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August 17, 1996

Postcard of Perry's Original Country Club
Perry’s Original Country Club had no golf course but it was a fine place for swimming, fishing and family outings. This picture postcard of the swimming area at the club lake bears a postmark of July 28, 1909. It is from the collection of Marcia Moore. Behind the fishing pier in right foreground are a water slide and other aquatic devices for swimmers.

Postcard of Perry's Original Country Club
Boaters Enjoyed Gliding Over The Lake at the original Perry Country Club sometime around 1909, as shown in this picture postcard from the Marcia Moore collection. The view appears to be looking to the west, with the roofline of the old Perry high school building on the horizon at right. Perry’s “shale hill” probably is the small outcropping visible on the left horizon.

Photograph of Perry Golf & Country Club's club house
Perry Golf & Country Club’s club house, shown above, is no more. The old frame building was purposely destroyed the past week to make way for a new metal club house. This is a view of the west side of the building as a trio of golfers putt on one of the nearby grass greens.

It's hard to pinpoint just when the Perry Golf & Country Club sprang to life. The club's records are incomplete and I am told that board minutes for the very first meetings are not to be found, so for now we'll have to be satisfied with a guesstimate. Based on what some longtime members have told me, the club apparently was organized about 75 years ago, in the early 1920s, or perhaps a little earlier. Willard Andrews, the present club president, believes the frame clubhouse was built in 1917. Possibly a reader can help us out with more definite information.

The club is in the news right now because the venerable old clubhouse is being demolished this week to make way for a modern new structure. Living quarters for the club pro, Buddy Gill, and a small pro shop have been moved temporarily to portable buildings set up in the center of a traffic oval near the main entry to the grounds. The old clubhouse was reduced to rubble, burned and then covered to make way for the new building.

Saying farewell to the old structure brings to mind many memories of good times that were centered around it. Countless family dinners have been served there through the years, and many local organizations have engaged its facilities for entertaining groups of varying size. When its hardwood dance floor was polished and popular with young folks, local bands, touring groups and record players provided music for waltzing, fox trotting, jitterbugging, and, I suppose, the Charleston, plus whatever other steps were all the rage at a given moment. Square dancers appreciated its comfortable accommodations. It was THE place for formal and informal parties when such things were in vogue. Dozens of newlywed Perry couples have received friends and family in receptions there. Bridge clubs found the screened-in south porch of the old building very suitable for their games on sunny afternoons when windows were raised to permit an occasional breeze to float through.

But problems of old age have been encroaching on the clubhouse for some time. The wiring was ancient and unsuitable for today's needs. Dressing rooms in the basement have had problems with water drainage for years. Kitchen and dining facilities just were not adaptable to this area. Cooling and heating have become major problems. You've heard similar stories: It's more practical to start with a new building than to fix up the old one. I haven't seen an architect's sketch of the new building but the description of it in this paper the other day indicates it will be attractive.

This was not Perry's first Country Club. As stated earlier, this club apparently was organized in the early 1920s. Long before that, we had the Perry Country Club (no golf course then) located in the southeast part of the city. It was built around a small but attractive pond which we now know as Wills Lake. You can get a good look at it nestled at the foot of a small hill where Memorial Drive curves to the south on the way to Grace Hill Cemetery. Today the little lake looks rather murky and forbidding but there was a time when it was the hub of family entertainment for this community.

The original Country Club was organized in Perry about 1899, according to information at the Cherokee Strip Museum. The first officers were Fred Kretsch, president; John A. Hansen, Charles Boright, W. H. Kirchner, James Lobsitz, H. C. Nicholson and A. C. Lamb, board members. However, they apparently waited a while before making application to become a corporation. The club's first certificate of incorporation was issued in July 1906 from the Oklahoma territorial capital in Guthrie. It lists the incorporators as John A. Hansen, Fred G. Moore, Fred C. Seids, James M. Taylor, Harry C. Pouder, Leopold J. Loeb and J. H. Stout.

The earliest documentation of the Perry Golf & Country Club's instrument of incorporation was issued August 13, 1945, and it was to be valid for a period of 20 years. The incorporators were C. H. Cooke, R. H. Powers, Keith McQuiston, H. M. St. Clair, R. W. Treeman, T. B. Wilson, W. P. Elliott, 0. J. Moore, J. P. Terry and J. P. Adams. Far as I know, all of those gentlemen are now deceased. The Perry Golf & Country Club certainly existed before August 13, 1945, but the confusion exists because there is no earlier certificates of incorporation in the club's records.

An old Perry newspaper clipping dated February 8, 1912, contains this information about the original Perry Country Club: "The Country Club lake, covering 12 acres (was) stocked with bass, crappie and perch, for a number of years, and about four years ago (1908) because of the nice catches of bass attracted the attention of local anglers, and the Country Club idea originated. W. H. Kirchner, Harry Pouder, A. A. Hughes and a few others took up the matter and a lease on the grounds was procured, and 100 stockholders solicited one of the nicest pleasure resorts in the country. A dancing pavilion, shoot the shoots and boat houses with nice skiffs were features of the resort."

An article dealing with Watkins Township in the History of Noble County, Oklahoma, published in 1987 by the Noble County Genealogical Society, adds this footnote: "A race track was built in the first years just south of Perry. It was located south of Cow Creek and west of what is now highway 86. Dr. S. A. Moore had a stable of race horses here. The first county fairs were held in the buildings and the National Guard held maneuvers in the open space. A bridge over Cow Creek, west of the present bridge, connected the town with the track and many people walked to the races.

"On the east edge of Perry was a pond of water where the cowboys had built a dam to hold water for the cattle on the drives north. After the opening, a man by the name of Wills built boat docks and a bath house there for the people of Perry. It was called Wills Lake and it covered 12 acres, while the grounds covered about 20 acres ...All that remains (today) is the pond north of Grace Hill Cemetery."

Pictures today show us some of the simple facilities available to members of the original Perry Country Club. Such things may seem a little ho-hum to a generation raised on Whitewater's daring aquatic devices, but I have to believe the young families of Perry's early years found the shoot the shoots, the water slide and other gentle diversions exciting enough to suit their fancy. The Perry Golf & Country Club began because enough people wanted a local golf course. To that has been added a lighted tennis court, a swimming pool and paved pathways for electric golf carts. Soon we'll have a new clubhouse to admire. Some of these things were unknown a few years ago, but today they are considered basic and absolutely necessary to fulfill society's contemporary pursuit of pleasure. Time marches on!