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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Kernels of popcorn mystery uncovered

By Barry Schrader.................................January 11, 2011

The history of the smallest business in DeKalb unfolded in bits and pieces.
After last week’s column and photo on the Flying Bean Roasters – which used to operate at the corner of North Second Street and Lincoln Highway in DeKalb – I received several e-mails and phone calls. The two brothers in the photo quickly were identified as Matthew and Aaron Clark. Both are now affiliated with The House Café at Third Street and Lincoln, so it was easy to find them.
Aaron said he rented the empty shack in 2005 and operated it for 2½ years. His brother, Matthew, joined him in keeping it open almost seven days a week. He was limited to coffee, bakery items, soft drinks and candy, as he could not get approval to cook hot dogs. His coffee beans came from Intelligentsia in Chicago and customers seemed to prefer that brand, he said. An opportunity to manage a waffle house in Delaware arose and he moved away for a while. His brother kept the stand open for a time after that, but then shut it down. They still hold the lease on the space, Aaron added.
The name “Flying Bean Roasters” came from their appreciation of DeKalb history and the winged ear of DeKalb Ag.
Another phone call came from Paul Wheeler, who knew a former operator of the stand, Lucille Harold. She ran it under the name Popcorn-Er Stand from about 1974 to 1982. She still lives in DeKalb, and she shared some of her history of the little business.
She had been a manager for Prince Castle on North First Street before venturing out on her own. She sold popcorn, soft drinks, candy, cotton candy and snow cones. Her prices were lower than those of the Egyptian Theatre down the block, so when she was

Grandpa Alberts White Popcorn.

Customers line up at the Popcorn-Er Stand in this 1977 photo from former owner Lucille Harold. (Provided photo)


in business she had long lines of theatergoers before shows. She returned to work at Prince Castle in 1982, and the business was sold.
I discovered some of the other owners by using the old city directories at the DeKalb Public Library. A previous business at the corner was a shoeshine stand, but no names of owners surfaced. Going back to 1948, a Roella Arms operated it. In 1950, Wallace Myers was the owner. From 1953 to about 1957 it was known as Snyders Popcorn Stand. From 1959 to about 1969 it operated under the name Duchess Popcorn, but no individual was listed as the owner. In 1971, the directory listed it as Pop-N-Stop and the owners were Allen and Sue Jardine, Tom Kobin and Carol Kramer. Some of the years’ listings are missing, but from about 1986 to 1997, the owner was recorded as Denes Stellatos.
Now a personal note: I have been a popcorn lover since my uncle and aunt, Albert and Lila Schmidt, raised popcorn from the 1940s to the ‘60s in a plot south of DeKalb. They bagged it and sold it at their home and at their D-X service station at the corner of Fourth Street and Lincoln Highway. They have both passed away, but at the end of December their son, Duane, and his wife, Carol, gave me a surprise birthday gift – a two-pound bag of unpopped corn with the label “Grandpa Albert’s White Popcorn.”
He explained that their son, Jim, has decided to introduce this new brand of popcorn by bagging corn raised at the Nesler/Hughes farms near Genoa. The label includes a photo of Albert in his captain’s cap, which I remember him wearing each time he gave us a ride on his pontoon boat at Lake Kegonsa near Stoughton, Wis. What wonderful memories, and I will cherish every kernel of that corn.

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115