Salladasburg general store continues for generations
JERSEY SHORE – Salladasburg is a tiny dot on the map along rural Route 287, a two-lane rural blacktop that winds its way past forests and up and around the hills of Northcentral Pennsylvania.
Somehow, a few celebrities of note found it – and Cohick’s Trading Post.
Legendary film actress Katharine Hepburn visited the store as did actor James Cagney and football great Red Grange. Hepburn and Cagney each have their names imprinted on lunch counter stools.
“She (Hepburn) had butter pecan ice cream with chocolate sauce and a cherry,” said Sharon Yohe, a co-owner of the business.
Yohe still serves up that special Katharine Hepburn Sundae to anyone who cares to sample it.
The celebrity stools, the homemade ice cream are part of the allure of Cohick’s.
But the business has been Yohe’s life.
It was started in 1924 by her grandparents, Jim and Mildred Cohick.
“It started as an inn called Jim’s Inn,” Yohe said.
Despite its name, there were no rooms for lodgers.
Her grandparents sold plenty of merchandise out of the store.
“Jim and Mildred Cohick – The Trading Post and other Ventures,” a 1981 book authored by Carl B. Taylor, chronicles the history of the store and some of the history of the borough of Salladasburg and many families of the community.
Photographs sprinkled throughout the book help mark the passage of time for Salladasburg and as well as Cohick’s.
“This store has been added on seven times,” Yohe said.
Taylor noted that the “first version of the store was no more than an ‘open-air summer stand’ – a building 16 feet square which Jim had constructed out near Main Street and then screened in.” Ice cream, candy, chewing gum, cigars, and soft drinks were the store’s principal products.
The first of expansions to the building came in 1928, about the time electricity was introduced to the business. Groceries began to be sold out of the store followed by sporting goods, hardware and agricultural supplies. For a time, the second story of the building housed a pool hall.
In the 1930s, a beach for swimmers was created along Larry’s Creek directly behind the store. The beach drew hordes of people in the hot summer months and included a bathhouse that still stands along the stream’s bank.
By 1959, the store had expanded to 8,750-square-feet, or roughly, 55 times its original size, according to Taylor.
And, as the author also noted in his book, members of the Cohick family have worked full time in the store.
Yohe said she has been at the business practically her whole life.
She attended college for a couple of years but when her grandfather asked her to “stay on” at the store, she decided to do just that.
“I always said I hoped I would make it to the 90th year,” she said.
Yohe said she has long felt a certain obligation to continuing the family legacy of running the business.
And, she’s enjoyed her time with it.
She and her handful of employees pretty much take on all the different duties necessary to keep it running every day.
Change has been part of the store.
“We used to have a whole line of groceries,” she said. “It’s kind of limited now.”
Winter is the slow time for the store. Spring brings in the anglers and autumn the hunters and people out to look at the fall foliage.
Weekends are the busiest times of the week.
“On Saturday mornings, this will be filled,” Matt Bucher, who can often be found behind the lunch counter serving up food and drinks to patrons, said, pointing to the dining room at the front of the business.
And of course, the regulars are a big part of Cohick’s.
“We all come in here a lot,” said Bill Farr, who owns and operates a nearby Christmas tree farm with his brother, Todd.
The Farr brothers frequently come in to Cohick’s for meals or just a cup of coffee.
Todd said the atmosphere of the place can’t be beat.
“Everyone who comes in is friendly, it seems like,” he said.
As the brothers sat enjoying meals of meatball sandwiches with side orders of fries, they looked up to see a familiar face.
“How ya doin’ Ed,” Bill Farr said.
Ed Fisher immediately sat down at the table with the brothers, and soon they were rehashing memories about the store.
Fisher recalled buying his first chain saw at Cohick’s.
“I’m usually in here Monday through Friday for breakfast,” he said.
The breakfasts are served all day.
“The best part of the business is the ice cream and homemade food,” Yohe said.
The ice cream is made out of the back of the store and draws plenty of summer time patrons.
“It’s fun to make,” Yohe said.
Cohick’s also is known, she said, for its big wheels of sharp Cheddar Cheese.
Mostly, the store is a place where generations of families have come for meals, for merchandise, or just to meet up with someone.