November 20, 2001
Sandstone was the principal building material for WPA and CCC projects in this part of the U.S. during the late 1930s and early 1940s. The WPA (Works Progress Administration) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) were created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s to give able-bodied young men a chance to work for a living despite the aggressively rampant and oppressive Great Depression. Perry won several public works projects during that time and some of the buildings erected then are still very much in use today. For example – the Perry Stadium, home of Daniels Field; the Perry armory, where national guard troops have trained for more than 60 years; and the CCC Park, still bearing the name of the depression - spawned workmen who created the layout. A number of public school buildings also were built by those young workmen, and virtually all of them were sandstone structures.
The question before the house is: Where did all that sandstone come from? It’s a topic that has been often discussed, and a short while ago John Nida posed the question again in this column. As a result, we have heard from several readers. You may recall the recent recollections of Gertrude Norman Lockett in this column about one source of the stone. Mrs. Lockett, who now lives in New Richmond, Texas, remembers that some commercial construction people excavated sandstone from the farm of her father, John A. Hartung, southeast of Morrison, for construction of the Farmers Union Co-op in Morrison.
Bert Bezdicek, who moved back to Perry a few years ago after retiring, remembers another source of sandstone – the farm of his father, Frank Bezdicek; and neighbors, Joe Dolezal Sr. and Earl Bechtold. All lived southeast of Perry. Bert says there are still large sandstone outcroppings on that land. “I remember when those men (CCC and WPA workers) came to our farm. They had tools like hammers and wedges to shape the stone into blocks, but they dug it from outcroppings with spades, shovels and other hand tools. I think they must have loaded it onto trucks by hand, also.” He doesn’t remember seeing block and tackle devices for loading the stone. Bert says the CCC men also planted a tree in an excavation area. One of that agency’s principal objectives was the reduction of soil erosion. The stone they quarried southeast of Perry was used in building the Perry armory, CCC Park and Perry Stadium.
Roy Kendrick passes along some information about Sharron Miller, a Perry girl who is well regarded by TV network people for her work on a number of highly rated shows. Right now she is directing episodes of a CBS Friday night series, “That’s Life.” Her most recent effort was on the tube last Friday. Roy says episodes directed by Sharron are scheduled every other week until some time in January. She formerly was a film editor at Oklahoma City’s channel 9, where Roy had served as senior film editor. Roy now operates an antique mall at the former location of Donaldson & Yahn Lumber Co.