HSR President Phyllis Rodgers and newsletter editor John McCormick verrry gratefully accepted a check this afternoon on behalf of the Society from Carlos Rogers, creator of the Historic Riverton Criterium– our biggest contribution ever!
This evening, Phyllis messaged her fellow Board members the awesome news:
Hello Board Members,
Carlos just brought a check for his Criterium Donation—-$4,000!!!
Many thanks to Carlos for all his efforts.
The HSR is so lucky. Life is good in Riverton!
Best to all,
Yes, it is good, and Carlos Rogers is one citizen who helps makes this town the great hometown it is.
He has devoted hundreds of hours over the past year to stage and promote the biggest and best Historic Riverton Criterium yet, drawing competitors and spectators from all over.
The Historical Society of Riverton is pleased to have again supported the event this year and truly honored to benefit from Criterium proceeds.
Thank you, Carlos, for your tireless efforts in continuing to bring such an exciting cycling event to our town. Your incredible generosity toward the many individuals and local organizations you have given to since its inception has just been a bonus! – JMc
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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
The rain held off this morning and even when it came it was just intermittently drizzly.
Soon we almost had enough people to convene a meeting of Retired Riverton School Teachers.
It was great to catch up with RPS alum, Kim Piotrowski, with her mom, Ann Marie.
We enjoyed conversing with browsers who came by the Porch Club during the Garden Tour.
May Hannah brought by a color postcard of Fulton Street, c.1912, for me to scan.
Shown here framed, click here to see the retouched scan I made from it.
In the course of congratulating Tom Shaw on the work he is doing on his house at 301 Main Street the origin story of the famous Duster sailboat came up.
Local lore holds that Owen Merrill designed and built the first Duster there in a room on the 3rd floor. He and some friends lowered the craft from a window, took it down to the river, and christened it a “Duster”. It became a world-class sailboat.
Tom is convinced that he has seen a newspaper photo of that moment – but where? Let’s ask the universe to find it. If a reader can direct me, please help. Tom wants to find an old Duster, seaworthy or not, that he can plant in his garden as a kind of “The Duster was born here” historical marker.
After grazing on a luncheon plate of goodies prepared by the Porch Club women, I also bought two table centerpieces composed of papier mache birds and plants in tiny Dreer’s Nursery terracotta flower pots that were found on the riverbank near the Pompeston Creek.
Bunched together here on my picnic table in Delran they will wind up in the HSR Museum at some point. It is coming together slowly… very slowly.
Oh yeah, we also sold five mugs, too, so the day spent was totally worth it. – JMc
Well, it would have been boffo box office, but this was another example of your HSR dues dollars at work in partnership with Riverton Free Library in making available to the public a presentation free of charge.
Actress Maggie Worsdale played to a capacity crowd in the RFL’s meeting room Tuesday night.
She entertained in character for a full hour, delivering her fact-filled monologue with no notes.
It was, as it was heard characterized, more like a one-woman play than a typical historical interpreter’s presentation.
She absolutely did delight, teach, and inspire the SRO crowd with her recounting of episodes in not only Martha Washington’s life, but also for many other of America’s 44 First Ladies.
One could certainly fill up an hour reporting on the lives of First Ladies, but this remarkable performance was full of little known, often touching, anecdotes which were obviously the result of exhaustive research and preparation.
No video clip or excerpts of Ms. Worsdale’s one-act follow so that there are no “spoilers” should you have a chance to enjoy this compelling material performed live.
Consider this short review a 5-star endorsement of Maggie Worsdale’s production of Martha Washington. Book her without reservation. But you might want a bigger room.
Labor Day is behind us, the first Gaslight News after the summer break is in the mail, and here is news of the first of three upcoming events you may want to get in on.
We open with a HSR sponsored Downton Abbey Inspired Tea at The New Leaf Tearoom Sunday, Sept. 28. The captivating Alisa DuPuy returns to regale Downton Abbey fans with a Dowager Countess’ perspective on life in the manor house.
Downton buff Phyllis Rodgers tests guests’ knowledge of the show with trivia games, prizes, and surprises as they enjoy array of sandwiches, savories, scones, and desserts served to you by the attentive staff.
Your choice of two brewed teas accompany menu items such as Matthew Crawley’s “Death by Chocolate “ Cake, imaginatively named after cast characters to add to the fun.
The idea to recognize remarkable examples of historic preservation of Riverton homes with an award in honor of Daniel Campbell originated with former HSR President Mr. Gerald Weaber, and this meeting now bears the fruit of his research efforts last year.
In succeeding him as HSR President, Phyllis Rodgers and an expanded HSR Board followed through this season to launch a new Preservation Award Night,held April 10 at the Porch Club, in which The Society recognized a number of people for their noteworthy home renovation projects. (The March 2014 Gaslight News previously profiled the homes and briefly explained the award. )
HSR President Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers called the meeting to order and a short requisite business portion of the meeting included various announcements as well as a customarily thorough treasurer’s report by Paul Daly, our own esteemed CPA on the job.
Phyllis introduced Paul W. Schopp and congratulated him on his recent (March 5) designation by Riverton Borough Council as Borough Historian. Mrs. Rodgers noted Mr. Schopp’s vast knowledge of local history as well as contributing his invaluable expertise to the Society to past projects.
Mr. Schopp said that it is “hard to fill the shoes” of the former Town Historian, Betty Hahle, but he would do his best. (The position of Town Historian has been vacant since Mrs. Hahle passed in April 2011.)
Paul has certainly been my go-to guy for fact-checking stories and getting hard-to-find resources during my tenure as editor of the Gaslight News. Our former HSR President, Gerald Weaber, concurs saying, “No one else comes close to his encyclopedic knowledge of all things Riverton.
At the meeting Mrs. JoAnn DiNoia, Porch Club President, and Phyllis Rodgers displayed the Porch Club’s new sign, a cooperative project of the HSR and The Porch Club.
The sign was erected at a later date near the Club’s entrance.
Mrs. Rodgers then turned attention to our honored guest, former Riverton resident, Mr. Daniel T. Campbell, AIA. A distinguished past president of the Historical Society of Riverton and editor of the Gaslight News, Daniel Campbell is a Historic Architect widely recognized for his experience in restoration and preservation of historic architecture.
Citing his past preservation projects and honors, she explained “…it is therefore fitting” that the new HSR Preservation Award be named for him. Read more about Dan Campbell here and see more details about the award named in his honor here.
Then matters moved on to the main event – the presentation of five 2014 Daniel Campbell Preservation Award certificates and crystal diamond paperweights etched with the Society logo.
At the meeting we heard from Dr. and Mrs. Horn, Helen Hughes, John Laverty, and Michael Spinelli as they recounted the pleasures and pitfalls of renovating an old house.
Ummm… I think I saw that movie before.
Some of us even remember the original 1948 Cary Grant/Myrna Loy comedy film, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, in which a hapless couple purchases a 200 year-old farmhouse only to meet a long litany of unforeseen troubles and setbacks.
But these Riverton characters had studied their parts and each story had a happy ending, resulting in homes absolutely transformed from their former states.
Check out the continuing saga of Helen Hughes’ renovation of the Biddle Mansion at 207 Bank Ave., and another about John Laverty’s home at 616 Main.
Here’s a few more snaps from the meeting.
Above photos by Susan Dechnik, John Laverty, and John McCormick
Start looking around your neighborhood for some potential Preservation Award nominees for 2015. – John McCormick
Some South Jersey Downton Abbey devotees held on to their Season Four Finale buzz a while longer as they enjoyed afternoon tea themed to the famous British television drama series at The New Leaf in Riverton, NJ.
Proprietor Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers and Historical Society of Riverton President planned the event as a fundraiser for the Society, and it drew a capacity crowd Sunday afternoon despite the expected arrival of another winter storm later that evening.
The New Leaf’s smartly attired butler hung up guests’ coats as Lady Phyllis invited arrivals to enjoy a champagne punch. (Riverton Mayor and HSR Board Member, Mr. William C. Brown, served as stand-in for Carson.)
Lady Phyllis warmed up the crowd, literally and figuratively, with trivia questions about the PBS hit series as Mrs.Hughes (played by Vicki) helped the maids serve Cook JoAnn’s piping-hot black currant tea and freshly baked lavender and golden raisin scones served with rose preserves and Devonshire cream.
Ever-attentive wait staff delivered to each table towers of delectable sandwiches and savories, each menu item cleverly named after show characters.
The main course, however, was the grand entrance of actress/historian Alisa DuPuy as she channeled everyone’s favorite dowager countess.
In her monologue, part English history lesson, part etiquette class, part stand-up routine, Lady Violet schooled all in attendance in the fine points of the British rules of male primogeniture and the lifestyles of the various social classes.
Lady Violet presided over a bingo game and another about lines delivered by characters during the course of the series’ four season run.
Altogether it proved a pleasant fix for our Downton Sunday habit since we will probably have to wait until January 2015 for the US première of Season Five.
As families and friends again congregated on Independence Day in Riverton, inevitably many paused to reflect on other Fourths of days gone by.
No doubt this year’s Parade Marshal Mrs. Elsie Waters has stored up many memories since that photo was taken of her and brother John sitting in wonderment at the 1920 July Fourth celebration.
FUN FACT: As July 4 fell on Sunday in 1920, Riverton’s Glorious Fourth was held on Monday the fifth.
Previous posts have addressed the origin and changes in Riverton’s Glorious Fourth over the past 116 years since the parade began in 1897, much of it gleaned from the research of Mrs. Betty B. Hahle, Town Historian, now passed. More than 100 of her signature “Yesterday” columns written for the Historical Society of Riverton’s newsletter, the Gaslight News still serve as the most authoritative record of our town’s early days.
This previously posted four-page 1920 Program (above, right) details the activities enjoyed that day. HSR member Gerald Blaney generously allowed us to scan his rare eBay find and display it here.
The clipping at left from the July 2, 1920 New Era newspaper advises readers of two added features to the program that included a presentation of gold rings to veterans of World War I.
Later, the New Era recapped the results of the many games and summarized the patriotic observances witnessed by “fully five-thousand men, women, and children.” The Children’s Parade had 792 kids vying for prizes such as best decorated baby coach, velocipede, or kiddie car.
Children gathered on the riverbank and scrambled as a Curtiss F. Boat hydroplane brought over for the occasion showered them with hundreds of tickets good for merchandise at either one of three local stores.
You can see the issue as a PDF file just as it appeared to Rivertonians 93 years ago. (You will need the free Adobe Reader program if you do not have Adobe Acrobat.) Scroll down to see PDF page 3 For the July 2 issue and PDF page 7 for the July 9, 1920 issue.
Were they the good ol’ days? Absolutely.
However, we do not dwell on the past, but simply acknowledge it as we value the contributions of those countless citizens who have helped Riverton develop into the unique place it is today.
The following photos and video demonstrate that for many, the experiences of this July 4, 2013 may just as well be recalled in the not too distant future as “the good ol’ days.” Absolutely!
Photographer Richard W. Pringle, Jr. kindly sent these photos that include a few great close-ups.
You never know who you will meet on the Fourth. Here is my former Riverton School colleague and snow cone entrepreneur, Wade McDaniels. After selling the frosty confections here for over twenty years, I guess that feat qualifies Mr. McDaniels to be included in the record of Riverton history.
Read more about my friend Wade in the phillyburbs.com post by Burlington County Times Staff Writer Peg Quann. She interviewed the coolest Riverton School maintenance supervisor who has been moonlighting on this summer job since his first gig selling at a Beach Boys concert in Philadelphia during the 1976 Bicentennial. Chilly treats a tradition on Riverton’s Fourth by Peg Quann
The image gallery below illustrates what we remember in any typical Riverton Fourth of July observance: family, friends, flags, festivities, fire engines, fun, and food. What does a Classic Riverton Fourth of July mean to you?
The Fourth is often a time for reconnecting with others who have put some miles and years between themselves and their old hometown. Palmyra native and PHS alum Gary Weart stopped by to see Phyllis Rodgers and family while vacationing from his home in South Carolina. Here he is talking to Phyllis as she tallies the 320 children participating in this year’s parade.
It turns out the former teacher, whose great-grandfather James Taylor Weart served as Palmyra’s first mayor from 1923-1928, is a keen photo enthusiast who captures images with a truly memorable perspective.
Enjoy this slideshow by Mr. Gary Weart, book author, former social studies teacher, administrator, and athletic coach who founded Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), and received the Presidential Service Award from President Bill Clinton.
There is still a little room left here for your own memories and recollections of July Fourth – actually for any year at all that you wish to share. Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org – John McCormick
A banner near the Riverton War Memorial announces the Cocktail Party and Concert in the Park during the weekend preceding the Fourth and invites readers to visit http://www.riverton4thofjuly.com/ for a complete list of July 4th events. Here is the Committee’s Dear-Neighbor-Ltr-2013.
The other day my friend Phyllis Rodgers compared getting ready for the Fourth in Riverton to getting ready for Christmas. Depending on one’s involvement, other comparisons may come to mind – like preparing for D-Day.
Certainly for Tracy Foedisch and the other dedicated members of the 4th of July Committee, they have been preparing for this year’s event even as the sun set on the last year’s celebration.
All over town residents display the patriotic hues of red, white, and blue as generations have done here for more than a century.
Members of the Historic Society of Riverton will especially cheer on their compatriot, Parade Marshal Mrs. Elsie Showell Waters, as a chauffeured convertible conveys her along the Main Street parade route on July Fourth.
Read Casey Foedisch’s interview of Elsie that appears in the July Fourth Program booklet: elsie_waters_interview
Paul Daly, our esteemed HSR treasurer, shares this photo of himself and his wife Cathy bicycling up Main Street during a Riverton Fourth of the late 1970s – perhaps it was for the Nation’s Bicentennial.
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 areato view the historic buildings all beautifully decorated for the holidays which included five private homes plus the Porch Club, Christ Church, and TheNew Leaf Tea Room and Gift Shoppe.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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