Snow Day 2014!

Gertrude Wright out for a sleigh ride in Riverton, 1914

Gertrude Wright out for a sleigh ride in Riverton, 1914

Snow day!

When I started working at Riverton School in 1974, I remember the squeals of childish delight that followed that anticipated KYW radio announcement that school was called off on account of snow.

And that was just the teachers.

Later, administrators and PTA members developed complex phone chain networks that started with key people calling two people, who each called two more, and so and so on.

http://www.riverton.k12.nj.us/ screenshot Jan 3, 2014

http://www.riverton.k12.nj.us/ screenshot Jan 3, 2014

Now, I guess the kids get automated phone calls, text alerts, or check their computer.

I wonder how they got the word out a century ago when Gertrude Wright was a Riverton schoolteacher. Former resident Richard Flach sent this image from Florida of his relative enjoying a sleigh ride near 413-415 Elm Street in Riverton.

Gertrude Wright, undated Riverton School photo

Gertrude Wright, undated Riverton School photo

Gertrude Wright was the mother of Bay Wright Ruff, Riverton author and artist who passed away last year. Her family displayed much of her work along with many photos at her Quaker memorial service, including this remarkable undated Riverton School class photo, which I photographed.

The many characters of the Wrights, Showells, Flachs, and Waters families, like so many other Riverton clans of yesterday and today, have played out their parts on this Riverton stage, and much of it must be recorded in family albums, now even on computer memory and Facebook pages.

Some of the rarest images of old Riverton are probably the backdrops of family portraits stored in attics and drawers all across the nation. If future history buffs are to have any images of today’s ‘good old days’ to look back upon, please let’s try to supplement what seems to live on forever on YouTube.

As Betty Hahle, former Town Historian, told me, be sure to document what is going on today, for this is tomorrow’s history. One of her favorite memories was looking up Elm Terrace lined with gas lamps as the snow fell.

Please send us, or post on Facebook, any photos that show us how you have spent any past or present Riverton snow day.  – John McCormick

REVISED 1/20/2014: While we hardly can be said to go viral, this post engendered more interest than most. Visitor engagement is what every blogger strives for, including me, especially when I hear from people who take the time to respond to our work here. We got 10 “likes” on Facebook for this post, several of whom reminisced at the very thought of those childhood times of getting the day off on account of snow.

Hey, I’m retired now. Every day is like a snow day.

I was especially gratified to hear from Michael Cattell who pointed out a mistake on a caption when this post first ran and proposed an idea for a video with accompanying period music.

I sincerely thank Michael Cattell for correcting an error in the caption. Our conversation started on the Historical Society’s Facebook page and you can also see an exchange of our comments in the “comment” link below. His sharp eyes caught that the backdrop for the Gertrude Wright sleigh picture was actually on Elm Street in Riverton, and not in Palmyra as it was originally captioned.

He produced this short YouTube animated morphing video showing the old and new views dissolving back and forth as evidence. It is amazing how he perfectly duplicated the angle and perspective of the 1914 photo with his own new 2014 photo of the same Elm Street setting.

With some luck, this may develop into a longer video project contrasting his new photos and our vintage views of historic spots in Riverton.

To be continued, I hope… JMc

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2 Responses to Snow Day 2014!

  1. Michael Cattell says:

    A little extra info on the Sleigh photo: She is going toward the river, down Elm st (400 block), which is the border Street between Pal & Riv…the sleigh is on the Riverton side ( 413-415 Elm St), the photographer is on Palmyra side. Great Pic!!!

  2. John McCormick says:

    I first heard from Mike about this thru Facebook where we have a conversation on this topic. He is absolutely right about the location of this 1914 photo, which I never thought to question until he pointed it out. I will correct the caption. See my revised post with a link to a short YouTube vid Mike produced. I thank Michael for his comments and for so clearly illustrating his idea.
    Best regards,
    John McCormick

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