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Opinion

Schrader: Want to remember back when? Check this out

Wayne DeMunn displays two of his old postcards, a 1906 view of the old DeKalb Township High School and a more recent colorized photo of the bandshell that once existed in Huntley Park.
Wayne DeMunn displays two of his old postcards, a 1906 view of the old DeKalb Township High School and a more recent colorized photo of the bandshell that once existed in Huntley Park.

Wayne DeMunn is a man of many interests. He enjoys family genealogy research, science fiction, time travel, local history and publishing online historical materials, mainly photographs and documents.

So back in 2011, he set up a Facebook group named “DeKalb, IL, Remember When,” and it has grown to have more than 3,000 followers.

His statement of purpose is simply: “Reminiscing and local history related to DeKalb, Illinois, and surrounding area. Rules: Have Fun but No Profanity or Serious Arguments.” I should mention there is a similar group called “You know you’re from DeKalb, Illinois, when” that also posts photos and reminiscences. I belong to both groups since I enjoy all things historical.

DeMunn said over the years he enjoyed collecting small bits and pieces of local history but always had more questions. With the advent of computers and internet technology he finally found a way of sharing his interest with many others. He said, “Some just want to re-live the good old days, while others are more serious about exploring local history.”

He works the night shift at Ideal Industries in Sycamore, then spends time in the wee hours back home scanning the internet for interesting photos as well as purchasing some through eBay and also local area antique stores.

The group has begun having social events to meet other people with similar interests. Their second gathering was at Rosita’s in DeKalb on Sunday night.

He does have help with the website. Three others serve with him as administrators: Delores Davison-Schroeder, Martin O’Connor and Donald Kozlowski. He said they also “act as cheerleaders” to attract more people to their Facebook group’s page.

A closer look at his homepage reveals that he is a fan of H.G. Wells, known as the father of science fiction. Wells was a futurist, and foresaw the coming of space travel, nuclear weapons and something resembling the internet, early in the 20th century. Among his books are “The War of the Worlds,” “The Invisible Man” and “The Time Machine,” which is the one book that DeMunn mentioned. He said he has been fascinated by the concept since youth and was drawn to the H. G. Wells Society and is listed as a Certified Time Traveler.

So that is the man who started the Facebook page looking back into local history. I have tried to imagine what life must have been like in 1835 when the Miller family built that log cabin in the wilderness near the Kishwaukee River west of Genoa. I may just ask DeMunn for a ride back to 1835 if the technology advances allow such an exciting adventure in the not-too-distant future.

• Barry Schrader can be reached through email at barry815@sbcglobal.net or at P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115. His past columns can be found at www.dekalbcountylife.com.

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