July 30, 1999
Two deaths this week serve to bring up little mental scenes of another generation in Perry's ongoing history. Gertrude Mossman, 92, and Charlie Rau, 75, had little in common except for their years of residency in this city, but their stories offer us a glimpse of some of the interesting sidelights of a different, almost forgotten age. It should not be forgotten.
Charlie grew up in this community and graduated from Perry High School in 1942. By then he was already well over six feet tall. He usually wore a solemn expression and he had a tendency to let his shoulders droop. Most of the time he moved at a slow gait, but Charlie had a keen mind and a sharp sense of humor. When World War II was heating up and threatening to draw the U.S. into the maelstrom, Charlie enlisted in what was then known as the Army Air Corps. That was a year before Pearl Harbor. He became a bombardier and served faithfully until the end of the war, accumulating a number of air medals along the way.
When the Axis powers in Europe and the Far East capitulated to the Allies, he returned to homefolks in Perry. He joined his brother, Lawrence, in the petroleum business and soon joined the Army National Guard unit stationed in Perry. In time he became commanding officer of the unit, which was a component of the 179"' Regimental Combat Team. In that capacity he was again called into active duty during the Korean conflict and served until 1953. He retired from the military in 1982.
His sense of obligation to the community drew him to the post of city councilman from ward four, where he served in 1953-54. There he earned a reputation as a practical, sound-thinking servant of the people he represented. In time he moved on to the Oklahoma City area, and there he passed away last week after losing a fight with lung cancer.
Gertrude Mossman and her late husband, Ralph, made their living for years in the hair care business, Gertrude as a beautician and Ralph as a barber. With his brother, Hubert, Ralph had a shop for years on the north side of the square where Jack Dorl now has the only barber shop on the square. (In 1940, there were six shops on the square.) Ralph and Hubert shared their space with the La Grace Beauty Shoppe, operated by Grace La Bord. The Shoppe was located toward the rear of the building and was separated from the male-dominated barber shop by a sheer floral drapery. That is where Gertrude and Ms. La Bord provided ladies of the community with the latest in hair fashions.
Hubert eventually left the barber shop to become a clerk at the local post office, and in time Ralph quit barbering to operate a juke box business in this area. He placed the neon-adorned music machines in restaurants, lunch rooms, taverns, drug stores -- anywhere one was wanted -- and provided regular changes of the vinyl and wax records that played the hottest tunes of the day. Ralph and Gertrude had two sons, Jack and Charles, both now gone. Jack served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and later joined his dad in the juke box business, Ralph died several years ago but Gertrude lived long enough to celebrate her 92nd birthday. She had been in frail health for some time.
Charlie Rau and Gertrude Mossman were links to significant events in the recent history of Perry. Their passing brings those happenings, the good and the bad, to mind once again. Although it is a sad occasion, it makes us remember the strength and dedication possessed by folks from that earlier era who laid the foundation for today's Perry. We join their families in sharing their personal losses.