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Society activities

2004 Ham and Bean Dinner

Dinner crowd

What was almost certainly a record crowd attended the 2004 Catlin Historical Society Ham and Bean Dinner.

Society volunteers were delighted by the streams of visitors who dined on bowls of ham and beans, chili and cornbread, barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, barbecue dogs, squares of homemade cake and drinks.

Conditions certainly were positive for a big day, Sunday, October 10, 2004.

 Weather was beautiful -- sun, blue skies.

 Fall color was dazzling.

 Catlin High School alums were in town.

 The Commercial-News in Danville had published a full-page story and pictures on the society and museum the previous day, including information about the dinner.

The society does not charge for the dinner, but accepts donations in a jar on the serving table. "We took in more than $1,000," said Sara Cast, society president and dinner general chairman. "Last year it was a little over $800."

Donations are particularly welcome this year with the society in the midst of an expensive project to move the 1830s Sandusky Log Cabin from the south part of Catlin to a new building on the museum grounds. (Story / pictures).

Dinner visitors could see evidence of that project -- a 28- by 48-foot foundation which had been poured just south of the annex building.

Buzz Ritchie

Buzz Ritchie had again stirred up kettles of tasty chili and ham and beans -- cooked all night over an open wood fire.

A special treat at this year's dinner was pieces of grilled cheese sandwiches made on one of Charles V. Champion Sr.'s "Tostwich" machine.

Champion invented the combination electric toaster and sandwich maker sometime before 1920. He applied for a patent in 1924 and it was granted in 1925. (history)

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Toasting sandwiches

The museum has several in its collection and one of them was rewired by society board member Neal Brogan and put into use at the dinner.

One of the exhibits on Neal and Cathy Brogan's table was the first piece of toast they made -- squashed flat by the weight of the grill head. The Brogans decided that bread in Champion's day must have been thicker and had a heavier texture.

School mementoes

Also on display at the dinner were many mementoes from Catlin High School, including yearbooks, athletic letters, outfits worn by cheerleaders and twirlers and a letter sweater.

High school alums were in town over the weekend to attend the annual homecoming activities, which included a Saturday night dinner, open house at the high school and the historical society's Ham and Bean Dinner.

Former teacher

Many had the delightful opportunity Sunday afternoon to greet a former teacher -- Mrs. Edna White, now 103 years young. Although her eyesight may be failing, she was quick to greet her former pupils with a firm handshake when they gave her their names.

John Hampton, a former Danville restaurant owner, organized the kitchen, made beverages and kept all the servers supplied.

Servers were Peggy Adkins, Terry Adkins, Ruth Martin, Rita Monyok, Sara Cast, John Cast, Patty Boyd, Bruce Boyd, Alma Moody, Lorene Sawyer, Ron Colwell, Sue Colwell, Wayne Scarlett, Sandy Scarlett, Butch Schmink and Marsha Schmink.

Cakes were provided by Rita Monyok, Esther Elmore, Betty Mayerick, Lela Mae DeNeal, Peggy Adkins, Dorothy Jones, Arlene Borbely and Kathleen Harby.

Corn bread muffins came from Sara Cast, Virginia Wallen, Diane Reddy, Freda Reynolds, Lorene Sawyer, Patty Boyd, Peggy Adkins, Darlene Megenhardt and Bertha Thomas.

More than 15 Cub Scouts from Catlin Pack 221 carried trays of food for diners, picked up empty dishes and cleaned tables. Cindy Varner is cubmaster and organized the effort.

A colorful green and white tent shaded those who wanted to get out of the sun. It was provided, put up and taken down by the Vermilion County Conservation District.

The Catlin Heritage Museum was open for tours. Guides included Betty Mayerik, John Mayerik, Esther Elmore, JoAnn Fleming, Don Fleming, Evelyn Darr, Dorothy Jones, Jim Jones, Virginia Wallen and Lela Mae DeNeal.

Catlin Historical Society
210 North Paris
Catlin, Illinois 61817