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.
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)
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
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
The Penn View Motel was part of a chain of nine motels called Host Ways Motel. It was built in 1965, and along with the other 8 locations boasted the mid-century modern pyramid. It was located on the block between 2nd and 3rd Streets on Penn Avenue in West Reading. The striking blue pyramid would become a landmark of sorts, and could be easily seen by passing cars on the 422 bypass just down the road.
The chain is no longer in existence, and the only trace left of this chain is found in New Jersey at the Ivory Tower Motor Inn.
Over the years the Penn View became more and more infamous, being widely known for rampant prostitution, crime and drug problems. Quite a few deaths occurred within the walls of it’s motel rooms, mainly from overdoses. In 1990, there was a murder outside the motel over cocaine.
In 1995, Dateline NBC came to the Penn View to follow Berks Sheriff’s Deputies as they delivered warrants in an effort to see how fugitives are brought to justice.
The Penn View was deemed a blight finally taken by eminent domain in 2006, and razed shortly after. It had a few long-term tenants that were relocated.
“The motel’s last tenant checked in about 2 a.m. Monday, Alan said. When the man left later that morning, Alan refunded the $55 motel bill and gave him a bottle of champagne.” – 8/22/06 Reading Eagle
Plans for a new hotel were met with some adversity due to community member’s fears it would devolve into the same nefarious activities as the Penn View. A Candlewood Suites was eventually built on the grounds of the old Penn View, and as far as I know has not been an issue for the surrounding community.
The Road to Nowhere. If you are older than 25 and a native of Berks County you have likely heard the phrase. It was used to refer to a stretch of road that literally went nowhere, until slowly over the course of a few decades was added onto and connected to other major roadways.
It was originally built in 1962 as a small drag strip piece of road, spanning maybe three quarters of a mile between the intersection of Van Reed Rd/Paper Mill Road and north over the Tulpehocken Creek to Blessing Lane. It appears there was a bridge on Paper Mill Road that crossed over the then newly constructed Road to Nowhere. (pictured above). This bridge no longer exists. If you look closely on Google Maps you can see old sections of Van Reed road in the wooded areas parallel to the current Van Reed Road. It appears from the comparison photos that the entire southern end of the original Road to nowhere is now the Paper Mill Road Off-ramp, Turkey Hill and surrounding wooded area.
In 1968 they expanded northward further toward Route 183 and on to Muhlenberg Township, making a connection to 222 north to Allentown.
Further work stalled until the 90s. It took until 1999 for the southern dead end of the Road to Nowhere pictured above to be connected eastward over to the Warren Street Bypass/422 interchange. It was around that time the neighboring land that became Broadcasting Square Shopping Center was sold and planned for redevelopment. Then it reached its final form in 2006 as 222 south between 422 and 724 was finished, making it possible to get all the way to Lancaster from Allentown on Route 222.