March 12, 1996
A nationally distributed newspaper, "The Antique Traveler," is helping a lot of people learn about Perry, thanks to the dedicated efforts of Roy Kendrick at the Cherokee Strip Antique Mall. The paper is avidly read by folks who travel around looking for authentic antiques with unique ties to the area where they are sold.
Roy has contributed several articles to the paper dealing with Perry's interesting history and pointing out some of the special features this town has to offer. The paper is found at antique and collectible shops throughout this area and in many parts of the U.S. It is mailed from Mineola, Texas, to a list of subscribers in a broad area. The pages contain numerous ads placed by the shop owners telling collectors where they can browse or buy.
A recent issue, for example, contained a story written by Roy entitled "Perry, Oklahoma, Full of History." It describes the strategic location of his mall in the downtown area, then branches into a bit of history about the Kumback, Shady Lady Steak House, Hell's Half Acre (from the era of the 1893 land run), and some of the fascinating characters who called Perry home in the days before statehood -- Marshal Bill Tilghman, Heck Thomas and Buster Keaton, among others -- plus the old Grand Opera House, our present-day Cherokee Strip Museum, and Perry's ideal location.
In another issue, Roy provided a story about the history of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association, the Cherokee Outlet, the 101 Ranch and some of the lore of the September 16, 1893 land run when Perry was born. Also included was a rundown on our annual Cherokee Strip celebration. No telling how many people learned about us for the first time through that medium. Perhaps many of them were here for the big event. A diagram of Perry's location on I-35 was provided and several of Perry's antique and collectible shops had listings in the paper.
Perry's fame also was spread in a recent Sunday issue of the Edmond Evening Sun. John Steichen passed along a clipping of that article which was written by Elaine Warner for the Sun's Sunday Travel section. Let me quote a portion of Ms. Warner's story:
"Perry is another of Oklahoma's famous overnight cities. It was settled on September 16, 1893, in the Cherokee Strip run. From that opening day high of 25,000, the population has dwindled to about 5,000. Still, Perry's citizens retain a hardy pioneer spirit, a pride in the past and an open-hearted welcome for visitors.
"If you subscribe to the adage, 'Life is uncertain, eat dessert first' you may want to start your visit at the Shady Lady Restaurant on the east side of town. The entrees are fine, but the pie is really something else! Order your pie before you order your dinner; favorites go fast ... (The restaurant) is located just north of the site that was known as 'Hell's Half Acre.' This area was once the home of close to 100 saloons and gambling halls -- a suitable neighborhood for a shady lady.
"Take time to drive around the square in downtown Perry. In front, of the 1915 Noble county Courthouse is a new addition, the Cherokee Strip Memorial Statue. Perched atop a stone pedestal is a buckboard seat with two eager home-seekers. You can almost see the ends of the reins whipping in the wind as the driver leans forward urging speed from his invisible team."
Ms. Warner continues in that vein with mentions of the Foucart building where the Chamber of Commerce is now located, the renovated 1909 Carnegie Library and its problems with the city administration when first opened, architectural features on downtown business buildings, and instructions on the correct, (Perry) way to pronounce the name of the Elite Hotel (eee-light), plus a promise to continue the column in one week with a story of her visit to the Elite (eee-light) Hotel and Cherokee Strip Museum.
Thanks to Roy Kendrick and John Steichen for providing these examples of the kind of publicity that delights the people of this city.