Summer is supposed to be the lazy season, smelling the roses, sitting on the porch, watching the sun set over a field of corn; but it wasn’t to be for me this year.
Coming home just before July 4 from our trip out west, we immediately got into the Independence Day spirit, taking part in the Kirkland parade riding the Ney Grange float.
Then we resumed our tradition of attending the weekly Hopkins Park municipal band concerts, now in their 160th season. Director Kirk Lundbeck has done a terrific job after he inherited the baton from his mentor, the late Dee Palmer. I am always touched by his display of respect for Dee when he stops during the last song each Tuesday and salutes the statue that stands beside the bandshell.
On July 12 at the Chief Shabbona Forest Preserve, a ceremony to rededicate the historical marker to the Chief attracted a sizable crowd thanks to the efforts of Terry Hannan and Denny Sands. The lengthy text on the marker makes it more informative than many small bronze plaques that don’t explain the significance of each historic spot. Next, we enjoyed the Glidden Homestead open house and a talk on antique tools by Roger Watson. Following that was the Drum & Bugle Corps competition at Bob Brigham Field. My favorite corps, the Concord, (California) Blue Devils, took first. We lived just 30 miles from that town for many years and relished the opportunity to see them perform.
On July 16 we got to hear Genoa seventh-grader Hunter Swanson tell about his Regional History Fair display on the 1835 Miller-Ellwood log cabin, which earned him a Superior rating at NIU and a trip to the state competition in Springfield. His exhibit will be at the upcoming Steam Power Show later this month.
Soon after that was the Waterman Tractor Show, where I always meet old grade school classmates and spend time chatting with friends like Craig Rice and Leonard Johnson. I had to leave early for another event, so I missed the tractor parade announced this year by Max Armstrong and DeKalb County Farm Bureau president Mark Tuttle. I learned later that Mark Poss of Big Rock won the President’s Trophy with his 1932 Farmall F30 and 88-year-old Ralph Johnson of Waterman took the Announcer’s Choice award riding his 1939 John Deere H. I’ll explain more about the Waterman Library book sale there at end of this column.
The same day, I headed up to Genoa for the 85th anniversary picnic of the Ney Grange, then over to the Kingston Picnic, where the exciting cardboard boat race on the Kishwaukee River is a big hit. Everybody loves to see people capsize or sink in shallow water so no one gets hurt, just a little wet.
Three sad events this month were the funeral of a distant cousin Wayne Stryker down in Lee, a memorial gathering for my Genoa classmate Linda Holder Williams, and a memorial service for an Oak Crest friend, Gordon Bird, a longtime NIU bands director, held on what would have been his 100th birthday. Something really special at Gordon’s service was a trumpet quartet made up of Mark Baldwin, Garth Anderson, Michel Swope and Brian Balika playing an arrangement written by the late Oscar Haugland, also an NIU Music Department faculty member.
Then there were two area library groundbreakings, one in Genoa led by Library Director Jen Barton, which I missed, and one in DeKalb where Dee Coover was ecstatic to finally see her dream of a major expansion become a reality.
Getting back to the Waterman library sale: I found a coffee table book by renowned photographer Pete Souza who was Ronald Reagan’s White House photographer and is now serving in the same capacity for President Barack Obama. I paid 50 cents for it, then later showed it to Richard McKay who was visiting from Washington, DC to take part in his father-in-law Gordon Bird’s memorial. He offered to take it to the West Wing where he works with Souza and get it autographed for me. Now that really made my day.
So I am looking forward to this August when I can just sit in my rocker and watch the corn grow and grow. Fat chance!
• Barry Schrader can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL. 60115. His column appears every other Tuesday.