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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.


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When ‘prime time’ isn’t just a TV term

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................October 28, 2014

Note to readers: Barry Schrader’s “DeKalb County Life” column will appear every other Tuesday.

When is the prime of your life? Some would say it is age 35, but a few hundred DeKalb County Farm Bureau members in their 60s and older call themselves the “Prime Timers” and enjoy the social interaction with others from their generation.
Mariam Wassmann of the Farm Bureau staff shared some of the group’s history, which dates back to 1986, when they organized luncheons under the leadership of Bill and Marge Clausen. In the early days, the planning committee included names like Gommel, Hauswald, Knecht, Latimer, Lambert, Mosher, Pauling, Sanderson, Sandrock, Stark and Willis.

Enjoying a recent Prime Timers excursion on the Rock River for lunch aboard a paddle wheeler are (from left) Barb Twombly, Jean Smith and Bob Twombly.
(Schrader photo)

One of those originals, Don Mosher, spent 10 years as their travel organizer and said he planned about 120 trips to nearly every part of the country. He recalls seeing some big names in show business as they visited Las Vegas, New York and even Nashville, Tennessee. One particular star who came to mind was Johnny Cash and his family, who took the time to talk with the group in Nashville.

They still plan a few trips every year in addition to their luncheons the first Monday of each month. He recalls when they first chartered a bus to see the Cubs it was only $12 for the game including the bus fare. He doesn’t remember if the Cubbies won or lost, however.

Now living back here, my wife Kay and I look forward to their monthly lunches at the Farm Bureau headquarters, where we see old friends and reminisce with others about how DeKalb County has changed over the years.

Some of our favorite day trips have been to the Fireside Theater in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and more recently a riverboat luncheon cruise on the Rock River out of Oregon. We haven’t signed up for one of their Branson, Missouri, trips, but they are tempting. However, I would probably be disappointed to find out my favorite Lawrence Welk stars are all deceased now and the younger talent just can’t compare.
I got to meet accordionist Myron Floren once while he was performing at the nearby Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, California, because his aunt lived in our town of Livermore and he went there for Sunday dinner where I photographed him.

Cynthia Thompson, who has chaired the Prime Timers the past three years, said, like us, she returned to her roots in DeKalb County about seven years ago and quickly became involved in this group because her parents, Ron and Marilyn Leifheit, invited her to come along. She is a Sycamore High graduate and then went through NIU, eventually becoming a community college instructor in accounting and office technology. She also enjoys the sociability and chance to get reacquainted with local folks.

I would invite some friends to come to their lunches, but Mariam reminded me one must first join the Farm Bureau as a farm member or associate-plus member. So if you want to find out more, just call Mariam or staffer Dava Wayman at 815-756-6361 and get the details. If you hurry, you can see a great program Monday on Rosie the Riveter at the luncheon, presented by Lynn Rymarz.

I can imagine there may be a few local “Rosies” in the room that day as well. But, as Mosher said, prices have gone up. Lunch was only a dollar that first year, subsidized by the Farm Bureau; now 28 years later it’s $6, still a bargain.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115