It’s déjà vu all over again

Dear Reader,

My wife Linda and I were each having a slice and diet Coke at Brothers Pizza a few days ago when Mrs. Susan Dechnik saw us through the window and came in to say “hi.” The subject of the impending February closing of the Cinnaminson Acme came up. Tsk-tsk. Where else can we shop for groceries and catch up on the local news?

Rivertonians must be used to it, because history has repeated itself once again. Mrs. Maureen Miller, one of the owners of the nostalgically decorated Nellie Bly Olde Tyme Ice Cream Parlour (http://nellieblys.com/), loaned me this photo to scan in May 2005, shortly after the store opened. A gentleman had come into the store and, realizing the possible connection, offered to let her copy it. I made her a print to hang on her wall and she let me retain the scan.

Pennylvania Railroad Nellie Bly schedule

Since then, professional historian Paul Schopp has confirmed that there was indeed an Acme store at 529 Main Street, the very same address now occupied by the Nellie Bly ice cream shop. The store, of course, takes its name from the famous “stunt reporter” and investigative journalist, Elizabeth Cochran who took the pen name Nellie Bly. Some area residents still recall the express train between New York and Atlantic City that bore the name, Nellie Bly, that Pennsylvania Railroad operated from early in the twentieth century until 1961. It regularly sped through Riverton during its journey.

Nellie Bly Express leaving Riverton

There are many vintage photos and postcards of Riverton, but any image of the Nellie Bly train remained elusive to me until Mr. and Mrs. Don Deitz found the negative for the photo below.  Pam’s father, Benjamin Percival, now passed, was an avid photographer who chronicled many of the milestones for the clan. Mr. Percival must have snapped the perfectly timed image just as the Nellie Bly passed the Riverton Station. The negative was in an envelope with the caption, “Nellie Bly” but no date.  Mr. William Harris, estimated that it was possibly taken about 1948 or 1949. At the far right is a ‘48 to ‘49 model Buick. The cars in the center are 1939 and earlier.

Today, the NJ Transit River Line runs along the same tracks as the Nellie Bly once did. Passengers can cross the street to enjoy a “Train Wreck” sundae at the Nellie Bly Olde Tyme Ice Cream Parlour and relax in the Victorian setting decorated with many vintage photos which is a tribute to the dare-devil female reporter.

Cinnaminson Acme 1/22/2011
Along with a long list of other “Things That Aren’t There Anymore”  such as the Cinnaminson Children’s Home, the 1940 Riverton Post Office, the bank at Main and Harrison which went through a number of incarnations, the Lyceum, and Dreer’s Nursery, we mark this passage of the Cinnaminson Acme even as we anticipate what will come in its place or wonder where we will discuss the latest local issues with neighbors. I took a last photo of the Acme before it becomes history. We can always shop elsewhere, but the “grapevine” will never be the same. – John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor

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