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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.


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New travel companion ‘Mabel’ worth keeping

By Barry Schrader.................................September 1, 2009

My wife and I take road trips now and then, but they lose their luster when we get lost or argue over routes on the map. Now I think we have found the ideal solution.
In the past month we acquired a little device the size of a cellphone which is formally known as a “portable GPS auto navigation device.” It sets on your dash or in a cupholder between the front seats of the car. And it talks to you. On our recent trip to Columbus, Ohio we tried “her” out for the first time. She was dubbed “Mabel” by a friend who rode with us around the Ohio State campus there and enjoyed her calm, business-like directions that came at regular intervals.

No more crumpled maps and frazzled
nerves on car trips using Mabel

Once we keyed in the destination from DeKalb to Columbus, all I had to do was sit back and steer. No more missed turns, confusion about freeway signage, arguments with my copilot, pullovers to read the map, or outbursts when said map is torn to shreds in desperation when all else fails. Mabel made it seem like I was getting driver’s ed training from a pro.

When I missed a turnoff she would calmly state that the next exit where I could turn around was 2.1 miles ahead, then at the half mile mark she would remind me to turn right up ahead and then just before the turn she rang a bell. When we got to Columbus and found two freeway exits near our hotel closed for construction I kept ignoring her instructions to turn, but each time she said “recalculating route” using the GPS satellite hovering over our car at several thousand feet, then shortly told me where to turn next, even mentioning “take the next legal U-turn…” so I wouldn’t get in trouble with the local traffic patrol.
It made the trip so much more enjoyable and probably saved on gas as well. Missing an exit off the freeway or tollway can be costly, having to go another three miles to turn around and come back to the missed exit.
I don’t know why they didn’t invent this device 30 or 40 years ago. We could have had so many more enjoyable trips during all those years. It all goes back to the old (stupid) saying: “Real men don’t need maps….”
On another subject, I wanted to comment on how well the Sycamore Steam Power Show and Threshing Bee went this year. We even got to buy some corn meal freshly-ground by Maynard Petersen and his family and the homemade cornbread that resulted tasted mighty good.
But not all was well for one family that has been involved in the show and club for many years. One of the directors, 85-year-old Dean Warrington was driving one of his antique tractors on Lenschow Road to the show earlier in the week when he was rear ended by a car driven by a Streamwood man and seriously injured. Warrington was thrown from the tractor and ended up with a broken leg, several stitches in his scalp, road rash and internal injuries. He is still undergoing rehab and his family hopes he will be able to return home to Hampshire this week. In case you want to send a card to wish him a speedy recovery mail it to P.O. Box 477, Hampshire, IL. 60140. His tractor fared even worse than him and is a total loss. It had just been refurbished by a family member for Warrington’s 85th birthday in June and this would have been its first appearance at the Steam Power Show. We sure hope to see his machinery exhibited under the “Frugal Farmer” sign as usual again next year.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115