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January 26, 1999

My friend Beverly Haynes reminded me the other day that she was the first woman elected to the Perry city council when she successfully ran for that office in 1970 to represent Ward 3. Wilma Smith preceded her as a member of the council, but Beverly points out that Wilma was not elected but appointed to complete her late husband's term.

I do remember that both of those ladies served the city very well in a period when important decisions were being made, even as today. Is it time for other members of Beverly's and Wilma's gender to become active in the city's political arena? I can think of several good possibilities, if they are willing to make the sacrifice. Lois Malget is now the only female member of the council and she is earning respect for her level-headed, intelligent performance. At the state level in Oklahoma and elsewhere, women are beginning to assert themselves positively as capable executives. Mary Fallin is in her second term as our lieutenant governor and is doing a good job, despite some distracting controversy. The state of Arizona, our neighbor, has virtually a total slate of women at the top levels of government, including the office of governor. Elizabeth Dole may run for President.

In a reminiscing mood, Beverly also recalled her childhood days in Fort Smith, Arkansas, when holdup man Pretty Boy Floyd and his cohorts hid out-in the Cookson Hills of Oklahoma while they were fugitives from the law. Floyd was perceived by a large segment of the public as a kind of latter day Robin Hood in the time of the Great Depression when he led several assaults on small town banks in the Midwestern U.S: "Folks thought so highly of them," Beverly says, "that neighbors who knew the location of the gang's hideouts took food to them while G-men and other authorities tried to find them. In later years," she continued, "I visited some of those caves where the Floyd gang had hidden, and to me they just looked like rattlesnake holes. They were scary.

As we read history today, we know that Pretty Boy Floyd was not really entitled to become a folk hero. Many interesting stories about him abound in this era, but there is no question that what he did was against the law. Like some other badmen of the 1930s he paid for his transgressions by forfeiting his life.

Kit Froebel of Houston, a former Perryan whom you will remember as Margaret Norman, passes along this short but humorous wordplay: "Mahatma Gandhi walked barefoot throughout the countryside so much that his feet became very hard and calloused. His diet was spare, and he was extremely thin as a result. To keep going, he tried to carry a little bit of garlic with him at all times and chew on it for energy and clarity of thought. Thus, Gandhi became known as ... the Super Fragile Calloused Mystic Blessed With Halitosis. (Try saying that real fast.)