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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


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Long lost letter column, with pics

By Barry Schrader.................................November 23, 2010

A few weeks ago, I was at the home of John DiDonna in Sycamore getting graphic design and layout help for my new book. DiDonna mentioned he had just gotten a surprise in the mail. One of the letters recently delivered was addressed to someone named Linda Valentine, and it was postmarked Oct. 20, 1971, in Nebraska.
Deciding to try and locate the intended recipient, he and his wife, Cindy, began contacting neighbors who might have lived on the block in 1971 and possibly might remember the house’s occupants at that time.The DiDonnas have lived at their current address for 12 years, and the previous owners’ name was different than the one on the envelope.
By coincidence, a former occupant, Cheryl Delavan, had visited the house about two years ago, and Cindy DiDonna’s parents knew of her whereabouts. In checking with her, they learned her maiden name was Valentine and she had a sister named Linda, who was now Linda Kunz and lived in Stoughton, Wis.
John DiDonna used the social-networking website Facebook to make contact with her, and he explained about the long-lost letter. Intrigued, she agreed to drive to Sycamore, bringing her two granddaughters along for the ride, on a Sunday last month. This was her first look inside the house since the family moved out in 1979 after residing there for 26 years.
Opening the letter, she found it was from her great-aunt Mary, now deceased, who had lived in Randolph, Neb., when the letter was mailed. In 1971, Linda had just finished high school in Sycamore, and Mary had mailed her some family genealogical information.

Linda (Valentine) Kunz receives a 39-year-old letter from John DiDonna, who lives at the Sycamore home that Kunz's family moved away from in 1979. (Provided photo)

Lost Letter.

After sharing some of their family’s history, the DiDonnas found links to both families’ past. Linda’s sister had worked with Cindy’s father at his accounting business in Stillman Valley before either of them moved to Sycamore. The sister’s son-in-law is a police officer and works with the DiDonnas’ son-in-law in the same department. And it just so happens that the sister’s daughter is a graphic artist, just like John DiDonna.
Who said this isn’t a small world?
Later, Linda (Valentine) Kunz decided to track down any remaining relatives in the Nebraska town where her great-aunt had lived. She contacted a second cousin in Oregon City, Ore., whose mother, Ruth Ellyn, lives in Randolph. Finally reaching the mother, Linda was able to share the story of the mystery letter that was sent by Ruth Ellyn’s mother, Mary.
“She was pleased to hear from me, but a little shocked to learn I had just received the letter from her mother,” Linda said.
So one letter ended up reuniting two families with links to their past. But one question will probably never be answered: Where was that letter hidden for 39 years? And the post office delivered it with only an 8-cent postage stamp. If, instead, they had decided to return it to the sender, this story probably would have not been possible.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 Daily Chronicle Letter to the Editor

Letter: Modern witches’ beliefs deserve more respect
To the Editor:

I want to comment on Barry Schrader’s column on modern witches (in the Tuesday, Nov. 16, edition of the Daily Chronicle). I know the ladies in the column, and none have warts on their noses. They are just normal folks with jobs, bills and all the things everyone has. They are like anybody who goes to a different church. I wonder if the people who have written to the website would make the same comments about Shintos, Hindus or Buddhists. Perhaps it is bad to say things about other religions when one does not know the facts. Theirs is just another religion; nothing occult or Satanist is ever involved.

Maybe we should leave other religions alone. After all, the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. No one denomination is mentioned and all are welcome to theirs.

George Bradley


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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115