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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column Monthly for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each month 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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Highs & lows in my golden years

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................July 9, 2013

Note to readers: Barry Schrader’s “DeKalb County Life” column will appear on the first Tuesday of each month.


It isn't often that a person experiences the lowest, then highest point in their life in the span of only 15 months. I'm not talking about career success, financial gain or fame, just plain old psychological ups and downs.

This saga began in January 2012 when I got the bright idea that DeKalb County children needed a history lesson since they weren't getting taught much, if anything, about their local heritage in school. Riding high on the memory of a successful "museum on wheels" project I helped initiate 25 years ago in far-off Livermore, Calif., I tried to sell the idea to local clubs, nonprofits and school districts (including Kish College trustees) that what this county needed was a "Historymobile" to share our local heritage with every elementary school in the county.

It took me five disheartening months of seeking financing ($20,000) and sponsorship (buying a vehicle) to find out the hard way no one wanted to be a part of this overly ambitious project.

Standing with Livermore Mayor John Marchand at the ceremony dedicating a new generation Historymobile over Memorial Day weekend is columnist Barry Schrader.

The new vehicle with painted mural on side by Vera Lowdermilk. (Provided photo)

But I must interject the names of at least seven people who did believe and signed on to support it - the late Al Golden, Ging Smith, Tom Weber, Averil Schreiber, Bill Braksick, Jim Gerlick and even DeKalb School District 428 Superintendent Jim Briscoe.

Others weren't as enthusiastic. Even the DeKalb County Historical-Genealogical Society board members issued a "vote of no confidence" to my idea.

So I went down in ignominious defeat and wallowed in despair for a while, but somehow found new energy to help revive a troubled Ney Grange chapter in the north county, join with 12 other authors to finish the new county history book, and take part in a pioneer log cabin project.

Fast forward to this May: I got a phone call from Livermore inviting me to the dedication of a second generation Historymobile, which had been acquired and redesigned into another museum on wheels like the project I had initiated once before, the first generation RV-bus finally conking out after 15 years of traveling among schools out there.

They sent me photos of their new-and-improved 37-foot RV-turned-museum. And they told me my co-founder and I would be immortalized inside with photos and a plaque telling all the kids visiting this rolling history center about its founders.

So I took a redeye flight out there on Memorial Day weekend to bask in the glory of the occasion and recharge my batteries. It was a glorious reunion and a new "high" for an old activist who doesn't relish retiring in defeat.

Flying back to Illinois, I toyed with the idea that there might just be a spark of interest I could rekindle to pursue this "pipe dream," as one detractor called it, one more time. So I met with NIU transportation department head Bill Finucane to see if they could spare an old Huskies bus to convert into a mobile history lesson. He did express interest, but then retired at the end of June. So much for that angle.

So I went back to helping with the 1835 Miller-Ellwood log cabin and pioneer garden along with several other history buffs and gardening enthusiasts. Once you see that restored log cabin standing out there in the wilds near the Russell Woods Forest Preserve, it will take you back to "Little House on the Prairie," and who can resist helping that become a reality.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115