Retro River Rats Bonding

A 1976 River Rats crew
Photo/courtesy Marc Edelman, Facebook

With the recent death and impending memorial of former longtime Fair Havenite and River Rats purser, Warner White, thoughts turn back to some good old days of being a kid rat, so to speak, and hanging out down by the river.

It’s a rite of passage in the Rumson-Fair Haven area that kid life be rife with river-oriented activities.

River Rats was the king of that sort of thing — especially in the summertime. The little riverfront nook at the foot of Battin Road in Fair Haven was that special place where kids and boating-bonded buddies learned how to sail and navigate riverfront life with the sand between their toes and perpetual smiles on their faces. It was a unique little sailors’ club. Still is.

River Rats has been a Fair Haven institution since 1955.

It all started like this: “In October 1955 shortly after he moved from New York, Captain Walter Isbrandtsen wrote to a friend: ‘I have purchased a house in a small community on the New Jersey coast where I am gradually becoming active … in an organization known as Dads Incorporated … whose activities include a newly established program designed to take full advantage of a neighboring river …'”

Captain Isbrandtsen organized the family-oriented sailing group and became the first Skipper of River Rats, as it is written in the River Rats’ biographical history.

So, the Retro Pic(s) of the Day takes us back to the U.S.A. bicentennial year of 1976 and a bunch of young River Rats.

This crew is comprised mostly of RFH classmates who gathered by the boat launch at the end of Battin Road in Fair Haven to offer a glimpse of their day as a reminder of what growing up by the river is all about.

Sail on! RIP, Warner White …

— Elaine Van Develde