Edward Lobaugh, who was blind, was selling popcorn
with his wife, Mattie, out of a portable popping machine at the
corner of State and Maple and became the next owner. Two local
bankers, George Valentine and Roy Waterman, knew Lobaugh and
arranged to buy it from Elliott for their friend. The red wagon
had its wheels removed and was refurbished as a free-standing
little building. The Lobaughs operated the stand in its permanent
location until 1944, when the husband died. Next it was passed
to Irving and Gertrude Fothergill, who were related to Lobaughs
son-in-law. Next, Cecile (Blake) Kartchner bought it and ran
the business for some 20 years until 1983.
Despite the demise of many small family-run businesses around
the country, there is still one in DeKalb County that has survived
more than 100 years.
It soon will be turned over
to another generation of the same family that has operated it
the past 28 years.
Jody (Lee) Mattison plans to
turn over the Sycamore Popcorn Stand to her daughter, Cassie
Oltman, next year. When Jody first owned the stand, her mother
helped out on occasion but her mother-in-law, the late Eleanor
Mattison, was a regular for several years.
stand started out as a popper on wheels pulled around town by
a horse when it was first purchased from the Kingery Company
of Cincinnati in the 1890s. The owner, James Elliott, ran it
until he had to move to California because of failing health.
Walter Lovell sold popcorn from it between 1915 and 1925 before
it was put into storage.
Three generations work together operating the Sycamore
Popcorn Stand at State and Maple streets grandson Colin
Mattison (from left), Jody Mattison and daughter Cassie Oltman.
said they rented a home from Kartchner, and it was just by chance
she was offered the business. She and her family keep it open
six days a week from 4-9 p.m. beginning in April until late fall.
The annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival is always the busiest period.
She chose to be closed on Saturdays for a break each week. Prices
have remained reasonable over the years. A century ago, Elliott
was charging 5 cents a bag, and now the smallest bag goes for
$1. The large size is $2, and a specialty corn is $2.25. She
found a supplier who provides white (nearly) hull-less corn,
which she thinks customers like the best.
holds the record as the longest owner-operator of the stand,
and with the next generation taking over in 2011, that record
should remain intact. Even her two grandchildren, Colin Mattison
and Leah Stevens, work there. When she goes to her 50th Sycamore
High School class reunion this July, she can boast that more
classmates have done business with her over the years than anyone
else from the Class of 1960.
Last week, I wrote a second column about the May 1970 campus
unrest but forgot to mention another side to the story. One returning
student, Mrs. Alice Paulson, was upset enough by the closure
of the university twice that May that she picketed in front of
Lowden Hall and had an exchange with then-President Rhoten Smith.
I saw her photo in both the Rockford paper and DeKalb
County Journal carrying a large sign that stated: I came
not burn. As the mother of three and a
graduating senior that year she let Smith know she did not appreciate
him shutting down classes in her final semester. And 40 years
later, Alice hasnt changed a bit. I bet if there were a
protest she strongly supported today, she would be back out there
with a sign!