Summer Work at Beach Haven’s once lavish Hotel Baldwin in 1954

Despite the name,, 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.

New Hotel Baldwin, Beach Haven, NJ

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.

Philadelphia Inquirer 31 Aug 1954, p16

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).

Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept 11, 1954, p1, 12

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, I think it was called Edna, 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.

Hotel Baldwin, Beach Haven, NJ 1948

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.

Copyright © Mary Wallis Gutmann 2019  Ms. Gutman has authored several books ready for consideration by a publisher – a youthful memoir, science fiction novel, light mystery and a murder mystery. We can forward any queries to her.

For more details about the Hotel Baldwin, see these two illustrated google books entries, or click on the covers to purchase at Barnes & Noble. -JMc

Beach Haven by Gretchen F. Coyle, Deborah C. Whitcraft 

Long Beach Island by George C. Hartnett, Kevin Hughes


Are you up for a polar bear plunge?

Chas. B. Durborow, New York Tribune, Feb 29, 1920

If the caption for this February 29, 1920 newspaper photo can be believed, Charles Durborow (also spelled, Durborrow, Durboro,  and even Durbonard) took a plunge every day!

The caption for this photo reads:

Charlie Durborrow, Philadelphia’s famous bank clerk long distance swimmer, just has to have his daily dip in the Delaware at Riverton, N.J., regardless of where the mercury happens to be. Here he is playing the new game of ice polo all by his lonesome.

For much more on this intrepid Riverton character, see this 2014 post. -JMc

Tagging people in the 1938 PHS class trip photo

Following up on the last post with the 1938 Palmyra High School class trip to Mt. Vernon…

PHS Class of 1938 Mt Vernon ID numbers

If you can ID anyone, send me the corresponding number and color for that person’s position, along with anything else you wish to add, and I will post a list. -JMc

rev. 3/2/2019: Thank you, Shirley, Amy, and Kristin. A special thank-you to Cheryl Smekal who loaned us her dad’s photo. We will add more when we get more names.

rev. 3/18/2019: Added one more – Domenique D***’s grandmom

rev. 3/29/2019: Added Edgar M. Schopp, Paul W. Schopp’s father



Who do you know in this PHS Class of ’38 photo?


The young men and women in this May 3, 1938 photo of a Palmyra High School class trip to Mt. Vernon belong to that generation that grew up during the deprivation of the Great Depression.

As these mostly 17 and 18-year-old seniors moved closer to the end of their high school careers, Action Comics #1, dated June 1938, featured the first appearance of  Superman—and sold for a dime. (A mint copy of Action Comics No. 1 sold for $3,207,852 on an eBay auction in 2014.)

However, faraway events already in motion would soon crush their innocence and abruptly thrust these youngsters into adulthood.

Around the world the seeds of World War II had already been sown some time before.

The causes of the war – the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, Japanese territorial expansion, and Germany’s military aggression – coalesced as America, still mired in the Great Depression, tried to stay neutral from the European conflict.

WWII Honor Roll Veterans List from The New Era, Sept 14, 1944

Pearl Harbor was still 3-1/2 years away.

The PHS Class of ’38 came of age in the United States during World War II, and its graduates would either fight in the war or strive on the home front to help win it.

Television journalist and author Tom Brokaw first coined the term “The Greatest Generation” to describe those who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America. The people in this photo and in the Honor Roll at right were among that Greatest Generation.

Who do you know in this eight decade old photo? -JMc



There is nothing new…

…under the sun

I had to laugh when read this in the latest upload I made of another back issue of the Gaslight News.

This excerpt from one of Betty Hahle’s “Yesterday” columns in our September 1984 newsletter is 35 years old and references a time 100 years before that.

Just a century ago… elections, then as now, filled much of the newspaper space. Citizens actively supported the candidate of their choice, with torch-light parades, fiery meetings (no pun intended), charges and counter-charges.

Newspapers left no question about which candidate they supported, and one has the feeling that too much enthusiasm, rather than passivity, was typical of the day.

1884 Presidential Campaign
L -R, Grover Cleveland, James G. Blaine

One ardent Blain supporter bought 40 new brooms, with which to “sweep the country clean” in the anticipated victory parade–one wonders what he did with them, when Cleveland won.

By the end of November election tales were finally dying down, and a comment was made that “it is a pity all parties can’t come before the public with a platform without resorting to trickery, falsehoods, and deceit.” A sentiment that could be echoed today….

Fun Facts:

During the 1880s, journalistic sensationalism brought new drama to American election politics and raised nastiness to a whole new level.

1884 Republican Poster
American Memory – Library of Congress

Notorious mudslinging, including a bachelor Grover Cleveland paternity scandal marked the 1884 presidential campaign, considered one of the dirtiest ever. You could google that.

Voters had to decide between “Slippery Jim” Blaine, a profiteering congressman blamed for taking bribes from railroad interests and lying about them, and Cleveland, accused of fathering an illegitimate 9-year-old child and paying the mother to keep her quiet. When a friend asked him how to reply to the scandal, he said. “Whatever you do, tell the truth.”

Cleveland prevailed, served a term in the White House, but lost in his bid for reelection in 1888. He ran again in 1892 and was elected, thus becoming the only president to serve two terms that were not consecutive.


I am scanning and uploading back issues of the Gaslight News as I work back to the first one we have, #009 December 1977. There are a few gaps where issues are missing, notably #001 through #008, #120, and #124. If you come across one of these in your travels, please let us know.

Let us know what news you find in the Gaslight News back-issue archive of the historical Society of Riverton. -JMc, Editor


Who likes a puzzle?

Click on this to fill in the pieces

I love it when the pieces fall into place… even if it takes over 30 years.

In the March 2007 Gaslight News  we acknowledged a donation from Mrs. Lorraine Gambone. She literally trash-picked a cabinet card from a Riverton curbside that seemed to show some blacksmiths. (Cabinet cards are photographs mounted on stiff pieces of cardboard, popular in the late 1800s)

(Don’t even get me started on how much of our history people have discarded.)

Resolving the true identity of that enterprise led to news accounts of a blaze that not only totally destroyed the building, it resulted in discussions about the equipment, operations, protocols, and resources of Riverton Fire Company that ultimately made it more efficient.

Woolston Carriage Works, Riverton, NJ cabinet card photo

The cabinet card remained misidentified as a photo of Main  Street’s long-gone J.T. Evans Lumberyard for a while until historian Paul Schopp determined that it actually shows Woolston Carriage Works.

Where was it?

Riverton’s 1919 Sanborn Insurance Map (sheets 3 and 12 seen merged here) shows the location of C.T. WOOLSTON WAGON M’F’Y. 

1919 Sanborn Insurance Map composite of sheets 3 and 12 WOOLSTON CARRIAGE M’F’Y 7th & Lippincott

The wood-framed manufactory (so called, because it named a place where workers made things by hand) housed a blacksmith shop, wheelwright shop, power wood working machines, and rooms for painting and varnishing.

Occupied recently with scanning and uploading to this website back-issues of the Society’s newsletter, the Gaslight News, I am struck with how often in them I find information about a topic that has somehow eluded me for so long.

Exhibit A: a selection from Betty Hahle’s “Yesterday” column in the February 1987 Gaslight News

In June of 1921 Riverton had a fierce fire. The former Carriage Factory of Mr. Woolston, along 7th street below Main, caught fire, and the flames were so intense that several nearby houses were also damaged.

Seventeen pieces of equipment were on hand, as neighboring towns responded to the call for assistance, and in the days following the fire, both Riverton and Palmyra companies seriously re-evaluated their own equipment and organization, which resulted in improved safety procedures for the communities.

Automobile Trade Journal, Volume 25, Part 1, Chilton Company, 1920

The former factory had been rented for about two years by a Philadelphia company that made automotive and truck bodies. For about a year it also manufactured, at this place, the Hilton, a coupe with wire wheels and a large rear deck. The car was named for Hilton W. Sofield, founder of the company, and the fire ended its production.

Wait – what?

A builder of horse-drawn carriages in Riverton sold out to an automobile manufacturer? And then the place burned down with no trace of it left today?

The New Era, June 17, 1921, p2

Searching for a Riverton fire in June, 1921 led to a contemporary account of the conflagration in the June 17, 1921 issue of The New Era.

The spectacular fire quickly engulfed the wooden structure and “…defied the attempts of fire departments from eight towns to quench it.” Equipment malfunctions and weak water pressure plagued the Riverton force. Embers ignited roofs a block away and residents snuffed out the sparks with “brooms, buckets, and garden hose.”

Although the fire consumed the building and its tools and machinery along with sixteen trucks and two Hilton automobiles, fire crews saved several nearby homes.

A gracious Penn Motors President Hilton W. Scofield thanked the fire companies and, in an interview, he expressed interest in building a new factory within six weeks.

What often follows a ruinous fire at a business?

A Fire Sale.

Well, they didn’t call it that, but ads placed within days of the event mentioned “Sacrifice sale” and a 50% reduction on the price of Penn Motors trucks.

Automotive Industries, The Automobile, Vol XLVI, No. 26, June 29, 1922, p 1446

A year after the fire a small article in an automobile trade publication announced the merger of Penn Motors Corp. and the Belmont Motor Co. of Lewistown, PA.


Further, four years later, the 1925 Sanborn Insurance Map shows four homes occupying the place where the factory stood.

Homes occupy former Woolston/Penn Motors site 1925 Sanborn Insurance Map, 7th & Lippincott

Thank you, Mrs. Hahle

More than any other single person, Mrs. Betty B. Hahle’s work has contributed to the understanding of Riverton history we have today.

From the mid-1970 through 2000, Mrs. Hahle wrote 100 of her signature “Yesterday” columns for Gaslight News, typing most of the masters herself. She would have loved knowing that today’s history lovers could learn from the embellished versions we offer today.

More to come

Let us know what topics you would like to see further explored here.

You know that saying, “When in doubt, throw it out”? Well, don’t do that with something that might help us fill in more pieces to the Riverton history puzzle.

More about the specs for the short-lived Hilton automobile and how the fire led to serious upgrades in the Riverton Fire Department will follow in another installment.  -JMc

A little help…

This is one of several 1950s era color slides that former mayor, Bruce Gunn gave us in 2015. We revisit this one because we could use a hand with tracking down some more information about the brick building in the background.

Businesses, Main Street, Riverton, PHOTO: google maps July 2018

Show your age and tell us the name of the building. It sure has changed a lot in 60+ years (haven’t we all?).

Quite a few local businesses have set up shop there over the years. Jason Cioci of Riverton Health & Fitness asked if we could tell him more about the history of the building.

So let’s crowdsource this project – kinda like GoFundMe, but send information and photos, not money.

What recollection do you have about business from back in the day?

Please add your comments (see the link at the very bottom of this post) or contact us if you have a scan, photo, or document we can post.

Thank you to Christine Jones-Williams, James Lockhart, Bill Moore, Rob Gusky, Jim Lockhart, Cara Vandy, Matt Mlynarczyk, and Christopher Ford who checked in and told about a memory they have of the Collins Building.

We shall add pictures of the Collins Building to our TTATA (things that aren’t there anymore) Wish List.

Christine Jones-Williams: I remember Mary Lou’s. She sold just about everything, but what she was most famous for was the penny candy.
I remember Marylou sitting behind the counter waiting for customers to come in her store. She would sit and count your candy and then put all of the candy in a little brown bag. Great memories. February 1, 2019 at 12:04 pm

James Lockhart: I remember this as the Collins building. Used to go by there a couple times a day on my way to and from school during the mid-1960s until about 1971. I remember there being a couple of shops between the Collins entrance and a barber shop on the opposite (Harrison St.) corner. There was also a print shop in the cellar that was accessible from Harrison St. The husband of our music teacher at RPS, Mrs. Horn, worked for Collins, IIRC. February 1, 2019 at 9:51 am

Bill Moore: It’s funny. It wasn’t until you posted this that I started thinking about the business on the far right. I can’t even remember what it was…a hardware store? But there was a LONG entryway…to a long counter on the left. I’ll be curious to hear what others remember because I have distinct memories of being taken in there but no memory of what it was. The store next to it was the deli. I remember that “The Elm Street Store” or whatever the official name was moved there in the 70s from their house/store on Elm Street and it became Deckards?…Deckers?…and later Bosch’s…and whatever it is now. The next store was the infamous Mary Lou Shop. While she had greeting cards, gifts, notions, etc. No one ever touched them and they probably had a layer of dust on them because everyone made a beeline for the candy…and I don’t think she ever got out of her chair to dust. On my list of things I wish I could recreate in Riverton…that would be in the top 3. I have no recollection what was in the shop next to that. Freddy’s Barber Shop was next door. My dad patronized it but my brother and I hated going there so my mother gave us our trademark bowl cuts. I seem to remember a couple of old school barbers in addition to Freddy working there. February 1, 2019 at 9:19 am

Rob Gusky: Anyone who attended Riverton School in the 70’s surely remembers the Mary Lou shop located in this brick building. It was an amazing place where you could fill a small paper bag full of candy for a quarter or less. In 1975 I was in 7th grade and got interested in collecting stamps. One day I discovered that Mary Lou, the proprietor of the shop, had a bunch of stamps behind the counter that she would sell for postage. These weren’t just ordinary stamps to me but were colorful stamps from the 60’s and beyond. Over time I bought a number of them and they were added to my stamp collection. Great memories – she was a very nice lady. February 1, 2019 at 8:32 am

Christopher Ford: Although I have vague memories of a lumber store in the upstairs (and a lift?) where my father would take me when I was very young, my clearest early memories were of Mary Lou’s Shop, where I would go spend my allowance on bowls of candy. I’d then dump the candy on the “counting counter,” where Mary Lou would add up the total cost and put it in a small brown paper bag.
After Mary Lou retired and closed her long-running store, I got my first real job at Barbara Drumheiser’s Victorian Thymes, where I could still get my candy fix, and where I got my lifelong love of coffee and fine food. During work I’d get my lunch next door at Beverly’s D&D Deli.
I love the stories this will bring. February 1, 2019 at 7:13 am

Mary Lou’s Shop sure left an indelible impression on some folks! Also mentioned were Deckards?…Deckers?…and later Bosch’sFreddy’s Barber Shop, and my personal favorite – Victorian Thymes. What was that Oscar Wilde quote that owner Barbara Drumheiser displayed over the entrance?

An earlier generation might recall Karl Frank’s Meat Store, Hullings & Son Plumbing and Heating, The Jersey Fruit Cooperative, The Riverton Meat MarketThe Christian Science Reading Room, or the J.S. Collins & Son Coal and Lumber. What other businesses have resided there over the years?

Whether your “good ol’ days” are 25, 50, or 75 years old, it’s all still Riverton history.

Thank you for adding your voice to

Look for more information here as we develop this story on the Collins Building. And don’t take any wooden nickels.

We are the keepers

Scanning and posting back issues of the Gaslight News has been an eye-opening and humbling experience.

Eye-opening because I am discovering so many bits of Riverton history that further illuminate topics I have dealt with here since making our first post in January 2011.

Humbling because I realize what a debt we owe to those many pioneering founders, leaders, and members who preceded us for preserving our local history.

As noted in this Jan. 16 post, I started to upload to our website recently scanned back issues of our newsletter, The Gaslight News, and had just reached issue #100, published in March 2001.

Working backwards, I just reached another milestone – issue #50, published in May 1988 – and am now headed toward the earliest issues of the Society.

Delaware River frozen over 1935, screenshot from video Glimpses of Palmyra and Riverton

While I have written about cold spells and the Delaware freezing here before, no account paints a picture of how frigid weather affected old Riverton better than this research that Betty Hahle recorded in one of her signature Yesterday columns in the March 2000 Gaslight News. (Searching our records, I found some images to go with her article.)

On a different note -January’s wintery weather has brought to mind an article found in a newspaper during the winter of 1917-1918. For the first time in many years the river had frozen all the way across.

Ice Skaters on Delaware River – Lee Cook, Sonny Wright, Mr Allen 1908 PHOTO CREDIT: ELSIE WATERS

Measurements made by boring holes into the ice set the depth of ice from seven-and-a-half to twelve-and-a-half inches. The weekend after the deep freeze brought out large crowds of people, estimated to be close to 1000. The article said that “every man, woman and child who owns or could borrow a pair of skates helped swell the crowd.”

People were eager to be able to skate on a long, smooth surface, instead of the smaller and often rough ice on local ponds. Two young men from Moorestown came to Riverton and drove their car across the ice to Philadelphia; and one of the Biddle boys (who lived on Bank Avenue) drove out onto the ice “and put it (his car) through a number of fancy stunts.”


A number of ice boats glided out and around the skaters. Biddle and Frishmuth boys had the largest ones, capable of carrying twenty passengers, and had a great time on the ice – until the wind died out.

A smaller ice boat captured the most attention and interest. It was built by 11-year-old Art Wright, who lived at 305 Bank Avenue (in the house now located at Penn and Carriage House Lane). He loved the river, and spent all possible time there, both winter and summer. When his older brother began to build an ice boat, Art gathered up some scraps of lumber and made for himself a small ice boat “that would bear his light weight, and could outsail anything on the river.”

March 8, 1934 Courier Post ice-bound RYC

The channel dug during the second World War, and stronger ice-boats ended the spectacle of the Delaware river freezing all the way across. Perhaps some “Gaslight News” readers may still remember the ice boats, and skating on the river (with clamp-on skates), and bonfires on the bank to warm up.

The above article is almost 19 years old and scarcely anyone now can remember such times.

Horse drawn wagon on Main Street, no date PHOTO CREDIT: MARY FLANAGAN

It and others like it demonstrate the critical role of the Society as it serves as a keeper of culture, preserves the historical record, and interprets the past to the public.



How else would you know how awesome Riverton is?

Look for more evidence in the back issues of Gaslight News. -JMc

History matters

You may think from the website inactivity here lately that the government shutdown has resulted in us being furloughed, but nothing could be further than the truth.

steamboat landing sign installation by (l-r) Roger Prichard, Bill Brown, and John Laverty, Dec. 2017

The next Gaslight News will go out the first part of February.

One article will tell about Roger Prichard‘s continuing work on researching and producing  and producing historical markers.

The next two markers will be about homes at 309 and 311 Bank Avenue.

We have long made issues of the Gaslight News available online since developing our website in early 2011. However, the older mimeographed newsletters produced before our use of personal computers, and some others written through the early 2000s, were only available as hard copies and had to be scanned.

Short story – I scanned them all, saved them as PDFs, and started backdating them and posting them on our Gaslight News page.

You can now see back issues to #100 March 2001 (maybe more by the time you read this.)

Only 91 issues to go back to #009 December 1977! (We do not have the first 8 issues plus a couple of others, but still, this recovers and makes available a huge trove of local history. Look for more details on this project in the upcoming February 2019 Gaslight News.

The first General Meeting of 2019 will be on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 at 7 pm in Riverton Library. The presentation will be on our effort to organize, catalog, and store the collections of the Society. More details will follow later.

All through November and December folks near and far bought our historically themed mugs for gifts, but we couldn’t say much with giving away secrets.

The holidays are over, but you can still buy mugs. Just see this post that explains more.

We shared Bob Foster’s Facebook post on Klipple’s Bakery to HSR’s FB

On December 23, I shared Bob Foster‘s Facebook post from the River Towns’ People group to the HSR Facebook page and it received lots of views, some comments and shares.

Recently, Bob kindly sent me a better file for our records.

Klipple’s Bakery, Broad and Main, by Bob Foster, no date

A post to our website the next day, seen here, explained how the contributions of many members and website visitors have helped to… “add another stitch to the fabric of Riverton history.”

Who knows how much more history is tucked away in drawers, attics, basements, and family photo albums? Maybe someone will even find one of those missing newsletters.

Our goal is to make this a meeting place for crowdsourcing local history.

Nothing better illustrates this than Yesterday’s news rediscovered posted here in early December, which advised readers of the availability of viewing PDFs for sixteen issues of various hometown newspapers dated mid-1930s thru mid-1960s given to us by Ed Gilmore.

Over time, since our founding in 1970, despite adding to that patchwork of history, it still has a lot of holes in it. Please do not assume that the HSR has a monopoly on Riverton history.

Here comes the commercial…

If this history matters, please support the Society’s efforts by starting or renewing your membership.   -JMc