Sheet music collector Sandy Marrone struck a chord at January HSR meeting

Cinnaminson resident, Sandy Marrone, shared a sampling from her private collection of 600,00 pieces of American sheet music dating from the 19th century through the present at the HSR meeting January 17, 2018. The program included a wide range of topics, sometimes serious and sometimes humorous.

HSR Board member Susan Dechnik introduced her friend Sandy Marrone

Of special interest is anything historical that focuses on actual events such as elections. One such selection is How Could Washington Be a Married Man And Never Tell A Lie, though this was written in more modern times.

Also of historical interest are disasters such as the sinking of the Titanic, the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, and songs about war.

Songs about food are fun and funny; I’ll Make The Pies Like Mother Makes If You’ll Make the Dough Like Dad.

Animal music is full of humor; I’d Rather Stay Home With Mickey Mouse, Than Go Out With A Rat Like You.

Some of the sheet music she displayed is appreciated for its visual design and beauty as well as topic.

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The informative, educational, and thoroughly entertaining Sandy Marrone

Sandy’s comments and telling of anecdotes added sparkle and insight to each piece of sheet music. The famous George M. Cohan song, You’re A Grand Old Flag, was originally titled You’re A Grand Old Rag. He wrote it after seeing a tattered American flag. Controversy and criticism about the title forced the change to the title we all know.

In Sandy’s words, “I try to educate and inform about the variety of topics and history found in sheet music.” She dipped into her collection and shared a sample that was informative and entertaining.  – Mrs. Susan Dechnik

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

 

 

 

 

 

Totally worth it

IMG_0798 (Copy)

Linda McCormick, Phyllis Rodgers, Susan Dechnik
Linda McCormick, Phyllis Rodgers, Susan Dechnik

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.

IMG_0857 (Copy)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.

Duster history, The New Era, March 11, 1937, p3
Duster history, The New Era, March 11, 1937, p3

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.

IMG_0856 (Copy)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.

IMG_0851 (Copy)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

 

Riverton’s 118th July 4th Parade is history now; HSR Archives & Museum underway

HSR propagandists Bill Hall, Susan Dechnik
HSR propagandists Bill Hall, Susan Dechnik
2015 palm card A
click on image to view other side

HSR member Susan Dechnik shares these photos below she took July 4th.

She and Bill Hall and several other proselytizers were passing out our Glorious Fourth Palm Cards among the revelers bearing bits of borough history on one side and a pitch to become a member on the other.

Although recently retired as HSR treasurer, our goodwill ambassador Paul Daly also distributed the cards as he has for many years. The practice seems to have been started around 1987, possibly by Dan Campbell.

I have cards from 1987 thru this year except for 1992 and 1996. Maybe they were skipped for those years, but if any still survive in a kitchen drawer somewhere, please advise.

You’re thinking, “Shouldn’t you guys know? You are the historical society.”

HSR wants you1 (Copy)Uh…no. And you would be surprised how often our capability is over estimated. But we would like to improve that and, in numbers there is strength.

Kindly consider adding your name to our number.

HSR archives and museum logo (Copy)These are heady times indeed for the Society as renovations in the Library basement will soon enable us for the first time to set up a physical museum of sorts.

The Historical Society of Riverton invites you to join in our effort to make Riverton history more accessible by helping to underwrite the expense of this worthwhile project with your membership.

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Find the complete Riverton 4th of July Committee’s 2015 Program booklet here.

Find waaaay more pix and some video on the Riverton 4th of July Committee’s Facebook page.

Find Christian Hochenberger’s photos here, but know that the display is not permanent. Enjoy while you can. – JMc

Remembering Tom Palermo

Perhaps you read a newspaper account on December 27, 2014, about Tom Palermo, killed by a hit and run driver outside of Baltimore while riding his bike in a dedicated bike lane. The news received national attention because the driver, Heather Cook, at the time of the accident was the second ranking member among Episcopalian clergy in the Diocese of Maryland.

My Riverton School Kindergarten Class, Spring 1979
My Riverton School Kindergarten Class, Spring 1979, Tom in back row, left, plaid shirt

It got my attention because of a Riverton connection. Tom Palermo was a Riverton kid, and I was his kindergarten teacher. Riverton School is a kindergarten through eighth grade school, and teachers, especially kindergarten teachers, have the opportunity to watch the students grow from five-year olds to students entering high school.

1987-Tom Palermo and Jill Dechnik, after an 8th Grade Graduation Party at my house
1987-Tom Palermo and Jill Dechnik, after an 8th Grade Graduation Party at my house

After their high school graduation, they scatter and move on, move away, or sometimes the student moves back to Riverton with a family, and their children attend Riverton School. That happens a lot.

I hadn’t heard about Tom Palermo for many years. Facebook allows people to reconnect, to catch up, to share. My daughter reconnected with Tom (I still think of him as Tommy) a while ago and sent me information about his life. The photograph of the grown man had the same smile I remembered from years ago.

Tom Palermo
Tom Palermo

And then Facebook spread the tragic news of how he died. The news spread and garnered an outpouring of shock and sadness. Television and newspaper accounts told the story of Tom’s life and how he died.

Here is a summary that I provided for people to share the news:

Tom Palermo, age 41, a senior Johns Hopkins Hospital software engineer, died after a vehicle struck him as he was cycling on the 500 block of Roland Avenue near Baltimore on December 27, 2014. Tom was married and the father of a six-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son.

Tom grew up in Riverton, New Jersey, and attended Riverton Public School from kindergarten through eighth grade. He graduated St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia and earned a history degree from the University of Maryland. Family members describe Tom as a “seasoned cyclist who had a passion for mountain biking as well as logging countless miles on the road.” He was an advocate for bike access and bike safety. In 2002, Tom began making custom bike frames at his workshop.

Bishop Heather Cook of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is facing more than a dozen charges, including manslaughter, driving under the influence while driving, texting while driving, and leaving the scene of an accident. She had previously been arrested on a DUI charge. The trial date set for June 4 has been postponed until September.

A Palermo Children’s Education Trust has been established on the youcaring.com website. Donations may also be sent to:

Palermo Children’s Education Trust
℅ Molloy Investment Group
One South Street
30th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202

The Riverton connection remains. Six months after his death, his hometown remembers Tom as the Historic Riverton Criterium returns. Promoted by Riverton resident Carlos Rogers, attention will be focused on the sport of cycling, a perfect tie-in to Tom.

This account from Carlos:

“When Sue Dechnik approached me about memorializing the life of Tom Palermo I could tell how much of an impact he must have had on people given Sue’s sincere emotion during our conversation. I had actually read about his death as the news made national headlines, but had no idea he was from Riverton. It was a simple decision to do what I could to embrace his life and the circumstances surrounding his death. Given some of the feedback I’ve gotten from Riverton residents who knew Tom, it seems like he certainly made a lasting mark on people’s lives. Since he was a bicycle aficionado, and a builder himself, I’m sure he would have loved to have seen the Historic Riverton Criterium in person. Unfortunately, he will never get that chance. Even though I didn’t know Tom, I am glad to play a part, however small, in celebrating his life. Tragically, it ties together. One, Palermo was from Riverton, and two, he was riding his bike.”

Since 2011, the HRC has contributed over $15,000 to local Riverton and Palmyra organizations and individual causes. Carlos met with Tom’s father and arranged to donate part of the proceeds of the HRC to the Palermo Children’s Education Trust. In addition, in the HRC handbook there is a piece written about Tom.

In speaking with Mr. Palermo, I found him to be grateful for the recognition Tom is getting, but profoundly sad and shocked about the tragedy that took Tom from his family.

Personally, I remember Tom as a friendly, kind-hearted kid. From all accounts, he grew up to be a special man.

SDechnik (Copy)

 

by Mrs. Susan Dechnik

HRC 2015 poster
HRC 2015 poster

The Historic Riverton Criterium will thread through the gaslamp lined streets of Riverton for the fifth time tomorrow, June 14, 2015, 1-6 p.m. For more information, click on thumbnail at right, or visit https://www.facebook.com/historicrivertoncriterium

Find more information and photos about Tom Palermo at these links:

https://www.baltimorebrew.com/2014/12/28/grief-and-anger-at-scene-of-fatal-bike-crash/

http://www.wbaltv.com/news/Hundreds-of-cyclists-ride-to-honor-Thomas-Palermo/30492528

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/An_unfinished_ride.html

http://www.bikeleague.org/content/statement-death-thomas-Palermo

 

 

Historic Riverton Century Riders Arrive

Are they here yet? Are they here yet?
Are they here yet? Are they here yet?

A small but spirited crowd welcomed the police escorted cyclists as they arrived about 7:29 p.m., almost two hours behind their scheduled appearance here because of flat tires and broken spokes.

District Riverton Bistro, Susan Dechnik, Ryan Brandenburger
District Riverton Bistro, Susan Dechnik, Ryan Brandenburger

More details in a later post, but for now, all riders’ thoughts are on a quick shower and the team dinner at The District Riverton Bistro.

The next acts of this Riverton reality series follow on Sunday with the 10 a.m. dedication of the historic marker for the Riverton Bicycle Track and then the return of the Fourth Annual Historic Riverton Criterium at 1:00 p.m.

– Video by Chris Halt, Stills and story by John McCormick

Everything Came Up Roses at May 29 Concert

Moorestown Community Band, L. Bruce Smith, conductor
Moorestown Community Band, L. Bruce Smith, conductor

The popcorn was popping and feet were tapping; the river was calm, and the music was lively as the Moorestown Community Band entertained members of the Historical Society of Riverton, residents of Riverview Estates, and other guests in Riverview Estates’ beautiful Rose Garden last Thursday.

MrstnBand_08Originally planned for Wednesday, but rescheduled because of rain, L. Bruce conducted the sixty member band as they played a variety of musical selections.

“Piper’s Rhapsody”, “Viva Italia”, an Italian song medley, “Abba on Broadway”, “Russian Sailors’ Dance”, “The Westerners”, a Western Theme medley, and that patriotic favorite, “You’re A Grand Old Flag” each lightened the mood of an appreciative audience on this overcast spring evening.

Donna Maratea, Director of Activities and part-time popcorn vendor
Donna Maratea, Director of Activities and part-time popcorn vendor

The HSR and Riverview Estates jointly sponsored this free concert.

Thank you to Riverview Estates’ Director of Activities Donna Maratea for another successful partnering with the HSR to bring a free program to Riverview residents, Society members, and the public.

Story and photos by Susan Dechnik

 

If it’s baseball, it must be Spring…or is it the other way around?

Pal-Riv BB CollageIt seems for as long as anyone remembers, and farther back than that, Riverton has loved its baseball.

Pages here and in the Gaslight News have detailed Riverton’s rich baseball tradition which dates to the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and possibly earlier. Recent improvements in the playing field and grandstand at Riverton Memorial Park open a new chapter in Riverton history as the Riverton Athletic Association tries out its refurbished digs on Opening Day, April 12, 2014.

Grandstand Sept. 2011 - April 2014
Grandstand Sept. 2011 – April 2014

Even so, we must acknowledge the achievements of past generations and realize that the loss of such a familiar touchstone of one’s youth might yet cause a nostalgic twinge, no matter how improved the venue.

Enjoy our virtual scrapbook of opening day photos and commentary by my former Riverton School teaching partner, Mrs. Susan Dechnik.

scrapbook coverClick on the cover at left for the PowerPoint slides or here for the faster downloading PDF file.

Contribute your remembrances of the old grandstand, regale the younger generation with a bit of Riverton baseball lore, or tell us JMc8your impressions of the new grandstand and opening day.

– John McCormick

From across the miles, Gary R. Weart writes:

Great to see that the grandstand has beeen renovated. I remember riding bikes there in the 50’s and 60’s because it was a nicer facility than we had in Palmyra. We used to play pick-up games on that field. The wall of the grandstand was also great for “pepper,” as we didn’t have to chase the ball. Sometimes we stood at home plate and played a game “backwards” by trying to hit the ball up into the seats by lifting it just over the fence allowing it to fall in the seats for a “homerun.” We could also record an out on defense by catching the ball off the fence. A ball hit over the grandstand was recorded as an out. It was sort of a game involving bat control. We could play a game of 9 innings with just two people. Needless to say, I have many great memories of spending many hours at that old grandstand.

I also heard from a source that prefers to remain anonymous that it was a great place to make out.

An afternoon tea fit for Lords and Ladies of Highclere Castle

Downton 3-2-14_01Some 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.

Phyllis Rodgers, obviously meant to live at Downton Abbey
Phyllis Rodgers, obviously meant to live at Downton Abbey

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 Honorable William C. Brown took our coats. Where else but Riverton?
The Honorable William C. Brown took our coats. Where else but Riverton?

 

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.)

Downton Abbey 101
Downton Abbey 101

 

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.

Downton 3-2-14_11Ever-attentive wait staff delivered to each table towers of delectable sandwiches and savories, each menu item cleverly named after show characters.

 

Downton 3-2-14_14

 

The main course, however, was the grand entrance of actress/historian Alisa DuPuy as she channeled everyone’s favorite dowager countess.

Downton 3-2-14_16In 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.

Downton 3-2-14_19Lady 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.

Photos by Susan Dechnik and John McCormick

Our Museum for a Day came and went

Aggie Kennedy
Aggie Kennedy clothes a dressmaker’s form.
Susan Dechnik
Susan Dechnik took most of the photos here.
Cheryl Smekal, closest;  Aggie Kennedy, at right; Susan Dechnik, back
Cheryl Smekal, closest; Aggie Kennedy, at right; Susan Dechnik, back

The reason for the recent inactivity here on the website is that we have prepared for our display of artifacts that we call our Museum for a Day at the New Leaf Tea Room in cooperation with the Riverton Free Library’s biennial Candlelight House Tour.

The items come out to play for a day, then are packed away until we get another offer for some free exhibit space.
The items come out to play for a day, then are packed away until we get another offer for some free exhibit space.

Once every two years we get to break out of storage some choice HSR treasures to exhibit to the public. Afterwards, the items get packed away, and until the next time, this online virtual museum will have to do until we get a real permanent one.

We brought out some familiar chestnuts such as some Dreer’s Nursery items, our vintage clothing, and the Riverton Gun Club history book.

New additions to our exhibit repertoire include displays about Riverton’s War Memorial and Riverton’s military veterans, Riverton Yacht Club, and Anne Knight Ruff.

museum for a day_37I only just found a box postmarked 2011 in our storage space full of donated items relevant to the Yacht Club, particularly the Duster, that former resident Marty Carhart donated.

More details of the remarkable contents will be forthcoming in a later post, but for now, blueprints for building a Duster and two reels of 16mm movie film taken of the 1949 Duster Championship race were just two of the more notable items.

RYC 100th Anniversary book 1965
RYC 100th Anniversary book 1965

Also in that box, a 1965 book published for the 100th anniversary of the Riverton Yacht Club now serves as a startling reminder that 2015 will be their 150th anniversary. I made a poster outlining some of the milestones in the RYC’s history to go with the table display.

“Tempus fugit,” as my Latin teacher used to say. Tempus fugit, indeed. I think time has even picked up more speed after I passed sixty.

HSR Board Member Bill McDermott also pitched in as a Museum Guide. Turns out he had never heard the story about how Ed Merrill built the Duster in a workshop on the third floor of a house at 301 Main Street. There are probably many things we could all learn from each other if we could pool our resources. We have the bandwidth here if you have something to share.

Readers, please search those boxes tucked away in attics and basements for anything you may have that would help to piece together a history of the RYC’s last half-century. Something spectacular is sure to be planned to commemorate that milestone, and with so many knowledgeable people now living far afield the internet is a great place to collaborate.

I made another poster that explained about Anne Knight Ruff’s book, hoping it would result in some sales, but no luck. This book is a treasury of Riverton history c.1890-late 1900s and should be required reading for anyone living in this zip code.

museum for a day_17An exhibit about Riverton’s veterans included a poster with all the original names plus the names added since 2011. Longtime Riverton resident Daniel Goffredo lent us his World War II service uniform for the day.

Earlier this year the HSR bought a presentation projector that we could use for just this type of situation, so we set it up with a screen to show the much expanded Riverton Veterans Album.

Those old hometown newspapers that we got online in late 2012 have yielded a lot of anecdotal information about the people mentioned on the original War Memorial Honor Roll. Additionally, the newspaper files have been the source of many more news clippings about military personnel whom they described as being from Riverton.

museum for a day_13museum for a day_02That might be the reason if you were to find a person mentioned in the pages of the Veterans Album, but their name is not on the War Memorial Honor Roll.

I showed the presentation to our own HSR Board members Nancy Hall and Elsie Waters, but the best part was listening to them give the color commentary as they watched.  – John McCormick

revised  12/22: added ten photos to gallery below