With sub-zero wind-chill temps of late and threats of historic snowstorms I actually received emails and phone calls from friends in California, Virginia, and Ohio asking if we were OK.
Yes, thank you for checking on the elderly – we are fine.
For any of you Riverton snowbirds temporarily billeted in a sunbelt state or expatriates currently living elsewhere, here are some recent photos of your old hometown.
Our HSR stringer Dick Paladino shot these with his point-and-shoot camera on Feb. 24 and 27.
I took them a few days ago when the ice was piled up along the river bank, then while driving by last night shortly after sunset, I picked up a few more in the dusky rose sky-glow.
FYI to any photogs hoping to replicate one of these moonlit views on the old postcards – you can never position yourself so the sunset or moon is behind the Yacht Club as it is in this scan of a vintage lithograph postcard sent in by Nick Mortgu.
Maybe some sailor can give us our bearings.
Light at the end of the tunnel – Accuweather is forecasting mid-fifties and rain for Weds. and spring arrives March 20.
Stop snickering, Murrietta, CA, I know it’s 75 degrees there. – JMc
Saturday, March 28, 2015, from noon to 4 p.m. will see the return of the popular Antique & Collectible Appraisal with the affable and very knowledgeable appraiser Ronald E. Shaffer, but with a few upgrades.
Well-known Philadelphia antiques expert, Mr. Ronald E. Shaffer, ISA, is a frequent speaker on the subject of Fakes, Frauds & Flimflams, and he directs many such Heirloom Discovery Day events for historical societies and civic groups.
You are certain to be informed and entertained by Mr. Shaffer’s witty and informed banter as he speaks about each piece, about his profession, and offers his opinions of value for items brought to the event.
In addition, we are very fortunate to have available at this same event Mr. Nicholas Fratto, Accredited Master Gemologist and CEO of Anthony Jewelers, to evaluate your vintage fine jewelry. Anthony Jewelers, of course, is a 3rd Generation family business serving the Riverfront region and beyond since 1953.
Last January 2014, we reported on the fine PH&CS presentation of its recently acquired Civil War diaries written by Capt. Charles Hall and muster sheets of local soldiers in Company E, 4th Regiment NJ Volunteers of the Union Army. The Civil War muster sheets will also be on display at this appraisal event.
The popularity of Antiques Roadshow, Pawn Stars, American Pickers, and other such reality shows has us all dreaming of finding buried treasure in our attic or finding a bargain in that local flea market. Whether it has been in the family for generations or you just picked up a vintage item on eBay, find out what it’s worth at this rare special event.
Admission is free. Each expert’s verbal opinion of value is $5 per item with a limit of two per person. No written appraisals will be issued. No reservation needed.
PLEASE NOTE— so you will not be disappointed — Mr.Shaffer claims no general knowledge of firearms, swords, or modern-day collectibles. He specializes in American, English and Continental furniture, glassware, silver, china, American art, textiles, and needlework. Furniture items are always welcome — if they are easily transportable by the owner. Photographs of items, too large to carry, are acceptable as long as they are clear, true views with sufficient detail. Mr. Fratto’s specialty is fine estate jewelry. – JMc
Until then, we fans will have to get our Downton fix by reserving a seat for the Friday, December 5, Society sponsored bus trip to the magnificent grounds of Winterthur Museum in Delaware to attend The Costumes of Downton Abbey Exhibition.
Plus, being at Winterthur decorated for the Holidays will be a bonus. – JMc
PS: Yeah, to keep you guessing I had two different spellings of Winterthur here, as I did in the newsletter. Fixed here now, but I will have to look like a dummy again in the Gaslight. Good luck pronouncing it.
Next month the Society will observe the 165th anniversary of passing of Edgar Allan Poe, the man who turned “Nevermore” into an enduring catchphrase, with a special performance at The Porch Club by actor/historian Bob Gleason.
Before Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, and way before Stephen King, this editor, poet, and critic created the very templates upon which the genre of detective fiction, as well as horror and science fiction are based.
Mr. Gleason last performed here at The Bank on Main in the guise of Abraham Lincoln. His trademark in-depth historical research and audience interactivity had us looking at Lincoln with fresh eyes.
The flyer at right publicizes the October 22 meeting for which there is a nominal $5 admission charge to defray costs of this professional performance set in the historic club house of Riverton’s Porch Club. – JMc
Labor Day is behind us, the first Gaslight News after the summer break is in the mail, and here is news of the first of three upcoming events you may want to get in on.
We open with a HSR sponsored Downton Abbey Inspired Tea at The New Leaf Tearoom Sunday, Sept. 28. The captivating Alisa DuPuy returns to regale Downton Abbey fans with a Dowager Countess’ perspective on life in the manor house.
Downton buff Phyllis Rodgers tests guests’ knowledge of the show with trivia games, prizes, and surprises as they enjoy array of sandwiches, savories, scones, and desserts served to you by the attentive staff.
Your choice of two brewed teas accompany menu items such as Matthew Crawley’s “Death by Chocolate “ Cake, imaginatively named after cast characters to add to the fun.
Following up on the Seaside Heights Carousel post from last week, my friend Paul Schopp forwards this undated image of that same attraction in an earlier incarnation when it started delighting riders in 1901, at Burlington Island, at the Island Beach Amusement Park.
Events today can turn on a dime, and the emotions aroused by the impending auction of the Seaside Heights Carousel have given rise to a new effort to bring the carousel back to its hometown, Burlington.
Guernsey’s Auctioneers posts a press release and many photos accompanied by a tune from the carousel’s Wurlitzer here. No telling how long that will be available.
It doesn’t cost anything to hear about his crusade to save the historic amusement from being relocated elsewhere or sold off piecemeal. And his passion for the cause might just inspire you to even sign up to give a buck toward the $2.7 million goal or make a comment on Facebook.
Casino Pier, of Seaside Heights, is selling their historic carousel, most likely in pieces. This isn’t just any carousel though, this one of the only four original, hand-carved, working carousel’s left in the world. It started its life on Burlington Island, at the Island Beach Amusement Park, in 1901. It then survived the park’s two fires and its eventual close. It was then sent to Casino Pier and has remained there, one of the only rides to survive both Hurricane Sandy, and the 2012 Seaside Heights fire. What we want to do is bring this carousel back to its hometown, Burlington. This is a historic piece full of life, spirit, and memories, of many people of both Seaside Heights and Burlington. It would be a shame to let it dissapear from the world. That’s why we need your help. We need to raise a lot of funds to save the carousel from destruction. Connor Newmann has started a go fund me campaign to save the carousel up now for auction by Seaside Heights. Support him and his efforts to bring the carousel back to where it originated, historic Burlington City, NJ. Please add friends to this group so we can bring the carousel back home.
Watch as the social network members post news of the latest developments, “exploring every avenue to keep it from being dismantled”, including forming a non-profit and praying for a “Hail, Mary” assist from Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.
For those interested in pursuing further the origin story of the historic carousel whose survival has now captured the attention of so many people, read about the Floyd L. Moreland Dentzel/Looff Carousel at discoverseasideheights.com. Since there is every likelihood that the webpage will be taken down, we reluctantly quote a portion of it here:
The Historic Seaside Heights’ Carousel
The Casino Pier carousel has, like many storied carousels, an interesting history. The machine was originally part of a trolley park called Island Beach Park. Oddly enough this was not the Island Beach found just miles from Seaside Heights but was located in Burlington, NJ. In 1928 the park burned and the fire damaged the carousel. An area resident, Linus Gilbert, rescued and rebuilt the machine. He bought and added carved figures that were not part of the original. This resulted in a carousel with a mixture of animals from a few different revered carvers, some of whom had worked from different carousel manufacturers. The work of William Dentzel, Marcus Illions, Charles Carmel, and Charles Looff are all represented in this one carousel. The carousel was brought from Burlington to Seaside Heights in 1932. It was placed in an open frame building and was still under the care and management of Linus Gilbert. This first building was the beginnings of what would later become the Casino Arcade and Casino Pier. When the carousel building was first built there was a fishing pier located a short distance away. The pier then had nothing to do with what was soon to become a growing amusement area. Eventually the “Seaside Heights Casino” was built to house the carousel and to add more attractions around it. This same building is still in place today. The most recent large scale change to the structure took place in the 1980’s. The building was made smaller to keep it from blocking Ocean Boulevard, which is the main street paralleling the western side of the boardwalk. The Casino Pier carousel was almost lost to another disaster – selling off the animals to collectors. The owners of the carousel seriously considered dismantling their machine in the 1980s. Some animals fetched more than $100,000 at auction during that decade. The selling off of the animals met strong opposition from an unlikely corner, Dr. Floyd Moreland. At the time he was Professor of Classics and Dean at the City University of New York. He had ridden the carousel as a child and later operated the ride as an employee of the Casino Pier. Dr. Moreland convinced the owners they should let him restore the carousel. This project took a number of years and involved numerous people chipping in their time or money to help Dr. Moreland. Their collective efforts helped bring back the vibrancy and beauty of the carousel.
For more history of Island Park on Burlington Island and truly rare old images see the scans and information our expert Town Historian has posted here (scroll about halfway down the page).
You have seen before on this website here several image variations of the steamer Columbia.
Mr. Schopp reveals more details about the amenities of the boat that “…became the queen of the excursion trade, operating innumerable trips to the various picnic groves along the river shore, moonlight dance cruises and, beginning at the turn of the twentieth century, to the many amusement parks that dotted the Delaware River shore.”
Actually makes me wish I could go back in time. – John McCormick
P.S. To further illuminate the topic for extreme carousel devotees Paul explains that the terms merry-go-round and carousel are not synonymous – “A carousel features a menagerie of different hand-carved animals while a merry-go-round only carries horses.
Another tidbit of information concerning these wonderful amusement rides: American carousels and merry-go-rounds travel in a cyclonic or counterclockwise direction while those in Great Britain go around clockwise.”
Remember you read it here. You know you’ll use this bit of minutiae in a conversation soon. Thank you, Paul.
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.
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.”
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
The cyclists who took part in The Historic Riverton Century 100+ mile New York to Riverton bike ride on June 7 have moved on, but the memories remain here and a tangible dividend resulted for the town – the installation of a permanent historic marker at the former site of the track at the corner of South Broad Street and Thomas Avenue.
Riverton enjoyed another “fifteen minutes of fame” and media attention as a result of this June’s Bicycle Weekend that included the Historic Riverton Century riders’ arrival Saturday evening, June 7, the dedication of the Bicycle Track Historic Marker Sunday morning, June 8, and the Fourth Annual Historic Riverton Criterium Sunday afternoon.
Rob Gusky, the originator and planner of the grueling cycling odyssey that approximately recreates the route of the 1895 NY Times Tri-State Relay Race, continues to post photos and updates on Facebook since he returned to his Wisconsin home.
Particularly interesting is the first-person report of Randy “Wheels” Jackson, one of the riders, who gives his impressions of the hundred-mile trek from the steps of the New York Times Building to the site where Riverton’s quarter-mile bicycle track once stood near South Broad, behind the Riverline Station.
That endorphin-fueled high experienced by endurance athletes had barely worn off when Rob announced plans for the 2015 Historic Riverton Century that include a 15-mile ride from the Burlington Riverline station back to Riverton on Saturday, June 13, 2015.
Doubtless, these exciting new Riverton traditions owe at least a nod to events in our past for their inspiration.
We pause here for a commercial message from our sponsor – the Historical Society of Riverton.
In the address he gave for the dedication of the Historic Marker, Town Historian Paul W. Schopp provided much needed historical context to Riverton’s decision to build a bicycle track in 1894.
In addition, Mr. Schopp’s remarks explain the broader implications of the Golden Age of Cycling and the influence that the League of American Wheelmen had on the development of better roads.
Then, there is the obvious question – what happened to the track?
It’s all here in Paul Schopp’s very fitting and customarily meticulous report on the Riverton Bicycle Track. – John McCormick
Like at the beginning of Episode 5, Season Two when my wife and I each caught sight of Lucy the Elephant Hotel in the distance, and then we reminisced so much about visiting it as kids that we had to rewind the DVR to catch the Nucky Thompson dialogue we had just missed.
It is amazing how a glimpse of an image can transport me back many years to the 1950s when a climb of the spiral staircase to the howdah on Lucy’s back rewarded this visitor with a spectacular view. It would make an impression on anyone.
Built in 1881 and now National Historic Landmark, this amazing and strange, larger than life-size pachyderm-shaped architectural structure has survived the ravages of devastating storms, neglect, and even re-location.
Yeah, I know there are already seven Lucy postcards on the site, but there’s always room for another variation on Lucy, The Margate Elephant.
This colorful 1909 postcard captures the simple beauty and charm of a familiar sight in South Atlantic City, now Margate, New Jersey. Many families and especially children will recall their visits to see and even go inside Lucy while vacationing at the Jersey Shore. Certainly countless family photo albums must contain photographic images of Lucy, The World’s Largest Elephant.
Postmarked at Longport, N.J. on JUL 31, 1909, the sender inscribed a novel handwritten message on the address side. It says:
“Hello Elizabeth, This thing is a place of amusement. See the doors and windows just like a house. It is just as large as a good size house. Hilda” On the front of the postcard the writer adds, “This is close to our cottage.”
Also, displayed here is another piece of Lucy-inspired ephemera – an unused folded mailer, copyright 1929, with the bonus of some facts about the architectural marvel.
If you have a kernel, or a bushel, to share with like-minded time travelers, please contact me to arrange a hand-off.
I only recently ramped up from 600dpi to 800dpi when scanning postcards for archiving. Images displayed on the website are understandably lower resolution, but someday we may be able to grant the many requests for prints or enlargements of these images.
My friend, Harlan, a frequent contributor of scans to this website, scored a remarkable find when he came upon what he calls a “sister card.” He writes:
Here’s a companion, or sister, card to one I sent earlier which was entitled Camden Carnival. This is one of my favorites and just acquired on eBay. Look very carefully at the children on elaborately decorated wagons and carriages lined up in a parade formation for a festive Camden Carnival event. Notice this well-documented location for this scene looking North by the intersection of Broadway and Line Streets with the Camden Free Public Library at the far right of this photo view. This card was not mailed and bears no inscriptions on the reverse, or address side. Date circa 1904, or thereabouts. A magnificent showpiece!
Does anyone have a clue what patriotic themed carnival Camden would be having on October 1, 1904? An early Columbus Day Parade or a political rally? As always, we welcome your insights and comments. – John McCormick