When we returned to our roots here in 2006, we met a couple from Hinckley who knew my parents and we had lunch. Wilbur Bastian and his wife, Jane, were very hospitable and took us to the Hinckley Café. It was then that Wilbur told me he was a milk tester in the 1930s and ’40s and visited my folks on the dairy farm south of Waterman known as KirkLand (named after the owners Harry and Beebe Kirk).
He recalled staying at the farm overnight, how good my mother’s cooking was and how my father used to give me rides atop the milk cart when I was just a tyke. I found a photo in our family album that confirmed his recollection. So we had good times reminiscing about mutual acquaintances and life on the farm back then. We became fast friends.
But when Wilbur died in March 2012, we lost a friend. Wilbur and Jane had moved to the Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center by then so I got to visit him during his final weeks. He was thrilled to have been chosen to be in a motion picture in 2011 being filmed in DeKalb County starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron. I promised him I would write about that when the movie was to be released.
The movie will be released later this month with the title “At Any Price.” His wife, Jane, and other family have already seen it. The movie was previewed at a film festival in Toronto in September, and they went to the preview and were reunited with Quaid and Efron. Then in March, the movie was aired at a film festival in Austin, Texas, and Jane’s granddaughters, who attend the University of Texas, went there as well.
Sorry to say that Wilbur’s speaking part was left on the cutting room floor, but he does appear twice in the movie, once on the Kevin Herrmann farm near Leland, and close to the conclusion, at a farm appreciation picnic on another Herrmann farm on Bastian Road near Hinckley. Jane is hopeful that director Ramin Bahrini will permit a special showing at a theater in DeKalb County. That is being pursued with the film’s promoters at this time.
People will be able to identify friends who are extras and various parts of the county in the movie, including the Sycamore Speedway near Maple Park, a Shabbona cemetery, a church, and some businesses in DeKalb. But no one will be more thrilled to see it than Jane and her family, and Wilbur will be remembered for a long time, both on film and from his 90 years of real life. I can’t wait to see it.
• Barry Schrader can be reached via email at email@example.com or at P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115. His column appears the first Tuesday of each month.