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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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Year-end memories of longstanding friends

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................Dec. 29, 2016

At the end of every year, memories come flooding back as we reflect on the previous 12 months, whether they were good, bad or much the same.

Our family was blessed with good health, good friends and pleasant travels. But I cannot forget those who passed away or have entered their final stages of care.

One family that I have been close with since I was a child back on the farm are the Bowkers, Ross and Eleanor and their three daughters, who I probably had a crush on all at one time. Judy, Nancy and Patty tolerated me even though I was younger by anywhere from two to nine years. I was thrilled to spend some summer weekends at their family farm.

Our folks were close friends. My mother was a

Old friends gather earlier this year at the Sycamore Cafe to share memories of growing up in rural DeKalb County. Seated is Patty Wilson. From left behind her are Judy Olson, Barry and Kay Schrader, Nancy Strever, and Bob Wilson. (Provided photo)
regular at Eleanor’s beauty shop. By the way, Eleanor did hair in the Hinckley and then Geneva areas from about age 17 until she was in her mid-80s, a record recognized at a national convention of beauticians.

Her husband, Ross, and my father were both farmers at the time and had similar dispositions, a great sense of humor. When my folks moved from Waterman to Baseline Road near Genoa, they still kept in touch. We also had a summer place at Lake Kegonsa, where they came to fish and boat. It seemed the Bowkers always owned a flashy convertible, and I loved to go riding with the top down.

I became separated from them when we went off to different colleges. Then my job, marriage to Kay, and a long time spent in California kept us apart. But every time we came back for a visit, a day was set aside so I could visit Eleanor, who was widowed by that time, and we kept up with each other’s lives.

She passed away before we retired and moved back home, but one of my first contacts was with the “Bowker girls” who took us out to Fairview Cemetery to the graves of Ross and Eleanor. Since then we get together at least once or twice a year, even though two of them live a bit away.

Each Sunday morning after attending the Sycamore Methodist services we usually saw the oldest daughter, Patty, and her son at the Sycamore Cafe, where they came after going to church at St. John’s Lutheran.

All this came to an end last August, when Patty Wilson, 85, and son, Bob, 64, were killed in their rural Sycamore home. We were devastated and at a loss as to how this could happen to such wonderful people. The killer still is at large, and that makes it harder to bring closure to something that horrible. But we continue to stay in touch with her sisters, Judy and Nancy, sharing the lifetime of fond memories about them and both our parents, who have passed on.

That’s about all good friends can do – share memories and try to keep spirits up.

So I look forward to a brighter 2017 and hope for a year free of tragedies in our lives. And I wish the same for everyone else.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115