Homeland resident Hannah Sprow: Remembering special summers


Hannah Sprow is Steelton born and bred, but her heart belongs to a cabin in the woods.

From childhood, Hannah and her family would spend summers amid the forests of Pine Grove Furnace.

“I loved that place,” she says. “It was more like a home to me than my own home.”

Today, Hannah is a resident of Homeland Center skilled care, enjoying the company of attentive staff and offering her family peace of mind from knowing that she is well-cared-for.

Hannah’s father was a tax collector and sheriff, working in the Steelton Borough office. Her mother cared for Hannah and her siblings.

One day, while walking to high school, a friend pulled up and said that his friend, Bob Sprow, would like to take Hannah out on a date. Bob had already graduated from high school, but they started going steady.

“That’s where it started,” Hannah says. After she graduated from high school, they got married – but with a twist.

“We were married six months before anybody knew it,” she says. “Marrying him was the best thing I ever did.”

They kept their marriage a secret because Hannah was still young, but when the family learned the news, “they didn’t have much to say about it,” she says.

“My father helped me. My mother helped me,’’ Hannah recalled with a smile. “Every time I wanted to cook something for dinner, I’d call her on the phone, and she’d tell me what to do.’’

The young couple got an apartment with a view up and down Steelton’s main street. Their three children, two boys and a girl were born while they lived there.

Soon after the birth of their youngest daughter, Luanne, the family moved to Steelton’s East End, where they enjoyed being part of the tight-knit community. Across the street, her friend Lucille fixed up her basement, and the women would get together for exercise while the kids were at school.

The Sprow boys were athletes at Steelton-Highspire High School. Luanne was a cheerleader. Every Sunday, the family stepped out the back door of their home and walked a few steps straight to the side door of their church, Mt. Zion Methodist.

“I never got bored,” says Hannah. “I always had something to do.”

Luanne agrees that those were eventful years.

“It was great,” says Luanne, who still lives in Steelton and remains a proud Steel-High Roller. “We had a lot of fun. I was a lot younger and the only girl. We enjoyed being together.”

Those summers in Pine Grove Furnace are etched in Hannah’s mind. When she was a child, the family would stay in the historic ironmaster’s mansion, now a hostel and event venue. In 1944, they built a cabin on their land – Hannah’s dad completing the shell and her husband fitting out the interior.

“It was beautiful,” Hannah recalls. “Our porch was so big that when it was hot, the kids would sleep on the porch.”

For years, the cabin was the Sprow family getaway, and it remains in the family.

“As soon as school was out, our bags were packed,” Luanne says. “We stayed all summer long.”

After Bob retired, the couple continued spending summers in Pine Grove. They also traveled to Myrtle Beach in the winter – although they were usually ready to come home before their three months were up.

Bob died in 2011, after 70 years of marriage. Hannah, who has six grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, came to Homeland in 2018.
“I meet a lot of nice people,” she says of Homeland.

“It’s wonderful,” Luanne agrees. “They’ve been very good to my mom. They’re taking very good care of her. We’re very happy with Homeland.”