October 31, 1995
Two more pet peeves have been brought to my attention by a couple of readers. Tim Hight is disturbed by the large number of Perry drivers who make only rolling stops at stop signs around town. "There's going to be a bad accident at one of those corners someday," he says. A stop sign tells drivers to come to a complete halt, look both to the right and left, then proceed through the intersection. He's right. We can do better.
The next pet peeve is lodged by another reader who is unhappy with the parents who take so agonizingly long to say goodbye to the children they deliver each morning at Perry Middle school. This ties up traffic in the school's one-way drive when dozens of others are waiting to discharge their young ones. The reader who mentioned this asked to remain anonymous, but if this applies to you, please take note. And if you have pet peeves, let's hear them.
This is one of my favorite yarns and it comes from Kenneth Coldiron, one of my favorite story-tellers, who by the way is not enjoying the best of health right now. He passed this along to me a few years ago and I've been saving it for just such a day as this.
Kenny's father, the late Dr. D. F. Coldiron, a native of Kentucky, moved his medical practice to Perry from Red Rock back in the early days of this area. Some of his relatives also had settled at Pond Creek, north of here. One summer a nephew, Bill Coldiron of Harlan, Ky., drove to Oklahoma in a 1920 Model A Ford and asked for directions to "Concrete, Oklahoma, having misunderstood the name Pond Creek. (If you didn't know better, it's easy to see how Pond Creek might sound like Concrete when spoken.) He eventually was pointed to "Cement, Oklahoma," by someone who guessed that was the town he sought, since the state had no town called, Concrete. Bill reached Cement but found no Coldirons there, so he turned around and drove all the way back to Harlan. Folks there called him "Wild Bill" because of the six-guns and cowboy hat that he bought for the unsuccessful trip out West' to Oklahoma.
Here's a note I received from Gail C. Payne of Broken Arrow: "Now that you have 'opened the door' to the subject of cafes in Perry (when you wrote about Forney's), I hope you get more response, or correspondence, about other cafes of the past. I would like to know if anyone remembers the Curtis Cafe, owned by Raymond Curtis? I wonder if a picture of it exists anywhere. Our family took a tour to Polo community last spring because my niece was inspired by one of your columns."
I have no information about the Curtis Cafe and it is not listed in any of the city directories on my shelf. Perhaps someone out there can help us with this question. Where was it and in what time period?
Another inquiry of similar nature comes from Don Stoddard of Perry. Don has accumulated a number of historic Perry photographs dating from the turn of the century and the statehood era. I am very familiar with one of these. It shows a Sept. 16 celebration parade proceeding east along the north side of the square, on Delaware, with several businesses clearly identified. One of these is the B.J. Woodruff Mercantile Store, which in more recent years housed Zorba's Department Store. The one that interests Don, however, is up the street from there in the Palmer & Smelser building, where the Cherokee Strip Antique Mall is located. A sign above the canvas awning there reads "Parham's Pharmacy," and Don is looking for information about that business. I also am curious because that building is where my dad, Fred W. Beers, opened the City Drug Store after his original store on the west side of the square burned down on April 3, 1908. I know Parham's Pharmacy was a predecessor to dad's store in that location, but that's about all I can say. If anyone can give us additional information, Don and I would be happy to receive it.
Fredonna Dowell passes along this article from the March 2, 1911, edition of the Perry Republican weekly newspaper:
"Fire destroyed two Perry landmarks on Sunday. The Bryan building and the old Van Cleef building housing the McCoy Grocery and the Ed Mossman Grocery were lost in the flames. The old Senate building, as the Bryan property was called, had an interesting history. It had been occupied as a saloon, restaurant, dry goods store and again as a saloon several years before statehood (1907). The upper rooms had been put to various and diverse uses. Back in the 1890s was its palmy days, when entering the upper rooms one might hear the gentle clicking of ivory checks, the magic whirl of the roulette wheel or the eager 'Little Joe' or 'come a seven' from the crowd around the crap table." The article did not give the location of the building that was burned. Perhaps someone can add a few more details to this account.