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October 10, 1996

Several interesting construction projects are underway in the community. How many have you personally inspected? Maybe you can add some more to the list.

The two largest jobs are at the Charles Machine Works, Inc., on West Fir avenue, and the new Country Club house on North Ninth street. Steel frameworks have been erected at both sites and soon the structures will have an even more definite configuration when siding is added. The Country Club folks hope to have their new building ready in time for a Christmas celebration, but the CMW job probably won't be ready by then. It will be the new home of the SubSite factory, which is now located downtown in the old CMW building. The SubSite division has outgrown those quarters.

The Episcopalians have put up a fine looking new stockade fence around their yard at Seventh and Grove, and my Presbyterians are in the midst of erecting a large new multipurpose metal building at Eighth and Elm. It will provide storage for the church van, lawn equipment and other miscellaneous articles, and one large segment will be an activities room for various purposes as needed.

In the downtown area, the Perry Development Coalition has repaired that historic iron railing along the south side of the Foucart Building at Sixth and Cedar. It was heavily damaged in a freak motor vehicle accident several months ago. Two blocks down the street, on the west side of Sixth, the exterior of another business building has been repainted in preparations for a new occupant. And of course Clyde Speer has started a long process of renovating the Kehres Elite Hotel & Restaurant Building and will soon turn it into a hotel once again. Georgia Curtis held a three-day public auction at the historic old Elite building earlier this month to dispose of her antiques and collectibles there.

Out at the fairgrounds, the new roofline on the Women's Building is a practical and attractive change. It removed the valley between two adjacent buildings which were erected at different times through the years, so that now they are unified into a more eye-pleasing configuration.

Lloyd Brown continues to enhance the building and grounds around the funeral home at Seventh and Jackson. The latest addition is an attractive new yard sign beneath a steeply, pitched roof on the south lawn, and large new letters on the north side of the building to identify the business. Extensive exterior and interior redecorating has been going on at Lloyd's place most of this year. The Exchange Bank has added a new outdoor ATM machine in one of its drive-through lanes, and Boatmen's Bank has put up new signage reflecting the company's new name (used to be Bank IV). All these things add up to greater convenience and more eye appeal for those who transact business in this community.

A recent column mentioned that a small business district once existed east of the Cow Creek Bridge on Cedar street. That reminded Don Stoddard of an old storefront that stood on the northwest corner of Third and Cedar in the early 1940s. His family lived for years around what we now know as Leo East Park, so Don asked his aunt, Hazel Hileman, 87, if she remembered anything about that old building. She not only remembered, but she also knew that a man named Pressler had a grocery store there.

Don adds: "Oddly enough, just across the alley due north of where that store once stood is an old cellar with a trailer home sitting close by. My dad, Leland, was born in 1903 in a house, now long gone, which stood about where that trailer home is located. Aunt Hazel said that old cellar was where my Dad was born. The cellar may be as old as the town of Perry. Aunt Hazel says that an aunt and uncle of mine once lived in part of the old Pressler store."

Mrs. Hileman remembers many people and events from days gone by in Perry. She is shown in my book, The First Generation, in a 1941 photograph of Eddie Parker with his cadre of waitresses at the Kumback Lunch. Eight waitresses are pictured; Hazel is the one standing next to Eddie.