The Guernsey Cow From Above – New Photo

The Guernsey Cow Property ca. late 1940s

Both the beauty and sometimes agony of going through my grandmother’s collection of things she’s saved over the years is that I often find nuggets of gold among things that I wonder why she saved. I know they all meant something to her and she had her reasons for saving either to look at later or to share with me and the rest of the family.

I found the negative for this photo with a few other negatives in a pile of Christmas photos from the 1970s. This is an aerial photo of The Guernsey Cow and Sleepy Hollow Hall (aka The Massey House) shot from the South side of the Lincoln Highway (Rte 30). I’m guessing that it’s late 1940s. Perhaps someone with a keener eye for cars can pinpoint it better.

If you click on the photo you can see a larger version and see the shadow of The Cow billboard at the bottom as it appeared at the time.

Note that The Cow billboard was built once World War II ended, so this could have been shot soon after The Cow was put in place. Also note the position of the sign. This was taken before the highway was widened and The Cow sign had to be moved. See the difference in position based on this photo from 1974.

The Guernsey Cow Property circa 1974

For other aerial shots of Exton and The Cow see my previous post.

Reader Mail: Horn & Hardart Years

Last week, I received an email from Frank Lavin who worked for Horn & Hardart and managed The Guernsey Cow for a few years in the late 1970s.

I’ve edited the letter a bit for length:

I worked for Horn & Hardart from 1973 ( during High school ) through 1978 ( as a Restaurant Manager ).

Horn & Hardart took over the ‘Cow’ for a few years in the late seventies… I knew the ‘Cow’ was better off with the Polite’s. Horn & Hardart was in the process of closing stores (pretty much the end of the line for the once great company).

I worked at the ‘Cow’ for about 2 years when I just got out of High School in the restaurant as the night manager for H & H and later they brought me back to make the ice cream for not only the Exton restaurant but also the rest of their Philadelphia footprint of restaurants and retail stores.

I remember helping Willie move from his home inside the store to his new home in the small cottage next to the big home in the rear of the restaurant.

Willie was ‘great’ he helped me immensely.  I used to visit him ( after I left Horn & Hardart ) at least once a year until one day when I found his cottage was vacant. I spoke to someone who told me that he moved to Downingtown.

In a follow up email, Frank explained:

Yes, we used to ship the ice cream and also the caramels ( not sure who made the caramels for Horn & Hardart ) in the Guernsey Cow tubs to all the H & H stores in their Philadelphia market, such as:

  • Broad & Walnut
  • 12th & Market ( Reading Terminal )
  • Cottman & Large
  • 8th & Market
  • 16th & Market
  • Lansdowne
  • Lawrence Park 
  • Bala (City Line Ave) 

There were more, but these are some that I worked at.

I do remember both your Grandparents. Larry was a nice man. I was the afternoon manager and I spent some quality time with him. I was just out of High school ( very green behind the ears ) and he showed me around and taught me lot about managing the restaurant. 

Do you remember Mackie?  he worked at the Ship Inn and used to come in everyday?

I do remember Mackie as I’m sure many others do as well. He was some kind of character!

Thanks for writing in Frank.

Fun & Profit-Making inside The Guernsey Cow in the 1970s

Kids wear Amish hats at The Guernsey Cow in 1970
Kids wear Amish hats at The Guernsey Cow in 1970

My sister, Erin, brother, Brian, and I (in snappy jacket and tie) pose in Amish hats in front of the grill inside The Guernsey Cow, Easter morning 1970. Every Easter after church at nearby Sts. Philip & James we would gather at The Cow for breakfast. An Easter basket hunt out behind The Cow among the large trees and bushes with Willie‘s help was always the main event.

The other benefit to being grandchildren of the owners was searching for loose change that fell on floor beneath the ice cream counter. In the photo below from 1973, my brother, Brian, and I are caught in the act.

Kids search for change under the ice cream counter, 1973.
Kids search for change under the ice cream counter, 1973.

Thanks to my sister for borrowing these photos from our grandmother, Gladys’, collection!

If you have photos inside or outside of The Guernsey Cow, email me copies to post on the site — we’d love to see them!

Memorabilia: Spare a dime?


coinThese rubber squeeze change purses seemed to be all the rage back in the 1970’s when my brothers, sister, and I were growing up. Seemed like we were always getting new ones from various places. I don’t recall ever seeing this model. I think we found it in my grandfather’s desk last year.



[Note: I spoke with my grandmother this evening and she has reminded me that she has a pile of articles, photos, and more about The Guernsey Cow awaiting my next visit. So while my posts have slowed recently, we have a lot more in the works! So stick around in the coming weeks.]