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March 21, 1996

The photograph that appeared with last Saturday's column about the Kraemer Shoe Store was from the immense collection assembled over a period of several years by Brace Smith, retired state highway department engineer and a man with eclectic tastes in hobbies. Brace was the unofficial "town photographer" for many years, shooting portraits, weddings, anniversaries, Cherokee Strip celebrations, and. just about anything that came along. He still has hundreds of negatives and slide prints, all neatly indexed and cross-referenced for retrieval when needed.

Last Saturday's picture with the Kraemer Store column showed the north end of the east side of the square as it looked in 1956, when the Kraemer store went out of business after 63 years of operation. Anchoring the north end was Foster's Corner Drug, still there but now operated by Mike and Janet Shannon; then the Roxy Theatre, once operated by Charlie and Pearl Wolleson but closed when the Chief Drive-In was opened north of Perry; then came Kraemer's Store. The photo shows empty display windows at Kraemer's and the Roxy's marquee read: "Drive-In Open North of Town." The theatre's box office was empty and there were no pictures or posters listing coming attractions. Of course, the much larger Perry Theatre, operated by Gene McKenna, was showing firstrun features nightly just up the street, where the Exchange Bank's drive-up windows are now located.

I am much obliged to Brace for providing that excellent photo. I spent an interesting afternoon with him recently, admiring his workshop, darkroom and his impressive collection of handmade jewelry, his rock hound trophies, his travel photos and a sampling of some other Perry pictures. You'll be hearing more about a few of those in due time.

I am also indebted to Millie Highfill for answering my recent question about the year Minnie Pearl of the Grand Old Opry headlined Perry's Cherokee Strip celebration. It was in September of 1956, when an estimated 1,500 people attended her rollicking stage show at Daniels Field in Perry stadium. Millie is a local history authority and one of the Noble County Genealogical Society's hardest workers. She says Minnie Pearl's appearance here will be highlighted in the society's 1997 calendar, "God willing and if the creek don't rise," as Minnie would have put it.

I have to take just a few minutes here to tell you about that ski trip to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, last week. It was great fun, even for the few of us who didn't ski. There is something positively spiritual about the awesome grandeur of the Rocky Mountains and their rugged majesty. Just gazing upon that marvelous example of God's handiwork will give you a lift. Most of our group spent each day on the slopes, then returned to Glenwood's fabulous 103-year-old Colorado Hotel for the evening meal in our own private dining hall. Games and a devotional followed.

Entertainment one night was a contest open to all ages in which we attempted to hang an ordinary teaspoon on the tip of our nose. The winner was the one whose nose, unassisted, cold keep the spoon in place the longest. Each table had its individual champ, then all of those competed in a "spoonoff" to choose the grand prize winner. Our three-year-old granddaughter, Jill Bieberdorf, won the ultimate championship by posting the longest hang time with her spoon. Her sister, Amy, 6, also was in the finals and placed third. Their folks are John and Susan Bieberdorf. Just had to report all this in the name of accurate and thorough coverage, you know.