As reported in the Dec 2020 Gaslight News, Riverton resident Jerry Blaney generously donated to the Society a box containing his ten-year collection of historical collectibles. Jerry knew that we’d really appreciate his gift because I had been outbid by him on eBay for one item in particular – a rare 1920 July Fourth Program.
For a century-old publication, this one sure took a circuitous route to get to us.
It once belonged to Mrs. Mary Jane Mento, widow of Mr. Dante Mento, a popular local musician. When she passed away, her daughter living in the South inherited it, and she placed it on an eBay auction.
In 2010, Gerald Blaney moved from Palmyra (PHS Class of ’64) to the marvelous converted carriage house at 109 Penn Street. Later, in 2014, he prevailed as the high bidder for the 1920 July Fourth Program and he generously allowed the use of the image seen here.
It was indispensable in writing a 2013 website post that cross-referenced old New Era newspaper articles and archival photos to describe Riverton’s 1920 Independence Day celebration. Too often, when ownership of such items changes the information contained within is lost for public use.
Finally, in December 2020, because Jerry was downsizing and hopscotching to yet another Riverton address, he emailed us and offered to give the 1920 July 4th Program and other items to us.
I really must commend Mr. Blaney and thank him for ensuring that this unique piece of Riverton history wound up with the Historical Society of Riverton rather than being offered for sale on eBay, only to land who knows where?
What irreplaceable bit of Riverton history do you have that would help fill in another page of Riverton history? More to come in another post about the interesting items that Jerry donated. -JMc
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.
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.
This 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 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.
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.
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.
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 phillyburbs.com 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.
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.
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 email@example.com – John McCormick
Note to Self: Phyllis Rogers’ observation about the count of children who were actually in the parade gives me the idea to get a closer look at the mayor’s staff that has the bands which record that headcount through the years. Mrs. Tracey Foedisch, Riverton 4th of July Committee Chairperson, told me by phone that I can go to Borough Hall sometime and ask Municipal Clerk Mrs. Mary Longbottom to see it.
Meanwhile, here’s another great image, courtesy of Ed Gilmore. Undated, but probably from the same time as his photos in the last post, it affords us a glimpse of a Riverton Fourth “back in the day.” Way back. Ed does not know the identity of the children or anyone else in the photo—any guesses?
Elsie Waters again gives us a peek at her family album with this sweet image of big sister Elsie and brother John sitting in wide-eyed wonderment at the 1920 July Fourth celebration. We may infer by the patriotic embellishments to their perambulators that they were participants in the scheduled 9:45 a.m. Children’s Flag, Baby Coach, Velocipede and Kiddie Kar Parade. View the full 4-page 1920 July 4th program in the previous post, Odd Bits of Past July Fourths. FUN FACT: As July 4 fell on Sunday in 1920, Riverton’s Glorious Fourth was held on Monday the fifth.
At right is one last look back at another of Ed Gilmore’s captivating photos from that undated parade.
Am I that only one that looks at these at great magnification and imagines that I could march down to the river with them?
On July 4th, 2011 I caught these video clips with my iPhone and spliced them together to make three short videos, 2-3 minutes each. Each one is a separate download.
For some real Riverton July Fourth eye-candy, enjoy the photography skills of Mark Brown, a musician and Riverton resident who responded to my request for photos to post here when I distributed the 2011 July 4th Palm Cards.
He has kindly made these large files available to view, copy, print, whatever. Let me know if you need a larger file. One meets the nicest people in Riverton, especially on the Fourth. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
P.S. After posting over 300 vintage image of Moorestown here, it is rare to find a new one, but my collector friend just scored another one and sent it for us to enjoy.
P.P.S. Save the Date: The Historical Society of Riverton takes our show on the road to Columbus next week, July 20-23, 2011, as we join every local historical society in the County for a “History Faire at the County Fair.” More info to follow in another post.