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July 25, 1997

Much of today's column stems from reader contributions, suggestions, or requests for assistance. This helps me catch up on a few of these unrelated odds and ends.

Mayor Hollingsworth recently received a letter from Christine Sheppard, who lives in Bristol, England, seeking information about a branch of her family tree, and Perry is involved. Mrs. Sheppard writes in part as follows: "Dear Mayor, I am tracing my family tree. I came across the enclosed document concerning Harry Shortman, who is my greatgreat-uncle. Would it be possible for you to send me any information you may have about Harry or the whereabouts of his daughter and step-daughter?"

The document referred to is a photocopy of a death notice and obituary concerning Mr. Shortman, apparently clipped from The Perry Daily Journal in 1942. Mr. Shortman, a pioneer settler of the September 16, 1893, Cherokee Strip land rush, was described as a member of the Perry city council and acting mayor from April 1898 until 1914. The report also called him "one of the oldest and most active members of the Perry Order of Odd Fellow lodge." After a period of ill health here, he moved to the home of his daughter, Mrs. Alice Wenzel (or Wensel), of Oklahoma City, where he passed away on January 22, 1942. He was born on April 1, 1857, in Bristol and came to the U.S. at the age of 27, settling first in Chicago. His fist wife, Mary Frances, died in 1905. The couple also had a son, Loren, who lived only a short time. In 1907 he married Mrs. Leah Witcher, who died in 1935. He also had one step-daughter, Mrs. Vera Kirchner, of Houston,Texas; and two grandchildren, John Wenzel (or Wensel) Jr. and Doris Faye Kirchner.

If you can help Mrs. Sheppard with her project, please write her at 130 Willis Rd., Kingsweed, Bristol B515, England. I'll be doing a little research, also, to see if more information is available.

Bruce Force, youthful and energetic chairman of the city airport board, made a presentation to the Rotary club the other day in which he described some of the dreams he has for development of that interesting piece of real estate north of town. "I call it a sleeping giant," Bruce said, because of its proximity to the Cimarron Turnpike to Tulsa and the I-35 north-south traffic artery. "Someday someone like Sam's Club is going to recognize the features our airport has and something like a regional warehouse is going to be located there," he added.

Right now a large new hanger is under construction at the field and members of the airport are seeking early-day photos related to the airport to be displayed in that building when it is completed. Richard Haynes, vice chairman of the board, says they would like to have some early aerial photographs of Perry, or sights, including planes, at the airport from another age. If you can help out in this regard, call Richard or Bruce.

Earl Nicewander has some interesting menus from the Gem Cafe, the late Wes Marcy's popular food emporium which was located on the south side of the square toward the east end of the block. The cafe was closed about 45 years ago, but a few of us still fondly remember the place. Earl's menus were not dated, but the printed prices look like the 1930s. Here are a few examples from the breakfast listings: Bacon, ham or sausage and two eggs, 70 cents (for one egg the price was 55 cents); three hot cakes, 35 cents; three-hot cakes and two eggs, 55 cents; one waffle, 25 cents; oatmeal or dry cereal served with milk or cream, 25 cents. A glass of juice was 15 cents, coffee was a nickel. and all other drinks were 10 cents.

The dinner menu had fried chicken at 90 cents (all white meat was $1.15); chicken fried steak, 90 cents; baked ham, 95 cents; roast pork, 90 cents; and hamburger steak, $1. All came with a choice of vegetables. T-bone steaks, a favorite of many, came on the a la carte selections priced at $1.75. A bowl of chili with beans was 35 cents, chicken and noodle soup was 30 cents, and stew was 65 cents. Or, you could have a hamburger for 25 cents; cheese burger basket for 60 cents; or a ham and cheese sandwhich for 50 cents. The chef's salad was 50 cents; combination salads were 30 cents. That's not all the items listed, but this gives an idea of what it cost to eat out in those days. Thanks to Earl Nicewander for sharing these menus with me.