Roger E. Shaffer
discourse applies to the one who was most commonly referred
to as "Shaffe" by peers.
identification, it was simply "W.J.S.," but to me
it was "Dad."
was not afforded the pleasure of knowing his father. Dad was born
March 30, 1883, and his father, Josiah, died April 28, 1883. He
and his mother, Mantilla, then went to live with her parents. Grandfather
Henry provided the male relationship as the young Shaffer grew from
babyhood to an adult.
There are a
couple of items from his younger days that I can recall hearing,
one of which involved food. He and his mother were visiting friends
and had dinner with them. One of the foods served was turnips. This
happened to be something for which this particular young fellow
had a thorough dislike. The host, thinking she was going to be considerate
of the boy, served him some turnips, not knowing his reaction to
this vegetable. Not wanting to be unkind to his host, he ate the
unsavory turnips with gusto, in order to get rid of them as quickly
as possible. This was noticed by the host, and she gave him some
additional turnips with the comment, something like this, "Just
look how this boy likes turnips! "
All that I
know more of this incident was that some of the additional turnips
were eaten (not with any pleasure) and a few were left on the plate
with words something like, "I'm full!"
involved a Halloween Party at school. Not having a mask to wear,
he figured that the wick of a torch used by a railroad engine crew
would provide good blackening material to apply to his face. It
was completely satisfactory to afford its purpose. Party a success!
it was, of course, necessary to remove the blackening material from
his face before going to bed. The grandfather Henry household, of
course, had no running water in the house, but the water for household
purposes was supplied from a fresh water spring not far from the
house. So a trip was made to the spring to secure water for cleansing
his blackened face. Returning to the house, and using a towel for
drying, he went off to bed. I'm not sure if it was due to the lack
of lighting, but he was not aware of the condition of the towel
When the adult
members of the family arose and saw the towel, they were astounded
by its appearance. The kerosene, which produced the blackened soot,
did not mix very well with the cool spring water; so, the resultant
greasy substance was absorbed by the towel in question! What embarrassment,
attendance, it was necessary for him to walk a distance of 1 3/4
miles to Shaffer's School, which was adjacent to Shaffer's Church.
(One of his classmates at school later became the father in law
of his son, Roger.)
After his school
days, he worked in the Hanover Junction Cigar Shop, owned and operated
by H. I. Glatfelter. His mother was also employed there. Later he
secured a position with the Northern Central Railway as a clerk
at the Hanover Junction Station. His first day of employment with
the railroad was September 30, 1907.
came courting days. His selection was a girl from Glen Rock by the
name of Mary Roser. The local paper, Glen Rock Item, one day carried
the item titled, "Telephone Girl Marries Railroad Man."
The bride secured the name due to the fact that her dad, Daniel
Roser, housed the local telephone exchange in his home, and Mary
became the telephone operator.
One thing I
never found out, and never had the idea to inquire, was why Dad
always called or made reference to his wife as "Sis."
I'm sure, however, that it must have had a particular significance
to something in their association or their marriage.
He served as railroad station clerk for the Northern Central Railway,
and then with the Pennsylvania Railroad after it acquired the Northern
Central, under the supervision of agent George Mathias. When Mr.
Mathias was later transferred from Hanover Junction to Mt. Washington,
Maryland, as station agent there, Dad was promoted from clerk to
Station Agent at Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania.
This promotion then enabled him and his family to secure residence
in the "Station House," as it was commonly referred to
locally. The building provided for railroad activity for the Pennsylvania
R. R. and the Western Maryland, owners of the building. Dad served
as agent for both the Pennsylvania and Western Maryland at Hanover
Dad at the Station House
Dad's responsibilities as station agent involved passenger ticket
sales, express shipments, freight activities (carload or less than
carload), and general cleanliness of the railroad facilities in
and around the building as well as the waiting room. He also had
to make sure the railroad platform kerosene lamps were lit each
night, and he had to announce, in the waiting room, the arrival
of passenger trains. His working uniform was identical to passenger
railroad employees - a white shirt, black tie, black shoes, blue
serge uniform, and cap.
black shoes, here is one place that I can take part. One of Dad's
traits was to always have well polished and clean shoes. The only
shoes I ever had as a youngster were black, and black seemed to
display dust very well. As for dust, we had plenty of it and for
a kid, keeping one's shoes clean seemed so unnecessary. But Dad
never let up, "Clean your shoes!" So a little wipe of
one foot on the other pants leg seemed like it should be sufficient
to meet the order of the day.
In one of the
rooms on the 3rd floor of the Station Building, Dad would do some
minor shoe repairs for the family as well as harness repair for
the area farmers who needed this service. He received training in
harness making and repair from Abraham Miller of York, Pennsylvania.
Miller operated a harness shop that was located on South George
Street in York.
was, for a number of years, the superintendent of the Lutheran congregation
portion of the Shaffer's Union Sunday School. John B. Spangler served
the same office for the Reformed congregation portion of the Sunday
period of my life that I am aware of, I never heard Dad refer to
my grandfather Daniel Roser as anything except "Mr. Roser",
even during the time that he resided with our family.
ownership of a motor vehicle took place in 1921, and that was a
Chevrolet touring car. Winter weather required installation of curtains
with small mica windows in them. Rainy weather required the same
thing. Following the '21 Chevy, a Star auto was Dad's choice. The
Star was followed by Studebakers that remained his favorites.
One of the
things that, as a kid, I always enjoyed, were Saturday evening train
trips to Harrisburg. On Saturdays, Dad would close the office after
train #500 at 1:28 P.M. and not have to reopen for the evening trains.
Dad and I would often then board train #993 at 5:04 P.M. for Harrisburg.
From the station, it was an easy walk to the River Park, where we
would sit and watch activities on the river. We stopped at a small
comer store to get some peanuts on the way to the park, and we enjoyed
sharing some of them with the squirrels and pigeons. Very pleasant
moments! After a while, we headed back to the station and boarded
the train for the return trip home, arriving at 9:46 P.M.
more lengthy trips, such as Niagara Falls, New York, Philadelphia,
and Washington, but when Baltimore was the destination, Mom would
accompany Dad and me.
had some pieces of good advice, and so here is one of them. When
my wedding was made known, his words were, "Don't complain
about the food your wife sets on the table unless you can do better!"
Well, I've had to keep silent on that subject because I couldn't
come close to equaling the preparation of food, much less "do
better." However, I must cite that on one occasion, I broke
the rule. A meal was once served that I took outright objection
to, and I made it known to my wife. But it didn't take long, after
her tasting the food, that she voiced her complete agreement with
my opinion. That made it necessary to prepare other food, and the
magazine recipe food was never again set on the table.
Our home after moving from the railroad station
Garden work was a pleasure for Dad after moving from the Railroad
Station to the red brick house across the railroad tracks. The plot
of land covered an area of 5 acres. This allowed for raising lots
of food. Potatoes, corn, beans, beets, tomatoes, along with fruits
such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. provided lots
of good eating, but much work for Mom to prepare these foods for
current and winter usage.
In addition to vegetable garden work for Dad, lawn care was of top
value and interest. The development of a rock garden was an aim,
and a very nice rock garden was later constructed in the old vegetable
garden. We carted in stones for a bench and a walkway. Rose bushes
were planted with arbors for their usage and to beautify the area.
Dad always had the idea of enlarging the lawn area. I was not always
in complete agreement, for I was the one to mow the grass. You must
remember this was before the days of the riding mower.
After the close
of the station at Hanover Junction, Dad was transferred to the Depot
in York, Pennsylvania. This meant using the Studebaker for transportation,
as train schedules did not permit use of rail transportation, and
too, the number of local passenger trains was decreasing at a rapid
and prior to his final illness, he thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated
his ability to spend time in his landscaping and vegetable garden
and Wilferd Shaffer