And the Universe answers… again

Regular readers here know that we here at the Historical Society do not have all the answers and regularly ask for help in finding information and images about Riverton’s past.

Bob Foster’s Facebook post on Klipple’s Bakery

The stars aligned (or maybe it was this year’s post-solstice full moon) and I just happened to see on Facebook a post with a color photo of Klipple’s Bakery.

I immediately shared to our Facebook page and was astonished to see the visions of cream-filled donuts, sugar cookies, twists, onion and snowflake rolls, and butter cakes that the mere sight of that picture activated in folks who commented on it, some of whom live far away.

Crowdsourcing Local History

As folks piled on with sweet reveries, recollections, comments, and questions, others pitched in. Marilyn Hahle recalled, “It was the best bakery. It was always part of Riverton Schools walking trips. Mr. Klipple would show us how everything was made then give out donuts.”

Michael Robinson connected the history dots thus, “Cream doughnuts back then — but as Zena’s and now Orange Blossom Cafe, it offers meals as well as pastry and serves as a center of community.”

Discovering that old color photo of Klipple’s Bakery on Bob Foster‘s Facebook post yesterday reminds me of other times our readers and members have contributed another piece of Riverton’s puzzling history.

Law of Attraction at work?

My quest for a photo of the Nellie Bly express train coincided with the opening of the Nellie Bly Olde Tyme Ice Cream Parlour in 2005. An investigative reporter named Nellie Bly who, in 1890, famously completed a trip around the world in 72 days was the inspiration for the Pennsylvania Railroad’s fast train that once shuttled passengers to and from New York City and Atlantic City.

I wished out loud during a presentation in 2007, and later implored readers of the May 2009 Gaslight News asking for someone to find a photo of the train.

According to news reports, the speedy commute came at the expense of occasional fires started by embers discharged from the steam locomotive’s chimney and as well as taking out scores of pedestrians, motorists, the odd milk truck, etc. that had lost their battles with Nellie over railroad real estate.

Nellie Bly Express leaving Riverton

I had all but given up finding a photo of the legendary train that still somehow stirred nostalgic memories for longtime residents when one appeared through the kindness of Riverton residents Don and Pam Deitz. (See Sept 2009 GN)

old undated cabinet card that Lorraine Gambone rescued from curbside trash collection. Initially mis-identified as the Evans Building until fact-checked by Paul W. Schopp.

Some, like Lorraine Gambone, literally trash-picked something that would have been lost otherwise.

Over time, the wish list of photos of other things that aren’t there anymore grew to include: the Lyceum, the Lawn House, the Sharon Shop, Dreer’s Nursery, the old bicycle race track, Klipple’s Bakery, the Roberts Store, the Evans Building, and many others.

What do you wish to see on these pages in 2019?

If Egypt can continue to give up more discoveries of mummies from time to time, then I can hope that there are still more photos stored in albums, scrapbooks, attics, and junk drawers that will surface when the time is right.

rivertonhistory.com is a collaboration

Pages of this website are full of relics of our collective past that contributors thought to share with the Society.

Indeed, without such contributions by Katie Washington HickeyEd GilmoreNancy and Bill SteelKathi GidenHarlan RadfordGeorge BishopBruce Gunn, John Criqui, Ginny Wierski, Jill and Hank Croft, Mary Flanagan, Colin Cattell, Mary Honeyford, and dozens of others, this content seen here would be a small fraction of what it is.

As mentioned in a 2016 post, “Every artifact, photo, ephemera item, old newspaper clipping, etc. we get helps add another stitch to the fabric of Riverton history.”

As illustrated by this recent find of a bakery shop photo, Riverton history is not just about early days, Quaker founders and riverbank villas. It is also a very personal collection of memories that somehow resurface as we take stock at another year’s end.

Thank you also to all who have helped sustain the preservation efforts of the Society with your membership in 2018. Look for the next newsletter later in January.

 

 

“Glimpses of Palmyra and Riverton” shows boroughs the way they were in the 1930s and 1940s; Creator, Matt Gideon seeks public’s help with new project

Selected screen captures from "Glimpses of Palmyra and Riverton Volume I"

It seems that Palmyra has its own version of “Romance of Riverton” called “Glimpses of Palmyra and Riverton,” and I recently had the pleasure of screening for the first time Volumes I and II of these classic 1930s-1940s home movies of Palmyra and Riverton. The late Dr. Dean LeFavor, a Palmyra family physician, captured on film many seemingly everyday scenes with his 8mm movie camera while out making house calls. Needless to say, much of the everyday 1934 is no longer with us.

Some of those scenes in the over one hundred aptly named “glimpses” in Volume I include period cars, trucks, and buses, the Delaware River frozen over, a few vehicle accidents, and several types of fire trucks, as Dr. LeFavor often responded to fire and emergency calls where his medical skills would be called for.

Three fleeting clips of the Nellie Bly steam engine passenger train roaring up the tracks en route to New York contrasted sharply with two other sobering scenes which showed the aftermath of an automobile and a milk truck which tangled with the speedy Nellie Bly and lost. Dr. LeFavor even took his camera with him on road trips to New York City and to check out the beached hulk of the Morrow Castle passenger ship at Asbury Park in 1934.

The old Palmyra and Riverton train stations each are hubs of activity in their respective towns, and the bright dancing lights on Palmyra’s Broadway movie marquee beckon couples to come inside to see the 1934 American musical comedy film Twenty Million Sweethearts starring Pat O’Brien, Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers. With so many locations and landmarks so transformed over the years, this film could just as easily been titled, “Things That Aren’t There Anymore.”

I had seen many of the film’s subjects as the static images in the old postcard views, but seeing these same locations reanimated with people in a real movie is just an extra bonus. After searching so long for photos of the Nellie Bly, seeing a clip of her steaming through town was, in itself, worth the price of admission.

These DVDs are sure to appeal to local history buffs, as well as those who enjoy antique fire equipment, steam engine trains, or vintage automobiles, and anyone who wants to see what this place was like “back in the day.”

All of these priceless motion pictures could have been lost had it not been for Mr. and Mrs. Walter W. Poulson who allowed the Palmyra Fire Company to reproduce the films which Dr, LeFavor had given them. In 1989, Matthew Gideon of the Palmyra Fire Department arranged for the film to be transferred to DVD.

Big band and swing background music accompanies Volume I which comes with a scene by scene account developed from notes taken by Dr. LeFavor. “Glimpses of Palmyra and Riverton in the 1930s and 40s, Volume II” contains the last reel of Dr. LeFavor’s films around town, still photos of Tacony-Palmyra Bridge under construction and of the Tacony-Palmyra Ferry Company, and still photos taken from Dr. Lamb’s Picturesque Palmyra booklet. It is fully narrated and accompanied with piano music played by Dr. LeFavor. Click here to view a short trailer showing four scenes from Volume I. (Check out the gasoline price on the sign in the Mutt Parade.)

Matt reports that limited quantities of both titles are available for $25 each;  include $5 postage and handling, if you need yours mailed. Specify if you want Volume I or Volume II. Send your check or postal money order to: Mr. Matt Gideon, 116 Mt. Vernon Drive, Cinnaminson, NJ 08077. If you are local, please arrange for pick-up at the fire house in Palmyra.

Independence Fire Co. No. 1, 20th anniversary in 1907

Another reason for today’s column is to publicize 40 year Palmyra firehouse veteran Matt Gideon’s newest history project—a detailed history of the Palmyra and Riverton Fire Departments from the founding of each in the late 19th century up through about 1920. He requests that the public contact him with old photos, newspaper articles, programs, memorabilia, and such which will serve to supplement his search of borough records, minutes of firehouse meetings, and logs of fire calls.

Matt plans to use the collected research to plan a talk and presentation he is planning to use as a fundraiser for both fire companies. Please contact Matt at 856-816-4330  and make arrangements to share your old photos and collections which will help him document fire locations and supply background material that will set the tone for the time period from 1886-1920.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor

 

 

It’s déjà vu all over again

Dear Reader,

My wife Linda and I were each having a slice and diet Coke at Brothers Pizza a few days ago when Mrs. Susan Dechnik saw us through the window and came in to say “hi.” The subject of the impending February closing of the Cinnaminson Acme came up. Tsk-tsk. Where else can we shop for groceries and catch up on the local news?

Rivertonians must be used to it, because history has repeated itself once again. Mrs. Maureen Miller, one of the owners of the nostalgically decorated Nellie Bly Olde Tyme Ice Cream Parlour (http://nellieblys.com/), loaned me this photo to scan in May 2005, shortly after the store opened. A gentleman had come into the store and, realizing the possible connection, offered to let her copy it. I made her a print to hang on her wall and she let me retain the scan.

Pennylvania Railroad Nellie Bly schedule

Since then, professional historian Paul Schopp has confirmed that there was indeed an Acme store at 529 Main Street, the very same address now occupied by the Nellie Bly ice cream shop. The store, of course, takes its name from the famous “stunt reporter” and investigative journalist, Elizabeth Cochran who took the pen name Nellie Bly. Some area residents still recall the express train between New York and Atlantic City that bore the name, Nellie Bly, that Pennsylvania Railroad operated from early in the twentieth century until 1961. It regularly sped through Riverton during its journey.

Nellie Bly Express leaving Riverton

There are many vintage photos and postcards of Riverton, but any image of the Nellie Bly train remained elusive to me until Mr. and Mrs. Don Deitz found the negative for the photo below.  Pam’s father, Benjamin Percival, now passed, was an avid photographer who chronicled many of the milestones for the clan. Mr. Percival must have snapped the perfectly timed image just as the Nellie Bly passed the Riverton Station. The negative was in an envelope with the caption, “Nellie Bly” but no date.  Mr. William Harris, estimated that it was possibly taken about 1948 or 1949. At the far right is a ‘48 to ‘49 model Buick. The cars in the center are 1939 and earlier.

Today, the NJ Transit River Line runs along the same tracks as the Nellie Bly once did. Passengers can cross the street to enjoy a “Train Wreck” sundae at the Nellie Bly Olde Tyme Ice Cream Parlour and relax in the Victorian setting decorated with many vintage photos which is a tribute to the dare-devil female reporter.

Cinnaminson Acme 1/22/2011
Along with a long list of other “Things That Aren’t There Anymore”  such as the Cinnaminson Children’s Home, the 1940 Riverton Post Office, the bank at Main and Harrison which went through a number of incarnations, the Lyceum, and Dreer’s Nursery, we mark this passage of the Cinnaminson Acme even as we anticipate what will come in its place or wonder where we will discuss the latest local issues with neighbors. I took a last photo of the Acme before it becomes history. We can always shop elsewhere, but the “grapevine” will never be the same. – John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor