Volume Fifty-One

No. 2


October, 2010


Batavia in 1950




Batavia in the fifties was a small little town rich with tradition. It was in the 1950's that the first BHS Homecoming was celebrated. Who can forget the fun of the snake dance to Memorial Field for the biggest bonfire ever–topped with a snatched out house. The Huddle was the gathering place with Mrs. Schiedler calmly overseeing the weekend gatherings. The Batavia Band program under Paul Peebles and later Elwood Willey was the only band in the area to walk away year after year with the top contest rating. It was also a time of smoke bombs in study halls, eating barbecues and curly fries at Ritchies, grabbing popcorn at the popcorn stand. In the 1950's people displayed patriotism by proudly flying the American Flag and attending the Memorial Day Parade. It was a time of playing kick the can on a summer night and cooling off at the quarry on a summer day. It was Saturday mornings at the Capitol Theater to see the latest Hopalong Cassidy movie and having dinner at the Fruit Juice House or the Meroma Restaurant. In the 1950's people didn’t just leave their doors unlocked - they left them wide open so that a neighbor or friend would be able to walk right in.


In a large room in a house on Main Street, John Gustafson, a Batavian who valued his town, was spending his time collecting history, clipping news stories from newspapers and magazines, chronicling the achievements of Batavians here and around the world. He knew the importance of preserving history and soon others began to see that importance as well. In the late fifties, people started meeting to discuss the idea of a historical Society. By the time 1960 rolled around the group was ready to have its first meeting and many community members came out in support of the formed group. 


Nifty At 50


As a special community celebration the Batavia Historical Society is sponsoring a dance free sock hop at the Old McWayne Gym in the Bethany Ministry Center from 2:00 to 5:00 pm on Saturday October 30. There will be hot dogs in the style of Dog in Suds, Ritchies Rootbeer Floats, Red Dot Potato Chips from Johnson’s Drug Stores and cokes from the Colonial House. Cookies that won the Pillsbury bake-offs in the fifties will be available along with the recipes. All food will be available t 1950's prices.


You’ll be able to see beautiful restored cars from the fifties in the parking lot and there will be contests for the best poodle skirt and the best Elvis impersonator.

Live entertainment will kick off the celebration Batavia guitarist, John Ivan, a phenomonal guitarist who will play some tunes from the fifties. Chicago DJ, Steve Dahl described John as the best guitarist in the Midwest. Joining John will be Gregor King who has graciously offered to learn some "oldies but goodies." Both of these musicians are currently playing the Oakbrook circuit, entertaining at Tuscany and Braxton Grill. And Tony Winter will be spinning tunes from the Fifties on the Juke Box. Come and share your memories, have some fun and celebrate a special time in the history of our town.


Membership Renewal – Does Your Mailing Label Say 2009?


It’s that time of year again. Membership renewal time. If your newsletter mailing label has "2009" in the upper right-hand corner, your membership is expiring with this issue of the newsletter. If you want to keep receiving the Batavia Historian, please detach or copy the renewal form on the back of the newsletter and send your membership in to the address indicated. We look forward to continuing to hear from you.




























News From the Museum

by Carla Hill, Depot Museum Director



It is hard to believe that Summer is over and Fall is here. We are working getting ready for the holidays and working on our winter programming. As usual Chris has prepared another wonderful exhibit; "100 Years of Scouting" which will help visitors discover the history of Boy Scouting in Batavia. Stop in to see this wonderful exhibit.


This year we will be offering the fourth ornament in the series of Batavia’s Historic Churches. The ornament will feature the Original Holy Cross Catholic Church which is now the Batavia Park District’s East Side Community Center. The ornaments will be sold at the museum and the Batavia Park District. Each of the museum volunteers will receive the ornament as a gift.


Chris and I are working on plans for the Annual Volunteer Christmas Party, which will take place on December 9. The museum has a wonderful staff of volunteers, which we sincerely appreciate.


We are always looking for new volunteers. The Gustafson Research Center especially needs volunteers to help visitors with research. Anyone who would be interested in volunteering at the museum or the research center can call Lois Benson at 879-1080 or Chris and Carla at the museum. With this newsletter Chris and I would like to add a new feature to our column. Chris does an outstanding job creating new museum exhibits which are changed 3 times a year. In order to ensure the continuity of our collections and engaging exhibits for the public we would like to ask for your help. Each newsletter we will be featuring a "Wish List" of items that the museum would like to add to our collection.


Items donated to the museum become a permanent part of Batavia History and will be used in exhibits and educational programs for generations of visitors to come.

Museum Wish List

  1. Vintage Postcards of Batavia
  2. School sports photographs, clippings, ribbons etc.
  3. Batavia High School Spectators
  4. Photographic images of Batavia prior to 1970. (Original items can be scanned and returned to you)
  5. Business related photographs, ads and other memorabilia.
  6. Family genealogy’s and photographs
  7. 1940’s-1970’s era clothing items
  8. Vintage toys and other small items that can be used in exhibits
  9. Our motto; "When in Doubt, Don’t Throw it Out"…without contacting the museum first.





We would like to welcome the following new members who have joined since the last newsletter:


Sara Lohr, Batavia, IL

Bill Skea, Grove, OK

Floyd & Gloria Fitch, Batavia, IL

Patty Mugavero, Glen Ellyn, IL,

Jim Nass III, Aurora, IL,


Bob and Marilou Jackson, Batavia, IL, Gift of Betty & Wayne Larson

Clarence Weirich, Batavia, IL, Given as a gift by Anonymous

Dean L. Hamingson, Webster, NY, Gift from Mary Lou Pierson

Dennis Foote, HotShots USA, Batavia, IL,


Janis Hillis, Naples, FL, Gift from her husband; Janis is the daughter of John & Pearl Blass

In addition, the following people have joined or upgraded to Life Membership status. Thank you very much:

Dennis King, Anaheim, CA, Gift of Karen Bohr,

Kristine M. Walsh, Batavia, IL