September 26, 2000
Here's more from Elfreda Kerr Wells, now of Stillwater, as she recalls what it was like to grow up in Perry during the 1930s. (The notes in parentheses are mine.) "When I was a little girl we had a neighbor whose job was to put figures (of actors) in front of theaters to advertise a current movie. One time when I went over to visit them there was a wax head of 'Jesse James' on the dining room table. That freaked me out. During World War II, when the feature film was over, they projected a giant U. S. flag on the screen with the words 'Buy Bonds,' urging the audience to support the war effort with their money. The audience would clap and clap. Would they do so today? I doubt it.
"The girls in our Coke club picked Sanford's Drug (now the location of Chris' Pharmacy) as a favorite because that's where the cutest soda jerk was. City Drug (my Dad's store) had the best ice cream. I remember Wacker's five and dime store and Fry's Meat Market, but mostly I remember the Famous dry goods store. I loved to watch the clerk put my Mom's money in a little silver canister, pull a cord and send that little booger up a wire to an elevated office. Mom's change would shoot back down to the counter in a canister." (The J. C. Penney store on the north side of the square had the same system.)
Elfreda recalls several other highlights, including the first airplane to land on a new Perry airfield. It was carrying mail-air mail. At school she remembers two teachers in particular, Mrs. Merrill and Professor Elliott. "My very favorite teacher," she writes, was "Humpy Daniels. Thanks to him I love history." (As most of you know, Hump Daniels also was the legendary football coach at PHS in the 1930s and 1940s.)/p>
On another topic, Elfreda writes: "You and my brother Buddy rode bikes. You two pestered your sisters, played marbles and cowboys and Indians. Buddy was always Ken Maynard. He made scooters with apple crates and skate wheels. I remember all of us kids walked on stilts. Buddy (who is now deceased) was in the Navy during the war. He was aboard blimps in California guarding the coast. At the age of 16 I moved to Tulsa and became a professional dancer with Milton Hill Enterprises. I danced all over Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Texas and other places.
Elfreda's first husband died of pneumonia. They had one daughter, Gayle. She later married Sergeant Major James Wells of the U. S. Marine Corps, and they had a daughter, Melody, and a son, James Wells Jr. They moved, to Stillwater and she worked at Oklahoma State University for 25 years. All three children graduated from OSU. Jim Jr. is with CitiBank in Hagerstown, Md., Gayle lives in California and Melody is in Stillwater. "About twice a month," Elfreda writes, "Melody and I go to Perry to shop at Wal-Mart as the store here is too big for me. We eat cheese fries at the Kumback and before we leave town we go to Foster's Drug for great chocolate ice cream sodas and gifts." Hearing from Elfreda gave me a lift, with her recollections of that era in Perry when many of us were just growing up. Hope you enjoyed her comments, too.