Note to readers: Barry Schraders DeKalb
County Life column will appear every other Tuesday.
While sweating out the arrival of my book of columns recently,
I focused on some of the major stressors in my life, plus the
I use the word "sweating" accurately because
the shipment en route from California to Illinois took nine days
because of weather conditions and a last minute detour to the
Quad Cities instead of DeKalb County.
With my first round of signings already advertised for
Saturday, my blood pressure was slowly rising as early as Thursday.
The trucking company could not find the bill of lading after
the 1,000-poundshipment of books had left the Bolingbrook terminal
and headed downstate.
This old photo shows the columnist atop his father
Vernon's milk cart on the Waterman dairy farm where the Schraders
lived in the early 1940s. The same photo appears on page 148
of "Hybrid Corn & Purebred People, Volume 2." (Photo
By 1:40 a.m. Friday, they were located in a warehouse in
Rock Falls and the semi-truck finally arrived here at 3 p.m.
Friday. Now that is cutting it close.
But getting back to memories over a lifetime, I studied
a photo I had found in my parents' family album (actually there
are five albums) that I decided to include with a column in the
book about the late Wilbur Bastian. He had once told me he remembered
seeing me as a little tyke riding atop my father's milk cart
on a Waterman dairy farm, which Wilbur visited regularly as a
To digress a moment, Nate Johnson once told me he recalls
seeing me one summer in 1947 when he was working with my father
constructing a new DeKalb Ag plant in Redwood Falls, Minnesota.
That brought back images of my mother and me living in a small
cabin by the lake where she brought a small training bike and
ran behind me as I wobbled along the sidewalk.
We had joined my father for a few weeks while they were
building the new corn processing facility, and the following
summer we went to Toronto for the same reason.
So this early photo of my dad and me stirred a faint recollection
of a squeaky wheel, the earliest sound from my past. We lived
on that farm until I was four, so the sound would have come from
my frequent rides between barn and milkhouse.
I know it was on crunchy gravel and the squeak came at
each revolution of the metal spoked wheels. I don't recall the
first smell from way back then, but if you lived on a farm and
had livestock, one can imagine all sorts of odors.
On another subject, on Tuesday, I began leading a class
on the topic "The Changing Media Scene" for the Lifelong
Learning Institute at Northern Illinois University. This will
be my first solo class without the mentorship of Jerry Smith,
who partnered with me in a previous LLI study group two years
It must seem odd that someone who still uses a typewriter
on occasion would take on a topic explaining the new digital
world to seniors who have spent most of their lives reading newspapers,
magazines and hardcover books.But now we have to face the reality
of a paperless society someday and all those new-fangled digital
devices with strange sounding names and terminology that wasn't
even in dictionaries 10 years ago.
I didn't expect too many in class, however, since I am
competing with Carol Zar, a veteran LLI convener who chose the
scintillating subject, "Scandals of All Sorts," for
her class at the same hour and day each week. I called to ask
if she was covering the former governors of Illinois and that
Dixon city official who absconded with millions, but she said
not this time.That means she may have a sequel planned and I
will be sure not to let Mark Pietrowski (LLI External Programming
Office) slate me against competition like Carol next time.
Her first class covered the Daniel Ellsberg Pentagon Papers
case, which I wish I could have attended, as that is something
every journalist watched closely since he used the New York Times
to leak this reportedly classified information. Younger readers
might compare him with Edward Snowden, who leaked the NSA documents
in 2013 that caused a worldwide stir. I feel differently about
Snowden, however, considering him a traitor and not a hero or
patriot as some media portray him. Only time will tell what damage
he has done to our intelligence gathering and international relations.