Webpage caters to St. Marys nostalgia

Ruthanne Glatt Herzing, a St. Marys native who moved to Harrisburg in 1996, has created a Facebook page called "If you grew up in St. Marys, Pa., you remember..." The page is intended to offer other area natives a chance to share their memories, experiences and reconnect people not only with each other, but also with their childhood memories. Herzing started the page after being introduced to the idea by friends of hers who were fans of their own hometown pages. She decided to create a page catering to both former and current residents of St. Marys and Elk County. The page, created in August of this year, is 1,002 members strong and growing, with members "from all over the country," Herzing said. She said she was surprised by the swift and massive response. "It went off like wildfire; by the end of the first week, 800 people had joined...I never thought it would grow as fast as it did," Herzing said. Herzing said once the page caught on, people spent hours at a time on the site and kept returning to it frequently. The page offers members a chance to reminisce about the landmarks and staples of their youth in St. Marys. Herzing said many conversations between members center around the shared memories and experiences of growing up in town and that the site rekindles in members "the memories of St. Marys, the little things not necessarily in the history book.""People often ask each other, 'Do you remember this place, do you remember that place?' People talk about social activities like skating at the local "Roller-Rama" roller rink, formerly located on North St. Marys Street," Herzing said. The page also allows members to share anecdotes involving their own childhood memories. Herzing fondly recalls a little store in the Kaulmont Park area, at one time called A&J, then T&M, where she and her friends used to go and buy candy, as well as attending the Bavarian Festival as a child, during which the city "closed off downtown and there were booths all around the Diamond." Herzing said members also enjoy collectively remembering their schools, teachers and any other major themes connected to their lives in St. Marys. Herzing said the page, being an extension of Facebook, helps people reconnect with those they otherwise may not have. "People get married and their last names change...It's like a class reunion online, it keeps us connected," Herzing said, adding that people visiting the page will often discover they know each other or a family member when chatting with others. Members of the site have also posted pictures of St. Marys captured through the ages including everything from a photo of what is claimed to be the first house built in town, the John Walker house, to present-day images of Sheetz. Members also memorialize relics of the past, including Johnny Ferragini's barber shop on the Million Dollar Highway, near the spot currently occupied by Pizza Hut, to Cryder's gas station on State Street and Cook's restauraunt, just to name a few. Herzing, who said she currently lives a fast-paced life, said she has come to appreciate the slower pace her hometown offers. She hopes the webpage will help others remember the "simpler times" and all the things that make St. Marys special, and offers anyone who is interested to join her and others with ties to St. Marys and Elk County in a stroll down memory lane. Anyone interested in joining the St. Marys page can do so by logging into their Facebook account, entering "If you grew up in St. Marys, Pa., you remember..." into the search bar, and clicking on the "join group" box found on the page.