Summer is finally here in central Pennsylvania. Walking around Wellsville there are kids playing in pools and sprinklers, horses seeking shade on a sunny day under their favorite tree, and the miserable, deafening, ear splitting cry of the Brood X cicadas. For readers not located in a cicada zone, I will do my best to describe the experience: imagine your car has a bad belt that starts squeaking. You get out of your car to check it and suddenly every other car on your street has the same squeaky belt. Then red eyed demons the size of your thumb with no sense of direction start bumping into you and landing on you. Then they all die, and their bodies litter your street. These bugs, while annoying, are fascinating in that they only emerge every seventeen years. This will be the eighth time in the history of Weaver’s of Wellsville the brood has emerged. We wanted to look back at what the world and Weaver’s of Wellsville looked like in previous broods.
- 2004: At Harvard University a student named Mark Zuckerberg had just launched a student networking website called The Facebook. Halfway around the world Saddam Hussein was standing trial for his crimes after being captured by American soldiers. Here in York County, Weaver’s of Wellsville was hitting stride as a distributor to independent supermarkets. Our fleet expanded to a fifth truck that year, and three of the nine warehouse sections we currently have had been built. At that point Chester County was as foreign to us as Nepal, but we were beginning to set our sights on a larger geographic footprint.
- 1987: Americans had just been introduced to a fictional family called The Simpsons, and in Wellsville, PA residents were being introduced to a baby boy. The current President of the company Craig Weaver and his wife Kim gave birth to their first child, Cole Weaver, who is one of three family members operating Weaver’s of Wellsville today. This was Ken (who was president in 1987) and Isabel Weaver’s seventh grandchild. At that time, Weaver’s of Wellsville was operating a slaughterhouse, a farmer’s market stand, and a limited distribution business focused mainly on restaurants in York, PA. The facility consisted of three small buildings: an office, a slaughterhouse/cutting area, and a production/packaging facility. These buildings still stand today but have been combined and incorporated into one structure.
- 1970: The year started off with the birth of Ken and Isabel Weaver’s first grandchild. As the cicadas emerged this year the world watched the Apollo 13 mission return to Earth against all odds, and the Weaver family favorite Baltimore Orioles were on their way to a world series championship season managed by the unrelated Earl Weaver. Weaver’s of Wellsville took a big step forward this year, attaching a cutting room to their slaughterhouse. Prior to this year, the room would be cleared to slaughter steers and hogs, the carcasses would be hung up in the cooler, and the next day tables would be moved in to break down the animals. This did not bring much extra comfort though, as Craig Weaver describes having numb feet at night working there as a teenager in the 70’s because the new building had no heat and 2-inch gaps between the door and the floor. The cutting room (now heated and insulated) is occupied by our retail butcher shop and deli today.
- 1953– Leaders are rising and falling around the world, as Joseph Stalin passes away and Elizabeth II is crowned Queen of England. In the meat industry, a small company called JBS, which by 2021 will be the world’s leading beef producer, begins operations in Brazil. In Wellsville, Pennsylvania Kenneth, his brother Walter, and their father Martin Weaver are operating a door-to-door truck in the Wellsville area selling meat and canned goods. Older residents still remember their visits from this “peddle truck”. This was the last cicada brood before Craig Weaver is born in 1956, and the last the founder of Weaver’s of Wellsville Jacob Weaver would see before his passing in 1964.
- 1936– In Berlin, Germany an athlete by the name of Jesse Owens was racking up gold medals in front of a stunned audience at the Olympics. In York, Pennsylvania an 11-year-old boy named Kenneth Weaver is patrolling his father and uncle’s farmer’s market stand swatting flies. For the rest of his life Kenneth had a fascination with swatting flies, telling anyone who would listen that pest control was his first job at Weaver’s of Wellsville. We can assume the emergence of the cicadas was to Kenneth what a South African water buffalo hunting trip is to a whitetail deer hunter. A picture of Ken and his brother Walter with their father Martin and uncle Rich can be found on the back of some Weaver’s of Wellsville trucks today.
- 1919– This year was marked by tragedy nationwide with the Spanish flu pandemic raging and civil unrest from the events of Red Summer taking place. It was also a year of hope, as young soldiers returned to the USA from the war in Europe, setting the stage for the roaring ‘20’s. One of these young men found his place at home with his father Jacob at his butcher shop in Wellsville, PA. 24-year-old Martin Weaver had fought bravely in Lorraine, France with the allied forces. Martin’s younger brother Rich, who was 13 at the time, would form the other half of Weaver Brothers Meats, the precursor to Weaver’s of Wellsville.
- 1902– In this year, a land speed record of 74 mph is set in Nice, France. In Los Angeles, the United States sees the arrival of its first movie theater. In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Pennsylvania Jacob and Lillie Weaver give birth to their sixth of an eventual seven children. Unfortunately this daughter Blanche would be the only one of their children to not reach adulthood. For the first time the cicadas emerge to a world blessed with the presence of Weaver’s of Wellsville. They must have marveled at the delectable smell of smoke enveloping the small town of Wellsville.
- Bonus: 1868– With the emergence of this brood, Civil War veteran Private Adam Weaver gave birth to their son Jacob Weaver. While there is no written record of the events of that day, local legend holds that the cicadas went silent and every smokehouse in Central Pennsylvania had their fires spontaneously lit with no human assistance.
We are anxious and excited to see what the 2038 brood will witness here at Weaver’s of Wellsville. Until then, we will be investing in ear plugs to remain sane through the end of this summer.