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February 1, 2002

During recent weeks we have experienced the loss of several popular artists in the field of vocal music, and it makes me sad because most of them were gifted stylists. Many of them came from the Big Band Era, one of my personal favorite time periods. Some small compensation is the fact that modern recording techniques assure us that their unique qualities can still be heard and appreciated for years to come. But, nothing can take the place of a clever set of lyrics sung by Perry Como; a soulful ballad by Frank Sinatra or Mel (The Velvet Fog) Torme; or a sultry number by Miss Peggy Lee, who just died the other day. The list of those we have lost goes on. You undoubtedly have your own favorites just as I do. Some of our younger readers probably would not recognize many of the names. They have been deprived of something that a lot of us enjoyed greatly. How I miss the Big Band Era.

Jerry McKeown, up at Billings, advises that the internet’s E-Bay has been offering a bicycle frame made by “Tobin Brothers of Perry.” Jerry wonders who the Tobins were and what else they may have manufactured. My 1910-11 City Directory lists three male Tobins – Charles E., a carpenter; James F., a traveling salesman; and John, no occupation listed. That’s all the information I can find that might be helpful. Does anyone else know about the bicycle frames?

Along with that copy of the 1934 newspaper, The Perry Tribune, described in this column the other day, Sam Ebersole also brought me an advertisement for Smith’s Bile Beans (Small), and I thought you might like to hear about it. The piece is printed on a card measuring 4” x 8”. One side has pictures of three couples, representing seven-year-olds, 17-year-olds and 70-year-olds. The male is shown planting a gentle kiss on the female’s cheek in each case, accompanied by this poetic copy: “At seven a kiss is so sweet / To steal one now and then’s a treat; At seventeen they’re nicer still / And there’s a way where there’s a will; At seventy it’s just the same / They still keep up the old old game.” On the back side the card advises that the pills are “sugar coated, easy to take; one-fourth the size of old style.” The pills were said to “act on the liver and bile.” They were described as “a perfect cure for sick headache, billious attacks, colds, constipation and liver complaint.” A bottle of 30 pills was priced at 25 cents, and they were available from druggists or the manufacturer, whose address was on Greenwich Street in New York City.

That information the other day about the Perry Mill & Elevator brought back a lot of pleasant memories for Betty Andrews and Dorothy Bowers. In its prime, the business was Perry’s largest. Its chief product, Pride of Perry Flour, was widely known and highly regarded. Betty’s dad, Charles Schaefer, was with the old mill until it was closed in the 1930s by the new owners, General Mills. Subsequenntly he became manager of the Diamond Ice Co. at 210 Seventh street. Dorothy’s dad, Henry Grundeman, also was a long-time employee of the Perry Mill. He transferred to the General Mills plant in Oklahoma City when the Perry Mill & Elevator were closed.

Roy Kendrick offers this succinct advice, which will be today’s column closer: “Don’t squat with your spurs on.”