Home | Columns | Photos | Books | Biography | Links

Barry Schrader


I currently write a column every other Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website 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.

Archive Page

Early memories of wagon's squeaky wheel

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................January 21, 2015

Note to readers: Barry Schrader’s “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 pleasant remembrances.

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 provided)

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 milk inspector.

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 ago.

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.

Home | Columns | Photos | Books | Biography | Links

The columnist can be reached via email at :


or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115