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updated: 10/28/2010 10:06 PM

Batavia Historical Society to hold sock hop

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  • Batavia High School football players ride in a Pontiac convertible in the 1959 homecoming parade.

    Batavia High School football players ride in a Pontiac convertible in the 1959 homecoming parade.
    Courtesy Batavia Historical Society

  • A member of the Batavia High School class of 1959 tackles the Hula-Hoop.

    A member of the Batavia High School class of 1959 tackles the Hula-Hoop.
    Courtesy Batavia Historical Society


It was a time of bobby socks, pearl necklaces and poodle skirts that twirled with every spin on the dance floor.

It was a decade when kids could travel the town and be safe, only to be beckoned home by a familiar yell. It was the 1950s and it was all about hula hoops, Elvis and "I love Lucy" TV shows.

For the 50th anniversary of the Batavia Historical Society, the society will be throwing a 1950s dance-free sock hop, "Nifty at Fifty," Saturday, Oct. 30, at the old McWayne School gym in what is now known as the Bethany Ministry Center at 326 W. Wilson St. The celebration is open to the public.

"We wanted to do something fun for our 50th anniversary and decided on a 1950s sock hop because so many of our members were in high school in the '50s," said Chris Winter, curator at the Depot Museum.

"We made it a dance-free sock hop because we don't want anyone to feel pressured to get up and dance. If they do, that's fine too."

You don't need to be from a class that graduated in the '50s to have fun at this event. There will be food at 1950s prices, live entertainment, trivia contests, a hula hoop contest and prizes for the best poodle skirt and the best Elvis impersonator.

"We're really excited to be auctioning off a pair of dolls that were owned by our late historian, Marilyn Robinson," said Carla Hill, director of the Depot Museum.

"Marilyn collected dolls and these are a pair of dolls depicting the '50s. The girl is dressed in a poodle skirt with bobby socks and the boy is in a leather jacket."

Enter from the back parking lot off Lincoln Street so you can see the display of 1950s cars, from the sharp lines of a duotone 1957 Chevy Bel Air to the sporty Ford Fairlane. Cars in the '50s went through some dramatic changes, from the first one-piece windshield installed on a Cadillac in 1950 to shiny chrome adorning every model thereafter.

Diners Club started business in 1950, but you won't need a credit card to enjoy the food at the "Nifty at Fifty" party. There will be hot dogs just like the kind Dog and Suds offered, along with root beer floats similar to those offered at Ritchie's. Chips and soda round out the menu, along with cookies that won the Pillsbury bake-off contests in the '50s.

"Of course we'll include the recipes," Winter said.

One can imagine eating Red Dot Potato Chips at Johnson's Drugstore and washing it all down with a Green River soda.

The BHS class of 1955 has a movie of life in the '50s and that will be shown periodically throughout the event.

Trivia contests will be held between 2 and 3 p.m., along with hula hoop contests with 1950s music being played by disc jockey Tony Winter.

At 3 p.m., Gregor King and John Ivan will perform their favorite songs from the era. Tunes like "Cry me A River," "Unchained Melody" and "Good Night Sweetheart" will join songs by Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Johnny Mathis for an hour of music that has withstood the test of time.

The duo is currently entertaining at Oakbrook restaurants and this will be an opportunity for locals to hear them. Ivan has toured internationally with the group Memphis Big City Guitars and has opened for a number of big acts including Johnny Cash.

From 4 to 5 p.m., prizes will be awarded for best '50s costumes, and the silent auction winner will be announced.

"It will be a fun afternoon with great entertainment," Winter aid.

"We're encouraging BHS grads to come and connect with friends from their classes and other classes, but really, this is open to the entire community and is planned for family fun."

The party marks the 50th anniversary of the Batavia Historical Society which was organized in 1960. The society provides volunteer staffing at the Batavia Depot Museum, quarterly historical programming and publishes the Batavia Historian newsletter.