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Barry Schrader


I wrote this weekly column for the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, Illinois from December 2007 until May 2011.

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Sold on NIU Regional History Center’s
local ads exhibit

By Barry Schrader.................................October 18, 2011

If you have time and an interest in early 1900s advertisements and promotional items from local businesses, then take a trip to Founders Memorial Library at Northern Illinois University to see the exhibit on companies and stores in the DeKalb County area. It runs until Oct. 31.
Curator Katharine White walked me through the exhibit of four display cases and wall posters, which is on the first floor of the library, to see the various memorabilia. She talked about firms such as Shipman & Bradt that made wagons and buggies, first located in Sycamore before moving to DeKalb and later becoming DeKalb Commercial; Goodyear Confectionary & Bakery operated by Vere and Cora Goodyear in DeKalb; and Lahti Clothing Store in Sycamore, owned by the senior Ric Lahti, on the site now occupied by

Katharine White holds a colorful fan from Lahti Clothing used by many church goers before air conditioning, and in the other hand is a display ad for DeKalb Wagons; but the horse in photo was not included in the sale price. (Photo ny Barry Schrader)

Jesus Romero’s Taxco Mexican Restaurant on State Street.
Of course familiar names such as DeKalb Ag, Wurlitzer and Jacob Haish Manufacturing are also represented by the advertising. I got a kick out of some of the mottos used back then, such as Lahti’s “First with the Latest” slogan and the Daily Chronicle calendar that stated “A good paper in a good town.”
White also shared a 1920 letter about DeKalb from John Cook, the first president of NIU. He wrote: “It is an odd sort of town, at least for me. I never before lived in a manufacturing community. After so long a resident in an agricultural district I find the contrast striking.” He wouldn’t be able to call DeKalb a manufacturing center today; it’s more of a college town with a few scattered industries and warehouses.
Some of you may recall names such as Ruby’s drugstore in Malta, Mosher & Embree in DeKalb and Keir & Cooper Fancy Groceries, but they were before my time.
Now the trick to getting onto the NIU campus without paying for parking is this: Use the Carroll Street parking lot after 7 p.m. weeknights or anytime Saturday and Sunday. Walk to the library nearby, which is open until midnight Sunday through Friday and 10 p.m. Saturday.
If you can’t get to campus to view the exhibit in person, visit the website, www.libguides.niu.edu/buylocal, that showcases the exhibit online. I have to also put in a plug for Lynne and Angie, who staff the Rare Books and Special Collections on the fourth floor of the library, which has my favorite antique printing press and thousands of first editions, rare documents and even a comic book collection.
You don’t need a library card to see any of the exhibits, but be aware that you can obtain a free library card just by filling out a form at the front desk and showing a photo ID. That’s what we pay taxes for, so why not take advantage of a wonderful local resource.
Another tip: They have several bookcases stocked with used volumes for sale at $1 or less – and not just textbooks but fiction and reference books as well. I never leave there without one or more; but just don’t tell my wife.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115