JT's Blog

Things that interest me, things that happened to me, things that I like, even some things that I don't like...

A Bike Ride to Coleman Park

I have no memory of whose idea it was or how I got involved, but it was when we still lived on the hill on West Main Street, so it was probably during the summer of 1962 or 63. Most likely it had something to do with the Boy Scouts, as I was still active in them in those days.

Anyway, Buddy Pennypacker, Jay Kegerreis, and Larry Fetter (I think it was him, though perhaps it was Jay’s brother Robert), and I planned a bicycle trip to Coleman Park in Lebanon, PA, where we would spend the night in our sleeping bags, and then return to Richland the following morning. How I got included with those older kids, I have no idea.

We took the back roads, of course, and I recall that I tended to lag behind the others because while they all had three-speed bikes (ten-speeds not having been invented yet), my bike didn’t have a gear shift at all, so I was really puffing whenever we had to climb a hill. This made me the slowest member of the group, something that Buddy (the de facto leader) kept reminding me of.

When we reached the Dairy Queen just outside Lebanon on 422, we stopped for refreshments, just as a flash thunderstorm swept through the area. We stayed dry by eating our ice cream at the rear of the building where there was a convenient roof overhang. Then an employee came out the back door and said she was worried that she had left her car windows open. She pointed out her car, and I leaped into action. I ran through the driving rain, got into her car and closed the window, which had only been open a tiny crack. In the process of opening her car door, I probably let more rain in than would have gotten in through the tiny opening. I also got myself soaked.

The storm didn’t last very long, and soon we were on our way again.

That evening as we were eating whatever it was we had brought along for our supper in one of the park’s pavilions, we received a surprise visitor. Two, actually. Boom Karsnitz and someone else (I no longer recall whom) stopped by to bring us a watermelon for dessert.

Boom Karsnitz (the vowel sound of his nickname was pronounced like the short oo sound in good) was one of those characters in Richland who seemed to be everywhere, although this is my clearest memory of him. I think his actual first name was Harvey [but see the update at the end of this post]. He was 40-ish with a round face and a bit of a beer belly. How he got his nickname was something I never knew, but it did seem to fit him. I’ve never actually seen his nickname written or printed out, so I don’t know if that’s how he spelled it, but that’s my best guess. It might also be “Bum”, but that just doesn’t look right. But I digress—

Now if truth be told, I was never fond of watermelons. They were always a chore to eat with all those seeds, and the ones I had tasted up to that point had never seemed worth the effort. They had very little flavor and weren’t sweet enough to compensate for their gustatory blandness. But the watermelon that Boom Karsnitz brought us that evening—that was something else. It was flavorful and sweet. It was the absolute best watermelon I had ever tasted and definitely worth a little effort to eat.

When I said as much, Boom replied with a laconic, “I’ve had better.”

I can’t imagine where. That watermelon still remains as the best I’ve ever had.

I don’t recall much more about our Coleman Park adventure, and nothing at all about our return trip the following morning. Since we obviously did make it back, it was presumably uneventful.

Lee Boom Karsnitz

Update One Hour Later: A little searching on the web, which I don’t know why I didn’t do before writing this post, and I find that a) Boom’s nickname was indeed spelled “Boom”, b) his first name apparently was Lee, and c) he would have been in his mid-30’s when he delivered that watermelon.

He died at the age of 87 in 2015 and his obituary is still on the web. He was living in Manheim, PA, at the time of his death.

Miss Esther Mae Zug of Lebanon, PA

When her brother John L. Zug died, it was page one news in the Lebanon Daily News, May 14, 1965

The sixth and youngest child of Ephraim Zug (1867 - 1934) and the former Barbara Longenecker (1877 - 1949), Miss Esther Mae Zug was born on December 20, 1915, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, nearly a year and a half before the United States entered the Great War.

Census records show she was raised in North Lebanon, and sometime in the 1940s she went to work as a teacher at Fredericksburg High School for several years before transferring to Myerstown High School, where a February 2, 1950 article in the Lebanon Daily News reports “Miss Esther Zug then led the first teen talk discussion entitled, ‘Do I Count?’” at a Tri-Hi-Y meeting.

In June, 1950, her former colleagues at Fredericksburg held a shower for her, as she was about to marry a man originally from the Island of Cyprus who was several years her senior. It was to be her first marriage, his second.

She quit her teaching job to devote herself full time to her marriage, and in September, 1951, her first son was born. The following year she gave birth to twin sons.

Then in July of 1958 tragedy struck. Her husband, Christopher Papson, co-owner of the Fireside Restaurant, was stricken by a heart attack and died in the Lebanon Sanatorium. His death made the front page of the Lebanon Daily News.

A brief word about Christopher, or Chris as he was apparently known. From what I can discover, his parents were Michael and Sunday Papson, British citizens living on the Island of Cyprus. Chris came to this country in 1926 at the age of 22, and by 1933 he was working at the Hershey Estates, and for several years he was part of Milton S. Hershey’s personal staff.

Chris’s first marriage was to Margaret C. Heim on September 14, 1940, and from the marriage application we learn that his father was the Postmaster on the Island of Cyprus. I can’t find any record of what happened to that first marriage, but there don’t seem to have been any offspring. In 1942 Chris joined the U.S. Air Force. In 1946 he and his brother George established the Fireside Restaurant along 422 east of Lebanon.

Her husband’s death was reported on page one of the Lebanon Daily News on July 12, 1958

In September of the following year Mrs. Esther (Zug) Papson rejoined the faculty at Myerstown. Incidentally, that was Mr. Ronald Graybill’s first year at Myerstown. And of course, a few years after that, the Eastern Lebanon County (Elco) High School was built.

In May of 1965 tragedy struck once again, as Esther’s brother John L. Zug, owner of the the self-named feed mill in Richland, succumbed after a long illness to chronic pancreatitis. On a personal note, I had been a frequent visitor to Zug’s Feed Mill when I was young, as that’s where my grandfather did a lot of his business, bringing in the grain he had harvested and buying the seeds for the following year. Also, my father had gone to work for John Zug for a couple years after we moved from the farm.

Of course, Mrs. Papson needs no introduction to Elco’s Class of ’67. She was our Public Speaking teacher during our Junior year and our English teacher during our Senior year. I have many memories of Mrs. Papson, but there’s one in particular that try as I might, I cannot erase from my memory banks. It was in April, 1966, when she took 16 hand-picked members from her Public Speaking classes to form a speech choir to give a performance at a Woman’s Club in Myerstown…

On June 8, 1950 the Lebanon Daily News had an article about her wedding