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May 18, 2001

North side of Perry square as it appeared around 1920, when this photo was made.

The other day I showed you a photo of the north side of the square from about the year 1909. It was copied from a postcard bearing the imprint of that year and mailed by the president of the Perry Bank of Commerce, Mr. John A. Hansen, to a customer in Freeport, Illinois. Now comes another photo for comparison made several years later, perhaps around the late teens or early 1920s. You can see it in an adjacent column. Note the rows of black Model-T Fords lining both sides of Delaware street, except for one sporty pickup truck painted white and with the top down. The name ďRexallĒ appears on the side door panel, and you can see it is parked in front of the City Drug Store, which then was owned and operated by my Dad, Fred W. Beers. His store was the authorized Rexall dealer for this little city. That makes the photo doubly interesting to me. Somehow I cannot picture my dignified Dad in that white Model-T pickup with the top down, his necktie flung over a shoulder by the wind and a cigar clenched firmly in his jaw. Perhaps a soda jerk or another clerk from the Rexall store was designated to make deliveries in that rig. But thanks to David Payne for finding this shot and transmitting it to me.

This photo was made by the venerable Barney Enright, the professional photographer who left as his legacy a wealth of excellent pictures of Perry scenes and people from the early half of this century. Mr. Enright had a studio on a balcony at the rear of the Southside Pharmacy in the building now occupied by city officers on the south side of the square. The pharmacy was operated by E.E. Nelson, a friendly competitor of my Dadís business. Mr. Enright and his 4x5 Speed Graphic were a familiar sight all over this town, indeed the north-central area of Oklahoma. Most families here in the early days had portraits made in his studio. They chose for a backdrop one of the hand-painted pull-down screens hanging from a wall in the spacious studio occupied by Mr. Enright. His priceless contribution to posterity was the huge collection of black and white portraits of various buildings and events in this city during the years he practiced his craft here. I am very grateful for this particular one.

The building where Dadís store was located is now the home of Georgiaís Fine Furniture Store, operated by Georgia Curtis at 643 Delaware. On one side of the drug store was A.C. Lambís Jewelry Store, and on the other was Ben Wieheís Bon Ton Bakery. Down the street, boldly identified by large block letters that are still legible though faded, was the B.J. Woodruff Dry Goods Store. You also can make out several other north side businesses in buildings that are still there, plus the old two-story Elite Hotel building, the last wooden building on the square when it was replaced by a handsome two-story buff brick building in 1936.

Itís interesting to see so many of the old cloth top Model-Tís in Henry Fordís favorite color, black, lining the streets. You can also make out a few hard-top coupes and sedans, but they are not as sporty looking as the others. Also visible are two street lights looking very much like the vintage poles that were installed a couple of years ago when the new sidewalks were poured for the courthouse park.

If you still have the copy of the Journal with the earlier photo of the north side of the square, compare the two. In general appearance, Perry has not changed too much during the past 100 years, and perhaps thatís a good thing for purists like the Main Street folks who believe, as I do, that the original Perry architectural styles were the best, after all.