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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Sour year ends with opportunity to make
By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................December 20, 2011
Those who know me well can attest I did not have a very good
year, at least up until recently.
Sure, I reached a high at the end of 2010 when my book of columns
was selling like hotcakes off the shelves at Borders. But cold,
harsh reality set in when I found out they had sold all my books,
promised to pay me but instead declared bankruptcy. I never got
a penny from Borders.
Fortunately, Kay and I had sold a couple of boxes of books ourselves,
and I was able to keep my commitment to the DeKalb County Historical-Genealogical
Society, donating a percentage of those sales to the group for
the upcoming 50-year history update of DeKalb County Acres
of Change. I, along with about 20 others, am still writing
part of that book. It should be out in 2013.
After that unexpected dent in our bank account, my health started
to falter. Diverticulosis nearly killed me in 2004 when my colon
burst, and I spent three weeks in the hospital back then. After
that, complications such as a blood clot and then shingles kept
me out of work for a few months. But I recovered, bolstered by
physical therapy and a dogged determination to make it through
the final two years of my career and retire in 2006.
was left with some intestinal problems from all those
Wally Thurow, now 84, is shown clowning around with friends
back in October. He had been given the crown from the King of
Oak Crest and held the centennial DeKalb Ag winged ear sign for
this photo at the Towne Square in Sycamore. (Schrader photo)
surgeries from 2004-2005, and earlier this year they popped up
(out) again. So it was back under the surgeons scalpel,
and the good Dr. Roger Maillefer made me well again. But two
months languishing at home feeling sorry for myself didnt
help my recovery.
When I finally dragged my carcass out of bed and decided to resume
column writing this fall, it brought back a feeling of usefulness.
And some readers even said they had missed me. How those few
words can give you a high!
So I am running full speed again (like the old me) and found
a 46-year debt I could repay. The year was 1965, and I had decided
to start a weekly paper in Sycamore to compete with the Tribune
and True Republican. But small-town loyalties and longtime friendships
can doom a newcomers chance of succeeding in a new venture
that threatens old alliances.
As I was searching for a way to break into this new market from
my base in nearby Genoa, where I owned the Genoa Republican,
up popped the enthusiastic chamber of commerce president
the one and only Wally Thurow. He not only welcomed my new newspaper
venture but also personally took me to several business acquaintances
and then-Mayor Red Johnson. He also offered a public letter of
welcome on chamber stationery, which I displayed on the front
page of the first issue of the Sycamore Sun on March 10, 1965.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Now fast forward to late 2011, and Wally lies (maybe mortally)
wounded in a rehab unit hospital bed in Slidell, La., needing
all the prayers, letters and other support everyone up here can
give him. So I helped organize a team of his friends including
Pete Johnson, Dr. John Ovitz Jr., Jerry Malmassari, Tom Oestreicher
and Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy who all want to see Wally
recover and preside over the 51st annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival
next year. We have been working diligently to raise the money
for his book project and are within a few dollars of our goal
Phase Two is the distribution of 1,000 Get Well Wally
postcards to Sycamore schoolchildren, being carried out as we
speak. There are also donation jars with Wally postcards
for sale in several local eateries and the Joiner History Room
at the Sycamore Public Library. Those dollars will go directly
to Wally and his wife, Jan, so he can get well enough to be here
to reign over Pumpkin Festival 2012.
So I began the year handed a lemon, but now feel like I have
made the sweetest lemonade I ever tasted. Godspeed to you Wally,
and thanks for that favor 46 years ago, my old friend.
Barry Schrader was editor of the Daily
Chronicle from 1969-1972. He and his wife, Kay, are retired and
live in DeKalb. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
by mail at P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115