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September 4, 2001

On one of those recent steamy, triple-digit temperature afternoons, while running the usual house-husband errands in a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle, I realized once again that our town has many wonderful assets that we take for granted. Among these are the stately elm trees that cast their welcome shade on so many streets.

We have had our share of the devastating blight that inflicts Dutch elm disease on defenseless trees and has led to the removal of some noble examples from lawns in various parts of Perry, but a lot of them remain and still give many neighborhoods a distinctive, friendly appearance. One notable example is on Cedar street, particularly the block between Twelfth and Thirteenth streets. Appropriately, Elm street also is a good example, and so are many others. A few years ago, when The Perry Daily Journal had a weekly Forum Page, Mr. L.J. Mooter won a prize for his essay boasting of the beautiful elm trees along Perry streets. The late Mr. Mooter would be pleased to know that so many of them still remain.

Many people see similarities between Perry and the Victorian homes described by Booth Tarkington in Seventeen and in his other novels. That's not at all a bad comparison. On these lazy summer days you can almost hear the clicking sound of push lawn mowers described by Mr. Tarkington, except that today's versions are not driven by a Willie Baxter, but by a small gasoline engine with a teen-age boy (or girl, or an adult) walking behind to steer the contraption.

In the courthouse park, more of those beautiful trees provide a shady, cool oasis for shoppers and others in the downtown area. Many travelers through our city have found that location to be a welcome, restful place for a brief time of relaxation. The park is one of Perry's most valuable and distinctive trademarks as it surrounds the stately courthouse building, the Carnegie Library and the post office with silent, leafy sentinels.

We are deeply indebted to Mr. Will Little and Perry's territorial-era county commissioners for their labors and foresight in creating the courthouse park `way back there in the early days. And more thanks go to today's commissioners and all the others who have seen to it that the park continues to be a source of community pride. A Perry Garden Club unit has erected a granite marker with a metal plate that tells, in brief, the story of Mr. Little and the courthouse park trees.

But we also owe a deep bow to homeowners and others throughout this city who have provided us with those beautiful, shady trees, along with clean lawns and tastefully tended flower beds and shrubbery. Next time you're driving around town, notice some examples - there are many of them - and tell the folks who live there that you appreciate their concern for the beautification of Perry.