While researching other information on Newspapers.com, I found examples of Help Wanted ads over time in various papers in the region. Ads were often categorized for “Female” or “Male” in those days. A List of former employees, some of whom may have answered some of these ads can be found on our Employees page here (and in the comments section): https://theguernseycow.com/employees/.
In 1966, the last of the ads appeared in The Pocono Record. Other ads from newspapers not covered in Newspapers.com probably appeared locally and later as the Chester County population grew and supplied an increasing group of hard-working teens.
On January 24, 1939, my 3-year-old mother, Wanda Polite, was bitten by the family dog. Earlier in the day, an Exton Dairy Grille customer was nipped on the hand by the same dog. Her father, Larry Polite, suspected something was wrong with the dog and, according to my mother, he killed the dog, severed its head, and drove it to Harrisburg for rabies testing. This was, and remains today, the only way to test an animal for rabies.
A few days later, results showed the dog did indeed have rabies and an alert
from the Pennsylvania state police went out to the press in the area in search of the man bitten. According to reports at the time, effective treatment must occur within 10 days of a bite. A race against the clock ensued to find the traveler identified only as a likely New Jersey resident — based on Polite’s recollection of the man’s Oldsmobile license plate.
Articles appeared in newspapers in the region starting on January 26, 1939, and were seen as far west as South Dakota and as far south as South Carolina based on searches of newspaper archives on Newspapers.com.
The most dramatic headline appeared in the Reading Eagle: State Police Seek Rabid Dog Victim: Race Against Time ot [sic] Save Man From Death.
West Whiteland Township commissioned Chester County artist Jeff Schaller to create artwork to be hung in the township building commemorating The Guernsey Cow. Funds for the work were originally donated to the township by Gladys and Larry Polite in 1985 for the purpose of restoring the The Cow sign.
Using a combination of graphics from an old postcard, letterhead, a Guernsey Cow ice cream lid, and original paining of a Guernsey cow, Schaller has captured some of the memories of Chester County old-timers. A limited run of 100 prints were created and are available through his Etsy shop.
He also memorialized The Cow in one of the panels he created in the Exton Mall a few years back for The Main Line Health Center on the first floor.
It features chapters with lots of photos and images on The Battle of the Clouds, Richard Downing’s personal letters of his life in West Whiteland in the 1850s, The Guernsey Cow, and the Valley Creek Coffee House and much more.
Janice will be presenting the book during the township’s 250th anniversary celebration at The Chester County Library in Exton on February 26 2015. You can register for two free events that day: an ice cream social and Janice’s presentation of the history of the township in images. You can register for these events here.
Last year saw the passing of the last of the Polite brothers that managed The Guernsey Cow in Exton, Pennsylvania for decades. Joseph E. Puliti/Polite (aka “Pep” or “Peppy”) died March 31, 2014 just shy of his 90th birthday.
The youngest of the brothers, Pep became the chief ice cream officer at The Guernsey Cow until its sale to Horn & Hardart in 1976.
Pep went to and played football at West Chester High and then at Appalachia State until he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and entered into World War II. During the war, he was stationed in the South Pacific.
Upon returning home from his Marine Corps service he attended the University of Maryland, graduating in 1950 with a degree in Dairy Technology. At Maryland, he met his future wife, Barbara. They married, moved back to the Exton area and had three children: daughter Wendy and sons, Kerry and Kim.
Pep resumed his duties at The Cow and, for more than 25 years, was the father of invention when it came to ice cream flavors. He boasted that the list of flavors tried was over 400. He had his successes (Black Licorice) and his duds (Roquefort or Moon Dust) that often were inspired by current events, customer requests, or his own wild imagination.
He often surreptitiously included alcohol in flavors such as Rum Raisin, Egg Nog, Grasshopper and Turkish Coffee especially around Christmas time. Pep posted a few of his flavorful stories in the comments here.
We grand-nephews and -nieces recall Pep as the happy-go-lucky one of the brothers. He always had a joke and was willing to horse around. His son, Kim, told me a few years ago:
“Peppy’s famous gratuitous phrases for pushy customers were ‘Help your fat’ and ‘Maximilian’ (for ‘Thanks a million’) which were spoken so quickly as to be partially unintelligible.”
While Pep wasn’t making ice cream and caramels he was playing golf at Whitford Country Club and running a garage door opener business on the side.
Following the sale of The Cow in 1976, Pep moved West to Colorado. An avid skier and cyclist, the Colorado Rockies beckoned. He followed professional photographer son, Kim, to Denver for 8 months then landed in Durango CO where he opened up Swensen’s Ice Cream Parlor downtown.
After a few years he sold the shop and eventually joined the Durango Silverton Railroad where he was in charge of concessions on the train and in the station. He enlarged the offerings there from just snacks to include clothing and gift items, increasing concession revenues and turning it into a million dollar venture.
In 1998, he moved back to West Chester to be closer to family. He took a role as the “Candy Man” at Boscov’s in the Exton Square Mall next door to the original Guernsey Cow property. As his daughter Wendy recalled, “He ended his career making fudge at Boscov’s next door to the place he started his career making caramels at The Cow.”
In 2003, he moved to Ann’s Choice in Warminster, PA, enjoying a group of friends for biweekly lunches as well as a regular breakfast group, and living independently the rest of his life.
I am grateful to Uncle Pep for the information and knowledge he provided in the early years of building TheGuernseyCow.com. I enjoyed his frequent emails containing stories of old Exton and the hijinx at The Guernsey Cow. His comments are throughout this site as well as on the Facebook page dedicated to The Cow and Exton memories. We’re lucky to have them.
Special thanks to Pep’s children for providing memories and photos.
My cousin , Kim Puliti, sent me this photo from August of 1968 a while back. Am assuming that’s him and his brother Kerry trapped in the ice cream room window with the empty 5-gallon bulk ice cream containers on a hot August day.
Join friends, family, and former employees at the Exton branch of the Chester County Library on Thursday, July 19, 2012, from 4 to 6PM to celebrate the library’s mural dedicated to The Cow:
A celebration at the Library to recognize Exton’s past history. For years the Polite family ran a local ice creamery and restaurant in Exton that was known as the “ Guernsey Cow”. We now have a mural in the library dedicated to the “cow”. Come out to see the beautiful mural and help us celebrate with ice cream and activities as we remember a part of Exton history.
Over the past year there’s been a lot of interest in The Guernsey Cow locally and on the web.
Last summer we helped some folks from West Whiteland Township Historical Commission with piecing together and cataloging the remnants of The Cow sign they have stored in a local barn.
Over the past many months, the Chester County Library main branch in Exton has been undergoing interior renovations. One result of their work is the newly installed wall seen below that memorializes The Guernsey Cow and its place in Exton history. Copy was provided by my brother, Brian at McGlinchey Communications.
Most of the images come from the various bins of material that my grandmother kept over the years. She and my grandfather would be very pleased to see and know that The Guernsey Cow remains in the hearts of many and that lots of new people will be introduced to something they and many others put their hearts and lives into for so many years.
Stop by the library in Exton, get some books and look for The Cow!
Willie Minor, an icon and goodwill ambassador for Exton, Downingtown, Coatesville and beyond is now riding that great bicycle in the sky. He was greeted into heaven with endless high fives and locked thumbs — Willie’s traditional greeting for our family whenever we met.
In the late 70s and into the 80s we often joked with Willie that he was the Fonz from Happy Days and he wore this sweatshirt all the time. Like the Fonz, everyone wanted to hang with Willie and all the chicks dug him.
He was a loyal friend to all and especially to my grandfather who he accompanied on many trips far and wide to pick peaches and other fruit, run errands and check in on people.
I started this blog New Year’s Eve 2007, a little over a year after my grandfather, Larry Polite, died about six weeks short of his 98th birthday. As we moved my grandmother, Gladys Polite (or Marmsie as we and many others knew her), out of their apartment and into assisted living we needed to move a lot of the things they collected and kept through the years to new homes. My initial interest in just uncovering a fresh look at the things they held dear over the years turned into an effort to show her it was worth saving it all.
She had always been concerned about the things she saved and who would want them. Early on I convinced her that there are people out there that are interested in such things, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, and they will find them if we put them ‘out there’. Multiple explanations of ‘the Internet’ and ‘the World Wide Web’ were met with the same blank stares that my job descriptions garnered through the years. “Honey, you know I don’t know what you are talking about,” she would often say with the slightest of smiles.
As I started going through their things that marked their history with The Guernsey Cow and Exton, PA and Chester County in general, I would send her printed copies of the blog posts and the comments that people left. I would tell her how many people visited the blog, how far away people visited. What pleased her most is that people remembered and were actively out there searching for information about The Guernsey Cow and the history of Exton, PA. I think it also pleased her that saving “all this stuff” had been worth it.
In 2009, I launched another blog dedicated to her “stuff”. The Amercian Gothic Parodies blog is a showcase of her collection of parodies of the Grant Wood classic. When they were living in Exton, my grandmother had a wall in the basement dedicated to magazine covers, ads, greeting cards and more that used parodies of American Gothic. She continued to collect them on her own and from friends and family that knew of her obsession.
In December 2009, a student at The Arts University College at Bournemouth, England got in touch with me and asked permission to use the collection in her dissertation on Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World and Grant Wood’s American Gothic. She also asked some interview questions of my grandmother that I relayed. My grandmother was shocked and thrilled that her collection would spark the interest of a college student in England and that she would be included in it as well.
Last weekend, my grandmother, Gladys Polite, passed away at the age of 95. I have fresh boxes of the things she left behind to go with the many boxes that I’ve had for several years now. I’m actively digitizingthingsas I can and will share fresh material from The Guernsey Cow as I get to them. Know that your visits, your comments, your memories of The Guernsey Cow and Exton pleased her. Thanks for sharing here and on The Guernsey Cow Facebook page.