Whew! You’d be tired too if you just scanned over 200 old postcards.
Recently, Mary Yearly Flanagan emailed me and offered to let us display her family’s collection of vintage picture postcards.
Except for a couple of dozen postcards from the 1930s, it is an eclectic mix of greeting and travel postcards that her ancestor received from relations and acquaintances over a century ago. We sincerely thank Mrs. Flanagan for generously allowing us to display her treasured family mementos.
These penny postcards were the social media of the day and an easy and affordable way for folks to keep in touch. During the so-called Golden Age of Postcards from about 1907-1915, people mailed them to friends and relatives, not just for special occasions, but also for everyday communication. Postcard sending and collecting became a huge craze and every household had its family postcard album out on display.
If you are a regular visitor to this website, then you already know that the massive photo and postcard collection shown on the Images page is mostly just a virtual collection. Of course we do have a physical photo archive, but it is a fraction of the size of the many hundreds of image scans shown on the Images page.
If you have historic photos or postcards. artifacts, ephemera, or collectibles please consider donating them to the Historical Society of Riverton. As an alternative, we also welcome scans or photos for our records if you are going to dispose of the items elsewhere.
Enjoy this first perfectly timed first installment–a handful of Easter postcards simply addressed to Miss Clara Yearly, Riverside, NJ, over one hundred years ago. How extraordinarily lucky Mary’s family is that these “postals” (as the writers of yesteryear referred to them) have survived with their vintage images and endearing messages intact.
In this age of instant messaging, cell phones, and emails what evidence of our everyday images and correspondence will remain for future generations to look back upon a century from now? – 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.
The huge fire that taxed the firefighting resources of as many as six communities and destroyed the former J.T. Evans Coal and Lumber Building in 1979 closed the final chapter on a structure which had been a Main Street landmark since the late 19th century.
The J.T. Evans coal and lumber business had its origin sometime during the late 1800s as one of four locations of the I. W. Heulings’ Sons Lumber and Coal Dealers, later becoming A. C. Heulings & Bros. Lumber and Coal, changing ownership around 1900 to Riverton carpenter and builder Samuel Rudderow, who finally sold it to Mr. Evans in 1905. In its last days the property may be best remembered as the original site of The New Leaf plant shop run by Will Ann and Ray Szulczewski.
These details from Sanborn Insurance maps show just how much Main Street real estate the J.T. Evans complex encompassed. (Note the railroad track on concrete piers that appears in the 1919 map which figures in photo #041.)
The Printing Shop indicated on the 1919 map at 607 Main Street was once the location of The New Era newspaper, now Freddy’s Shoe Repair. I thank Mr. Fred DeVece every time I refer to my treasured copy of the 1909 New Era Christmas issue which he gave me several years ago when I was teaching history at RPS.
Case in point: Image #005 is a clipping from the “About Our Advertisers” page of the 1909 Christmas New Era gives a short history of the J.T. Evans enterprise, which at that point, was just four years old. “Thank you again, Freddy.” (Read more details about the 1909 New Era Christmas issue in Part One and Part Two.)
This early undated postcard from the Paul W. Schopp Collection shows the frame construction of the original building that lay underneath the red brick veneer that Joseph Evans added in 1937.
An email from Mrs. Mary Yearly Flanagan with an invitation to view her grandfather’s photo album inspired this post about the Evans Building. Given the scarcity of picture postcards of that structure, the following scans made from the personal photographs of Joseph F. Yearly may be the best record we have of that establishment. Like the long gone Lyceum, the Lawn House, and the grandstand of the Riverton Athletic Association’s bicycle track, it is another part of life from Riverton’s yesteryears.
HSR member Mrs. Mary Yearly Flanagan, granddaughter of Joseph F. Yearly, has very generously provided these images for the enjoyment of our readers. She writes, “At least now, some of his photos are being shared – and that makes me feel good. I passionately believe that old photos of historic significance should be shared & not just sit in someone’s attic – or worse.”
Future posts from the Joseph F. Yearly photo album will include more unique views of Dreer’s, Irish Row, and the riverbank — views which the tourists’ picture postcards missed.
My understanding about a person or a thing from Riverton’s past frequently emerges slowly as I gather bits and snippets of facts and information, often with the help of whomever else I can manage to enlist in my investigation. Joseph F. Yearly’s photographs, Mr. DeVece’s New Era issues, items from the Paul W. Schopp Collection, recollections of Mary Flanagan and her cousin, Joseph B. Yearly, and my own research have contributed to this article. As this examination is far from complete, you are invited to elaborate upon this essay.
Readers, please leave a comment with a memory, a question, or even a correction about this post. If you have a related item such as a bill, product package, sign, advertisement, photo, or a scan of an item, that you wish to add to this growing archive, please contact us. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
P.S. 2/14/2012 Many thanks to reader Jerry Mooney for finding the caption error on photo #041 runaway railroad car. It is indeed a photo of the Collins Bldg., also no longer. If any reader can send more details on the Collins Building or that incident, please contact us. – JMc