Note to readers: Barry Schraders DeKalb
County Life column will appear every other Tuesday.
Sitting outside at the Northern Illinois Steam Show and
Threshing Bee over the weekend I began my column longhand as
the noon toot of all the steam engines let loose which gives
one a chill up the spine.
It is always a stroll back in time to go out there and
reminisce among the sights, sounds, and smells of a bygone era.
I met a man named John Ross from Hebron, Indiana who has been
at the show for 38 years now he said. His father and uncle used
to run the sawmill that the show operators now own. Ross learned
to operate the equipment when just a
John Ross has been running his fathers saw mill
during the Steam Power Show for 38 years and still enjoys it.
boy at home in Indiana, which reminds me of The Waltons TV series
where John Walton ran a saw mill with the help of his sons. Anyway,
Rosss father Harry and uncle Marshall owned the mill from
1917 until 1962. Fortunately it didnt end up in the scrap
heap and is now an integral part of the show each year.
I always run into people I have not seen for decades at
the Steam Power Clubs show, but heres something even
more surprising that occurred 2,000 miles away at Yosemite National
Park on our annual June pilgrimage to California. There are now
4 million visitors to Yosemite each year, so what are the chances
We checked into a cabin at Curry Village on the valley
floor. I wanted to ask the manager at the front desk about a
change in our reservation and when she came out of her office
she said DeKalb, Illinois? I knew it had something
to do with the DeKalb Ag winged ear logo cap I was wearing, but
she had more to say. It seems she lived in St. Charles earlier
in her life and her cousin Luke Howieson is with the DeKalb Fire
Department. Her brother is also a firefighter, but now in Rockford.
So Sarah Butler is now a friend and I plan to look her up every
summer we go there. She has worked at Yosemite seven years and
in the winter transfers to the Ahwanee Hotel since the cabins
are left dormant in the cold weather.
Another coincidence happened more than 20 years ago there
when we stopped at the Ahwanee for lunch. At the front desk was
Jim Nash who had been our son Darrins art teacher in middle
school. And to stretch this further, the head of public relations
at Yosemite Park & Curry Company 30 years ago was a DeKalb
native Fred Dickey who had also been a journalism major at Northern
and is a lifelong friend in the newspaper business out west.
He now writes for the Los Angeles Times.
I want to add comments from two readers who proved I did
not look hard enough for the number of Genoas in the country
for my column two weeks ago. Genoa attorney Jim OGrady
once researched the same topic during the citys 150th anniversary
and found no less than 15, in the following statesColorado,
North Dakota, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Texas (but absorbed by Houston),
Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Arkansas. He even has
the maps to prove it. Former Genoa resident and now a San Franciscan
Bob Skinner had located six of those mentioned above and even
added that there is an interesting fish hatchery at the one in
Wisconsin. I am always pleased with feedback, even when it is
correcting me or adding new information. Now maybe someone will
start a search overseas to see how many more there are!