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August 27, 2002

Let’s see now. What was making news in Perry on August 9, 1934? Here are a few noteworthy items according to the front page of The Perry Tribune, a now-extinct weekly newspaper printed here each Thursday at that time by the editor, Mr. E.B. Pastorius, a gentleman I never met. It was almost exactly three years before the Exchange Bank’s armed holdup, but other things were getting headlines in this little prairie town. My copy of The Tribune for that day in 1934 came from Virginia Gengler. It contained tidbits such as these on the front page:

A lengthy article in the left-hand column was headlined: PERRY MAN VISITS CENTURY OF PROGRESS. “A few days ago,” the story began, “I received a letter from Francis and Ed (Mooter) saying they were going to Chicago to the fair and needing some ballast to hold the back end down, had decided to take me. It wasn’t hard to convince me they were right, so on Sunday morning we got off, hot and dry.” What followed was a town-by-town report on that auto trip, all written in the first person. (The writer was not identified until the end of the article, when a by-line disclosed that the author was Mr. L.J. Mooter, a long-time Perry groceryman and the father of Ed Mooter.)

Elsewhere on page one was a four-paragraph story in the upper right column with this grim headline: WATER SUPPLY IS VERY LOW. Articles such as that have been customary in Perry since ‘way back. Now that we have a new source from that lake over by Stillwater, we shouldn’t have to worry about shortages each summer, but it’s interesting to see how Perry folks viewed the crisis in 1934. The article began: “The water supply of Perry is getting very low. City officials are making every effort to get all the water possible and citizens are urged to cooperate to the fullest extent in saving water. Drilling water wells as a source of supply for the city is being discussed by officials and citizens of Perry.”

That last statement is interesting because it is the same thought that our original pioneers investigated after the September 16, 1893, land run, when the Cherokee Outlet was opened to settlement. They thought that wells might be our most reliable source of water, along with Cow Creek. Both appeared to be inadequate and the possibility of relying on them was quietly abandoned early on. Nevertheless, the article continued: “Other cities in the state get their water supply from wells, and if there is good water at from 500 to 800 feet depth close to Perry it is more economical to drill wells than to build lakes or ponds, and the supply would be more dependable.”

To wind up this review, the paper reported that “a ruling of the Noble county election board in denying a petition filed by E.J. Merritt asking a recount in the county judge’s race in the runoff primary was upheld by two district judges who rendered a decision in district court here Friday night. Judges Duval and Burger, who heard the arguments in the case, came to Perry Friday night to announce their decision after having had the case under advisement for close study.” The article did not say who won the race. We’ll have more of these from time to time in the near future.