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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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Primitive folk art sculpture rediscovered

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................Dec. 8, 2016

Nine years ago I was browsing the Country Store on Lincoln Highway near Seventh Street in DeKalb when I spotted a fence post sculpted into a Santa figure with added features and a toy sack.

Always on the lookout for the unique, I asked about its origin and who made it. All they knew was that it came in with a donation left from an estate sale and never got a name of the artist. So I bought it and used it as a front yard decoration for four Christmas seasons. My wife Kay grew tired of it and I found out Mayor John Rey collected Santas. So I gifted it to him for his front porch where it appeared each December until his house was sold.

I never inquired what happened, just assumed it ended up in a dumpster. That was until I wandered through the cluttered 35,000 square foot warehouse that only American Pickers could appreciate and SURPRISE! There in a side room was that familiar wooden post. So I explained to the building owner, DeKalb alderman David Jacobson, my history with it and he immediately said it was mine for free.

He had cleaned out the Rey house after it was sold and this was among the leftovers. Jacobson has decided after four years of owning the old DeKalb Clinic building on Franklin Street he has had enough of the rummage sale business, so will clear it out by the end of February and auction the building off. Until then he is opening it three days each weekend for people looking for a bargain who are willing to wade through dozens of rooms holding maybe 100,000 items that most of us give away to the Salvation Army after our garage sales. This

Getting ready to take the rediscovered folk art Santa out to the car are Barry Schrader, left, and business owner David Jacobson. (Provided photo)

would qualify as the granddaddy of all rummage and garage sales combined and should be considered for a listing in Ripley's Believe It or Not book.

Getting back to my lucky find last week, the wooden Santa now stands in our yard, but not for long. Kay still insists it must go, so I have decided to hold a drawing and find it a good home with someone who appreciates fine art, or at least decorated fence posts.

To make it fair for everyone, I will display the five-foot Santa outside the Door 4 entryway on the west side of the Oak Crest Retirement Center during the Christmas Tree Walk from 1 to 4:30 p.m. this Sunday. Beside it will be a small box with a slot in the top so interested people can fill out a notecard (provided) with phone number or email, then deposit it in the box.

Then next week there will be a drawing conducted at the Daily Chronicle and the winner will be notified. He or she must agree to two conditions: (1) I must be able to interview and photograph the person; (2) the recipient must promise never to abandon it in a dumpster.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115