The wettest summer on record dampens construction deadlines

Grandstand construction rained out today
Grandstand construction rained out today again

Looks like we’re in a rut.

With almost an inch of rain falling in Moorestown, the nearest weather station, our weather for August first may continue this trending pattern of wet weather for the rest of the summer.

According to NOAA‘s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s) National Weather Service this has been the wettest summer on record in the Philadelphia region. Official climate records for Philadelphia date back to 1872.

How many times have you heard someone compare our weather to Florida’s recently?

Blue skies and fair weather mean meeting project timelines
Blue skies and fair weather mean meeting project timelines

Although today was a washout, that was not the case yesterday as courses of cinderblock walls rose to trace the outline of Riverton’s new grandstand.

I have stalked, er… visited the crew so often, they may soon get me a union card.

Through summer heat and mud, Mark (r.) and his nephew Korey have toiled to build Riverton’s new grandstand.

Some days have had more or fewer workers depending on the task at hand, but this pair have worked most days under the searing sun of several heat waves as well as laboring ankle-deep in the mud rendered by these frequent rainstorms.

The current projects page of the J.H. Williams Enterprises, Inc. website displays a 16-picture slideshow of the work that company is doing. Some of their photos show building milestones that I missed when I recorded the construction progress here.

What are your thoughts on the demolition of the old grandstand or the anticipation of getting a new one? – John McCormick

The tax bills cometh… and so doth a pressing HSR membership appeal

desktop publishing 101
desktop publishing 101

This slim Historical Society membership appeal hitched a ride in the property tax bill envelopes which should already have arrived in Riverton Borough mailboxes. Delays with the adoption of Burlington County’s budget caused the delay of many local property tax bills, including Riverton’s.

True, asking for residents to shell out another twenty bucks to join the Historical Society may be a hard sell when they have just been invoiced for a large sum over which they have little choice.

Animation town wide membership 2014 1However, we sincerely hope that a dozen or so of the near one thousand households receiving bills will choose to endorse the work of the Society by becoming members of the only organization that strives to preserve and promote our local history through research, special events and public education programs.

Those of you seeing this from across the miles who find this site worthwhile may also consider this a solicitation for your membership.

The support of the Society by members with their dues determines the very nature of programs, events, and projects the Board may plan as it allocates resources for the upcoming season. Quite literally, Every Member Counts, not only for their financial stake, but the group benefits when individuals bring their unique skills, knowledge, and perspective to the organization.

The pages of Riverton history abound with intriguing authors, artists, inventors,  entrepreneurs, innovators, industrialists, abolitionists, and social and political activists who have influenced the outcomes of events here and elsewhere.

Please help us continue to serve this great community of local history fans with compelling content about new discoveries, be they found within these scant square-mile borders or across the nation.

For more information, email us at – John McCormick



Work progresses on Riverton’s new grandstand

Riverton Grandstand Sept. 17, 2011
Riverton Grandstand Sept. 17, 2011
1954 Riverton Little League, picture credit: Benjamin Percival
1954 Riverton Little League, picture credit: Benjamin Percival

Longtime residents of Riverton will recognize this photo of a structure which generations of area families came to think of as an integral part of the Riverton landscape.


Now gone, the Riverton Grandstand witnessed not only countless league baseball games played by adults and children, but it also served many years as the backdrop for Riverton School Field Day events, and other community activities.

May Queen ceremony - photo credit Pam Deitz
May Queen ceremony – photo credit Pam Deitz

Just the reminder of it can evoke strong memories of one’s life milestones passed within sight of the iconic landmark. Countless friendships forged there have outlived its demolished cinderblock walls.


1938 Riverton Athletic Assn. Baseball Team - picture credit Francis C. Cole
1938 Riverton Athletic Assn. Baseball Team – picture credit Francis C. Cole

So it was not without much debate and study of alternatives that Borough Council decided the best course was to raze the deteriorated Grandstand earlier this year and build a new one.


New Grandstand groundbreaking, April 13, 2013
New Grandstand groundbreaking, April 13, 2013

HSR members followed developments in the September 2011 Gaslight News and local newspaper, and occasional updates have appeared on this website here, and here.

The new grandstand scheduled for completion in late September, holds the promise of again becoming a venue for many future athletic events and Borough functions. Rising in the same footprint as the original, it may also soon help build some new memories as well as become a symbol of community pride that echoes the legacy of its predecessor.

These recent snapshots illustrate the progress of construction thus far and hint at the considerable scope of the job.

Please add your recollections about the original structure or your thoughts on the new one to this growing account of past and present information on Riverton’s Grandstand. – John McCormick

Riverton’s 116th Children’s Parade – a classic that never gets old

Elsie and John Showell, July 4, 1920
Elsie and John Showell, July 5, 1920

As families and friends again congregated on Independence Day in Riverton, inevitably many paused to reflect on other Fourths of days gone by.

No doubt this year’s Parade Marshal Mrs. Elsie Waters has stored up many memories since that photo was taken of her and brother John sitting in wonderment at the 1920 July Fourth celebration.

FUN FACT: As July 4 fell on Sunday in 1920, Riverton’s Glorious Fourth was held on Monday the fifth.

1920 Fourth of July Celebration Program
1920 Fourth of July Celebration Program

Previous posts have addressed the origin and changes in Riverton’s Glorious Fourth over the past 116 years since the parade began in 1897, much of it gleaned from the research of Mrs. Betty B. Hahle, Town Historian, now passed. More than 100 of her signature “Yesterday” columns written for the Historical Society of Riverton’s newsletter, the Gaslight News still serve as the most authoritative record of our town’s early days.

July 4, 1920 program details, New Era 7-2-1920, pg2This previously posted four-page 1920 Program (above, right) details the activities enjoyed that day. HSR member Gerald Blaney generously allowed us to scan his rare eBay find and display it here.

The July 1920  New Era issues, just digitalized through a joint Riverton Free Library and HSR project late in 2012, provide new insights into Independence Day festivities for that year.

WWI signet ring top
WWI signet ring top

The clipping at left from the July 2, 1920 New Era newspaper advises readers of two added features to the program that included a presentation of gold rings to veterans of World War I.

Later, the New Era recapped the results of the many  games and summarized the patriotic observances witnessed by “fully five-thousand men, women, and children.”  The Children’s Parade had 792 kids vying for prizes such as best decorated baby coach, velocipede, or kiddie car.

July 4, 2013 Palm Card

Children gathered on the riverbank and scrambled as a Curtiss F. Boat hydroplane brought over for the occasion showered them with hundreds of tickets good for merchandise at either one of three local stores.

You can see the issue as a PDF file just as it appeared to Rivertonians 93 years ago. (You will need the free Adobe Reader program if you do not have Adobe Acrobat.) Scroll down to see PDF page 3 For the July 2 issue and PDF page 7 for the July 9, 1920 issue.

Follow the Leader
Follow the Leader – photo by Susan Dechnik

Were they the good ol’ days? Absolutely.

However, we do not dwell on the past, but simply acknowledge it as we value the contributions of those countless citizens who have helped Riverton develop into the unique place it is today.

The following photos and video demonstrate that for many, the experiences of this July 4, 2013 may just as well be recalled in the not too distant future as “the good ol’ days.” Absolutely!


Photographer Richard W. Pringle, Jr. kindly sent these photos that include a few great close-ups.


Here is a 4min:11sec, 239MB Windows Media Video File showing some highlights of the parade.

Wade McDaniels, the Snow Cone Man, brings cool treats and cheer to the Riverton Parade.
Wade McDaniels, the Snow Cone Man, brings cool treats and cheer to the Riverton Parade.

You never know who you will meet on the Fourth. Here is my former Riverton School colleague and snow cone entrepreneur, Wade McDaniels. After selling the frosty confections here for over twenty years, I guess that feat qualifies Mr. McDaniels to be included in the record of Riverton history.

Read more about my friend Wade in the  post by Burlington County Times Staff Writer Peg Quann. She interviewed the coolest Riverton School maintenance supervisor who has been moonlighting on this summer job since his first gig selling at a Beach Boys concert in Philadelphia during the 1976 Bicentennial. Chilly treats a tradition on Riverton’s Fourth by Peg Quann

The image gallery below illustrates what we remember in any typical Riverton Fourth of July observance: family, friends, flags, festivities, fire engines, fun, and food. What does a Classic Riverton Fourth of July mean to you?

The Fourth is often a time for reconnecting with others who have put some miles and years between themselves and their old hometown. Palmyra native and PHS alum Gary Weart stopped by to see Phyllis Rodgers and family while vacationing from his home in South Carolina. Here he is talking to Phyllis as she tallies the 320 children participating in this year’s parade.

Gary Weart, standing, pauses from taking photos to talk to Phyllis Rodgers, HSR President.
Gary Weart, standing, pauses from taking photos to talk to Phyllis Rodgers, HSR President.

It turns out the former teacher, whose great-grandfather James Taylor Weart served as Palmyra’s first mayor from 1923-1928, is a keen photo enthusiast who captures images with a truly memorable perspective.

Enjoy this slideshow by Mr. Gary Weart, book author, former social studies teacher, administrator, and athletic coach who founded Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), and received the Presidential Service Award from President Bill Clinton.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There is still a little room left here for your own memories and recollections of July Fourth – actually for any year at all that you wish to share. Just contact us at – John McCormick

P.S.: This just in from Tracy Hansen Foedisch – more photos at


2013 Parade Marshal Elsie Waters
2013 Parade Marshal Elsie Waters

Just a short note to show you the picture that I wish I had taken.

Arriving just before ten and parking way out on Elm, I missed the start of the parade and Parade Marshal Elsie Waters’ grand entrance on a carriage.

Actually, I probably missed a lot. Hence the reason for this appeal for some of our HSR peeps to please send us some photos and commentary about your July Fourth celebration.

Luckily for me, my friend Susan Dechnik captured this photo.

In a day or two I will post some more of my own very uneven coverage of the Parade along with some more people may send in by email ( or that I may find through our Facebook friends. We would love to see any and all aspects of the celebration – the Bill Oliver 5K Run, the Downhill Race, Raft Races, family get-togethers, etc. – John McCormick


Rain, Rain, stay away

July 4 traffic signSometimes the weather makes history, such as when the Blizzard of 1888 caused snow drifts to reach fifteen to thirty feet high along the riverbank, or when Hurricane Sandy brought devastation to the Jersey Shore.

We just finished the wettest June ever recorded in this area, and these first few days of July seem to be continuing the pace. Let’s hope the pattern breaks for Riverton’s celebration of the Fourth of July.

Some other Historical Society of Riverton members and I will be handing out 2013 July 4th Palm Cards at the parade in a few hours.

With friends and family again gathering for the homecoming ritual that is the Fourth of July in Riverton, a visit to our images pages, or browsing back issues of the Gaslight News or vintage local newspapers may be cause for reminiscing.

Visit our Facebook page and let us know how you and your family mark July 4, 2013, let us know a topic you would like to see written about in our newsletter, tell us about a program you would like to see us present, ask a question, or whatever.

Check back in a few days and I will have a post about the Riverton celebration. – John McCormick



A century old postcard is a visual treat on the eve of our Glorious Fourth

Welcome Pyne Poynt, Camden, NJ 1910When my friend sent me a scan of his latest eBay auction win I had to agree with him.

It doesn’t hardly get any better than this! This vintage real photo post card shows an early 20th century Camden neighborhood putting on an enthusiastic patriotic display.

You have to click on this, fill your screen, and take a virtual walk down Fifth Street, circa 1910.

A large banner flanked by huge American flags spans the street proclaiming, “Welcome To Pyne Poynt.” Numerous festive paper lanterns and more 48-star American Flags frame the entire street.

Is that a Sullivan’s storefront or a political campaign office?

The boys with their knee-length knickers, white shirts and ties, the girls with their lovely short-sleeve summer dresses and bows in their hair, and of course, the young men with their bow ties, hats, and skimmers all elicit an involuntary smile from the appreciative viewer.

Catch the brave character in the jeff cap at the roof line. Has he just completed attaching flags above that first second-floor window and tying off the line suspending the banner?

Perhaps the occasion recorded here was July 4, 1910. This mailed divided-back post card bears a Camden, N.J. postmark, stamped SEP 9, 1910. The message addressed to a recipient living on River Avenue in Camden reads, “Best Wishes from Edith.”

Photographer Wm. B. Cooper of Medford, N.J. captured this amazing moment a neighborhood’s history over a century ago.

Capture some amazing moments of your own this Glorious Fourth 2013, wherever you are. – John McCormick

Waaay overdue blog post on joint HSR/Riverview Estates sponsored Antique Fair

Mr McC HSR editorDid you ever just keep putting something off?

This post is a follow-up to our very successful Riverton Antique and Collectible Fair co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Riverton and Riverview Estates back on March 2.

I just could not seem to get the piece done until today.

Expert Personal Property Appraiser, Ronald Shaffer, ISA assesses Nancy and Bill Hall's music box.
Expert Personal Property Appraiser, Ronald Shaffer, ISA assesses Nancy and Bill Hall’s music box.

As advertised, expert personal property appraiser, Ronald Shaffer, ISA really was witty and informed – extremely well-informed. He not only evaluated heirlooms and offered a Verbal Opinion of Value, he often knew some relevant anecdote about a similar item or offered hints on how to care for the item. A few times he referred the owner to another person with expertise in a specific area, such a furniture repair expert.

Mr. Schaffer informed and entertained as he carefully considered the value of each possession and coaxed from the person what details of provenance they could give.  Often the article had come from an ancestor, and the present owner probably would not part with it for any price. Still, good to know.

By all accounts the affair was such a success that we expect to repeat it in the future.

Here is a 3 min., 40 sec. highlight reel of the 2013 antique fair. We have not progressed to the point of streaming video yet, so the best we can offer is for you to download and open the 48.7MB Windows Media file on your computer.

More photos…

Many thanks to all who came and helped support the work of the Society.

What prized possession would you bring to the next Riverton Antique and Collectible Fair? – John McCormick

Preparations in full swing as July Fourth 2013 nears

July 4 2013 preparations 01A banner near the Riverton War Memorial announces the Cocktail Party and Concert in the Park during the weekend preceding the Fourth and invites readers to visit for a complete list of July 4th events. Here is the Committee’s Dear-Neighbor-Ltr-2013.

The other day my friend Phyllis Rodgers compared getting ready for the Fourth in Riverton to getting ready for Christmas. Depending on one’s involvement, other comparisons may come to mind – like preparing for D-Day.

Certainly for Tracy Foedisch and the other dedicated members of the 4th of July Committee, they have been preparing for this year’s event even as the sun set on the last year’s celebration.

July 4 2013 preparations 02July 4 2013 preparations 03July 4 2013 preparations 04


All over town residents display the patriotic hues of red, white, and blue as generations have done here for more than a century.


July 4th Program Booklet cover 2013

Members of the Historic Society of Riverton will especially cheer on their compatriot, Parade Marshal Mrs. Elsie Showell Waters, as a chauffeured convertible conveys her along the Main Street parade route on July Fourth.

Read Casey Foedisch’s interview of Elsie that appears in the July Fourth Program booklet: elsie_waters_interview

Cathy and Paul Daly
Cathy and Paul Daly


Paul Daly, our esteemed HSR treasurer, shares this photo of himself and his wife Cathy bicycling up Main Street during a Riverton Fourth of the late 1970s – perhaps it was for the Nation’s Bicentennial.

Find the entire 68 page 2013 July Fourth booklet here: riverton_4th_program_book_2013

Let us know how you are getting ready for the Fourth. – John McCormick

Historic Riverton Criterium enters pages of Riverton history

Enjoy these pix from 2013 Historic Riverton Criterium. See much more on Carlos Rogers’ Historic Riverton Criterium Facebook page.

BCT Staff Writer Jeannie O’Sullivan wrote Historic Riverton Criterium cycles through town and Rob Scott of Cinnaminson Patch posted Historic Riverton Criterium Brings Out Crowds.

Find tons of professional quality photographs of the event by local Riverton photographer Christian Hochenberger at

If you have some serious time to kill, search Historic AND Riverton AND Criterium on YouTube and you will find over a dozen vids of the 2013 crit and its two predecessors.

The 2013 official Historic Riverton Criterium results from USA Cycling.

A 18MB, 1:min 41sec video of the parts of the first race: 2013 HRC

Remember, folks, these are the good ol’ days. – John McCormick