On May 11, 2008, I left our home in Wauconda Township, Illinois, to travel to my old stompin’ grounds in DeKalb County, Indiana. What prompted the trip was discovering that John Rea’s niece was alive and well (at that time; now deceased) in the town of Pleasant Lake. (John Rea was the traveling painter who created the murals on the interior walls of Smitty’s Tavern, as it was then called, in Waterloo, back in 1938; for more information on those murals, etc., go to http://fotobyfriend.smugmug.com/History/1938-Murals-by-John-Rea-in/3349766_wzzDs#186812344_XVQWS
.) Back then we had just two dogs, Daisy (bulldog) and Riptyde (pug); I brought them along for the ride. My brother Mark, with whom I stayed during my visit, was laid off from work for awhile, so he was happy to dog-sit while I made the rounds:
** I was able to attend my first meeting of the DeKalb Co. Indiana Genealogy Society, of which I am a life member; I’d certainly attend more regularly if I did not live so far away.
** On a beautiful, sunny morning I interviewed John Rea’s niece, Opal (Rea) Frye, at her home.
** At the public library in Waterloo I interviewed the daughter of the former owner of Smitty’s Tavern.
** I visited Don (a Waterloo H.S. classmate) and Pam Sebert at Don’s family farm, and along with mutual friend Dave Turner we all went out to dinner.
** At his home outside Hamilton, I interviewed my late dad’s first cousin, Dick Friend, who has spent many years researching Friend family history. I scanned a number of documents, which I really need to share with other family members as soon as possible.
** At her home near Auburn, I interviewed a relative on my mom’s side of the family, Joyce Saltsman, who shared genealogical information with me -- I also need to share THAT material with others -- ANOTHER uncompleted project!
** I’m so glad I was able to spend a little time with my Uncle George. He’d lost hid dear wife, Virginia, the previous April, and he too would be gone from us the following April. I apologize for the choppy sound quality in the video -- no problem before or since, so the reason for it is a mystery.
** On my way home I stopped in Corunna to take some pictures of the reconstruction of the bridge over the railroad tracks there. When I was a kid, walking over that bridge and looking down at the trains was a big deal!
I hope you enjoy these pictures, and I’ll try my best to start getting caught up on organizing the documents I scanned while visiting with Dick Friend and Joyce Saltsman -- while I still have (SOME OF) my wits about me!
May 18, 2011
UPDATE: Opal (Rea) Frye died 11-25-2010; Dick Friend died 3-2-2012; R.I.P.