John Crump is well remembered as the good-natured, helpful garage man who ran the Texaco station next to the Post Office in Hawley, Pa., for decades. He also served many years on Hawley Borough Council and was mayor when the town marked its 150th anniversary in 1977.
HAWLEY - John Crump is well remembered as the good-natured, helpful garage man who ran the Texaco station next to the Post Office in Hawley, Pa., for decades. He also served many years on Hawley Borough Council and was mayor when the town marked its 150th anniversary in 1977.
His daughter, Linda Gomar, who now lives in Dickson City, shared much of this information.
John Henry Crump was born January 18, 1912 in Moosic, Lackawanna County, to Charles Henry Crump and Nellie Mae (Schoonover). John’s father was an Erie Railroad engineer, and operated some of the last steam locomotives stationed in Hawley. In 1949, the Erie switched over to diesel locomotives.
[A separate feature on Charles H. Crump appeared last week.]
Around 1917, John, with his parents and siblings, moved to Hawley. They lived at 317 River Street, before moving to 207 Pine Street, around 1926.
While at Hawley High School, John played on the basketball team. Before he got into pumping gas and working on cars, John was seen stocking shelves at the old A&P grocery on Main Avenue, and asked if be could sell newspapers for Ed Hirsch who ran the Trading Post. John graduated in 1932.
His daughter Linda shared that her father was working at a gas station out on the road from Hawley to Lake Wallenpaupack, across the Roosevelt Highway from the Roosevelt Inn. John Crump made the acquaintance of Susan Matushak of Throop, who was a waitress at the inn. Love bloomed. John and Susan were married, May 11, 1936.
They raised three children, Shirley, born in 1938; John, born in 1941 and Linda, born in 1947. They made their home at 325 Park Street in Hawley.
They were active at the Lutheran church in Hawley. John was also a member of Hawley Fire Company No. 2, the Masons, the Odd Fellows, and the Beach Lake grange.
Along with operating the gas station and his civic duties, John found time to operate a farm he had rented in Lakeville. Linda said they had cows, pigs and horses.
John also loved to fish.
Susan graduated from Wayne Commercial School in 1969. She was employed at Sherman Mills in Hawley. Linda recalled that her mom was a canner.
Woodstock on ice
In addition to operating the gas station, starting in 1942 John had a side business selling ice. He and his brothers sawed ice blocks from Lake Wallenpaupack with horses. He had an ice house next to the Texaco which would keep the ice through the summer, for his customers. They delivered a lot of ice to summer camps.
Linda shared a story about her dad, related to his ice business. In August 1969, the famed Woodstock music festival was taking place in a dairy field at Bethel, Sullivan County, NY. John had no intention of stopping, but he was going that way to get to Middletown, where he was getting his ice at that time.
He got stuck behind a mammoth traffic jam at Bethel, thanks to the Woodstock event. His daughter shared that he never reached Middletown, was but stuck in traffic for 12 hours. He saw young people skinny dipping. One man, who could be described as a hippie, came up and asked (paraphrasing), “Hey man, what are you doing here?” John replied that is what he wanted to know.
John also was busy in the winter plowing parking lots and driveways. When the great Valentine’s Day Blizzard of 1958 struck- with snow reaching 48 inches, he was struggling to keep open P.P.& L.’s road to the power plant at Kimbles.
Crump’s Service Station
He opened their his service station on May 29, 1936 at 405 Main Avenue, which was at the corner of Church and Main, and across from Teeters Furniture Store. Joe Beilman later conducted the station.
In 1947, partnering with his brother Charles, he built a new station at 120 Main Avenue, next to the Middle Creek bridge. On the right side was the Erie Railroad freight station, where the post office was later built, opening in 1965.
Crump sold Texaco gasoline.
An ad from 1977 boasts that Crump’s’ Service Station was “a complete one-stop service station for all your car needs.”
Having been trained in car mechanics, John knew how to fix them, but would say in later years how “it was easier in the old days when there were only two parts under the hood,” Linda recalled him saying.
Several people offered fond memories on Facebook when asked about of John Crump and Crump’s Service Station. A few are mentioned here.
“I and the kids from the hill used to stop by after school and buy candy from Crumps,” David Miller said. “An after school great. Never once was yelled at for being in there.”
“Took my car there as a teen. Let me make payments for repairs. Won't find anyone doing that today,” Lea Peoples recalled.
Many others mentioned he was a very kind man, a gentleman, very helpful and fair.
Crump’s Texaco Station used to give out an award to a Wallenpaupack graduate.
He retired from the service station after 44 years. His nephew, Mike Crump, continued to operate the station.
Following extensive renovations, in 2011 the former service station reopened as a tobacco shop, with a second floor added for an apartment.
The flood of May 22-23, 1942 caused havoc down the Lackawaxen River Valley from above Honesdale, through White Mills and Hawley. Torrential rains led to inundation of low-lying areas, without being hindered by dams and other flood control measures that were finally put in place starting in the late 1950’s. Twenty four people were killed, including eight in Hawley.
John’s father, Charles Crump, drove the steam locomotives in Hawley out of harm’s way.
There were several accounts of rescue operations. John Crump, with Harold Swezy, used a boat to save people from rising flood waters on Crystal Street. Almost the entire row of houses along this former street, sandwiched between the river and Church Street, were washed away by the ’42 flood. A 10-foot flood levee was later built in this section.
Crump’s Service Station, positioned alongside the Middle Creek, next to the bridge, was in the path of danger from the next major flood to strike Hawley. On August 18, 1955, Tropical Storm Diane drenched the region at a time of a long summer drought.
Threatened with an imminent flood, Crump was at the station late in the evening moving things out of the way. It was around midnight when Police Chief George Krause told Crump he had to leave. Crump immediately drove his car over the bridge and left it part way up the next block. He got out and hastened back to the bridge on foot, only to find that it was gone.
That same night, at around 3:30 a.m., William Fred Merz, a 50 year old Hawley resident, was taking pictures of the rain-swollen Middle Creek. Merz was standing near Drake’s Hardware Store- today owned by AMSKier Insurance, at River and Main. The ground suddenly broke up and Merz was swept to his death.
Pictures taken after the flood was subsiding showed the devastation, of the fallen bridge, a huge gap in one corner of Crump’s Service Station, and the corner of the hardware store precariously extending into empty space. The Freethy house, at the corner of River and Main, was swept away, and a whole embankment along River Street between Main and Penn avenues, was scooped out, taking most of the street itself.
Paula (Glantz) Kuzmiak, in a previous account about the flood, also recalled walking across the same bridge moments before it fell into the creek.
Twelve days later, a temporary bridge was installed. Crump said was the first to drive cross the temporary span, which he felt appropriate since he was the last to drive across the old bridge.
In the wake of the 1955 flood, Borough Council, led by Crump, helped secure a $250,000 federal grant to build a flood control spillway in the Middle Creek, and the earthen flood levee.
John Crump was very active in his community and served in public office for many years. He served as a part-time borough policeman, as well as an elected councilman and mayor.
He completed his training as a police officer in May of 1954, and served under Chief George Krause. The Citizen-Times, in June 1954, recounted an amusing story about “how Hawley discovered John was a cop.”
For some time, John Crump was assisting the chief, but few knew about it. Hawley was bedeviled by a prowling peeping Tom. For nights, Crump and Krause searched for him, but without success. People were annoyed by the peeping Tom but were hesitant to make a report right away. A group of citizens formed a vigilante group. One night, while Crump and Krause were making separate searches, the chief spotted a skunk and shot it. “The shot brought the vigilantes running and they demanded to know what John Crump was doing with the chief,” the newspaper wrote. Then the truth came out, that John was the chief’s assistant.
“Here are two of Hawley’s stalwarts,” the reporter penned. “There are others and Hawley can be proud.”
Crump served as a member of the police force from 1942 to 1975.
Crump was first elected to Borough Council, November 17, 1953. He remained as a Councilman until he was appointed as mayor over 20 years later. He was a registered Republican.
While on Council he chaired the Streets Committee.
In 1955 he made an unsuccessful run for county sheriff. He was also elected to the Republican Committee, in 1964.
Crump was an incorporator of Wayne Industrial Development Corporation (now known as WEDCO).
John Crump was president of the Northeast Association of Boroughs and a director of the Pa. State Association of Boroughs.
In 1967, he helped push for the exit on Interstate 84 to be placed at Route 739 in Pike County. Hemlock Farms, the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and other civic groups were asking for the interchange. Crump was in contact with Congressman Joe McDade over the matter.
In 1972, he was selected as a delegate to the first Pa. Conference on Intergovernmental Cooperation, held April 23-24 at Hershey.
In addition, he was a member of the advisory council of the Wayne County Civil Defense organization. Councilman Crump had served four terms when he was appointed in early 1975 to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Frank Hiris. He won the election for mayor when he was placed on the ballot in 1977.
While serving as the appointed mayor in January 1976, he helped welcome about 60 members of the Indonesian Delegation to the United Nations, which was visiting Hawley.
He was mayor of Hawley when the community marked its 150th anniversary in 1977. A picture of Borough officials taken at that occasion show, in addition to Mayor Crump, Council members Richard Sampson, President; Robert Silsby; Ann Morgan; J. Eugene Sheridan Jr.; Dr. Robert Gummoe and Edward Gilpin, Treasurer. Helen Campfield served as Secretary.
A “Sesquicentennial Celebration” board of directors was formed, which was chaired by Ann Morgan. Crump was part of the group that planned the week-long festivities, held July 17-23.
Gerard “Rod” Adams followed John Crump with a term as mayor, who in turn was succeeded by Morgan, who held the office 18 years, until 2009.
“Mr. Crump was an outstanding mayor,” Morgan recalled. “It was not just a title to him he worked hard for everyone in the community. and was available 24/7.” He also followed through, when someone had a complaint, until the person making the complaint was satisfied.
She said Crump did much to encourage her as the first female to serve on borough council. “It was truly an honor for me to have him as my leader, and it was an outstanding group of men who I served with the six years I was on council,” Morgan stated. Having been raised in Hawley, Morgan added that Crump only naturally had a deep love for his community.
The furnace pipe
There was a work bench in the service station, Linda recalled. Behind this was a a long pipe that appeared to lead from the basement, and extended up near the ceiling where it was bent like an elbow, entering the wall. Looking like a furnace pipe, one wouldn’t think anything of it.
This was John Crump’s piggy bank.
“Daily, he would throw coins in the pipe,” Linda said. “There was a lot of change. At the end of the day he tossed it in the pipe,” she said.
This went on for decades.
She remembered how the family would have a coin wrapping party, making up rolls of coins. Her mother, interested in coins, would always be interested if there were any rare or valuable coins among them.
Linda said she thought her dad may have put the rolls of coins to a safe, or, maybe into a bank C.D. There was so much money collected, that after he retired, he and his wife used it to go on trips.
From the loose change thrown into that pipe, Linda said her parents were able to travel to the Bahamas, to Hawaii, and twice to Spain where Linda and her husband lived for a time.
John Crump died, September 23, 1993 at the age of 81. His wife Susan lived to March 8, 2001.
Like so many of his peers, John Crump made a lasting mark in the story of Hawley, Pa., supporting his family and his community.