Ok, Kids, time for another installment of old Gaslight News back–issues. But first, a little history of the publication.
This clipping from issue #41, Feb. 1886 explains the origin of the Society’s newsletter…
After producing at least 65 issues of the newsletter, Betty Hahle handed the editorial reins to Paul W. Schopp in the fall of 1993. He ushered in the use of desktop publishing when he composed the layout for the September 1993 issue of the Gaslight News with a word processing program. By 1995, this innovation made it possible to include black and white photos and graphics with which to illustrate the text.
Then President Dan Campbell assumed editorial duties in September 1996, and essentially continued the same format. Gerald Weaber took charge of the newsletter in September 2003.
Four years later, John McCormickapprenticed under Gerald Weaber for the September issue and then struck off on his own commencing with the November 2007 printing. That issue was the first to include color photos.
McCormick updated the layout template in January 2008, giving it only minor tweaks since then.
We have come a long way since that 1974 single-page typewritten and mimeographed newsletter, but there would be no Gaslight News today were it not for those who came before.
(Raise your hand if you remember the fresh smell of dittos in the morning.)
Without further ado, here are the latest scanned and uploaded back-issues of the Gaslight News. Only 20 more issues to go…
Carlos Rogers, has quite literally made history in Riverton in more ways than one.
Besides bringing back a new era of competitive bicycling to Riverton after more than a century’s absence, perhaps no other individual in Borough history has proven to be a more generous donor to worthy local causes than he has – over $35,000 so far.
Another way has more to do with the level of professionalism with which he has promoted and managed the Historic Riverton Criterium since 2011.
Some followers of Carlos Rogers may not be aware of his efforts to champion the promotion of women’s racing. As the CAWES Cycling Team observed in 2015, “…he made a decision that many promoters are not willing to make: he added a women’s field!!!”
Women’s races have been part of the Historic Riverton Criterium ever since.
One can sense their teamwork and passion for the sport that the women of RIPTIDE-CAWES Cycling Team have from their vivid descriptions of the 2018 Historic Riverton Criterium races.
Their website post added,” A special thanks to the race organizer and sponsors for not only including a Women’s 4/5 category, but also increasing the 1/2/3 prize money.”
The performance of today’s trailblazing women cyclists reminds us of Abbie Rollins, the pioneering New York cyclist who competed in the 1895 NYC-Riverton relay race and became the first woman relay rider.
Weak segue? Maybe… Find out more about women cyclists discussed here in previous posts:
In his 2016 address during a ceremony marking the arrival of Historic Riverton Century riders, Borough Historian Mr. Paul W. Schopp described the 1895 Tri-State Relay Race which inspired Rob Gusky to create the ride in 2014. Paul acknowledged that “…women have always maintained a keen interest in cycling and the mix of riders in today’s Riverton Century uphold the long legacy of female cyclists.” See an excerpt below.
If you think the first Tri-State Relay Race was an all-male event, you would be wrong! Twenty-two-year-old Abbie Rollins resided in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and worked as a stenographer and typist for the city’s Parson & Blish architectural firm.
Born in New Jersey, Abbie represented her home state in the first leg of the relay race, riding with two men from the Times building to the ferry and then on to Little Falls. She was reportedly the first woman cyclist to ever take part in a race of this type.
Abbie obviously loved cycling, for a brief newspaper article mentioned that she was with a group of riders traveling between New Brunswick and Plainfield about two months after the relay race. Approximately five miles from Plainfield, she suffered a burst pneumatic tire. Another cyclist attempted to perfect a repair with chewing gum, the only substance readily available, but it did not hold.
George K. Parsell, an architect working in the same office as Abbie, offered her a seat on his bicycle handlebars. She accepted the offer and deposited herself there. She found the ride quite comfortable and, as the would-be couple entered Plainfield, people flocked to the sidewalks with their mouths open as Parsell and Abbie rode by.
Abbie left the cycling world in November 1901, when she married the Rev. Howard Rutsen Furbeck, who had received his pastoral training at the Reformed Theological Seminary in New Brunswick. The couple had one son and four daughters. Abbie accompanied her husband to the various churches he served until his death on October 16, 1917. She continued to care for her children and then lived for many years with her son, Howard Rollins Furbeck Sr., until she died on March 12, 1961.
Find the complete text file of Schopp’s address here.
During the height of the late 1800s bicycling craze, Riverton decided to crack down on speeding cyclists, or scorchers, as they were known.
An 1897 Borough ordinance limited the speed of bicyclists to 5 miles per hour, or an even slower speed of 3 mph when passing other vehicles or pedestrians. A journalist suggested that a trick rider would have difficulty going that slow.
Luckily, the athletes competing in the upcoming Historical Riverton Criterium on June 9 will not be so constrained. There will definitely be scorching.
Come to Riverton on the second Sunday in June for an afternoon of amateur and professional bicycle races set on the Borough’s closed off streets. Live music, vendors, food trucks, and Wade’s Snoooo Train lend a house party flavor to the event.
Races take place over a 0.8 mile, 6 turn, technical flat and fast course through residential streets in the center of Riverton.
The first of 5 races begins at 1 pm. All races to follow. In-between the adult races, kids 8-10 yrs. can race in separate boys/girls races.
On June 9, 2019, Riverton will host the 9th Annual Historic Riverton Criterium. Carlos Rogers, a Riverton resident and civic supporter, has been the promoter of this event since its inception in 2011. The day is filled with professional bicycle racing and fun-filled activities. Many community members along the race course have front yard picnics and gatherings.
I am the marshal coordinator for the race. This bicycle race cannot happen without a marshal on each of the race corners.
The marshal’s job is essentially to make sure that no one crosses the street during the race. Each marshal will be given specific directions and guidelines before the race. Each marshal will only need to be on duty for 1 hour. Forty-four marshals are needed to cover the 7 corners for 5 races (some corners need 2 marshals).
It is incumbent upon race beneficiaries to volunteer to help. Please turn to a friend, colleague, and/or neighbor and ask them to marshal.
Society membership is not a requirement. All I need from you is a list of names and email addresses and I will contact the individuals. Please use the contact form below.
The Historic Riverton Criterium has become a great Riverton tradition with over $35,000 given to local organizations. Your help is greatly appreciated.
On June 9, 2019, Carlos Rogers, Riverton’s most preeminent advocate and civic champion, will reprise his role as the promoter of the premier bicycling event that he originated in 2011.
The Historic Riverton Criterium is now firmly established as the town-wide family friendly tradition to which we now look to kick-start the summer. This year’s contest is likely to draw a thousand participants, spectators, residents and vendors.
Carlos started planning for this 9th Annual HRC almost as soon as the 8th concluded. Each year’s event draws more competitors and fans, but each year also means securing the financial backing to underwrite the costs of staging such a complex event.
Carlos has recruited an impressive roster of corporate sponsors to support the Historic Riverton Criterium. Several have been with him since the first one in 2011.
Now is the crucial time to gain grassroots support, donations, and endorsements. See the attached sponsorship packet for information on how you can throw your support behind this great event. Your participation can make this 9th Annual HRCriterium the most spectacular and productive one yet and make everyone a winner!
Mirriam-Webster defines criterium as: a bicycle race of a specified number of laps on a closed course over public roads closed to normal traffic, but that doesn’t begin to cover it.
Amateur and professional women and men complete 15-40 laps on 0.8mi, 6 turn, flat and fast course through the historic, tree-lined streets of Riverton, New Jersey.
Cyclists compete in several categories, including Pro-Am Men, Amateur Men, and Amateur Women.
Even the kids get in on the fun with races sandwiched between amateur races and trophies and medals going to participants.
Live music, food trucks, Wade’s Snow Cones, and a balloon twister add to the block party atmosphere as spectators enthusiastically cheer on competitors this USA Cycling sanctioned bicycle race.
Returning for the ninth consecutive year, Historic Riverton Criterium serves the dual purpose of providing a unique hometown venue for bicycle racing while raising funds that benefit community organizations and charities.
Incredibly, the NJ nonprofit 501(c)3 organization has awarded to date over $35,000 to at least a dozen worthy causes.
Full disclosure, the Historic Society of Riverton will benefit from part of the proceeds this year.
Everyone knows we have been fans of the HRC since Carlos the beginning. Heck, we each have the word HISTORIC in our names!
Carlos once explained that the reason for his inspired description of the race as “historic” was Riverton’s great tradition of bicycle racing going back to the 1890s.
Read more about Riverton’s cycling legacy in the only place where you can learn about the awesome characters and fascinating stories that have contributed to Riverton history since 1851.
Won’t you please help spread the word so this worthwhile community event gains the financial support and attendance it needs.
Let’s hear in the COMMENTS below how the Historic Riverton Criterium has affected you or your organization. -JMc
ACT I: “Campbell’s… more than just soup” slideshow
We sincerely thank the 80 or so hardy history buffs and lovers of Campbell’s Soup nostalgia who sat in chairs, sat on the floor, and stood (some with obstructed views), to hear Marisa Bozarth as she chronicled the history and development of Campbell’s Soup Company.
The turnout for Tuesday night’s program sponsored by the Historical Society of Riverton took us off-guard, so we apologize to several folks who looked at the overflow crowd and left.
ACT II: Reception at the former Campbell home
After the engrossing slide show, the meeting carried over next door to the home of Jan and Dennis DeVries who graciously showed us the former home of Joseph Campbell.
A splendid dining room table centerpiece of carnelian-red and white flowers in a vase surrounded by cans of tomato soup reinforced the theme of the evening.
The delicious desserts and confections arrayed there fueled animated conversations about how much folks enjoyed the well-researched topic and Marisa’s buoyant delivery.
Our hosts, Mr. and Mrs. DeVries, doubled-down on the evening’s refrain and carried out the Campbell’s Soup motif by hanging a portrait of the home’s early owner in the kitchen area next to a framed print of a soup can and an illustration of a Campbell’s Kid.
A soup tureen filled with fresh tomatoes, a Campbell’s coffee table book, a Campbell’s recipe book (doesn’t everyone have at least one in their kitchen?) and actual cans of tomato soup consummated the theme.
Marisa wrote later, “It was wonderful! Everyone was so welcoming and I loved getting the opportunity, not only share the Campbell’s story with everyone, but also to talk to so many people afterwards!”
She is so right.
This important aspect of our meeting helps to carry out the Society’s several-fold mission to bring together those people interested in history, to increase awareness of our heritage, and to continue to expand our knowledge of the history of the area.
Our current membership of fewer than 100 households is at a historic low. We need your support in the form of membership dues and donations to underwrite our efforts to bring such programs to the public.
ACT III: History is the topic of conversation
Another side benefit to having people with a common interest in history assemble together is the networking, or sharing of information, that often happens.
Given the thousands of local people over the years whose farm products supplied the plant or whose labor produced soup, it comes as no surprise that a few in the group either worked there themselves or had a family member employed.
One woman volunteered that she has photos of the old Campbell Experimental Farm in Cinnaminson I can scan.
It turns out that one of our members had first-hand experience with working on local farms growing and delivering tomatoes, and another worked for a time in the Camden plant. Look for more about their anecdotes in another post if I can twist their arms to be interviewed.
Maybe we can get Susan Dechnik to reveal the recipe for her Campbell’s Tomato Soup Cake.
Interest on social media in historian Marisa Bozarth’s Campbell Soup presentation tonight at Riverton Library at 7 o’clock has been high.
Just writing about it brought back a flood of memories for me about Campbell’s. Sure, everybody has a favorite. Mine is tomato soup made like my mom, Phyllis McCormick, made it with a half can of water and a half can of milk.
The height of gourmet eating was sitting at our Formica table in our Congowalled kitchen slurping tomato soup topped with a layer of crumbled Ritz crackers and, as a second course, a buttery grilled cheese sandwich.
You’d think I would be sick of the stuff. My mother brought home mass quantities of those dented silver cans with no labels, tied up with string that she bought from the employee store at Campbell’s Camden plant where she worked. It fell to me to write “TOM” on top of each can with a stub of a black grease marker she kept in a kitchen drawer.
When she was feeling really flush on payday, she sometimes brought home bags of my favorite Pepperidge Farm cookies and cans of Swanson’s Chicken à la King, products made by two companies Campbell’s acquired. At Christmas, my teachers always got the best presents from me – a small golden box of Godiva chocolates, available for half-price to Campbell’s employees.
I often waited for her at the Beideman Avenue bus stop, and when I was old enough, I drove to downtown Camden to pick her up when she worked night-shift, so I got to hear a lot about how her day went.
Tomato season brought longer hours and sweatshop conditions – literally – during the heat of many South Jersey summers. She knew all the recipes for those colossal cauldrons you’ll see in Marisa’s slide show. More than a few times she told me how a batch would be scuttled because it got double salt or worse.
She started out on the line sorting tomatoes and worked her way up to production, then quality control. The time/motion efficiency experts hired by Mr. Dorrance scrutinized and analyzed every task and dictated changes. She schooled the newly hired management “college boys” in soup making and they became her bosses.
She saw the end coming as layoffs of production staff followed opening new plants elsewhere – was it South Carolina?
But she hung on because now she was an executive secretary for one of the big shots and therefore part of management.
She was proud of her achievements at the Camden plant and thankful for the job that enabled her to raise two kids in the 1950s and ’60s. When she retired from Campbell’s we attributed the closing of the Camden plant to her leaving.
I wish I had listened better because I am sure she’d know plenty about soup production if she were here.
Please leave a comment if you have a Campbell’s memory. -JMc
Here we find HSR Board Member and publicity specialist Susan Dechnik posting our flyer at Riverton Free Library announcing Marisa Bozarth’s“Campbell’s: More Than Just Soup” presentation that takes place there in one week.
See our Upcoming Events link on the Main Page for more particulars on this special lecture about Joseph Campbell, founder of Campbell’s Soup and a past inhabitant of Riverton.
Despite the name, rivertonhistory.com, one realizes real fast that there is much more to this website than just Riverton history. A person across the miles who googles for Long Beach Island or Medford’s Camp Lenape may find that we rank as one of the top results for that topic simply because we display so many vintage images.
The Images/Stone Harbor page, for example, has collected an amazing (for us, anyway) 54 comments from folks who often leave a mini-memoir of their decades-old stay there.
If only a post about Riverton history would arouse such engagement from visitors.
When Mary Wallis Gutmann sent in this vivid account of her college summer job working at Beach Haven’s long-gone Hotel Baldwin in 1954, I knew it deserved special mention.
Summer Work in 1954
The Baldwin Hotel
Design school was intense. I saw summer jobs as a respite from college work—not work themselves. Getting away from the pressure that was constant at Pratt was necessary. Surviving on my own was important. A live-in job was sometimes the answer: for summer at least.
I left the city between my second and third year at Pratt to work at the Baldwin Hotel on Long Beach Island in New Jersey. The Baldwin was a once grand, now run-down shingle affair with one hundred and fifty-five rooms, some with sweeping beach views. I ran the elevator: a four-sides-open, wrought-iron cage, with a velvet-pillowed bench across the back and a huge spring hidden underneath in case the operator forgot to stop. That was me a few distracted times, to the consternation of guests on board as we were vigorously jounced up and down.
The staircase trailed around the elevator to the top. The owner, Chuck Yokum, and his wife had an apartment in a turret on the top of the hotel. Guests stayed on the second floor, higher-up staff on the floor above, waitresses and other (mostly college) female employees such as me in a wing off the first floor; young male employees lived in another such wing. It was hot and sandy and perfect for summer.
Chuck Yokum loved to cook (or, think he cooked). He carried his ubiquitous can of beer around to sip while he sampled sauces and soups warming in the steam tables. Then he’d invariably add a big splash of his drink to each pot. Diners came from all over. They loved the food: they raved about his chef’s secret ingredient (a spurious name for beer made up by Chuck). They asked for the chef’s name, but Chuck told them that was a secret, too. “I don’t want him to leave…” he’d say.
We were given free room, board, and uniforms. My dress was a sort of liverish color, (ghastly on someone with a tan), a removable-for-washing white collar, and Peter Pan sleeves that were unflattering on a thin girl with scrawny arms. There was no regular pay, just a little weekly pocket money. Chuck kept our wages (he said) in a special Escrow Account so we would stay all summer and not “skip out.” We’d be paid at the end of August (he said).
On Labor Day, (the hotel closed the next day until the following Spring), Chuck and wife drove off to Mexico in the early hours with suitcases packed full of hundreds. Hundreds of dollars of our money. A major hurricane blew in immediately after they left. There had been a general evacuation called by the Coast Guard but we (the summer hotel staff) elected to stay. We averaged no more than nineteen years in age and believed we were impervious to injury. We had no place to go and no money to get there if we did. We sat up all night in the lobby, feeding driftwood and then broken bits of the porch furniture into the huge fireplace, drinking all the beer and eating all the food that was left. We had an uproarious time.
The next morning, after the hurricane had roared across the island and smashed windows and banged shutters and blown the wood shingles off the hotel roof all night, we went out to the beach to survey the damage. It was not yet light: the sea was still dark and the white, tumultuous surf was full of brilliantly-colored sparkles from iridescent plankton brought in by the storm. They glowed exquisitely against the white foam and the black water. As the sun rose, some sections of boardwalk, a pavilion, and several small houses appeared, floating gently beyond the surf line on a calm sea. We heard later that at the height of the storm, a rowdy teenager went for a walk and rode a section of boardwalk around the point and into the bay. They said he survived.
Chuck Yokum and his wife and the car and the money (our money), were nowhere to be seen. The police came to tell us where they suspected the Yokums were—or as near as the Police knew: the clues were Mexico vacation flyers in their apartment. Chuck’s car was gone and so was our all summers’ pay.
The policeman had the local bank president with him who was obviously concerned about being sued. Sue? We hadn’t any money to sue. Today I might feel differently. After all, the banker had given Chuck the wads of cash Chuck took with him. We reminded him they were our wads of cash.
The Baldwin Hotel was sold and six months later I got a check for $80 with a note saying the money was my share of the Escrow account for my summer-long elevator operator work (after the lawyers took their cut). I was happy with the unexpected loot and bought a used camera: a Rolleiflex with a pre-war, hand-ground lens. I never hear the term, ‘pre-war,’ today. I took sharp pictures with that camera for years—sometimes almost too sharp.