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October 31, 1996

How often have you heard a former Perry resident comment that our little town has made great strides forward in the year since he or she left? It's not exactly a divine revelation, but the statement is so recurrent, it must be true. Perhaps it's the change of perspective. Perhaps we're doing something right now and then. Whatever. Here's what a friend, who has been away from here for some time, wrote to me recently:

"The city of Perry has so much more going for it than when I moved there (about 50 years ago), or even when I went away to college ...I especially regret not having the swimming pool sooner, and would have loved to have the YMCA and the theatre group operational while I was there. I never did take for granted the wonderful library, because I recalled that (the school my friend previously attended elsewhere) had borrowed books from my home for the teacher to read to my first grade class."

The YMCA, city swimming pool and Stagecoach Community Theatre were only dreamed about 50 years ago, and at one time we had no Perry Carnegie Library, but today they all are realities for us to participate in and enjoy. People like my friend in the letter above would have reveled in them years ago. Some folks of energy and ambition eventually felt the need and tackled the job of bringing them to reality. The generations that follow us undoubtedly will add much more onto the building blocks we leave them if we lay a groundwork for growth. Will you and I contribute to that or will we fail to continue making Perry a better place?

Words are such strange things. As our primary means of communication, they can be a source of comfort or pain, a suggestion of tender caring or bitter rejection. The same words have different meaning to different folks. It depends on how they are used and who is using them. The way we see them or hear them affects our understanding: oral inflections, facial expressions, background distractions, or, if printed, the use of italics or bold letters adds to the effect. They can conjure up the vision of an imminent bright horizon or an unstoppable plunge into darkness and fear. Politicians and their hired schlockmeisters have mastered the skill. This may be the subject of an extended essay someday.

What brought this to mind today is the discovery of a piece quoting Kit van Cleave, who is known as one of the most important writers on the arts in the Houston area. She has regular monthly columns in Houston Home and Garden, Scene, H. Magazine and Dallas Home and Garden. She recently came up with her list of the top ten most beautiful words in the English language. Here are her choices:
1. FREEDOM - the touchstone of reality through which the human existence is defined.
2. LOVE - a much-abused word which symbolizes an emotion practically non-existent. Not a political, manipulative, power or controlling tool.
3. PEACE - a state which civilized people have a right to expect, but which is still in danger from those who believe individuals are not very important.
4. COURAGE - the step forward into human character development.
5. HONOR - the step forward into a one-to-one relationship with oneself.
6. INTEGRITY - the step forward into a one-to-one relationship with reality.
7. LOYALTY- the, step forward into the ability to be true to relationships with one's fellows.
8. ABILITY - the particularly human quality which strengthens self-esteem.
9. INTELLIGENCE - not a rating on a test, but a use of self-sufficient thinking.
10. TALENT - the result of proper assimilation with all the above words, plus the vulnerability of allowing creative thoughts to surface.

See anything about the list you'd care to change by adding or subtracting? Looks pretty good to me.