Volume Fifty

No. 2


April, 2009

Popcorn stand has served Batavians well

From a 1998 story by Sammi King

The year was 1929.  Money was scarce, but dreams were big at the corner of Washington (now Lincoln) and Houston.  Two twelve year old kids, Buddy Anderson and Normie Freedlund, friends and neighbors, had a dream that would last a lifetime.


They would build a popcorn stand to make some extra money for themselves and their families. 

At first it was a vision that only the two boys and the neighborhood kids could see.  Soon, through the encouragement of their fathers, the dream became a reality. Everyone was quick to lend a hand.  Neighbor Martin Mickelson had a two car garage but no car, so he let the boys use it for a workshop.  Mr. Anderson and Mr. Freedlund helped the boys out by buying the wood at Kalky and Thorsen's lumber yard on Main.  George Stran, Gen's (Normie's sister) new husband added colored lights that flashed blue, red, yellow and green.  Normie's brother, Wally, made the first sign "Buddy and Normie's French Fried Popcorn."



W. L. Anderson owned a lot on the east side of Batavia Avenue and let the boys use the prime location for their new venture. The lot was right where the First Chicago drive up area is today. Each spring the boys would move the stand to the Avenue location and take it back home before winter. "Moving the stand wasn't easy."  William "Bud" Anderson told me. "Our fathers both worked for the Challenge Windmill Company. They would borrow a hand cart that measured 4' wide by 6 or 7 feet long.  It had 4 steel wheels and along steel handle in front. By the time we got the popcorn stand on, it was pretty heavy to move.  Kids from the neighborhood helped us." Normie and Buddy bought the popcorn from John Schmidt a farmer from the Mendota area.  Mr. Schmidt also sold to another popcorn stand in Wheaton.


"They had the best," Bud offered., "but ours was good." According to Bud, the reason the popcorn was so good was the moisture. "We kept the popcorn in a big barrel, like flour came in. To keep the kernels from drying out, we'd keep a wet towel inside the barrel.  The moisture made the kernels explode apart. Then the hulls were sifted out into a bucket below." Bud and Norm also sold peanuts that they purchased from Reulands in Aurora.  They would hitchhike down to pick up the large cans of peanuts when they were out. "Opening a new can of peanuts was awful." Bud remembered.  "I don't know why, but it smelled like an outhouse." At a nickel a bag for the popcorn or the peanuts, profits didn't come quickly.  However, Bud and Norm were able to generously support the city's Centennial celebration in 1933.


"Norm and I popped popcorn all day. Then we put it into big boxes about 2' by 3' by 4' and carried them down to the American Legion Hall." In 1933 there were no jobs.  Norm had the opportunity to work for the Batavia Herald newspaper and he took it.  Soon Bud decided to sell to Paul Hendrickson and in '34 the stand became "Paul's Popcorn Stand."

The stand moved across the street on The Avenue for a few years and then down to the corner of Water and Wilson.  It stood in front of the Laundromat which was located there.  vol_50_11.jpg


In the 50's a washer and dryer were commodities only the wealthy could afford.  Since I was the child of a single parent we didn't fall into the afore-mentioned category. I spent many a night helping my mom fold laundry at the Laundromat and munching popcorn from what was then known as Jo-Dee's Popcorn stand. The 5' by 8' popcorn stand went through various owners and a variety of name changes; but, the original stand remains intact at its present location on Water Street.  It is now "The Batavia Popcorn Stand" owned by Batavian, John Misitano, who works during the day as a mailman in Wheaton.  The same size bag that Bud sold for a nickel, now sells for a dollar. John goes through 25 pounds of popcorn in 4 days. The popcorn continues to have quite a following, with customers driving in from neighboring towns.


John says the secret is in the oil and the heavy metal kettle that is hand made by a man out west at the cost of $185.

I told him I thought the kettle might have something to do with the terrific flavor. My mother used a heavy saucepan to pop our popcorn for years and never burned it.  After she passed away, the pan came to my home where I continued to use it until my husband found it.  To him it looked like a worthless old pan that was good for only one thing-paint thinner and old paint brushes. In spite of this careless mistake on his part, we are still married and I now burn the popcorn.

Another tradition that continues is the generosity of the popcorn stand owner. John Misitano has only owned the stand for a year. He didn't make much money last year because of the construction. Yet he still contributed to the BHS after prom party and provided a field trip location for his son's Storm school class.


Like the Batavia Popcorn Stand the Wheaton popcorn stand that gave Buddy and Normie competition in 1929 still exists.

John recently took some popcorn from his stand over to the Wheaton Post Office and let 18 of his co-workers compare his product with that of the Wheaton stand. He told me that some things do change.

"They all agreed that theirs (Wheaton's) is good but ours is the best."


Recipe Goes Back to Historic Nicknames

Some things are handed down from generation to generation like jewelry, hand made linens and recipes.  My mother, who was a great cook, left me a recipe box full of recipes from her own kitchen and the kitchens of some of Batavia's finest cooks. I love to bake and have spent many an hour in the kitchen making the recipes from the treasured recipe box.  For me the recipes are a link to the past.  When  the familiar aromas of my childhood fill the kitchen, I remember what it was like growing up and helping my mother and grandmother with the baking. One of the recipes that I really hold dear is my mother's sugar cookie.  It is light and tasty and has adorned every Christmas tray for as long as I can remember. After my mom died I continued to make this cookie, even though the credit on the recipe card was Ella Dick's Sugar Cookie.  I didn't have a clue who Ella Dick was. I served the cookies once to Marta Lindvall and she commented, "These sugar cookies are so good, is this Ella Dick's recipe?" I was so excited.  I could finally unmask the mysterious Ella Dick. "Who was she?" I asked. "Why you know who she was, Ella "Dick" Larson."  Marta answered. Of course. I had forgotten that many women in Batavia who shared a common last name took the names of their husbands as a "middle" name.  I had grown up surrounded by names such as Helen "Giff" Johnson and Helen "Norm" Johnson. 


The conversation with Marta took me back to the days when many Swedes went by nicknames that had to do with their jobs or physical characteristics.  There was "Langa Carl" who was a very tall thin man who walked about town.  I also remembered my mom talking about "Hoolie" Wallman who got his name because he was a "Happy Hooligan."

I decided to investigate the Swedish nickname story a little further and went down the street to talk with Carl Nelson.  A few years ago Carl, Elliott Lundborg and Arnold O. "Chuss" Johnson compiled a list of these names. 

Carl was happy to answer many of my questions about how the Swedes got their names.  He told me about "Yellow Pants Charlie" who always wore light colored pants.  He also remembered "Pretty John" who was bald and wore a hair piece that didn't begin to cover his head. When I relayed the story of Ella Dick he reminded me that many men were also known by their wives' names; Esther's John Johnson and Lilla Peter's John Johnson. Perhaps the strangest nickname was Sven in a Box who gained notoriety by coming to America in a box to save on the fare.


So now that you know who Ella "Dick" Larson is I suppose you want to know what's in her sugar cookies.  I checked with her daughter, Mary Lou Antill of Geneva and Mrs. Antill agreed to let me publish the recipe.  She told me that her mother was always willing to share recipes. vol_50_12.jpg


Ella Dick's Sugar Cookies


1 C. sugar

1 C. powdered sugar

1 C. shortening

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

4 C. flour

1 t. salt

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cream of tartar

1 pinch nutmeg

1 C. salad oil


Beat together sugar, powdered sugar and shortening.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar and nutmeg.  Add the sifted ingredients to the sugar mixture a cup at a time, alternating with salad oil.  Form into balls.  Press with a fork.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Enjoy!


Help With the Next Issue


Please help us with the next issue of the Historian.  Send us memories of the Quarry and neighborhood groceries for upcoming columns.  Please send your thoughts to the editor at, or mail them to The Batavia Historian, P.O. Box 14, Batavia, IL 60510. 

Membership News – January to March 2009


New Members 


Katherine Shirer Nothacker, NapervilleDr. Bruce Shirer, LaJolla, CAMary Shirer Roca, Longboat, FLPaula Pori, Santa Monica, CA - Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Vito SimoneT.J. Vaughn, BataviaJill Spaeth, Aurora, CO - Gift of Richard and Carol MillerJack R. Bowron, Marengo, IL - Gift of Richard BowronCharmaine Myers, Aurora, IL - Gift of Joyce HagemannDebra Bergeson, Statesville, NC - Gift of Marjorie BortnerConnie Schmidt, Aurora - Gift of Marjorie BortnerScott Bortner, Batavia - Gift of Marjorie BortnerMark Bortner, Batavia - Gift of Marjorie Bortner


New Life Members


Mr. and Mrs. Wm. J. Pasetti  - Gift of Ann C. JaschobRamona Pasetti - Gift of Ann C. JaschobWm. E. Lekander, Springfield, MO - was a member became a Life MemberDorothy Milnamow, Elburn, IL - Gift of Ron and Bridget Link


Jim and Dee Karas - were members and became Life Members



Letter From the President

Dear Members: 

Spring has finally arrived (bucking as usual) and the Society and the Museum have arrived with it!  Chris and Carla have worked very hard over the winter preparing new exhibits – so while you are out enjoying beautiful weather, please take the time to stop by and see what’s new.  The contents of the Depot Museum belong to YOU as members of the Batavia Historical Society and we all have a vested interest in preserving our local history.

I would like to extend a special thank you to Lucy Anderson who served as Director for the Society.  Lucy not only contributed to our meetings as a board member, but also faithfully helped fellow Director Carole Dunn in preparing coffee and dessert following the programs.  We welcome new board member, Director Robert Nelson, who has already proven to be a wonderful asset to our board meetings with his knowledge of local history.  

Vice President, Bob Peterson is in charge of programs and is always considering possible topics for our general meetings.  If there is anything you are interested in, or know of a program that may interest our Society, please contact Bob at (630) 879-1505 or e-mail

With warm regards,  Patty Rosenberg, President


For the Love of the Flag

The time was the late 1800's. Immigrants were coming to the shores of the United States in great numbers in search of a better life. Many did not speak the language and knew very little of the country and it's history. The names of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were unknown to them. Opportunities in America were not what the immigrants expected. Many ended up living with relatives under very poor conditions.  People of the same nationality lived together.  A sense of Americanism did not ensue.


Meanwhile in 1885, in a one room schoolhouse in the rural town of Fredonia, Wisconsin, a young teacher, 19 years of age, recognized the problem. A life long student of American History, Bernard J. Cigrand taught his students about their new found country. He gave them a symbol to believe in. He gave them the American Flag. Prior to the turn of the century the American Flag flew over the Capitol and led soldiers into battle. It was not a symbol of patriotism. It was used more for identification.  Small flags were difficult to find. 


Cigrand found one and put it on his desk for his students to see everyday. He told them of the flag's history. He celebrated the flag's "birthday" on June 14th, which was the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of the stars and stripes by the Congress. In June of 1886, Cigrand made his first public appeal to have June 14th set aside as the national observance of Flag Day. He proposed the idea to the Chicago Argus which printed his story. Immediately thereafter he began a crusade for a national Flag Day by writing magazine and newspaper articles and giving lectures.  Soon schools across the country embraced the idea of Flag Day. Patriotic groups like the Sons of the Revolution and the Sons of America also followed Cigrand's lead. The Sons of America published a magazine called the "American Standard" and made Cigrand, Editor-in Chief. 


Public Buildings began displaying the flag.  By 1894 Flag Day Celebrations were observed on June 14th in both Pennsylvania and New York. In Illinois the first meeting of the American Flag Day Association organized by Bernard Cigrand and Leroy Van Horn, a civil war veteran was held at the Grand Pacific Hotel. Cigrand was named secretary of the organization and became president in 1896.  Under the auspices of the organization the first general public school celebration in Illinois was celebrated in Chicago with over 300,000 children participating.

Cigrand continued to write articles about the American Flag for the Encyclopedia Americana.  He also authored a 550 page volume on the "History of American Emblems" and an illustrated work, "The story of the American Flag."  He was a prominent lecturer for the Chicago Daily News.



Bernard Cigrand took up the practice of Dentistry in 1888.  He served on the faculties of both Northwestern and the University of Illinois. He served as President of the American College of Dental Surgeons for several years. He also served as President of the Chicago Public Library.


In 1912, Dr. Bernard Cigrand moved to Batavia and opened a dental practice in his home on South Batavia Avenue. He continued to petition for a National Flag Day observance.  On June 14 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nation-wide observance of Flag Day.  At the age of 50, Dr. Cigrand considered this his greatest achievement.


In 1920 Dr. Cigrand joined his son, Elroy, in a dental practice in Aurora. The Cigrands moved to Aurora in the spring of 1932 but lived there briefly. Dr. Cigrand died of a heart attack in May of that year.  A bronze plaque and flag pole were erected at the Aurora Historical Museum in 1937. Many of his personal flags remain at the museum.


On August 3rd, 1959 President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th National Flag Day. Today the American flag is prominently displayed in classrooms.




News From the Museum

by Carla Hill, Depot Museum Director

The museum re-opened on March 9, for the 2009 season.  Spring is here and summer is just around the corner.  April and May will be busy months at the museum.  We are scheduled to give tours to approximately 600 Batavia school children that will visit the museum as part of the third grade Batavia history unit. 




Chris Winter has once again put together a wonderful exhibit “Accessorize”. The exhibit includes a beautiful baby buggy that was a gift from Colleen (Carlson) Stephens.  The buggy belonged to their family and is a wonderful addition to the museum collection.   Be sure to stop in and see this very interesting display.


Quilt Show


This year promises to be a very exciting one.  The museum will host its third annual Batavia Quilt and Textile show on July, 17, 18 and 19.  The show promises to be even better than last year.  We will once again be looking for volunteers to help out at the show.  Everyone who volunteers for a two or three hour shift will receive free admission to the show.  If you are interested in volunteering for the show, contact Chris or Carla at the Museum by calling 630-406-5274.


Strawberry Tea


The museum is also sponsoring a Mary Todd Lincoln Strawberry Tea event at the Lincoln Inn on Sunday July 19.  Helen Milam will be on hand to give a program on the Graces of Tea.  The event will include several noted Mary Lincoln presenters as well as several desserts from Mary Todd Lincoln’s own collection.  Tickets for the event will go on sale after May 15.


We are looking forward to a great Spring and Summer!

Wanted: Volunteers

We are always looking for new volunteers at the museum, especially for the Gustafson Research Center.  If you are interested in volunteering, call Lois Benson at 630 879-1080 or the museum at 630 406-5274.


Membership Renewal Time – Red Dots


It’s that time of the year again.  If you have not paid your dues, your mailing label will have a red dot by the address.  This means that this will be your last newsletter unless dues are paid before the July publication.  Please send in your annual dues renewal.  Memberships expire each year on December 31.  Those of you who joined after June 30 last year, your membership is current for 2009.  Please use the renewal form on the last page, or download the membership renewal form from

Thank you.


Save the Date


Next General Meeting  -  June 14, 2009

“Help Celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s 200th Birthday”

By Dan Hoefler



In 1915, Howard C. Storm, Superintendent of Schools, and the Batavia School Board adopted the "Batavia Plan." It was a plan for religious instruction for Batavia students. Each Thursday, the students were released from class for an hour of religious education at their respective churches. In later years the Board of Education provided Batavia School buses for transportation, which the Batavia Ministerial Association paid for. Sponsored by the churches of Batavia, the Thursday School Program gave students additional instruction similar to the Sunday School format. For some churches it was a way to reach children who did not belong to a church. Parents were given the option of allowing their children to remain at school if they chose not to attend a church. Students who elected not to go to Thursday School went to a study hall. 

At Thursday School, the children would sing religious songs, read Bible stories and learn how to follow the "Golden Rule." There was a definite emphasis on values and moral instruction. vol_50_14.jpg



In 1983, junior high students were no longer given the option of attending Thursday School. In 1985, the United States Supreme Court ruled that "Religious programs could not be held in school on school time. At the written request of parents, children could be released to attend such a program." In 1985 the decision was made to end Thursday School for all Batavia students. John Pitz who was a school board member at the time recalled the decision to end the religious program. "The school board would have continued the Thursday School program if the parents had been behind it" he told me. "The number of students participating had declined considerably over the years."


Reverend Truman Hazelwood, former pastor at Logan Street Baptist Church was a member of the Batavia Ministerial Association at the time. "Even though we consolidated the program by combining churches in one location, it was a tremendous burden on the Association." Reverend Hazelwood said. "We were riding the buses and teaching the classes. The teachers in the schools were also having problems, since so many of the students were remaining in school.

Reverend Drury H. Green, pastor at Calvary Episcopal Church, agreed.


"Participation in Thursday School was about 90 per cent through the mid forties," Reverend Green told me. "But after World War II it declined.  More women were working, making the programs difficult to staff. We could also see a trend in the schools to eliminate programs of this type." Thursday School was a unique program, one of the only one of its kind in the state of Illinois. It lasted 70 years. Reverend Green looks back on the era as an important time in the history of Batavia. "It was a wonderful program that added a strong ecumenical feature to our community.  The churches worked closely together as one."