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March 7, 2003

Here's a little reminder, in case you need it: The Titanic steamship artifacts exhibit at the Kirkpatrick Center in Oklahoma City will soon be packing up and leaving for the next destination. You really should think seriously about seeing this display if you haven't yet done so. Or, go see it again if you have already been there. The sinking of the Titanic on her maiden voyage in the North Atlantic is a tragic story and much of the ambience of that sad night is vividly conjured up by this collection of miscellaneous articles that have been recovered from the British vessel. It now rests in ignominy at the bottom of the sea where it sank after striking an iceberg decades ago. The horrible drama of that night in the early 1900s is compounded by the owners' proud, but premature, proclamation that the Titanic was unsinkable. It is one of the saddest events in world history and the exhibit now in Oklahoma City probably will astound you. By all means, try to see it if you possibly can.

The latest issue of The Chronicles of Oklahoma, published quarterly by the Oklahoma Historical Society, is just being delivered and once again it contains stories of historic interest to all Oklahomans. The stories include several that are of special interest to those of us who live in the north-central area. One of these is an article with the title, Joseph Pierre Foucart: Man of Art and Mystery. This piece delves into the interesting life of the European architect who designed at least two buildings in Perry and many more in Guthrie. One of those, of course, is the old First National Bank building (which we now call the Foucart Building) on the east side of the square, where several local agencies, including the Perry Chamber of Commerce and Main Street of Perry, are headquartered. The other Foucart-designed local building is at 614 Cedar street on the south side of the square in the two-story brick building now owned by Etsell Emde. It is formally known as the Pancoast building.

In the same issue are articles about "the rise and fall of Governor Jack Walton," who preceded Perry attorney, Henry S. Johnston into office as Oklahoma's chief executive; a piece about "Yakni Achukma, the School With a Soul," a history of the Goodland Indian orphanage at Hugo; and a feature about Pepper Martin, "the wild horse of the Osage." Pepper, whose real name was John Leonard Roosevelt Martin, had a .500 batting average, in the 1931 World Series. The author of the piece says he was one of the best baseball players of his time.

The Walton article is of interest because it sheds light on the way things were in the 1920's, when both Mr. Walton and Mr. Johnston were impeached and driven from office. In both cases, the Ku Klux Klan played a major role. The piece about the Goodland home is of local interest because a number of Perry people contribute financially (and in other ways) to help the school. Pepper Martin was a colorful major league player years ago and many local fans remember him well.

If you are a member of the Historical Society, you should already have your copy of this interesting quarterly publication. If not, and you're interested, contact the Oklahoma Historical Society at 2100 N. Lincoln Boulevard Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4997, and they'll fix you up.