It was a S.R.O. crowd at Riverton Library for the Campbell’s Soup show

ACT I: “Campbell’s… more than just soup” slideshow

capacity crowd at the RFL PHOTO : JM
The audience needed every available space PHOTO: JMc

We sincerely thank the 80 or so hardy history buffs and lovers of Campbell’s Soup nostalgia who sat in chairs, sat on the floor, and stood (some with obstructed views), to hear Marisa Bozarth as she chronicled the history and development of Campbell’s Soup Company.

Even Jan DeVries, our reception hostess, stands PHOTO: JM
People spilled over to the next room PHOTO: SD

The turnout for Tuesday night’s program sponsored by the Historical Society of Riverton took us off-guard, so we apologize to several folks who looked at the overflow crowd and left.

ACT II: Reception at the former Campbell home

Some really good sports are sitting on the floor PHOTO: JM
Entryway PHOTO: JM

After the engrossing slide show, the meeting carried over next door to the home of Jan and Dennis DeVries who graciously showed us the former home of Joseph Campbell.

 

 

Pat Brunker cuts Susan Dechnik‘s Tomato Soup Cake PHOTO: SD
How serendipitous was it that the former Campbell is next to the Library? PHOTO: SD

A splendid dining room table centerpiece of carnelian-red and white flowers in a vase surrounded by cans of tomato soup reinforced the theme of the evening.

 

 

Mmmm…good! PHOTO: SD

The delicious desserts and confections arrayed there  fueled animated conversations about how much folks enjoyed the well-researched topic and Marisa’s buoyant delivery.

Framed Campbell’s embellish the pantry wall PHOTO: SD

Our hosts, Mr. and Mrs. DeVries, doubled-down on the evening’s refrain and carried out the Campbell’s Soup motif by hanging a portrait of the home’s early owner in the kitchen area next to a framed print of a soup can and an illustration of a Campbell’s Kid.

PHOTO: SD

A soup tureen filled with fresh tomatoes, a Campbell’s coffee table book, a Campbell’s recipe book (doesn’t everyone have at least one in their kitchen?) and actual cans of tomato soup consummated the theme.

 

HSR President Bill Brown presented Jan and Dennis with mugs that depict their home and information about Joseph Campbell PHOTO: SD

Marisa wrote later, “It was wonderful! Everyone was so welcoming and I loved getting the opportunity, not only share the Campbell’s story with everyone, but also to talk to so many people afterwards!”

She is so right.

This important aspect of our meeting helps to carry out the Society’s several-fold mission to bring together those people interested in history, to increase awareness of our heritage, and to continue to expand our knowledge of the history of the area.

Our current membership of fewer than 100 households is at a historic low. We need your support in the form of membership dues and donations to underwrite our efforts to bring such programs to the public. 

ACT III: History is the topic of conversation

Marisa also has a Campbell themed mug as a memento of the evening PHOTO: SD
Bill Brown and Alice Smith, President of the Riverside Historical Society discuss cooperating on a future presentation PHOTO: SD

Another side benefit to having people with a common interest in history assemble together is the networking, or sharing of information, that often happens.

Given the thousands of local people over the years whose farm products supplied the plant or whose labor produced soup, it comes as no surprise that a few in the group either worked there themselves or had a family member employed.

One woman volunteered that she has photos of the old Campbell Experimental Farm in Cinnaminson I can scan.

Bill Hall once worked on Taylor’s Farm and delivered tomatoes to the Camden plant PHOTO: JM

It turns out that one of our members had first-hand experience with working on local farms growing and delivering tomatoes, and another worked for a time in the Camden plant. Look for more about their anecdotes in another post if I can twist their arms to be interviewed.

 

Tomato Soup Cake – Don’t say no until you try it PHOTO: SD

Maybe we can get Susan Dechnik to reveal the recipe for her Campbell’s Tomato Soup Cake.

Here’s a link to a Campbell’s Soup Company’s A SPICY HISTORY OF CAMPBELL’S TOMATO SOUP SPICE CAKE.

 

Epilogue: Please tell your Campbell’s story

Roger Prichard will have two more historic signs ready for Bank Avenue properties this spring PHOTO: JM

If you have another memory of Campbell’s from back in the day, please contact us through the form below so that we may add your voice to this collaborative effort that is rivertonhistory.com.

Marisa may have to add another slide or two to that PowerPoint. – JMc

PHOTOS BY SUSAN DECHNIK AND JOHN McCORMICK

Stay tuned for the sequel

With a little help from a lot of friends

Rob Gusky HRCentury/ Community Ride 2016 by Carlos Rogers
Rob Gusky HRCentury/ Community Ride 2016 by Carlos Rogers

Tethered to my workplace until 5PM that day I knew I would be unable to catch the arrival of the HRCentury riders, so I appealed to the Universe and it delivered in the form of this great pic of HRCentury creator Rob Gusky from Carlos Rogers.

Rob looks pretty fresh after biking a hundred miles from Millburn, NJ to Riverton.

Susan Dechnik sent in most of the following photos.

The ride took longer than anticipated since the cyclists ran into a punishing headwind for much of it.

Also conceived by Rob Gusky, the 3-Mile Community Ride was to follow the conclusion of this second realization of the Historic Riverton Century, and many residents of all ages awaited in the former District parking lot.

HRCentury 2016 button
HRCentury 2016 button

Meanwhile, HSR member Susan Dechnik handed out souvenir buttons bearing Anne Racioppi‘s imaginative logo and explained the connection to the 1895 NYC-Riverton Relay Race to those who were unaware.

Carlos Rogers commends the HRCentury riders
Carlos Rogers commends the HRCentury riders

The arduous trip caused the bicyclists to converge on the parking lot from different directions and not all at once.

Carlos Rogers congratulated Rob and the other riders. A cheer arose from the crowd as the Community Ride began led by the Century riders.

The ride ended with a ceremony at Memorial Park.

Mayor Cairns Wells at left, President Phyllis Rodgers, Town Historian Paul Schopp
Mayor Cairns Wells at left, President Phyllis Rodgers, Town Historian Paul Schopp

Mayor Suzanne Cairns Wells, Lifelong Wheelman Gary Sanderson and Riverton’s Town Historian Paul W. Schopp each addressed the audience and congratulated the athletes on their achievement.

In his address Mr.Schopp acknowledged that “…women have always maintained a keen interest in cycling and the mix of riders in today’s Riverton Century uphold the long legacy of female cyclists,” and described the 1895 Tri-State Relay Race which inspired Rob to create the Historic Riverton Century in 2014. Find a text file of his address here.

Gary Sanderson
Gary Sanderson

Attired in vintage wheelman gear and displaying his restored 1895 Indian Racer bicycle, Gary Sanderson described the adversity experienced by the riders in 1895 with traveling miserable roads on failure-prone single-speed bicycles. Read Gary Sanderson’s remarks here.

Bill Hall at left, Rob Gusky, Carlos Rogers at right
Bill Hall at left, Rob Gusky, Carlos Rogers at right

Mr. Gusky cited nonagenarian Bill Hall for his dedication to bicycling, and recognized Carlos Rogers for creating in 2011 the Historic Riverton Criterium which every year contributes money to local organizations and individuals. To date Carlos has distributed over $20,000!

Rob recognizes the women athletes
Rob recognizes the women athletes

Gusky called up the women participants in this year’s HRCentury and Phyllis Rodgers and Pat Brunker presented them and the men with sashes reminiscent of those worn by riders in 1895.

Later, many in the group met at Riverton’s Orange Blossom Cafe to eat and to recount details of their experience.

Everyone agreed that the two big bike spectacles now associated with the second weekend in June are community assets which combine to promote the sport of bicycling as well as provide family fun.

Rob recaps the day for Bill Brown
Rob recaps the day for Bill Brown

Perhaps it was the influence of the euphoria of a bicyclist’s high, but Gusky and Crew were already heard scheming to recreate the next ride.

Are you up for it?

Later on Facebook, Rob Gusky generously thanked the many people and organizations that made this year’s Riverton Century and Community Ride a success.

Century route planner Randy “Wheels” Jackson of the Major Taylor Cycling Club also wrote a lengthy Facebook piece recognizing those who had made it possible for him to “…relax and enjoy the ride.”

The creation of the Historic Riverton Century Ride by Rob Gusky and the Historic Riverton Criterium by Carlos Rogers now rank among the most treasured traditions of the Borough. The Historical Society of Riverton is privileged to be associated with them both.

Please add your own photos or submit comments. – JMc

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Mug Sale at Riverton Free Library

HSR coffee mug saleBy popular demand the Historical Society of Riverton mug sale returns to the Riverton Free Library from 1 pm -3 during for the next three Sundays during the RFL’s used book sale.

With Mother’s Day, graduations, and all kinds of spring get-togethers coming up, these make great presents.

Put some candy from Bayard’s, loose-leaf tea from the New Leaf, or ground gourmet coffee in one and you have an unforgettable hostess or housewarming gift.

Bill Probsting, Pat Brunker, and Nancy Hall, each volunteered to be there one Sunday to sell mugs on April 3, April 10, and April 17.

The mugs sold like the proverbial hotcakes in the weeks preceding Christmas when I sold them there. If you liked yours, we’s like to hear some feedback and see some photos.

This guy loves his.

$15 each. Proceeds benefit the HSR. See the Antique Event article, just below for more details and photos of these unique mugs. Questions? Use the contact form or call the number you find on the 38 mug poster PDF .- JMc

Walking Tour of Historic Riverton brochures are available at the New Leaf

The Historical Society of Riverton’s June meeting ended with a stop at Nellie Bly’s  Ice Cream Parlour. By the time members had covered on foot the route of a seventeen-stop walking tour, they were ready to sit down and relax with one of the shop’s refreshing treats.

We planned that last meeting before our summer hiatus as a practice run for the recently revised Walking Tour of Historic Riverton. (See related story here.) President Gerald Weaber called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Riverton School Media Center and dealt with several Society matters before adjourning to the outdoors.

The group watched a short slide show to introduce the planned activity–with a draft copy of the Walking Tour in hand, we were to hike the course and scrutinize it for errors of any kind so that we can get copies printed and make them available.

The link for the PowerPoint slide show is here.

Gerald hosted a parallel tour on a bus provided by Riverview Estates for the convenience of Riverview residents and any Society members who did not care to walk. Among the thirteen passengers was a 102 year-old former employee of Campbell’s Soup, a fact volunteered when the bus stopped in front of 308 Main, the former home of Joseph Campbell who founded that company.

Mrs. Pat Brunker, at left, directs the HSR flock along the Walking Tour route
Mrs. Pat Brunker directed the group on foot as we completed the circuit of seventeen locations that went along Main toward the river to Third, then went back toward Broad along Howard Street.

Mr. Renn at 410 Main
As our small but ardent force of curious sight-seers trekked from pillar to post, we were sometimes met by a quizzical homeowner who came out to see why all these nosy people were gesturing toward their house.

It was definitely an asset to have several new faces at this Walking Tour rehearsal because much of the history of these homes and structures in Riverton is oral history– stories and anecdotes passed down by word of mouth, that may or may not remain accurate with each retelling, and are seldom found in books or documents.

This post is a reproduction – not original to the home.
Jan and Dennis DeVries–their information helped to avoid errors on the Walking Tour brochure

You know the danger when one assumes? Homeowner Mr. Dennis DeVries explained that although the carriage mounting block at the curb was original to the house, the cast iron hitching post and fence posts were modern reproductions.  Mrs. Jan DeVries pointed out that Joseph Campbell built other homes for his children close to this one.

Mr. and Mrs. DeVries then invited us for an impromptu tour of their garden, a gesture most appreciated by anyone who missed seeing it on the recent Porch Club Garden Tour. (See related post here.)

This illustrates why the best authorities about these homes are the residents themselves as I found out when I spoke to Mr. Keith Betten previously while I tried to reconcile some contradictions between dates on house signs and dates on the old Walking Tour brochure.

404 Main (top) and 402 Main (bottom) have the same floor plan; 402 is oriented at a right angle to 404

Mr. Betten, the current owner of 404 Main Street, explained how he researched his deed and  that he had found the signature of Edward Pancoast, the home’s first owner, scrawled on a wall inside an upstairs closet.  I knew that Pancoast had designed and built 404 and 402 Main, but Keith showed me why his home and 402 Main, next door, are “sister” houses–the exteriors and roof lines may seem different, but the floor plans are identical. I had not seen that before.

As Mr. Betten invited me to see the splendid English garden at the rear of the home he explained that the driveway just outside the gate afforded Charles Flanagan, a later owner of the home, access to the Riverton Lyceum which once stood at Fourth and Main where he served as secretary and treasurer.

301 Main, the house where the Duster was born
Surely there are many more stories about Riverton’s people and institutions that are not well-known or recorded. When our tour patrol got to 301 Main someone in the group said that they thought a photo exists of that Duster being hoisted out of the third floor window. Now, that’s one I’d like to see!

Another one I heard the night of the meeting that I must try to verify was about a Riverton homeowner who cut into an interior wall in his house because he was perplexed that the wall dimensions did not make sense with the room, only to find a hidden liquor still within the space. Whaaaat???

Such stories only grow more faint with the passage of time.  If you would care to share any facts or stories which may help us in compiling information for other walking tours, please contact us with your ideas.

It turns out that the group did catch a few errors. After a few minor fixes to the text and renumbering several map locations we were ready to go to press.

You can see the finished result at the New Leaf where copies  of this first Walking Tour of Historic Riverton are available for $1.00. Other tours in the series will include Riverton Yacht Club and homes along the river, homes along Carriage House Lane, as well as locations south of the railroad tracks. We hope to design a separate children’s version and possibly offer a means for smartphone owners to access additional information from our website. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

Rev. Feb. 2016: The New Leaf no longer has copies. Check Riverton Library. Four years later, no more progress has been achieved on this since 2012. Big plans, not enough hands. – JMc

 

 

 

 

 

Riverton Museum for a Day on the Candlelight House Tour 2011

graphic credit: Bernard & Jean Markovitz

One Society member commented that the homes on the December 3rd Candlelight House Tour December were “…historic and all quite beautiful.”  This extraordinary biennial event invites the public inside some of the most distinctive homes and buildings in historic Riverton to raise funds for the Riverton Free Library.  Hundreds of admirers of 19th century architecture came from throughout the greater Philadelphia and South Jersey area to view the historic buildings all beautifully decorated for the holidays which included five private homes plus the Porch Club, Christ Churchand The New Leaf Tea Room and Gift Shoppe.

Click here for the PDF file of the Official 2011 Candlelight House Tour Brochure.

Curator Mrs. Cheryl Smekal welcomed scores of visitors to our limited-engagement museum.

Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers, proprietor of The New Leaf,  generously offered space to the Historical Society of Riverton (HSR) to host its popular Museum for a Day exhibition,  a traveling display of local Riverton artifacts, photographs and ephemera from its archives.  

The showing offered a special opportunity for its exhibit curator, Mrs. Cheryl Smekal, to display women’s period clothing and furnishings as well as rare objects belonging to prominent Riverton families. Mrs. Smekal organized the event with assistance and guidance from Society Board members Mrs. Pat Brunker, Mrs. Nancy Hall, Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers and Mr. John McCormick.

Can you guess the name or the use of these household items which might have been found in homes of the early 1900s?

A table covered with 16 household objects common to the earlier 1900s which beckoned to onlookers, “Can You Guess…?” sometimes created traffic gridlock as museum visitors seriously debated the various uses to which some of the more puzzling objects might be put.

 

John McCormick, Gaslight News editor, blogger, collector of Riverton objects and lore hopes to interest more people in contributing information and images to the Society.

John McCormick was on hand to answer questions from collectors and the public about memorabilia and collectible ephemera. John, a retired educator and local historian, offered  reproductions from his vast collection of local historic images with street views from local Burlington County towns. 

 

A display includes photos and artifacts from various business enterprises and a vertical wall banner which outlines the history of the New Leaf building.

John devoted a section of the show of artifacts to The New Leaf at 606 Main Street since that address has played a number of roles in Riverton’s business section since it first was the location of Ezra Perkins’ butcher shop about 1900.

You can view a PDF file of that banner that outlines the history of 606-608 Main Street here.

Always of special interest to collectors are the vintage post card reproductions photo-restored by John McCormick featuring Dreer’s Nursery, New Jersey shore resort towns like Long Beach Island, Ocean City, Stone Harbor, and other locales like Burlington, Trenton, Moorestown, Mount Holly, Palmyra, and Riverside.

One collector visiting the Society’s Museum for a Day was delighted to see that John had added considerably to what he had available at Victorian Day 2007, and he pulled up a chair and devoted over two hours to browsing the vintage postcard reproductions.

Pat Lynch and Nancy Hall peruse the gifts available for the history enthusiast – Ruff Copy, Historic Riverton, History of Riverton Fire Co., Romance of Riverton, back issues of Gaslight News, History of Palmyra, repro maps and photos.

The Society appreciates Mr. McCormick’s generosity in sharing his collection on the HSR web site and blog for people of all ages to enjoy.

While an adult visitor may recall and perhaps even reminisce with the website’s content, a child seeing those same images and stories may see for the first time how life in his or her hometown was so different a hundred or more years ago.

We commend The Friends of the Riverton Free Library for their successful house tour program which reminds us that our magnificent, historic homes in Riverton can be restored to their past splendor rather than sold as apartment conversions.

The Candlelight House Tour significantly contributes to the rediscovery of Riverton by visitors and homeowners as a special place to live. The following photo gallery of our Road Show Museum will suffice until the HSR can secure a permanent solution to display the wonderful collection to which so many Rivertonians have contributed over the years. 

– Gerald Weaber, President Historical Society of Riverton

 

May 2011 Annual Meet Convenes at The Bank on Main

The Bank on Main - open for business once again

The Historical Society of Riverton held its Annual Meeting June 9, 2011, at The Bank on Main, courtesy of the Antonucci Family of Riverton. First constructed for the Cinnaminson Bank & Trust Company in 1928, its new owners have transformed the building’s interior into an attractive venue for business and social events.

In the business portion of the annual meeting members approved a slate of new or returning directors, including Pat Brunker, Donald Dietz, William McDermott, J. Edward Gilmore, Nancy Hall, John McCormick, Phyllis Rodgers, Mary Lou Smith, Michael Spinelli, and Cheryl Smekal.  A number of By-Law proposals received approval with one change, suggested by Mr. Paul Schopp. Members approved his motion to change the quorum for a Board meeting to nine.  Click here find the full text of the By-Laws to passed June 9, 2011.

The massive original vault remains the focal point of the room. Round linen-covered banquet exhibit tables flanked the carpeted part of the room and chairs arranged in rows on a magnificent marble dance floor in the center of the space faced the vault. The high ceiling, large windows, and sparkling chandelier hanging from the center of a huge, ornately carved medallion that dominates the ceiling all served to create an elegant setting befitting the main portion of the meeting; to celebrate the life of Mrs. Betty B. Hahle, Town Historian, who passed away on April 17, 2011. A large photo collage poster of Mrs. Hahle placed next to the vault represented some of her many accomplishments and provided a backdrop for the remarks and accolades of the speakers.

President of the Historical Society of Riverton, Gerald Weaber, started by reviewing the life of Mrs. Hahle, highlighting her contributions to virtually every Riverton organization and stressing her dedication and commitment to preserving Riverton’s history and character.  Her meticulous investigating and record keeping, pursued with passion, earned her a place in Riverton’s history.  Mayor Robert Martin then presented a proclamation to the daughters of Mrs. Hahle, Donna Hahle Kirkland and Marilyn R. Hahle.

Several members of the audience shared memories of Betty Hahle by illustrating examples of her generosity in sharing her extensive knowledge of Riverton while others cited her success in raising her three daughters.

A four-part a capella group called Three Good Men smoothly segued into the entertainment part of the meeting by appropriately choosing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” as their opening number. They continued the historical theme by serving up an eclectic mix of songs from classic barbershop to Rock & Roll and Doo-Wop, freely seasoned with jokes and puns. The inclusion of “God Bless America” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on the same set list indicates the versatility of this talented quartet. We even learned history trivia; “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” (1942) was the first ever gold record. Clearly, the foursome achieved their website’s description of “the essence of Barbershop” by liberally “ringing chords” off those stately old bank walls for the entire performance.

Even a mid-meeting power outage which left only dimmed emergency lights to illuminate the chamber failed to dampen anyone’s spirit or curtail the marvelous entertainment from our a capella quartet, which fortunately required no electricity.  At the conclusion, HSR President Gerald Weaber invited participants to enjoy refreshments.  Three Good Men continued their convivial exhibition by harmonizing “Happy Birthday” for two HSR Geminis, Mrs. Linda McCormick and Mrs. Phyllis Rogers and serenading bride-to-be, Keri Antonucci with a song .

We sincerely thank the Antonucci Family for so generously extending to the Historical Society the use of this splendid facility for our Annual Meeting. Find out more about this new multi-purpose banquet hall and event facility at the Antonucci Ventures LLC website.

That was our last meeting for the summer, but check back often for more additions to this website. Our expanded HSR Board will be busy planning for the next 2011-2012 season. Please consider donating items to the Society as you de-clutter or downsize belongings. We also welcome your submissions of recollections, comments, photos, scans, etc. for possible publication in the Gaslight News or on this website.  – Co-written and photographed by: Mrs. Susan Dechnik and John McCormick

 

The Candlelight House Tour, 2007

The Friends of the Riverton Free Library had another successful biennial house tour of homes in the Riverton and Palmyra communities which included an exhibit organized the the Historical Society of Riverton.  On display were amy local artifacts and the recent gift to the Society of Hannah Biddle’s wedding dress c, 1863. The exhibit was curated by Aggie Kennedy, Archive Chair, and Pat Brunker, Vice President, HSR.

Victorian Day, 2007

Riverton’s second annual Victorian Day was held on Saturday, June 2, 2007, and provided the community with an opportunity to visit the HSR museum set-up for the day at 408 Main Street.  Thanks go out to Pat & Richard Brunker, Bob Benarek, as well as Paul Daly, Joann DiNoia, Rob Hoag, Aggie & Bob Kennedy, John McCormick, Phyllis Rodgers, Priscilla Taylor, Elise Waters, and Gerald Weaber.

We appreciate the use of the former clinic of Dr. Alexander Marcy, Jr. as our museum for the day, offered by Dr. Anthony Cherico and family.

We especially appreciate the efforts of Phyllis Rodgers of The New Leaf, the Riverton Civic and Business Association, and the Economic Development Committee who all sponsored Riverson’s Second Annual Victorian Day.