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Baby Boomers' memories of Batavia

By Anne Marie Starowitz
Richmond Memorial Library

I use the Richmond Memorial Library daily, tutoring different students. I told one student about Mary Richmond and how she was responsible for financing this beautiful building in memory of her son Dean Richmond Jr.   

Baby boomers grew up walking or driving by the Dean Richmond mansion as part of our daily scenery. Yet, all I seem to notice now is what is gone—most of all, our Main Street. 

Richmond Mansion

I can't forget cruising down Main Street in the 60s. You would drive from the Big N, Eastown Plaza, to the Red Barn or the old Tops Market, now Harbor Freight. Back then, most cars had bench seats, and if you were with your boyfriend, you sat in the center, showing you had a boyfriend, or if you had bucket seats, you would sit on a pillow on the console. In my early teens, the memories were always from spending time outdoors. It was from swimming in the New Pool or, if you were adventurous, the Sandwash, now known as DeWiitt Park, dancing on the tarmac of the tennis courts at MacArthur and Kibbe Park, or winter skating on the frozen tennis courts.

One of my favorite memories was watching St. Joseph's Drum Corps marching down Main Street or watching one of their competitions at Woodward Field. Of course, it also helped if you had a crush on a corps member. Then, on a quiet evening, you could hear them practicing at the Sylvania parking lot.   

st. joe's
st. joe's

Everyone knew who you were, so if you decided to do something you didn't want your parents to see, you soon realized they knew it by the time you got home. We walked to any place we wanted to go. When we were young, we belonged to the neighborhood park and participated in the annual summer craft fair parade. 

You could drink when you were 18, so you would try to get a drink when you were 17. I only know that because my brother took me to our favorite bar on Ellicott Street, Louie's.  

We had house parties. My 18th  birthday was very memorable; my class and the faculty of Notre Dame were invited. Thanks, Mom and Dad! 

Our favorite places to stop after school or on a Saturday afternoon were   Critics and Kustus soda fountains. You would sit at a booth in Critics, drinking your cherry Coke, eating French fries, and putting quarters in a personal jukebox. Then, on a Friday night, you would all meet at Pontillo's for a pizza and hang out with your friends.


The churches were packed for Sunday Mass or Sunday services. Everyone seemed to belong to a church. In the Catholic Church, females had to wear a hat at Mass, and if you didn't have a hat, you used a bobby pin and clipped a tissue to the top of your head. Stores were closed on Sunday. I found not eating pepperoni on our pizza challenging on a Friday night. No meat was allowed on any Fridays.

Our high school dances at Notre Dame ended with a prayer at 11 p.m. with the lights on in the gymnasium. At 11, my dad was waiting outside to take me home. I made sure the eye makeup was off before he saw me

I recently turned 73, and I find solace in remembering old Batavia and the fun we had that did not connect us to a cell phone. 

I don't think I will ever stop remembering my good old days. They just make me smile and make me grateful I grew up in a time with a large family, a station wagon, going under a bridge and blaring the car horn, or punching your brother when you see a Punch Bug Volkswagen Beetles,  and visiting the popcorn and peanut man at his stand on Main Street only to name a few.

As I type this, I sit in the former Ebling Electric store, now The Coffee Press.

This business owner knew the value of saving our old buildings and creating a new place for friends to gather and create their memories.

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