Skip to product information
1 of 9

Vintage Bookworms

1920 Antique ledger book Albert L Happel Franklin County Pennsylvania vintage handwritten store accounts farm market collectible Washington

1920 Antique ledger book Albert L Happel Franklin County Pennsylvania vintage handwritten store accounts farm market collectible Washington

Regular price $188.09 USD
Regular price Sale price $188.09 USD
Sale Sold out
Tax included. Shipping calculated at checkout.

By 1913 the resort community of Blue Ridge Summit, Pen Mar, Buena Vista, Monterey, Highfield and Germantown (now Cascade) had over one hundred boarding houses and private summer cottages plus seven hotels. The names are legendary on the mountain and in the valley, and a pleasant wave of nostalgia sweeps over people who recall the good old days: Dunbrack Inn, Claremont, Blue Mountain House (which was destroyed by fire that year), Buena Vista Hotel, Monterey Inn, the Imperial, Crout’s, Mount Vernon, are just a random sampling of the places popular then which bring back memories of courtships, summer vacations away from the hot city, and an era sadly gone forever.
This was when a round—trip ticket from Baltimore by excursion train cost $1., when special moonlight excursions enticed young romantics to the Summit, when a trolley took local people up the
mountain, and when one hotel was famed for superb cuisine for the price of a dollar, and another was noted for its fifty cent chicken dinner. The pleasures of an amusement park, magnificent scenic
vistas, dancing in an open pavilion — all these depended upon the little thought of source of food.
From 1906 until the early 1920’s a major source of produce was right there on the plateau of the mountain, for the flat wasteland field on either side of the Sunshine Trail from Old Route 16 toTracey’s Corners was once a vast and fertile, well—irrigated vegetable farm. In 1937, the new Route 16 bisected Happel’s Meadow where bleached celery was a major crop, where sugar beets, carrots, cabbage, beans, tomatoes, spinach and cauliflower were grown. Sweet corn was a big crop; it wasn’t unusual to have an order for 500-dozen ears of corn for one weekend.

Two brothers of a family of eight boys formed a partnership in which John G. Happel managed the farming and Albert L. Happel ran the market. Before long they had a thriving business. Bear Swamp — a lake bed dating back to volcanic origin according to geologists — was cleared; brush was burned, and much like a peat bog, would continue burning through the heaviest rainfall. A drainage system, using seven carloads of terra cotta pipe laid every 300 feet, was installed throughout. The existing stream meandered through the meadow and a man-made pond was build near the present ball park. Each winter, when the ice was as much as eight inches thick, the Happel brothers harvested their own ice for use in the two refrigerator houses behind John’s farmhouse. In the same general location, West of Monterey Lane above Tracey’s Corners and North of the railroad tracks, were a 100 foot warehouse and a stable for about eight horses. There was also a slaughter house, where some weekends they had orders for 1,000 chickens to be dressed and delivered to the hotels.

The late Charles Happel of Chambersburg, son of John, recalled vividly his active, hard-working younger days when he helped his father farm the eighty acres, and worked in the slaughter house. His recollections, recounted with a quiet, guileless humor in one anecdote after another, provided a wealth of detail worth sharing.

“Thursdays were the big slaughtering day. Then we’d deliver the chickens to the hotels on Fridays for the weekend. One day we asked Uncle A.L. for a raise. We probably had the first strike in the Country! We were getting 3¢ a chicken for killing, cleaning and picking. We wanted 5¢. Well, one day a couple of the boys and I didn’t go to work; we went to Lake Royer to go swimming. Uncle A.L. found us and said, ‘Boys, you know this is our busiest day. Let’s get on back and get to work.’ ‘No, Sir, not for 3¢ a chicken.’ Not unless you pay us 5¢ a chicken.’ ‘Now boys, you know I can’t afford to pay that kind of price. Come on back and get to work.’ Well, we got our 5¢ a chicken, but we didn’t go back till we did.” Then it seems the boys were so behind in their order that they worked clear through till the wee hours of the morning getting ready for the early Friday deliveries.

The celery crop was probably the most laborious task of all the gardening. Seed was sown early in the spring. The first of July plants were re—set in beds which were eight rows wide, 1,000 feet long, leaving about ten square inches for each plant. There was fairly good moisture because the water level was high in the meadow. In late September or early October boards framed each plant. Dirt was shoveled around the plants within the “box” for weeks, bleaching the celery in the process.

Edgar McClain of Greencastle, who later married Albert’s daughter Ethel, worked in the store several summers while he was in high school, making truck deliveries around the Summit. He remembers wagons with deep beds full of leaves collected to pack around the celery for further insulation against cool weather. Mrs. Eleanor Fitz DeWees of Blue Ridge Summit as a child used to bag leaves for Mr. John at a penny a bag for this purpose. Charles Happel said, “There were no weeds for quite a while. We didn’t spray vegetables then. The only enemy to celery was grasshoppers. Then we learned that guineas would east grasshoppers, so we bought 50 young guineas. They didn’t scratch; they’d only pick grasshoppers and wouldn’t hurt the celery. Of course we had to feed them, because too many grasshoppers weren’t good for them.”

Mr. Happel told of the Western Maryland Railway which owned so much land on the mountain, of the Monterey Realty Company which arranged for summer accommodations for so many, and of the variety of summer people who came back year after year for the refreshing mountain air and relaxed vacation atmosphere. During World War I there seemed to be even more visitors, as the feeling was that it was safer here than in the Washington area. There were prominent government officials, wealthy visitors from other countries, professional people, and, of course, the regular summer residents whose cottages would open up in late May and close in September.

The farm prospered until 1921 when John and his family left to resettle outside of Chambersburg; he sold his share of the business to his brother. John died in 1946. When John went to the valley, Albert put the land into Timothy Hay which he sold to a wholesale feed business in Washington where the zoo was a regular customer. Albert ran the store until about 1936, seven days a week for the five month summer season. He journeyed to Baltimore twice a week to buy much of his vegetable produce and cantaloupes and fruits, which were delivered on the Blue Mountain Express along with hindquarters of beef and racks of lamb which were “Frenched” into chops for the hotel trade. He lived until 1962, a vigorous 91 year old man.

The resort era survived the decline of the horse and buggy and the advent of the independent owner of the automobile when excursion trains weren’t practical to the railroads any more. The resort continued to attract summer visitors up until the late 1930’s. Little evidence remains, however, of this time – excepting a few fine old big homes which have been winterized and are year—round residences; many of these have been converted into apartments. One after another i)f the hotels burned to leave little trace of former splendor. Happel’s Meadow is no longer a productive, fertile farmland where young boys would look for wild horseradish or elderberries, where rabbits and small game and deer were plentiful in the far end of the meadow near the golf course where for several decades two enterprising brothers provided food for thousands of summer people.

The resort is no more. An era has ended. The memory lingers on.

CONDITION: Poor. Pages are foxed and brittle. We strive to provide excellent service!



Care information

View full details

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review