Clair Good: An institution in Manchester borough
In the early morning hours of Feb. 18, 1963, Clair H. Good woke up to a fire alarm and looked out his window to see flames rising from Manchester borough hall.
Good, who was borough council president at the time, raced to the building and was the first person on the scene.
He said he knew all of the borough's records were inside on the second floor, so he enlisted the help of a business owner from across the street to go into the building with him and retrieve the filing cabinet.
"The ceiling was wood, and the fire drops were falling all around us," he said.
Fire crews from eight nearby departments worked for two hours to get the blaze under control, but the borough hall and the adjacent foam products factory were destroyed, The York Dispatch reported at the time.
The borough lost its municipal building but kept its records and other documents thanks to Good's quick action.
Good told this story during an interview at his home Wednesday as he reflected on decades of public service in his hometown.
His 100th birthday was Sunday.
Changing times: Good served three terms spanning the 1960s on the Manchester Borough Council.
He oversaw the installation of the borough's first traffic signal in 1966 near the center of town where the Rutter's gas station is now, a far cry from when he was a child doing his school work by kerosene lamp.
Good said he remembers watching men from the Works Project Administration dig ditches along the road to install the borough's first water line.
"The WPA, they dug them with picks and shovels," he said. "They didn’t have the equipment they have today. They dug all the ditches by hand."
Good spent 15 years on the school board for Northeastern School District and represented the district on the York Adams Tax Bureau. He was also appointed to the borough's zoning hearing board and served as secretary for the Northeastern York County Sewer Authority.
He's been the choir director at his church for 84 years, a leader of the Boy Scouts' drum and bugle corps, and director of an ad hoc Christmas band that played carols around town every December.
Good, a trumpet player, continued playing his instrument regularly until about a year ago, he said.
These days, Good likes to eat breakfast at Bobcat Creamery, an ice cream shop and restaurant owned by two Northeastern High School graduates who employ current students and teach them the fundamentals of running a business.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he ate the same breakfast every day at the creamery: two eggs, toast, potatoes and coffee.
The creamery recently reduced the number of days it serves breakfast, manager Vicki Anderson said. The rest of the staff and customers haven't seen "Mr. Good," as they call him, as often as they used to, and they all miss him, she said.
"I bet I can count on one hand the amount of times he had to pay for his breakfast," Anderson said. "Somebody always paid for his breakfast."
Good lived through the Great Depression, served as a medic in the U.S. Army during World War II and returned home to Manchester to raise a family with his high school sweetheart, Mildred.
He's maintained a busy schedule all his life, which his daughter, Claire Jordan, said is likely why he's lived to be 100.
"He has constantly been active and involved in things," Jordan said. "It keeps him going, physically and mentally, and I think that’s a key to a long life."