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December 26, 2000

In 1896, a tall, slender gentleman named Fred G. Moore was the founding president of what is now the Exchange Bank and Trust Co. He headed the bank at its origin when it was on the west side of the square and later when it moved to the north side in the building now occupied by Powers Abstract Co., Inc., 635 Delaware street. Mr. and Mrs. Moore built one of the finest homes then existing in this little city. It is now the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Bert Sparks, at 903 North Eighth street. Time has taken its toll on the house but it is easy to visualize the affluence and dignity it once represented. All houses on that particular block seemed to radiate a story of success and achievement by the occupants. For a time, all of them were bankers while Perry was becoming a booming, bustling new city.

But hard times landed several body blows on the people and the economy of Perry and all. of the U.S. as the 1920s unfolded. The Great Depression quickly reduced many, once-prosperous merchants and entrepreneurs to new status levels. It had no respect for the specific situation of any individual. Times were tough, friends, and a lot of folks were seriously stressed by the adjustments thrust upon them.

Mr and Mrs. Moore were among the victims of that financial crisis. They sold their handsome two-story home and moved to a modest but comfortable bungalow on Elm street, just two blocks from the Perry square and even closer to, the First Presbyterian church where they were faithful worshipers. Mrs. Moore was a sweet lady who served as pianist and organist for the church and also directed the choir. Her husband was one of the pillars of the church. Both were widely respected and loved, and the reduction in their personal fortune hurt many others outside their family.

When the Moores sold their home and moved closer to the downtown area, they lived across the street from the Beers home at 501 Eighth street. We already knew them well since we also were Presbyterians and my Mother sang in the church choir, but I was too young to understand how they had been battered by the depression. Mr. Moore was a regular customer of my Dad's City Drug Store. When I was just a novice soda jerk, he came to our fountain every day for a glass of Dr Pepper at 10, 2 and 4 o'clock, just as the drink's maker recommended. I served him many times and thought I knew the Moores pretty well.

But, as Paul Harvey says, here's the rest of the story as relayed to me by another long-time friend, Mrs. Jo Wollard Garten of Ponca City, who grew up in this community and the Presbyterian church. Jo adds the following information:

"As a child I was frequently in the Fred Moore home. Their niece grew up in their home and was my friend. Her name was Carol Lee. Working in their home was a compassionate, lovely African-American woman whose name I think was Anna. Uncle Fred (as we called him) was not well. To earn some money, Mrs. Moore would walk all over Perry trying to sell vanilla and spices. I believe they were Watkins products. She would return home with her feet swollen and in pain. Anna loved her and would come to her house, massage her feet and croon over them as she worked. I am sure this was a great comfort for she was not a young woman at the time."

I did not know of this touching relationship back then, but I would bet that Anna probably accepted no compensation for her act of loving-kindness, something we don't always hear about at the time it is rendered.