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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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My typewriters, telephones (plus other stuff) will go on exhibit

By Barry Schrader.................................December 29, 2009

Check out Barry Schrader's items at an exhibit that begins in January.

The DeKalb Area Women’s Center has put aside its monthly artwork and sculpture exhibits for January and invited me to display the contents of my basement.
Director Anna Marie Coveny heard I have a basement full of garage sale finds and also-rans from the Antiques Roadshow and thought it would be quaint to assemble my stuff and title it, “Communication Tools from the Last Century,” for a show.
So I am busily dusting off my “one man’s trash is another man’s treasures” to make items look presentable in glass cases.
Since moving to DeKalb, I have acquired a dozen (actually more) old typewriters which chronicle the early 20th Century advancement in technology BC (Before Computers), so I hope that appeals to some people. Then I am tossing in some old telephones, a telegraph key, some other communication devices that only people over 40 will remember, plus some mass media collectibles like cameras and metal typefaces from 50 and 100 years ago. So that should just about fill the former Finnish Hall at 1021 State St. in DeKalb.
I always was fascinated with the opening scene from “Murder, She Wrote” in 1984, when Angela Lansbury’s old Royal typewriter was shown up close with its keys clacking away. So you will find one of those on display.
Of course, there was the transition from manual to electric, and I have a few from that era. I even have the portable that got Jerry Smith through college on which he typed his papers and some news stories for the Northern Star. Then there is the Royal model

Old Remington manual typical of early 20th Century machines used in offices.

Partial view of a Linotype keyboard. Notice different configuration of keys from the usual QWERTY typewriter keyboard

used by the Daily Chronicle staffers back in the 1960s and early '70s before the office went electric, which you also will see.
Jim Quiram from Sycamore is providing an example of the telegraph key which opened up communications from coast to coast about the time the cross continental railroad was built. My printer friend Howard Newquist is getting some Ham Radio equipment together as well. Hams don’t recognize the inferior Citizen Band radio as a legitimate form of communication, I hear, but that will be included anyway.
Those born in the first half of the 20th Century might recognize the entirely different format keyboard of the Linotype machine, developed for newspaper composition in the late 19th Century and used at many papers until the 1960s. There will be a keyboard from that 4,000-pound compositor in the exhibit.
Then there was the old-style, cast-iron printing press that used metal and wood handset types, and I have included a tabletop model of that, along with some examples of the type. I could bore you for hours about that branch of my collections.
Here’s what I still would like to find to complete the display: a Varityper machine, a Friden Justowriter, a crystal radio set, an old wooden radio like the one you saw on “The Waltons” TV series, and a small 1950s TV set. If you have any of these in your attic or basement, please contact me before Friday.
For those interested in visiting the exhibit, the opening and reception will be from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday, when Kay and I will provide light refreshments and share everything I know about various old communication tools. The building will be open from 7-9 p.m. every Friday through the end of January for public viewing.
As an added feature, I will set out a workable typewriter so people can exercise their typing skills like in the old days. We even can exchange stories on how we learned to type. I got my training from Miss Margie Tiffany in her Office Practices class at Genoa-Kingston High School. Sorry, no typewriter erasers or “white-out” will be provided.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115