March 20, 1998
Perry swelled perceptibly with new pride in the spring of 1938 when some of its citizens found recognition at or near the highest levels of power and influence in state government. Our former police chief, Howard R. Cress, was named chief of the newly formed Oklahoma Highway Patrol on March 4, 1938, after approximately one year as commander of the patrol's headquarters troop in Oklahoma City. The appointment of "Howdy" Cress to the chief’s position meant that Perry men held most of the top jobs in the state safety department. Already in place were H.E. Bailey, deputy safety commissioner; Bud Warren, purchasing agent; and Frank Marshall, chief clerk.
In later years, Bud Warren returned to Perry and opened a successful whole milk plant which later was purchased by the Borden Co., after which he became a quarter horse breeder. His No. 1 stud, Leo, was an almost legendary equine marvel before dying under mysterious circumstances. Our Leo East Park is named for him. Bud is now deceased but Mrs. Warren still lives in the couple's comfortable ranch home southeast of Perry and their son, George, oversees a ranching operation from his home east of town. Shirley Williams is Warren's step-daughter.
Frank Marshall was a member of a pioneer Perry family. His father was the dentist, Dr. W .C. Marshall, who had offices on the second floor of the Foucart building. "Doc", Marshall probably used dentistry to make a living for his family, but it always seemed his real interest was music. For years he organized and directed a Perry community band composed of young people and adults who shared his enthusiasm for the martial airs of John Philip Sousa, widely known U.S. composer and bandmaster. Sousa brought his famed band to the Grand Opera House in Perry early in this century and it is safe to assume that Doc Marshall was in the audience for every performance. The Perry community band concerts remained a popular summertime feature in the courthouse park until Doc Marshall was no longer able to conduct them. His wife, Evelyn Marshall, survived her husband at his death and she lived well beyond the age of 100, a spry and sharp-witted lady to the very end.
Frank Marshall, like all his sisters and brothers, also loved music. He spent some time as a trombonist with the Miller Bros. 101 Ranch Wild West Show, which traveled internationally, and I believe he also had a turn with the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus band. At one point he was married to Prudye Wade, the sister of my former brother-in-law, Syd Wade, but I only came to know him after they were divorced. Frank was active in local Democratic politics and he came to the attention of state party leaders because of his ability to organize precinct workers and attract them to his point of view. After his stint as chief clerk of the highway patrol, Frank became an inspector for the state highway department, but he always considered Perry to be his home.
H.E. Bailey came to Perry in the 1930s as head of the division office of the state highway department and quickly found local folks to be friendly. He adopted this as his home and although he later moved easily into positions of power at the capitol in Oklahoma City, he chose Perry friends as his closest associates and never lost his fondness for this community. He became executive officer of the state safety department as assistant state director in July 1937 and was credited with installing an efficient operating system in the new branch of government. He was granted an indefinite leave of absence from the department in March 1938 so that he could become general managing engineer for the Oklahoma Concrete Pipe Association. In later years he served as city manager of Oklahoma City during a turbulent time of growth in the metropolis. And of course the H.E. Bailey Turnpike is named to honor him for his later leadership as director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. A closer look at the real Harry Bailey is offered in Henry Bellmon's autobiography, something you should read anyway.
At about the same time those important changes involving Perry men were taking place in the state safety department, another newsworthy event with local implications occurred in the federal district court of Judge Edgar Vaught in Oklahoma City. Ray Loyd Barker, 24, was sentenced by Judge Vaught to 20 years in prison for the August 19, 1937, armed holdup of the Exchange Bank in Perry. The sentencing, in February 1938, brought to a close the case which began when Mr. Barker obtained $11,192 in a one-man mid-day robbery of the Perry bank. He made good his escape until officers traced a burned car to him some four months after the robbery. During that four month interim, Mr. Barker had resumed his job with the state highway department in Perry. Unsuspecting co-workers were not aware of his venture into crime, a step he said was necessary to provide for his wife and their young child.
Those were some of the events and the people that provided topics for conversation in Perry homes and businesses during the depression year of 1938. They created a welcome diversion from the bad economic news of the time.