Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Montoursville 2018: Hurr's

Advertisement for the Hurr's Dairy Store in Lock Haven from the August 1, 1964, edition of The (Lock Haven) Express.

When my family lived on Montoursville's Spruce Street in the mid 1970s, we were just a short walk away from our own neighborhood ice-cream shop, the Hurr's Dairy Store on Arch Street. Specifically, I have memories of getting milkshakes and Tastykakes, walking home and enjoying our treats while sitting on the front stoop.

Coincidentally, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette — Williamsport being a few miles west of Montoursville — published an article this past June by Wendy Chestnut titled "Fond memories of neighborhood ice cream shops." The article begins: "The wonderful idea of using cream to make ice cream in the late 1920s and ’30s didn’t go unnoticed locally. Some businessmen, such as John Hurr, rose to the top, just like the cream from which he spun his sweet confection."

The article goes on to say that Hurr's Dairy began in 1921, had its base of operations in South Williamsport, had its name on a dozen stores in the area (including in Montoursville) and spread its footprint across 11 counties. It concludes with this quote, about Hurr's, from George Holmes of Montoursville:
"It was a hang-out after school before we were of driving age. It was the 1950s so there was not a lot of spare money. We could get a one- or two-dip ice cream cone for 10 cents or a milkshake for 25 cents. The basic flavors were vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, teaberry or butter pecan."
While there was more than one Hurr's location in Montoursville, Holmes might be referring to the same Arch Street location that my family walked to in the 1970s. That Arch Street site was also just a stone's throw from Montoursville High School and was likely inundated with hungry students at the end of the school day.

I could not, however, find much else online specifically about the Arch Street Hurr's. So I turned to the "You know you're from Montoursville PA if..." Facebook group for help. Here are some of the great responses I received to my July 21 query:

  • Doug Boyles confirms that it was Hurr's ice cream on the corner of 4th Street and North Arch Street, on the east side of Arch. This jibes 100 percent with my memory.
  • Crystal Miller said: "It was owned by my husband's family, along with more than a dozen other locations, started by my husband's great grandfather and John Hurr."
  • Lou Ann Tom said: "That was Hurr's Dairy Store. My Dad Bill Miller owned the whole business and there were about 30 stores total in the area. He has the whole story about it written but doesn’t know who to give it to to print/publish it."
  • Denny Derr said: "328 Arch Street. It was first run as Murray's (my grandmother), then by my dad (Derr's — following WWII). When my dad moved our store to the Golden Strip, Hurr's occupied the Arch Street store. Gary Williams bought the property when my grandmother sold it mid to late 60's. Since then it’s been only a residence."
  • Eileen Vernarec Craig said: "Monday nights in summer was Dime Night — ice cream cones for a dime."
  • Vicki S. Miller said: "Anyone remember 'dime night' at the Hurr's store? People would line up down Arch Street to get an ice cream cone for a dime. I remember working there one of those nights when someone came in and ordered 20 cones and wanted them wrapped in wax paper and placed in a paper bag. Crazy night!"
  • Linda Taylor Fitzgerald said: "Hurr's had the best peanut butter fudge sundaes. I've spent my life trying to duplicate that recipe."

The Facebook thread raised many memories of Hurr's and other Montoursville family stores — including Eder's and a penny-candy shop. And there were so many mentions of peanut butter fudge. Someone should put together a book with photos and recollections, perhaps one of those Images of America volumes, before it's too late!

* * *
As this mini-series heads toward the finish line — and, yes, I'm definitely starting to run out of steam now that July 13 is so far back in the rearview mirror — here's an updated look at what I envision for the final posts:

  • Our house on Willow Street
  • Other sites around the borough (TWA Flight 800 Memorial, Cellini's, the community pool, etc.)
  • Old postcards
  • Final thoughts

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