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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently write a column every other Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website 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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Remembering Barcus and his ‘Carcuss’

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................September 16, 2014

Note to readers: Barry Schrader’s “DeKalb County Life” column will appear every other Tuesday.

Replica of the "Barcus Carcuss" in the General Barcus Day parade in Genoa in 1953.

General Barcus riding in the Genoa parade in 1953. Genoa Mayor Bill Lankton is in front passenger side seat. (Photos taken by Barry Schrader)

Air Force Gen. Glenn Barcus, a Genoa native, with his wife, Corinne Van Sant.
Second photo of David Johnson in uniform in 1952 (Barry Schrader photo)

David Johnson in uniform in 1952


David Johnson may be an octogenarian, but he has a great memory when it comes to the Korean War era and even before that.

Johnson, a Genoa native who now resides in Cortland, met me for coffee recently and we talked about our childhoods in Genoa. I even knew his father, Alfred, who was the hired man on Doc Corson’s farm on Baseline Road where I grew up. Doc had the only farm in the county that still relied on horses to do all the field work and hauling. Alfred would invite me to ride on the hay rack and wagons when driving the team up and down our road, a real treat for a young kid who loved animals.

But getting back to Johnson’s childhood, he recalled seeing the Genoa pilot Glenn Barcus buzzing the town in an open-cockpit Curtiss “Jenny.” Later Barcus became a three-star general, probably the highest-ranking Air Force officer from DeKalb County up to that time.

While stationed in South Korea, Johnson had a chance meeting with Gen. Barcus as he was visiting the base where Johnson was stationed at the time. They exchanged greetings after the young soldier mustered the courage to speak to a general, and talked about both being Genoa natives. The conversation was cut short, however, when Johnson’s commanding officer noticed one of his men “out of line” in conversing with a general. Later, Johnson became a corporal while in Korea with the 45th Infantry from 1950 to 1952.

I recalled joining a crowd of admirers along Main Street in Genoa the summer of 1953 when the city had declared a “General Barcus Day”and he was chauffeured through town in a convertible with another famous area native who became a TV and movie celebrity, Barbara Hale (most famous for her role as legal secretary Della Street on the “Perry Mason” TV series).

I never did find out why Hale was included in the parade, but Genoa Mayor Bill Lankton was in the front passenger seat. I know all this because even in junior high I had the photo bug and carried my Argus box camera to events like that. I took the general’s photo and a second one of his personal plane, the “Barcus Carcuss,” which was just a replica on a float that day. I will post these two photos on my website at www.dekalbcountylife.com for those interested in a fond memory of a parade 61 years ago.

I asked Johnson about that legendary plane the general flew himself during his tour of duty in Korea. It seems Barcus loved flying and did not want a larger plane and pilot to transport him around the country. So he used one dubbed the “Barcus Carcuss” by painting the slogan on the side. Johnson said this did not set well with higher-ups in the military chain of command and his humorous nickname was later removed. But someone in Genoa remembered this little plane’s name and built a float that followed the general along the parade route featuring a replica of the single-engine prop-driven model with the name painted on it.

I never had the opportunity to talk to the general, but Kathy Vance Siebrasse did an extensive telephone interview with him in the July 1, 1987 special anniversary edition of The MidWeek and had some great quotes, plus a few photos that came from his nephew Dale Barcus. Born in 1903 in Genoa, General Barcus died at age 87 in 1990 while living in California.

An unrelated anecdote from Johnson: He worked at the Northern Illinois University physical plant and in Transportation the last 33 years of his career. And he recalled a young student driving around campus early in the mornings delivering bundles of Northern Stars out of an old Mercedes Benz 180 diesel car – that was me when I moonlighted as circulation manager for the student newspaper while at the same time serving as its Features Editor. I hope I still have Johnson’s memory 10 years from now when I reach his age.

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115