THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Thirty-Two

No. 3

May 1991

Untitled-2.jpg

June 8 and 9, 1991

Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Batavia Civic Center

327 W. Wilson Street (1 blk. west of Rt. 31)

Batavia, Illinois 60510 



PROCEEDS FROM THE SHOW WILL BENEFIT THE BATAVIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

I WANT YOU!

Do you remember those wartime posters with Uncle Sam pointing and saying, "I want you!" to encourage enlistments in the Army? This time the finger is pointing at you to remind you that the Society needs your assistance at the Antique Show.

As mentioned in the January newsletter, Carole Dunn volunteered to coordinate our efforts this year. The show is a benefit for the Society and I trust many of you will offer to help. Your rewards are the satisfaction of helping the Society, the chance to see friends and meet new people, and a complimentary ticket to the show --- all for a few hours of your time!

Carole is looking for volunteers to assist in several tasks. Look these over and then let her know what you are willing to do:

1. Collect admissions at the door (where the largest number of people are needed.)

2. Put up directional signs along the highways the day before the show.  
As the Marine Corps ads say, "Looking for a few good men."

3. Take advertising brochures/posters to area stores and ask that they be made available (brochures) or displayed (posters). This will need to be done in the near future.

Don't procrastinate---call now! A call from you is much more pleasant than needing to make a call to you asking for help. Carole Dunn's phone number is 879-3988. If you miss her the first several tries (she's a busy lady!), call Dot or Jim Hanson at 879-7492.  Please let us know as soon as possible to facilitate scheduling.



MINI-QUIZ

1.  About 40 years ago the City of Batavia contracted with Al Shandor to provide a service for its residents. What was this service which is related to one that has been in the news recently?

2.  About 30 years ago a new town was started between Batavia and Warrenville which its developers projected would have a population above 50,000 by 1990.  Instead, it was purchased to become a part of Fermilab and its houses are now used by that facility.  What was the name of this short-lived community?

3.  About 20 years ago, twenty individuals and businesses in Batavia donated the funds needed to purchase the CB&Q RR depot which became our Depot Museum.  How many of these people or firms can you name and which two spearheaded the purchase effort?


A BATAVIA WELCOME FOR TWO SONS OF THE "OLD COUNTRY"
Elliott Lundberg

The majority of the Swedes who came to Batavia came from the area within a number of miles from Veddige in the province of Halland. My grandmother, Martha Lena Lundberg was 28 years of age when she came to Batavia and she had a number of friends from her youth with whom she kept in touch. For many years she took in boarders and most of them were sons of Martha's friends in Veddige. Their mothers would write to their old friend Martha and arrange for their sons to stay with her or find some other suitable boarding place, with a Swedish family of course.

On a hot summer day in the mid 1920s two young Swedes named Carl Flingstrom and Axel Thoren from Veddige came to America and found their way to the corner of First St. and Jefferson St. in Batavia. They sat down either to rest from the heat or to guess which way on Jefferson St. they should go. They were dressed in heavy wool suits and carried suitcases.

It was noon time and Freda Lundberg saw them on her way home to lunch from the U. S. Wind Engine and Pump Co., where she worked. My mother, Svea Lundberg, was at her mother-in-law’s that day when Freda arrived for lunch and Freda told her mother that she thought her two new boarders were down at the corner. So Svea walked down to the corner, greeted Carl and Axel in Swedish and guided them to 15 S. Jefferson.

Years later Carl Flingstrom told me about his first day in Batavia beginning at the corner of First and Jefferson Streets.

After lunch, Martha Lundberg told the boys that they needed some different clothes and she sent them down to Jules Morris store on East Wilson St. At the time men were digging ditches on Wilson St. for the sewer lines and Carl said that he and Axel couldn't understand why the men stared at them as they walked down the street on a sweltering summer day dressed up in their heavy woolen suits - two pure "green Swedes", Carl said they had never experienced heat like that until they came to this country.

When they arrived at the store Jules Morris waited on them. Jules Morris was a Jewish merchant and gentleman and he spoke the language - Swedish. They told him their needs and he asked them where they were staying. This apparently established their credit. He helped them with their purchases and on completion invited them to go with him across the street where he bought them each an ice cream soda. Carl said that nothing in his life to that time ever tasted so good. Then Jules Harris asked them if they had a job, which they did not. So Jules got on the phone and arranged jobs for them in a local factory, telling them when and where to report for work. I guess they went back to Jules Morris when they needed clothes again.

To my knowledge, all but one of Martha Lundberg's boarders were Swedes. She had a boarder by the name of Hoover. I believe he was staying there when he entered service in World War I and returned there after the war. At any rate he was boarding at 15 S. Jefferson after the war and had been gassed or wounded, or both during the war and was not in too good health. He died some time after the war and was the first veteran buried in the American Legion plot in the West Side cemetery. For many years his helmet and gas mask hung in the barn at 15 S. Jefferson.



MINI-QUIZ ANSWERS

1. Al Shandor collected the "garbage.  "Batavia's new contract for collecting garbage/trash will include recycling of cans, bottles, plastic and newspapers.  Al Shandor didn't recycle these but did recycle the true garbage by feeding it to pigs on a farm south of town on the east side.  Not only was the "garbage to pork" recycling different from today's, but so was his equipment.  See the picture below.

2.The new town was called Weston.  The developers not only predicted 50,000 residents (it reached about 500 before being bought for Fermilab) but was to have an airport, two hospitals, and "the largest shopping center in the midwest.”

 

 

3.When Phil Elfstrom and Art Swanson heard that Aurora's Fox Valley Park District planned to buy the CB&Q depot and move it to Pioneer Park, they quickly solicited $50 from each of the other contributors and purchased the building.  It was then offered to the Batavia Historical Society for a museum.  A few years later the Furnas Foundation donated $5,000 in memory of Gilbert Hansen towards the restoration of the depot plus providing dollar for dollar matching funds for donations made by the public.  The public responded to the fund drive and the needed $40,000 was raised in eight weeks.

Those twenty original donors were: Clifford V. Anderson, Victor E. Anderson, Robert A. Becker, Philip B. Carlson, William H. Clark, Roy David, Philip B. Elfstrom, Leroy H. Feece, Bert L. Johnson, William L. Laird, John T. Lincoln, Hertha Mullins, Donald L. Peterson, William Rachielles, Arthur W. Swanson, Batavia Bank, Batavia Savings & Loan, First National Bank of Batavia, Hubbard's Home Furnishings, and Phipp's Department Store.

 

 

Untitled-3.jpg



With spring arriving and people planting their gardens, it seemed an appropriate time to print the following remembrance written by Batavia's most famous chronicler.

DAD AND HIS POTATOES
John Gustafson
I remember Dad and his seed potatoes and the actual pleasure he derived from cutting his "seed."  He cut these with infinite love, care, thoughtfulness and patience.  As long as he was able, he cut these pieces himself, never delegating this work to anyone else.  He considered it a job that took much skill and experience.

He wasn't like the man who had to separate the big potatoes from the little ones and who got "all wore out" making so many decisions.

I remember watching him. He sat in a low chair or on an overturned box with a pan of potatoes on his left and an empty pan or basket on his right. He always saw that his knife was sharp to start with and he kept it that way. Potato varieties vary greatly. Some have large tubers with few eyes and others are small with many eyes. Some eyes are deeply sunken; others are hardly visible. Every tuber is an individual.

He had to decide, and decide quickly, just how to cut every potato to get every possible seed piece from it.  He cut these pieces so that every one had two or three eyes and the same amount of bulk as possible. He tried to avoid cutting through an eye and to cut each piece lengthwise of the tuber. Even today, remembering Dad, I approach this task with a little fear and trembling. Commercial potato growers would say all this care is silly. They just slam-bang through and let the cuts come where they will. Time is too valuable in this day and age.

He allowed the cut surfaces to dry before planting, thinking that they might rot if planted while the surfaces were wet and fresh.

Before we had our own horses and equipment, we got the man who plowed the ground to plow out the furrows about three feet apart. Later we did this ourselves with a one-shovel plow that threw the dirt out both ways.

Planting the seed was a trick in itself. Starting at one end of the first furrow, we placed a piece cut side down, put one of our feet in front of it, another piece at our toe, then our other foot in front of that and so on to the end of the row. Thus was the patch planted. If we were too young and our shoes were too small, we "hunched" a little so that the potato pieces were about a foot apart.

As soon as the potatoes were up they were hoed. Then, as they grew, they were hilled at least twice during the season, something that isn't done anymore if the seed is planted at least four inches deep. The new tubers are produced around and above the mother seed and, if not planted deep enough or hilled, the new potatoes would be exposed to the sun and turn green which we thought made them poisonous.  Hilling is back-breaking work and I didn't like it.

We fought Colorado beetles two ways. If we had only a small patch and found only a few adults, we put a little kerosene in the bottom of a pan and, going down the row holding the pan under the foliage, we knocked the beetles into the kerosene in the pan and thus to their death.

The other way to kill them, especially the larvae, was to mix up a solution of Paris Green or Arsenate of Lead in a sprinkling can and spray this on the foliage. We didn't pay much attention to thrips although they did cut down on the potato leaf surface, nor to potato wilt which dried up the leaves prematurely.

We liked to raise early potatoes as our summers were too hot for late potatoes. Is there anything that tastes better than a fresh-dug tuber from your own garden? As they mature early, usually in July, they can be dug, the ground cleared and leveled, and turnip seed can be broadcast over the ground. You know the old rhyme:

The twenty-fifth of July Sow your turnips wet or dry.

Turnips are a catch crop and if the weather cooperates and is cool and wet, they will produce a bumper crop. There's nothing tastier than a turnip pulled after the first frost, peeled and eaten out-of-hand.

At first we raised nothing but Early Ohios, a pink potato. Then White Cobblers, with larger tubers and more prolific, came on the market.  Now there are several better varieties.  Pontiac is a better producer than Cobblers.

Our grandfather, John Butcher, many years ago worked for a Mr. F. E. Pearsall south of Batavia. One spring he brought home a monster tuber, a potato called Pat's Choice. It produced abundantly at first, but gradually the seed gave out, producing smaller hills and tubers every year. Finally it wasn't worth growing. This was our own fault.  If we had selected the best seed each year this would not have happened.

There is another way to kill potato bugs that I didn't mention before. Years ago someone advertised a sure-kill for these pests. They would send you the method if you would send them fifty cents. On receipt of the money, the enquirer received the following instructions:

"Take two blocks of wood each about two by six inches and one inch thick. Place a potato beetle in the center of the top of the lower block. Then place the other block on top of this and hit it a resounding blow with a hammer. We guarantee that, on investigating, you will find the beetle dead."



ODDS AND ENDS

The Society has two new Life Members, Eleanore and Ruth Herzberg. They live in California but are the granddaughters of early Batavians Carl and Emilie Groener who lived on East Wilson St. In addition to joining the Society they have offered to pay for installing a Society plaque on their grandparents home.

Our Plaque Coordinator, Bob Pikrone, has received three additional requests for information or applications as a result of recent articles about the plaquing program in the local newspapers and in the last newsletter.

Work on the background murals and fabrication of displays that will be installed in the lower level of the Depot Museum are progressing on schedule.
Your co-presidents had the opportunity to accompany Carla Hill and Ralph Voris to the studio in Chicago where these are being produced.  We were very favorably impressed with what we saw and feel everyone will be pleased with these exhibits. Hopefully the displays will be "in place" by the end of June.

This long-awaited expansion doubles our ability to display the Society's artifacts and will add an exciting new element to the museum.