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April 13, 1996

The early rustlings of spring find things bustling in our town. Just look around and see what's going on. Wal-Mart is getting ready for a major interior renovation at their store on Perry Plaza, starting later this month. Merchandise will be relocated and the line of services will be expanded, but no additional space will be added to the building at this time. Also at the Plaza, Pizza Hut has completed a thorough interior makeover and expansion, and it looks great.

Jim Miller's Old South eating shop on the south side of the square has had a facelift with a new exterior paint job, improving that particular corner of the business district. Bernice and Wally Schieffer are installing a sturdy new pipe fence at the rear of their offices on the east side of the square, and Mike and Janet Shannon are planning some improvements at their Corner Drug Store just down the street from there. The Shannons also are new owners of the former J.C. Penney store building, where Mel's Clothing and a dance studio are located. The Wash House soon will have new facilities at Eighth and Fir. Members of the Church of the Nazarene are adding to their building, and the First Christian church is about to undertake an ambitious expansion program also.

The whole town should look brighter when Saturday's Cleanup Day efforts have been completed. Thanks to all those who worked in this effort, and also to those who pitched in to clean up their own little areas. Just like housework, this is a never-ending project. Let's keep at it.

One of the reasons things are upbeat in Perry is the continuing thrust of our Perry Main Street organization. The other night in Oklahoma City, 17 Perry folks were on hand for the tenth anniversary celebration of the Oklahoma Main Street program. Total attendance from towns all over the state was around 450, and you just can't come away from a meeting like that without feeling enthused. It's like a giant pep rally. Main Street towns are on the go everywhere. There's a feeling of optimism wherever this program is in operation, in big towns and little towns -- many of them smaller than Perry. Their economy is improving, the business districts are getting new life and a cleaner look, merchants are rising to the challenge and getting out of old ruts, and it all just seems contagious. If you want to be a part of Perry's Main Street program, call Betty Warner, the program manager, at 336-1212 and ask where you can help. Anna Lou Randall received a handsome and well-deserved plaque as Perry's 1966 "board member of the year" at the Oklahoma City banquet.

Before either side concedes this year's presidential election to the other side, think about 1936. The Literary Digest was one of the country's most respected magazines then and their weekly presidential poll was closely watched. Alfred M. Landon of Kansas was the Republican nominee opposing the reelection of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt who was seeking a second term. On the eve of the election, the Literary Digest said its poll showed Landon would get 370 electoral votes and carry 32 states. You know what happened in the election: FDR won in a landslide, carrying all the 48 states except Maine and Vermont, and the Literary Digest went out of business.

Hoagy Carmichael's great tune, "Stardust," is generally regarded as one of the most beautiful ballads of this century. The music is exceedingly melodious, romantic and poignant, but the lyrics by Mitch Parrish also are truly lyrical. How can you not like something that begins like this: "And now the purple shades of twilight time steal across the meadows of my mind." Great images appear. The verse is longer than in most popular songs and it is as pleasing to the ear as the chorus, something you can't say about many ditties of the period. Those are just some of the reasons that this song ranks as my all-time favorite, hands down. It's hard to imagine a bad rendition of "Stardust," though I suppose that's possible. I don't even want to think about it.

Mr. and Mrs. George McGuire, who live east of the city, are rightfully proud of their 19-year-old son, Joshua. He is a freshman at Langston University on a full academic scholarship. Joshua had the highest score of his freshman class, which has more than 500 students. The McGuires take special pride in this because he is a product of home schooling, something we're hearing more and more about these days. Mrs. McGuire says their home education program is based on moral values, loyalty to family and individual instruction, and those points are eloquently covered in an essay Joshua wrote earlier this year. Congratulations to the entire family.