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
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These women play cards for a cause
By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................February 5, 2013
Note to readers: Barry Schraders DeKalb
County Life column will appear on the first Tuesday of
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.
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 citys
librarians were entrusted with making decisions on book selections.
I wonder what they would have thought of Catcher in the
Rye and Lady Chatterlys 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
They elect a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer,
as well as select a scorekeeper who totals the years 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
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.
Youve 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.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115