February 13, 1998
Thanks to some notes received recently in the U.S. mail from former Perry residents, I have more interesting tidbits to share with you. One of these is from Mrs. Roy Garten Jr. of Ponca City, who grew up here as Jo Wollard, one of the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Wollard. Her father was an early-day rural mail carrier at the Perry post office and later a member of the state board of affairs during the administration of Gov. Henry S. Johnston.
Jo took special note of the column about Bertha Bier's recollection of the time when Fir avenue was being widened from two lanes of blacktop to four lanes of cement with a brick median separating them. That was in 1962. It brought to Mrs. Garten's mind a story from the early 1920s. She writes:
"This is a story my father told me. We lived at 1013 Elm street, and Father was coming home in the car, driving west on Fir street. It was after a rain and Fir was very unpaved and very muddy. Walt Powers lived in the 800 or 900 block, on the north side of Fir. His very young son, Bob, was sitting out in the mud in the street building mud pies or something that suited his fancy. Daddy honked at him to get out of the way. Little Bob just kept on with his mud building and gestured with his arm for Daddy to go around him. Daddy laughingly came home to share the story with us. It has stayed in my memory and given me many chuckles."
Thanks to Jo Garten for this little slice of life from another age in Perry America. "Little Bob Powers" was very lucky he got the chance to grow up and operate the Powers Abstract Agency after the death of his father, Walt Sr. Incidentally, the Powers home still stands at 901 Fir, but it has been substantially remodeled by the present owner, Millie Highfill, and her late husband, Lowell. The Wollard home on Elm street is now owned by Associate District Judge Dan Allen, and it has been wonderfully preserved.
A brief but welcome letter comes from Ginny Plaunty of Eugene, Oregon. It was prompted by a note she received from Sadie Gates, an old friend. Ms. Gates also sent Ginny a copy of this column containing reminiscences of Prosper E. Letellier and his family. Mr. Letellier was custodian of the old three-story Perry high school building which was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the present campus. Ginny's first husband was Wayne Letellier, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Letellier. Wayne was a printer and worked in the backshop of this newspaper while I was employed there several years ago. He and Ginny and their children, Gary and Darlene, moved to California in 1956. Wayne died on Christmas day in 1987. Ginny writes that Gary, the grandson of P .E. Letellier, is airport manager at North Bend, Oregon, and the father of Todd, 19, and Erin, 16. Darlene is an insurance agent in Santa Clara, California. She has a daughter, Julie, 15.
Of the sons and daughters of Mr. and Mrs. P.E. Letellier, only Amel, now 80, is still living, and he is in failing health. Sharon Grether, secretary at the Perry Presbyterian church, is a daughter of the former Mabel Letellier, one of Wayne's sisters. Ginny sends greetings to all who remember the family's days in Perry.
I also want to acknowledge receipt of an interesting brochure telling about the year-long centennial celebration in Tulsa, which was formally incorporated as an Oklahoma territorial city in 1898. The material was sent to me by Mrs. Lowry McKee, who grew up in Perry as Ethel Delores Human. It contains a rundown on milestones in Tulsa history, dating back to 1803 when the area was acquired by the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and many other significant occurrences. I am still reading some of the interesting pieces in the brochure, and my thanks for sending it go to Ethel Delores. Many of you will remember her parents, Charlie and Ethel Huffman. The family home was 701 Ivanhoe street, where Mr. and Mrs. Paul Ebersole now live. Mr. Huffman operated a grocery store just off the northwest corner of the square in the building now occupied by H&R Block at 417 Seventh street. His good-natured wit and friendly nature are legendary in this community.