Written beautifully in black ink, the words "drunk and disorderly" repeat over and over again on a dusty page.
This book of York City Police records from 1932 proves perfect penmanship is truly a lost art. It's also a testament to the maxim that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Pulled recently from the clutter of an overstuffed attic, the book is just one among dozens temporarily stacked in a locked room at City Hall. Mike Shanabrook, the man with the key, jokes that he's still looking for the speakeasy files.
For decades, city workers used the attic at 50 W. King St. as many homeowners do -- as storage space for old stuff they can't justify tossing in the trash. But York's former municipal building is on the brink of a makeover.
As part of a $5 million project to renovate the building into a modern police station, the attic will be transformed into a gym and training room for police. City workers spent part of last month clearing the attic of clutter.
Lots of things -- such as paper duplicates of digital records -- ended up in the trash. But anything deemed "historically significant" was saved. Now it's Shanabrook's job to figure out where it all goes.
Officially, Shanabrook is the city's emergency planning specialist. But he's also the keeper of York's oldest documents, including street maps and planning records that date to the 19th century. His knowledge goes back even further.
York's streets were laid out before the United States of America even existed, Shanabrook points out. Somewhere in a locked room at the new City Hall is a small booklet referencing laws as old as 1757 -- laws tied to the crown of England, he said.
Other finds: In addition to the books found in the attic, Shanabrook has 18 boxes of loose documents to sort through. The oldest records found in the attic date to the 1880s -- the decade when York grew from a borough to a city.
They found a police chief's annual report from 1890-1891. Common crimes back then included horse dealing, begging, gambling on Sunday and being drunk and insulting ladies.
Trivia spills from the dusty pages. In 1905, for example, "it cost 25 cents to bury someone, to dig the hole," Shanabrook points out. They uncovered a death certificate from 1900, a list of uncollected taxes from 1937.
There are records from the late 1800s and early 1900s that detail health officials' efforts to find out how or why someone contracted a communicable disease like typhoid or cholera.
"Did they check the water? Did they check the ice and did they check the milk that the family used?" Shanabrook said.
Among the clutter was a book of dog-license holders from 1901 "which told you who the owner was, what type of dog it was and what the dog's name was," Shanabrook said.
Old police records: The police records are some of the most interesting finds.
"We found people that were charged with speeding on Philadelphia Street in the late 1800s and early 1900s," Shanabrook said. "You have to ask yourself, what were they driving?"
At a recent meeting, the York City Council authorized city officials to distribute historically significant documents to the Pennsylvania State Archives and the York County Heritage Trust.
Figuring out what goes where -- and what stays at City Hall -- is a job left to Shanabrook. He's not sure how long that might take.
"The physical labor is done. Now it's physically going through and looking at things and trying to come up with some recommendations," Shanabrook said. "There's a lot of stuff for me to digest, to try and get it in some order."
-- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.