HSR members returned to the familiar setting of the Riverton Public School library Tuesday evening to hear historian, Hagley Museum guide, and costumed presenter Jane Peters Estes’ compelling presentation, “The Battle of Gettysburg: Where Were the Women?”
The take-away from this meeting and the short answer to Ms. Estes’ rhetorical question is: The women were everywhere – it’s just not always written in our history books.
Ms. Estes has distilled the best parts from her bibliography of over three dozen listed sources and she quotes from period newspaper accounts, letters, diaries, journals, and eyewitness accounts to make her powerful case. We heard how women hid in basements, faced their foes on the battlefield, nursed the wounded, and buried the dead at Gettysburg. She lectured dressed as a woman of the Civil War era, right down to the bloomers and corset.
Click here for a one minute excerpt from the presentation that explains how a woman could join the army and not be detected.
The presentation concluded and we mingled afterward for conversation and refreshments. It may have been for longer than usual, but there was much to catch up on since this was the first presentation of the season.
An evening’s seminar on the varied roles of women in the Civil War, snacks and apple cider, socializing among others with a passion for understanding and preserving history – priceless! This is a great time to join as a new member. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
I had heard a little about Keating’s Drug Store that once operated out of the corner property in the Williams and Wright Building at Broad and Main from audience members when I presented slide shows of old postcard images for the Historical Society.
Someone would mention the fountain Cokes or some other purchase and maybe a recollection of Mr. and Mrs. Keating, and the general consensus was that people had warmhearted feelings just remembering what it was like to go in there.
That’s Mr. Keating standing at the entrance. Can any reader help with a date by looking at the car?
When I found these three circa 1924 photos of the place in our files I knew that seeing them might evoke some nostalgic memories from a Rivertonian, but I was quite unprepared for the spontaneous outpouring of memories that they produced from Mabel Kloos when I showed them to her. She wrote them down in an email to me:
I have many fond memories of Keating’s drugstore, as I passed it every school day for nine years, walking to and from Riverton School twice a day, in the late 40’s to mid 50’s. How could I ever forget Mr. and Mrs. Keating, better known as Blanche and Larry (Chappy) to the adult patrons! Mrs. Keating always had upswept hair, and Mr. Keating had snow-white hair with glasses.
On my way back to school after lunch, I would usually see some teachers and my favorite doctor, Dr. Mark, coming out the door, as they ate lunch there several days per week. Many days after school, a group of classmates and I would stop by Keating’s for a delicious vanilla coke that was most often made by Mr. Keating. He would put our vanilla Cokes with lots of crushed ice, which he made at the fountain, into a triangular paper cup. We never used a straw, just drank directly from the cup. Since we sipped it very slowly, it lasted us till we arrived home. We just hoped the paper cup wouldn’t leak!!
Other times we would stop by and get ice cream cones. My friends and I always liked it when Mrs. Keating made them for us, as she would give us a little extra ice cream!! When we became 7th and 8th graders, we would sometimes order a dish of ice cream that was served in a triangular paper cup and placed in a silver holder. That way, we could sit at the round glass top tables and admire all kinds of jewelry and other trinkets underneath the glass that one could purchase. The wooden chairs always fascinated us, as they had unusually-shaped seats.
My last memory of Keating’s is when I would stop there with my grandfather, and he would ask for ice cream to go. Mr. or Mrs. Keating would place a rectangular dish made of heavy cardboard on a scale, then scoop our favorite flavor(s) into the dish, place a piece of tissue-like paper over the top, and then place it into a brown bag to take home. The ice cream just tasted sooo delicious!!
I would just love to be able to walk through the drugstore door one more time, but since it will never happen, I will live with my many fond memories of Keating’s.
In these circa 1924 photos Mr. and Mrs. Keating look different from Mable’s description because the couple had only been in business for about a year–young Mabel Gnang would know them over twenty years later.
Maybe one of you Rivertonians can help match up these names written on the backs.
The first two digits of the Index Accession Number of each item tell me the HSR acquired them 1977, I believe, from B. Terrell, a name that is on all three photos.
Artifact #B77.09.07: writing on the back shows Keating’s Drugstore, LawrenceKeating, and 35 years old, but that is crossed out. This one is easy since there is only one person in the photo.
Artifact #B77.09.09: writing shows Keating’s Drug Store, about 1924, Walter Miller the cop, Blanche Keating, Lawrence Keating, Chick Seagrave, Harry Herman. Larry and Blanche and Officer Walter Miller I have figured out. I think that Chick Seagrave is the young man seated next to Mr. Keating and the fellow standing at right is Harry.
Artifact #B77.09.10: writing shows Keating’s Drug Store, 1924, John Sotham, Blanche Keating, Lawrence Keating, Harry Hebrew. OK–Larry and Blanche, I get. John Sotham must be standing at left, in front of Mr. Keating. The fellow on the right must be Harry. But Harry Hebrew or Harry Herman? Something must have been recorded wrong. Does a reader know? Please advise, and I’ll update the file.
Remember, Readers,, especially parents, that these will be the good ol’ days for the youngsters of the 21st century, and consider ensuring that your family creates some enduring “artifacts” of your own. Here’s why.
You are already aware of the declining state of the newspaper industry and print media, and few people write letters or postcards today. Considering that cell phones and emails, text messaging and digital images make up so much of the everyday photographs and personal communications of today, what will be available for historians to help reconstruct what life was like in Riverton decades from now, as we just did? – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
P.S. The postcards and Keating’s interiors images are high-resolution so that you can really inspect them. You can read some of the labels of the items in the drugstore. Check out the price of a milkshake.
P.P.S. Awhile back I received a note from Roberta Riddle who wrote:
My father, Harry Riddle owned “Sharons Sweet Shop” back in the 40’s. Abt. 1945/49. I am looking for an old photo of the sweet shop and any information pertaining to same. The shop was named after his first daughter was born.
I recall eating lunch there during the mid-1970s. I’d love to help her out, but I have nothing and found no reference to the Sharon Shop in our HSR files. If you can help, please contact us with a comment or photo. – JMcC
On January 19, 2010, sixty former students, staff, and interested community members assembled in the Riverton School gym to observe the 100th birthday of the present school building. Retired teacher, Mrs. Mabel Kloos, showed a PowerPoint presentation called “A Short History of Riverton Public School” created by myself which was very much enjoyed by those in attendance. You can read the March 2010 issue of Gaslight News for a fuller recap of the events of that evening.
Since then, several people have expressed regret that they had missed it. Now, if you wish, you can replay the entire slide show from that night.
Click here to download the PDF file of notes that go with the slide show and you’ll also have the narrative which explains the images as well as prompts for the animations and advancing the slides. – John McCormick, Gaslight News