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August 8, 1995

This is a piece dealing with a couple of old newspapers, and I hope you'll excuse the personal connection that I found herein.

Rudolph Zorba and I met on the north side of the square back around 1939 when his family moved here from Ponca City to open an apparel store for men and women. Our family's drug store was just up the street from Zorba's Department Store. Rudolph and his brother, Jack, helped their Mom and Dad in their store, and my sister, Gloria, and I took turns waiting on the trade at the City Drug Store. All of us were too young to be considered real clerks, but we thought we were. It was better than pitching pennies in the alley, as some of our contemporaries were doing.

Zorba's Department Store and the City Drug Store were landmarks on the north side of the square for years but time marches on and now they are both just a memory. I like to think they made an impression on this town, even though the City Drug has been gone for more than half a century and few folks now remember it. The Zorba family closed their business, the last department store in Noble county, in the late 1980s.

The other day Rudolph came across a copy of the July 27, 1935, edition of The Perry Daily Journal. At 60 years of age, it should qualify as a relic, but it is in remarkably good condition despite a distinctly yellowish hue on the old sheets. Rudy shared the copy with me and I am greatly appreciative.

What was the big news in Perry on July 27, 1935? Well, two-inch bold headlines across the top of page one announced this astounding fact: "WHEAT GOES TO 91 CENTS IN PERRY TODAY." The story reported that the price here had just taken a jump of three cents a bushel in response to short crop reports from all over the country. The Journal reporter said Noble county farmers stood to show a profit for the year as a result of greatly improved prices for farm produce. Sensational price increases for hogs (a top of $10.65 per hundred weight in Oklahoma City) had local farmers a bit ecstatic.

Elsewhere, Dr. C. H. Cooke was reporting progress on a complete remodeling of the exterior of his Perry General Hospital at the corner of Sixth and Ivanhoe, plus the addition of two rooms on the front of the structure. The exterior was being given a coat of stucco.

A light-hearted column of local events, called "Nearly News," contained several interesting items, and we're bound to quote some of them for you because that's why Rudy brought me the paper. Here's one:

"Freddie Beers has insured his sister's pet cat and dog. She pays him a penny every six weeks. If the pets should meet with an accident at any time, he pays her five cents - two cents if the cat dies and one cent if the dog dies." Yes, that was about yours truly and my sister Gloria. I remember getting out of the pet insurance business when no one else would buy a policy, and also because lawyer Al T. Singletary explained some of the fine points about regulations governing the insurance industry, including penalties for writing policies illegally. I think Gloria got her money back.

For your further amusement, here are a couple more items from the Nearly News column:

"Joe McClellan and Joe Foster have taken up bicycle riding. Joe was seen riding around last week with a pipe in his mouth puffing like he was riding a steam boat. Foster claims he rode son Bobby's bicycle downtown and then back home. He says that it was a lot of fun coming down, but such hard work pulling up the hill that every muscle in his body is sore."

And this bit of doggerel to wind things up:

"J. L. Barge is a man we admire
"For nothing arouses his ire;
"He did not rave,
"And he did not rant
"When he came out last week and saw that the back tire on his delivery truck had a blowout in front of his store on the "Pave-mant."

This next bit is entitled "Noble County Trivia," and it appeared in an unidentified newspaper at some point in time. Frank Ley found it and passes it along. I think this came from an edition of the Ponca City News, probably around the time of the Cherokee Strip Centennial celebration in 1993, and if I'm not mistaken, the questions are based on information contained in my book, "The First Generation." Here are the questions:

1. Who built the first courthouse in Noble county?
2. Who donated a hand-drawn hose cart for use in the first Perry fire department:
3. How many settlers were in Perry on Sept. 16, 1893?
4. Who was the first postmaster in Perry?
5. Where was "Hell's Half-Acre" and how did it get its name?
6. Who was the first recipient of a lifetime membership to the Perry Chamber of Commerce?
7. What is engraved on the tomb of Orlando Walkling, one of Perry's original settlers?
8. What was the town of Morrison originally named?
9. Who established the 101 Ranch?
10. Name one industry established in the Boomer camp near Morrison.

Answers given by the paper:
1. Lumberman T. M. Richardson & Sons.
2. Pabst Brewing Co. of Milwaukee.
3. 40,000 estimated.
4. C. P. Drace.
5. The area surrounding the Perry Land Office; because of the bars and other businesses set up in the area.
6. C. T. Talliaferro.
7. "See, I told you it was good for you." (See note below.)
8. Arnold. A post office was located there from 1893 to 1894.
9. George Miller and his sons, Joe, George Jr. and Zack.
10. A cheese factory.

(NOTE: The answer shown for No. 7 is incorrect. There is no such inscription on Mr. Walkling's head stone. My profile of him in the book suggested that he would have been within his rights to ask for something of the sort, seeing as how he drank two quarts of goat milk per day before dying at the age of 106. He was a strong believer in the therapeutic value of goat milk.)

Thanks to Rudolph Zorba and Frank Ley for these contributions.