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April 23, 2002

The Central Rural Electric Cooperative (CREC) provides electrical energy for many customers in this area. The co-op also issues a monthly news magazine, Oklahoma Living, that is worthy of a much larger readership. It’s a tabloid size publication with full-color photos and well-written articles dealing with topics that are of interest to many folks, even those who are not residents of this part of Oklahoma. The current issue has a full-page article about Perry including color photos of our Carnegie Library and the Foucart building at the southeast corner of the square.

I rarely see this publication but Virginia Eggers has provided me with the piece about Perry, written by Elaine Warner, and it is delightful to read. Title of the article is If Buildings Could Talk. The library photo is spread across the top half of the page and the Foucart building appears in the lower right corner. Both are handsome and historic Perry structures that deserve this new spotlight. The title of the magazine article is the same as the name of a small brochure that is handed out to local visitors who wish to take a walking tour of our town. What stories they could tell, indeed.

The writer’s story covers the lower half of the page. In it, Ms. Warner tells about a recent tour of Perry hosted by Vicki Spaulding, executive director of Perry Main Street; along with Marsha Williams and David Payne. All of them are enthusiastic and hard-working leaders of the local organization, which is dedicated to restoring and reviving Perry’s downtown shopping area. .

Ms. Warner devotes a few paragraphs to the early controversy surrounding the use of the library – the mayor at that time (1910) wanted to use the new building for city offices, in addition to the library. He ran into opposition by library supporters who remembered a condition established by the benefactor, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, that limited the sole use of the building to a public library. In the end, the library faction prevailed and there were no more arguments about that. The library is one of our town’s proudest possessions.

Elsewhere in the CREC article are brief pieces about the wonderful downtown Heritage Center, where the Charles Machine Works, Inc. had its beginning; a piece about the origin of Ditch Witch trenching equipment; Jim Franklin’s statuary studio on the south side of the square; the now-closed Conoco Service Station at the southwest corner; the venerable Kumback Café on the north side; Foster’s Corner Drug Store on the east side; the Fourcart building at the southeast corner; and antique shops and other stores, like Thorn’s Originals on the south side.

The CREC article concludes with this statement by Ms. Warner: “You’ll hear ‘thanks for coming’ and ‘come back soon,’ but you won’t hear anyone ask you why you came. The people of Perry know they’ve got something special.” How true, but how good it is to read positive statements like that.