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October 31, 1997

Hope you are all prepared for the trick or treaters tonight. We had to reload our inventory because of a depletion resulting from personal testing of the goodies we had purchased earlier this month. They were good. Too good. Most of them were gone well before the night they were intended to be used, but the original supply has been supplemented.

Some national statistics show that Halloween is now the second biggest marketing holiday in the U.S., trailing only Christmas, and it is estimated that no fewer then one half the homes in this country decorate for Halloween. I believe we in Perry are in line with those figures. A number of our homes are displaying ghostly scenes on the front lawn or elsewhere as more and more folks get into the spirit (pardon the pun) of the season.

If you missed the Halloween bash sponsored by Perry Main Street last week at the old Elite Hotel, let me just say that is was a night to remember. Musical specialties by the "Pillage People" and "Superbs," all brilliantly garbed, certainly were highlights along with the Michael Jackson routine by Dustin Allen. But I'd have to say one of the show stoppers was the entry made by Craig and Ruby Kemnitz on their genuine Harley as they led some of the other performers into the building. The snacks also were great and plentiful. Most of those attending wore appropriate costumes and it was tough to figure out who some of them were in real life. It was a wonderful evening, all in all, and a great fund-raiser for an excellent cause -- our hard-working Main Street organization.

Among the guests were Travis Peery, newly named Perry Chamber of Commerce executive director, and his wife, Christina. Travis is the former youth director at the United Methodist church so he is not unfamiliar with this community by any means, but he is still feeling his way in this particular vocation and he is trying hard to get acquainted with many new friends. Drop by his office in the Foucart building and introduce yourself if you haven't done so already. The Chamber of Commerce needs the input and working assistance that all of us can provide.

One more thing about the Elite Halloween bash. Georgia Curtis, whose furniture and antique collection formerly occupied the building on the north side of the square, has now relocated to another rather historic building on Sixth street. She was a courteous hostess during her years at that former location and her recreation of the old Elite Hotel ambience on the second floor was a prime tourist attraction. The building she is now in also once was a hotel and it is closely tied to the early history of Perry. In the 1940s, L. R. Phillips operated the Peerless Hotel at 514 Sixth street. It was one of 12 downtown hotels listed in Moorhead's City Directory in 1940. Others, if you're interested, were: Arrow Hotel, 615 1/2 Delaware; Bowman Hotel, 601 1/2 Delaware; Cain Hotel, 524 Sixth street; Elite Hotel & Cafe, 609 Delaware; Hotel Doggett, 326 1/2 Sixth; Hotel St. Louis, 716 Cedar; Hotel Wa-Nee, 732 Cedar; Marsh Hotel, 326 1/2 Sixth; Ross Hotel, 309 1/2 Seventh; Standard Hotel, 115 1/2 Seventh; and the Whiteway Hotel, 407 1/2 Sixth.

We didn't have I-35 on the west side of town then, but Moorhead's listed four "tourist camps" in the directory, in addition to all those hotels. They were: Big Elm Station, 302 Cedar; Cozy Camp, Highway 77 South; Silverthorne, No. 6 Seventh; and the Thomas Tourist Park, Highway 77 North. Far as I can tell, the Silverthorne location is the only one still in.business.

Clyde Speer, site attendant at the Cherokee Strip Museum here, is now the owner of the Elite Hotel & Cafe building. In its heyday, which lasted several decades, the old Elite was a favorite stopover and dining spot for hundreds of weary travelers and his cafe was enjoyed by local folks as well as tourists. With Clyde's knowledge and personal interest in this area and its fascinating history, I do not doubt his promise that a thorough renovation will make the old Elite a fine new addition to downtown Perry.