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April 4, 1995

Last week's question about whether or not a C.R. Anthony Co. store used to be in business here has elicited an affirmative answer. Several readers called or wrote to say yes, they remember it well. The store was on the north side of the square at 633 Delaware street, where Three Sands Oil Co. now has an office, and apparently it was operating by 1924.

Mrs. J. A. Wadsworth knows that to be a fact because her first daughter, Dollie, was born in 1924 and she remembers the store was in business at the time. Another daughter, Bonnie (now Mrs. Art Hamby) came later. Mrs. Wadsworth also recalls that the store manager or his assistant rented a three-room apartment from Mrs. Bill Ringler, who was Mrs. Wadsworth's sister.

Dorothy Ebersole and Maxine Mugler also confirm the location and approximate year of the Anthony store here. It was at 633 Delaware street where their father, B. J. Woodruff, operated a general mercantile business for several years. Anthony's moved into that building when Mr. Woodruff closed his store. Floyd Laird was manager of the Anthony store, the sisters say. His wife was Edna Mugler, Maxine's sister-in-law. Floyd later had his own clothing store here and at one time was Eddie Parker's partner at the Kumback Cafe.

Mrs. Gene Branham suggests that a Mr. Hetherington also was the manager at one time, possibly succeeding Mr. Laird. That's based on the recollection of her mother, Mrs. Margaret Loula, who also adds that her uncle, Roy Harris, was the assistant manager. Christine Prusa was one of the clerks there, Mrs. Loula says, and she confirms that the store was at 633 Delaware.

Vera Baker Luthye, a former rural school teacher in Noble county, sends word through her sister-in-law, Mildred Luthye, that she remembers the Anthony store and that Floyd Laird was the manager. Vera, who is now 88, grew up two miles west and two north of Perry where her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Baker, were early-day farmers. Vera and her husband, Louie Luthye, have lived in Cedaredge, Colo., since 1957. Louie is 92.

Conclusive documentation of the store's existence is provided by Mrs. Georgia Curtis, operator of Georgia's Fine Furniture Store. She has several pieces of nearly mint-condition C.R. Anthony Co. material bearing "Perry, Oklahoma" imprints. These objects include a sturdy cardboard box large enough for a woman's dress or a man's jacket, a heavy-duty paper sack covered with the Anthony logo of that day, and an advertising brochure with unbelievable 1924 prices listed. All of this came from the store in Perry - although no street address is given. It does back up the year attested to by the others.

Betty Smith has been taking inventory of material kept on file by the Perry High School Alumni Association, and she offers a copy of the 1924 Peroma, the PHS yearbook, which contains an ad for the C.R. Anthony Co. store on the north side of the square. Helen Nemec came to Perry in 1921 at the age of 3 but she remembers the Anthony store on the north side of the square, with Miss Prusa as one of the clerks. "My parents, the Souleks, bought all kinds of things there," she says. She is not sure just when the store closed.

Further affirmation comes from Betty Nolte. During our Centennial year, 1993, she took it upon herself as a personal project to survey all the businesses that have been around the square since the Cherokee Strip opening in 1893. As you might expect, there are some gaps, but she found a 1925 telephone directory at our Perry museum that does show a listing for C. R. Anthony Co. at 633 Delaware street.

Georgia Ripley firmly believes we had a C.R. Anthony Co. store here in the 1920s. "Our mother always purchased fabric and made all our clothing, except coats and shoes, but it was always a Red Letter day each fall when she would march us -- all six of us -- into Perry to buy our shoes and coats. Of course, the big Montgomery Ward catalog was pretty strong competition against the local stores. Just where your dollar would go farther was where it would be spent," she says.

Mrs. Ripley continues: "We always shopped for groceries, as I remember, at Mooter's Grocery. I'm not so sure on this as the Anthony store. Mooter's may not have had their store when we first came to the Perry area, but it is where we traded when it was in Perry - and a great man and wife they were. Perry has a great heritage. I only wish I could remember it all."

The Mooter Grocery Store & Market was operated by Mr. and Mrs. L J. Mooter at 205 Seventh street, south of the square, and the Mooters were, as Mrs. Ripley says, a great man and wife team. Theirs was one of several "Ma and Pa" grocery stores in business here in the 1920s, 1930s and into the 1940s. They served a good purpose, too. Mr. Mooter at one time was on the city council.

As noted in that earlier column, I remember that L.T. Hill Co. store, managed by Charlie and Thelma Boles, at the Delaware street location, and of course the Zorba Department Store which succeeded it. The B.J. Woodruff Mercantile Store was there for several years before any of the others, and Mrs. Curtis also has the remains of a calendar from that store in her collection. Apparently L.T. Hill acquired the location from Anthony's, but I have not been able to pin down the date the transfer occurred.

At any rate, my friend Ed Malzahn was correct when he said "welcome back" the other day at the opening of the new C.R. & Co. store in Perry Plaza, although few of us then realized that Anthony's was actually returning to this city. Thanks to so many of you who called with first-hand memories or other information about this matter. It's amazing how much we can come up with when we put our heads together, figuratively, like this.