Excerpts and summaries of stories from the old Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster New Era and Sunday News that focus on events from the county’s past that are noteworthy, newsworthy or just plain weird.

25 years ago

Sometimes an unusual hobby can lead to an unusual world record. That’s exactly what happened with Donald Betty, who was obsessed with crossing suspension bridges – on foot.

Betty, a former vice president of Armstrong World Industries, made her first crossing in 1971, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. By 1997, he had completed 102 suspension bridge crossings around the world and earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Intelligent Journal published an article about Betty on April 10, 1997, when he was preparing for a trip to Hong Kong for the inauguration of the Tsingma Bridge, which at the time was the longest in the world. Betty planned to walk the bridge as part of the opening ceremonies.

Betty’s hobby of walking bridges often required months of preparation in the form of political wrangling and bureaucratic paperwork, as many suspension bridges do not have pedestrian walkways. He had a limo escort in Portugal and armed guards in Turkey. He bribed guards in Venezuela and crossed the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York before the New York City Marathon.

But the most difficult bridge to cross, in terms of clearance, was the one closest to our house – the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

Betty eventually crossed 177 suspension bridges before her death in 2018.

In the titles:

The real promise of cloning is to repair and heal the body

Water suggests life on a moon of Jupiter

Workers begin final phase of 10-year-old Sphinx restoration

Check out the April 10, 1997 Lancaster New Era here.

50 years ago

In April 1972, after 26 years on the force, Lancaster’s police chief resigned to take up a position at Park City Center.

David Rineer, 52, joined the City Police in 1946 and had been its chief since 1967. He announced his departure on April 10 and would leave to take up the post of chief security officer for Gimbels in the new shopping center on April 28 .

No successor has been named, but Mayor Thomas Monaghan said one would be chosen, from inside or outside the force, before Rineer’s departure.

In an interview with the New Era, Rineer said the biggest change in the police force in the 26 years he served was simply the quality and quantity of training:

“Twenty-five years ago a policeman didn’t need to know more than wield a truncheon. He wasn’t prepared to do a competent job – he was given a gun and a badge and also to go out and do it.”

In the titles:

B-52s bomb N. Viet for the first time in 4 years

Nixon signs treaty banning germ warfare

2 hijackers detained; $499,970 jet ransom found

Check out the April 10, 1972 Lancaster New Era here.

75 years ago

A road crew works to repave New Holland Avenue after disused streetcar tracks were removed in this April 1947 photo.

Roadworks, present and future, were everywhere on the cover of April 10, 1947, New Era.

A spokesperson for the state highway department revealed the results of a traffic study which showed the need for some sort of bypass around downtown Lancaster. The study stopped all vehicles passing through the city via eight main roads, asking drivers about their origin, destination and route.

The large number of drivers crossing the city, instead of going somewhere in the city, indicated the need for some kind of highway to bypass the city center.

Where that road would be – as well as when it might be built – were unknown factors.

However, progress has been made in terms of urban roads. Alongside the story of the potential bypass was a photo of work in progress removing disused streetcar tracks in the middle of New Holland Avenue and widening that street to four lanes of traffic between Franklin and Ross streets.

In the titles:

152 dead, 1,000 injured in tornado

Nine die at Penna. mine explosion

Truman leaves price cuts strictly to business

Check out the April 10, 1947, Intelligencer Journal here.

100 years ago

“Palm Beach weather for Palm Sunday” was how the Lancaster Intelligencer described the weather in early April 1922.

A string of days of record-breaking temperatures culminated with the county sweltering in 97-degree heat as residents sweated through Palm Sunday church services before escaping to “city parks, golf courses and walks”.

The pools, however, were not open – surely a disheartening fact for children and adults alike.

In the titles:

The revolt of the Irish radicals should soon take place

The Arbuckle case could reach the jury on Thursday

Check out April 10, 1922, Lancaster Intelligencer here.


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