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Barry Schrader


I wrote a column for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle for 8 years starting in December 2007 and running until November 2015. Then I returned to column writing in August 2016, all of them archived here.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Oh, those Norman Rockwell Thanksgivings

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................Nov. 24, 2016

Most of us my age come from homes where Thanksgiving (and often Christmas) was celebrated the old-fashioned way: At grandpa and grandma's house, or an aunt and uncle's place, often in the country, where all the relations and inlaws gathered for a feast.

In my case, before Kay and I were married, we went to one side of the family every other year, or one at noon and the other for supper. My Aunt Ann and Uncle George Cooper hosted the Schrader- Cooper dinner at their farmhouse near "New Leb" (between Genoa and Hampshire). Us kids got to meet all the cousins once or twice a year, played board games, explored the haymow and machine shed, then devoured turkey with all the trimmings and settled down to watch a football game or play in the basement. The men retired to the TV room and some fell asleep, while the women returned to the kitchen to clean up after the meal, then maybe play cards, crochet or knit.

When I was about 12 I had my first smoke on that holiday. One of my cousins pilfered a pack of Pall Malls from my uncle's cupboard in the pantry and we sneaked behind the barn to try them out. Guess I didn't like them much as I never became a smoker. Luckily we didn't burn the barn down like some kids did, playing with matches.

Then later in the day we drew names from a bowl, telling us who to buy a $5 or $10 gift for Christmas when we all returned to repeat that tradition all over again.

On my mother's side of the family our gathering was smaller since my grandfather Orval had passed

This cemented rock pile has stood in Sawyer Park on the north side of Waterman since 1931 featuring this plaque (Barry Schrader photo for Shaw Media)

The inscription reads "Erected to the Founders and Builders of this community whose rugged spirit and sterling character are here typified."
away and Grandma Emma Stryker had moved in with my Aunt Harriet and Uncle Shelby at 345 Cedar Street in Waterman. But I still got to see aunts and uncles Everett and Marguerite Stryker and Roy and Myrtle Stryker, plus a few cousins Roger and Barbara Stryker, Rusty and Dorothy Kleckner.

Their kids Cindy, Jackie, Jani and Stephanie, plus Mary Jo and Tommy, were generally there. No farm to wander, so we pretty much sat around listening to the adults gossip about friends and neighbors, who had passed away, or who had gotten married and had a baby. Us kids did go outside if weather permitted, heading for Sawyer Park a block over where there was (and still is) a big cemented rock pile stood with a plaque honoring Waterman's pioneers, so we could run off some energy and keep out of our parents' hair.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have all "gone to their great reward" by now. Our families still gather for a feast, but many relatives have moved away, so the table is smaller. Some high tech gadgets have entered the picture. Parents nearly all carry cellphones now, some even answering calls at the dinner table, while kids play games or text each other on smartphones or tablets. The holiday football games still dominate the room, but on a larger "High Def" flatscreen. Now I am the one taking a nap on a full stomach, and awaken only when called back to the dining room for leftovers and maybe a second piece of pumpkin pie.

Our kids and grandkids will reminisce a dozen or more years from now about their "good old days" when the family gathered for Thanksgiving. But I wonder what they will be eating and drinking. Can you imagine the high tech gadgets they will have to entertain them by then?!?

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115