DeKalb County Life for August 1, 2016: Trump delegate back home; Craig reviews tractor show; Jessi covers car show; Barry’s listening again on the Party Line; Doug solves immigration issue


Trump delegate brings home memories

By Barry Schrader, DeKalb County Life editor (

Dennis Sands and his wife Kathy came home to Shabbona after the Republican National Convention really pumped and showed a dining room table full of memorabilia.

Sands won election as a Trump Alternate Delegate from Illinois in the Primary, but then became a full Delegate to the convention, after one of the other delegates dropped out. It was his first experience attending a national convention and one of the few former county board chairs to ever do so from DeKalb County.

Talking with the couple last week, I learned how tight security was, how they had to pick up new credentials each morning, get on a bus from the Cleveland Airport Marriott Hotel with two Homeland Security escorts and take a designated route to the convention hall through streets that were blocked off just for their use. Sands estimated that each day they probably were checked by security and convention officials as many as 30 times from their first breakfast meeting in the morning to the late night “after-parties” that kept them up well past midnight.

Kathy talked about the social side when they had an Illinois breakfasts each day with prominent speakers from around the state and elsewhere. They met Congressmen Randy Hultgren and Adam Kinzinger as well as several other elected officials from around the state. Their opening party was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She took some 400 photos during the four days and showed one of her and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich plus others she took of famous personalities, sports figures, and even Anderson Cooper of CNN.

Sands said the Illinois delegation was seated approximately 75 feet from the main podium, just behind the New Jersey delegation. There were 69 delegates from here, most committed to Trump except for two supporting Ted Cruz and another two for John Kasich. He noted that the great majority of attendees seemed to be first timers, not the usual Republican hierarchy. Kathy added that the “elitists” or those from the “old boys club” were mainly the ones in charge but far from being the majority.

“This will not be a traditional Democrats versus Republicans campaign,” Sands commented. “Even though the Union bosses will stay with the Democratic Party, the workers will vote for Trump because they know he is a businessman committed to creating and bringing jobs back.” He said it will not be the usual grassroots campaign with storefronts staffed with volunteers in each county or city, but run from New York by the Trump organization relying heavily on the social media like Facebook and other new media.

They displayed some of the floor signs used on different occasions that followed the theme of the day, plus pins, badges, programs, credentials, bus passes, and the coveted Delegate’s Badge that is a keepsake for the family to hand down. Sands said they will be invited to take part in rallies and campaign gatherings as Trump and his running mate Mike Pence tour the Midwest in the coming months.

In his three guest articles for the Daily Chronicle Sands highlighted the activities each day, which can still be found online at by searching for his name under the Opinion section.


Dennis Sands is shown on the floor of the convention as New York put Trump over the top with the number of delegates needed to become the GOP presidential nominee. (Two photos provided by Sands)


 Kathy Sands had her photo taken with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who she met in the hallway one day.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Prairie Ponderings

By Craig Rice

Big event for me in July was the Waterman Lions Club Summer Fest and Antique Tractor Show. My job was to register people who chose to have their hearing checked at the Lions Clubs of Illinois Hearing Screening bus. The technician screened between 25 and 30 people for hearing loss.

The unit was set up close to the stage, which was a flat bed trailer. In the middle of the afternoon, a band started to perform. The technician shut down the hearing unit because of the music competed with the tones used in the screening process.

While I held the fort at the hearing unit, others looked over the array of antique tractors and trucks on display. Different people picked their favorites:

–President’s Choice, Trent Pearson, Elburn, 1970 IH 1026 Demonstrator;

–Speaker’s Choice, Ron Riveland, Serena, 1969 Minneapolis Moline G100 Vista;

–People’s Choice, Ben Anderson, Waterman, 1954 Allis Chalmers WD 45;

–Most Unique Entry, Randy Rosengren, Ottawa, 1964 IH truck with Cook corn sheller;

–Most Unique Truck, Barry Rittenhouse, Mt Morris, 1951 Ford F7 Big John; and

–Oldest Entry, Mark Poss, Big Rock, 1928 Farmall Regular.

You can see a short video of the show here:
Leonard Johnson, one of the coordinators for the event, commented on the show’s Facebook page, “Thank you to Nathan Stein for this great video from [the] Tractor Show. Also, a great big thanks to Max Armstrong and Mark Tuttle for helping with the Parade of Power. It was just perfect! The man Max is interviewing on the tractor during the parade will be 100 years old this fall!”
Another person who appreciated Armstrong’s jumping into the tractor parade to interview the 100-year-old driver was Judy Findlay of Waterman. She wrote on the club’s Facebook page, “We have attended several Lions Tractor fest celebrations. This one was outstanding: Large crowd, perfect weather and much visiting. When the 100-year-old gentleman came through [on his tractor during the Power Parade] and Max spoke with him, the whole crowd cheered.”
I think the members of the club were pleased with the way the event unfolded. The Shabbona United Church of Christ staffed the concession stand to sell breakfast items. Then it organized and ran the tractor pull held at the south end of Waterman Lions Park on land the club rents from Duane Boesch.
Clinton Township Library sponsored a kids’ magic show that attracted a large crowd of youngsters of all ages.
One vendor commented on the show’s Facebook  page, “Had a blast, I was a [first-time] vendor and will return. Met lots of great people. Very friendly place to be!”
Another member of the club, Steve Bock of Honey Hill Orchard, provided fence posts, fence netting, produce and labor for the summer festival. This past week he underwent a double lung transplant. An email message that went out to club members over the weekend reported that he is in critical condition.


Waterman Tractor Show included Max Armstrong atop his Super M (results in  Craig Rice’s column) and also a conversation between Steve Bock and Barry Schrader (at right) while Steve was still hopeful about the outcome of his pending lung transplant.

rice 1

– – – – – – – – – –

All about the Sycamore car show

By Jessi Haish LaRue

Bandit’s car took a break from bootlegging beer to make an appearance at Sycamore’s car show this weekend.

Larry Hamilton, of West Chicago, and his son Nathan, 11 years old, brought a 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am to the Turning Back Time car show Saturday. The car is a reproduction of the Trans Am Burt Reynolds drives in the classic movie “Smokey and the Bandit,” and the reproduction is owned by Larry Hamilton’s boss, a vice president of AMS Performance out of West Chicago.

“It’s crazy, the attention this car gets,” Larry said. “People stop us everywhere.”

Larry said it’s hard not to be a “big Bandit fan,” and it shows on the reproduction. The details were key to the reproduction, which is simple and immaculate, Larry said.

“’East Bound and Down’ is on replay,” Larry said.

On Saturday, the car was loaded down with cases of Coors in a tribute to the movie. A red jacket and hat similar to what Bandit dons in the film were draped across the seat. Larry also pointed out the antenna on the roof, hooked up just for the CB radio.

Although the movie premiered in 1977, decades before Nathan was born, he’s still starstruck by the car and loves the chance to go for a spin.

“It’s fun, it’s fast, and it gets a lot of looks,” Nathan said.

Sunday’s car show also marked the unveiling of a 1923 Stutz Fire Engine, which has been a project of the Sycamore Fire Preservation group for almost 15 years. The engine was first acquired in 2001, and donations covered the cost of restoration.

At the end of the day, the Stutz took home the Mayor’s Choice Award.

Old truck

The restored 1923 Stutz firetruck won the Mayor’s Award at the car show in Sycamore this past weekend. It was restored by Marty & Sons Body Shop (Jerry, Tyler and Andy Didio). (Photo by Jessi Haish LaRue)

jessi 3

– – – – – – – –

Heard on the party line . . .

By Barry Schrader, DeKalb County Life Online Editor

So much has happened this summer, mostly positive, that I could write a thousand words without taking my hands off the keyboard.

Of interest to Oak Rest residents where we reside is the upcoming opening of the new wing of the complex. Included are 24 large apartments with balconies, a Bistro that will serve beer and wine, a massage therapy room, enlarged exercise room (moved from basement), plus a spa and swimming pool! I took photos of the unfinished pool and spa recently so people could see how it looks.

David Benner, the NIU instructor and director of the gerontology-physical therapy program at the complex, showed me the pool which varies from about three feet-six inches in most of the pool to one lane on the back side which measures a little over four feet for swimming laps. The spa will seat about a dozen people where they can enjoy the water jets and warmer water.

Gives me an idea for a floating card table so we can play Canasta or Farkle. But they had better set a timer for 30 minutes so we don’t crawl out looking like shriveled prunes. It will  be coed but I doubt if Sally Stevens and Mil Misic, much less Marilyn Thompson and Gert Brigham, will want me in there with them playing footsie under the bubbles…

We hear that management is drawing up a long list of rules for the pool and spa. I wonder if they include: no wet towel-snapping in the men’s locker room, no alcohol consumption around the pool, no canon-ball jumps into the pool, and last of all—no skinny-dipping. But I do think they should have a weekly men’s swim night for the minority of males in that female-dominated complex.

Once we all purchase our new (mandatory one-piece) bathing suits I have an idea for a fundraiser that could prove to be a major revenue source: a swimsuit calendar of pinups like the annual Sports Illustrated calendar, but only photograph folks 65 and older. Wouldn’t you like to have one on your wall with your grandma or grandpa in full color stretched out on the pool deck?!? I will be asking for volunteers later.
*   *   *
Speaking of water sports, the Kingston Kardboard Boat Regatta on July 16 provided lots of entertainment for both boaters and spectators. Curtis Clegg went up there to take photos since I was down in Waterman taking in their Tractor Show along with fellow columnist Craig Rice.

Curtis got some great action shots of the four boats, especially as the S.S. Minto was capsizing while a race judge stood by laughing. He also captured the best decorated boat being paddled by the father and daughter team of John and Carly Fischer of Kingston. Thanks to Curtis for covering the fun event.
*   *   *

Another July highlight is the drum and bugle corps competition at the NIU Bob Brigham Field. Being a longtime fan of the Concord Blue Devils (near where we used to live) I never miss a chance to see these magnificent groups perform. Their routines have evolved over time to include much more than just playing and precision marching. They have added acrobatics, performing dancers and even themes like the wild west with dancers shooting it out on a stagecoach replica which had been rolled out onto the field, all acted out to match the music. Mike Embree and I always compare notes on what we liked, since he was a major drum corps participant/leader in the day. My personal involvement was serving as Explorer Post adviser to the Tri-Valley Royalaires Drum and Bugle Corps in the Livermore-Pleasanton, CA area back in the Seventies.
*   *   *

In June I had the chance to attend a Kishwaukee Valley Heritage Society program where old schoolmates of mine held a panel discussion about growing up in the Genoa-Kingston area. In the photo (from left) Louise (Peterson) Hoffman, Roxy (Nelson) Carey, her little sister Pinky (Nelson) Gotham, and Louise’s little brother Don peterson shared their childhood adventures with a good crowd of local residents. I ofter wanted to jump into the conversation, but have already written about many of those good times in the old days in my Chronicle columns and two books over the past seven years.

Asked about her first love, Pinky pointed to her husband Blaine in the audience and declared him to be the one and only. They met in junior high, soon after he transferred over to merge with the Genoa kids from his Kingston grade school days. It must have been infatuation at first sight! They got engaged their senior year and the rest is history.
Some Genoans thought they were superior in some way, but in my class the three smartest classmates Roy Lilly, Corrine Eide and Donna Ollman all hailed from Kingston (except for Janice Gerlt who was  a top scholar as well). So much for that notion….

Some of the panelist even admitted they were old enough to have attended Derby Line School or Baseline School before one-room country schools closed in the mid-40s. Miss Pauline Kincade was their Baseline School teacher most remembered. They reminisced about riding the bus driven by Vernon Gates. One winter night they were snowbound near the Peterson farm and all 15 kids had to stay there overnight before the plows could clear the road. Living on farms they recalled 4-H and how they learned so much from their leaders like Mrs. Deutsch. They took trips to Chicago on the “El” train, went to the Don McNeil Breakfast Club on WLS radio, and Riverview Park where they rode “the best roller coasters in the world” and even tried the parachute jump ride, screaming all the way down (like my wife Kay did too). But their moms always cautioned them not to ride “the Bobs.” I guess you could get dizzy and throw up!

Pinky also brought back memories of the four grocery stores in town. She mentioned going to Smith’s Grocery with her friend Sandy Groth and trying to charge candy to her mother’s account, but it didn’t work. At about the same time Campbells, Guses and Tischler all ran grocery stores. When you think how small the town was, under 1,000 population, and they supported three or four food stores. Now at four times the population Genoa can barely keep one open. What’s wrong with this picture….

I have lots more notes but don’t want to bore those newcomers to the area who didn’t get to experience life in small towns and on the farm. At least we have tales to regale our kids and grandkids with. Did we ever tell them about Raising Hell on Halloween in both Genoa and Kingston back when Guido Paris was police chief. The rowdy ruffians (we all) closed down both towns’ main streets with heaps of old farm machinery, railroad ties and even an outhouse or two, sometimes set on fire!

They tell me that years later after former DeKalb County Sheriff Mel Shaw became Genoa police chief he called in the state troopers and all that came to an end. Probably wise that he did so.
*   *   *

See you next issue of DeKalb County Life Online on or about August 22. Summer will be just a dim memory for some of you younger ones by then with school bells ringing or college beckoning from far off places with strange sounding names! Meanwhile, enjoy the Steam Power Show, the DeKalb Cornfest, the Ellwood House Ice Cream Social, and Genoa’s Pioneer Day, along with a dozen other attractions too numerous to mention here.
*   *   *

As a P.S. I want to mention the loss of photo editor Danielle Guerra at the Daily Chronicle who is moving on to a new job in Creative Services at NIU. She will be sorely missed in the Chronicle newsroom and around the county where she has been an outstanding photographer and videographer. She is the third staffer in the past two years to move over to Northern jobs. Midweek editor Dana Herra moved into Alumni Relations as editor of their Northern Now magazine, while Bill Braksick moved to advertising sales at the NIU radio station. Even back when I was Chronicle editor we felt like a training ground for bigger media and Northern as well. I wish Danielle the best in her new position though.
(And here I end after typing 1,375 words, not counting this sentence)



Standing by the unfinished swimming pool in the new wing being built at Oak Crest is David Benner, an NIU instructor who will be in charge of the aquatic and exercise program. Second photo shows him in front of the spa in the same room that will hold 12 people. (Schrader photo)

Carly Fischer (right), captain of the Pirate Ship and her father John Fischer, both of Kingston, paddle in the Kishwaukee River during the 15th annual Kingston Kardboard Boat Regatta in Kingston, Ill. on Saturday, July 16, 2016. The Fischers won the Flamboyancy Award for having the best-decorated ship. Curtis Clegg -

Carly Fischer (right), captain of the Pirate Ship and her father John Fischer, both of Kingston, paddle in the Kishwaukee River during the 15th annual Kingston Kardboard Boat Regatta. The Fischers won the Flamboyancy Award for having the best-decorated ship.
Curtis Clegg –


The 15th annual Kingston Kardboard Boat Regatta in Kingston, Ill. on Saturday, July 16, 2016. Curtis Clegg -

The S.S Minto was about to capsize so was given the Titanic Award. (Curtis Clegg photos)

Genoa 1

Genoa oldtimer panelists from left: Louise (Peterson) Hoffman, Roxy (Nelson) Carey, Pinky (Nelson) Gorham, and Don Peterson.
(DCL photo by Barry Schrader)

– – – – – – – –

From the Doug-out


By Doug Oleson

I may have come up with a solution regarding the immigration issue. It’s infinitely cheaper than building any wall and a lot less time consuming than checking the ID and background of everyone wanting to come into the country. In fact, the solution is so simple it can be found in virtually every home in the country.

It involves two things: language and TV.

Sometimes I wish I could speak Spanish. I took Spanish in grade school but, unfortunately, I didn’t continue it in high school. Besides a few obvious phrases, all I can remember is: “Lo Siento, no se.” Which I think means: “I’m sorry, I don’t know.”

Many times I’ll be pursuing the Great American Past Time of flipping channels on my remote when I stop to watch Univision for a minute or so, hoping to pick up a few words or phrases. Either they speak too fast or I listen too slowly, but I haven’t been very successful in my quest. It’s all, pardon the pun, Greek to me.

The interesting thing is you can tell from the expression on a person’s face if they are being serious or silly. I suppose that’s true of all languages and cultures.

Anyway, I was watching Univision not long ago when I came upon one of the most baffling things I have ever seen on TV. A group of young, muscular men,all clad in skimpy bathing suits, stood on top of a rocky cliff somewhere overlooking a large body of water. They were obviously covered in some kind of oil because,one by one, they were set on fire, then they dived into the water.

I don’t know if they were being punished for something or if it was an athletic contest of some kind where they were being judged, or just what the heck was going on. I did notice that some of the divers let themselves become totally engulfed in flame before they dove while others jumped in as soon as the fire started.

Since I can’t speak Spanish, I have absolutely no idea what was going on.

But that got me to thinking.

If we want to curtail the immigration problem all we have to do is force new arrivals to watch our TV shows. Imagine some poor immigrant arriving in our country. They’re scared but thrilled to finally be here, the place they’ve heard so much about and have probably been fantasizing and dreaming about most of their lives. They are finally here and what do they do? They turn on TV and – not speaking our language – what should they see?

“Naked and Afraid,” about two complete strangers who are dropped off in the middle of some forest or jungle and, totally naked, forced to survive for a month or so on their own.

Or “Dating Naked,” where couples have to completely strip down and go on a date.

Or that one show whose title I can’t remember about people sitting on a sofa at home watching TV and we, the viewers, get to see their reactions to the shows they’re watching. (I can’t make that one up.)

They would also have to wonder why anyone wants to keep up with the Kardashians? Or why every sitcom must have at least one gay person? Or why Heidi Klum is allowed on TV, let alone what qualifies her to judge who’s got talent in America? And why anyone thinks Howie Mandel is funny? And why there are more commercials during a show than the actual show? And why the best sitcoms on TV are in black and white? And, worse of all, how the host of reality show – and a bad one at that – could win the Republican nomination for U.S. President?

These shows are confusing enough for those of us who were born here, imagine what it must be like for someone from an impoverished third world country who doesn’t speak the language? Not only would they wonder what kind of world they had come to, it just might make them want to go back to the one they left.

So, yes, sometimes I wish I could speak Spanish, and sometimes it scares me that I can speak English.

– – – – – – – – –

Preview of next issue


Steve Bigolin’s history feature will return in the next issue with an in-depth look at The Ellwood-Nehring house at 417 North First Street in DeKalb, next to the Ellwood Mansion. Photo above shows Shirley and Paul Nehring, Jr. on their wedding day. We just learned that Shirley Nehring suffered a serious stroke last month and is hospitalized near her home in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Those wishing to send her a card, address it to her home address, 1450 North Dousman Road, Oconomowoc, WI 53066.
(Photos provided by Steve Bigolin)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.