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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The "Southern Lancaster County's Hidden Gem - Part I" Story

Corner of the Tobacco Shed that houses the Conestoga Historical Society

It was an ordinary day.  Visiting the Conestoga Area Historical Society at 51 Kendig Road in Conesto- ga, Penn- sylvania.  I didn't even know the place existed until a week of so ago when I saw an article in the local newspaper titled "Athletes O're The Ages."  Seems the Historical Society was presenting a special exhibit called "Play Ball: A Retrospective Exhibit of Over 100 Years of Athletic Activities in the Penn Manor Area."  
Directly inside the door is this showcase
If you have been reading my blog for the past few years, you know how much I enjoy the sport of baseball so it shouldn't be a surprise to you that I went to see the exhibit.  Took me a few minutes to find the main building where the society is located, parked the car and entered the main door.  Not a single person did I see.  I signed my name in the guest book, dropped a donation in the large bottle and began to look around the display which was right inside the door.  Took a photo of one of the newspaper articles in the display and as soon as I lowered my camera I was greeted by someone standing next to me.  I looked at him and said, "I think I just took a photograph of you."  He laughed and said, "Yeah, that was me years ago when I was playing fast pitch softball."  
Article that featured my tour guide, Jim
Kauffman.  We both knew some of the same
players from Lancaster County.  
Guy's name was Jim Kauffman and he and I spent the next half hour talking about the athletic display in the historical society.  I asked him where they got the two large banners that had MTHS on them.  I assumed they were athletic banners from the school where I had taught for years: Manheim Township High School.  "Actually they are from Manor Township High School," he said.  "That's what Penn Manor High School was known as before the southern part of the county merged.  This museum has on display items from Conestoga, Manor, Martic, and Pequea Townships as well as the Borough of Millersville, PA."  Jim and I had a nice conversation about baseball as well as other sports when I asked him, "Where did you get all this stuff?"  He replied, "Quite a few of the items are on loan for the ball display, but the majority of the other items in the museum as well as the surrounding buildings were gathered or belong to Ken Hoak who is the Curator and President Emeritus  of the Historical Society."  
Gloves and balls from the good old days.
The name sounded familiar and finally it hit me.  "Did Ken go to Millersville State Teacher's College years ago and then teach art?"  "Same guy," he replied.  "He's not here right now."  Jim told me which way to go in the museum to see some of the other displays and I headed to the stairwell to go to the second floor of what used to be a tobacco barn.
Many scrapbooks loaded with articles and photos lined the
display cabinets.  Most are on loan from private collections.
 As soon as I exited the stairwell on the second floor I knew who the fellow standing a few feet away from me, talking to another couple, was; Ken Hoak.  He looked me and realized he also knew me.  We met and introduced ourselves.  Ken had been an art teacher for years at Solanco High School in the southern end of Lancaster County while I taught Industrial Arts in the north end of the county.  
These are Native American artifacts found on location.
Click on the photos to enlarge them.
We met a few times before when we both had students enter the National Scholastic Art and Photo- graphy competi- tion.  He was very good friends with the fellow who taught art in the room next to me, Richard Miller.  "He died way to young, didn't he" he said to me.  I agreed.  
Another private collection from Safe Harbor, PA.
He told me of the many buildings in the museum complex and how he had been gathering items for the museum for most of his life.  He actually was responsible for beginning the museum in 1990.  The building we are standing in at present is a restored 1865 tobacco shed.  Some items in the museum are Indian artifacts from years ago.  Ken took me to the third floor of the building to show me more displays and then I found my way back to the main floor to begin my exploration of more of the grounds.  Follow along tomorrow as I show you more of one of Lancaster County's hidden gems.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

A favorite tournament in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  I participated as a player when I was a pre-teen as well as teenager and also coached various teams in it.  My final year of coaching Little League baseball was topped off by winning the Midget New Era Tournament.
This wall was devoted to Millersville State Teachers College sports.  The school is now known as Millersville University.
One more of the many showcases holding baseball memories from the past.

1 comment:

  1. Don't feel bad. I've only been there once since living in M'Ville for 39 years.