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December 17, 2002

Wes Leatherock has been a friend and a colleague for many years, back to the time I began my journalistic career in 1941 when his father, the late W.K. Leatherock, who owned this paper, hired me as a reporter. Wes was a youngster at that time, but he virtually grew up in the news room and back shop of this newspaper. He had an interesting life in the news and public relations fields and now he's retired in Oklahoma City. All of this is by way of background. Wes dropped me a line recently after an interesting feature story appeared in The Journal concerning the little Santa Claus house that has been stationed in the courthouse park each Christmas season for many years. Wes clarified several points and you probably will be interested in reading what he had to say. Here's the basis of his message:

"The story in The Perry Daily Journal about the little Santa Claus house brought many pleasant memories to a Leatherock. However, the (little) house wasn't built by the Leatherocks. My parents, W.K. and Avis Leatherock, bought it from Howard and Ernestina Cress, who lived in the 800 block on Jackson. It was for their daughter. Howard was the Perry police chief until he resigned to enter the Army around the start of World War II.

"I'm not sure it. (the little house) was original with the Cresses. It's possible they built it or had it built, but it's also possible they may have bought it from someone else. I don't know whether the Cresses' daughter had outgrown the playhouse or they had to leave it behind when Howard entered the Army. In any event, I remember the little house being maneuvered from a winch truck into the back yard at our house, about a block away."

This cleared up some questions for me. I did not remember that the little house originally came from the yard of Mr. and Mrs. Cress, although I remember the family very well. Their house was a half-block east of the two-story Leatherock home at Ninth and Jackson. Howard was a nephew of the attorney, P.W. Cress. As you know, the story about the little Santa house appeared on the front page of The Journal a few days ago as a Christmas season feature. Thanks to Wes for his interest in straightening out a few details.

Speaking of personal ties to the local newspaper, Francis Thetford was managing editor when I went to work there about 61 years ago. Francis is now deceased, but one of his daughters, Sharon Ervin of McAlester, is a published author. She recently had a book-signing in Oklahoma City. Charlotte Ream Cooper, June Ream's daughter, was a girlhood friend of Sharon's and she attended the signing. The book for that occasion was Sharon's latest, Bodacious, and it is available at many stores in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Her previous novel was June and Mother Earth, and it is also doing very well. I'm sure many of you remember Francis and his daughter, Sharon.