Boffo box office for Maggie Worsdale’s production of Martha Washington

President Phyllis Rodgers opens the meeting
President Phyllis Rodgers opens the meeting

Well, it would have been boffo box office, but this was another example of your HSR dues dollars at work in partnership with Riverton Free Library in making available to the public a presentation free of charge.

"...29, 30, 31, 32... a great turnout," observes RFL Director Michael Robinson.
“…29, 30, 31, 32… a great turnout,” observes RFL Director Michael Robinson.

Actress Maggie Worsdale played to a capacity crowd in the RFL’s meeting room Tuesday night.

She entertained in character for a full hour, delivering her fact-filled monologue with no notes.

It was, as it was heard characterized, more like a one-woman play than a typical historical interpreter’s presentation.

Maggie Worsdale channeling Martha Washington with flair
Maggie Worsdale channeling Martha Washington with flair

She absolutely did delight, teach, and inspire the SRO crowd with her recounting of episodes in not only Martha Washington’s life, but also for many other of America’s 44 First Ladies.

One could certainly fill up an hour reporting on the lives of First Ladies, but this remarkable performance was full of little known, often touching, anecdotes which were obviously the result of exhaustive research and preparation.

No video clip or excerpts of Ms. Worsdale’s one-act follow so that there are no “spoilers” should you have a chance to enjoy this compelling material performed live.

Consider this short review a 5-star endorsement of Maggie Worsdale’s production of Martha Washington. Book her without reservation. But you might want a bigger room.

not just Riverton mugs
not just Riverton mugs

Find more at and see a short video there.

At the conclusion, folks shared conversation, cider, cookies and cake, and placed orders for another 17 mugs.

I will be at the used  book sale again next Sunday afternoon with the few mugs left. More are on the way in about two weeks. – JMc



Mrs. Washington and mugs at RFL Tues. night

Maggie Worsdale - Martha Washington publicity flyerFor one night only, Tuesday, November 17, international performing and recording artist, cabaret and jazz singer, actress, and producer Maggie Worsdale brings her one-woman show to Riverton Free Library as she becomes Martha Dandridge Custis Washington.

Be there before 7pm, and we will have on display the mugs mentioned in the post of Nov. 9.

When I found out that the RFL was having its usual Sunday afternoon used book sale in the basement I decided to set up a card table just inside our new space and offer those mugs for sale.

I had about 28 mugs, mostly all different prototype designs I was trying out featuring vintage images from our extensive archive. You can make out a Riverside, a Moorestown, and a Palmyra mug amongst the Riverton cups.

I sold ten and got an order for 14. The result was encouraging enough that I will go back next Sunday and try again.

Santa reads GN (779x768)I can’t say who came or what they bought.

Let’s just say Santa has sworn me to secrecy.

I ordered another bunch more today, but delivery is not expected until the end of November.

Rosemary Hutchins HSR mug
Rosemary Hutchins HSR mug

One of them will be this one featuring a beautiful watercolor by artist Rosemary Hutchins that we gave out at our Second Annual Daniel Campbell Riverton Awards Night last April.

What would you like to see put on a mug? – JMc

Thank a Vet – See you at the Riverton Memorial Nov. 11

operation appreciation 2015This just in from Mayor Bill Brown:

The Veterans Day Observance at the recently restored Riverton War Memorial will include placing the name Richard W. Baskin USMC, Vietnam, on the Honor Roll  displayed there.

Also am passing along word that on Veterans Day, this Wednesday, Nov. 11, Riverton School continues its tradition of recognizing veterans with a coffee reception 8:30-9:30am, followed by a ceremony in the gym, although I cannot confirm finding any mention of it on the RPS website.

Members of Riverside VFW Post 3020 shall act as standard bearers at the Riverton War Memorial between 10:30 and 11:00 am, as they have so often done. Riverton will be one of several stops that day to other memorials along these riverfront towns in which they perform their duties.

You don’t have to have a computer to join in OPERATION APPRECIATION 2015 – just thank a veteran for their service, or demonstrate it in a bigger way.  We certainly owe so much to veterans, past and present.

The eligibility explanation and simple application procedure for those wishing to have a veteran’s name included on the Memorial are on the Borough website,

With more names having been added by the Riverton Military & Veterans Affairs Committee since 2011, and the replacement of new plaques for the first ones, the HSR is to be entrusted with the safekeeping of the original plaques.

Please know that the Historical Society desires to add service photos of Riverton veterans to our own online Riverton Veterans Album. Have a look – you might see someone you know.  – JMc

Riverton Mug Shots

mug shots

#5 Riverton passenger train station
#5 Riverton passenger train station

Guess you heard that the planned Candlelight House Tour had to be cancelled for this year.

So the pressure is off for us to coincide the début opening of our space in the basement of the Riverton Free Library with that popular RFL fundraiser.

We had hoped to make available our new keepsake mugs during the House Tour. Each ceramic mug holds 11 oz., is dishwasher safe, and displays a wrap-around image from our archives.

So now our Plan B is to get down to the next used book sale on Sunday, 1-3 pm to see if anyone wants to buy a mug for $15.

Either that, or our own modest fundraiser starts out 2016 in the red.

I made a lot of mugs. – JMc

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ANNOUNCING: “Back in Time” returns in Oct. and we added 38th IMAGE category

I recently received the note below from my bud, Will Valentino, of Palmyra Historical & Cultural Society.

Hope you had a great summer. ! Attaching a photo for your blog of a MILLSIDE FARMS half pint bottle I dug in my back yard in 2002 when I first moved here. Please let your readers know that BACK IN TIME , will return to THE POSITIVE PRESS in October after a brief summer sabbatical!

millside creamtopThe Millside Farms bottle is featured in the article which discusses historical artifacts found in your backyard and underfoot ! The half pint “cream top ” bottle is date / patented March 3, 1925! Probably not the healthiest of beverages chosen on a summer day to cool off I would think !

Look for the October issue of THE POSITIVE PRESS around October 8th in your mailboxes, at local stores and on line !

Back in Time graphic

Umm… I think autumn has arrived, Will. At least the leaves in Riverton think it has.

Speaking of making plugs for friends, check out the new Delaware River Bridge/ Benjamin Franklin Bridge category on our IMAGES page.

There you will find showcased 30 images related to that familiar span and a heart-warming story by a collector who tells of his connection to the bridge in A Small Metal Object Links Father and Son to an Event and Ignites a Passion for History.

Maybe you have a connection to the bridge, too. – JMc

Love & Lies at the Library tonight

love and lies graphicEnjoy another delightful and entertaining program of “historical gossip” from America’s colonial period as Dorothy Stanaitis, the popular presenter of 2013’s Scandal, Rumors, & Dirty Rotten Lies, returns in period costume with its sequel, Love & Lies tonight at 7pm at Riverton Free Library.

We can expect her to name names and continue her scandalous reporting on the love lives of the Colonial era’s rich and famous. Light refreshments served. – JMc

Summer winds down and the Society revs up

201 River Bank
201 River Bank

These remarkable photos from Nancy and Bill Steel’s family album offer a rare glimpse into early 20th century Riverton.

Porch Club (Copy)Do you recognize this Riverton landmark in its earlier days?

Built in 1909 as the clubhouse for an organization celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2015, it has a much different look here than in a later postcard view.

In an August 3rd post called Hot enough for ya? candid shots of the Fitler family of 109 Bank Avenue cavorting in a homemade swimming drew possibly the most traffic ever to this website and rekindled memories of those who later learned to swim in Bay Ruff’s pool. These scans came from that same album.

RYC biplane - no caption
RYC biplane – no caption


This photo had no caption or date, but you can see the Yacht Club in the background. Somewhere I have the name of a pilot who flew passengers around Riverton for a fee. But who is the woman?

We are often asked here what we have on file about the history of a house. Except for a few founders’ homes, we have precious little, I am afraid.

However, the 1999 Riverton National Register Historic District Inventory has short summary descriptions for over 500 structures. Mrs. Patricia Solin, a frequent contributor to the Gaslight News, reports that she will have some helps to publish here later this fall for those wishing to research the history of their home.

212 Thomas 1905
212 Thomas 1905
212 Thomas 1905
212 Thomas 1905

A new homeowner once told me how much they appreciated receiving from their seller a box of documents and old photos about the history of their just purchased house.

These photos taken in 1905 would be invaluable to a person trying to recreate original architectural details.

Note the oil lamp on the post that predates the Welsbach gaslamps. Do you have any photos of your home back in the day you could send in?

In a year in which we have a woman candidate running for president, an intriguing sequence of photos about suffragists marching to gain the right to vote prompted me google some of the names I read in the captions.

Col. Ida Kraft speaking at Bridgeboro
Col. Ida Kraft speaking at Bridgeboro

I learned Col. Ida Kraft (also spelled Craft) and her army of Pilgrims were actually a real thing and a very big deal. But are the pictures in this album because a family member was involved in the march?

The captions do not say and the Steels do not know.

I couldn’t wait for cold weather to share this next one. I have heard of people walking on the river ice way back when, but a wind powered iceboat must be something to see.

Delving into the Steel family album reminds us that there are still some surprises to be found in Riverton history, but sometimes they present more questions than answers.

H. McIlvain Biddle's iceboat
H. McIlvain Biddle’s iceboat

If you have any more surprises to throw into the mix, or can help connect the dots to some of these random bits, please join the conversation here at

Won’t you support the Historical Society of Riverton’s efforts to preserve and promote the history of this “unique” town in the only way that matters with your membership?

The Society gets an earlier than usual start on the season this time with its first event on September 10. Read more about it and other calendar events in our SUMMER EXTRA Gaslight News, a two-page late August summary of upcoming events and recap of summer web posts. – JMc

103 years old this week!

Boardwalk and Beach, looking North from 8th St., Ocean City, NJ
Boardwalk and Beach, looking North from 8th St., Ocean City, NJ

A lot of people find their way here to look at old postcard images.

This scan of a 103 year old postcard is not the oldest one we display, but it may be one of the most rare.

This highly collectable philatelic find is one of very few surviving pieces of air mail flown in a Wright Brothers built biplane during a short-lived experiment from August 3-10, 1912 between Ocean City and Stone Harbor, New Jersey.

Postcard with handwritten notation VIA AEROPLANE
Postcard with handwritten notation VIA AEROPLANE

“The First Air Mail Flights in South Jersey – 1912,”  Harlan B. Radford, Jr.’s authoritative 3-page story of those historic pioneer flights of the early “AERIAL U.S. MAIL SERVICE” is liberally illustrated with items from his philatelic collection.

(The printable PDF file here contains links to larger image files.) – JMc

Hot enough for ya?

First Fitler pool 02
First Fitler swimming pool

In the throes of one of New  Jersey’s infamous humidity drenched August heat waves we have to admire the ingenuity of these Rivertonians of old who found a way to keep cool.

Way before postwar prosperity and innovative construction methods of builders such as Phil Anthony and Herman Silverman, respective founders of Anthony and Sylvan Pools, enabled mainstream America to construct swimming pools in their own backyards, the Fitler family of 109 Bank Avenue made one in theirs.

This may be the “first swimming pool in Riverton” described by Mrs. Barbara Page Bartholomew during an interview conducted by former HSR President Gerald Weaber when he researched his feature, “The Fascinating Fitlers,” for the November 2009 Gaslight News. Gerald recorded:

Miss Barbara was fond of her aunt’s husband, Nathan Myers Fitler, whom she affectionately called Uncle Myers and who she said built the first swimming pool in Riverton. Nathan Myers and Mary Biddle Fitler lived in the home known as Graystone at 109 Bank Avenue. The first swimming pool in town was on the same property where the Fitler playhouse once stood. The playhouse, where Miss Barbara played as a youngster, was later the home to Anne Knight-Ruff, author of Ruff Copy, located at 4 Thomas Avenue behind Graystone.

first fitler pool 01 (Copy)

first fitler pool 04 (Copy)

These adorable century-old candid shots of kids at play are from a family album loaned to us for scanning by Mr. and Mrs. William Steel of Cinnaminson.

In it were a number of other photos of historical interest that will be shared here and, since some photos had no captions, we may need your help with names or guessing dates.

first fitler pool 06 (Copy)first fitler pool 03 (Copy)first fitler pool 05 (Copy)





Below is a preview of coming attractions. One wonders how many other glimpses into Riverton’s past lie waiting to be discovered and shudders at the thought of the history that is often discarded. – JMc

undated photo, presumably July 4th
undated photo, presumably July 4th