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January 29, 2002

Sam Ebersole, who knows how I enjoy looking through old newspapers, brought me a rare one the other day. If you’re interested, I’ll share some tidbits with you. It was a tabloid called The Perry Tribune, and it appeared locally for a brief period in the mid-1930s. The Great Depression had a death grip then on just about everything in the U.S and it was not a particularly opportune time for any kind of new business to be launched.

This issue, now brown with the accumulation of years of dust and almost too fragile to touch, is dated August 16, 1934. It was offered to subscribers at fifty cents per year. If it were published each week, that means it cost less than a penny per copy. No wonder it did not find a permanent place. The page one masthead tells us that the paper was published every Thursday, and that this was No. 30 in Volume I. That means it had existed for at least 30 weeks, but there’s no clue as to how much longer it continued.

I vaguely remember the paper and I don’t believe it continued for any great length of time. For one thing, The Perry Daily Journal was too much competition. The editor of The Tribune was Mr. E.B. Pastorius and the publisher was the Perry Printing Co., Inc., located at 719 Cedar street, apparently the former location of Mr. O.H. Hovey’s job printing business. Mr. Hovey, a colorful Perry citizen for many years, died in April 1940 but retired earlier because of the infirmities of old age. This issue was found among miscellaneous objects laid aside by Sam’s mother, Dorothy Ebersole, who is now a resident of the Perry Nursing Home.

News items on the front page were mostly brief homespun articles about local folks, like this one: “W.W. Turner and J.L. Coffman of near Billings transacted business in Perry Monday.” Or they were borrowed like this one, reprinted here in its entirety: “John S. Labatt, wealthy Canadian brewer, was kidnaped Wednesday and held for $150,000 ransom.” Another local story on page one was headlined: “City Is Now Getting Water from Laird’s Lake.” The story reported: “The water department has completed the pipe line to Laird’s Lake and the city is now getting water from that source. Water will not be shipped in unless in emergency. No contracts have been let yet for the drilling of water wells, but may be soon.” Laird’s Lake, of course, was a popular recreation center at the north end of Seventh street, where several fine homes are now located.

Some of the advertisers were Wilson’s Cash Grocery, Thompson’s Grocery & Market, Mooter’s Little Store (“At the foot of the hill, 205 South Seventh Street”), Huffman’s Grocery, Good Eats, home of the People’s Cab, Marcy’s Furniture Exchange, Brant’s Garage on West Cedar (Louis V. Swearingen, manager), Stanley’s Garage, DeBord Tourist Camp and Robert Wilson’s Service Station at Sixth and Kaw. There were a few others, but not many.

The Perry Printing Co. is now owned and operated by Larry and Toni Miller and it is on the west side of the square, and The Perry Tribune no longer exists. It’s interesting to see what people were reading and talking about nearly 70 years ago in our community, and my thanks to Sam Ebersole for letting me see this old newspaper from another era.