On this Day – October 16th, 1959

Above the fold in the Oct 16th 1959 Reading Eagle:

Goodbye, Tower Hotel

Outside razing work by city workmen is now under way on the Tower Hotel on the crest of Mt. Penn. All usable wood and stone from the historic structure will be stored for future city use. A pavilion is scheduled to be built on the site, when razing work is completed. This coming winter, city carpenters will build picnic tables at the site. (Eagle Photo – Oct 16th, 1959 Reading Eagle)

Well, that’s a problem

Charles Danta examines the well opening into which he descended 30 feet yesterday afternoon to rescue Michael Evans, 5, Boyertown R.D. 3, after the boy had fallen through rotten planking into five feet of water. Michael, shown in inset, was unhurt. The well planking will be replaced. (Eagle staff photo)

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At the drive in…

Berkenstock Store – “Berky’s” – Sinking Spring

If you grew up in Sinking Spring during the 50, 60s, or 70s you probably remember Berkenstock’s Store, or just called it, “Berky’s” or “Fern’s”*. The people who have mentioned it to me specifically remember it being a candy store and calling it Berky’s. There is absolutely no information about this place on the web, but I did some sleuthing to find some information about who ran this store. What I had was a last name, location and an idea of a timeframe of when this store was in operation.

*Apparently some called it Fern’s, I have added this info after the original release of the article

It was located on the corner of Columbia and Hull Street, 101 S. Hull Street. Just caddy-corner from the Sinking Spring School grounds, making it easy for students to walk there for candy. I found record in the 1940 census of a Berkenstock Family who lived at that address. I knew it was a lady who ran this store, so I figured it had to be one of the daughters. It ended up being Fern Berkenstock.

At first I thought it might be Ethel but my sources said it was definitely Fern. I found Ethel in her 1946 senior yearbook from Sinking Spring High. I wasn’t able to find Fern in any of the mid-late 30s Sinking Spring yearbooks. Perhaps she didn’t go to high school, not surprising or out of the ordinary, many in that time didn’t.

I was able to find that Fern passed away in 2000. Her obituary was in the April 1st, 2000 Reading Eagle. It mentions her owning the store and gave the definitive time of operations, from 1940-1986. She was married at some point and her last name changed to Eyrich.

I would love to see and share some images of Berky’s if anyone has them. Any added info would also be appreciated. People remember this place fondly and I would love to bring it back to them. If you have any memories of the store please share them in the comments.

1958 Aerial of Columbia Ave and Hull St Intersection where Berky’s operated

4th of July Through the Decades

1957

West Reading’s Fourth of July celebration yesterday was a double event. Besides celebrating the holiday the citizens and various organizations in the borough joined in a program in observation of the borough’s 50th anniversary. A spectacular feature of the day was the parade which was held in the morning. Shown above is one of the marching groups as the parade moved along Penn Avenue. (Eagle Staff Photo)

1969

Four hundred and fifty-seven children participated in the Fourth of July program sponsored by the city recreation bureau at the City Park bandshell Thursday afternoon. The children, walking to City Park from their respective playgrounds, wore costumes of their own design and carried flags in the patriotic march.

Oakbrook housing, Baer Park and Barbey’s win the top three honors in competition involving number of participants and distance traveled. At the bandshell, appropriate songs were sung and Uncle Sam’s birthday cake was lit. In the left photo, David A. Salvi, dressed as America’s best known symbol, admires the simulated stars and stripes confection, while one playground group, in the right photo, offers an Independence Day songfest.

Below, members of the Brookline playground sport small replicas of Old Glory as they witness the proceedings. -Eagle Photo

1973

As usual, Lancaster Avenue and the New Holland Road intersection was turned into a lake during Tuesday afternoon’s series of thundershowers. Just as regular are these two youngsters who took advantage of the cool water to escape from the humid weather that preceded the deluge. – Eagle Photo

Woolworth’s – Penn Street / Berkshire Mall

Image & caption from “Berks Countians; The Wonderful Way We Live”
When this photo of the interior of Woolworth’s 5¢ and 10¢ store – 530-534 Penn, around 1911 – this was a “5-and-dime” emporium in the true sense. Everything in the place was priced at a nickel or dime. A sign visible near the rear of the aisle clearly states that “Nothing in this store over 10 cts.” Photo by John. B. Woods.

Woolworth’s 6th and Penn Reading store was opened on September 20th, 1884, under the name, “Woolworth & Knox”. It was just three doors across 6th street from the successful Pomeroy’s department store.

Woolworth’s moved to the Berkshire Mall when it opened in 1970, as did many of the successful Penn Street department stores. Woolworth’s was again next to Pomeroy’s (first Lit Brothers, but only 1970-1975) near the center of the mall. It could be accessed from the outside of the mall, and was also a restaurant called “Harvest House”.

Woolworth’s occupied store space #27, outlined in yellow.

Woolworths chain started declining in the 80s due to over-expansion, and it is believed the Mall location closed for good in the mid-late 90s. The inner-mall part was subdivided into a few more store spaces. The back half that was accessible from the outside was divided off.

Above is the outside entrance to what was the Woolworth’s at the Berkshire Mall as it is today, next to the defunct BonTon. As long as I can remember this space has been unoccupied. If you remember it being anything since Woolworth’s closing, please post in the comments.

Shillington High School

In 1925, the new Shillington High School was constructed on East Lancaster Avenue on land that was part of the Berks County Alms House complex. An addition of twelve rooms was completed in 1930 and four more rooms were completed in 1936. The last senior class of the Shillington High School graduated in 1953, after which time the building served the newly organized Governor Mifflin School District. It served as Governor Mifflin High School until 1957 when it became Governor Mifflin Junior High School. In 1962, extensive renovations and a sizable addition were completed.

The remodeled building served the community for 30 more years before it was demolished during the summer of 1992, to make way for the new Governor Mifflin Middle School. This building proudly displayed the motto, Learn To Live … Live To Learn for 67 years. The very same letters were saved and are proudly displayed today on the Governor Mifflin Middle School on the same site and nearly the same place.  –Source

If you have any memories or info to share from your time here, join the Shillington High School discussion on our forums: https://berksnostalgia.com/forums/topic/shillington-high-school/