All for the Love of Apple Butter

By Jennifer Hetrick

After buying the land in 1885 where Bauman’s Apple Butter stands today, John W. Bauman joined a carriage factory to the little stretch of Sassamansville.  By 1892, he purchased a cider press to expand possibilities in production and sales, as competing with larger carriage manufacturers at the time became too difficult.
Thankfully, John very clearly chose a cunning and unique route in those days, many years ago, since his grandson, Harvey, and his family, are still running the operation, bringing great respect to the Bauman legacy.  Harvey pointed out that John came from the Congo-Barto area, as did most Baumans.
It wasn’t until eight years after adding the cider press to the business scenery along Hoffmansville Road that John began making apple butter, and carriage production began to slow as the fall fruit persuasion picked up more attention from locals.
“He was very mechanically inclined and had an apprenticeship in Schwenksville,” Harvey said.  On July 11, 1905, John received his patent from the U.S. Government for his steam-cooker used for producing apple butter.  He had filed his application on November 10, 1904.  A copy of the patent is available on the Bauman’s Apple Butter website at www.baumanfamily.com.
While apple butter stood alone for a long time, other flavors began to trickle in as the decades flew forward.  Eventually, Harvey’s father, Stanley, began to mingle the lure of other fruits into their sales.
Harvey and his wife, Kathy, took over the business in 1977.
Today, pear, strawberry-raspberry, apricot, honey peach, plum, strawberry-rhubarb, blueberry, pumpkin, sweet tomato, cherry, peach, and strawberry butters line the shelves inside the Douglass Township storefront.  Strawberry, cranberry, and cider applesauces are another part of the lineup well-enjoyed by those who visit to fulfill their Pennsylvania Dutch cravings.  Ketchup, peach preserves and chili sauce are also a part of the production, with a lot of the tomato-oriented endeavors in gratitude of fruit growers asking Harvey, Kathy, and their employees to do custom work for them in processing and jarring the overabundance of fruit they have but can’t necessarily find buyers for right when all of their produce is ripe.
A lot of direct shipments of orders placed with Bauman’s Apple Butter are sent to individuals in California, Florida, and Texas.
About 11 years ago, Harvey pondered the idea of bringing a slushy machine into the storefront.  Giving the new concept a whirl, it has been a hit since and is something people love because of how they can get cider or lemonade slushies even in winter months, since they are operational year-round.  New, chilled, and fresh flavors may eventually be unleashed, too.
But the apple-everything persona of the business is still a big part of what keeps people visiting, especially in autumn months.  “Our apple butter is strictly apples,” Harvey added, in elaborating on why it is people seem to love it so much.  The simplicity of the ingredients and lack of questionable, hard-to-pronounce ones makes it an easy win-win for the senses and the wallet.
Of course, a version of fruit butters made with white grape juice, which has a slower-acting sugar in it, is something especially valued by those with diabetes.
The business is also set up to handle certified organic cooking and prepares fruit butters and cider for The Rodale Institute, in Maxatawny Township, close to the border of Berks and Lehigh counties.
Harvey explained that about 20 gallons of apple butter are made per batch, within a four-to-five-hour period.  Using seven cookers, that means seven batches are made at a time.  In a day, anywhere from 12 to 22 batches might be the result, with the pleasant scent of apples cooking and wafting even outside of the building.
Harvey and Kathy’s oldest child, John, 26, works as a computer programmer for Google and lives in California.  He also still helps to run the family’s website.
Their daughter Heidi, 22, is studying music education at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia and helps out at the store when she’s back in Pennsylvania.
Harvey concluded that, on top of the immense appreciation customers show for the hard work tied into the business, hearing people tell him they knew his grandparents and parents, reminiscing of old times, is a lot of what stirs the joy into making apple butter.

Some Thoughts Worth Reading

As we begin to wrap up the 7TH edition of The Boyertown Bulletin, and look back on the first 6 months, we, ourselves, feel humbled by what you, our readers and advertisers, have allowed us to accomplish.  The feedback that we have received has been overwhelmingly positive—more so than we ever thought possible.  We very much hope that you continue to enjoy what you read.  Every person involved with The Boyertown Bulletin is involved in it because of their love of this area.  We all have a desire for each other’s mutual successes.
Producing The Boyertown Bulletin, even though it is only published once a month, requires a whole team of people.  We have our account executives, a battery of writers, a graphic artist, and a layout editor, who also handles delivery, & who has done a pile of other things.  Producing the quality product that you desire takes a great deal of careful planning and coordination, and this large team of people pulls it off every single month.  We have certainly not been without our struggles.  We have made mistakes here and there, but we stand by our product and accept nothing less than perfection.  When mistakes inevitably do occur, we look for a way that we can immediately make them better.  We run a straightforward business operation that is as simple as we can possibly make it.  This prevents hassles, providing nothing but the best in quality for both the customers and readers, at the most economical price possible.
Something that we love to emphasize with The Boyertown Bulletin is that we are the epitome of local.  Our facilities are ENTIRELY located inside of our coverage area of the Boyertown Area and Oley Valley school districts.  We are fortunate to have all local people involved in this.  We know this area, we know our culture, and we know our history.  We are not a national company with headquarters in another state.  We do not outsource our labor to another country.  We are all right here—your friends, neighbors, and relatives.  One of our biggest concerns, starting out, was whether we’d be accepted.  Because of all of these aspects, you, our readers and advertisers, have accepted us like we’ve never thought possible.
Going into the future, we have some things that we would like to ask of you, our readers, in particular.  We patronize local businesses as much as we can.  We wish to ask the same of you; if you like what you read, patronize our advertisers.  Go to these local businesses and see what they have to offer—try out some new ones that you’ve never been to before.  Sure, going to a business for the first time might be awkward, but view it as an ADVENTURE.  You may enjoy the anonymity of going to big box stores, and there’s nothing wrong with going to them, but when you need something special, you’re having a hard day, or just want to pick-up your every day item, these local businesses, churches, and service organizations are institutions that you can feel safe counting on.  When you need nothing but the highest quality of service, you can depend on them.
Last, shifting to a personal level, I wish to thank each and every person who is reading this—yes, YOU, haha.  This is simply an amazing accomplishment of which I can only take credit for a small piece.  I don’t want credit.  Every month, I have a whole bunch of folks asking me why my name doesn’t appear anywhere in this.  This isn’t about me.  It’s about you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors.  It’s about the labor you do, the faith that you keep, and the culture that you embrace.  Each of us needs to be the best that we can be.  Our time here, on this good Earth, is limited, and life isn’t worth being miserable or hiding from everyone you encounter.  We are all equally human—not one of us is above any other, in spite of what that one other may think.  We all live close to one another—by nature of that, we should all strive to grow together, for we are only as strong as our weakest link.  The line between our school districts may divide us, but we are all of the same families sharing the same, overall heritage.  Some of you may say, “But I moved here from another state and don’t even have a single other family member in the Commonwealth.”  You’re living here, with us, now.  You’re starting or have started an all new life.  Should you choose to accept it, no matter who you are, I can guarantee you that this is an AMAZING place to be.  Take some time, explore it, and learn about it; you’ll never believe what you find out.
As I type my name on the following lines, I begrudgingly give up my anonymity, at least for this edition.  I wish to express my personal gratitude to all of you for giving up your time to read this.  It’s impossible to forget that we are all on tough times now.  Let’s work hard and get through them together.  Remember that we have an election coming up in November.  I ask everyone who is eligible to do your civic duty and make an informed vote.

Regards,
Eric J. Eidle, EIT
President
The Boyertown Company, Incorporated

Energy Saving Tips for the Heating Season

Courtesy of Advanced Indoor Comfort, Inc.
Servicing Boyertown and surrounding areas.

  1. Reduce thermostat setting to 68° F.  Reducing your thermostat can substantially lower your heating costs.  Putting on those extra layers will help you stay comfortable while saving on your heating bill.
  2. Set back the thermostat at night and when you leave home.  Setting the thermostat back 10° F at night, or when the house will be unoccupied, can save up to 15% on heating costs.  The furnace will have to run more to reheat the house, but the energy saved while the home is cooler more than offsets the extra run time to reheat the home.
  3. Install a programmable thermostat.  Programmable thermostats allow you to reduce your home’s temperature at night and during the day and still have the home warm when you wake up or come home from work.
  4. Change furnace filter monthly.  Clogged furnace filters lower the heater’s efficiency by preventing proper airflow through the furnace.
  5. Have the furnace “tuned up” annually.  Having your furnace cleaned and tuned annually will help the heating system operate safely and efficiently.  Tuning may involve resetting the fuel-air mixture for proper combustion as well as cleaning of the blower and burners to assure maximum airflow and complete combustion.
  6. Let the sun shine in through south windows.  Open drapes on the south side of your home during winter days and close them at night.  Sun angles are low in winter, allowing substantial solar heating through all south windows.  You may want to trim vegetation that shades south windows.
  7. Check and replace weather stripping on doors and windows.  Air leaks around faulty stripping not only make your home drafty but they also increase heating costs.  Check for drafts, and repair or replace worn stripping.
  8. Close storm windows and doors.  Storm windows installed over primary windows are almost as good as double-pane windows for reducing heating loss, but they only work if they are kept closed.  Be sure all your storm windows are properly closed when cold weather arrives.
  9. Operate kitchen and bath vents minimally.  Bath and kitchen vents exhaust moisture, along with heated air, to the outside.  If your home is dry during the winter, you may not need to operate these vents at all.  However if you have condensation on windows, operate vents as needed to remove cooking and bathing moisture.
  10. If you have a heat pump, keep the outdoor unit clear of snow and leaves.  Never switch a heat pump to the emergency heat setting on thermostat unless unit is malfunctioning.  This switch will turn off your energy efficient heat pump using only your back up electric furnace elements, doubling your heating costs.  If your heat pump is older than ten years old, replacing it with a high-efficiency system can save you money each month.

Editor’s note:  We owe a sincere thank you to Mr. Steve Zettl, of Advanced Indoor Comfort, Incorporated, for supplying these practical ways of saving money.  We welcome anyone else’s practical suggestions of any ways of saving money by E-mailing editor@boyertown.biz.

Iron Castings and the Harner History

By Jennifer Hetrick

As a long-standing part of the North Washington Street scenery in Boyertown, Unicast Company’s history is largely a part of the region thanks to Carl Harner’s family.
In the past, the iron castings foundry operated under the name Union Manufacturing Company.  A prominent group of businessmen in Boyertown started the metal production facility in 1894.

Carl’s grandfather, John Z. Harner, took on the title of superintendent in 1910.  By 1921, he bought the company for himself and served as its president.

Carl began working at the foundry in his childhood, handling small tasks.  From 1975 – 1981, he served as its Vice President.

“It has typically been an economical metal,” Carl reflected about iron.  Motor blocks, piston cylinders, light poles, barbell weights, loaders for lamps (to keep them heavy and weighted on tables or floor surfaces), ornamental knickknacks, mechanical banks, and trivets are just some of the iron work produced by the factory and its workers in the time when Carl and his family ran the business.

“We made heavy-duty cast-iron electrical boxes for electric companies,” Carl said, noting that they are explosion-proof and last forever.  Some notable examples are electrical boxes the company created are for the Holland Tunnel and Lincoln Tunnel between New York City and New Jersey.

“We were the first foundry in Pennsylvania to have women employed in it,” Carl added.   In those days, Carl said one female employee, who operated a forklift, graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Montgomery County.  “We also had employees on work release from the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford,” Carl said, explaining that finding people to labor in the hot and sometimes unbearable conditions of working with heating and melting metal is not easy, especially in summer months.

Sometimes, the foundry would close down in the sweltering season months just because of the harsh temperatures affecting work so strongly.

During Carl’s time at the company, it was also known to have hired the most high school students in the area with the same pay per piece as adult employees.

Today, Carl reflected that his time in iron castings always stood as interesting, especially with technical details in melting and shaping whatever needed to be manufactured.

Avidly reading historical mysteries and a wide assortment of styles of writing, Carl and his wife, Margaret, are regional historians and have penned several books on local landmarks and people, including one on the shifts and development of National Penn Bank since its early days.

Margaret also worked as a social studies teacher in Boyertown Area School District’s two junior highs for 33 years.

“We have a deal,” Carl said about Margaret.  “I don’t have to wash the dishes.”  Margaret handles scrubbing the dishes while Carl handles the cooking in their home.  Finding most commonplace American foods only so fitting to his palate, he loves Indian and Thai food along with the often raw persuasion of sushi.

The two have three children—Erik, 49; Nicole Spatz, 46; and Jacquelyn Wagner, 44.

Carl and Margaret usually find themselves as spectators at sporting events for their grandchildren.  They also like to take the grandchildren out for cultural education escapades.  Jacquelyn’s children are Christian, 13; John, 11; David, 9; and Victoria, 5. Nicole’s are Erin, 12, and Ryan, 10.

“Boyertown is a nice hometown,” Carl concluded about living in this area for so long, being in a good place to drive not too long of distances to reach historical, educational, and cultural spots of interest.  “It has a great location.”

Business Update

Impact Jiu-Jitsu has just opened its doors at 48 North Reading Avenue, in Boyertown.  The academy is run by David Todd, of Congo, a local educator who has been training in the martial arts for over 20 years, instructing since he was 23.  The academy offers programs designed for all ages and families along with a satisfaction guarantee.

Longacre’s Modern Dairy has completed its new, outdoor pavilion.  This offers shade from the sun and protection from the rain for ice cream, milk shake, and sundae lovers.  It even has a sky-blue ceiling, just like your old-fashioned front porch.

Have some business news for us?  Send us an E-mail at business@boyertown.biz!

Oley Valley Heritage Association’s Christmas Ornament Produced by Clay on Main

Oley Valley Heritage Association and Clay on Main have collaborated on the production of a limited edition commemorative ornament for the Association’s 30TH anniversary in 2013.  In 1983, Oley Township was listed on National Register of Historic Places, the first township in America to be listed in its entirety.  OVHA was subsequently formed to continue important historical preservation work.
Clay on Main, a local non-profit cooperative clay studio in Oley which offers classes, workshops, and lectures was contacted by OVHA to design and produce the limited edition ornament.  Studio members designed a redware ornament using the OVHA logo.  The association’s logo, which features the DeTurk house, was originally created by the late Gerald H. Yoder of Oley Valley Redware.  The ornament will be for sale at Oley Valley Heritage Association’s fall membership meeting on Monday, November 19, 2012, at 7:00 PM, at Oley Valley Fair Centre Building on Jefferson Street in Oley.
*          *          *
In keeping with its mission to promote education and appreciation of cultural heritage, the program for this November 19TH meeting will be “Ancient Heritage Will Not Disappear—Log Barns Living and Breathing in Berks County” by Greg Huber.  Greg Huber is a barn and house historian, an independent scholar, consultant & principal owner of Past Perspectives and Eastern Barn Consultants—both historic and cultural resource companies.  His special focus is on vernacular barn architecture in southeast Pennsylvania and beyond.  A student of early architecture of the northeast since 1971, he has documented nearly 7,500 old buildings, including more than 3,000 homestead houses and more than 4,000 barns in the east since the mid-1970s.  Greg is author of more than 150 articles on barn and house architecture and is co-author of two books:  the second edition of The New World Dutch Barn (2001), Stone Houses—Traditional Homes of Pennsylvania’s Bucks County and Brandywine Valley (2005).  He is currently writing a major treatise on barns in Pennsylvania.  The program is free and open to the public.
The association’s website is www.oleyvalleyheritage.org and can be contacted at OVHA@oleyvalleyheritage.org.  Clay on Main’s website is www.clayonmain.org and can be contacted at studio@clayonmain.org or 610-987-0273.

Ice Cream Done Right: Longacre’s Modern Dairy

By Jennifer Hetrick
hetrick@boyertown.biz

What is today, Longacre’s Modern Dairy, along PA Route 100 in Barto, joined the Berks County scenery back in the 1920s when John S. Longacre began delivering milk to people around the area from his horse and wagon.  As a schoolteacher, John knew that his income, alone, wouldn’t be enough to support his family.  So he originally bought the farmland, upon a corner ofFront view of Longacre's Modern Dairy which the dairy stands today, with the idea in mind to help his children with their futures.
The farm’s 30 to 40 cows were milked manually, back then, given that the technology to milk with an automated system hadn’t been invented yet.
Longacre’s sold raw milk until 1942 when pasteurization rolled into the picture.  Homogenized milk came along a few years later.
Daniel E. Longacre, son to John, eventually took over the business.  In 1948, ice cream swept into the operation.  Daniel and his wife, Kathryn, found a small ice cream-making machine in Allentown and soon put it to good use.  The first flavors available were chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry.
“They made ice cream in the evening,” said Daniel T. Longacre, who, at 74 years old, is the president of the dairy and maker of the ice cream.  At the dairy, he is known as Sonny.  “The people remember you for your ice cream,” Sonny reflected, with a laugh.  “They don’t remember you for your milk.
Today, the dairy has around 40 flavors available, with 14 percent butterfat content in each sampling.  In Pennsylvania, by law, ice cream must have at least 10 percent butterfat content in order to legally take on the name “ice cream.”  Sonny said most ice cream in grocery stores has around 10 to 12 percent butterfat, but it often melts in the mouth, whereas Longacre’s ice cream carries a more involved mouth-feel to it and is a healthy challenge to maneuver per bite.
This old-fashioned ice cream, with one family producing it, is a rarity today and locally, making the dairy a place of true historical prominence and regional heritage.
But the swoon-worthy taste of the ice cream, because of the care put into it during recipe labors and mixing efforts, leads it to carry a very strong contemporary appeal to those driving up and down Route 100, too.
Sonny can make up to 75 gallons per hour in the ice cream production portion of the building.  Longacre’s also prepares the specific flavor mixes for The Franklin Fountain on Market Street in Philadelphia.
About 5,000 gallons of milk of are processed per day at Longacre’s, six days a week.  The dairy hasn’t housed cows since the 1970s; it, instead, bottles milk from 20 farms, mostly based in Lancaster County.  Labeled under different brands for different companies, milk handled at Longacre’s travels to shelves as far as New York and Florida.  The majority of it is organic.
Saving a good amount of the milk for ice cream is, of course, an important part of keeping the dessert-ready luxury available at the dairy bar.
In his early days at the dairy, Sonny began to experiment with designing new labels and testing out different styles of cups.  He noticed that, every time he gave attention to these creative and thoughtful marketing efforts, ice cream sales continually bumped upward.  Vanilla, vanilla fudge, and moose tracks are some of Sonny’s personal favorites.  Moose tracks incorporates vanilla mingled with a dark, hard shell of chocolate and miniature peanut butter cups by Gertrude Hawk.
Sonny’s son, Danny, works with him every day in making ice cream at the dairy.  Sonny’s brother Newton, 70, is the dairy’s Vice President and enjoys butter brickle, walnut, and vanilla as his own favorites.  Their brother Tim, 64, handles bookkeeping and the finances, while their sister Kathryn, 62, is the secretary.  Their sister, Diane, 53, works in real estate in the Reading area.
A few years ago, Sonny introduced teaberry ice cream to the lineup.  An old flavor, more popular many decades ago, it didn’t sell well at first but eventually picked up in popularity and is now enthusiastically eaten by many of those who visit the dairy bar.
Egg nog, peppermint stick, pistachio, and pumpkin are seasonal flavors.  Although, thankfully, for those who like pumpkin besides just in autumn months, it is now offered year-round, even though it’s considered seasonal by when pumpkins are harvested around the area.
The batch-made, slowly churned ice cream speaks for itself—its rich, poignant flavor quickly appreciated when ordered at the counter.
With grandchildren happily skipping around the dairy, Sonny and Newton said they’re hopeful that some of the young ones will want to help the dairy to remain a part of the community in future decades.

Boyertown Oktoberfest

By Jeffrey C. Karver, Esq.

Two hundred years ago, the people of Bavaria, in what is now Germany, began to gather together each September to celebrate the harvest, and they called the celebration Oktoberfest.  For the past four years, Building a Better Boyertown has hosted its own Oktoberfest celebration, here, in our small community.  Over the past four years, this event has raised more than $52,000 for Building a Better Boyertown (BBB).  Those funds have helped fund BBB projects such as the recently completed “Street Scape” project in the center of town.
Boyertown’s Oktoberfest remains true to the original German Oktoberfest celebration by trying to provide a market for local farmers and local craftsman to sell their goods as part of our celebration.  This year, on Saturday, September 15TH (rain date:  September 22ND) about a dozen local farmers, who participate each week in the Boyertown Farmers’ Market and about 20 other local artisans & craftsmen, will gather on the Inner-Core Parking Lot starting at about 10:00 AM to display their goods and produce for sale.  They’ll offer a tremendous variety of produce, crafts, and merchandise at great prices direct from the farm or craft bench.
And just as the Mayor of Munich opens the official Oktoberfest celebration, Boyertown’s Mayor and Council President will be brought onto the lot in a horse-drawn carriage to officially open our event at noontime on Saturday, September 15TH.  Throughout the day, local, young-at-heart talent will provide live entertainment.  The Boyertown Alumni Band will again provide musical entertainment at noontime.  The entertainment will conclude in the late afternoon with the Schuplattler Dancers whose authentic German folk dancing has been a highlight of past celebrations.
And if you’re hungry, the organizers promise that Oktoberfest in Boyertown will offer the best assortment of bratwurst & sauerkraut, filled noodles, barbeque, French fries, and other dishes this side of the Ironstone Creek.  It’s all prepared, fresh, by local food vendors throughout the day, and, this year, there will be plenty of sweets and dessert items available all day long.  And, there will be plenty of your favorite beverages to accompany the food.  If you’ve been collecting the authentic German souvenir beer mugs for the first four years, you’ll want to get in line early to purchase Fifth Anniversary mugs, featuring a new design, which have just arrived and can be purchased at the BBB office for $22.00 before the event, or for $25.00 on the day of the event.  All in all, it’s a unique celebration of our area’s Pennsylvania German heritage, and a great way to catch up with friends and enjoy the pleasant late summer weather.