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September 4, 1998

The conversation about some of Perry's colorful early-day characters got around to Jack E. Stone the other day, and we began to realize that the two of us had some interesting tales to share. My friend Frank A. Ley and I were jawing about various people and things related to the pioneer era of this community.

Frank was saying that he at one time had an accounting office on the second floor of the building next to the Foucart building on the east side of the square. Several others, professional men like Dr. A.M. Evans MD, attorneys Kenneth and T. Jean Reed, and dentists Dr. O.W. Boyer and Dr. W.C. Marshall, also were located there. Jack E. Stone, a justice of the peace, was one of the tenants. Jack divided his time between two locations: During the morning hours, he usually could be found at Dr. J.W. Francis' office, above the City Drug Store on the north side of the square. In the afternoons he was open for business at his own place on the east side. We no longer have justices of the peace in Oklahoma, but back then they were elective, offices; and Perry usually had at least two of them to hear minor court matters, officiate at weddings and notarize documents. Barney Woolverton was another justice of the peace along about the same time as Jack Stone.

Jack was passionately, devoted to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. He was never far from a radio when a Cardinals game was on the air. In the late 1930s, our family lived across the hall from Dr. Francis' office and I have this mental image of seeing Jack each day seated at the receptionist's desk there, smoking a pipe, reading a book or magazine, and listening to a Cardinals game, all at the same time, and handling the telephone or receiving patients if the regular receptionist (Belle Ruff at that time) was assisting Dr. Francis in the treatment room. I believe he would have been about 65 or 70 years of age. He had a fairly full crop of gleaming white hair which he allowed to grow a bit long, giving him a sort of leonine or judicial image. A lighted pipe, filled to the brim with Prince Albert or, occasionally, an aromatic tobacco, was usually in his hand or clamped in his mouth. He was rather small, perhaps 54, slender and normally pleasant in greeting everyone. He had a ready, but rather high-pitched, laugh when someone shared a good joke. His demeanor was dignified. Jack invariably wore a three-piece suit.

Frank remembers Mr. Stone in his east side office, just down the hail from the Ley Accounting firm. Rosemary Bezdicek was Frank's office assistant at the time, and as a courtesy she would sometimes also serve as the justice's secretary. Quite a few people chose to be married by a justice of the peace. "When a couple arrived in Jack's office with a valid marriage license," Frank says, "he would come hustling down the hall to our office and say that he could use a little help. That meant Rosemary and I were needed to witness the ceremony. If the Cardinals game was on the radio, Jack wouldn't turn the sound down. He tried to keep track of every play even while reading the wedding vows, and if he didn't understand something the announcer said he would interrupt the service long enough to ask one of us what had happened on the field. Later, after receiving his fee and perhaps a little tip, Jack would come back to our place with a bag of candy to thank us for our service."

Back in the earlier years of this century, Jack Stone was the owner and general manager of a popular store called Everybody's Store. The 1910-11 city directory shows Everybody's Store was at 317 Seventh street, near the middle of the block on the west side of the square. Other Perry department stores in the early decades of this century included Knox & Stout Clothing Co. (the Famous), at 626-28 Cedar, south side of the square; and B.J. Woodruff s large store at 631 Delaware, north side of the square. Everybody's Store was one of Perry's most successful businesses for years, but eventually Jack had to lock the doors and look for another line of work. Far as I know, he was good at being a justice of the peace and the hour seemed to suit him, if they didn't interfere with a Cardinals game.