PORT ROYAL - The Port Royal bicentennial may be a year away, but plans for the 200th anniversary celebration already have been outlined.
One committee of town natives has met for the past year and a half to compile a commemorative book filled with articles, photos and memories of the community from the past 200 years.
Sheila Yorks, the chief organizer for the book, said the product contains 376 photos on 212 pages, including images of the river bridge constructed in the 1930s, and snapshots of native Fred Frankhouse, a major league baseball player who shared the field with Babe Ruth. Photos and articles trace the steps of changes to the Juniata County Fair and racetrack.
In this 1938 photo from the bicentennial book, Judge R.E. Groninger cuts the ribbon during a dedication ceremony for the new bridge that spans the Juniata River in Port Royal.
In this 20th century photo from the bicentennial book, men work on repairs in front of the Mariette Shoppe on Market Street in Port Royal.
In this photo from the Port Royal bicentennial book, a late model feature race takes place in front of the grandstand at the Port Royal Fairgrounds.
"There are a lot of pictures that have not been seen (in public) before," Yorks said.
A glossy colored cover shows a bird's-eye view of the town, nestled along the Juniata River. Denny Hutchings designed the cover and logo for the bicentennial, Yorks said.
The cost for the book is $20. To have it shipped costs an additional $6. To order a book, send a check made payable to "Port Royal 200" and send it to 311 Fifth St., Port Royal, PA 17082.
Books also may be purchased at the Juniata County Historical Society Archives from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Books also will be available at Old Home Foliage Days.
The book committee was made up of Steve Bahorik, Connie Fenner, Jeff Haines, Leon Kepner, Ray Kohler, Dorice McClure Pontius, Audrey Sizelove, Wayne Taylor and Yorks.
Each committee member had a role, from writing and designing pages, to proofreading and selling advertisements, Yorks said. Many wrote based on their areas of interest and expertise, she said.
The committee broke the book into sections including early history, business and industry, the fair, community organizations, education, religion and more.
A local historian and author, Taylor wrote the first section of the book, which includes folklore about the American Indians, early history of Pennsylvania and the first settlers in Port Royal, originally named Perrysville.
Local writers such as Carlen McClure also contributed the book. She interviewed local residents and wrote their memories of the town in a "Remembrance" section, Yorks said.
"About anything you want to know about Port Royal in the last 200 years should be in this book," Yorks said.
Writing it brought back memories for Yorks. Glancing over the photos, she noticed a black-and-white of the Mariette Shoppe and a long wooden seat, known as the "loafing bench," nearby. As a little girl, she remembered wondering if the long bench grew out from between the two trees that it sat under.
Leon Kepner remembered sitting on the loafing bench to wait for a ride to a baseball game, she said.
The book also details tragedies that struck the town like the flood of 1936, and the murder of a woman who was poisoned by her husband in 1886.
It shares the joys of the turn-of-the-century minstrel shows, community bands and the town swimming holes.
Industries such as the Rae-Sel sewing factory to community stores like S.G. Beaver, and old school buildings such as the Tuscarora Academy, Airy View Academy and the Port Royal High School are commemorated on the pages.
"I thank the committee for all of the hard work they put forth," Yorks said. "It was well worth it. When the books start to sell, I think people will be pleased."
She also expressed her gratitude to others who helped with the book by donating photos, writing articles, editing and even lending a listening ear to the contributors.
On behalf of the committee, Yorks also thanked the Port Royal Lutheran Church, Turbett Grange, the Juniata County Historical Society and the Fifth Street Manor Apartments for letting them meet there to organize the book.
The Port Royal 200th anniversary celebration is scheduled for Sept. 28 to 30, 2012. More information about the history of the town also is detailed online at www.portroyal200.com. On the website are people and places searches, as well as links to a timeline, maps and videos related to the town.