Socialist Park in Sinking Spring

Socialist Park, now known as Willow Glen Park, was created in 1929, under socialist Reading Mayor, J. Henry Stump. In it’s heyday, it boasted a dance hall, and a roller-skating rink.  Today, the park hosts large local events, including the Apple Dumpling Festival in June, Berks Celtic Fest in July, and Shocktoberfest, a halloween scare attraction September through October.

Socialist Park Sinking Spring
Picture Courtesy of the Passing Scene

Birch Wilson at the Dance Hall at Socialist Park…aka Keller’s Park and Willow Glen Park…West end of Sinking Spring…South Side of Route 422 West and Park Avenue…on the border of Sinking Spring Borough and Spring Township:
The Depression that followed J. Henry Stump’s first term as Reading’s mayor, beginning in 1928, gave the party the boost that it was enjoying as it acquired the park in 1929; the momentum kept the movement going into the 1930s. Except for Stump, the last of the Socialists went out of local office in 1940, numerically lost the privilege of automatic inclusion on Berks County ballots in 1952, regained it and then lost it again in the mid-1950s. Now, Wilson guesses, the local party membership is again back down to around 50.
– Photo taken in 1963 by Walter A. Romanski, couresty of Ronald B. Romanski.

Born and raised in Berks, I am fascinated by the style, design & culture of the mid-late 20th century. I started this website to research and build a collection of the places, things and stories I have heard about my entire life. Read more here.

14 Replies to “Socialist Park in Sinking Spring”

  1. As a kid I played in the creek and ran around the park and their surrounding Woods… I also skated there almost every weekend for 20-plus years of my life! I called the skating rink my home away from home. More great childhood and teenage memories than from all other childhood Hangouts combined!… I would do anything to strap on the quads and put in a three-hour session again!

  2. We used to go there every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Anybody remember the all.nighters. Hd alot of fun there. I remember Ozzy and Kenny.

  3. In the fifties when doc yoder ran the rink we had a circus, 17 of us wearing our skates piled into the crosley station. I was on the race team and danced with two different girls in competition from pa to Michigan.

  4. Wonderful memories! I was speed skater back in the day. Saw Tommy James and the Shondels there. RIP Jimmy Pennypacker.

  5. This place was the best part of my childhood, every Friday Saturday and Sunday. Sitting here reading I see r.i.p.jimmy pennypacker.and I think wow I knew him. And wounded what happened. I left pa. A long time ago but wounded what happened to everyone I speed skated with. My name was Wanda emerich.back then. I wish my kids and grandkids kids had a place like this to enjoy but from what I can tell no body roller skates anymore. I miss it.

    1. Hi, I posted earlier on FB if anyone has a pic or remembered a chimpanzee skating there. Please post. Thank you Susan Shaffer.

  6. Susan, I don’t know if she ever skated at this park, but Reading did have a skating chimp by 1949 (the earliest mention of her that I found from a quick search). It’s entirely possible that she did skate there – I just haven’t found anything specifically mentioning it.

    Here are some clippings I found mentioning her. I don’t know where the card in the middle is from, but the two ads on the right are Billboard (Jan 1949 and Feb 1950 respectively), as is the obituary for Walter Dehoman (Feb 1960). The small article about Bingo’s death was from the Daily News in New York (Sep 1955).

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