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Novemeber 5, 2002

Many of you have been good enough to inquire lately about the availability of The First Generation, a chronicle of the first fifty years in this community following the opening of the Cherokee Strip in 1893. A limited number of copies are still available, but the quantity is dwindling. The Cherokee Strip Museum on West Fir Avenue is the chief source of copies. The book, which also tells the story of the birth and growth of the Charles Machine Works, Inc., and the internationally marketed line of Ditch Witch equipment made in Perry, is a sought-after item around the time of the annual September 16th celebration and for Christmas gift purposes. All proceeds from sale of the book go to the Noble County Chapter of the Cherokee Strip Historical Society. In addition to a story of the dramatic opening of the Strip, the book contains numerous thumbnail profiles of people and events that distinguish Perry from all the other cities in the land run area of Northern Oklahoma.

For those of you still interested in bringing back a movie theater to Perry, here's a story carried on the AP news wire the other day. The dateline was Kinsley, Kansas, a town of about 2,500 population in south-central Kansas. Here's the story:

Moviegoers are again filling a Kansas theater that showed silent pictures accompanied by organ music when it was built in 1917. The Palace Theater operated almost continuously until it closed at the end of 1998. In June 1999, residents formed the nonprofit Palace Association to buy the theater. A new roof and sound system were added, and the building became a venue for concerts and classic films. But more work needed to be done, so E-Team (Entertainment in Edwards County), a group of more than 70 volunteers, spent the summer painting, installing new flooring and refinishing 50 seats. E-Team was formed to fight what the group considered a lack of entertainment in the area. The work culminated with the showing of "Men in Black II" in early October. So you see, what it takes is a little resolve and elbow grease, with someone or something to provide a measure of leadership. The point is, it can be done. Check with the folks in Kinsley, Kansas, for details.

Before long we'll be thinking Thanksgiving thoughts. That means family reunions and other get-togethers, plus the traditional feasting on turkey, dressing, mince pie and all the rest of those wonderful goodies, and a time to give thanks for all the blessings we have received, especially in this country. It also makes me think back several years, not long after the end of World War II, when Perry's retail business district around the square was booming. I believe my friend, the ebullient Clarence Paden, was secretary-manager of the Chamber of Commerce at this particular time, and he was very good at figuring out offbeat promotions to bring shoppers downtown. One of his brainstorms was a "turkey drop," in which live turkeys were to be turned loose from the top of the courthouse. People could scramble for them and take home the birds they captured. As I recall it now, the first turkey crashed through a plate glass window on the front of the Monroe-Lang Store, where major appliances, hardware and furniture were sold, and the next turkey dropped was unable to fly. In the interest of shoppers' safety and for prevention of further cruelty to animals, the event was called off and the chamber planners went back to work on other ideas.