In just two weeks, months of planning, prep, and fundraising by the tireless volunteers of the Riverton July 4th Committee will culminate with the arrival of the 119th Children’s Parade.
Part summer picnic, part homecoming, part testimony to patriotic pride, who doesn’t look forward to Riverton’s Glorious Fourth?
By now, Riverton households have received their July 4th Programs.
We hope you will frequent the many business and professional donors and appreciate the many patrons whose generous contributions continue to make this treasured tradition possible.
Even our own Society placed this ad with a not-so-subtle invitation to join.
We highlighted Mary Honeyford’s family photo used on the July 4th Program cover in our Nov. 2014 Gaslight News along with an ad we found in the April 7, 1949 edition of Riverton’s now defunct hometown newspaper, The New Era.
How many of you remember any of the car dealerships that once made their home in Riverton?
Here are two to get you started.
Finally, can you tell which 4th of July Showcase sponsor now occupies the site depicted in the postcard below?
During the recent Garden Tour and the Historic Riverton Criterium folks stopped by our table to check out the historically themed mugs.
When my friend sent me a scan of his latest eBay auction win I had to agree with him.
It doesn’t hardly get any better than this! This vintage real photo post card shows an early 20th century Camden neighborhood putting on an enthusiastic patriotic display.
You have to click on this, fill your screen, and take a virtual walk down Fifth Street, circa 1910.
A large banner flanked by huge American flags spans the street proclaiming, “Welcome To Pyne Poynt.” Numerous festive paper lanterns and more 48-star American Flags frame the entire street.
Is that a Sullivan’s storefront or a political campaign office?
The boys with their knee-length knickers, white shirts and ties, the girls with their lovely short-sleeve summer dresses and bows in their hair, and of course, the young men with their bow ties, hats, and skimmers all elicit an involuntary smile from the appreciative viewer.
Catch the brave character in the jeff cap at the roof line. Has he just completed attaching flags above that first second-floor window and tying off the line suspending the banner?
Perhaps the occasion recorded here was July 4, 1910. This mailed divided-back post card bears a Camden, N.J. postmark, stamped SEP 9, 1910. The message addressed to a recipient living on River Avenue in Camden reads, “Best Wishes from Edith.”
Photographer Wm. B. Cooper of Medford, N.J. captured this amazing moment a neighborhood’s history over a century ago.
Capture some amazing moments of your own this Glorious Fourth 2013, wherever you are. – John McCormick
Bouquets of patriotic red, white, and blue decorations have burst into bloom this past week as Riverton readies for its 115th “Glorious Fourth.”
Now if the predicted thunderstorms will just hold off, the shoreline (shown above on July 2) should be awash in a flood of spectators viewing the Sixth Annual Great Riverton Raft Race at about 5:30 p.m. tomorrow.
You can see the entire schedule of events in the 2012 July 4th Program found here. Click here for the official website of the July 4th Committee.
The cover illustration from this year’s July Fourth Program shows an image of the famous “Riverton Nine” baseball team of 1872 taken from the baseball memorabilia collection of Bob Beishline of Palmyra.
In 2002, Bob, Mike Robinson, Betty Hahle and a few others were among the first to help me start what has eventually grown into a huge virtual online collection of vintage images by kindly letting me scan their postcard collections.
Later, Bill Hall provided me with a Sporting Life magazine clipping showing the same team. When I showed the photos during a presentation at a Society meeting, it was William Harris who explained the caption in the photo. FREDERICK K. MOORE CENTER simply meant that Moore was in the center.
All of this concern about baseball is because Mr. Fran Cole, HSR member and lifetime resident of Riverton, who is Parade Marshall this year, used to be quite a baseball athlete and remains among the most fanatic of Phillies fans. He was even inducted into the Palmyra High School Sports Hall of Fame.
As a result of interviewing Mr. Cole about his memories as a young man working for his grandparents’ Cole Dairy during the 1930s, I had several photos of Fran from his baseball playing days. (See related 2010 Gaslight News story here and his oral history interview in three segments here: Mr. Francis Cole Remembers Cole Dairy Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. )
So by an extraordinary amount of luck and best laid plans we here at the Society just happened to be able to help out July Fourth Committee Chairperson, Mrs. Tracy Hansen Foedisch, when she asked for a hand with supplying some images for this year’s program booklet. It’s nice when we can help reveal some part of Riverton’s past with what we have collected. In a past post I compared the task to completing a jigsaw puzzle.
It is an extraordinary privilege, and no small responsibility, to be able to curate the archives of the Historical Society of Riverton for the use of Rivertonians. As family and friends congregate during this July Fourth celebration, may I interrupt for a commercial message?
Please help preserve Riverton history by donating your Riverton related photos, collectibles, documents, and memorabilia, or at least send us a scan or photo. If you can help us in this endeavor, please contact us.
During the parade HSR members Paul Daly, Gerald Weaber, and myself will be distributing this year’s edition of the Historical Society’s July 4th Palm Cards. The earliest one I have of these is from 1987. Former HSR President Dan Campbell may have started the tradition which seems to have continued through 2004 when it apparently stopped.
We resumed the tradition again last year when HSR Treasurer Paul Daly wondered out loud, ” How come we don’t give out those cards on July Fourth anymore?” (See more July 4th Palm Cards here.) If you have any cards for years not shown in this list, please send us a scan of both sides. July 4th Palm Cards: 1987-1990, 1993-1995, 1997, 1999, 2000-2004.
If you have some time to kill, type “July 4” or “July Fourth” in the search box at the top right of the home page. That should result in many hits for earlier posts and images related to the holiday.
Have a Glorious and Safe Fourth of July wherever you find yourself. Check back here later for more July Fourth posts. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
There’s something about the end of a year and the start of another that gets us in a reflective mood.
When I get my hair cut, the topic of “What’s new with the Historical Society?” usually accounts for at least a portion of the conversation during bi-monthly visits to my favorite tonsorial artist. Jeff, who cuts my hair,can trace his family tree back several generations and track their moves from Palmyra, to Riverton, and finally to Riverside.
He showed me this photo of his father and some friends taken many years ago on Cinnaminson Street in Riverton. An arrow on the photo and caption on the back identifies Jack, Jeff’s dad, but with both of Jeff’s parents now passed away, which of the others is which is unclear. I’m taking suggestions since Jeff is expecting that someone may know of his dad’s childhood chums.
Perhaps while kids are still off from school and as friends and family gather over this holiday break, conversations may drift to stories of long ago when the kids were little and parents and grandparents were young. Younger ones inevitably inquire about what life was like when you were their age.
You might want to try a virtual family visit to our recent Museum for a Day to show youngsters about earlier times in Riverton and to help the adults with some visual aids to accompany their “Good Ol’ Days” soliloquies.
Mrs. Mary Yearly Flanagan again shares here some of her grandfather’s photos which not only chronicle the progress of the Yearly Clan, but also help illustrate some aspects of everyday life in early 20th century Riverton.
Consider recording some of those moments with that new camera, smartphone, iPhone, iPad, a Fisher-Price camera, anything really, but capture them while you can because you sure can’t go back and get them later. You’ll look back on them years from now and wonder where all the time went. I can’t be the only senior for whom it seems that time has actually accelerated exponentially with each passing decade.
Is there anything that evokes memories of Riverton more than its Fourth of July celebrations? Part parade, part family reunion, picnic, 5K run, field day, soap box derby, and crazy raft races on the Delaware River, Rivertonians of all ages look forward in anticipation to another one of this borough’s old-fashioned fun-packed Independence Day celebrations.
Former Rivertonians from near and far return for the event to re-connect with family and friends. The grand parade includes homemade floats, a Pet Pageant, kids with decorated bikes and wagons, classic autos, marching bands, musical groups, and military units. Throughout the town homeowners proudly display American flags and patriotic bunting. A parade route lined with hundreds of exuberant spectators attired in patriotic dress completes this Norman Rockwellian masterpiece. But Riverton’s Fourth of July observances were not always so spectacular.
The approaching festivities are all the excuse this former Riverton School history teacher needs to examine the beginnings of what the 1892 New Jersey Mirror was calling over 100 years ago “Riverton’s Glorious Fourth.”
I again defer to the research of our Town Historian, Mrs. Betty B. Hahle, who recently passed away after devoting many years to discovering and preserving Riverton’s past. From the May 1981 Gaslight News comes the origin story of this 114th Riverton Fourth of July Children’s Parade. As she wished, the excerpts below are copied as she wrote them:
“… July’s celebration in the growing village of Riverton was soon being called ‘Riverton’s Glorious Fourth’. In 1892 newspaper reports said ‘the quiet Quaker town put on holiday attire…’ and described the yachts and all smaller boats decked out with flags of all nations, and the competition among home owners in decorating their homes. That year the 28th annual Regatta at the Yacht Club was held. Celebrations focused on the children’s flag parade and on athletic events as well. … Wheelmen’s Clubs were formed, and meets became a part of the growing interest in athletic events. Riverton’s team used a track on Fulton street, below the railroad, and then a larger one above the railroad, where Lippincott, Thomas, and 7th streets are today. June of 1894 saw the new track completed there, in time for the riders to begin training for the big meet on July 4th.”
Betty’s “Yesterday” column in the May 1986 Gaslight News reveals another chapter in the holiday’s development:
“And Summer soon follows…wooden tubs of Crane’s ice cream, packed in chunks of ice and delivered by steamer from Philadelphia to the Riverton pier. And then…the Fourth of July!
In 1886 Riverton celebrated the Fourth ‘in the old fashioned way, with houses decorated with bunting and flags…and lighted with Chinese Lanterns’. The Chinese Lanterns at the Lynch home, 2nd & Main, merited special note. Races at the Yacht Club had to be called off because of lack of wind, so pair-cared scull races ware substituted. Winners were Lawrence and Haines Lippincott. The Lawn House had some activities, and then the Calico Club paraded around town.
It was in 1897 that Charles W. Davis and Albert Briggs had the idea of a children’s parade for the celebration, and the Yacht Club liked the idea and set it in motion. The parade formed at the Roberts store on the point, each child was presented with a silk flag, and all preceded to the riverbank, where singing and oration followed. Aquatic events and then fireworks ended the day.
The next year more than 250 children were in the parade, headed by the Metropolitan Band of Burlington. An article describing the day said that two 3-year-olds, Georgie Corner, dressed as Uncle Sam, and Clarice Frishmuth, as Goddess of Liberty, led the whole procession. Then there were 30 little boys, dressed in Dewey suits (the Spanish fleet had just been destroyed) and commanded by Captain Walter Wright, who had been drilling them for 2 weeks. Then came the 250 children with their silk flags, ‘prettily costumed’. At the riverbank, Rev. Charles Kevin, son-in-law of the 1st mayor of Riverton, gave an inspiring address. And evening fireworks climaxed the day.
In 1908 there was threatening weather–but some 600 children marched in the parade, led by Mayor Brown and Chief of Police Major, and the Metropolitan Band. 1932’s parade had a special feature: two of the marching Riverton Firemen wore fire hats that had been donated by L. A. Flanagan. They had been worn ca. 1842 by members of his family in Philadelphia, and bore the date of 1800, the year of their Fire Company’s founding.
By the 1940’s and ’50’s the children’s athletic events in the Park took up most of the afternoon, with relays, sack, potato, 3-legged, and other races for various age groups, and prizes of skates, cameras, rings, and other things donated by local merchants. And free refreshments for all the children (from Riverton). Palmyra had its children’s events in the Grove, and often included a Punch-and-Judy show, then joined Riverton for fireworks on the riverbank.
Time brought some changes, but ‘Riverton’s Glorious Fourth’ became a well-established tradition, a day of shared activities, family gatherings, reunions with former residents and friends. In 1964 wooden wash-tub races and tilting were scheduled again, for the first time in some years. Floats were popular: some were individual, some were group entries; all showed imagination, enthusiasm, and many, many hours of work. The Porch Club, in 1965, had a large platform truck made to look like a front porch, with ladies in costume and seated in rocking chairs depicting a meeting in 1890. John Parker had made a large float of the Yacht Club; Frank Lockhart and Charles Foster made a large replica of Barnegat Lighthouse; and the Parry family celebrated the New Era’s 75th year of publication with scenes of their office as it was in 1890.
For a few years there were no fireworks to climax our Fourth of July celebrations, although other traditional activities continued. They were welcomed back enthusiastically recently, at the Park instead of the Riverbank—and once again the Fourth ended spectacularly.”
Riverton has a long history of honoring men and women who have served in the armed forces as this August 1983 installment of “Yesterday” reports:
“Memorial Park was dedicated on July 4, 1931. It had been a long while coming…after WW I an athletic field was decided upon, as a fitting memorial to those who had given their lives in service to our country, and to those who had returned. After many delays, a part of the Dreer property above the railroad was purchased from the company, and the Park was realized. Killam Bennett was Mayor when the land was purchased, and Howard Rogers was Mayor at its dedication. A decade prior to this 100 men and women who were veterans from Riverton were presented with rings, chosen by a Citizens’ Committee headed by Edward Flagg jr. Their names were published in the New Era. (Anyone have, or know of, one of these rings today?)”
This series of Betty Hahle’s “Yesterday” columns from past issues of the Gaslight News concludes with this anecdote from February 1982 and a most endearing photograph loaned by Mrs. Elsie Waters.
“A shield-shaped card in red, white, and blue from a 1920* Riverton Fourth, and a photograph showing children scrambling for the cards along the riverbank turned thoughts to warmer weather. The cards were dropped from a low-flying plane, and entitled the bearer to a 1¢ purchase at the stores of Theodore Schneider, John Adolph, or D.D. Bastion.”
Certainly, today’s events are the ones that historians will study tomorrow. Help document the next chapter in this chronicle by adding your “Glorious Fourth” recollection from the past or present to this archive. You can find us on Facebook, too. Remember, folks, these are the good ol’ days. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
* Betty’s article states “1920” for the airplane story and Elsie’s paper token shows “1921.” I do not know for how many years the tokens were dropped.