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November 28, 1995

Wilma Buffington is one of the volunteers who staff the thrift shop operated by the Noble County Association for retarded Citizens on Sixth street, a half block north of the courthouse park. Recently she noticed a small, tattered book of poetry that had been brought in by a donor. She recognized it as something too precious to be discarded, and she rescued it.

The book, entitled simply "Favorite Poems," is composed of verses selected by Lucy Minor Boyes, one of the early day cultural leaders of this community. She was the wife of Hiram L. Boyes, president of Perry's first bank, the Farmers & Merchants.

There is no date on the little book, but I would guess that it was printed in the 1920s. It was published by The Perry Journal back in the days when this newspaper also operated a job printing shop. Some of the selections are from well known poets of that day, such as Edwin Markham ("The Man With the Hoe"), Rudyard Kipling ("If), Edgar Guest, Joyce Kilmer, Henry Van Dyke, Longfellow and Whittier, but many of the others are unfamiliar, at least to me. Several versemakers are simply anonymous.

One, "My Childhood's Home I See Again," is attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Psalms from the Bible are included. Credit for selecting the 121st Psalm for inclusion is attributed to "L.A.M.B." It took me a moment to figure out that acronym for "Lucy A. Minor Boyes." Mr. Boyes himself contributed an original piece, "The Race," which describes the epic Cherokee Strip run of Sept. 16, 1893.

Mrs. Boyes obviously loved poetry and wished to share her enjoyment of it with others. There are stirring phrases, typified by "Invictus," which many of us learned in junior high:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be,
For an unconquerable soul.
In the full clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of by fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Wonderful thoughts, beautifully expressed. But I must tell you, there is a typo in the book. One of the lines above reads; "Beyond this place of math and tears," instead of "wrath and tears." Perhaps a schoolboy chose "math" purposely to characterize his own personal travail.

Lucy Boyes was a leader and tireless worker among a group of ladies who helped establish Perry Carnegie Library. She was a prime mover in securing a government patent for land at the southwest corner of the square as a site for the library. Mrs. Boyes also was a dedicated member of the First Methodist church. Her influence is found in the church's early history here.

Mr. Boyes and L. D. Treeman established the Farmers & Merchants Bank in Perry on the day of the land rush in 1893. His first wife died a few years after the opening, and Mr. Boyes married Lucy A. Minor in 1900. Together they helped lead this prairie community into the 20th century and endowed it with their own love of literature and the niceties of this life.

Thanks to Wilma Buffington for salvaging this little book and sharing it with me. I have turned it over to the Methodist church historian, Alice Schuermann, as an addition to their collection of memorabilia.