As anyone who has driven along Cedar Avenue can attest, the grandstand that since 1930 had witnessed so many rites of passage for generations of Riverton residents, it was simply there one day and gone the next.
For anyone not aware of the years of work and planning by those who wanted to have the former grandstand either renovated or replaced, please read the account of Burlington County Times reporter, Kristen Coppock. She gives some particulars on this new project and explains why, for some, the old grandstand may continue to hold a nostalgic tug. Read her article here.
For Carl McDermott, it wasn’t just the grandstand structure made of cinderblock and steel; the grandstand became a symbol, an icon, for the many memories that he associates with that grandstand and Memorial Park and home. Carl writes:
Many memories watching ball games. Had a candy store under grandstand – ate most of the profit. During the summer we would camp out over night and sleep on grandstand benches. Saw grandstand built… Saw it torn down. In the thirtys many activities were done in the grandstand by children under the supervision of a paid teacher in the summer months. One lady and one man teacher, during the months July and August – they were very talented and nice. We made bows and arrows and many other projects. The grandstand was in full use from 1929 to 1941, then came Pearl Harbor. My brothers Bill and Paul and myself Carl and many if not all are friends were drafted in1942 into the service. Army, Navy, marines and coast guard. Eighteen of us were drafted Oct 3rd 1942 from Riverton and Palmyra. We were sent to Fort Dix and all eighteen were shipped to Miami Beach to the Army Air Corp for basic training… All eighteen came home.
Carl T. McDermott
Note. My daughter’s family and Laverty family and myself painted the entire Grandstand around 1979 green for the Irish.
So understand when you hear that someone misses that familiar sight even though, at the end, the seats were unusable and parts of the concrete blocks looked like Swiss cheese.
The groundbreaking for the new grandstand is 8:45 a.m. Saturday, April 13, 2013. The proposed plans may well satisfy those looking for a familiar silhouette as they pass Memorial Park and be able to again provide safe, clean, and accessible bleacher seating, restrooms, and storage. You might have to admit that the new architectural drawing sure looks like the old grandstand.
Give it time and that will become a part of Riverton history and people’s memories, perhaps just as indelible as my friend, Carl’s.
How sharp is your memory? Please leave a comment or send us a photo of you “back in the day” at Riverton Memorial Park, whether that day was last year, last decade, or 1930.
If you would like to refresh your memory about the history of Riverton Memorial Park, we cannot improve upon the marvelous article that Town Historian Betty B. Hahle wrote for the 1996 July Fourth Program. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
P.S. If anyone got a photo of the demolition of the old grandstand, please send us a scan.