Category Archives: Blog

Boardwalk Empire scenes and old postcards recall shore visits

Boardwalk Empire, Season Two, Episode 5, Opening Scene

Boardwalk Empire, Season Two, Episode 5, Opening Scene

You know you’re from New Jersey if you recognize the unusual structure in the distance of this scene from an episode of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

New York Times piece entitled The Atlantic City the Boardwalk Emperor Knew outlines some of the familiar places and landmarks of old Atlantic City in the popular series.

Like at the beginning of Episode 5, Season Two when my wife and I each caught sight of Lucy the Elephant Hotel in the distance, and then we reminisced so much about visiting it as kids that we had to rewind the DVR to catch the Nucky Thompson dialogue we had just missed.

It is amazing how a glimpse of an image can transport me back many years to the 1950s when a climb of the spiral staircase to the howdah on Lucy’s back rewarded this visitor with a spectacular view. It would make an impression on anyone.

Built in 1881 and now National Historic Landmark, this amazing and strange, larger than life-size pachyderm-shaped architectural structure has survived the ravages of devastating storms, neglect, and even re-location.

Lucy the Elephant 1909

Lucy the Elephant 1909

Yeah, I know there are already seven Lucy postcards on the site, but there’s always room for another variation on Lucy, The Margate Elephant.

This colorful 1909 postcard captures the simple beauty and charm of a familiar sight in South Atlantic City, now Margate, New Jersey.  Many families and especially children will recall their visits to see and even go inside Lucy while vacationing at the Jersey Shore. Certainly countless family photo albums must contain photographic images of Lucy, The World’s Largest Elephant.

Postmarked at Longport, N.J. on JUL 31, 1909, the sender inscribed a novel handwritten message on the address side. It says:

“Hello Elizabeth,  This thing is a place of amusement.  See the doors and windows just like a house.  It is just as large as a good size house.  Hilda”  On the front of the postcard the writer adds, “This is close to our cottage.”

Lucy  Foldcard #1Lucy  Foldcard #2Also, displayed here is another piece of Lucy-inspired ephemera – an unused folded mailer, copyright 1929, with the bonus of some facts about the architectural marvel.

Read much more about the history of Lucy right up to the present-day on the official website of the Save Lucy Committee.

Find more Lucy images and many more of Atlantic City on our ATLANTIC CITY, NJ Images page.  – John McCormick

 

 

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Auction Wins and Losses

Drug Store - Riverton, NJ

Drug Store – Riverton, NJ

biznes-4You win some… well, you know how it goes.

Here’s a real photo postcard (RPPC) that got away on an online auction.

It shows the New Leaf Tea Room in a previous incarnation as a drug store. This non-watermarked eBay image is better than many other auctions display.

Henry Street - Palmyra, NJ 1926

Henry Street – Palmyra, NJ 1926

A charming 1926 view of Palmyra’s Henry Street with three kids under a tree is another that got away.

It is another decent image for screen viewing, but resolution is too low to produce an acceptable print, as you find most images here.

Bank Ave., Riverton, NJ

Bank Ave., Riverton, NJ

This Bank Street postcard at right showing a perambulator, or baby carriage, and perhaps the child’s mother or nanny seated under a tree had a sole bidder – me.

chickenAs my friend Tommy Kuensel likes to kid, “Even a blind chicken finds a kernel of corn now and then.”

And then I found another kernel.

 

Moravian Church, Palmyra, NJ

Moravian Church, Palmyra, NJ

This time, it’s another view of Palmyra Moravian Church on Cinnaminson Avenue.

If you have a kernel, or a bushel, to share with like-minded time travelers, please contact me to arrange a hand-off.

I only recently ramped up from 600dpi to 800dpi when scanning postcards for archiving. Images displayed on the website are understandably lower resolution, but someday we may be able to grant the many requests for prints or enlargements of these images.

Camden Carnival #2, Camden, NJ, c.1904

Camden Carnival #2, Camden, NJ, c.1904

My friend, Harlan, a frequent contributor of scans to this website, scored a remarkable find when he came upon what he calls a “sister card.” He writes:

Here’s a companion, or sister, card to one I sent earlier which was entitled Camden Carnival.  This is one of my favorites and just acquired on eBay.  Look very carefully at the children on elaborately decorated wagons and carriages lined up in a parade formation for a festive Camden Carnival event.  Notice this well-documented location for this scene looking North by the intersection of Broadway and Line Streets with the Camden Free Public Library at the far right of this photo view.  This card was not mailed and bears no inscriptions on the reverse, or address side.  Date circa 1904, or thereabouts.  A magnificent showpiece!

You can see both Camden Carnival pix and many more on our CAMDEN, NJ IMAGES page.

Does anyone have a clue what patriotic themed carnival Camden would be having on October 1, 1904? An early Columbus Day Parade or a political rally? As always, we welcome your insights and comments. – John McCormick

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Those Wildwood Days – 1960s Style

Wildwoods - Fun Pier

Wildwoods – Fun Pier

A friend recently showed me some 1960s-era postcards he bought from a boardwalk vendor just a few years ago.

Excited to see reminders of his childhood Wildwood Days, Jack bought up all eight of the old chrome postcards the seller had.

Wildwoods - Pirate Ship, Hunt's Pier

Wildwoods – Pirate Ship, Hunt’s Pier

The picture postcards reminded him of many sweet memories from family vacations spent at the Wildwoods.

There was the Pirate Ship and the pier with all the other great rides he remembered - like the Hell Hole.

Once inside the barrel-like room, it spun around with enough centrifugal force to pin you in place against its wall.

Wildwoods - Sportland Pier
Wildwoods – Sportland Pier

 

Jack confessed to upchucking as he left the Hell Hole ride when he was about 8 or 9.

Good times.

Wildwoods - Marine Pier

Wildwoods – Marine Pier

The images didn’t quite fit the stereotypical view of the  “vintage” postcards we usually display here, but then I did the math.

A postcard from 1963 or 1964 is already fifty years old. That qualifies as an antique in automobile circles.

Large Letter Greetings from Wildwood-by-the-Sea

Large Letter Greetings from Wildwood-by-the-Sea

I guess we’ll just have to adjust our view of what is vintage.

Whatever your age, see the rest of Jack’s 1960s-era postcards plus many more from earlier times on our CAPE MAY & WILDWOOD IMAGES page.

We owe thanks to Jack Blank, Harlan Radford, Deb Whitcraft, and Jim Cutshall for providing scans of their Cape May and Wildwood postcards seen here. Many other collectors have contributed to the thousands of images in this virtual postcard collection. If you have any South Jersey/Philly postcards or real photos that you would like to give to the Society or lend for scanning, please contact us. – John McCormick

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Arthur not welcome here on the Fourth

Who invited this guy Arthur to Riverton’s Fourth? Everyone else is welcome to come, but send him on his way.

Arthur, of course, is the tropical storm that threatens to be a party spoiler, depending on the track it takes as it travels up the East coast Thursday into Friday.

There is no “rain date” for the parade, but the very thought that Riverton’s patriotic festivities might be in jeopardy gets people wondering.

When has the day ever been washed out? I don’t know.

Riverton's Fourth as described in The Phila. Inquirer, July 4, 1914

Riverton’s Fourth as described in The Phila. Inquirer, July 4, 1914

One hundred years ago no one was worried about a tropical storm. All thoughts were on the great Independence Day Celebration that lie ahead as described in the July 4, 1914 Philadelphia Inquirer .

A 1914 July Fourth Program just donated to the HSR gives more details of the big day including sailing instructions, prizes, and a history of the Yacht Club.

1914 Riverton Yacht Club Program

1914 Riverton Yacht Club Program

For a closer look at the rare hundred-year-old document, click on this link for a higher resolution PDF file.

Even I have heard of Facebook, but the appeal of Pinterest has eluded me. Then I read that it has an estimated 70 million users.

So I signed us up with the help of my friend Mike Solin who hooked us up with new buttons on our webpage for Facebook, Pinterest, Email, and Print.

Speaking of pictures, here are some Riverton homes decorated for the Fourth.

We will post some more pix of the great day and invite readers to send us some July 4th photos, new or old.

In fact, the older the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See you on the Fourth. – John McCormick

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Historic Preservation Awards debut at April 2014 HSR meeting

2014 Preservation Award Recipients

Gerald Weaber - Visual Approximation

Gerald Weaber – Visual Approximation

The idea to recognize remarkable examples of historic preservation of Riverton homes with an award in honor of Daniel Campbell originated with former HSR President Mr. Gerald Weaber, and this meeting now bears the fruit of his research efforts last year.

In succeeding him as HSR President, Phyllis Rodgers and an expanded HSR Board followed through this season to launch a new Preservation Award Night, held April 10 at the Porch Club, in which The Society recognized a number of people for their noteworthy home renovation projects. (The March 2014 Gaslight News previously profiled the homes and briefly explained the award. )

Paul Daly, Treasurer

Paul Daly, Treasurer

HSR President Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers called the meeting to order and a short requisite business portion of the meeting included various announcements as well as a customarily thorough treasurer’s report by Paul Daly, our own esteemed CPA on the job.

preservation 06

Paul Schopp, right

Phyllis introduced Paul W. Schopp and congratulated him on his recent (March 5) designation by Riverton Borough Council as Borough Historian. Mrs. Rodgers noted Mr. Schopp’s vast knowledge of local history as well as contributing his invaluable expertise to the Society to past projects.

Mr. Schopp said that it is “hard to fill the shoes” of the former Town Historian, Betty Hahle, but he would do his best. (The position of Town Historian has been vacant since Mrs. Hahle passed in April 2011.)

Paul has certainly been my go-to guy for fact-checking stories and getting hard-to-find resources during my tenure as editor of the Gaslight News. Our former HSR President, Gerald Weaber, concurs saying, “No one else comes close to his encyclopedic knowledge of all things Riverton.

Mrs. JoAnn DiNoia, left: Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers, right

Mrs. JoAnn DiNoia, left: Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers, right

At the meeting Mrs. JoAnn DiNoia, Porch Club President, and Phyllis Rodgers displayed the Porch Club’s new sign, a cooperative project of  the HSR and The Porch Club.

IMG_1314

The sign was erected at a later date near the Club’s entrance.

Mrs. Rodgers then turned attention to our honored guest, former Riverton resident, Mr. Daniel T. Campbell, AIA. A distinguished past president of the Historical Society of Riverton and editor of the Gaslight News, Daniel Campbell is a Historic Architect widely recognized for his experience in restoration and preservation of historic architecture.

Dan Campbell

Dan Campbell

Citing his past preservation projects and honors, she explained “…it is therefore fitting” that the new HSR Preservation Award be named for him. Read more about Dan Campbell here and see more details about the award named in his honor here.

Award certificate and etched crystal paperweight

Award certificate and etched crystal paperweight

Then matters moved on to the main event - the presentation of five 2014 Daniel Campbell Preservation Award certificates and crystal diamond paperweights etched with the Society logo.

 

Dr. Michael Horn

Dr. Michael Horn

At the meeting we heard from Dr. and Mrs. Horn, Helen Hughes, John Laverty, and Michael Spinelli as they recounted the pleasures and pitfalls of renovating an old house.

 

the_money_pit Ummm… I think I saw that movie before.

Some of us even remember the original 1948 Cary Grant/Myrna Loy comedy film, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, in which a hapless couple purchases a mr-blandings-builds-his-dream-house2200 year-old farmhouse only to meet a long litany of unforeseen troubles and setbacks.

But these Riverton characters had studied their parts and each story had a happy ending, resulting in homes absolutely transformed from their former states.

Check out the continuing saga of Helen Hughes’  renovation of the Biddle Mansion at 207 Bank Ave., and another about John Laverty’s home at 616 Main.

Here’s a few more snaps from the meeting.

Above photos by Susan Dechnik, John Laverty, and John McCormick

Start looking around your neighborhood for some potential Preservation Award nominees for 2015. – John McCormick

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Carlos Rogers made Riverton history again June 8, 2014

criterium jerseysHistory records the names and deeds of Riverton’s founders along with achievements of many citizens who have contributed to the Borough’s development. Know that these movers and shakers, these difference makers, who influence, inspire, energize, and improve us are not just mentioned in dusty old archives but that each age has its champions who leave a lasting legacy. Carlos Rogers, originator of the Historic Riverton Criterium, is a Riverton champion of the age in which we live.

The Historic Riverton Criterium, now in its fourth year, really is historic in that it is important, significant, consequential, and memorable. Riverton resident and race promoter Carlos Rogers has created an event, according to the HRC Facebook page, with a threefold mission, namely:

To promote the sport of bicycle racing, increase the visibility of Riverton as a historic residential and business community, and provide charitable contributions from proceeds of the race to local organizations.

He has succeeded famously on all three counts.

Participants and spectators alike now have many memories of how Carlos Roger’s dream to bring the excitement of a competitive cycling event to Riverton has come to herald the beginning of Riverton’s summer season. As the contest has grown in popularity, it has gained prestige among the racing community; success begets success.

For a compelling description of the phenomenon that has become the Historic Riverton Criterium from an athlete’s perspective (read that as, not from a geriatric newsletter editor’s view), see cyclist Mark Featherman’s personal account in The Featherman Chronicles. (He relates a bit of Carlos’ back story and includes a streaming ten-minute video shot from his bike during the race that takes you along for the ride.)

Dave Casale, another athlete who knows the deal with the HRC, describes his experience in the 2014 race in his blog:

The Historic Riverton Criterium is a top notch local race. It takes place on beautiful tree lined streets in South Jersey’s Riverton, passing the local police department, library, middle school, a church, and the promoter’s own house, all in a quick 1:36 lap. It’s local while it still has the feel of a much bigger race; it’s homey enough that you don’t mind setting up your beach chair on one of the neighbor’s front lawns, but you’ll likely target it as a priority race during the season. The prize money is very good, the competition can be fierce, yet all the kids running around the neighborhood still manages to keep the event feeling stress free, at least until you clip in.

For evidence that visibility of Riverton has increased as a result of the HRC, one need only to pick up a newspaper, turn on a TV, or check one’s newsfeed. Local newspapers, as well as a mention in May’s South Jersey Magazine publicized the event. (Most links to newspaper stories require a subscription to view.)

The unexpected bonus for the community has been the philanthropic aspect that has been part of each Historic Riverton Criterium since the first one launched in 2011. Various area organizations have directly benefited as a result of Carlos’ altruism including Riverton Free Library, Riverton Memorial ParkPolice Unity Bike Tour – Patrolman Jeff WalkerPalmyra Ambulance AssociationRiverton Shade Tree CommissionBoy Scouts of America Troop 9, Christ Episcopal Church (Riverton), Historical Society of Riverton, and Palmyra-Riverton Athletic Association.

So while the athletes have come here each second Sunday in June since 2011 for the chance to win recognition, rewards, and bragging rights, many thousands of dollars in contributions from race proceeds have had a big impact on the treasuries of local community groups.

Carlos’ success with this modern race caused another consequence by influencing ex-Riverton resident Rob Gusky to organize the recent Historic Riverton Century bicycle ride in 2014 to commemorate the 1895 New York Times Tri-State Relay Race from New York City to Riverton.

By definition then, Carlos Rogers and his Historic Riverton Criterium are now part of the pages of history recorded on rivertonhistory.com as well as here and elsewhere. We congratulate Carlos for his leap of faith in Riverton’s ability to embrace a new tradition and thank him for his extraordinary generosity in contributing thousands of dollars of race proceeds to area causes and organizations.

We wish to see the Historic Riverton Criterium continue for years to come and hope you enjoy these glimpses of some of the good times and excitement the 2014 event generated.

Slide show photos by John McCormick. Featuring Joshua Matisoff, the Balloon Guy, Wade’s Snooo Train, appearances by The Wheelmen, and music by Package Goods
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Historic Riverton Century Riders Arrive

Are they here yet? Are they here yet?

Are they here yet? Are they here yet?

A small but spirited crowd welcomed the police escorted cyclists as they arrived about 7:29 p.m., almost two hours behind their scheduled appearance here because of flat tires and broken spokes.

District Riverton Bistro, Susan Dechnik, Ryan Brandenburger

District Riverton Bistro, Susan Dechnik, Ryan Brandenburger

More details in a later post, but for now, all riders’ thoughts are on a quick shower and the team dinner at The District Riverton Bistro.

The next acts of this Riverton reality series follow on Sunday with the 10 a.m. dedication of the historic marker for the Riverton Bicycle Track and then the return of the Fourth Annual Historic Riverton Criterium at 1:00 p.m.

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- Video by Chris Halt, Stills and story by John McCormick

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News from the front

HRC riders in NYC this morning

HRC riders in NYC this morning

This just in… heard from Helen Mack on the road to Nancy Hall’s phone to Susan Dechnik’s, to mine, then directly to you…

It looks like the riders will be delayed in their arrival to Riverton by an hour or more. I am going over to Riverton now to help cheer them upon their arrival around 6:30-7:00 p.m.

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Make some noise Saturday and welcome the riders

rivertons bike track signHere are the event details Rob Gusky posted on eventbrite.com about the Historic Riverton Century bike ride, scheduled for this Saturday, and the historic marker dedication, slated for the next day.

Come out and give the riders a big Riverton welcome.

Come out and give the riders a big Riverton welcome.

Although no gold medals await the finishers of this recreational ride as did the winners of the of the 1895 New York Times Relay Race, we can give the riders a big Riverton welcome when they get to town around 5:30 p.m. after their 100+ mile ride.

A police escort will meet them and lead the them on a circuit through Borough streets on their way to the finish line behind the Riverline Station. Check out the map and come out and make some noise to welcome the athletes to Riverton after their arduous journey. - John McCormick

 

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Be here this weekend for two cycling events and a historic marker dedication

The Start, June 8, 1895

The Start, June 8, 1895

Rob Gusky has given frequent updates on his Facebook page about the Historic Riverton Century ride he organized. Like the original 1895 cycling event, this one originates from New York City and ends here in Riverton.

But the landscape has changed considerably between the Big Apple and our little borough in the intervening 119 years since six-man teams representing the states of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey competed in the New York Times Tri-State Relay Race.

Rob writes from his home in Wisconsin:

We are leaving for Riverton tomorrow morning (Thurs.) and plan to arrive in Riverton Friday afternoon, then head up to NYC by train with our bikes.  If all goes well, we will be back in Riverton after the 100 mile journey at around 5:30 pm, the Riverton Police Dept. is providing us an escort once we return to town and we will ride about 3.5 miles through town ending up at the Riverline Station.

In 1895, the New York Times reported…”there were gathered crowds of interested people at every town and hamlet through which the cyclists flew.” Teams were easily recognized by their colored sashes; New York racers wore blue, Pennsylvania men wore white, and the New Jersey team wore red.

At the Finish in 1895

At the Finish in 1895

The grandstands of the Riverton Athletic Association’s bicycle track were filled to capacity with fans, many of whom had arrived by special train. Winners received gold medals and rock star-like popularity during that Golden Age of Bicycling.

Be on hand to cheer on Rob and the two dozen or so other cyclists when they arrive at Riverton some time after 5 pm on Saturday.

RAA Bicycle Track historic marker

RAA Bicycle Track historic marker

On Sunday morning at 10:00am there will be a dedication celebration of the historical marker at the former site of the Riverton Bicycle Track near the Riverline station. Incredibly, Rob raised all the money for the sign through crowdsourcing and obtaining a grant from the NJ Historic Trust.

I have to be there to thank the man who organizes such a complex event from halfway across the country and then leaves us with the bonus of a free historic marker. Won’t you please be there, too? 

This event will take place at 10 am on Sunday June 8, 2014.  Later on Sunday at 1 pm, Carlos Rogers’ 4th Annual Historic Riverton Criterium returns to the streets of Riverton.

- John McCormick

 

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