September 14, 2001
Here’s an addendum to the recent series of columns about some Perry eating places, mostly looking back to recall a few of the favorites. As I stated when this subject matter began, not all of them were to be included, but here are the names of some that may help you recall the fragrance of the culinary art as it existed in a few places.
Several readers have reminded me of the Nu-Way Café on the west side of the square, at 307 Seventh street. The Nu-Way was operated by Elvena Dillard and her mother, the late Pet Dillard. The ladies also had a restaurant for a while in a building that was attached to the old two-story Bank of Commerce building on the north side of the square. That building has had several occupants through the years. After the bank closed, some of the tenants have been Reynolds & Taylor, and (still later) the Oklahoma Tire & Supply Co. store operated by Wilson Clark and later by Gordon Clark, who were not related. The OTASCO store was destroyed by fire and Gordon moved his business to the old Safeway Store building, which now is home to the Dollar General Store. Meanwhile, Albright Title & Trust Co. erected a sparkling new single-story building on the corner. Nancy Groom’s tag agency now shares the building with the Albright folks. Still with me?
A few of us still remember that Forrest Severe preceded the Dillards in that location behind the Bank of Commerce. Forrest served a great bowl of chili, among other delicacies. He later moved to 420 Kaw street, the old U.S. 77 curve at what was then the northeast corner of town. There, before Mr. Severe arrived, Eve Stanislav had a tavern with a meeting room that also was used by dancers who brought nickels for the jukebox. Still later it became a Jersey Queen franchise, operated by Mr. Severe. Forrest provided lots of malts and other treats for many of the youngsters who played in Perry’s little league baseball program.
Ethel Koch has been a waitress at several Perry eateries, and she tells me there once was a Jones Café on the south side of the square at 608 Cedar, and she was employed there.
I’ve relied heavily on information found in several old city directories in my collection. Most of them have been previously named, but here are a few more from the 1952 directory: Coffee Cup Café, 600 Fifth street; Eddie’s Drive-In on north Fifth street; Harvey’s Café, 302 Sixth; The Oasis, 409 Sixth; Perry Coffee Shop, 600 Cedar; Roads Café, 510 Cedar; Thompson’s Golden Barbecue, Highway 77 South; and Woods Café, 636 Cedar.
Several restaurants were named in the 1948 directory. Included then were these: Auto-Eat, 402 Sixth; The Period Drive-In, South U.S. 77; Corner Lunch, 123 Seventh; Elite Café, 609 Delaware; Harvey’s Café, 302 Sixth; Kumback Lunch, 625 Delaware; Marcy Café, 806 Ninth; Nu-Way Café, 307 Seventh; Perry Coffee Shop, 500 Cedar; Severe’s Barbecue, 420 Kaw; and the U.S. Café, 642 Cedar.
The 1940 directory listed these restaurants: Auto-Eat Café, 402 Sixth; Babcock Café, 302 Sixth; Corner Lunch, 123 Seventh; Elite Hotel & Café, 509 Delaware; Folan Café, 619 Delaware; Gem Café, 608 Cedar; Kumback Lunch, 625 Delaware; La Fonda Café, 538 Cedar; Palace Café, 318 Sixth; Seventy-Seven Café, 522 Sixth; Temple Lunch, 700 Delaware; U.S. Café, 638 Cedar; West Side Café, 307 Seventh; and the Whiteway Café, 407 Sixth.
The 1912 Perry city directory: does not have a separate listing of restaurants, but along about then my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Bucklin, had a chili parlor and notions store on the north side of the square at 621 Delaware. Next door east, at 619 Delaware, was the Chili House, operated by Mrs. R.C. Cartwright, who offered short orders, chili, a soda fountain and confectionery. I’m sure there were others. Several years later, Jim and Edith Brier had a lunch counter in our family business, the City Drug, at 643 Delaware. And let us not forget Forney’s Ice Cream Store at 324 Seventh, the west side of the square, where good sandwiches were served along with Cokes, malts and popular tunes from the jukebox.
There almost certainly were other through the years, but that’s a pretty complete list. Maybe some of those I’ve named in these columns bring back some special memories of days gone by.