A Fire at Wardecker’s

On Friday at noon, I checked the Carlisle Sentinel on-line to see what, if anything, was in the news. An article saying that North Hanover Street, one of the two main drags through town, was closed. On reading the article, which was time-stamped 11:30 a.m., I learned that a fire in the building that houses Wardecker’s Mens Wear, was the cause of the street closing. I wasn’t too worried about my friend Freddy Wardecker, the proprietor of the business because he would surely have been able to get out of the building quickly. However, I was worried that his collection of Carlisle artifacts might have burned.

Wardecker’s Mens Wear, formerly Blumenthals, was in operation when the Indian School was located nearby at Carlisle Barracks. Mose Blumenthal worked as a tailor at the school and operated his store downtown. As a result of his close association with the staff and students, he established a business relationship with the school’s athletic department. Pop Warner or the Superintendent would send chits to Blumenthals that authorized the boys listed on the chits to be given clothing in the amount stated on the chit. The boys would come in to the store, select the clothing items they wanted, and socialize. Blumenthal had a page or pages in a ledger for each of the boys on which he would record the clothing they had received and the amounts he received in payment. If the clothing cost more than the amount on the chit, the boy had to come up with the difference.

In later years when these men returned to Carlisle, these men dropped in at Wardecker’s to visit and sometimes signed their photographs. The store has Carlisle Indian School memorabilia as well as irreplaceable original documents. It would have been a catastrophe had these items burned. Fortunately, they didn’t.

A visit to Wardecker’s is necessary for anyone interested in Carlisle Indian School and especially so for researchers. It’s good that it is still possible.

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