June 4, 1996
It was time for the Sunday morning children's sermon at one of the local churches, and the youth minister was starting to explain the mystery of the triune God. "We call him God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost, and that's kind of confusing to have three names for the same being, isn't it?," he asked. Naw, said one of the pre-schoolers, with the wisdom of Solomon. "Everybody has three names." Chuckling, the youth minister had to agree that that was a better explanation than the one he had in mind, but he went ahead with his own plan anyway.
Speaking of church services, my Presbyterians are having a "no excuse Sunday" this weekend, and that means those who fail to show up are going to have to do a lot of explaining. The usual summertime alibis (like sleeping in, catching up on yard work, unexpected guests, and so forth) won't get an absentee member off the hook. We're also expected to bring at least one guest, so if some of you don't already have plans for the hour between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. next Sunday, please come to Eighth and Elm and we'll be glad to claim you. We'll bring in extra chairs if necessary.
You may have noticed that Judy, the Oklahoma City Zoo's beloved elephant, is celebrating her 50th birthday this summer. Judy has a real Perry connection. Back in the 1940s she was brought here shortly after her arrival at the Oklahoma City zoo and she remained in Perry several weeks: for a period of training. Judy was housed in the old exhibit building at the fairgrounds, and that is where she learned her ABC's, or whatever they teach young elephants before the public sees them on exhibit at the zoo. June Ream remembers the time very well. Her late husband, Dale, used to take their two, daughters, Karen Dale and Jean Ann, to the fairgrounds each evening to watch the young pachyderm being fed, watered and just generally pampered. Many Perry children enjoyed getting acquainted with Judy during that time.
The Perry Main Street organization will celebrate its first anniversary with an entertaining program the night of June 13. Let me urge you to write that date on your calendar and be there to share in the fun. Special secret awards will be handed out to call attention to various major improvements in the downtown business district. All of these will come as a surprise to the recipients and slide films will explain the accomplishments that led to each award. The fun starts at 7 p.m. in the Foucart building on the southeast corner of the square. It won't be a long, drawn-out affair. Come on down and join the celebration.
The Wichita Eagle sports page recently carried an interesting feature about Toby Smith, a hot young professional baseball prospect from Guthrie who has close Perry ties. Toby, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound home run hitter and relief pitcher, is playing this season with the AA Wichita Wranglers, a farm team of the Kansas City Royals. His parents are Jim and Sue Smith of Guthrie and his grandmothers are Betty (Mrs. Foy) Smith and Esther (Mrs. Glen) Hodge of Perry.
Toby passed up his senior season at Wichita State to sign with the Royals in 1993. He was a 32nd round draft pick. Before turning pro, he was WSU's first baseman, but he did some bullpen pitching late in the season and caught the eye of pitching coach Brent Kemnitz, who of course is the son of Charles and Laura Kemnitz of this city. Smith's fastball was clocked at 90 mph. After high school, Toby spent two seasons at Connors State Junior College before transferring to Wichita State. There he hit 18 home runs and batted .351.
The Royals drafted him as a pitcher and he spent last season at class A Wilmington in the Carolina League where he was 5-7 with a 3.08 ERA in 30 games, seven as a starter. "I like pitching, I enjoy it a lot," Smith says, but he still has a yen to pick up a bat again. "Everybody thinks I'm done as a hitter, but I don't think so," he says. Wish him luck as he continues his dream of making it in the big league.
When Ted and Marilyn Jerome were married, they moved into a small rental house across the alley from us and we enjoyed getting to know the young couple. Todd was born while they lived there. Eventually we both moved from that neighborhood but later Ted and I were co-workers at the Ditch Witch factory. There his great smile and boyish enthusiasm served him well as a district sales representative, calling on customers and dealers in various parts of the US. Still later he took over Harry Elwell's auto supply store and continued operating it successfully. For the last few months he has been battling a terrible disease, always optimistic, but then it just became too much for him. I have to believe that famous grin never completely deserted him. This community is touched by the loss of a young man like Ted, and our hearts go out to his family.