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May 20, 1997

Another senior class has gone through the graduation ritual at Perry high school, and the families of those wide-eyed students should have a sense of pride and exhilaration. The thrill of closing one chapter in the life of these young men and women and of opening a new one, with all its daunting mysteries, golden opportunities and bright promises laid out for exploration, must bring to all participants a tingle of unequaled intensity.

You saw their pictures and read the brief biographical sketches of each one in The Journal's special souvenir edition last week, and you've read about the scholarships, awards and other honors won by this year's seniors, so there's no point in detailing all that again. This is an outstanding crop of graduates at PHS, but there's more to it than that. They have demonstrated a bonding with one another that is unusual and through that they have affected a collegial atmosphere rarely found in a group of young people where so many have shown unique and outstanding attributes. They seem to truly care for one another and to respect the individual qualities exemplified by their classmates.

The class of 1997 at Perry high school is literally brimful of promise for the future. We will be watching their continued growth and development with every expectation that these fresh young minds will accomplish great things as they mature. Hopefully, many of them will elect to make Perry their permanent home. They could do worse.

We like to think of our community as a city, not a village, but in one sense I think we can agree -- this village has done well in raising these children. Our best wishes to each of them!

A story on the front page of the Travel & Entertainment section in last Sunday's Oklahoman contained a photo and information about "the Artrain," America's Museum in Motion, which is scheduled to be in Duncan May 22-25. It will present "Art in Celebration!", a collection of contemporary artwork from the Smithsonian Institution. Reading that cleared up the mystery of those strange looking railroad cars on a siding of the Burlington tracks in Perry the past few days -- that was the Artrain itself, parked here while waiting for a locomotive to haul the cars to Duncan.

Too bad we Perry folks didn't have a chance to check it out. The collection contains 36 original prints and mixed media collages created since 1972 by world-renowned artists to celebrate important social and cultural events, including Lowell Nesbitt's "History of Flight" (1976) celebrating the opening of the National Air and Space Museum, plus many other notable works. Now, we'll have to go all the way to Duncan to see art work that was parked almost on our doorstep a few days ago.

And Monday's Oklahoman had a page one photo of Judy, the Oklahoma City Zoo's Asian elephant, celebrating her 52nd birthday. No one knows exactly when Judy was born since that occurred in the wild, but she came to Oklahoma City in 1949 after school children from throughout the state collected enough nickels and dimes to make that possible. How many of you remember that Judy spent her first few weeks in Oklahoma at the Noble county fairgrounds in Perry? This is where she was trained in basic behavior for her idyllic life in the zoo, so we claim a special interest in her.

The New Yorker magazine is out this week with an article about the Denver trial of Timothy McVeigh by Jeffrey Toobin, who seems to specialize in courtroom reporting through an occasional series bearing the title, "Annals of Law." The current piece covers the federal district court hearing now underway into the bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Essentially it is a profile of Stephen Jones, Mr. McVeigh's lead defense attorney. In telling the story the writer gives a great deal of important background information about the circumstances leading up to the arrest of the suspect by highway patrol trooper Charles Hanger, of Perry, on Interstate Highway 35, north of Perry, some 90 minutes after the bombing took place. Once again our town failed to get the recognition we deserve.

Mr. Toobin notes that attorney Jones previously had little or no national identity, that he is a Republican who failed in two tries at major offices, and that he is from Enid. Although Mr. McVeigh was arrested near Perry by a Perrybased trooper, then was incarcerated in the Noble county jail in Perry, none of this is mentioned in the article. The closest we came to being identified by name is a line concerning the familiar video tape showing Mr. McVeigh being led from the Perry courthouse on the way to Oklahoma City. In part it reads: " cameras outside a rural court house sixty miles north of (Oklahoma City) taped the 'perp walk' of Timothy McVeigh."

That "rural courthouse" is the one in Perry, of course. Some of us wish we had no connection with this tragic case, anyway, and I guess that's probably the correct way to think of it. I just wonder sometimes at the way Perry seems to be overlooked in the reporting of incidents that should involve all the five W's - who, what, where, when and why. This could give us a complex. Would that be grounds for a lawsuit against Jeffrey Toobin and The New Yorker?