Since I lived in the past, I thoroughly enjoy the page as well as those who frequent the page.  A few days ago I saw a photograph that was posted on the page which featured a building on West Orange Street in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Place was called Harvey Williams and they sold bicycles.  What's neat was my Aunt Doris bought me a bicycle at Harvey Williams for a Christmas gift when I was 8 years old.  Neat red bike with white-walled tires, a horn and small fake leather bag that was attached to the rear of the seat.  No hand brakes or different speeds; just a neat old bike that I loved.  The photo that was featured on Facebook was from 1915, a few years before Aunt Doris bought my bike.  Actually, quite a few years!!  The building at 626-628 West Orange Street was owned and operated by Harvey R. Williams from before World War I until he died in 1940.
Bike with a Harvey Williams sticker on it.
Harvey raced motorcycles as well as bicycles and sold Indian brand motorcycles, manufactured from 1901 to 1953, at his store for a few years.  Also sold Goodyear tires as well as had a pump to sell gasoline.  The store in the photograph was allegedly built in 1902.  It was in 1952 that my mom and dad took my brother and me to visit my grandmother, known to everyone as Nannan, and Aunt Doris on Christmas day and when I walked in the front door at 145 North Pine Street, a few blocks from Harvey Williams, I saw this really neat red Schwinn bike with a big bow on it.  Being that my brother was only 3 years old at the time, I knew the bike was for me.  Santa had left it for me as a Christmas gift.
The new facade on the old Harvey Williams shop.
Which Harvey William's storefront do you like?  Me too!!
I remember making visits to Harvey Williams from time to time for bike repairs or to pick up a spare tube for my red bike.  It was years later that a new facade was added to the front of the building and a new business moved into the place.  Really ruined it, according to my dad.  Well, today I was driving west on Orange Street and passed the old store.  It now houses a dry cleaning business.  I just had to stop and walked in the store and there behind the counter was an old-timer, just about the same age as me.  We got talking about the Lancaster that used to be and both agreed that the store we were standing in wasn't half as neat as when it was Harvey Williams.  Funny how things change so fast and not always for the better.  That is according to a couple of old guys standing in front of 626-628 West Orange Street chewing the fat.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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