Wisconsin Women during World War II Oral History Project Interviews, 1992-1994

Container Title
Box/Folder   1/4
Audio   1255A/33-34
Batikis, Annastasia, 1992 May 1, Racine, Wisconsin
Alternate Format: Recorded interview and transcript available online.

Biography/History: Annastasia Batikis was born in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, on May 15, 1927. She was the third and last child in her family, following two older brothers. Her parents, who were Greek emigrants from Constantinople, spoke little English and created a home for their children that employed Greek customs. When Ms. Batikis was two, the family moved to Racine, Wisconsin, where she has lived since that time. When World War II began, Ms. Batikis was still a student at Park High School in Racine. Throughout her childhood, she was an active participant in sporting endeavors, playing both basketball and softball. As a softball player, she was one of few girls who was permitted to play on the boys' team. Though she was on schedule to graduate in spring of 1945, she postponed her graduation when she tried out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, in which she was assigned to the Racine Belles. She played for one season in 1945. She completed high school and in 1948 she attended La Crosse State Teachers College, receiving her teaching certificate and a B.S. in 1952, and an M.S. in 1960. She taught in Manitowoc from 1952-54 and has been a teacher in the Racine public schools since 1954. She retired in 1985. She continues to live in Racine with her older brother, John.
Scope and Content Note: Ms. Batikis touches on many issues of importance to women during World War II. Most intriguing, naturally, is her discussion of her time in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. As someone who joined the league in 1945, she got into women's baseball at the peak of its popularity, prior to the return of male baseball players from the war. She discusses the training that the players had, both in terms of improving their baseball and the attempt to make them appear more attractive and feminine. For example, they were taught the proper way to walk and to sit. Because her mother had died at the beginning of the war, she was able to discuss what it was like to be expected to care for her father and brothers as the only remaining female in a traditional Greek household. She also describes in detail the neighborhood in which she was raised in Racine. It was ethnically diverse, and she speaks to the tolerance that existed among ethnic groups in her section of one of Wisconsin's most diverse areas. Other topics that she discusses include rationing; school; the role played by her strong evangelical beliefs in the way that she viewed the war; her correspondence with her brothers, who were both overseas in the army; the social life in Racine, including the USO; and her impressions of Racine during the war.