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July 19, 2002

Newspapers from out of the past fascinate me, especially those fragile, yellowing copies of The Perry Daily Journal that were originally distributed decades ago by carriers in this Booth Tarkington setting. In a unique way, they recorded the history of their time in this special little part of the U.S. along with accurate reflections of the mood, temperament, attitude and philosophy of some memorable times here on the prairie.

Nothing else comes close to matching the story-telling of those news articles and the advertisements that accompanied them. They related on a daily basis what people did, what they thought, and how they carried out their responsibilities to those who were to come after them. I believe that people of the Cherokee Strip area have always had a sense of history and knew, if only sub-consciously, that they were part of it. So, I truly appreciate the many thoughtful friends who have shared with me some of the newspapers from out of the past that had special meaning to them. Reading those old papers, merely touching them, takes me back to an era of growth and pride in this community that we can hardly imagine today.

Eighty years ago, in the 1920s, the residents of this part of north-central Oklahoma were just beginning to realize some of the bountiful benefits pouring from the horn of plenty envisioned by those pioneers who came here in 1893. The Great Depression had not yet materialized. Our hardy pioneers arrived here determined to tame the wilderness and to carve out farms, ranches and all types of enterprises for the families they knew would populate this area.

The same struggle goes on today, but Perry residents of that period were learning how to deal with it and the newspaper tells us how they survived. That is part of the reason I find so much pleasure in reading newspaper accounts of the life those gritty folks led. I’ll share some of those accounts with you in future columns.

Suddenly Shifting Subjects – will there be another major league baseball strike this season? My best answer is, I don’t know. There is so much unrest and discontent hovering over what used to be America’s favorite game that you’d have to say a strike is probable but at the same time it is also improbable. Disputes between the zillionaire team owners and their millionaire players are, for the most part, looking sillier all the time to John Q. Fan, who shells out those big bucks in the first place. Television money also plays a big part, but it is the same schlemiel, the poor wage earner, who sits at home in front of a TV set and ultimately provides the cash in the first place.

The recent mid-season All-Star classic did little to ease the tension. Ending a so-called “dream game” like that with a tie score satisfies no one. Commissioner Bud Selig’s office already was rocked with controversy by the “constriction” theory that would reduce the number of major league teams and now more woes have been dumped on the same doorstep. Will the big leagues survive? It’s questionable, but as long as boys and girls of all ages play the game and love it and as long as their families do too, the diamonds will continue to flourish in some form. Personally, I can’t wait for the start of football season.