December 2, 1995
Let me reassure those who fear the new 70 mph speed limit will increase the number of accidents on our highways. Motorists have been going that fast on I-35 between Perry and Oklahoma City for several years, so changing the legal limit won't require much of an adjustment for them. Some may have to slow down from 75 or 80, if the highway patrol makes good on its threat to crack down, but for the most part driving at 70 mph won't be anything new for most of them. The collision rate should not be affected.
I was privileged to sit in on a district meeting of the Christian Men's Fellowship the other night at our Perry Christian church. After a great spaghetti dinner, the men kicked things off with group singing led by Ray Nimmo with Ashley Alexander performing at the keyboard. Ashley's son, Richie, helped entertain the group before dinner. There's nothing so inspiring as a group of men singing hymns with gusto. I come from the Presbyterian discipline where it's kind of understood that you don't sing above sotto voce in church, so this was a wonderfully refreshing experience. More than 70 men from throughout the area took part.
After the meeting I had a chance to visit with a couple of former Perryans, Gene Burchardt of Crescent and Jay Hesser of Stillwater. Jay, our former Noble county farm agent, was sweating out the birth of another great-grandchild in Dallas. He stays in close contact with several folks in and around Perry. He and Gene both keep up with Perry by subscribing to The Perry Daily Journal. Gene's wife, Lorene, was head of the vocal music department in the Perry school system before she retired several years ago. She worked hard at that job and was able to develop a fine program while here.
Charles Baker, the former pastor of University Baptist church in Stillwater, was guest speaker. He now is a well traveled motivational speaker and business consultant working out of Tulsa. He mentioned that he is now a member of the First United Methodist church in Tulsa. "I found that dry cleaning was cheaper," he said. Charles was a popular pastor while at University Baptist church, and many Perry young people from a mixture of denominations worshiped at his church while they were students at OSU. Mr. Baker admonished the men to share their faith with their children and in particular to tell them their own story of finding Christ. He is an excellent speaker, or story teller, as he likes to call himself.
Some other folks have confirmed my recollection of Malloch's Book Store and its location on the west side of the square. Brace Smith says he remembers as a young boy in 1923 hitching his pony to a rail where the old Masonic Temple now stands, at the northwest corner of the square, and then going into Malloch's store next door, where Perry Floral & Gifts Plus is now located. Leroy Kelley also remembers the Malloch store on the west side. I'm still trying to pin down the Barton Book Store location. Thus far, everything indicates Barton's was Malloch's predecessor on the west side.
A note from Warenne Kennedy Harris in Canoga Park, Calif., adds some more information about the history of Perry high school pep songs and fight songs. Warenne wrote the words and music to the official PHS song, "Dear Old Perry High," in 1935, at the request of Glenn Yahn. "Without Glenn," she relates, "there probably wouldn't have been 'Dear Old Perry High.' I remember the night Glenn drove to Stillwater to see me and asked me to write a song for our school. I was surprised, but I said I'd do it. He wants a song -- I'll write one. So I went upstairs to my room and sat at my desk and I wrote it all before bedtime! It was introduced the next Friday night at a pep rally in the auditorium. We were fortunate to have Prof. Leopold Radgowsky, who made the arrangement for the band."
Warenne adds this bit of lore: "You mentioned a song (the Notre Dame fight song) that Perry used to use. I go back farther. The song I first remember was 'Dear Perry-O,' to the tune of 'Sweet Adeline.' I heard it first when I was in school at Perry's 'Old Central'." Warenne hopes to visit home folks here next September at the Cherokee Strip celebration. We ought to serenade her with "Dear Old Perry High" when she's here. It's a great school song.