June 2, 2015
Come on, Highlanders, show me your hands if you remember any of the following bygone East Lancaster sites:
* Jack Collier Drug Store
* Fair East Shopping Center
* Hart’s Dress Shop
* Pizza Tower
* Gateway Theater
Growing up on Sargent Street, off Meadowbrook Drive, I terrorized East Lancaster almost every day, for one reason or another. My earliest memory was munching animal crackers and looking at the new Golden Book Mama bought to keep me peaceful while she grocery-shopped at Worth Food Market. If she was “flush”, we stopped off for a greasy burger and a Coke “suicide” at Jack Collier Drug Store. I shopped for school supplies and made sure they added up to at least a dollar so the nice soda jerks would give me a free shake or malt. And Hart’s, a little hole-in-the-wall dress shop, was the source of many of my outfits for those special school events.
Along about my teens, I loved to walk up to Fair East Shopping Center just for the exercise and browse the magazine rack at Skillern’s, rummage through and play 45-rpm records at the record store, drool over the darrrrling dresses at Monnig’s and Kay Fleming and stroll the creaking hardwood floors of Mott’s, just to sniff that unique, five-and-dime smell.
The Pizza Tower was the perfect little restaurant for a romantic candlelight dinner with a date after a football game or a movie at the Hollywood, Worth, Palace, or Gateway Theaters (where I know I paid more attention to the crowd than I did the movie or the game).
Also located on Lancaster, the Griddle System. I remember my “bestie”, Tonya Woolbright (now-deceased EHHS 1967 grad) and I would walk up to the Griddle System on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and feast on their “special”: a burger with special sauce, French fries, and a frosty root beer.
After gorging at the Griddle, we would head up to the Gateway for the rest of the afternoon. Back then, if we showed our “Teenage Discount Cards”, we would get in for under a dollar with change left for popcorn, candy, and a drink from the Coke machine. Tonie and I watched the movie, cartoons, and any serials at least twice before calling it a day and starting back home. The Gateway, being up the street from my house, was also a convenient landmark for directing anyone to my house before I was able to drive by myself.
There were other places along our much-decayed but never-forgotten “beat”: Spartans, Char-Bar, the Crown Root Beer stand,Driftwood Drive-in, and Cox’s Department Store. Now, each of them is out of business, boarded up, or transformed into something else. Still, whenever we meet for our monthly lunches at Mexican Inn, I try to allow time to drive down East Lancaster Avenue and, once more, relive our “Highlander Hang-outs”.