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Hands-on history Park antique show is always a local attraction
LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent
, Staff Writer
From cigar boxes and labels to clocks and milk bottles, Jerry Striker of Lititz has been collecting antiques for more than 30 years.
"I collect whatever interests me," says Striker, who was one of 71 dealers at the Lititz Springs Park Antique Show on Saturday.
Striker’s collection included vintage cigar boxes, cigar box labels, antique clocks, stamps, Indian artifacts such as arrowheads, golf clubs with wooden shafts, old tools, postcards, milk bottles, children’s books and much more. He even had the base of an old-fashioned Bissell rug sweeper. No one was quite sure what to do with that.
"I just pick things up that I think people will be interested in," he explained.
One of the things Striker has focused on in his collecting is ephemera – papers, letters, printed material, advertisements, newspaper clippings, personal letters, autographed books, commemorative magazines or special editions marking a noteworthy event.
Striker is retired from Donnelley Printing, so printed items have special significance. He has several copies of the now-gone Manheim Sentinel newspaper, including several issues from the 1860s during the Civil War. The papers are filled with information about rolling bandages for hospitals, battles and lost soldiers who died or were missing.
"You see what life was like then," he said.
Tying into his interest in ephemera, Striker had hundreds of cigar box labels, as well as the boxes. He explained that the colorful labels attracted men to buying the cigars. Like billboards, they lined the shelves of the cigar shop, and drew customers.
Since customers were men, the artwork – and it was indeed artwork – often featured beautiful women, including exotic Caribbean women and mermaids, elegant Victorian ladies and voluptuous beauties. The colors of the labels were bold, intended to attract buyers.
Striker has had as many as 10,000 labels in his collection, and 3,000 cigar boxes, along with other cigar-related items.
The collection attracted Aaron Fry of Lititz. He was interested in receipts from his great-grandfather Clayton Fry’s cigar business. Frys Favorite 5ct Cigars were a popular Lititz product 90 years ago. The receipts in the park on Saturday included handwritten details on a sale to Harry Darrenkamp of Mount Joy. On one receipt from Oct. 8, 1920, one thousand cigars sold for $25.
Clayton Fry made cigars as his shop near Millport Conservancy, off Heck Road, said his great-grandson, who is also related to the Frys of Fry’s Pontiac. His great-great grandfather Jacob Fry was also a cigar maker in Lititz, across from what is now the Gate House.
A fifth grade social studies teacher at Manheim Central, Fry has long been intrigued by local history, especially items from his Fry family legacy.
"I was very happy to find the receipts, because I had already purchased others and wanted these for Christmas," he said.
Another item of interest to Lititz collectors was a Spruce Villa Dairy milk bottle, from the Lititz dairy owned by J. Clayton Brubaker. Spruce Villa was one of many dairies in Lititz, Warwick and Elizabeth townships. One of the earliest was Eli L. Garber, who in 1895 began operating a creamery and egg business at the current Susquehanna Bank headquarters on Water Street.
Other dairies included Graybill’s Dairy in Halfville, Sen. H.J. Pierson’s Log Cabin Farms on Owl Hill Road, Roy S. Buch’s Park View Dairy on West Orange Street, Aaron Habecker’s East End Dairy at 368 E. Main St., Jacob H. Grossman’s West End Dairy at 204 S. Spruce St., John C. Mellinger’s South End Dairy at Kissel Hill, and Lititz Springs Dairy.
"I’m always on the lookout for any Lititz items, like the milk bottles from Lititz dairies," said Striker, who used to own a shop at Chelsea Square with his wife Barbara, and now has a stand at General Heath’s antiques in Adamstown.
A few recent finds were musical instruments Striker picked up at an auction. He admitted that he didn’t known much about the two horns. He was hoping to learn more later, possibly from a buyer.
Or maybe from the Cat’s Pajamas, Lititz’s own Dixieland band. With Kissel Hill Elementary School music teacher and Lititz Borough Council member Todd Fulginiti on trumpet, the Cat’s Pajamas made the park sound a lot like Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
They played a variety of old-time hits such as "When the Saints Go Marching In," "Bill Bailey," "Basin Street Blues" and "Down by the Riverside." Fulginiti explained that the group varies with performers, who love jamming together at events like the Lititz Antiques Show. The other Cat’s Pajamas crew included Dave Pedrick of Mountville on banjo, Mike Vitale of Millersville on bass and Chris Heslop of Wyomissing on clarinet and washboard.
"We are very happy with the weather and the turnout," said event organizer Dale Dietrich of the Lititz Springs Park Board, which sponsored the 47th annual show. "And the music just adds to it."
More ANTIQUES, page A14