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January 8, 1999

Readers pass along interesting morsels of information and also keep us on our toes when they find something awry in these columns. Thanks to all such contributors. A few of their offerings appear today.

Longtime friend Don Stoddard questions the recent Northwest Corner implication that movie cowboys never kissed their leading ladies in the old days, back when Perry had its own actual film palaces. "In fact," he says, "Gene Autry kissed the leading lady in his movie on channel 13 just this morning (December 31)." There goes another myth! Thanks to Don for calling that to my attention, but I betcha there weren't many more on-screen smooches.

Quite a while back, someone else brought me a sample of advertising literature from Perry's earliest days, some time before statehood in 1907. The donor's name does not appear on the piece so I can't tell you whence it came. It's a little larger than today's plastic credit cards, and about a third of the lower portion is missing. The principal name on the front is "P .F. Lau & Co.," a firm that dealt with real estate and loans. "All kinds of land for sale or exchange in Strip or Old Oklahoma," the card says. On the reverse side is the text of a message from the Lau Company, but most of it has been lost with the part of the card that is missing. Three names appear on the card. They are: P F Lau, F Engel and C. Urban. Perhaps our readers could help us identify those men a little better. The person who brought the piece to me asked for help in locating additional information about the firm. It seemed like a hopeless task.

But then came an unexpected assist from another friend, Jack Dolezal. After reading the column mentioned above, he came upon a photo of the Lau home at Twelfth and Market on a picture postcard in his family collection. He brought it to me and I used the photo in this column last month. That's still not the end of the story.

Now, if you've been paying attention, you will recall that a question about the name of P.F. Lau first came up in this column last July in an item about the impending visit of Main Street program managers who were coming to Perry for a renovation workshop. The name of Mr. Lau's company appeared (although it was not clearly legible) on a second story window in a picture of the old B.J. Woodruff mercantile store on the north side of the square. It was one of the buildings, now occupied by Three Sands Oil Co., which was destined for a facelift in the workshop last summer.

Then, when Jack Dolezal's picture of Mr. Lau's home appeared with this column, it struck a responsive chord with David Payne. He contacted me immediately by e-mail, that wonderful communications medium which is growing more valuable to me each day. "We (the Paynes) were the last family to live in that house," David wrote. "My dad rented it in about 1956." He went on with some fascinating remembrances of those days, and I want to share them with you later in another column. But isn't it interesting how one thing leads to another, as this P F Lau incident demonstrates?