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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Memoirs from growing up in county
By Barry Schrader.................................March
available. He explained that those knickers got him into
more than one fight in grade school, but he eventually outgrew
them. He spent much of his early schooling at the one-room Hiland
School off Route 38, then moving to DeKalb city schools.
A lot of people talk about someday writing their memoirs,
but Cliff Hunt followed through and the result is a polished
225-page book with lots of photos and interesting stories about
growing up poor in DeKalb County
Hunt, now nearly
79, spent most of his life in DeKalb, growing up on a small farm
off Route 38 near where Peace Road intersects it now.
like Hunts style. He tells it like it was, living with
a father who was a mean drunk, having a hard life
on the farm but a good mother and a helpful grandfather who visited
Born in 1932, Hunt was a child of the Depression.
The title of the book, Too Tough for Knickers, has
a fitting photograph on the front of him in his hated knickers.
The family had no money for fancy clothes, so he wore what was
In talking with him about the book, Hunt remembered
that I had been working at the Daily Chronicle when he served
on the DeKalb City Council for three years, so we recalled some
mutual acquaintances from that time around 1970. He was in the
plumbing business for a number of years, then sold out and moved
to Oak Park, where he has lived the past 25 years with his wife,
Sarah. After moving away, he tried real estate sales for a few
years, then took courses in tax preparation and did that for
seven years. Now he is retired and volunteers regularly at Grace
Episcopal Church, where his plumbing and craftsman skills come
Getting back to discussing his book,
Hunt said he had begun making notes years ago about his life
and filled 40 or 50 pages. When he got more serious about the
project he talked with his siblings, his friends from school
days and others from the same era growing up. He also was fortunate,
he said, that his great-grandmother had written a 50-page memoir
many years earlier, telling that his great-grandfather served
in the Civil War.
Your grandchildren will
probably pay no attention to your memoirs until they are 40 or
50, Hunt explained.
Hunt had lost his typing
skill but took the challenge of composing on a computer and used
the two-finger method to put his thoughts down on paper. He did
find a couple who had the knowledge of publishing and thinks
they made it all possible for him to produce such a professional-looking
product. He swapped plumbing work for their editorial help, and
it worked out just fine.
Now his former classmates
from DeKalb High School and many other friends have copies in
hand and must remember how much easier we have it today than
during a real depression. It would make a good read for a social
studies class to learn about life around DeKalb in the 1930s,
40s and 50s.
Anyone wanting to reach
Hunt can find him through email at email@example.com.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115