This Was Doylestown, 1961

A woman and her children escape injury when her car goes out of control, firemen launch a campaign to raise $150,000 for a proposed training school, and Doylestown gets its first lady Santa Claus, 51 years ago this week.

Mother, three children unhurt after wild ride -

A rampant auto led a Doylestown mother and her three children on a perilous, five-mile journey Friday.

The journey ended almost as suddenly as it began when the unchecked car, driven by Mrs. Mary Margaret Grater, 34, of Doylestown RD1, sliced off an abutment and skittered onto the Burpee land along South Main Street in Doylestown.

Trouble began in Danboro, about three miles north of Doylestown, when Mrs. Grater put her foot on the vehicle's gas pedal and it jammed. The vehicle built up an enormous rate of speed as it came south on Route 611. Police estimated she was traveling about 70 mph.

The frightened woman pulled on the emergency brake, then pushed her feet on the brake pedal. The car slowed down to about 50 mph when it passed Monument Square in Doylestown. Police Sergeant Kenneth Tutt, on duty at the monument, saw the speeding vehicle and cried out to the woman, "Put your shift in neutral and shut off the key."

Evidently, Mrs. Grater was too frightened to pay attention. She screamed something from the window of her car, but it was not audible. Tutt chased after the auto on foot, then commandeered a car driven by Edward Happ, Doylestown Realtor, that was going south on Main Street.

"She was weaving in and out of traffic at a fantastic rate of speed and blowing her horn," Tutt said. "Traffic slowed us down--and we couldn't catch her."

The car speeded through two red lights at State and Main streets, and Oakland Avenue and Main Street. At the Oakland intersection, it veered off into the oncoming lane to pass a truck, driven by Edward K. Ritter of Emmaus, and sideswiped it. Then it struck a car, driven by Roland Gillman of Fairless Hills, coming east on West Oakland Avenue.

The runaway vehicle sliced off the abutment on South Main Street at the borough line, then skittered into a stone post on the Burpee property.

A Doylestown ambulance took Mrs. Grater and her three children, from six months to two years of age, to the Doylestown Hospital. She was treated for shock and discharged to a family doctor, a hospital spokesman said. The children were not injured.

"It was miraculous," said Tutt. "She didn't have a scratch on her. But about twenty minutes after she was taken to the hospital, she fell away in a dead faint."


Firemen to raise $150,000 for proposed training school -

Sixteen Bucks County firemen's heads and community leaders were told Monday night the need for a Bucks County Fire School "goes to the heart and home of everyone in Bucks County."

Bernard Glazer, promotional and advertising executive, presided at a dinner-meeting at the Park View Restaurant, Doylestown, where plans were discussed how to raise the $150,000 needed to build a firemen's training school in Doylestown Township.

"You have got to convince the man on the street that a firemen's training school is something Bucks County needs," Glazer said. "The need for a fire school to train firemen to better protect your property is an appeal close to the heart. In this drive, you have something that goes to the heart and home of everyone in Bucks County."

A. Marlyn Moyer, Jr., of Trevose, was chosen chairman by the group to head the drive for the building fund. He is executive vice president and secretary of the Trevose Savings and Loan Association, and has handled numerous other community drives.

The eight firemen's leaders who attended represented the Bucks County Firemen's Association, Fire Police, Fire Chiefs and Firemen's Communications, the four major countywide firemen's groups.

The date of Wednesday, Jan. 10 was set as the first meeting for every chief and president of Bucks County's 64 volunteer fire fighting units to attend to hear about plans for conducting the drive. The drive is expected to get under way in April.

Albin L. Wagenseller, of Parkland, president of the Bucks County Firemen's Association, said he has received letters from 60 percent of the county's 64 firemen's units, and that at least 5,800 firemen enthusiastically endorse the need for the fire school.


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Lady Santa Claus delights children -

Who was that bearded lady? That was no bearded lady--that was Santa Claus.

Actually, who cares who's behind the enormous shock of white hair and fire engine red garb in the Fountain House bus terminal on North Main Street? It's Christmas time and anything goes.

So while Santa's toiling in his North Pole retreat, Mrs. Lillie Lehn, 37, of North Main Street, is watching the store. She's having a ball.

"I've got hundreds of candy canes in here," she puffed proudly through rouge-reddened cheeks, "and there's more where those came from. If anyone has any children, send 'em to me. I'm ready."

She is. She looks more like Santa Claus than Santa Claus. And her blue eyes are probably prettier.

The bus terminal office has been cleared to make room for "Santa's House." A six-foot pine tree is parked in the corner of the small room. Underneath are boxes of candy canes. Wreaths line the walls, and Santa Claus is perched in an old wooden chair, ready for all comers.

"I was so anxious to get started with this job, I wanted to begin last week," Mrs. Lehn noted. "I love kids so much."

She had her first customers Monday. A family of three youngsters asked her for a truck, a doll and a bicycle. "I sent them away with candy canes, but wanted to give them more," she said.

The Santa role for a woman is probably a precedent in the borough. But it's not anything new to Mrs. Lehn.

"I come from a big Virginia family," she grinned, "and I used to play Santa for 27 nieces and nephews. I used to pull on my Santa gear and play the role in my younger days. It was then, and still is fun now."


Carol sing to take place at James-Lorah House -

Those who love to go carolling indoors will find just the right place and the right time at the annual Christmas carol sing at the James-Lorah House on North Main Street.

Whole families are urged to come and "sing out," listen to special music and take a tour of the delightful Victorian home, meeting place of the Village Improvement Association and Doylestown Junior Woman's Club. There will be refreshments served, too, and the house will have its full holiday decor.

The date is Sunday, Dec. 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. From the Bucks County Choir there will be a sextet composed of Mrs. Joseph Sieger, Mrs. Jaromir Marik, Mrs. Georgianna Shaw, Mrs. Frank Dyer, Charles Humphries and Franklin Howes, Jr.

A unique feature this year will be a trio of ladies playing recorders, woodwind instruments known as fipple flutes but played like a clarinet. These are older than many present day instruments. Mrs. Robert King, Mrs. Kenyon Clarke and Mrs. Marjorie Toomer, who rehearse regularly together, have made a name for themselves with public performances, and will present Christmas numbers.

Pianist will be Mrs. Hilding V. Beck, organist and choir director at Doylestown Methodist Church. She has asked George C. Smith, bass soloist at the church, to lead the singing.

Girls from the Cecelian Choir will come in during the first hour to sing Christmas numbers, which they are singing at the church program. They will then leave to go carolling in the neighborhood.


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Woman leaves $125,000 estate -

The will of Miss Elizabeth S. Overpeck, of Doylestown, has been filed for probate with Bucks County Register of Wills William J. Veitch, Jr. Her estate is estimated for probate purposes at $100,000 personal property plus her home on Shewell Avenue, valued at $25,000.

Miss Overpeck, a resident of Doylestown since 1910, died Monday morning in Doylestown Hospital. A retired law office secretary, she was 67. She recently presented the county with an expensive set of carillons, now installed atop the County Administration Building.

Principal beneficiary of her will is Mrs. L. Gertrude Hartzell Thomas, of Elkins Park, a cousin, who was bequeathed the Overpeck home for life, $25,000, a Cadillac convertible automobile, 17 pieces of expensive jewelry and some furs.

The will also leaves $5,000 to St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Doylestown; and $5,000 to St. Peter's Episcopal Lutheran Church, Hilltown. Miss Overpeck, a member of St. Peter's, donated a set of carillons to the church in 1959.

The Rev. Leroy Bond, pastor of St. Peter's, was bequeathed $5,000. Her attorney, J. Franklin Hartzel of Doylestown, was bequeathed $1,000. Mr. Hartzel is the executor of the will.

Dr. William I. Westcott, of Doylestown, was bequeathed an Oldsmobile station wagon. Miss Overpeck's brokers, Charles F. Case and Kenneth L. Eckhart, will receive $1,000 each.

The residue of the estate, including other jewelry and furs, plus personal belongings, will be shared by relatives.


Pre-schoolers visit family of goats -

Twelve pre-school youngsters at the Main Street School in Doylestown glimpsed animal study first hand when they recently visited a goat family.

Brenda, the mother goat, and her twin kids, Seth and Beth, amused the small fry by playfully jumping about in their pen at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hendrix M. Kister on Golf View Road.

Having gotten into a holiday spirit by marching to the Kister residence holding onto a guide rope while shouting "Jingle Bells," the nursery and kindergarten children thought this perfect behavior for a hostess, especially a goat.

Brenda's owner, Mrs. Kister, invited the children to visit the two-week-old twin kids and their mother. Kids being kids, they all got along beautifully, the two youngest smelling and sniffing their guests from the Main Street School, who in turn patted the soft noses and wiry hair.

Leading the guide rope of nursery and kindergarten children was Mrs. James McElhinney, school director; and Mrs. Robert Skord, their teacher. Brad Connard, Randy Cornell, Laurie Kirn, Amy Marquat, Susan Keller, Craig Keith, Bruce Keith, Davy Mock, Michele Porter, Peter Rockafellow, Davy Walsh and David Wilkerson were also accompanied by parents Mrs. Richard Keith and Mrs. Merrill Fellman.

After a brisk walk back to the school, they began making decorations for the school Christmas tree, happy they were the kind of kids who could dream of Santa Claus.


From The Daily Intelligencer, Week of Dec. 10-16, 1961

Jeff Lugar December 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Can hardly imagine there was a time when groceries didn't open until 10:30 on Sundays.
Molly Hower December 11, 2012 at 01:36 PM
thanks for the memory about the ride I took through town


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