Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on Dec 28th
25 Years Ago
December 28, 1996 – Saturday
‘Once a social center, milk bottler has been pushed to the fringe’
“Pleasant View Dairy to close”
Chambersburg – Gloria, a 2-month-old Holstein calf, slips her black head sideways through an opening in the cow shed’s wooden gate. A truck rolls up the quarter-mile drive to Pleasant View Farm Dairy in St. Thomas. The customers still come, but not in the numbers they used to.
Over the 45 years Mervin Peckman owned and operated the dairy, fewer housewives came as women entered the work force. Regular customers turned to the convenience of supermarkets. Fewer children came to buy ice cream and fewer neighbors stopped to chat on Peckman’s store porch after filling their gallon bottles with fresh milk.
Today, the air is brisk and Gloria tilts back her ears and stares at the row of empty stalls in front of her.
At 71, Peckman is closing to the public. He’s downsizing, retiring because of tighter finances and a need to slow down.
It doesn’t matter why. What matters is Jean and Joe Tamer will have no longer have a place to fill their milk bottles.
The milk you buy in the store isn’t the same thing,” said Jean, St. Thomas. “This is better quality milk, I think. It tastes better.”
The couple first bought milk at Pleasant View in 1952 when the dairy opened. They were the 13th customers. The bottle they kept and refilled over the years bore the number 13 so workers wouldn’t mix it up with the bottles of other customers.
Peckman says Pleasant View Farm Dairy was the first jugging business in Pennsylvania. Now, it’s the last in Franklin County. Only 38 others – about 300 fewer than 30 years ago remain in the state.
“When we started here there was no place between Chambersburg and Fort Loudon that you could buy anything,” said Mervin’s wife, Lois Peckman.
Now convenience stores dot the landscape.
Most milk operations at Pleasant View Farm Dairy will stop Monday, and the store will close Jan. 4.
The change is hard for Mervin Peckman.
With his robust belly and pleasant demeanor, he could easily pass as Santa Claus if he grew a beard. But this Christmas was not a merry one for a man who had watched a 1,250-cow dairy farm at its peak in 1990 dwindle to about 100 cows this year.
Profit margins have narrowed, and it is time to slow down, Peckman said. “It was a choice” to close. “I’ll admit, emotionally, it’s taking a toll.”
Peckman will continue to employ two longtime workers for a smaller dairy production business.
Gloria will likely stay at Pleasant View as a milking cow. Peckman will sell milk to bottling companies, instead of directly to customers. His was the only dairy farm out of 545 in Franklin County that still jugged its own milk.
His family lived well off the business, and they made lots of friends.
“It was kind of a social center really,” Peckman said. ” It was the quickest way to catch up with the latest news.”
A combination of more state regulations, smaller profits, and the competition of large mass-producing dairy farms is smothering small dairy businesses. Higher prices for feed are forcing them to reduce their herds.
“We’re losing about 1,000 dairy farms a year the last five years,” said Joel Rotz, of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and a former Guilford Township dairyman. “There’s definitely a lot of consolidating going on. Smaller operations are either getting larger or getting out.”
In 1952, Peckman got 80 cents for a gallon of his milk. Today he gets $2.20 a gallon.
“That’s all it increased,” said Peckman, leaning back in his chair. “In 1949, I bought a Chevy Deluxe for $1,600. Now for the same car today, I would pay $20,000. You can see how far behind the dairy business is in inflation.”
The price for bull calves sold for veal barely covers the cost of impregnating a cow. a necessary expense because cows cannot produce milk until after giving birth.
While the number of dairy farms in Pennsylvania is decreasing, milk production is only going down by 2%. Large businesses are taking over, and better nutrition enables fewer cows to produce more milk.
In the Pleasant View store, Lois Peckman greets customers with a smile, as she always did, offering them grapenut ice cream, directing them to the eggnog in the refrigerated case. She tries to forget the sign hanging on the door, a notice of a longtime business closing.
Mervin sits at a kitchen table inside their ranch home across the drive. Lined up before him are a row of milk bottles, pints, 1 quarts and gallons, dating from 1952 to this year.
Some are made of glass; newer ones are plastic. ‘The valley’s been good to us,” Mervin Peckman said. “… I guess we’re just going to have to recognize the times we live in.”
50 Years Ago
December 28, 1971 – Monday
“Waynesboro Day Care Center Seeks Furnishings, Toys”
Waynesboro – Donations of used toys and equipment are sought for the new Waynesboro Area Day Care Center, which has a tentative opening goal of early February.
Mrs. Harvey Bridgers, center director, has listed as items needed: bookcases, small bureaus, kitchen utensils, full length mirrors, record players, records, tricycles, books, park bench and old car tires for playground swings. The center will pick up any such items. Donors may call the day care center, J 762-9711, or Mrs. Bridgers, 794-2701.
The building, the former Wayne Heights Elementary School, on Route 16, is undergoing minor repairs before
inspection by the state for issuance of a license to operate as a day care center.
The school was purchased for $43,000 with money from an anonymous benefactor at an auction earlier this month. The day care group raised $18,000 for its operation, to satisfy requirements of the donor.
Children from three to six whose parents have to be away or at work including short-time family emergencies as illness or death may attend.
Parents will be charged according to family ability to pay, with maximum charge $15 per week. The school plans an initial enrollment of 50 children, with about six already enrolled. Eventually 100 children can be provided for at the center.
100 Years Ago
December 28, 1921 – Wednesday
“Prizes In the New Year for First Babies in Town Wards”
Chambersburg – To the first baby born in 1922 in each ward of Chambersburg there will be given two prizes and the first baby born in town will not only receive his or her ward prizes but he or she will also be given $5 in gold.
The prizes are the articles now on display In the Public Opinion window, and which were described in detail yesterday. The list of merchants, who offer these prizes, and the prizes as to wards, is printed on this page.
The attending physicians report will determine what babies are to get the prizes for their first arrival” in 1922, in each ward. The doctors are requested to send a memorandum to Public Opinion as soon as possible after the birth. They are asked to give the name and address of the parents and the exact time of the birth. Of course, after the first baby has arrived in any particular ward, that ward Is eliminated. If the baby is given a name immediately after the stork arrives, the physician, is asked to send the name with the other data. The prizes will be sent to the parents as soon as the doctor’s memo comes to Public Opinion and establishes the ward winner.
The arrival of a baby is always an interesting event – to a family -and it is an important event to a town. The prizes for the first “1922” babies will tend to make their arrivals interesting events for the whole town, as there will naturally be interest in seeing who wins the various prizes.