April 28, 1998
Add this to your trivia file: The Encyclopedia Britannica has a brief listing for the city of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, but none for Perry, Oklahoma. It does have short paragraphs about Perry, Iowa, located in that state’s Dallas county with a population of 5,977, and for Perry, New York, a village (pop. 4,533) in that state’s Wyoming county, and even one for Perryville, Kentucky, a town of only 660 souls in that state’s Boyle county, but no mention of our unique little town.
As you see, population evidently is not among the criteria required for selection. Kentucky’s Perryville can lay claim to some historical significance owing to a Civil War battle fought in that area in 1862, but I must say that Perry, Iowa, and Perry, New York, have nothing special to recommend them for inclusion. Our Perry, at least, can boast about being a part of the fabled Cherokee Strip, not to mention our world record number of high school wrestling championships, the world headquarters of the Ditch Witch company and probably some other notable things. There’s no mention of any single outstanding achievement by those other Perrys. I notice that folks in Perry, Georgia, also were left out. Wonder how they feel about the slight.
As a postscript to the above, I am compelled to add that my Britannica was published in 1960 and I have not checked a more recent printed edition for possible data about our Perry. Maybe you have a later set and can examine a volume for possible entries about this Perry America. I did check my current (1997) computer encyclopedia (Microsoft Encarta 97) and it has nothing about us. Nothing about Pawhuska, either. Yes, Enid and Stillwater are listed.
After choir practice recently, a friend and I noticed the abundance of dry maple seed pods lying in the churchyard. Didn’t we used to call them whirligigs? They look a little like clarinet reeds, and they brought to mind younger days when we would put those pods between our lips to produce a strange kind of whistling sound. Neither of us could make it work that evening so we decided we had lost our musicians’ lip, or maybe we just forgot how to do it. Does anyone remember the technique? Do kids still do that?
While in that nostalgic mood, my friend was reminded of a favorite stunt among young Perry bike riders a few years ago. This was before the state paved SH 86, which we then knew only as the road to CCC Park. At that time it was your basic country dirt road, with layers of sand, gravel and crushed rock for stability. Leading south from Cedar street to what is now SH 51, it was not the straight asphalt route that we now know. Part of the present route was then a lush pasture where C.B. Forney had a thriving dairy operation. At the corner of Mr. Forney’s property, the road turned west, then back to the south, and finally east again at the OG&E station to rejoin the present route after a sweeping curve. Then you climbed a rather steep hill to wind up at the gate of the CCC Park. In those days before ten-speed bikes were known, kids usually pushed their bikes up that grade. Then they would hop onto the bike and head down the hill, gathering momentum rapidly as they descended to that curve near the foot of the hill. The idea was to see how far your bike could coast before reaching Cedar street again, but also to avoid a spill on that loose sandy surface. It was a breathtaking and potentially dangerous trip I guess, but as far as I can remember everyone who experienced it survived. A lot of us came home with unexplained bruises, contusions and torn flesh. That was before today’s crash helmets and protective pads for elbows and knees. But, you talk about FUN, man!