THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN

Volume Fifty-Eight

No. 2

Summer 2017

 


 

 

“The things that the flag stands for were created by the experiences of a great people. Everything that it stands
for was written by their lives. The flag is the embodiment, not of sentiment, but of history.” Woodrow Wilson


 

Batavia, Illinois in the early 1940s -- America is at war

 

 

Hundreds of little towns all over the country were shocked at the destruction of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. Batavia was no exception. As in other wars, Batavia responded by sending her young people to serve, 731 of them during the course of the war. Batavia’s first casualty came quickly. Francis Alberovsky, (son of the Police Chief who lost his life 18 months earlier) died when the Japanese sunk the ship on which he was serving, the U.S.S. Arizona.


Life was not the same once war was declared on December 8, 1941 against Japan and Germany. Defense commissions were formed and plans made for blackouts and air raid drills. Men and women learned to spot allied and enemy plane insignia. The building trades class at the high school built model planes to be used by the Navy to teach civilians to spot aircraft.


This poem was written by Alan Reed, 12 years old and a 6th grade student at Grace McWayne School.


Have you ever watched an airplane, Soaring in the sky?
Have you ever watched an airplane, Traveling up on high?
Have you ever watched an airplane, Sailing on at night?
Have you ever watched an airplane, Soaring out of sight?
Is it not strange that these soaring wings, Should now be used in destroying things?

 

The folks of Batavia adjusted their consumption to meet the times. Shortages of automobiles, tires, and certain
food stuffs led to rationing. People registered their tires with the police for thefts were expected. Shoes were
not only rationed but people were restricted in what they could purchase. Women’s shoes could have no frills
and there was a limit on the height of the heel. Shoes were restricted to 4 colors: black, white, Army russet,
and two-tone brown. Discontinued shoes included men’s patent leather,

men’s sandals, men’s and72376 Summer 2017 Newsletter.bmpwomen’s spiked golf shoes, and various formal
evening slippers. Heavy leather could be used only for making work shoes, cowboy utility boots, and police shoes.


Meats and food could be obtained only withration stamps. Sugar rationing began in 1942 withBatavians registering at a local school for their allotment. In March,

1943 all Batavia women werevisited and asked to pledge to produce as much of

their home produce supply as possible. The Victory Gardens began in earnest in Batavia with the coming of favorable spring weather.

 

The people of Batavia, young and old, supported the war effort in many ways.

The Girl Scouts gathered books to send to servicemen. Boys and girls collected

scrap metal, paper, and cooking grease. The A & P bought the waste fats from housewives, the paper was sold to finance the war, and fund drives were held to

sell bonds and saving stamps to raise money. School children brought pennies, nickels, and dimes to school to fill up their bond books. Families pooled their

sugar stamps so the smaller children could have a birthday cake or even more
importantly, cookies at Christmas time.


Blood drives were conducted, ladies rolled bandages for the Red Cross while students joined the Junior Red
Cross and knit squares to be made into afghans for military hospitals. Families gathered each evening around
the radio to hear the war news and prayed they would not hear anything about a battle near where a loved one
was fighting.


March 12, 1943. Batavia High School had two distinguished visitors that Friday afternoon. Both were Batavia graduates: Lt. Donald Anderson, wounded Navy flyer and one of the WWII outstanding heroes; and Lt. Col. James Davis who told of his officer training courses. Both alumni have brought honor to the community. It is estimated that over 400 men and women from Batavia are presently serving in the military. Covering the south wall of the Herold’s office is the photo gallery of these heroic individuals. But, at least 100 more pictures are
needed for this wall to be complete.


In October 1943 Batavia’s Honor Roll Marker,72376 Summer 2017 Newsletter.bmp a temporary monument, was dedicated
on the lawn of the public library at Wilson and Batavia Avenue. Over 500 names were
painted on this monument including the names of the German Shepherd dogs who
were in the canine corp. President Roosevelt passed away in April 1945. By May, the war
in Europe was winding down and ended with V E Day on May 8th. In August we dropped
the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan; the official V J Day. Batavia went wild when Japan
surrendered. Whistles blew, church bells rang and car horns sounded. The emotions of four
years of war gave way to wild celebrations!!!! PEACE—THE WAR WAS OVER


With a heavy heart, Batavia added more names to the War Memorial. They were:
Francis Alberovsky, Arnold Anderson, Donald Anderson, D. Robert Anderson, Arden Bodeen,
Richard Brill, John Burch, George Carr, Carl Christensen, Jr., Clare Conde, Dennis Edwards,
Leroy Erickson, Evert Holm, Walter Johnson, Charles “Ross” Martin, Gerald Nelson, Robert
Pye, Norbert Schmitz, Leo Sennett, Donald Sherman, Homer Sherman, Robert Sherman,
Everett Stenman, Pendral Stenman, Kenneth Swanson, Laverne Wenberg, Donald Wicklund,
and Raymond Wiesbrook.

 



 
Normalcy in the midst of war – Class of 1943

When the senior class began the school year in 1942, we were still at war but student thoughts were on their final year in high school. They had homecoming in the fall,
ice-skating on the river in the winter, parties, the class play, the prom, and finally
graduation itself…. followed by a bright future. In talking with 3 beautiful ladies from the Class of 43, I discovered that not much had changed between the time they were in high
school and when the Class of 57 was in school.

Our class size was the same, they had 77 graduating and we had 76. We even had some of the same teachers: Helen Brauns, Gretchen Culter, Paul Peebles, Viola Peterson, Robert Stuttle, and Mildred Tordt. Miss Bruans had them sew aprons (but no hat) and popovers were on the list to cook along with white sauce. They do not remember that she used the word “generally” many times during class. They do remember that Miss Peterson gave lots of homework!

The class play was “Father Goose” a domestic comedy with many hilarious scenes taking place in the Adam’s household. Only two of the ladies were in the play as Lorraine Baxter had the mumps. We talked about parties, but all 3 said they didn’t attend many because they weren’t “party girls”. All three attended the prom and this is one area where the war had impacted their life. There were no nylons so women would put makeup on their legs to give them the color of nylons; then they drew a line up the back of their leg with a marker to give their
nylons a “seam”.

In study hall, they would coordinate the simultaneous closing of their desk tops just like the classes before and after them had done. Some even took part in putting a live bird in a girl’s desk to scare her when she opened her desk and the bird flew out. School traditions come in all shapes and forms!

May ended, finals were over, and graduation time was here. June 3, 1943 was the date of their Commencement Exercises in the high school auditorium. Here things were different between the two classes.

The Class of 1957 had two speeches, one given by the valedictorian and one given by the salutatorian. The Class of 1943 had six speeches. The titles were: Worthy Home Life – Lorraine Courtwright (Baxter); Education for All – James Hanson (Valedictorian); Privilege of Work – Allen Benson; Right of Expression – Lois Moore; Religious Freedom – Gertrude Thiele (Rupenthal); and Personal Dignity – Harry Hann.
 
 
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Worthy Home Life – Lorraine Courtright (Baxter), June 3, 1943

We all know that who a person is in his home is who he will be in his nation. Every act a man does is a reflection back to his home life, for the home is the making of all people. What were the homes of today like? We must know this in order to know what the leaders of tomorrow will be like.

American homes are homes without want or fear. There are many homes in the world today, as we all realize, whose members do not know what living would be like if they did not live in want and fear. Small children in other countries know that a soldier coming down the street might mean the strange disappearance of their fathers, brothers, or even older sisters. We in American cannot conceive of soldiers actually barging into our house, for, as Samuel Adams said, “A man’s house is his castle in which not even the king may enter.” This is America.

How many times in this country have we heard airplanes flying overhead and every member of the family rushes to the window to see whether it is a transport or a private plane, and an enthusiastic son even rushes out onto the sidewalk to get a better look. In other countries? Oh yes, there too people rush at the sound of planes – underneath a table or down in the basement if the sound is very close and if not, they go to a farther but safer place: The bomb-shelter. The bodies of those men, women, and children who did not run to the shelter for safety can be seen strewn about the pavement when the others come out from below. This is the fear abroad.

We aren’t eating quite as we used to but we aren’t in want by far because we have begun to share our needs. Have you heard about conditions in foreign countries? The streets are full of bread-lines and half the people are turned away after hours of waiting. In other countries, people are freezing to death by the thousands. Little children are found huddled close to their parents but the warmth of their bodies doesn’t last long enough to save any of them. This is the meaning, in other countries, of “want” of which we know nothing.

In our American house live many people, people who look forward to simple things such as parties and picnics. The children come in from play and take a handful of grapes from the table or a pocketful of cookies from the pantry and do not worry about having to give up food from dinner time as a sacrifice for this. They play in the parks barefoot. They do not do this because they have no shoes, but because they like to feel the dewy grass pop up between their toes. They go about their play without fear. The wool of their coats and sweaters keeps
them warm in the winter. They are carefree children with cheerful faces and bright eyes. They have their little troubles of the day, but by the time their mothers kiss them goodnight and tuck them into bed, these troubles are forgotten. American homes are happy homes.

Will boys and girls not make72376 Summer 2017 Newsletter.bmp better citizens in the future if raised in homes which are free from both want and fear? We must keep our homes in America so that child will never learn the sharp meaning of these two words: want and fear. A horrible war has finally made us realize that
happy homes are worth fighting for, for our
homes mean so much: the molding of our youth, the future leaders of this great nation.
 
Where did I find the facts and memories about WWII and the Class of 1943? The book “Historic Batavia” as well as the Aurora Beacon and Batavia Herald newspapers were valuable sources of printed information about the war. But it was the time spent talking with friends who lived here during that time that provided flavor as well
as substance to the facts. These friends are pictured below:
 
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L – Gertrude (Thiel) Rupenthal, C -- Betty Jo (Benski) Castner,
R — Lorraine (Courtright) Baxter
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

The other friends who contributed were Richard and Pat Bowron. Their picture and more memories will be found in the fall issue of the newsletter. The ration book on the front page belongs to Pat who has memories of using it and not getting much for her coupons. They were young children and felt their parents sheltered them from a lot of the war. Richard does remember that everything stopped when the news came on and the family gathered around the radio. Everyone remembers having victory gardens except for Betty Jo whose father had
Benski’s Grocery Store on the corner of State and Delia.

 

Here are more memories listed in random order.


1. Evelyn Bartman, choir director, told them “open your mouth wide enough to put 2 fingers inside so people
can hear you sing.”
2. They had a senior skip day and walked to Fabyan’s. Only 1 of the ladies in the group participated!
3. Bud Davey was the ice man and they put a sign in the window for ice delivery.
4. One of their dances had a jungle theme.
5. All 3 swam at the quarry. Mrs. Baxter worked there and remembers walking on Water Street to her home
on Washington Avenue at night when it was dark. The other two ladies walked to the quarry by going across
the trestle by the sewage treatment plant. Season passes were 50 cents. Of course, they only wore one-piece
swimming suits!
6. They glued rubber soles on their shoe to cover the holes.
7. Gertrude Rupenthal remembered they could not speak German in The Immanuel Lutheran Church because
of the war with Germany. She worked at Campana after graduation and they had to change the name of Italian
Balm to Campana Balm because of the war with Italy.
It was so enjoyable sitting with these friends and remembering Batavia when we were young. In 2005, the
Historical Society had a Heritage Roundtable Meeting where they had a lively wide-ranging discussion about
people, buildings and events that played a large part in Batavia’s history. The attendees wanted to do it again….
maybe now is the time. If you think you would like to take part in a program like this, call the Museum or
someone in the Historical Society and let them know.

 



THE FOX RIVER


The river has been, and still is, the heart of Batavia. In an excerpt from “Batavia 1833 – 1983” by Roberta Campbell, she tells the story
of Laurelwood Park and the excursion steamboat “City of Batavia.” It ran from Laurelwood Park to the center of Batavia. The Steamer
was 12 feet wide, 60 feet long, had a 10-horse power engine with a big propelling wheel at the end of the boat, and was capable of
running in 2 feet of water. With a capacity of 150 passengers, it was the largest steamer on the Fox River. The “City of Batavia” made its
first excursion trip on Sunday, May 30, 1897 picking up the train passengers in downtown Batavia and taking them to Laurelwood Park.

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But it was the people of Batavia who enjoyed the river the most. On July 4, 1940, they held the first “River Rumpus” at the docks built
at the bottom of the hill leading to the river from Wilson Street. This event lasted through the early 1950s. Speedboats raced the oval
course from Duck Island to the Wilson Street Bridge. Special boats pulled water skiers over the ski-jump, which was located on the Pond,
just north of where McDonalds stands today. One exciting event was Bill Schrauth, driving his speedboat and pulling Bosco Hall, who was
sitting on a stool, while balanced on a saucer and how the crowd cheered them on! Bill Montgomery and Bob White both had boats and
took skiers north to the Fabyan’s and back to the pond.

 

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It was this love of the river and boating that led to the formation of the Batavia Boat Club.

 

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In June 1956, the boat club was formed. Some of the members of the Batavia Boat Club were: myself John Flodstrom commonly
known as Trapper, Bill Shrauth (Tuffy), George Fleeger, Earl Horton, Harold Hall (Bosco), Bill Shanahan (Shifty), and Dick McCullough, the
president. We had a meeting at a church in town, The Episcopal, and held all of our meetings there. It was a nice little group of people
and we all had a love of water skiing. A group of us got together and designed and built our own ski jump. We used the part of the river
near the bridge on Wilson Street. We started having ski shows with Tuffy skiing with the handle in his mouth, Bosco sitting on a chair on
a disc, and I stood on my head on a saucer. We did a lot of jumping on the ski jump and skiing doubles and slalom. We had some nice
boats doing the work of pulling the skiers. We were a great group of guys, having a lot of fun on the river. by John Floodstrom


On Memorial Day 1959, the group put on a water carnival which included a parade of 31 club-owned boats. The next year the club bought
land at the bottom of Logan and River streets where they built a club house and installed a launching ramp for their boats. This club house
provided them with a meeting place for about 15 years before it was purchased by the Park District and renamed Laurelwood Lodge.

 


 

Batavia Historical Society Summer Meeting
Sunday, June 11th – 1:30 – Batavia Public Library


Bring your pride and tears as you participate in a one hour blast of red, white, and blue!!!


You will see a display of real American flags that would have flown over Batavia for the last 184 years and learn their history while experiencing a large screen audio-visual patriotic American flag show.


There will be a stroll down memory lane with American flag songs and poems….imagine yourself singing along to “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”


You will be amazed when you learn the origins of Flag Day and the Batavia connection to the day and flags. Even more importantly you will find out how to keep Flag Day alive and help others love and respect the American flag. By the end of the program you may have won the Great Flag Day Raffle or reached the highest score on the American Flag Trivia Contest!


Mark Harrington has all of this in store for you. You may remember Mark from his performance as Dr. Bernard Cigrand at the 100th anniversary celebration of Flag Day. He is also a writer and works in radio news.\

 

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Dear Friends of the Museum and Society Members;


We are off and running with the expansion project. In March, we held our kick-off event which was well attended and reaction to the program was fantastic. The video and testimonials about the history of the Depot and what it means to our community was the hit of the afternoon.


Shortly after that we completed our website improvements. If you have not seen the video you can view it at BataviaHistoricalSociety.org. You will be impressed by the work and, if you can, there is a place to donate. Even better you can now use the website to renew your membership or enroll as a new member.


Our first fundraising event was the Antiques on Main held in conjunction with the Batavia Garage Sale weekend. There are so many to thank who worked the event, donated items and more. We especially want to thank Gary and Sammi King for the use of their home, Carla Hill for organizing along with the marketing committee, and to Sharon Mitchell for getting the volunteers for the two days.


Look for our progress sign to be located by the Depot as we are on track to raise the funds for the expansion. Thanks to John Dillon for all his efforts.


We will have a booth at the River Rhapsody Music events held at the River walk this summer. They are held each Wednesday in June (starting the 14th), in July except for the Wednesday before the Windmill City Fest, and ends August 2nd. We will also have an activity to take place during the Fest. Please plan to attend and stop by to say hello or encourage a friend or neighbor to tag along, and we will be happy to talk about the expansion.


Please check your mail in the future about ways in which you can help us financially. There will be many donation options available. If you would like someone from our committee to discuss your contribution level, please call Dan Hoefler 630.406.7884.


Warm regards to all,
Dan Hoefler

 

 

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Research Center


Did you know that the Gustafson Research Center at the Batavia Depot Museum (155 Houston Street) is visited by hundreds of researchers every year? It’s a great place to learn about Batavia history, research your home, spend hours updating your family genealogy, or browsing through our photo collections.

 

Some of the resources available at the research center are: Biographical Files and Family Genealogies, Scrapbooks, Obituaries, Batavia City Directories, Kane County Probate Records 1860-1960, Photographs, and Maps. Our library has books relating to the history of windmill manufacturing, Lincoln, Civil War, local railroads, Kane County and the State of Illinois. Many of our research indexes can be found at www.BataviaHistory.org.


Research Assistants are available to help you on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 2-4 p.m. or by appointment. For more information contact the museum at 630-406-5274 or chrisw@bataviaparks.org.


Share your memories and others will smile with you!


Put your memories in writing….this can be a short story or a longer one. You can mail them to Batavia Historian, POB 14, Batavia, IL 60510; drop them off at the museum front desk; or email them to: historicalsocietynewsletter@gmail.com. We really need to hear from you!!!!

 

 

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From the Museum Executive Director

-- Jennifer Putzier

 

We have some exciting events planned for this summer. Bring your friends and come out to support the Museum!


Brick by Brick (see ad below) Windmill City Festival Craft & Vintage Market Calling artists, crafters and purveyors of vintage goods! We are looking for you to join us at the Windmill City Fest Craft & Vintage Market. Booth Spaces are 10x10, outdoors. Participants will
need to provide their own tables, chairs and tents as needed.


For more information and applications, contact Jennifer Putzier at the Depot Museum (jenniferp@bataviaparks.org or 630-406-5274).
Registration fee benefits Batavia Depot Museum programming.

 

 

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From the Museum Curator
Chris Winter

It’s been a busy spring so far! We have had more than 400 Batavia third graders tour the museum during the past month and have scheduled tours for several area Scout groups. It’s so exciting to share Batavia history with our young citizens.

The C.B. & Q. caboose and the U.S. Wind Engine water tower on the museum site are getting a much-needed coat of paint this spring. Many thanks to the Batavia Park District for budgeting to care and preserve these important artifacts. We appreciate the wonderful partnership between the Historical Society and the Park District to make the museum such a great place to visit!

The museum will have extended summer hours from June-August. We will be open to the public on Monday, Wednesday, & Friday from 2:00-4:00 pm; Saturday & Sunday from noon-4:00. The Century of Batavia Business exhibit will be on display until July 17, so you still have a chance to see it. Beginning July 19, we plan to feature Batavia Doctors and early medical practices.

The museum is always in need of volunteers to act as docents, assist with research, or help with special events. If you love history and would like to become a part of our volunteer community, we would be happy to talk with you and provide training in your area of interest. The time commitment is only 2 hours per month and your efforts benefit the museum and the community greatly! For more information, please contact Chris Winter at 630-406-5274 or chrisw@bataviaparks.org.
 

 

From the President
Bob Peterson

These are exciting times for Batavia, the Historical Society, and the Depot Museum! We are planning a Museum expansion that will allow us to preserve so much more of Batavia’s history thus enabling children and adults to experience the past in preparation for the future. We have a new website you can use to renew your membership or donate to the expansion fund.

We need your help though…will each of you encourage one friend, who is not a member of the Historical Society, to become a member? We need to grow our membership and this is the easiest way to accomplish that goal. Most people who live in Batavia are interested in our town’s history….they will thank you.
 
New members this year:
Evelyn Braibi Sandra Moreland
Phil Bus Mona Nelson
Brad Buttner Joan Smith
Mark Foster Mark Stuttle
Nan Cobb Ruth Tousana
Jeanette Hirt