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January 4, 2000

Sometimes we are inclined to think that the Perry community and Noble county in general, despite the achievements of their sons and daughters, are too often overlooked and ignored in various ways. Perhaps we who live here are overly sensitive because we know very well how many unique contributions have been made by folks who grew up here or who had some close connection with this very special part of the state during their lifetime. Those accomplishments sometimes seem to go unrecognized beyond the borders of this portion of the fabled Cherokee Strip. In the last few days of 1999, however, some of that feeling was dispelled by the attention that has been focused on a few of the things that make us proud in Noble county.

Exhibit A is the compilation by the Daily Oklahoman of the "Top Ten in various fields. The newspaper has been busy lately with the naming by its editors and others of outstanding accomplishments by Oklahomans in many areas during the 20th century. The most recent list was drawn up by Bob Blackburn, director of the Oklahoma Historical Society and one of the region's best-known historians. It consists of ten Oklahomans who were faced with opportunities and challenges in the century just ended. "How they expressed their diverse backgrounds, and how they dealt with the changing world around them, tell us much about ourselves and our state," the newspaper wrote. It is eminently appropriate that one of our native sons, Ed Malzahn, is among those ten individuals. No one is more qualified.

Ed Malzahn, inventor of the small trencher that is now known around the world as the Ditch Witch, has given this community, and indeed a large portion of Oklahoma, an economic stability and prosperity that is the envy of many. It is a distinctive as the tool he pioneered. The article announcing these choices contains many points that highlight Ed's leadership and inventive genius, but it would take volumes to fully cover the man, his family, his employees, the story of the Ditch Witch trencher and the impact it has had on this community. Others chosen by Dr. Blackburn are Anton Classen, early Oklahoma City developer; Tom Slick, Oklahoma oil pioneer; Kate Barnard, champion of the needy; John Hope Franklin, noted historian and author; G.A. Nichols, prominent developer; Allan Houser, famed sculptor; George Shirk, preservationist and mayor of Oklahoma City; Bruce Goff, nationally known architect; and Ron Norick, the OKC mayor who masterminded the city's MAPS renaissance. Congratulations to Ed Malzahn for being selected, and for all he has done to benefit the people of this area.

In a previous list, the Oklahoman's sports staff chose "Oklahoma's Greatest Teams of the Century," bestowing that honor on just ten teams. To no one's surprise, the national championship 1956 Oklahoma University football team took top honors in that category. Taking second place was the 1993 Morrison high school football team, and in fifth place was the 1973 Perry high school wrestling team.

Other teams chosen for the Top Ten honor were No. 3, 1937 Byng girls basketball; No. 4, 1945 Oklahoma A&M basketball; No. 6, 1962 Oklahoma State wrestling; No. 7, 1922 Enid Harvesters baseball; No. 8, 1994 Southern Nazarene University women's basketball; No. 9, 1985 Southwestern State University's women's basketball; and No. 10, 1996 Oklahoma City Blazers hockey.

Here's what the panel said about the Morrison football team: "The '93 Wildcats weren't just 13-0 and state eight-man champs for the sixth straight season, they won their last ten games, 11 overall, by the mercy rule -- leading by 45 points or more after halftime. They won state with 6:26 left in the third quarter, up 48-0 after seven straight scores. The Cats went on to a state record 90 straight victories and eight consecutive state titles."

About the 1973 PHS wrestling team, the paper reported: "The '73 Maroons breezed to the state title, outscoring runner-up Hobart 105.5-41. Perry had seven of the 12 state champions. This was one of nine straight state mat titles for Perry and one of 27 for the Maroons since 1952."

Perry and Morrison athletic teams are listed with some big-time teams from major state universities and the professional ice hockey Blazers. No other county placed two of its teams in the Top Ten. Congratulations to all who contributed to the earning of these honors.