THE BATAVIA HISTORIAN
“I think for any American who had the great and priceless privilege of being raised in a small town, there remains
always with him nostalgic memories….And the older he grows the more he senses what he owed to the simple
honesty, the neighborliness, the integrity that he saw all around him.” Dwight Eisenhower, 1954
Today’s fun makes tomorrow’s memories!
Yesterday’s memories are today’s history
The four young ladies in the picture (Reagan Payne, Cecilia Garcia, Colleen Calhoun, and Kristen Hall) are all smiles after touring the Depot Museum and learning more about Batavia. Their favorite exhibit was “the ticket-master” and they had to have their picture taken with him. These four friends spent their elementary school years at Louise White where they completed 5th grade last May and are now in middle school.
They all think Batavia is a great place to live…. there is so much for kids to do here. The Quarry is the greatest place to swim in the summer. Swimming in the deep end and jumping off the diving boards is so much fun. They have all passed their deep-water tests but Colleen has done so much more than just pass the test. Since she gets bored during “rest” time, she retakes the deep-water test so she can swim. Needless to say, she has a huge collection of deep water passes! Right now they are too young to get into the quarry without an adult, so they are looking forward to next summer when they will be old enough to walk down there and swim. Their mothers are all looking forward to that too!!
The River Walk and the Pond hold good memories for all of them. Last summer when Pokémon Go was all the rage, Collen and Kristen would walk down so they could find and collect all the Pokémon’s that were hanging out at the river. This summer, their time at the river was spent “watching” nature and wishing they could go out in a paddle boat. No one wants to get on a paddle board though. Of course, for kids, the highlight of the summer is the Windmill Festival. Cecily and Kristen had a bouncing good time with the bungee cord jumping (even if it did hurt their legs). They really miss the carnival rides though and hope they bring them back next summer. Last, but not least, is the food…funnel cake and snow cones…not particularly healthy but oh so good!
Walking is the way the girls get to where they want to go. Once Colleen and Kristen walked the west side path and ended up at Fabyan’s without realizing they had gone so far. How did that happen? They were talking too much and not paying attention to where they were going!
Where do these girls walk besides the River Walk and Fabyan’s? Why they walk to the 7-11 store for slurpees and candy, the Creamery for ice-cream, Limestone Coffee for lemonade, Walgreens just to look around, and then up the hill to the library. One their way back home they might stop in at Fawn Gifts to pet the owner’s dog who
is so cute, look to see if Mr. Piggly is out (they have only seen him while riding in a car though), and then on to
River Street. The Tea Tree has honey sticks…..they walk back and forth on the Peace Bridge while they enjoy
this sweet treat.
One of Reagan’s and Kristen’s favorite things to do is walk over the Peace Bridge and up the path to the dam. There they sit and talk and watch the water flow over the flat limestone rocks. At the gazebo, they watch the ducks.
One of the few places they cannot walk to is the 4th of July fireworks display. Another event they love. The music, the fireworks, and of course the food! The girls meet up there (thanks to cell phones) and enjoy spending time with their families and friends.
While none of the girls have gone to the River Rhapsody Concerts; Colleen, Cecilia, and Kristen took part in the Encore Music Program this summer. Both the band and the orchestra had a concert at the Peg Bond Center.
The one thing all four girls agree on is that they “loved, loved, loved” Louise White School….the teachers, the principal, their friends, and the traditions that bind them all together. An especially meaningful tradition occurs each year on the first day of school. All the students come outside and sit with their class. Then the principal tells them the story about Ms. Louise White and the school(s)
named after her. To make this even more special, each student in the school gets up and rings the bell that came from the tower in the original school.
This year when Kristen rang the bell, she was the last of 4 generations of Hall’s to attend Louise White School. Besides the bell, the school is fortunate to have the cement school name from the building on Washington Avenue. They are now part of the bench that curves around the outdoor learning center. History and traditions are shared by the students, teachers, and all the parents who gather each year to witness the ringing of the bell.
Generation to generation, we share the stories of our everyday life,
special events, and celebrations so that future generations will know us.
Recently John Dillon, his wife Marcie, and his mother Rosemarie shared their thoughts and memories. John moved to Batavia when he was three and grew up on South Van Buren Street on the city’s east side. As a child, his friends were the neighborhood children. Days were spent playing baseball, climbing trees, swinging, and riding bikes. He received his first bike when he was in second grade and it opened a whole new world for him to explore. Exploring did not mean you went north of Wilson Street though, because if you did, you might find yourself being chased back to the south side by the Anderson boys! Out of his own neighborhood friendships did not occur until middle school.
In 7th grade John got a 10-speed bike and rode all over town. It was safer for kids to do that then because there was not as much traffic and the cars were careful about children on bikes. Rosemarie was surprised (maybe shocked is a better word), when John related how in
junior high they rode their bikes over to Deerpath Road and then down to Westgate Mall in Aurora to go to the movies!
Rosemarie was from a large Italian family who lived east of Batavia nearer to Chicago. He remembers large family dinners (especially at the holidays) when there were lots and lots of people and lots and lots of good Italian food! They were a close-knit family and John recalls sitting around the table and listening to the family share stories about their lives. The family was always asking questions about Batavia and John’s father (who had a degree in history) told them all about how Batavia was founded and the people who lived here.
When asked about how he became so interested in Batavia’s history, Rosemarie replied that she believed it really began when John went to work for the City of Batavia in the water department. He had to go down into basements of old buildings and check the pipes. This led him to wonder how long the pipes had been there. Marcie, who moved to Batavia when she was 16, said John is always watching shows on the history channel.
John discovered he loved old architecture when he and his dad rehabbed a house and found old newspapers used as insulation stuffed in the walls. While they didn’t find anything significant, reading old Aurora Beacon newspapers was interesting. After John and Marcie were married, they purchased a home on the corner of Blaine and Jefferson that was built in 1899 and set to work rehabbing it. They were only the second owners of the home and this made them even more aware of their responsibility to keep the historic nature intact. The only changes they made were ones to meet code requirements. For instance, the old push button light switches had to be replaced! Otherwise, they restored rather than replaced.
Back to John’s work with the water department. Charlie Chemes had a little black book that had the location of all the water pipes and valves in the city. This book was filled with handwritten notes by Louis A. Perry who worked for the city from 1904 until he retired in 1948. John was fascinated by the fact that he could find any water valve he needed in this little black book. The men working in the water department were from the WWII generation, knew the history of Batavia, and were constantly telling stories. One man, D. Miller, who cut grass at the cemetery and delivered coal, told stories about the “partying”. They were not a “pc” generation and told it like it was back then. Marcie says John has “old soul” friends who like to hang around old people and listen to their stories (think early morning coffee at McDonalds!).
It was his work at the water department that led to a 4-year project for John. He has written a book titled: Building the Water Works and Sewer Systems. It covers the years 1893 to 1903 in Batavia. The Depot Museum was extremely helpful in John’s research. They have digitized Tracy Holbrook’s collection of over 500 glass negatives. These were pictures of all the city officials, businessmen, and workers. Now John could put pictures with the faces to the story he was
telling. Since the book was written before John retired, Marcie didn’t see a lot of him during
those 4 years. She and John think of Batavia as Bedford Falls (It’s a Wonderful Life) where people
may leave but they come back here to live, but they sometimes wonder if it also resembles
Mayberry! John has already begun work on the next volume, the story from 1904 to 1914.
There will be two more books before his collection is complete.
John does not want Bob Popeck’s windmill dream to be in vain (or vane!) so he has taken up
the gauntlet where Bob Popeck left off. He is now responsible for the maintenance of all the
windmills you see in downtown Batavia. These windmills are an important symbol of the history
of Batavia and a focal point in the community so this is a labor of love. He and Marcie have taken
road trips to satisfy a new interest…. water towers. As you can tell, they do not sit still for very
John and Marcie began volunteering so they could give
back to the community as gratitude for their education and
employment. They are active in Batavia United Way and the
RSVP program. Rosemarie gave a gift of membership in the
Batavia Historical Society to her children. While John and
Marcie enjoyed the meetings and the social events, it wasn’t until John gave a talk about his book that he became an active
volunteer for the Museum. Now on Friday afternoons, your
will find John downstairs in the Research Center. Rosemarie
John, and Marcie all agree that it is a challenge to find a way
to involve the younger generation so they will come to love
Batavia and its history. They have thought about this a lot and
believe it will take a collaborative effort on the part of the city,
the schools, the park district, and other organizations. But it
will need to begin with the parents…..just like it did for John.
Boo-Boo Days, 1960, remembered by Alice Morfee Pitts, Class of 1957
“Gladys Morfee you are the grand bonus prize winner of a weekend trip to New York City for two!” That is what I remember most about Boo-Boo Days and my Mom winning that trip. I do remember my mom shopping in Batavia stores during the week for all the bargains and then putting the Boo-Boo stubs with her name on them in the boxes for the Friday night drawing. Every Friday evening, she would walk downtown to hear who had won that week. She was a “lucky winner” a couple of times on those Friday nights. After each week’s drawing, the winning entries went into a separate box for the grand prize drawing.
My Dad was unable to go on the winning trip, so guess who she asked? Without hesitating, I said “yes, I would love to go with you.” I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me; I was going to New York City!!
We both were so excited when the day came to fly there, but what did we know about the big city of New York. We felt like two little ole fish out of water as we boarded the plane. I can’t remember the name of the hotel where we stayed, but I know it was right in the
middle of the city. We were treated to a play and had a delicious dinner and dinner show at the Latin Quarter.
Of course, we did a little shopping too! Mom received a check in the amount of $75.00 for incidental expenses and other meals which were not included in the trip. I laugh thinking about how far $75.00 would go today in New York City…. possibly a couple of Uber rides!!! But in December 1960, it went pretty far. I am pretty sure my Mom never got to New York City again in her lifetime, so that trip meant a lot to her and was long remembered. Ironically, as I write this, I am taking another trip to New York with three “old” school friends. We are going to visit the 911 Memorial and museum and other attractions. We are looking forward to this trip and then to celebrating our 60th class reunion in September. Just another memory of my days when I lived in and loved the town of Batavia, Illinois.
CHIVALRY IS NOT DEAD in Batavia. In July at the recent museum volunteer party at Peg Bond Center, Sydney Pohlman (greatgranddaughter of Georgene O’Dwyer) expressed a wish to go on a paddle boat ride. Sadly,
Georgene had to tell her that she would be unable to take her. But along came a Knight in shining armor,
Sir Mike Hill, to fulfill her wishes!! Bon voyage, you two!
HAVE YOU HEARD THE CHIMES FROM THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH? They ring at noon and 6:00 pm. Listen for them; their sound is beautiful. The beginning of another Batavia tradition!!!
HOW MANY REMEMBER THIS? The Bethany Lutheran Church rang their bells whenever one of their parishioners passed away. Sad but beautiful.
Share your memories and others will smile with you!
I am looking for stories about Christmas in Batavia for the December newsletter. Family stories with a picture are really appreciated. Mail them to Batavia Historian, POB 14, Batavia, IL 60510; drop them off at the museum front desk; or email them to: email@example.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!!!!
IT’S NOT TOO EARLY TO THINK ABOUT CHRISTMAS
SAVE THE DATE: DECEMBER 3RD, 5:00 PM AT THE BETHANY LUTHERAN CHURCH. This is the date, time, and place for the Batavia Historical Society Annual Christmas Party. Swedish meatballs are on the menu (it wouldn’t be Christmas without them!). Bring your own silver and a dish to pass. Christmas songs will fill the air.
Hey, Leader! Batavia High School’s Band Is 90 Years Old
George H. Scheetz
Director, Batavia Public Library
Strike Up the Band! 90 Years of Historical Highlights
In October 1927, Batavia Unified School District 101 (created in April 1911) was only 16½ years old. Howard C.
Storm was superintendent of schools and John B. Nelson was Batavia High School principal. The Little Seven
Conference was just six years old and only recognized three boys’ sports (football, basketball, and track & field)
and no girls’ sports; Archie McKinney was coach.
Batavia had the winning record in its burgeoning football rivalry with Geneva (8 wins, 3 losses, and 1 tie), which
was just 15 years old. (The rivalry actually started in 1913; the teams did not play in 1914– 1915 and 1918.)
Batavia had school colors—Crimson and Gold—but did not have a nickname—yet.
For a brief, ironic time, Batavia was known as the Vikings (about 1932–1942), then became the Bulldogs (1945).
And, in October 1927, the first Batavia High School band was organized. This school year (2017–2018) marks
the 90th anniversary of the band, which, in the beginning, was a single unit that gave recitals, participated in
contests, marched in parades, performed concerts, and played at athletic events.
In October 1927, the Batavia Herald reported that a band was added to Batavia High School, “the first band in
the history of the school.” Paul C. Shelly, “student at North Central college, Naperville, who has had two years
of teaching experience and who has organized other student bands, has been engaged as leader. He will visit
Batavia two half days a week to give instruction.”
The Batavia Herald reported that the band appeared in the annual Memorial Day parade on 31 May 1928, so the
band became a marching band during its inaugural year (1927–1928). It is possible, though not proven, that the
band’s appearance in the Memorial Day parade marked its marching debut. Based on references in the Batavia
Herald, the band evidently participated every year thereafter in the Memorial Day parade, which, at one time,
was a major annual community event in Batavia.
In May 1929, the band was praised by the Batavia Herald, which reported, “The High School band, which has
developed into a splendid musical organization during the past year, will lead the school children in the parade.”
(By the way, there was also a Batavia City Band in the 1929 parade.) Athletics and the Band
The high school band was recognized in The Batavia Spectator (Senior Issue, 1929), which suggests, if the
comment was not tongue-in-cheek, that the band and the orchestra performed at “athletic meets” (a common
reference to track & field) during the school year just ended (1928–1929):—
The band is another new feature which came into the high school in the fall of 1927. It takes the band and the
orchestra to win the athletic meets.
In October 1929, the first reference to the band playing—probably not marching—at football games appeared
in The Batavia Spectator. According to the reporter, the new band director, Paul W. Schulze, “thought we ought
to play at all the home football games and the results are we have played at the two past games and will play at
the two coming games.”
In other news, Robert W. “Bob” Stuttle—later Batavia High School principal—was elected Manager of the band,
Raymond “Gillie” Carlstedt was elected Librarian, and “Bill” Rachielles was elected Secretary.
In January 1930, The Batavia Spectator reported that the band’s first appearance in new uniforms occurred at its winter
concert. “The purpose of this concert [was] to raise enough money to pay off the debt on the uniforms.” Further:—The band will number forty-three. The beginner’s band will also play a few pieces. Mr. Schulze, a student at Northwestern, will lead both bands.
Paul W. Schulze (1909–1973) was the band’s third director, 1929–1931. He earned his B.Mus.Ed. (1931) from
Northwestern University and went on to a lively, varied career.
Schulze was a professional singer in the early days of radio; worked in the production department of NBC Radio in
Chicago; served as teacher, principal, and superintendent at various schools in Illinois and Michigan; was production
director for the Miss Michigan Pageant (1951–1965); and was director of the Muskegon (Michigan) Civic Opera
On Friday, 10 April 1931, the band—described in The Batavia Spectator as the pride of Batavia High School— appeared in its first contest, the annual band contest in St. Charles. Lois Woodard, a member of the band, reported, “Though we didn’t place, you can wager that the next time we’ll bring home the bacon, for practice makes perfect. Better luck next time!”
Knee-Stepping to the Present Day
Over the years, the band has changed from a single unit that handled all the activities to several distinct units that meet during (Curricular) and outside (Co-Curricular) the school day:— Curricular Bands (generally concert bands):—
• Wind Symphony
In January 2018, the Wind Symphony will perform at the Illinois Music Educators’ Conference for the first time in school history.
• Wind Ensemble
This unit is the likely successor to the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, which was organized during the 1971– 1972 school year under the direction of Lawrence Woodruff, student teacher.
• Concert Band & Percussion I
• Symphonic Band & Percussion II
Co-Curricular Bands (generally marching and jazz bands):—
• Marching Band, which includes the Drum Line and the Color Guard (formerly the Flag Corps), is now a competitive, voluntary unit
Marching Band made the transition from a mandatory unit, in which all members of the band program were required to participate, to a voluntary, competitive band in 2009 under the direction of Ben Collins.
Before then, the Marching Band participated in competitions, but at a different level; the current,
voluntary Marching Band has a more rigorous competition schedule. There are two types of marching
band competitions; that is, parade competitions and show (or field) competitions.
Drum Line is a facet of the Marching Band that performs at football games and frequently performs at
pep assemblies and school assemblies.
Marching Band performed in Hawai‘i (Thanksgiving 2016) in remembrance of the 75th anniversary of the
attack on Pearl Harbor, during which Francis S. Alberovsky, of Batavia, was one of the first U.S. casualties
of World War II.
Alberovsky, a graduate of Batavia High School, class of 1934—and a member of the Hall of
Honor, class of 2017—was serving as a Boilermaker First Class (with the rank of Petty Officer First Class)
aboard the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawai‘i, and was killed in the surprise attack on
Sunday, 7 December 1941.
• Jazz Ensemble (highest level)This unit is the successor to the Jazz Band, which was organized during the 1969–1970 school year under the direction of David Mamminga.
• Jazz Workshop (second level), the beginning / intermediate jazz band
• Pep Band, which provides entertainment and school spirit at boys’ and girls’ basketball games
• Show Choir Combo, a stand-alone unit that only performs with the Show Choirs, the members of which may come from any band program
A likely predecessor to the Show Choir Combo was the Stage Band, which made its debut at the
intermission of the choir show during the 1968–1969 school year under the direction of Neal Bartee,
This year (April 2017) marked another milestone, the 50th anniversary of the first All-City Band Concert—and
51st annual concert—where students in grades 5–12 come together annually to play a wide range of music for
their families, friends, and community members.
The inaugural All-City Band Concert was organized in 1967 by Elwood J. Willey and Michael W. Stiers, then music
director at Batavia Junior High School, and included students in grades 6–12. Congratulations to Batavia High
School’s award-winning bands for 90 years of making great music!
Hey, Leader! 90 Years of Band Directors
School Year Leader / Director
1927–1928 Paul C. Shelly
1928–1929 H. A. Harley
1929–1931 Paul William Schulze
1931–1932 Paul S. Connell
1932–1935 C. Eldon Harris
1935–1947 Paul W. Peebles
1947–1948 Louis Philippe
1948–1953 Paul W. Peebles
1953–1954 Harry Hicklin
1954–1955 Paul W. Peebles
1955–1979 Elwood J. Willey
1979–1980 Miss Sandy Thompson
1980–1981 Michael W. Stiers
1981–1987 James A. “Jim” Stombres
1987–1988 Alan Freeman
1988–1990 Kevin D. Jensen
1990–2012 John R. Heath
2012— Chris Owen
2012–2014 Anna Mudroch (formerly Teliszczak)
2014— Brian VanKley
School Year Assistant Director
1999–2008 David Lesniak
2008–2012 Ben Collins
It is my honor to acknowledge the help and support of the following people (in alphabetical order), who enthusiastically shared their knowledge of the Band’s rich history: John R. Heath, Chris Owen, David P. Peebles, and Michael W. Stiers. Thank you, one and all.
“Batavia High School to Have Student Band: Director Schelley [sic] Secured from Naperville College to Conduct Group.” Batavia Herald, 27 October 1927, p. 1 Batavia Herald, Thursday, 24 May 1928, p. 1
Batavia Herald, Friday, 24 May 1929, p. 1
“Class History.” The Batavia Spectator, Senior Issue, 1929, p. 10, col. 3
“Band Has Find Prospects.” The Batavia Spectator, 18 October 1929, p. 1
“The Batavia High School Band Concert.” The Batavia Spectator, 24 January 1930, pp. 1, 3
Woodard, Lois. “Our Batavia High School Band.” The Batavia Spectator, Friday, 27 March 1931, p. 1
———. “The Band.” The Batavia Spectator, Friday, 15 May 1931
The Batavia Spectator, Senior Issue, 1931, p. 11
King, Sammi. “Meet the award-winning Batavia High School marching band.” Daily Herald, 13
October 2011 (http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20111013/news/710139846/)
———. “All-City Band Concert marks 50 years of school music in Batavia.” Daily Herald, 21 March
“Batavia schools to celebrate 50th [sic] All-City Band Concert,” Kane County Chronicle, 29 March 2017
amx4szs/) — Note: The concert in 2017 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first concert in 1967; however,
it actually was the 51st annual concert.
The earliest known photograph of the band, about 1930–1931;
note the capes and peaked caps / The Batavia Spectator,
Senior Issue, 1931, p. 11
BATAVIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY FALL QUARTERLY MEETING
2:00 pm – SEPTEMBER 24TH -- BATAVIA CITY HALL COUNCIL CHAMBERS
Valerie Higgins, archivist at Fermi Lab, will present a program celebrating the Lab’s 50th anniversary. She will share the history of the lab, tell us about the former residents of the land, and reveal how their lives were affected when Fermi Lab was built 50 years ago.
Prior to Ms. Higgins presentation, we will have a business meeting of the Batavia Historical Society with an election to fill the positions of those officers whose terms are expiring. The Nominating Committee contacted each of these officers who all agreed to have their names submitted for re-election:
President Robert Peterson
Secretary Donna Womack
Treasurer Ralph Fisher
Director Glenn Miner
Director Eldon Frydendall
Director Ron Link
Director Dan Hoefler
Nominations from the floor will be accepted prior to voting by the members present. Anyone whose name is placed in nomination at that time must have given prior permission and be a member in good-standing as shown by being current in paid annual dues. The President appointed the following persons to the Nominating Committee: Chairman-Georgene O’Dwyer, Jim Anderson, Norm Freedlund, Doris Sherer, and Linda Stephano.
IN CASE YOU WEREN’T AT OUR SUMMBER PROGRAM IN JUNE……Donna Womack wants you to
know what you missed!
On July 11, prior to Batavia’s Flag Day celebration held near the Peg Bond Center, Mark Harrington presented a program to the members of the Batavia Historical Society at the Batavia Library on the history of the American Flag from its inception to the flag that is displayed today. Mark stated his love of the flag and its history has led him to move for the reinstatement of the Pledge of Allegiance at schools. He also traveled to an airport to welcome home a former student, who lost his life serving his country.
Mark displayed, for all in attendance to see, each flag as it came into being, signifying the increase of states as they joined the Union. He went on to point out that the early flags of our country were hand sewn and that the white stripes on our flags symbolize our separation from England. The new design featured thirteen white stars in a circle on a field of blue and thirteen red and white stripes – one for each state. The number of stars increased as the new states entered the Union.
Mark went on to tell us that Dr. Bernard Cigrand, the individual credited as the founder of Flag Day, and a citizen of Batavia, pushed for the honoring of our flag on June 14 of each year. However, it did not officially become National Flag Day until President Truman signed the legislation and proclaimed it as an act of Congress on August 3, 1949. During and following his presentation, Mark continued to draw ticket numbers of those in attendance allowing them to come forward and choose a flag of their choice to take home.
From the Museum Curator – Chris Winter
From the President –Bob Peterson
The Depot Museum Expansion Committee, under the leadership of Dan Hoefler, is hard at work
attending many downtown activities promoting the depot expansion project. A letter was sent
to the members of the Batavia Historical Society presenting an opportunity to contribute to the
project. Thanks for considering a contribution.
We are happy to report that Glenn Miner, former editor of The Batavia Historian and fellow board member is
doing well in his battle with cancer. Our prayers and thoughts are with Glenn.
Since August 1st. we have added the following new members to the Batavia Historical Society.
John Dryden Memberships Given as Gifts
Mike Martin Greg & Jill Hall Phil & Laura Martin
Jack Bowron Catherine Hall Steve Hall
Douglas Saam Kendall Hall James Hall
Jamie Saam Kristen Hall
Tucker Saam Jeff Hall
Debbie Pharr Pam Hall
We need your help in growing our membership. Find one person who is not a member and ask them to join; give
a junior membership to your younger grandchildren; give an annual membership to members of your family; and
finally, if you work in Batavia, ask your employer to become a member. Be Batavia proud!