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June 9, 1998

A friend has noticed that newly planted trees at Grace Hill Cemetery are doing well because “the girls who work there” were watering them regularly during the recent unseasonable heat wave by dragging heavy reels of hose from hydrant to hydrant. At that time the temperature was flirting with 100-degree readings earlier than usual. The heat has abated since then but the young trees still must be watered by that toilsome method. Many of us saw these saplings during the recent Memorial Day observance, and we know that in due time they will further enhance the cemetery’s quiet beauty.

In the meantime, my friend is concerned that there is no better way to provide water for the new plantings. Hauling those cumbersome and heavy hose reels from one hydrant to another is brutally hard work. She suggests that perhaps a farmer or someone else in the Perry area may have a tank that could be filled with water and mounted on a pickup truck to help the cemetery caretakers with this essential chore. It would have to be a tank that had not been used with insecticides or other chemicals and large enough to serve the purpose. This sounds like a good suggestion to me. If you can help out, contact the sexton at the cemetery or someone at City Hall and let them know about it. Incidentally, I also have just learned that the cemetery crew has taken on the responsibility of decorating veterans’ graves with small U.S. flags on special occasions. Thanks to them for taking care of that important service. In the past groups such as Boy Scouts and the American Legion have performed that chore. It’s important that the tradition be continued.

Tim Boggess, the energetic young shepherd of our Presbyterian flock, took the plunge into home gardening for the first time this year because, as a newlywed, he couldn’t justify paying $3 for a pound of red bell peppers when he could grow them “better and cheaper” himself. So, he bought some “how to” books on the subject and began digging a garden in the backyard of the manse property on Lakeview Drive. He recently sat down to figure up his costs, including the books, seed, fertilizer, wheelbarrow, soil enriching material, chicken wire fence and a few more accessories. In this month’s newsletter to the congregation, he reports an investment of about $379. “For that kind of money,” he notes, “I could have gone to the store and purchased 200 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of tomatoes, 150 green bell peppers, 100 medium yellow onions, 150 ears of corn, 56 pounds of green beans and 68 heads of iceberg lettuce. Now that’s what I call cheap produce!” But, just look at the valuable experience he acquired.

I’ve had inquiries about the series of columns on the Shepherd family, Sumner area homesteaders in the Cherokee Strip run of 1893. Yes, there is more to come about these interesting folks and we will offer them to you shortly. Also, the series on Perry movie theatres has not been concluded and there soon will be more information on that subject to submit for your approval. Along that line, let me share some thoughts from Jo Wollard Garten of Ponca City, a native of this little town on the prairie.

Jo remembers the time around 1918 when her parents, Mr. and Mrs. G.C. Wollard, moved to their home at 1013 Elm street (now the residence of District Judge Dan Allen and family). A Mr. Shepherd lived next door west. As a very small child, Jo came home from Sunday school one day and her mother asked what the class had talked about. “I replied, ‘about God and Mr. Shepherd’,” she relates. Later, the W.T. Donahoes moved from Red Rock into Mr. Shepherd’s house. “Their daughter, Lorraine, had received some lovely Christmas toys,” Jo tells. Shortly after Christmas their house caught fire during the night. All city fire hydrants were frozen and the house burned to the ground.

“A small water faucet in our yard did work and my daddy kept spraying our roof and the west side of our house. The wind must have been in the south because friends reported that debris from the fire had flown as far as a block north. My parents had sent me and all my beloved Christmas toys over to stay with the Enright family across the street south,” Jo tells. “Mother spent her time sorting through heirlooms she loved in an upstairs bedroom. The home now west of my old home is the one the Donahoes built after the fire. It was called an airplane bungalow. Airplanes were new to all of us in those days. I was four years old when we moved there.”

I remember the Donahoe and Wollard homes from my childhood. I grew up about two blocks east of them. They were regarded as two of Perry’s grandest residences. Thanks to Mrs. Garten for adding to our memories of an earlier time in this little city.