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Barry Schrader


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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Taking a digital-age vacation

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................July 17, 2012

Something seemed different when we spent three weeks vacationing in California this summer, in addition to the fact we had not been back to our “adopted home” of Livermore for two years.
Kay and I had planned our trip to be sure we met as many people as possible, attended three reunions and saw a few hundred friends over the duration of our stay. I had organized a reunion of old-timers from the newspapers I had edited while living out there, and some 45 people showed up, including six other editors from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Then there were the few precious days at Yosemite National Park – my favorite retreat – where we have vacationed more than 30 times in the past 40 years. I never can get enough of the splendor that comes with viewing Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, the Upper and Lower Yosemite falls, and I enjoy the rushing water around Happy Isles and even the

This 1890 Gordon platen press uses metal type to print the souvenir bookmarks handed out each summer at the county fair in Pleasanton, Calif. It runs by pumping a treadle with one's foot, much like the old treadle sewing machines. (Barry Schrader Photo)

historic Ahwahnee Hotel. At my age, I decided not to try hiking up to Mirror Lake or the Nevada and Vernal falls this time, but the fond memories linger.

We also took a two-day trip down Interstate 5 from the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles so we could again visit a beloved relative in a Northridge nursing home who will turn 100 years old this September. She is the only cousin left from the generation of my paternal grandmother Ethel Schrader on the Cooper side of the family. That was a sentimental journey.

Another quick drive up to Jackson, near the Nevada border, enabled Kay to see her Sycamore High classmate and close friend Joyce (Van Ostrand) Wensman, who met us halfway from her home for lunch.
Much of the remainder of our time was spent taking part in the 100th anniversary of the Alameda County Fair in nearby Pleasanton – something I have done as a volunteer for 23 years. I operate a 120-year-old printing press that the fair has housed in its Early Americana building, a giant machine shed about the length of a football field.

The exhibition is crammed with agricultural implements, buggies and early motor vehicles, a fully equipped kitchen from the beginning of the 20th century, ancient office machines, a woodworking shop, and a small print shop where I print special annual souvenir bookmarks, giving out a few thousand each year.

Not far away is a working blacksmith shop. This was a record year for the fair, attracting 534,577 people durings its 17-day run. You got that right – more than a half a million fairgoers, but not all of them came through our exhibit area, thank goodness. However, dozens of longtime friends stopped to chat and pick up a bookmark.

Getting back to my opening comment about something different: Everywhere we went, the digital age was upon us. Everything from mini-videocams, digital cameras, cellphones with cameras, iPads and other techy devices were evident. They were in use on the hiking trails of Yosemite, the streets and restaurants, and at the fair.

I never had seen so many people taking snapshots or videotaping our print shop activities, and then likely downloading to emails, YouTube, Flickr, SmugMug and Facebook.
Of course we are a part of that digital age now and took a few hundred photos plus some video. We chose about a dozen photos to summarize our trip, and Kay carries that little packet of 4-by-6-inch prints in her purse, just in case anyone inquires about our travels. But don’t feel obligated to ask ...

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115