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.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
to catch up.
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Long lost letter column, with pics
By Barry Schrader.................................November
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
houses 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.
coincidence, a former occupant, Cheryl Delavan, had visited the
house about two years ago, and Cindy DiDonnas 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.
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)
After sharing some of their familys history, the DiDonnas
found links to both families past. Lindas sister
had worked with Cindys father at his accounting business
in Stillman Valley before either of them moved to Sycamore. The
sisters 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 sisters daughter is a graphic artist,
just like John DiDonna.
Who said this isnt
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 Ellyns mother, Mary.
She was pleased to hear from me, but a little
shocked to learn I had just received the letter from her mother,
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
Letter: Modern witches beliefs deserve more respect
To the Editor:
I want to comment on Barry Schraders 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.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115