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Article updated: 12/15/2012 5:42 PM

Eagle Scout reflects on his 1939 award

By Dave Heun

The hoopla surrounding the day of an Eagle Scout honor fades over time, but not the award itself. Just ask Robert Buchanan, a former Batavia resident who earned his Eagle award in 1939 at Batavia Congregational Church.

Buchanan's Batavia Troop 3 at church was certainly among some of the first chartered in this area, and he eventually went on to military service in World War II, getting wounded but surviving the landing in Normandy.

All of this was not lost on today's Batavia Troop 43 of Batavia Congregational Church, which made a point to send a card to Buchanan where he lives in Redlands, Calif., in honor of the 73rd anniversary of his Eagle Scout award on Dec. 2.

The Boy Scout troop in Redlands honored Buchanan on his anniversary, when he proudly held his anniversary card from Batavia, while his granddaughter displayed the Batavia Troop 3 charter showing Buchanan's name.

The Redlands Daily Facts website reported Buchanan, a private first class rifleman in combat in France as a member of 329th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Division, told Redlands Scouts he was wounded during his unit's invasion on a day in which he found himself as one of "only three men out of 40 who were left."

He was left on the beach wounded for two days with shrapnel in his left leg before the Germans found him. Captured U.S. doctors provided medical help before U.S. soldiers freed him and transported him to England for 16 months of treatment, the website reported.

"I had camped as a Scout, so I knew how to care for myself as I lay there on the beach," Buchanan told the Scouts.

Batavia High School freshman Patrick McDonald, the troop historian and senior patrol leader of Troop 43, initiated the search for history about his troop. After some searching at the Depot Museum, McDonald discovered his church sponsored a Troop 3, and that troop somewhat disappeared as Troop 43 evolved.

In a twist, the Scout leaders in Redlands had contacted the Batavia troop around the same time, asking if they had any information on Buchanan and his troop.

The rest is history, with the local troop sending out its well wishes and Buchanan's amazing story again being told.

Linear park support: The idea to convert St. Charles' abandoned rail line into a linear park had picked up some steam even before reader Phil Kessler offered the idea a couple of weeks ago.

The city had previously given the idea some thought when contemplating what to do with the Union Pacific line that crosses the Fox River near Pottawatomie Park.

St. Charles Park District director Ray Ochromowicz responded to Kessler about interest in a linear park concept, which essentially converts an abandoned rail line into a walkway with plants, trees and benches.

He told Kessler a coalition of the park district, city, forest preserve district and county has been working for a couple of years in an attempt to acquire about 3.7 miles of the abandon Union Pacific Railway. While negotiations haven't resulted in a deal, those talks continue.

It's possible that giving the idea some airtime in this column will at least keep it in the forefront of some minds.

In fact, city administrator Brian Townsend confirmed all of those entities had entered an intergovernmental agreement approved in February 2011 to "work cooperatively to acquire and re-purpose the railroad for recreational and utility uses."

Townsend reminds me that in 2003, the city and park district "collaborated on the formation of a plan for development of bicycle and pedestrian facilities."

That plan calls for a future trail on the Union Pacific right of way, he said.

"At this time, the city is taking the lead on discussions with Union Pacific regarding the acquisition of the line," Townsend said. "I would characterize those discussions as cordial and regular."

Christmas Eve dining: A reader last week wanted some ideas for where to go for Christmas Eve dinner, and I asked readers to share their thoughts. And they responded.

Restaurants that readers mentioned as potential locations were Wildwood, Foxfire, Fiora's and Niche in Geneva, and St. Charles Place in St. Charles.

Our family has never dined out on Christmas Eve, though it sounds like a great idea. I would always check in with my favorites first, to see if they were serving that night. For me, that would be Francesca's in St. Charles.

A key landmark: Visitors who come to Geneva may leave remembering Third Street, the courthouse property, the Fabyan Forest Preserve windmill or any of a number of quality restaurants.

But one thing should catch their attention because it stands out as a piece of architecture that says this is a different place than most of your small downtowns.

It's the cupola with a weather vane atop the Strawflower Shop along State Street. It has always struck me as an icon that screams, "This is Geneva."

I'm sure area residents have their favorite sights in each of the Tri-Cities, but this is a simple one you can't overlook.

Plus, at this time of year a visit inside of Strawflower Shop is like a trip into an old-world Christmas wonderland.

For fruitcake lovers: In case you didn't know, or didn't care, December is National Fruit Cake Month. And, in a note worthy of Ripley's Believe it or Not, we do order a fruit cake every year in December -- and give it to my mother-in-law, who apparently is a lover of this much-maligned holiday creation.


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