After all, Tomorrow is Another Day
by Cate Murway
“It all began with one truck and a dream. Operating out of his home, Louis "Peewee" Harris began the business with a combination of fuel oil delivery and service work. The company formally incorporated in 1956.” www.harriscomfort.com Anna Louderbough [Johnson] Harris, BHS class of ’34 is the widow of the late Louis “Peewee” Harris, BHS class of ‘31 who left school when his dad, Meyer died. They met at the American Legion while he was practicing for The Bracken “Cavaliers”, the first organized Junior Drum and Bugle Corps. Anna confirmed that she was very attracted to Peewee, as “he was a jokester; very outgoing and happy-go-lucky” and they were married in 1935.
The eldest of 4 children, Anna grew up on Swain Street with her parents Clarence Russell and Sarah "Sally"
[Louderbough] Breece, BHS ’12. [Mill Street merchant, Albert Baylies passed his Jewelry business to his son, Freeman, who was in Sarah Louderbough’s BHS graduating class.] Her stepfather Clarence worked in the Grundy Worsted Mill, the most successful of all the textile operations, as a supervisor and her mother was a proofreader for the Bristol Daily Courier when U. S. Senator, Joseph Grundy owned it. Anna remembers Senator Grundy and said, “He was always such a gentleman, always tipped his hat and said ‘good morning’ and he was a very good looking man with white hair and a moustache.”
Anna had three brothers, the late Clarence “Budgy”, BHS ’48 [originally nicknamed “Buddy” but he was unable to pronounce that!]; John, BHS ‘50, a retired oil burner installer for Meehan Oil Co.; and retired teacher and International Thomson Textbook Company salesman, Harry L. BHS ’52, who met his wife, Carolyn [Anderson] at (IUP) Indiana University of PA. Harry confirmed that even though their father died when they were very young, they “all behaved excellently”. Anna was a bit older than the boys but he “always remembers Anna as ‘loving to go shopping’!”
Louis and Anna originally settled in apartments on Mill Street and then on Radcliffe Street. They purchased a new home in Winder Village and then bought a family home on Swain Street. When they were first married, Peewee worked for Francis O’Boyle, zipping the stubby little ice cream vehicle around the neighborhood, selling hand dipped ice cream. [Ice cream was originally made to avoid discarding excess milk!] He also managed the indoor skating rink above the ice cream store on Farragut Avenue until the dramatic, worldwide economic downturn of the Depression set in. Peewee took over the Breece Oil business started by Anna’s stepfather that was then called S.L. Breece Fuel & Kerosene, run by her widowed mom.
“Take a good look my dear. It's an historic moment you can tell your grandchildren about…”
Home was not only where the family was, it was where the business was. They created an office in one of the rooms of their home. World War II had begun but Peewee was deferred from military service to run the needed home-based family enterprise that has become synonymous with excellence in heating and cooling services throughout Bucks County. The phones rang in their home and the oil tanks were located on Otter Street near the Otter Creek.
They relocated their family to a big stone house on Radcliffe Street in the Township and Harris Comfort continued its reputation for superior service and great value at its current location at 206 Otter Street. Anna smiled, “It was very exciting raising the 5 children and I miss it!” Many special memories are of them bringing their friends home.
Their children include, Harris Comfort President, David Meyer [wife, Jeanne], the Mayor of Hulmeville for the last 15 years, dubbed “the Marrying Mayor” by Harris Comfort VP, Bruce Quentin, BHS ’56 [wife, Christine]. [The town of Hulmeville takes its name from John Hulme and was originally called Milford.] David began in the family business, taking over the bookwork after being employed at the Farmer’s National Bank [now Wachovia]. He said he worked with his father from the time he was just 6 or 7 years old, riding about with him on deliveries. Stephen Clarence Harris [wife, Marina] is retired from Rohm & Hass and they share a home with Anna on DiGuiseppe Drive. Anna recalled, “Steve played ball and he was pretty good!”
Thomas Stanley Harris [wife, Patricia] of Edgely, has always been involved in the jewelry business and originally started his career with “Jerry the Jeweler” on Mill Street. The youngest, and only daughter, LPN Jeannie Ann Harris-Phillips, Woodrow Wilson ‘72/BCTHS [husband, Stanley] is President of the Bristol Jewish Center. Jeannie shared, “Dad was a very hard worker. Mom is the matriarch of the family and has always been “in charge”. According to Mayor David, “Mom never said ‘wait ‘til your father comes home’, she just took care of business.”
Their Aunt, the late Selma J. Harris was one of the original members of the Bristol Jewish Center congregation and she served on the Board of Directors. “Peewee’s sister, Selma was a good sister-in-law and she really cared about the kids as much as I did,” said Anna. Anna has 6 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren and she sees them all!
The family took many sightseeing excursions to historical places but one summer, an especially memorable destination was St. Augustine, FL while they were traveling to visit Steve at the Army base in Ft. Benning, GA. Fond memories include vacations that she and her husband took to Bermuda, St. Charles, and St. Thomas and their many trips throughout Europe.
She enjoyed dancing but her husband never danced! Peewee would drive her and her friends to the dances in Langhorne but he would leave.
The holiday dinners with abundant food were always cooked and hosted by Anna, who enthusiastically made the meal into an authentic feast serving the family’s favorite, her stuffing!
While growing up, most of Anna’s childhood was full of simple fun games like hop scotch, jump rope, tag and hide-and-go-seek. Bristol was an idyllic setting for kids on bikes, for strolling couples or for serene solitary ambling. A particularly sad memory is from the time she was only seven and was out of school for about 4 months. She caught diphtheria from her friend, Helen Phillips who succumbed to the upper respiratory bacterial infection. The diphtheria vaccine that offers the greatest protection against this disease had just been discovered.
She remembers always being interested in history, “don’t mention algebra but I was good in history.” One of her classmates from the Bath Street School is the longtime Borough barber, Joseph Peter Cuttone, BHS ’35. Coincidentally, Anna left school in 1932 to learn hairdressing.
Anna recalls having nice simple print pinafore dresses designed and made for her by an Aunt. No pants for girls at that time, jumpers and skirts were everyday attire. Her mom had her wear long underwear that she didn’t like. She loved rich delicious cornstarch pudding and her mother’s family recipe for homemade baked rice pudding that she still now makes for her Mayor son. There is nothing like eating something that has "Mom's Love" all through it. A “Mr. Risser” delivered homemade cakes that his wife baked, so Anna insists that her own mother never actually baked a cake. They were always served good hot “balanced meals” and her grandfather, Harry Louderbough [grandmother, Anna (McLaughlin)] was a prosperous wholesale butcher who raised and slaughtered calves in his back yard on Swain Street.
The name “Anna” is a variant of Anne, meaning favor or grace. As a youngster, she would swim in the canal and hitch a ride on the canal boat up to Dorrance Street. Once, Anna jumped off the front of the boat, hitting the Swain Street bridge and she fell under the boat. Anna, meaning favor or grace, smiled and said “Angels must have helped me or something.”
She remembers cowboy films for a nickel and movies at the Grand Theatre, especially “Gone with the Wind”. She took all of her children to see that one! The Civil War parts were her favorite; “Ashley was a wimp!”
She shopped in Smith’s Model Shop, Corn’s Lady Shop and Wagman’s [on the corner of Mill & Wood] for women’s clothing, and purchased her shoes and still does! from Ballow's Shoes, the oldest family shoe store in Bucks County. Other special retail stores were J.G. McCrory's and Grant’s, the successful five-and-dimes, where “everybody loved the soda fountain” and one could acquire something for almost nothing or, if not nothing, then next to nothing.
“O’Boyle’s ice cream was delicious, especially the strawberry and peach.”
Anna stated that the Townsend’s Restaurant [later Closson House Hotel and Keystone Hotel] on the corner of Bath & Otter Streets had good food. She really enjoys Italian cuisine and likes trying different dishes at “Cesare’s Italian Specialties Ristorante” [the closest thing to home cooking!]
Her favorite songs are patriotic songs, especially “America The Beautiful” and hymns.
What are her TV programs of choice?
“I have a hard time with television, I only watch the History channel and a little bit of the politics.”
“Frankly, my dear……”
The town has changed some but she still loves Bristol!
She used to know everyone in the Borough and unfortunately she feels now that it just isn’t that way anymore.
“It ain't fittin'...it ain't fittin'. It jes' ain't fittin'.......It ain't fittin'”
“We don’t have floods and mudslides and hurricanes. I wouldn’t want to move!”
“It will come to you, this love of the land…”
What change would she like to see in Bristol?
Anna would like specialty shops to return to Mill Street.
“After all, tomorrow is another day”
[Italicized quotes are from Anna’s favorite film, Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind”]
To recommend a Bristol Borough Character to be spotlighted:
American Heritage Dictionary
1.Moral or ethical strength. 2.A description of a person's attributes, traits, or abilities.
Bucks County Courier Times
Lifelong Bristol ResidentSelma Harris, age 92, died Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at St. Mary Medical Center. Born in Bristol, Pa., she was a lifelong resident. Prior to her retirement, she worked for the Atlantic Tea Co. in Bristol for many years and before this had worked for Enterprise Wall Paper Co. in Penndel. She was a lifelong member of the Bristol Jewish Center and was a member of the Golden Marks in Bristol. She also enjoyed going to the Oxford Valley Mall.Daughter of the late Meyer and Gussie[Silverman] Harris and sister of the late Louis (Pee-Wee) Harris and Harry Harris, she is survived by one niece, Jeannie Phillips and husband Stan of Bristol, four nephews, David Harris and wife Jeanne of Hulmeville, Stephen Harris and wife Marina of Bristol, Bruce Harris and wife Christine of Langhorne and Thomas Harris and wife Patricia of Edgely and her sister in law Anna Harris of Bristol.Family and friends are invited to attend graveside services on Friday, May 23, 2008 precisely at 2:30 p.m. at King David Memorial Park (Section R) 3594 Bristol Rd., Bensalem, Pa.In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Bristol Jewish Center, 216 Pond St., Bristol, Pa. 19007 Arrangements are under the direction of Molden Funeral Chapel Inc. Bristol, Pa.www.moldenfuneralchapel.com
Posted: Monday, January 26, 2015 7:22 am
Anna L. Johnson-Breece Harris of Bristol passed away Friday, Jan. 23, 2015,
at her home surrounded by her loving family. She was 99.
Born in Bristol, she was a lifelong resident. Anna attended Bristol High School,
and helped to run the family business, Harris Fuels, now Harris Comfort, in Bristol
for many years.
She was the past president of The Sisterhood of the Bristol Jewish Center,
and was a member of the Golden Marks and Shalom Seniors group.
She enjoyed cooking and loved to travel. Most importantly she was the devoted Matriarch of the family. Up until the past few years, Anna hosted all of the major holiday and family events.
Wife of the late Louis 'Pee Wee' Harris, she also was preceded in death by her father, Howard Johnson, her mother, Sarah Breece; and her brothers, Clarence 'Budgey', John, and Harry Breece.
She is survived by her five children, David M. Harris (Jeanne) of Hulmeville, Stephen C. Harris (Marina) of Bristol, Bruce Q. Harris (Christine) of Langhorne, Thomas S. Harris (Patricia) of Bristol and Jeannie A. Phillips (Stanley) of Bristol; eight grandchildren, David, Scott and Douglas Harris, Marilyn Fox, Candice Harris-Mundy, John Buck, Erica and Stacy Phillips; 18 great-grandchildren; her sister-in-law, Carolyn Breece; her faithful friend, Joan Schwartzwalder; her caregiver, Glondina Riddick; her faithful canine companion, Molly; and her nieces and nephews.
Family and friends are invited to attend her viewing from 9 a.m. until the time of her service at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, at Molden Funeral Chapel, 133 Otter St., Bristol. The Rev. William A. Teague and Rabbi Judith Abrahamson will officiate the services. Interment will follow in King David Memorial Park in Bensalem.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to either the Bristol Jewish Center, 216 Pond St., Bristol, PA 19007, or to the Salvation Army, 215 Appletree Dr., P.O. Box 824, Levittown, PA 19058.
To sign the guestbook or send a condolence, please visit the funeral home's Web site below.Molden Funeral Chapel,
BRISTOL BOROUGH >> Dave Harris,
president of Harris Comfort, will be honored as
Person of the year at the 2018 Bristol Fall Classic.
Harris, president of Harris Comfort, was chosen
by the Academic Oversight Committee
of the Bristol Borough Learning Centers
well-known as the AOC.
Harris is as popular, in his community and beyond, for his dedication to various charitable and educational organizations. Until 2017, the Bristol Borough native served as the mayor of Hulmeville Borough for more than two decades.
After graduating from Bristol High School in 1956, Harris attended Rider College (now Rider University), then went to work for the company started by his grandfather.
“I drove an oil truck. I started from the bottom and worked up,” said Harris, as he sat at his desk at the company’s Bristol location.
Over the years, and the generations --- Harris now works with his brother, Bruce, and sons, Douglas and Scott --- the company expanded its heating oil business to include installation of gas heating, air conditioning, and other services, including maintenance of energy systems. The company is located in Bristol Borough and Newtown serving customers on both sides of the Delaware River.
One of the reasons he was chosen was his support for his community locally and beyond, said Mary Gesualdi, President of the AOC. That seems like an understatement. The list of groups and organizations of which he is a member or director is impressive: Retired director of First Federal/Penn Community Bank; 50-year member and past president of the Bristol Rotary; member of the Bucks County Emergency Planning Commission; former board member of the Washington Crossing Council of Boy Scouts; and member and past president of the Better Home Heat Council of the Delaware Valley and the Pennsylvania Petroleum Association.
Harris drove ambulances and fought fires. He is a life member and a 60-year active firefighter who served as assistant chief and financial secretary for the Goodwill Hose Company No. 3, and a 55-year member and former chief of the William Penn Fire Company.
Harris and his wife Jeanne just celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary. Along with Douglas and Scott, the couple has a third son, David.
For all that --- and that’s not all of his activities --- Harris seems reluctant to talk about himself.
He called his community service and his 24 years as mayor of Hulmeville “an honor.”
Of the recognition by the AOC, he kept his remarks simple. “I must have done something right that people think enough of me to bestow this honor,” he said.
Proceeds from the Bristol Borough Fall Classic help support the education programs offered, and partially funded grants, from the 21st Century Learning Centers, PA Department of Education programming. S-T-E-A-M (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics enrichment programs are offered after-school at three Learning Centers at key sites in Bristol Borough to promote academic excellence, provide opportunities for social, emotional and physical growth, and foster civic pride and engagement for students and their families.
Summer programs include a STREAM camp (Science, Recreation, Engineering, Art, and Math).
This year’s Bristol Fall Classic will be held Saturday, November 17, 2018 from 7-10 p.m. at the Bristol Borough Public Works Building located at 92 Maple Beach Road. Catering will be provided by the King George II Inn, Bristol Borough’s premier restaurant, overlooking the Delaware River and selected as “one of 10 Restaurants in Pennsylvania that you must try in 2018.”
Tickets are $50 per person and are available for purchase at the Bristol Borough Tax Office, Pond and Mulberry streets; Great IDs by Anne, Radcliffe and Mulberry streets; and Mignoni Jewelers, 200 Mill Street during normal business hours. Every ticket purchased is automatically entered into a $1,000 Raffle with the winning ticket selected at the Bristol Fall Classic.