Don’t try this these stunts today, kids.

New Era, July 20, 1920, pg. 2
The New Era, July 20, 1920, pg. 2

As Labor day approached in late August 1920, Riverton’s hometown weekly gazette, The New Era, reported, “It is astonishing the great number of children from 12 to 14 years of age who have swam across the river and back. At least 30 have made the one-way journey, and over a dozen both ways.”

Just as it was once a Riverton rite of passage to walk across the frozen Delaware and touch the Pennsy shore (see GN 2013), so too, was it the custom for youngsters to swim across and back in summer months.

Mrs. Elsie S. Waters, Oct. 2013
Mrs. Elsie S. Waters, Oct. 2013

You can take Elsie Waters’ word for it.

She recalled learning to swim at five years of age and making the crossing at twelve in 1930, in this 2013 interview.

With safety in mind, Riverton Yacht Club’s Secretary and Treasurer and famous distance swimmer, Charles Durborow (see Mar 7, 2014 post), accompanied the juvenile tadpoles as they paddled into adulthood.

The New Era article noted that swimming had “…risen rapidly in popular favor in Riverton of late and the Yacht Club has been kept busy handing out bronze and silver medals to its members.”

Riverton Yacht Club - View opposite Lawn House, from Nick Mortgu's collection
Riverton Yacht Club – View opposite Lawn House, from Nick Mortgu’s collection

A week later, The New Era described how Riverton’s Miss Harriet Holder swam from Riverton Yacht Club to Race Street, Philadelphia in three hours and twelve minutes.

And I get winded backstroking across to the other side of my swimming pool!

Do you have more to add to this chapter of Riverton history? If anyone has a photo of one of those swimming awards or additional information, we would like to publish it.  – John McCormick

History Repeats Itself as Ice Jams the Delaware River

As last night’s (Jan. 9) Action News segment explains, the sight of recent ice jams on the Delaware brought out spectators with cameras to record the “once in a lifetime” event. However, for our friend William Hall this makes at least twice, as regular readers of our newsletter will recall (“Adrift on the Icy Delaware,” Gaslight News, January 2013).

IMG_6279 [1024x768 PPt]
ice jam RYC pier 1920
This stereoview of ice shards clustered up over the pier by the Riverton Yacht Club in January 1920 comes from Elsie Waters. There is another view on a Feb. 2011 post along with a few other images from this rare collection.

Say, doesn’t that pumper in the Feb. 2011 post look like the same one depicted in the photo I bought on eBay, mentioned here Dec. 22? But, I am off topic.

March 8, 1934 Courier Post ice-bound RYC
March 8, 1934 Courier Post ice-bound RYC

Back to the ice conversation.

Here is mention of a close call for some ice skaters rescued from an ice floe in 1900 by Charles Biddle.

Mary Flanagan’s scrapbook continues to be a goldmine of source material for this blog. This newspaper clipping provides another example of the uncommon phenomenon.

Or is it?

Can any reader recall another occurrence of glacial blockage on the Delaware?

If you have an old one or a new one, please send us a scan or donate it for our archives.

River Ice, undated, from Bill & Nancy Hall's family photos
River Ice, undated

Please appreciate the view from a safe distance.

NYT, Feb 11, 1917 Charles Durbonard, possibly Durborow
NYT, Feb 11, 1917 Charles Durbonard, possibly Durborow

This is NOT to suggest that anyone should  actually risk going out on to ice.

Or in it, as evidenced by this clipping from a Feb. 11, 1917 New York Times showing Riverton’s Charles Durbonard taking his usual morning dip in the Delaware prior to going to his office in a Philadelphia bank.

I believe this is the same Charles Durborow referenced in news articles of the 1910s-1920s as being a champion long-distance swimmer associated with the Riverton Yacht Club.

Again, I digress. – John McCormick