Yesterday’s news rediscovered

Macmillan.com informs that the idiom “yesterday’s news” means that the topic is something that everyone already knows about and is no longer interested in.

Let’s see.

Who or what will you find mentioned in these gazettes of bygone times?

Folks near and far often check our online resources for information on Riverton. Thanks to resident Ed Gilmore, we just added 16 more old out-of-print local newspapers to our archive.

Click on links below to see each issue.

The New Era, Jan. 30, 1936

The New Era, May 21, 1936

The New Era, June 11, 1936

The New Era, Dec. 29, 1938

The Palmyra News, Jan. 23, 1948

The New Era, Feb. 5. 1948

The New Era, March 3, 1949

The New Era, Jan. 31, 1957

The New Era, Feb. 7, 1957

The New Era, Oct. 26, 1961

The New Era, July 1, 1965

The New Era, July 8, 1965

The New Era, Feb. 3, 1966

The New Era, June 2, 1966

The New Era, Aug. 18, 1966

The New Era, Feb. 9, 1967

All but five of the 16 issues are ones which were not part of the Society’s original effort HSR President Betty B. Hahle started to save the vintage periodicals back in 1985-1986.

She’s looking for yesteryear’s news, BCT, Feb. 7, 1985, pg 9

Despite some missing and incomplete issues, the project preserved on microfilm over 130 issues of four local newspapers (1894-1949) –  The New Era (Riverton), The Palmyra Record, The Riverton Journal, and The Weekly News (Palmyra).  

Years later, in 2012, the RFL Association and the Historical Society of Riverton worked to complete the digitization of these four locally historic newspapers so they could be made available on the web at rivertonhistory.com. See them on the Historical Newspapers page.

As anyone who has browsed the files here can attest, the image quality varies and the search feature can miss a lot. These issues just posted are clearer and can be more accurately searched. 

Mr. Gilmore gave these issues to us a couple of years ago, but we did not have a way to scan the pages. I used an iPhone app called Adobe Scan to turn the pages into searchable PDFs.

While not up to the quality that we might have gotten from a $2,500 roll scanner, the Adobe Scan app produced a decent image and the text recognition is far more accurate than what we achieved on the microfilm to digital transfer. 

Well, anyway, I’m excited. 

The folks at adobe.com explain how it’s done here.

While they cannot compete with a scanner’s reproduction, mobile phone apps such as this or similar ones do open up the possibility of persons collaborating across the miles to add to the historical record.

If anyone else out there in cyberspace has an old hometown newspaper or other document to share, please send us a PDF we can post.  -JMc

July Fourth – Something Old, Something New

undated July 4th photo courtesy of Mr. Ed Gilmore
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 and John Showell, July 5, 1920
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.


 

I confess that I feel transported by such vintage photos
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.

 

 

 

 

Check out the Facebook wall for the Riverton 4th of July Committee and see what people have had to say there. Also, you’ll find links to other related topics including newspaper articles and the latest photo galleries. The 2009 and 2010 photo galleries are still posted on the 4th of July Committee’s website.

 

 

The perambulators may have changed, but the delight to see a child in this parade remains the same.

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

 

 

Proposed New Fire House of Relief Engine Co.
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.

 

 

 

 

Odd Bits of Past July Fourths

Mayor Robert Martin with banded staff and President of Borough Council, Bob Smyth

The July 4th post, How did Riverton’s “Glorious Fourth” start? referred to a number of July Fourth traditions which Mrs. Betty B. Hahle explained in her classic series of “Yesterday” columns published over her four decades of research and writing for the Historical Society of Riverton. I omitted her explanation of one longstanding parade tradition—the Mayor’s walking staff— until I could make certain of its status. As any observant parade spectator has noticed throughout the years, the Mayor always holds a long cane ringed with dozens of silver-colored bands as he or she walks.

Consider the above photograph of current Mayor Robert Martin with said walking staff.

To further explain the origin of this tradition, read below the complete text of our recently passed Town Historian’s “Yesterday” column from the September 1997 issue of Gaslight News entitled, “A Cane’s Name.”

A Cane’s Name

History is not static, as some might think. A different interpretation, or the discovery of new materials can change a historical concept at any time. And slightly different accounts of an event provoke questions of which is accurate; age, perspective and re-telling all influence the development of a legend.

In 1965 Riverton Yacht Club published a Centennial Booklet that contained two pages of memoirs of Ogden Mattis, an active member for many years. He also suppled a photograph of an early 4th of July Parade that was published with the caption “the Marshall’s baton is a Calcutta Cane brought from India by Og Mattis’ grandfather.”

The grandfather referred to was Louis Corner, who had come to Riverton from England circa 1863, and lived on Main Street.

Recently Sally Jane Mattis shared with me something her husband, George, had written in the late 1930s, when he was a student at Palmyra High School. A requirement of Miss Edna Ziegler’s Senior English class was the student’s autobiography. In his, George had written that his great-grandfather, Louis Corner, born in England…“travelled abroad many times visiting his parents and foreign countries.

On one visit to Switzerland in 1897 he brought back two Alpine Sticks and presented them to the town for the purpose of recording year by year the number of children in the annual parade on 4th of July… by placing silver bands on them…”.

We know that various kinds of walking sticks were popular in the late 19th century, and both records agree on who brought back the cane (s) that are a part of Riverton’s traditional 4th of July Parade. At first the Marshall carried the cane, but for many years now it is the Mayor who carries it. A silver band bearing the year, mayors name, and number of children participating that year is added to the cane after the event. In 1952 the last band that would fit on the original cane was placed on it, and 1953 started a new cane. Since 1958 the bands are of stainless steel instead of silver.

Another Corner legend about the 4th of July Parade is that Louis Corner’s young nephew, George, led the first Parade, in 1897. The Mt. Holly Herald carried a detailed account of the 1898 Parade, which said that it “was led by two 3-year-olds, George Corner, dressed as Uncle Sam, and Clarice Frishmuth, dressed as the Goddess of Liberty.” They were followed by ten little boys in Dewey suits (for the recent Dewey victory) and then by 250 children parading. (Gaslight News 1986, vol. 12 #4, told that story) There was no mention of a Marshall or of his baton. Would it have been called a Calcutta Cane or an Alpine Stick, if it had been described that day? – BBH

As the above photo of Mayor Martin shows, the tradition persists of adding a band to the cane each year engraved with the number of children in the parade. According to Phyllis Goffredo Rodgers, the official kid-counter for the past several years, the number this year was 185, about a half of last year’s showing and a fraction of the 600 tallied in 1908.

Frank Mills’ plane, 1923

undated photo – plane in Delaware at Riverton
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scouring my hard drive for other references to that July 4th airplane drop of paper tokens good for penny candy resulted in the above scanned image of a stereograph from the collection of Mrs. Elsie Waters with the caption, “Frank Mills’ Plane, 1923” and a scan of an undated photo from the collection of recently elected HSR Board Director Mr. Ed Gilmore. Elsie told me that it was Frank Mills who gave airplane rides for a fee, but I’ll have to confirm with her (or another reader) if he is the one who dropped the penny candy vouchers and if it was done for more than just the year 1921. Regular readers may recall that Mrs. Hahle reported on such a paper shield penny voucher plane drop for the year 1920. So far I have been unable to account for the difference in dates. Further, can any aircraft expert determine if the plane in Elsie’s stereograph and Ed’s photo are the same?

1920 Fourth of July Celebration Program

 

Segue to this 7.28MB PDF file of a 1920 Fourth of July Celebration Program that almost got away. The original once belonged to Mrs. Mary Jane Mento, widow of Mr. Danny 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. Gerald Blaney, a recent homeowner transplant from Palmyra to Riverton and very keen on local history, prevailed as high bidder and has generously allowed the use of the image seen here. Would that all such great finds be shared with the community by such altruistic persons.

 

 

THEN – Riverton Fire Department 1925

NOW – Three Generations of Dorworths 2011

Classic cars and fire engines are always a part of the parade. Here’s an old one from 1925, again from Elsie’s stereograph collection, and a recent 2011 pic of Riverton Fireman Charles Dorworth with his daughter Nicole taking advantage of a photo op with her husband and son in the driver’s seat of Riverton’s 2005 Pierce 100 foot ladder apparatus, or “fire truck” to us civilians. The RFD, established 1890, is a respected institution with its own historic past which you can visit at this website link.

 

 

military unit in undated parade photo

 

 

undated July 4th parade photo
Although undated, Mr. Gilmore’s set of remarkably well-preserved photos may each have been taken around the same time. Another one, presumably from the same parade, shows what must be the mayor holding the cane with the silver bands. Are there any who history sleuths would care to deduce a date for the Gilmore photos? If you have a theory, please send it in.

 

Readers, please leave a comment, criticism, or even a correction, lest how else am I to get the record set straight? “Like” us on Facebook and tell your friends and family, whether local or across the miles, about the rivertonhistory.com website. With increasing visitor counts and membership support comes a greater chance to “connect the dots” and make sense of the separate pieces of our individual collections of artifacts, collectibles, and ephemera. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

 

Rivertons Good Sports from Waaay Back

Riverton Ball Club 1872 Fred Moore, veteran of 23 seasons in center
The Philliesare playing in Clearwater now, and fan anticipation is high as the team prepares for another run at the World Series. With the re-signing of Cliff Lee, the Phillies now have in Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, and Co. what may arguably be the one of the best starting pitching rotations ever assembled in the history of major league baseball. Years from now, a generation will look back fondly upon these as the “good ol’ days.”

Few today can remember grandparents’ tales of Riverton’s heyday of baseball during the late 19th century, but there was a time when the “Riverton Nine” was so highly regarded that Henry Chadwick, the “Father of Baseball,” recalled an 1890 game in which they played as one of the best he had ever seen. A June 4, 1895, New York Times article stated, “During the old days of baseball, perhaps no amateur club in the country was so well known as the Rivertons.”

 

1890 map detail showing Riverton Ball Club Grounds

The team first organized in 1865, and played in Biddle’s apple orchard. When the interests of the group grew to include the sports of cricket and tennis in 1881, they leased land from the Miller Grounds and improved it with about 250 train carloads each of Pennsylvania sod and soil.

1890 Sporting Life graphic

Baseball, particularly, flourished in those days and the players ultimately outgrew even that setting. Consequently, in 1885, they purchased 6¼ acres of the Lippincott property and moved there in April, 1887. In 1894, the more inclusive name change to the Riverton Athletic Association seemed appropriate for the band which was just then adopting the next new American craze—bicycling.

The newly invigorated association built “…one of the finest quarter-mile (bicycle) tracks in the world” with stands that seated nearly 3,000 spectators. (For more details see the September 2009 issue of Gaslight News for Pat Solin’s feature story, “The Fine Grounds of the Riverton Athletic Association”).

Riverton's Bicycle track - undated photo from Ed Gilmore

In 1895, the club hosted the New York Times Tri-State 150-Mile Relay Bicycle which included 163 cyclists. All preparatory aspects of the event were closely followed in the pages of the New York Times for weeks preceding the event. The race started out from the offices of the Times in New York City and climaxed with the winner crossing the finish line at Riverton’s own quarter-mile track.

Riverton’s long and illustrious sports tradition includes much more, of course: the sailing competitions and regattas at the Riverton Yacht Club, founded 1865; the live-pigeon trap shooting competitions held at the famed Riverton Gun Club (1877-1906); the individual efforts of athletes in national swim meets held at the Yacht Club during the 1920s; the play of men and women golfers of the Riverton Golf Club; as well as the stunning performance of 1923 women’s AAU track phenomenon, Frances Ruppert.

Look for images representing some of these accomplishments on the Images Page. We welcome the submission of photographs, programs, printed material, schedules, team rosters, and personal anecdotes or family stories which may serve as topics for future postings. John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor