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December 5, 1997

If you have any questions about why Perry joined the Main Street program two years ago, pick up a copy of this week's Time magazine and read the cover story. It tells about the reverse surge of population back to the rural areas of the U.S. after a decade of flight to the urban centers. People everywhere are being drawn to small towns, and that has provided the impetus for the establishment of the Main Street program in small, mid size and larger towns throughout America. Perry is in tune with the times.

Corporate downsizing has led to an increase in the number of home-based businesses, enabling thousands of men and women to work from their residences, wherever that may be. They do not have to live with urban blight, fight the crime of megalopolis, endure the traffic gridlock of the metro, or fret about other illnesses and woes that beset our brothers and sisters in the big cities. They can return to the good life of Small Town, U.S.A. The Main Street organization is showing those of us who are already here how to make our communities more attractive for our own enjoyment and for the newcomers fleeing the big cities.

Perry is not likely to become a bedroom city for Oklahoma City or Wichita. If anything, Stillwater, Guthrie, Ponca City, Enid and some other nearby larger towns are serving as bedroom cities for us as the Ditch Witch company continues to expand its work force. But our population appears to be growing year by year, although we may never be as large as some of our neighbors. But that growth factor is why we must continually upgrade our infrastructure to be prepared for the future. Better streets, adequate medical services, an ample water supply -- all these are critical to sustaining the quality of life that Perry residents expect and deserve. The Main Street organization, the Perry Development Coalition, the Chamber of Commerce and our city government all must work hand in hand to ensure that it happens. There is a role for each of us in this program of community building. It you have not yet volunteered for a job, step forward and find your niche.

And on the subject of Main Street, a serious commendation should be extended to Clyde Speer for the time and effort he has invested in that program during the two years it has been in existence here. Clyde's regular job as site attendant at the Cherokee Strip Museum and his new involvement in restoration of the historic Elite Hotel on the north side of the square are keeping his hands full so he has found it necessary to resign as Main Street president. Vice President Bonneta Hansing will complete his term as head of the organization, but Clyde hopes one day to rejoin the board of directors and resume his work with that group. He'll be welcomed back at any time.

Several folks have called with names of some of the unidentified teachers in that photo which appeared with this column last Tuesday. Frank Ley tells me that the gentleman on Supt. Homer Hill's right is Beefy Patterson, the high school football coach at the time, and the man on the right end of that row is Euel Leach, who was manual training instructor before Gully Walters. Mr. Leach also was wrestling coach. Vera Kukuk identified the lady between Miss Maggard and Mrs. Croka as Alta Shelton, a grade school teacher. Dixie Nicewander identified the lady on the left in the front row as Fern Goley, and also confirmed the name of Alta Shelton for the lady standing next to Gertye Kobes. Margie Bower says she remembers Miss Ina Heaton, speech and English; Gladys Main, art teacher; and Mr. Jo Russell, also an art teacher, from about that period of time, but she is unable to say for sure that any of them are in that photo. Elizabeth Willems and Lucille Foster also contributed some thought and information about these faculty members. One more point -- Bessie Barker is the home ec teacher in the middle of the front row. Her location was given incorrectly in Tuesday's paper. I appreciate all the calls concerning these Perry teachers of some 65 years ago. It's fun to look at these old photos and enjoy the memories they revive.