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December 13, 2002

The first car I owned after World War II was a Chevy coupe. It was a used car, one of the last that came off the General Motors assembly line before the company devoted all of its production to war-time equipment. It had only a few optional accessories. One of these was a gasoline heater, the kind that became extremely hot in a matter of seconds. (But that's a story for another time.) My next car was a sportier post-war model, and after that I began a lifetime of trading in one model for a newer and better one as necessary. Because of our problems with the Germans, Japanese, Italians and other components of the Axis powers, I made an unspoken pledge to buy only American-made cars. That resolution became harder to keep as years went by. One of my favorite chariots was a VW Beetle. It was a "previously owned" (used) car when I bought it and it served me very well for 17 years. I eventually sold it and bought a pickup. That phase also passed and in due time I had a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) for tooling around. It was handy for a lot of reasons.

The VW folks quit marketing their Beetle in the U.S. about 30 years ago and I sold my little Bug before buying the pickup. I have missed it ever since. Not too long ago the Beetle reappeared in the U.S. and now I have one. It has quite a few bells and whistles not previously available in this model - things like an engine in the front, sun roof, automatic transmission with Cruise Control, leather upholstery with electric seat warmers and so forth. A very neat car indeed. It's fun to drive and I am planning on keeping it for a long time. I just hope it lasts as long as the one I used to have. Young people tell me it is "a cool car," and I can only agree, even if I don't know exactly what that means.

Ed Warner's death the other day reminded me of another era in this little city, when Ed was a clerk at Monte Jones Drug Store on the west side of the square and I was employed in the editorial department of The Perry Daily Journal, just across the alley from Monte's store. With my friend, Boyd Norman, who at the time was advertising manager of The Journal, we slipped into Monte's back door to take a coffee break at the soda fountain. Ed would greet us, always wearing a neat white shirt and necktie, and we had a good time just talking to him about major issues of the day, like OU's and OSU's football teams. Once, when I was confined at home with hepatitis, Ed brought me a sack full of old comic books and other periodicals. He remembered my favorites. That is just one indication of his thoughtfulness. A mutual friend also reminded me the other day that Ed, though big and burly, knew how to tie a very attractive bow on gift-wrapped packages purchased at the drug store.

As fate would have it, after a few years Ed and I both worked for the Ditch Witch company out on West Fir. He became a lead man because he was a natural leader. He was always friendly with everyone and his winning smile disarmed strangers. Ed had a natural and abiding interest in the history of this area. His grandfather, John Warner, was custodian of the Perry post office in the early days. One of Ed's proudest moments came when he met and later married Ophelia. After Ed retired from CMW, he and Mrs. Warner enjoyed traveling to many places. I'll miss our occasional conversations. In truth, this town will miss our friend, Ed Warner.