I wrote this weekly column for the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb,
Illinois from December 2007 until May 2011.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
to catch up.
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Documentary instills pride in Sycamore
By Barry Schrader.................................October
Talk about community pride and a sense of belonging: Sycamore
experienced that en masse recently with the showing of the documentary
Sycamore as part of the inaugural Sycamore Film Festival.
Probably only 2,000 of the 17,519 Sycamore residents
actually saw the film, but the other 15,519 can enjoy the afterglow
with those who did. It was an emotional time of sharing for many
old-timers and youngsters alike. Stories about the early days
and even the last 50 years flowed throughout the film with a
warmth and genuineness seldom seen in movies these days. The
film alone could probably double the citys population by
attracting throngs of people wanting to live in such an idyllic
Pausing outside the Sycamore State Theatre just prior to the
showing of the documentary were Maureen Kelley, Mary Ann Cassidy,
Bill and Patsy Lundberg. The film was dedicated to the memory
of Maureen and Patsys mother Phyllis Kelly
Shela Lahey display the special pendant she received for her
work on the Sycamore documentary (Barry Schrader photos)
I loved the films opening quote by Bob Wildenradt:
Theres old Indian lore that says, If you ever
put your feet in the Kishwaukee River youll never leave.
Or if you do, youll always come back. That
sure is true for my wife, a 1960 Sycamore grad. It took 37 years
away in California but now shes returned and happy we made
the move back to our roots.
Thanks to the late
Phyllis Kelley, county historian, and her colleagues at the Joiner
History Room, for some great shots of Sycamore in the old times.
And a touching tribute to her memory at the end of the film was
appreciated by her daughters, MaureenKelley and Patsy Lundberg.
Patsy said her mother was too ill to see a short preview last
June but Sycamore State Street Theatre owner Daryl Hopper took
a laptop with the film to Phyllis home so she could see
it, less than a month before she died.
some history revealed that many people dont know about
Sycamore: Dirk Johnson told about the key role played by Sycamore
residents and farmers in the free soil-free labor movement, which
stood for the abolition of slavery. Did you know there are three
houses in the area which were part of the Underground Railroad,
used to help slaves escape north to freedom? If you saw the film,
now you do. This should be a part of the curriculum of every
history class in Sycamore schools from now on.
Sycamore City Manager Bill Nicklas can be credited with making
sure the film got financing. He spread around the praise for
its success during the cast party after the movie's
premiere Sept. 22 at The Stratford Inn when he presented tokens
of appreciation to film Director Susan Hope Engel (a basket containing
an old movie camera and film reel), and Producer Shela Lahey
(a specially designed jeweled pendant crafted by the Paras of
Sycamores past and present
all came together to make it a memorable evening. When you see
folks like Marlyn Lenschow Burkart, Tom Henigan, Pete Johnson,
Yvonne Johnson, Dr. John Ovitz Jr., Jane Ovitz and more names
such as Juday, Dutton, Frank- Stromborg, Thurow, Mundy, Sherrod
and Ward, it is a night to remember.
get on with the film festival planning for next year!
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115