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October 30, 1998

Muses and mutterings from mental notes assembled during a mostly sleepless night....

Generally, folks who drive down the middle of the road are willing to pull over when traffic approaches from front or rear, but some seem reluctant to do so. A surprising number of us (yes, that includes your humble servant on occasion) like to take our half of the road out of the middle. Sometimes it's not a conscious act, we just drift out there. In defense, we say that most Perry streets don't have center stripes to warn us as we amble toward the middle. I guess mid-road driving allows a sense of freedom, of power or dominion, over the whole thoroughfare, long as no other vehicles are coming.

A variation on this is the pair of drivers, usually coming from opposite directions, who flat out stop side by side in the middle of the block to chat back and forth between their cars, or pickups, or whatever. They generally ignore and thereby effectively stop traffic from both directions, paying no attention to others pulled up behind them, waiting impatiently for them to move on so all can proceed. That's just plain rude.

Interesting, though, this is not unique to Perry. You see middle of the roaders and mid-street talkfests occurring almost everywhere in cities big and small. Just like the people who persist in making a U-turn on a busy street to park a few steps closer to their destination. Police Chief Fred LeValley warns that this is against the law in Perry but it still goes on.

Seems strange to see that "MOVED" sign on the gate at Donaldson-Yahn Lumber Yard, now that all the materials there have been moved to the Coast-to-Coast store on Fir Avenue. Donaldson-Yahn was one of the true business pioneers in this community and it served Noble county well for many generations. With the retirement of the affable Glenn Yahn a while back and the sale of the lumber yard to the Kennedy family, another page of progress was turned in Perry's ongoing history book.

Belatedly we have learned of the recent death of Eleanor Keaton, widow of the great comic genius Buster Keaton, who did some of his growing up in Perry in the early years of this century. Eleanor passed away on October 19 in California after a battle with both cancer and emphysema. She came to Perry with Buster in 1957 for the world premiere of the Paramount Pictures movie, "The Buster Keaton Story," starring Donald O'Connor in the title role. Perry folks were delighted to have Buster and Eleanor in our midst that day when the film was first shown, and despite a very busy schedule both of them seemed to enjoy the occasion.

News of Mrs. Keaton's death was relayed to me by Frank Scheide, an associate professor in the University of Arkansas department of communications. Mr. Scheide was in Perry today doing some video taping at the old Keaton house on Grove street. He recently completed a half-hour documentary on Buster's early years in Perry and elsewhere. The Perry connection is given proper emphasis and Millie Highfill, one of our local historians, is shown in an interview segment about the Keatons. The documentary will be shown on BBC in London next December.