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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

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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Two DeKalb classmates reunite at age 99

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................Dec. 1, 2016

When classmates Leonard Osland and Don Mosher got together recently, they realized they are about the only ones left from a class of 156 students who graduated from DeKalb Township High School in 1935. But they said there is at least one other classmate alive, Verina (Lockenour) Anderson, and she lives at Pine Acres in DeKalb.

The occasion was the 99th birthday for Leonard. Comparing yearbooks they enjoyed reminiscing about their school days from their Sophomore though Senior years. Leonard had transferred from Waterman up to DeKalb in the 10th grade and Don offered to show him around. That began a friendship that has lasted a lifetime, even though they didn't see much of each other during the intervening 80 years until recently.

In Don's yearbook, Leonard wrote in part: "I hope you have fun with your runt pigs and scrub calves at the fair. I'll see you when your (sic) picking corn and swetting (sic). Autographing the yearbook for Leonard, Don also poked fun: Here's to the half-cracked miler and hurdler…The best thing about graduation is being able to get away from guys like you."

Don admits that Leonard was much more athletic and successful in sports, while Leonard says Don was very studious and made all A's. He added, "Don was able to study during noon hour with kids making noise all around him."

All that studying paid off for Don as he received three 4-H scholarships and went on to the University of Illinois, earning a degree in Agriculture, then on another scholarship to Harvard where he got a Master's in business. But he had to join the ROTC at Harvard and subsequently spent four years on active duty in the US Army during World War II.

He was sent to England, then Luxembourg, Belgium, France and Germany. After that he was put on a troop ship and sent to the Pacific Theatre. First they landed in the Philippines, then went to Japan shortly after that country surrendered. Don said their ship was the first to land and occupy bases in Japan. He has many stories to tell about his experience there including a visit to Hiroshima where he saw the devastation caused by the dropping of an atomic bomb.

Two remaining classmates from 80 years ago at DeKalb High, Don Mosher, at left, and Leonard Osland, got together recently to share stories of a lifetime.(Provided photos)

Leonard Osland in 1935

Don Mosher in 1935

After being discharged he eventually joined the DeKalb Agricultural Association where he spent most of the next 30 years in the Poultry Division He did take off five years to work on his family farm after his father had suffered a heart attack.

Meanwhile, his classmate Leonard went into farming after high school, as well as driving a truck hauling coal from the mines in Southern Illinois back to DeKalb, and also working for Del Monte "pitching peas" onto the wagons for 32 and 1/2 cents an hour. He worked on several farms until he settled on an 83 acre farm on Barber Greene Road in 1951 while also running six other farms in the area. He had a small dairy herd, along with raising pigs and planting crops. The woman who owned that farm left it to him in her will and he continued farming there until retiring in 2000 at the age of 84. Even in high school he helped his father milk and said he got to drive a Model T to school in Waterman so he could deliver two cans of milk to Hayes Dairy on the way each morning. Of course that is after he got up before dawn to milk cows along with his father.

So the two school chums had great stories to share and want to continue getting together as they approach their 100th year. Both had long successful marriages with several kids, grandkids and great-grandkids between them. They are definitely part of the "Greatest Generation" as described by journalist Tom Brokaw in his book with that title.

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115