Town Historian Betty Hahle wrote dozens of installments of her “Then and Now” column for the Gaslight News over four decades. The trademark feature of her well-researched articles was to trace the history and development of an organization or business, or to examine the achievements of a key individual.
I am still awestruck when I imagine her combing through microfilm, books and special collections at libraries, and traveling to Mt. Holly, Burlington, and Trenton to research deeds and legal records. So much of what gets recorded here and in the pages of today’s issues of the Gaslight News is a direct result of the hard work of many pioneering members of the Historical Society such as Mrs. Hahle and others during its early years.
So it is with the greatest respect that we reprise this apt descriptor for this modest essay about a location in Riverton that will be familiar to many –10 Broad Street.
My mid-April eBay purchase of a 1966 postcard from Olds Community, Inc. prompted this recent delving into the businesses operating back then and now from that Broad Street site.
A page from the July 1, 1965 edition of the New Era shows a large ad that reminds readers of that 75th anniversary edition of Riverton’s hometown newspaper, “For fifty-one years the shop which now serves as our service center has been repairing automobiles for Tri-Boro residents.”
You needn’t do the math – the Oldsmobile retailer had been at the same spot since 1914 and, ironically, the ad copy expressed a wish “… to be around when the New Era celebrates its 100th.”
Obviously, neither Olds Community, Inc., Oldsmobile, or the New Era survived to the present day. Our aim is not to lament the past, but simply to understand it.
One man who has witnessed much of what has transpired in Riverton for 78 years is Mr. Stan Walters, of Stan’s Auto Service which has operated since 1992 out of that same Broad Street address used for so long by Olds Community and later by JAAMCO Transmissions. Lou, Stan’s wife, confirms that on May 15 the business will celebrate its 21st anniversary.
The walls of the shop stand witness to Stan’s lifelong fascination with trains and cars. He has lent me some of his Riverton and Palmyra railroad photos to scan for the website before, so I’ve come back with some prints of postcards and newspaper ads I have scanned in trade to add to his display.
Stan pointed out on his wall a photo of the old Riverton freight station that Joe Stack managed and he immediately flashed on how after school his friends and he would drive Joe crazy by racing up those steps and down the ramp on the other side.
That triggered another memory about the track siding that once ran along the Collins Building and the other end wound up between Lincoln and Elm. During the growing season trains ran boxcars filled with tomato plants down the siding and he and other kids would work all day loading up trucks for the local farmers. His pay—a bundle of about 25 Rutgers tomato plants.
Trains also delivered coal to bins at the Collins Building, and truck driver Joe Williams then transported the fuel to homes in the area.
Besides picking up some more local color I also borrowed a large postcard that served as an “urgent invitation” to come in for a test drive at Olds Community.
If you can add any information, images, or actual items relating to 10 Broad Street in Riverton, Olds Community, JAAMCO, Stan’s Auto Service, trains, Campbell’s Soup, or other related idea, please contact us so that others can see and read about it.
Besides, Stan still has some room left on his walls. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor