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October 23, 1998

Postcard of the south side of the Perry Square
South Side of the Perry Square as it appeared in the early days is shown in this rarely seen picture postcard that now belongs to Marcia Moore of Severy, Kan.

Interesting things related to Perry's historic past have had a special fascination for Marcia Moore of Severy, Kan., for several years. In 1994 she began a collection of souvenir china pieces, starting with hand-painted plates bearing images of the Noble county courthouse and the Perry Carnegie library. These were made in the early 1900s in Germany for sale by the Barton Book Store of Perry. Marcia has made similar acquisitions from time to time, along with other articles that help recall the age just after the opening of the Cherokee Strip in 1893. She has a special warm feeling for Perry.

One of her most recent finds is a postcard bearing an August 6, 1908, cancellation stamp on one side and a rarely seen photo of the south side of the square on the reverse side. The card, now laminated in a protective plastic cover, is addressed to Mrs. H. Kroening of Covington and was mailed from Oklahoma City for the usual postcard fee of one-cent postage. A brief hand-written message states that the sender, whose name is not entirely legible, "arrived in Oklahoma City and (is) staying with Rev. (name illegible). Feel fine. How are you & the girls? Write a letter if you have a chance." The signature is simply "Henry." He presumably was Mrs. H. Kroening's husband.

The photo of the south side of the square makes this card particularly interesting. The photographer was K.P. Wetzel, according to an imprint on the lower left corner. The photo obviously was enhanced before printing, but not materially changed, by an artist's pen and brush. The scene is not one that you see frequently. The camera was pointed to the west looking up Cedar street from the intersection with Sixth street. Clearly visible in the foreground is the E.E. Howendobler Drug Store, where my father was a pharmacist until he opened his own store. A large sign on the wooden front advices that the store also handled paints and oils.

Mr. Howendobler came here around the time of the land run on September 16, 1893, and he brought my dad, a young druggist from Wichita, to Perry in 1895. By 1903, my father had opened his own business here, the City Drug Store, originally on the west side of the square. But Mr. Howendobler, whose home still stands on north Sixth street, had a very successful pharmacy and was a civic leader here for several years before moving on to Tulsa. But let's get back to the details of the photo.

Next door west of the Howendobler Drug Store was the Chesapeak (sic) Cafe, a single-story frame building with an arched roof line on the front facade. I can find no mention of this cafe in the 1904 city directory. Eleven businesses are shown in the east half of the block (from Sixth street to Gene Taylor street). Six of them are in two-story structures and the others are in one-story frame buildings. Most of the two-story buildings are of sand stone construction. The old Monroe-Lang Hardware Store (now the Zimmer building) is clearly shown. A lone horse-drawn buggy, the only conveyance of any visible, is pulled up in front of the building.

In the west half of the block, from Gene Taylor street to Seventh street, names on the buildings are hard to make out, but "the Famous" is painted in large block letters on the side of the upper portion of the two-story building where that wonderful department store was located. It is now home of LJR Enterprises and the building is owned by J.W. and Phyllis Shepard.

It's a bit hard to tell for sure; but the street appears to be hard packed dirt but otherwise not surfaced. Neat concrete sidewalks with curbs the length of the block and electric lines and phone lines are strung on tall wooden poles.

How interesting to see this graphic representation of the south side of the Perry square as it must have been 90 years ago. Thanks to Marcia Moore for sharing it with us.