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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently write a column Monthly for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each month and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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These women play cards for a cause

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................February 5, 2013

Note to readers: Barry Schrader’s “DeKalb County Life” column will appear on the first Tuesday of each month.

Some 115 years ago in 1898 Annie Glidden and a few other DeKalb ladies decided to form the Library Whist Club to raise money to buy books for the fledgling library which had opened in 1893 in a room above the city council chambers.
The club was also meant to be a weekly social occasion and it continues today, but the original membership of 21 has been reduced to 12. There is a waiting list of those who would like to join, probably more difficult than getting into a P.E.O. chapter.
Originally the game was Whist, but after a few years they changed to Auction Bridge, then Contract Bridge and later Duplicate Bridge, which they play today.
A Daily Chronicle article on their history in 1993 reported they had donated 10,140 books by that time, so 20 years later the total must be near

Gathered for a recent weekly bridge game are these members and guests of the Library Whist Club. From left at the front table are Shirley Johnson, Fran Erickson and Sally Stevens. In the back from left are: Elaine Johansen, Mary Pearson, Linda Pietens, Barbara Sherman, Phyllis Moore, Bev Murphy, Virginia Larsen, Nancy Mecklenburg and Diane Barick.
(Barry Schrader — news@daily-chronicle.com)


11,000, but DeKalb Library Director Dee Coover said they have stopped counting. Originally the club donated books only after members had perused them “to make sure they reflected the correct moral tone.” But after a few years the city’s librarians were entrusted with making decisions on book selections. I wonder what they would have thought of “Catcher in the Rye” and “Lady Chatterly’s Lover” or even “Huckleberry Finn” in those early days.
The 12 women meet each Monday afternoon during the fall and winter for refreshments and some serious card playing. They rotate among members’ homes and have alternates or substitutes on call when a member cannot attend. Such was the case one day last month when I visited the club and two women were there as alternate players.
They elect a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, as well as select a scorekeeper who totals the year’s cumulative scores to determine a winner. The scorekeeper for the past 10 years has been Elaine Johansen who joined in 1975 at the invitation of the late Jane Bradt. The late Charlie Bradt (her husband) once told me that in his teenage years he was allowed to fill in the last minute when they were short of players. I recall Charlie still playing bridge at Oak Crest when he was nearly 107 and he just passed away at age 108 two years ago.
The member with the longest tenure at present is Phyllis Moore who joined 40 years ago. Her husband Frank, like most other spouses, manages to leave the house each time she hosts the club and knows not to return until the ladies have departed, so he says.
In addition to Erickson, Moore and Johansen the other members are Marti Birkett, Shirley Johnson, Mary Pearson, Virginia Larsen, Nancy Mecklenberg, Bev Murphy, Barbara Sherman, and Bonnie Yocum. You’ve got to have a lot of respect for this group, staying together for 115 years, keeping focused on the goal of helping the library acquire more books, and enjoying themselves with a game of bridge along the way.
These ladies and thousands of other DeKalb residents have a monumental task ahead of them, trying to raise several million dollars in the next few months so the state grant for expanding the library can be secured.

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115