Joanne Creason remembers working her father’s neighborhood movie theaters in Harrisburg. She did everything but run the projector – booking movies, selling tickets, working the concessions counter and keeping a close eye on the children attending the Saturday matinees.
“They could misbehave a little until I caught them,” she said.
Joanne lives in a Homeland Center personal care suite featuring a photo display of her eight children. The Harrisburg native has lived at Homeland for more than 4 years.
Growing up, she attended Harrisburg Catholic High School – now Bishop McDevitt. She loved her math classes, “which was unusual for a girl,” and was valedictorian of her 1937 graduating class.
Joanne was an only child, although her parents raised a cousin, one and a half years older, who was like a sister to her. Her father, Walter Yost, starting his theater business by buying one building and then built two more – the Grand, the Pennway, and the Roxy.
“He loved the theaters, and the closeness with the people,” she said.
Joanne’s mother, Agnes Yost, made hats for a milliner in Harrisburg before she married and often put her sewing skills to use in the family’s theater’s repairing seats.
“She could sew beautifully,” Joanne said, recalling the feathered hats she favored. “She was quite a seamstress. She had wonderful taste.”
A sample of her mother’s meticulous work hangs on the wall in Joanne’s room. Eight framed photos of children – six boys and two girls – dangle on fabric bell pulls adorned with tassels. The eight are Joanne’s children – David, John, Richard, Bob, Mary Lynn, Elizabeth, Jim, and Bill.
Joanne met her husband, Lynn Creason, when he was in the Army and took a wrong bus. His destination was supposed to be Indiantown Gap, but he realized he was going the wrong route. An avid golfer, when the bus passed the Colonial Country Club outside Harrisburg, he decided to take a look. He was in uniform, and members invited him to play.
At the course, he met Joanne, 20 at the time and a golfing enthusiast as well. They started talking, and Joanne liked the paratrooper’s brashness.
“My mother said I fell in love with his jump boots,” Joanne said, smiling.
Following Lynn Creason’s Army service the family returned to Harrisburg, where Joanne and Lynn worked for her father’s theater business.
Joanne also pursued her love of golf and was recognized as “one of the state’s top feminine golfers,” according to news accounts over about 20 years on the competitive circuit. She led a 1954 regional tournament with help from “one brilliant shot,” wrote a sports reporter.
“Choosing a 3-iron, she rifled a tremendous 160-yard hit dead to the pin,” the news story noted. “The ball hit the green, bounced once and rolled directly into the cup for an eagle-2. No other contestant in the tourney could better par-4 for the same hole.”
In her suite is a laminated photo from the August 3, 1952, Harrisburg Patriot-News in a year Joanne didn’t win the Harrisburg District Women’s golf championship. In the photo, she’s holding 7-week-old Jim while four of her other five children wave to her. “That’s OK Ma,” the caption is headed. “You’re still our champ.”
Today, the children and Joanne’s grandchildren live in the area and elsewhere, gathering for family get-togethers when they can.
Joanne likes life at Homeland.
“I’m able to do what I want,” she said. “The staff are just like family. If you need something, they’ll jump up and help.”