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.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
to catch up.
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Bob Hope competed with moon landing
By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................June 5, 2012
Sandwich historian Joan Hardekopf and I recently found out
we have a couple of things in common.
Talking about what famous people we had seen in person, she mentioned
Eleanor Roosevelt and Bob Hope. It turns out we were in the same
audiences more than 50 years ago when they made appearances in
DeKalb County. The former first lady spoke at Altgeld Hall on
the Northern Illinois University campus when Joan and I were
Then there was Hope. We were in the crowd when he flew into the
Sandwich Airport on July 20, 1969, to do a benefit show as a
favor for a friend. Coincidentally, it was the same afternoon
that the Apollo 11 astronauts were making the first moon landing.
I was covering the Sandwich event for the Daily Chronicle, along
with staff photographer Chuck Richardson.
This old newspaper clipping shows comedian Bob Hope being
interviewed July 20, 1969, by local publicist Shirley Keller
at the Sandwich Airport. (Provided photo)
The Sandwich crowd was estimated to be anywhere from 5,000 to
10,000, and it would have been larger had it not been for competing
with the Apollo lunar mission. Hope stayed in the airport administration
building long enough to see the televised touchdown on the moon.
I snapped a photo of him at the moment, which was used on the
front page of the Daily Chronicle the next day. He was awed and
was speechless at the moment. The shows emcee, WGN radio
personality Eddie Hubbard, announced the news of the landing
to those gathered outside, and a cheer went up from the crowd.
The program included some dancers, a pianist and a two-hour air
show headlined by Jerrie Mock, who was the first woman to fly
solo in a single-engine plane around the world. It was reported
that proceeds from the benefit totaled about $15,000. The money
went toward the purchase of a six-passenger Cessna P-206 for
use by the Rev. Tony Gendusa and his missionary work in New Guinea.
Once on stage, Hope managed to ad-lib a few lines, asking If
this is Sandwich, are we the crusts? and adding that he
had never played to a cow pasture airport before,
which brought a response from Sandwich Mayor Leonard Barter.
But the local crowd loved the banter and Hope tossed out a few
more jabs at small towns, the rough condition of the highway
and the rural surroundings.
When I think about the hundreds of thousands of troops Hope entertained
around the world during his long career, this crowd was fortunate
to see him up close for only $3. What a bargain and a special
memory on the historic day when Neil Armstrong uttered, Thats
one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
By the way, after next weeks column I will take a month
off for a trip to California where I like to spend time at the
Alameda County Fair, demonstrating printing on its museums
antique press and seeing old friends.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115