Radnor Story #11: Memories of a Chauffeur’s Daughter

I was born in Wayne in 1932 at our home on Maplewood Road that was later called Maplewood Avenue. Our home was built for my parents when they were newlyweds, and my father was hired as a chauffeur for the George L. Harrison estate. Our home was one of two chauffeur houses for the estate which was a short distance down the road. The second chauffeur’s position was not needed in later years as the children became adults, so that home was rented to other families.  

The Harrison estate as it appeared in the early 1900s.

It was a great location to grow up as it was mostly rural with few single homes but several large estates. My brothers and I loved to roam the property of the Harrison estate. There were many trails through wooded areas and the beautiful garden and orchard in the summer. We had fun feeding the animals that included a horse that loved to jump the fence and take off up Maplewood Road. 

I attended St. Katharine of Sienna School and graduated in 1950. The original school and church have been replaced.

There are many things that I recall about Wayne growing up pre and post World War II. Mail was delivered two times a day in the early years. Milk was delivered to our doorstep. Ice was delivered for our refrigerator until newer models came out and delivery wasn’t necessary. We walked everywhere. There were no school buses and yes we walked through some very deep snow to and from school.  

I remember many young men leaving for the service from the Wayne Train Station during WWII. During the war, many things were in short supply, so rationing was in place. Cars were given a sticker that indicated the amount of gas they could purchase. We had Victory Gardens. Everyone had a garden of some size to grow their own vegetables, so store supplies could go to the armed forces. Air raid practice sessions were held at home and school. Black curtains were on the windows to keep any light from shining out. At school, we went to the lowest level of the building as that was deemed the safest.  

Miller’s Store, on the corner of Lancaster and North Wayne Avenues and the Anthony Wayne Theatre, as they appered in 1949.

I spent many hours at the Anthony Wayne Theater. Before heading to the movies on a Saturday, we stopped at Miller’s Candy Store (present location of Wayne Jewelers) for a bag of penny candy. The show included the war news features with up-to-date battle scenes. Remember: this was before we had TV in our homes. Many times, during intermission, they awarded prizes including bowls of goldfish to balance on the way home. And, to this day, I have an artist’s print of the Anthony Wayne hanging in my home.
The Radnor Library was a wonderful place. I have so many great memories of spending time choosing all kinds of books. I attribute my life-long love of reading along with my volunteering at several libraries over the years to my fond memories of the Radnor Library. 

There were some great shops in Wayne. Many days after school we would stop at the soda fountains in either Woolworth’s (5 and 10), Wack’s Apothecary or Sun Ray Drug Store. The next stop was the M.R. Shop to select the latest 78 record and listen to it in the closed booths before purchasing.  Other shops in the area were Park Hardware, Wayne Diner, Cowan’s Flowers, Women’s Exchange, Louella Court shops, and dry good stores for sewing materials.  The telephone building from when I was young is still standing today on East Lancaster Avenue.  It was the site of original telephone equipment. “Wayne 1” was the home telephone number for the Harrison estate. This was all during the time when operators placed calls- no touch tone yet. 

As a child, I participated in Girl Scouts, and we met at Wayne Presbyterian Church. In the summer, I went to Radnor Day Camp.  

What a great place to live and grow up in! So many wonderful memories of the township. I moved from Radnor Township in 1956 and reside in Honey Brook, PA in Chester County. But I still enjoy shopping in Wayne whenever I can. Thank you for the chance to reminisce.

Contributed by Peggy Homsher Niemeyer