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April 11, 1996

Starting next Saturday morning at 9 a.m., volunteer crews will begin Perry's annual Cleanup Day. Seems like only yesterday when we were going through this drill the last time. Isn't it amazing, how much junk/trash/mess can accumulate in such short order?

Cleanup Day has the support of our official city family, and we thank street commissioner Jim Davis and his crew for their special help in this effort. The Perry Development Coalition has been a major player in Cleanup Day since the group's inception a few years ago. Cindy Rice is chairman of the PDC's Beautification Committee, which promotes the project, and she also deserves a pat on the back along with all the members of her committee. They're working hard to make this day a success.

The object of Cleanup Day is to encourage all Perryans -- those in the business district as well as in residential areas -- to get their property in shape, rid it of weeds, piles of junk, sweep away the accumulation of winter trash, apply a little fresh paint where warranted, and just generally make it look like the folks who live here take pride in their community.

But don't depend on the street, department and the Perry Development Coalition volunteers to do the work for you. They are here to assist by hauling away the stuff you bring to the high school parking lot Saturday morning. There are not enough of them to do all the work of cleaning up individual businesses and residences; that's our part of the project. They encourage all of us to lend a hand in this eminently worthwhile effort. Gather up your junk and bring it to the high school parking lot Saturday morning. If you're physically unable to do that, call 336-4684, 336-4556, or 336-4100, and someone will assist you.

Cleanup Day would not be such a big problem if we just took care of our property all through the year. Get rid of those weeds poking up through the cracks. Sweep the sidewalks and driveways. Wash the windows. Chop down that volunteer vegetation before it grows wildly, out of control. Splash on a little paint from time to time. Then step back and admire the results, but don't dismiss the effort and do no more until Cleanup Day rolls around next year. Let's express our pride in Perry by putting on a clean, happy face throughout the community all year long. Here's wishing a joyous Cleanup Day to one and all!

The recent column devoted to Ethel L. Johnston prompted a most interesting letter from Mary Lee Campbell, a longtime friend now living in Vinita. Mary Lee is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Gus Wollard and the widow of O. B. Campbell, former managing editor of The Perry Daily Journal. The Campbells left here several years ago for Medford and O. B. eventually became publisher of the Vinita Daily Journal and a respected Oklahoma historian. Here's a portion of Mary Lee's letter:

"Ethel L. Johnston was a good friend of mine and my family. However, she did not start Camp Fire Girls in Perry. You see, I was their mascot, Mrs. William H. Beers, wife of the Methodist minister, started it when she moved to Perry. My dad, Gus Wollard, was her right hand man. You had to be 12 years old to belong. My sister, Lucinda Wollard, was 12. So were Ella Merry, Maxine Woodruff and Edna Mugler, but I was only 11. I was allowed to go along when daddy took them places for one year.

"Mr. Waltermire, a farmer, was daddy's dear friend and Camp Fire Girls camped on his place and used the mud slide down to the creek for a swim. I have and use the cane Mr. Waltermire made for dad from the root of a tree. Camp Fire has meant so much to me. I was a leader at Medford, then many times here in Vinita...Mother Nature, later Grandmother Nature …and have planned for my funeral to be a Camp Fire Ceremonial."

My thanks to Mary Lee for this warm and informative letter about the origin of the Camp Fire program in Perry and her devotion to its principles. The Wollard family lived at 1013 Elm street where Judge and Mrs. Dan Allen now reside. As I have noted previously, the Rev. Beers was the Methodist minister here some 70 years ago. Although we have the same last name, we are not related, to the best of my knowledge, but I keep hearing good things like this about him, so I'd be happy to claim him.

Preliminary surveying has been started for a new north entry to the Perry post office, including an approved ramp for the disabled to replace the one now in use. Postmaster Leonard Robinson says the west entry steps also will be reinforced to strengthen them as part of the project. None of this work will interfere with the new, wider sidewalks soon to be installed on all four sides of the square.