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. 

Mayor Hawley | Dick Batzing | Roberta Kappel

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 to learn more.  

Missy Rosenberry
Webster Community Blogger

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Checking out the history of the Webster Public Library 

Webster Public Library: The Webster Public Library, located in Webster Plaza, as it looks today. photo: Missy Rosenberry

The Webster Public Library has long been an invaluable community asset. So it’s hard to imagine there was a time when Webster had no library at all. 

According to Webster Through the Years by Esther Dunn (1971), the first Webster library was established in 1881 by a group called the Literary Society. Mary Jane Phillips kept the books in her home on Main St. in the village, just west of what is now the Cobblestone on Main restaurant. Society members, who paid $1.20 annual dues, were the only ones who could check out books.

Between 1881 and 1889, the library moved twice, first to a storefront on West Main Street, and then to 11 South Ave., in the building now occupied by B3 Beauty. 

Soon afterwards, community support for a town library waned. In 1894, the library was disbanded, and for almost the next 30 years, Webster had no library at all

Then, in 1923, the Monroe County Traveling Library was established. It traveled to 222 stops about every six weeks. In Webster, the principal stations were at Dewitt and Bay roads, Vosburg and Lake roads, Forest Lawn, Nine Mile Point, Union Hill, Hard and Ridge roads, West Webster, and all the schools.

Finally, in 1929 the first Webster public library was officially established at the new Webster High School (now Spry Middle School). It had 657 books, 265 borrowers and a circulation of 6,246. 

The library has moved several times since those early days, first to the Reitz Building on West Main, then to Webster Town Hall, and finally to its current location in Webster Plaza. It’s also grown – a lot. Today, the Webster Public Library has more than 260,000 items in its collection, 34,000 borrowers, and circulates about 334,000 items a year. 

Spry Middle School: The first Webster public library was established in the new high school (now Spry Middle School) in 1929.  photo: Missy Rosenberry

The Webster Museum, located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster, is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Visit the website at for more about Webster’s history. 

Missy Rosenberry
Webster Community Blogger

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Each drawer in the old card catalog at the Webster Museum holds a small historical surprise. (M. Rosenberry)

Do you remember library card catalogs?

Before the days of computers and electronic catalog records, these bulky wooden cabinets held individual cards for every book in the library’s collection. To find the book you wanted, you had to find the right drawer and flip through the cards. 

One of those classic card catalogs has been creatively repurposed at the Webster Museum, to the delight of visiting children and adults alike. It was donated to the museum several years ago by Spry Middle School, and has found a new life as a kind of surprise cabinet.  

Each of the cabinet’s 25 drawers now holds a different historical curiosity. They’re all very small items, of course, and run the gamut from jewelry and household objects to toys and personal grooming items. 

The cabinet has become a regular stop on school tours of the museum, and the children enjoy taking turns pulling open a drawer and examining the tiny objects inside. (Most adults are rather fascinated as well.) 

Next time you’re at the museum, discover for yourself how much history has been packed into those very small drawers.

The museum, located at 18 Lapham Park, is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Visit the website at for more historical tidbits about our town’s schools and teachers.

Missy Rosenberry
Webster Community Blogger

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The Rowdy Hallowe’en Celebration of 1939

NOW that Hallowe’en is over and the Hallowe’en celebration in Webster is in the background, one can take a retrospective view of the event and pass judgment upon it.

Several have called at the Herald office and declared that as a result of the rowdyism that took place on that evening, they would not lend further support to the Hallowe’en entertainment.

We feel that such supporters are taking a wrong view of the Hallowe’en entertainment. The entertainment was either a success or a failure regardless of what rowdyism took place. The question is whether the expense and work in connection with an entertainment which provided amusement for a large number of children as well as a good number of adults was justified. Did the fact so many did enjoy it prove it was worth while or did it prove otherwise? That is what the program must be judged by and not from any acts committed by some of Webster’s young men.

There are six churches in the Village of Webster and several in nearby sections. If the influence of these several churches was insufficiant to curb the rowdyism that our young men participated in on that night, is it not rather unreasonable to expect the evening’s entertainment to do just that. No, that aspect of the affair should not enter into the decision to commend or condemn the Hallowe’en celebration. It should be judged on merits other than that.

From page three of the November 17, 1939 edition of the Webster Herald.


Anyone who’s ever walked or driven down Corning Park in the Village of Webster probably hasn’t noticed anything unusual about the houses on that peaceful little street. However, two of those houses, which stand across the street from one another, do have a curious history: in the early 1900s, they used to be one house. 

Around 1859, a spacious boarding house was built at 71 Corning Park, to serve students from the adjacent Webster Academy. The Academy and boarding house were discontinued in 1876 when the Union Free School was established, and for the next 50 years, 71 Corning Park remained a two-family dwelling. In 1928 it was purchased by George Witmer and Amos Taylor, who divided it into two units. The larger portion remained at 71 Corning Park, and the smaller north wing was moved across the street to 76 Corning Park. 

Unfortunately, no photos of the original boarding house have ever been found, but the two, now separate residences, still exist on Corning Park. Additions and renovations have changed their appearance significantly from when they were one house in the early 1900s. But if you look carefully and use your imagination, maybe you can picture what they looked like together. 

Discover more interesting historical tidbits at the Webster Museum, 18 Lapham Park, open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Visit the website at to learn more. 

71 Corning Park, photo by Missy Rosenberry
76 Corning Park, photo by Missy Rosenberry

Missy Rosenberry
Webster Community Blogger

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One of Webster’s earliest schools, the District No. 7 school on Schlegel Rd., circa 1846.

In honor of the first week of school and our hard-working teachers, this month’s history bit takes us back to a time when school was held for all grades in one room heated by a wood stove, writing was done on slates, and the “drinking fountain” was a metal pail and cup. 

The first school recorded within the township of Webster was a log cabin at the corner of Salt and State roads in 1813. In those days the school year was typically divided into summer and winter terms. Usually a woman would teach girls and young children in the summer, and a man would teach the older boys in the winter after they were released from farm work. 

It was a tough job with some pretty strict rules – and not just with regards to classroom management.

Consider this list of Rules for Teachers from 1872:  

  1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys
  2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session
  3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils. 
  4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly. 
  5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books. 
  6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed. 
  7. Every teacher should lay aside from his pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society. 
  8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.
  9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of 25 cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves. 

See the list for yourself at the Webster Museum, where it’s posted just outside the museum’s classroom, which emulates how an actual one-room schoolhouse might have looked in the early 1900s.

The museum, located at 18 Lapham Park, is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Visit the website at for more historical tidbits about our town’s schools and teachers.

Missy Rosenberry
Webster Community Blogger

See my blog at:
Check out my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

I Want Candy

Whilst on the subject of candy…here are a couple videos by Rescue & Restore showing the restoration (re-imagining might be a better word) of several old candy machines.

An 1871 Candy Drop Roller

A Northwestern Model 60 Vending Machine

Hooked on Ribbon Candy

Webster was hooked on Steve Papapanu’s ribbon candy. His chocolate Easter eggs, homemade ice cream, and taffy were popular items too.

From 1908 until 1973, the Papapanu family ran the popular Candy Kitchen in the village of Webster, serving sandwiches, plates, sundaes, and a diverse selection of handmade chocolates and candies.

Steve Papapanu came to the United States from Greece when he was 12 years old, and began running the Candy Kitchen following his military service during World War I. His daughter, Mary grew up in the apartment above the Candy Kitchen and eventually took ownership of the business with her husband Chris Pantas.

Following a devastating fire that closed the Candy Kitchen, the family continued to make specialty candy products from their home and sold them through Utz’s Bakery until about 1979.

Another Greek family with a long history in the candy business continues to make ribbon candy by hand. The Andrianos family runs Hercules Candies in Syracuse, NY and has a number of popular videos online demonstrating how small batch candy is made.

Mary Pantas from a 2019 “History and a Cup”, sharing stories of her family and the family candy business. Mary talks about her dad’s ribbon candy around the 27 minute mark.

The crew at Hercules Candy of Syracuse, NY, making a batch of Chocolate Filled Ribbon Candy.

The copper kettle used by the Papapanu family to make a variety of candies. (On display at the Webster Museum.)
A taffy hook used in the preparation of ribbon candy. (On display at the Webster Museum.)

Hercules Candies of Syracuse, NY:

The Original Candy Kitchen of Williamson, NY:

Romance, 14580

Passion and romance. Words you wouldn’t be surprised to see together in a sentence. The passion I speak of though is the passion to write!

Despite the naysayers, the rejection letters, and the slim compensation, there are some amongst us that simply can’t imagine their lives without the creative outlet of pen to paper, or fingertip to key.

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s a group of successfully published authors met regularly at the Greece Public Library for mutual support and to share their latest chapters. Two of the group’s authors, Audrey Pike Johnson and Virginia Kester Smiley, were both Webster residents. Virginia lived on Webster Road not far from Mill Creek Run. She was an avid collector with many hobbies, who had close to 30 of her works published. Audrey was a widow who lived on Fuller Avenue in the village and had at least 6 published books. Both were passionate writers most of their lives, but it was as grandmothers they found their greatest professional success.

While their passion for writing drove them, the subjects they wrote about were driven more by pragmatism. Authors may dream of writing the “Great American Novel”, but practicality often leads them to more accessible markets like “genre” romance novels. Gothic romance and nurse romance were both popular genres at the time.

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we currently have a selection of books written by Webster women on display at the museum. When not on display, they can be found on the shelves of the museum library.

Virginia Kester Smiley: Good Reads
Audrey Pike Johnson: Good Reads


Just how did a 19th century French suitcase come to represent a unique category of words?

See our new page on portmanteaus!