March 3, 2000
A recent weekday stopover in Guthrie brought to mind the way many of us used to regard our neighbors down there on I-35. "The town's too close to Oklahoma City. It will never grow or amount to much." That's what folks used to say about Guthrie. Then came the rejuvenation program of the past few years and now our Logan county neighbors are reaping the benefits of that effort. If you haven't been in Guthrie the past few years, go take a look. The highway entrances are clean, prosperous looking and very inviting. Tumbledown shacks have been removed, streets improved, and homes all along the route appear to have been recently painted and they are obviously well maintained. In the tree-sheltered area south of town, many fine new homes have been built and others are contemplated.
You can't help but notice the retail development taking shape just off the I-35 north and south exit ramps. A major hotel already is in business and there are indications of further construction still to come. In the bustling downtown area, the Victorian-era buildings have been carefully restored. One-, two- and three-story brick buildings look almost good as new, now that the art deco era facades have been discarded. The entire town seems to offer tourist attractions. Just the look of Oklahoma Avenue, Guthrie's main stem, tells you that things are happening there. Bed and breakfast places dot the area. Weekend retreats for fun-seekers abound. Good restaurants are everywhere. Theaters proved excellent live entertainment.
Far from suffering from the close proximity to Oklahoma City, Guthrie is making it pay off by luring customers from the metropolis to the quaint, clean, historic little former capital of this state. The old resentment over the loss of that aspect (the capital) seems to rankle no more. Guthrie car dealers are doing well by luring shoppers from the big city, where high-powered dealerships seem to hover over you and apply pressure just by their omnipresence.
Perry can learn a lot by studying Guthrie's example. Guthrie will be the first to tell you that a major investment of time and money is required to lift one's self by the boot straps. Also needed is a sense of dedication by the entire community. Let's look at ourselves. What about the highway entrances to Perry, the ones that bring visitors here? Are we proud of the impression people get in their first look at our little city? Are the streets well maintained with no sign of trash piling up on the rights of way? Do houses look as if real people live there ... yards free of tall grass, weeds and trashy adornments?
The programs of Perry Main Street and similar renaissance agencies are dedicated to a community revival here, but it's not going to happen unless and until every one of us takes the pledge to spiff up the premises where we live and work. Join the volunteers now engaged in this most worthwhile effort. We know we've got a good thing here in Perry. Now let's spread the word. If each of us does his or her part, we can succeed. Guthrie had bigger obstacles to clear ten years ago than the ones facing us today. Guthrie overcame them. Can we?