Meet “Nipper,” the Webster Museum mascot
Just steps inside the front door of the Webster Museum sits one of the museum’s most faithful greeters, a life-sized white dog made from papier-mache. His head cocked slightly to one side, he seems to be patiently and carefully listening for when the front door opens and he can welcome the museum’s next visitor.
His name is “Nipper,” and if you’re of a certain age, you’ll recognize him as the mascot of RCA Victor, one of the most famous trademarks of the 20th century.
Nipper has been part of the museum’s collection – and presumably welcoming museum patrons – for almost 40 years. But he had some interesting travels before then.
When exactly Nipper came to Webster has been lost to history but it’s believed that around the late 40s and early 50s, he was a feature on East Main St. in the village, where he sat in the front window of Mayor Roy Hawley’s hardware store, watching the world go by. After many years he was removed from the shop and relegated to Mayor Hawley’s garage.
Sometime after the death of the Mayor, his widow gave Nipper to her neighbor Dick Batzing, who at the time was a teacher at Bay Rd. Elementary School, and Town Historian. For a few years, Nipper resided in the school’s music room. When the room had to be converted to classroom use, Nipper was moved into a hallway, where he became a beloved landmark, helping students locate their rooms and receiving regular pats on the head as classes passed.
Nipper did have a very scary experience during his school days, however. In September 1974, vandals broke into the school and chopped him to pieces. Fortunately, a generous benefactor came to his aid several weeks later. Roberta Kappel, an art teacher and mother of a former Bay Rd. student, successfully reconstructed Nipper, and he was returned to the school, to the delight of students and staff members alike.
When Bay Rd. Elementary closed in 1983, Batzing brought Nipper to the Webster Museum, where he continues to delight visitors, both young and old.
Meet Nipper yourself at the Webster Museum, 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster. It’s open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Visit the website at webstermuseum.org to learn more.
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