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January 21, 2003

Bud Grim and Sheryl Mandeville have come across a bit of memorabilia from the early days in Perry and they are hoping to find some help in clarifying its origin. The piece is an eight-inch tall clear glass bottle with this information engraved on it in raised letters in an oval shape: "Perry Steam Bottling Works, Perry, Okla." The earliest city directory I have is from 1910-11 but it contains no listing for a firm by that name. The bottle may have been used for soda water or perhaps for locally brewed liquid refreshments. Thus far we have no clue. My 1910-11 directory has only one listing for a bottler but it is for "O'Rourke Bros., end of 6th and Santa Fe Ry." That really doesn't add anything informative. Perhaps a reader can provide Bud and Sheryl with something about the firm whose name appears on the bottle. It is in excellent condition with a tapered neck where a cork probably plugged up that end. Give them a call if you can help out here.

The most recent issue of Commerce Folio, the official bimonthly news publication of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, contains a feature story and photos of the Charles Machine Works, Inc., manufacturer of the Perry-made Ditch Witch line of underground construction equipment. The eight-page slick paper publication also contains many stories about the continuing expansion and addition of new industrial plants throughout our state. The Folio is lavishly illustrated with color photos and stories about new plants going up in Oklahoma. The Ditch Witch article includes a photo of Ed Malzahn, inventor of the Ditch Witch service line trencher, standing beside one of the earliest models produced in the late 1940s, plus a photo of one of today's products, a Ditch Witch RT9O tractor working in rugged country. The article calls attention to the centennial observance of the founding of the Malzahn blacksmithing and machine shop in 1902 and notes that CMW received the 2002 Journal Record "Innovator of the Year" Award for Continuing Achievement.

A portion of the article reads: "The Ditch Witch organization specializes in the design and manufacture of high quality underground construction equipment. This includes being the one-stop source for trenchers, vibratory plows, pneumatic piercing tools, backhoes, electronic locating, mapping, tracking equipment, directional drilling systems, drill pipe, vacuum excavation systems, and other downhole tools. This product line represents the most complete range of equipment for installing utilities underground. The Ditch Witch brand is the leading name in underground construction equipment."

Perry is indeed proud of the international recognition CMW has received. Congratulations to Ed Malzahn and the men and women of Ditch Witch who have been responsible for the positive reputation they enjoy in the world marketplace.