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May 21, 1996

One of the former teachers returning here for the recent Rural Heritage Day celebration at the Cherokee Strip Museum was Gertrude Lockett of Houston, Texas. Before she left here a few years back, we knew her as Gertrude Norman, a long-time teacher in the Perry school system and before that in some of the rural schools around here. She also was a prime mover in the local chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Business & Professional Women's Club (BPWC). Gertrude, now 90 years old, looks just the same but says she is not as tall as she used to be. Her wit, her smile and her ready response to questions remain intact.

Mrs. Lockett's parents were Mr. and Mrs. John Hartung, early-day residents of this county. In 1958, her father was the first Noble county resident to donate his eyes to the Oklahoma eye bank. Her mother, Pearl, was one of Perry's favorite babysitters for years. Gertrude was accompanied here by one of her daughters, Margaret, now Mrs. Dick Froebel of Houston. The Froebels live just across the street from Gertrude and they kind of look after each other. It was their first trip to Perry in some time. They enjoyed checking out the changes in this community. Margaret's husband does contract engineering with NASA, the space agency, and Margaret is deeply involved in a couple of interesting projects, which we'll save to tell you about later.

A surprising number of Perryans collect bottles and glassware. It is, in fact, one of the major hobbies enjoyed by people of all ages throughout the U.S.A. As this special part of the Cherokee Outlet matures, more artifacts are turning up beneath old buildings and in excavations. Each new find excites collectors anew. Every now and then someone tells me about something they have located. I especially appreciate visiting with those who come across decades-old prescription bottles embossed with the name of my dadís City Drug Store, which he established in 1903. The store closed in 1940. Recently the family of Gladys Shea, who died just a few weeks ago, were going through some things stored in her garage at Sixth and Kaw. They were amazed to find six bottles of cough medicine bearing the City Drug Store label, with the original corks still in place. They had never been opened. The best estimate we could make indicated the bottles were at least 65 years old. Wonder if the contents would still cure a cough?

Gary McNabb was installing a central heat and air conditioning system in his home at 431 Elm. While working under the house; he found the remnants of a glass bottle embossed with the name of E. E. Howendobler, a pharmacist who came to Perry from Wichita at the opening of the Cherokee Strip on September 16, 1893. The bottle was intact except for a chunk missing at the top. It is embossed with the Howendobler store name and gives the location as "103 Cedar street, Perry, Oklahoma." That indicates the bottle was made after 1907, when statehood was achieved. Prior to that, this was "Oklahoma Territory." The small bottle was of special interest to me because my dad came here in 1895 from Wichita to work for Mr. Howendobler, two years after the opening. He was a graduate of the Howendobler School of Pharmacy in Wichita. I've always been under the impression that the Howendobler store began on the south side of the square, but this bottle indicates it started on east Cedar and remained there several years.

I remember many years ago there were remnants of wooden store fronts on Cedar just east of the Cow Creek Bridge. Folks used to say that a business district existed there in the earliest days of this city, but it became clear very quickly that the heart of the city was going to be centered around the courthouse square. The shops on east Cedar began disappearing, and now all traces of them are gone. Mr. Howendobler may have been one of the first to remove his store from that area to the downtown square.