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

Hugo’s – 5th Street – Muhlenberg

Hugo’s was a dance club and bar, incorporated on August 17th, 1972. It was located in Muhlenberg, specifically Laureldale, at the location of the current Alebrije Mexican Restaurant in Plaza 222. Hugo’s was owned by Leonard Kochen, who also owned Grammy’s Restaurant in Reading. It was originally called Disco Hugo’s, but eventually dropped the “Disco” and was more commonly referred to as “Hugo’s”.

Hugo’s offered disco dance lessons in the 70s, but also had a lot of popular bands headlining on other nights throughout its tenure. Many may remember a few of the acts that played there; a couple notable ones being the Sharks and the Jordan Brothers. There was something to go do or see almost any night of the week.

Hugo’s closed in 1988.

In 1991 the club was revived briefly under new ownership but still went by the Hugo’s name.

(click to enlarge)

There were issues with the liquor license transfer and the club was forced to have only “all-age” shows with no alcohol. This must have been short lived because there is no other information on the club until 1996.

In 1996 Hugo’s would gain its liquor license, change its name to the Lions Den and reopen. This was the beginning of the end of the establishment.

Muhlenberg Township police have called in state troopers and county detectives to try to close down the Lions Den, a bar and dance club where there have been numerous fights and a police officer was hurt in a melee last week. – Nov 3, 1998 Reading Eagle

The club was starting to attract a less than savory crowd who caused trouble in the parking lot. Police were consistently called to break up altercations and eventually deemed the club a public nuisance. The owners of the club again changed the name to the Confetti Nightclub & Bar, assumedly in an attempt to move away from the reputation the Lion’s Den had gained. By the end, there had been two different shootings outside the club and it was finally shut down and the club’s contents were auctioned off in February of 2001.

Robert M. Flanagan, Muhlenberg Township police chief, stands outside the closed Confetti Night Club and Bar, where equipment and furniture were auctioned off Monday. – Eagle/Times: Richard J. Patrick

Today, Alebrije occupies the space, and has for a long time. If you remember anything being in here between Confetti Nightclub and Alebrije, please let me know in the comments.

The site of Hugo’s today.

Easter Egg Hunts through the years

March 28th, 1959 Reading Eagle (click to enlarge)
Easter 1962 – Children yesterday had their day in the city and county as Easter egg hunts were conducted for their benefit. Shown above is the “breaking from the barrier” at Brookline Playground. – Reading Eagle
The scramble for Easter eggs is on as participants in the egg hunt yesterday at Keffer Park Rush across the playground. The hunt was one of seven held on city playgrounds. -Reading Eagle
Meeting the Bunnies – At the annual Easter egg hunt held at Bernharts Dam under the sponsorship of Local 1893, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Scott Kahn of 3310 Fairfield St, Laureldale and Donna Ohlinger of Fleetwood R.D. 3, are joined by Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny as they collect their bag of chocolate candy and prizes. Approximately 700 egg-hunting children attended the festivities. -Reading Eagle.

On this day, 1985 – Downtown Pomeroy’s Closes it’s Doors for Good

On this day in 1985 – Pomeroy’s Department Store in Downtown Reading closes after 109 years in business.

On this day, 1985 - Downtown Pomeroy's Closes it's Doors for Good
A crush of shopper prepares for the final charge into Pomeroy’s downtown store Saturday. The department store closed shortly after 5 p.m., ending 109 years of operations as one of the anchors of Penn Square. 
Downtown Pomeroy's Closes it's Doors for Good

 

Downtown Pomeroy's Closes it's Doors for Good
Downtown Pomeroy's Closes it's Doors for Good

The future remained uncertain for the historical building for many years, with renovation plans falling through. Eventually it was demolished to make way for new construction.

Downtown Pomeroy's Closes it's Doors for Good

Gadgets at the Berkshire Mall

From 1982-1984 there was a cutting edge restaurant called “Gadget’s” upstairs at the Berkshire Mall. It featured animatronic singing robots as entertainment. For kids, Looney Tunes was the featured presentation. It was also targeted to adults, featuring a LaBARatory bar and evening shows as well. Below is the only footage online of the restaurant, though at a location in New York.

The idea was fairly short lived. After brief expansion to roughly 6 locations in the US, the idea proved too costly to make a profit, and ultimately closed down. According to a comment on this website, the location at the Berkshire Mall was rumored to have a particularly shady end:

Does anyone remember the shady Gadgets disappearing story? They were behind on rent (owed 10s of thousands) and just packed up and took off in the middle of the night, leaving behind lots of the fixtures in the restaurant.

Menu pictures courtesy of Matt Heffelfinger

Do you remember Gadgets? Do you have any images or stories to share? Can you validate the rumor of how it left? What happened to all of the animatronic pieces left behind?