I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
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Kernels of popcorn mystery uncovered
By Barry Schrader.................................January
The history of the smallest business in DeKalb unfolded in
bits and pieces.
After last weeks column
and photo on the Flying Bean Roasters which used to operate
at the corner of North Second Street and Lincoln Highway in DeKalb
I received several e-mails and phone calls. The two brothers
in the photo quickly were identified as Matthew and Aaron Clark.
Both are now affiliated with The House Café at Third Street
and Lincoln, so it was easy to find them.
said he rented the empty shack in 2005 and operated it for 2½
years. His brother, Matthew, joined him in keeping it open almost
seven days a week. He was limited to coffee, bakery items, soft
drinks and candy, as he could not get approval to cook hot dogs.
His coffee beans came from Intelligentsia in Chicago and customers
seemed to prefer that brand, he said. An opportunity to manage
a waffle house in Delaware arose and he moved away for a while.
His brother kept the stand open for a time after that, but then
shut it down. They still hold the lease on the space, Aaron added.
The name Flying Bean Roasters came
from their appreciation of DeKalb history and the winged ear
of DeKalb Ag.
Another phone call came from Paul
Wheeler, who knew a former operator of the stand, Lucille Harold.
She ran it under the name Popcorn-Er Stand from about 1974 to
1982. She still lives in DeKalb, and she shared some of her history
of the little business.
She had been a manager
for Prince Castle on North First Street before venturing out
on her own. She sold popcorn, soft drinks, candy, cotton candy
and snow cones. Her prices were lower than those of the Egyptian
Theatre down the block, so when she was
Grandpa Alberts White Popcorn.
Customers line up at the Popcorn-Er Stand in this 1977 photo
from former owner Lucille Harold. (Provided photo)
in business she had long lines of theatergoers before shows.
She returned to work at Prince Castle in 1982, and the business
I discovered some of the other owners
by using the old city directories at the DeKalb Public Library.
A previous business at the corner was a shoeshine stand, but
no names of owners surfaced. Going back to 1948, a Roella Arms
operated it. In 1950, Wallace Myers was the owner. From 1953
to about 1957 it was known as Snyders Popcorn Stand. From 1959
to about 1969 it operated under the name Duchess Popcorn, but
no individual was listed as the owner. In 1971, the directory
listed it as Pop-N-Stop and the owners were Allen and Sue Jardine,
Tom Kobin and Carol Kramer. Some of the years listings
are missing, but from about 1986 to 1997, the owner was recorded
as Denes Stellatos.
Now a personal note: I have
been a popcorn lover since my uncle and aunt, Albert and Lila
Schmidt, raised popcorn from the 1940s to the 60s in a
plot south of DeKalb. They bagged it and sold it at their home
and at their D-X service station at the corner of Fourth Street
and Lincoln Highway. They have both passed away, but at the end
of December their son, Duane, and his wife, Carol, gave me a
surprise birthday gift a two-pound bag of unpopped corn
with the label Grandpa Alberts White Popcorn.
He explained that their son, Jim, has decided
to introduce this new brand of popcorn by bagging corn raised
at the Nesler/Hughes farms near Genoa. The label includes a photo
of Albert in his captains cap, which I remember him wearing
each time he gave us a ride on his pontoon boat at Lake Kegonsa
near Stoughton, Wis. What wonderful memories, and I will cherish
every kernel of that corn.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115