November 30, 1995
The recent piece about Ethel Ryerson's Nursing Home in offices above Zorba's Department Store on the north side of the square brought back some memories to Clara Shelton. She writes as follows:
"My son, Ralph, was born there on Dec. 8, 1947, on his sister, Verna Lee's, birthday. Dr. Coldiron was very glad Mrs. Ryerson operated a maternity clinic there. He was hoping there would be a hospital in Perry. He had to drive several miles out in the country to deliver babies in their homes. The roads were rough and muddy then, not paved and graveled like they are now. We were fortunate to have Dr. Coldiron as our doctor, and, as you said, Mrs. Ryerson was a very nice lady."
Thanks to Mrs. Shelton for sharing that personal memory. Many other Perry families could tell similar interesting stories about the Ryerson Nursing Home in the era before Perry Memorial Hospital came into existence. Dr. C. H. Cooke delivered many babies at his Perry General Hospital on Sixth street, but birthing in the family homes was pretty much the way it was done in most cases until Mrs. Ryerson opened her facility.
Small world department: Laura and I were in Houston last week for a two-day workshop. Strolling through the crowded Galleria shopping mall during the weekend break, I turned around when a lanky young man tapped me on the shoulder and said with a grin, "I know you!" I assumed it to be a case of mistaken identity, because he did not look familiar. Then he said, "Perry, Oklahoma! Right?", and I knew he knew me but I didn't know him. But Laura recognized that grin. It was Anthony Harnden, son of Rev. Don Harnden who shepherded the Perry Presbyterian flock for ten years, starting in the early 1970s. Anthony and his wife live in Houston, which is now America's fourth largest city. What are the odds against bumping into an acquaintance from Perry in that megalopolis? Anthony now is about 64"; he was in grade school when the family left this community. He's married, has a child, and he and his wife are both phlebotomists. His dad pastors a church in Louisiana.
Susan Ellis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lester Williams of Perry, is the possessor of an interesting piece of memorabilia relating to the fabled 101 Ranch. The article is an old roadside sign which once told travelers along U.S. 77 in the Marland area that they were in the vicinity of the historic ranch.
Les Williams obtained the marker several years ago from someone who was moving and throwing things away, including this sign. Les recognized its historic significance and asked permission to salvage it. After a few years, he gave it to his daughter, Susan, and she now is the proud owner.
The signboard has a curved peak at the top bearing an Indian emblem composed of a peacepipe, green leaves on a branch and a feather. Below that is the legend: "101 Ranch Old Boundary Line Here." The rest of the board bears this information: "Named for its cattle brand, '101,' this ranch was begun by Col. George W. Miller on his claim at the opening of the Cherokee Strip, Sept. 16,1893. Operated by sons George. Jr., Joe and Zack Miller, the ranch covered 100,000 acres. By 1926 it was world famous for its 'White House,' Wild West show, oil wells, livestock, farm crops and manufactured products." The piece is signed and dated by the Oklahoma Historical Society and the State Highway Commission 1950.
It measures 45 1/2" by 30", and its size makes it difficult to find a suitable place to display the signboard, but Susan, who lives northeast of Ponca City, is looking. Sadly, nearly all traces of that legendary ranch are now long gone, but relics and stories about the place remain with us.