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Sycamore man's book teaches value of family, faith and hard work

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(Jeff Engelhardt –
Dr. Stanley Brandon signs copies of his book "A Long, Long Time Ago When Grandpa Was A Little Boy" after his presentation Monday at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau.

SYCAMORE – Dr. Stanley Brandon still remembers the taste of the orange soda he had more than 50 years ago at his childhood home on the family farm.

Brandon had chickenpox at the time, and for a family with no electricity or indoor plumbing, an orange soda was an unexpected and special treat. But thanks to his neighbor, W.O. Johnson, Brandon was able to indulge in the sugary drink when he was feeling down.

“I still remember the thoughtfulness of that orange pop,” Brandon said.

The lesson of neighborly kindness is just one of many Brandon said he hopes to pass down to his 21 grandchildren through childhood stories he shares in his new book “A Long, Long Time Ago When Grandpa Was A Little Boy.”

Brandon, an orthopedic surgeon for 37 years in DeKalb, shared portions of his new book with residents Monday at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau, reading stories as two of his granddaughters sat at a small table on stage and his grandson sat on his lap.

Instilling the importance of family, faith and hard work that was taught to him as a child is one of the most important legacies he can leave behind, Brandon said.

“I wanted to leave the heritage of how I grew up,” Brandon said. “Fortunately, with my family, these lessons have not been lost.”

The stories Brandon shared with the audience included recollections about special Christmas moments, his hard work on the farm and his experience with a hired farmhand that showed him the dangers of alcohol.

Most of the stories tied into biblical lessons – the one constant Brandon said has remained in a period of great change from his childhood during the Great Depression until now.

“The principles of living have really not changed,” he said. “We still have the 10 Commandments.”

Steve Brandon, Stanley’s son and a pastor in the Rockford area, said he encouraged his father to write the book because the stories from his childhood teach timeless lessons that should be shared with future generations in their family.

“I think it’s something very special for our family,” Steve Brandon said. “I hope the fruit of this would encourage other families to do the same.”

While Stanley Brandon shared important lessons with the audience, he also took them on a trip down memory lane. He told his audience to think back to their childhood and how they were ahead of the “green” trend with their solar energy techniques such as clotheslines.

He also led the audience in a rendition of the 1943 song “Mairzy Doats” to close the presentation.

Stanley Brandon said he hoped people left inspired to share their stories and preserve the lessons from the past for the children of the future.

“Even if you just hand write or type up a few stories, it can be immensely valuable,” he said.

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