Special thanks to Jane Barge, Barbara Fazekas, Lucinda Groff, and Lois Kauffman who were interviewed for this story.
For many years one of the main ways that the Ladies Auxiliary raised funds for the Fire Company was by holding food stands at public auctions. Their one regular stand was at the monthly Smoketown Quality Dairy Sales, owned by Gordon Fritz and more commonly known as the Fritz Cow Sale.
At the Fritz Sale the food stand was housed in a garage. At other sales the ladies were never quite sure what the accommodations would be. After years of hauling tables and supplies in the back of station wagons, the ladies decided to make it easier for themselves by purchasing a food trailer. In April 1979 they began designing a trailer to match their needs.
Stauffer Custom Trailers in Martindale built the trailer body. The ladies enlisted the help of the men of the Fire Company to finish the interior. Manny Fisher made the cabinets and installed the appliances. Jacob Miller made the countertops and Abner Esh laid the flooring. The total price for the trailer was $4,700.
The food trailer was first put into service on September 8, 1979 at the Eberly sale. For the next two and a half years the ladies hooked the trailer up to vans and pickup trucks and drove it to real estate, farm, and household sales in the area. Thankfully many of the women had grown up on farms and had experience driving large equipment. Nonetheless, it was school bus driver Lucinda Groff who was the expert at backing the trailer around. It was either parked at her farm on Mill Creek School Road or at the Fire Hall.
The menu was basic and only varied slightly, but was loved by all who attended auctions. At one Fritz Sale, they sold 100 hot dogs
with the option of sauerkraut, 4 gallons of chicken corn soup, doughnuts, 55 cups of coffee, 1 box each of chewing gum, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Milky Way Bars, and Hershey Bars.
At a large farm sale they sold 300 barbecue sandwiches, 260 hot dogs, 250 cups of coffee, 14 pies, and 12 boxes of candy. The children especially loved the candy and it always sold well.
Since the trailer went to the Fritz Cow Sale at least once a month and sometimes more, the ladies got to know the young fellows who worked the sales for Gordie Fritz. Their employer gave them a food allowance at the trailer and for fun, they would wheel and deal and try to get more than their share. Years later Jane Barge was at a local store and she and the proprietor recognized each other. Sure enough, he had worked the Fritz Sales and said to Jane, “I thought you looked familiar!”
Eventually the number of volunteers from the Ladies Auxiliary became fewer and fewer. At one time Jane Barge and her daughter Kim and Lois Kauffman and her son Bryan worked together. Even though their children enjoyed the sales, they became teenagers and soon had other activities. The last two recorded sales were in 1982, a Fritz Sale on March 23 and a household sale on Millcreek Road on March 31.
The food trailer was sold for $4,000 marking the end of an era. But it was an era filled with lots of dedicated hard work that yielded a nice profit. The Ladies Auxiliary had done very well with their food stands because from 1976 to 1981 they gave the Fire Company $23,500.