Note to readers: Barry Schraders DeKalb
County Life column will appear every other Tuesday.
Longtime Sycamore residents will remember Judge William
Fulton and his wife, Laura, who spent their lives here, and their
daughter, Sally, who married the famous New York Times reporter
and editor James "Scotty" Reston.
As a child, Sally Stevens lived just a few houses away
on Alma Street and relates how one day she received a phone call
from Judge Fulton. Sally, only 10 at the time, was asked to babysit
two of the Reston boys for a few mornings so the family could
have a relaxing breakfast during their time with the Fultons.
The Restons were visiting from New York, and their sons
Richard and Thomas were not yet of school age. Their third son,
James, Jr., had not been born yet.
James Scotty Reston and his wife are shown
with their first two sons Richard, at left, and Thomas during
a visit to the Sycamore home of the Fultons in the mid-1940s.
(Photo courtesy of Thomas Reston)
Sally Fulton had met her future husband Scotty at the University
of Illinois where they both attended. He graduated in 1932 and
she got her degree in 1934. After a stint at the Chicago Daily
News, he moved to New York to work for The Associated Press and
Sally followed, much to her mother's consternation. Sally
soon found a job as an editor of the Junior League magazine there.
Soon, Scotty proposed and they were married.
Getting back to the Fultons, the judge had begun his law
practice in Sycamore, had been named a state court judge, then
was elevated to the Illinois Supreme Court, finally becoming
Chief Justice of the Illinois court.
In researching this column, I was fortunate to reach two
of the Reston sons, Richard in Florida and Thomas in Washington,
District of Columbia, and talk about their recollections of Sycamore.
Being the oldest, Richard had the most to say about his grandparents
and the town. He recalls visiting several times, sometimes spending
part of the summer with the Fultons while his parents remained
busy in New York and later Washington.
Richard said he was allowed to go across the road to the
Crosby farm, where he got to play in the barnyard, even going
through a cornfield to the railroad tracks behind the farm, where
he and playmates placed nickels and pennies on the rails.
He also mentioned going to the old Sycamore
High School baseball field, where his grandfather showed him
how to throw and catch. A trip to the ice cream parlor next to
the State Theater was also one of his recollections.
His father Scotty moved up the journalistic ladder quickly,
with major assignments in New York and then in London just before
World War II. Richard was born there, but his father feared for
their safety once war broke out and bombing around London became
So he and his mother took a ship back to the U.S. and headed
for Sycamore, when he was only 3 years old. Scotty stayed behind
to cover the war.
Sally had also been writing dispatches, once Scotty had
moved to the London bureau of the New York Times. Sally reported
on women's roles during the war and described the hardships
English women endured while working in factories. Some of her
stories were picked up from the Times and re-run in the Sycamore
True Republican. The Joiner History Room has them on file and
shared several with me.
Scotty, who won two Pulitzer prizes for his writing over the
years, came back on occasion to visit the Fultons and at least
twice was invited to speak here, once before the Chamber of Commerce
in August 1941, and later in September 1956, sponsored by the
Sycamore Womans Club.
His son Richard talked about how fond the Restons were
of Sycamore. The town came up in conversation at home frequently,
about the character of the Midwest, the virtues of small-town
life versus the urban scene.
He said his mother maintained those values her whole life.
He also told about her brilliant mind, being Phi Beta Kappa at
Illinois. My father was fond of saying the real
intelligence in this family belongs to Sally and he counted
on her to read over his columns and other writings, including
his autobiography Deadline which was published in 199.
He dedicated that book to Sally.
Scotty died Dec. 6, 1995, at age 86 in Washington, the
same city where Sally died six years later on Sept. 22, 2001,
at age 89. Thomas said they chose to be buried in the Old Leeds
Church cemetery, high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia,
where they had owned a small cabin for many years.