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March 11, 2003

My nomination for the next Nobel Peace Prize goes to the guy who invented those printed labels on men's undershirts to replace the stitch-on variety that have been driving me nuts for many years. Same problem is found on other apparel - sport shirts, dress shirts, and so forth. When those stitched labels are worn, they create an itchy, irritated spot on the spine. The only remedy is to try to scratch, and that often creates bizarre scenes in unexpected places. Hurrah for the printed label on men's stuff!

That recent series of columns about Perry's firemen and their fire stations struck a responsive chord with several readers. Glenn Yahn describes a scene from about 1916, when Perry received its first motorized fire truck, a Studebaker. Until then all the local fire wagons were pulled by a sturdy team of horses. Glenn remembers that a race was scheduled between the new fire truck and another pulled by the horses.

Glenn says the fire station was still located in the 400 block of 7th Street, just off the west side of the courthouse square. The race route was east on Elm street to the old Long Bell Lumber Yard at 6th and Elm, then south to Delaware and then east to the Santa Fe Railroad Station. After some comic mishaps along the way, the horse-drawn team, driven by Chief E.G. Cooper, was the first to arrive at the finish line. The Studebaker was driven by. L.O. Winters, who then served as assistant chief. Spectators enjoyed the spectacle very much, Glenn recalls.

Glenn further remembers that Chief Cooper was a heavyweight prizefighter and that he won some significant championships in this state. Perry had some other boxers of note through the years, but Chief Cooper was one of the best.

Others remember the temporary bedroom space provided from time to time at the fire station by Fire Chief L.O. Winters for some of the local high school's athletes and other young men. Chief Winters was in contact with legendary PHS football Coach Hump Daniels, and when it was determined that one of the squad members or some other PHS student needed a place to stay for a while, the fire station was available. The boys thus sheltered also helped out as volunteer-firemen when the need arose. The fire station "home" also meant that the young men would get a wholesome and healthful meal three times a day.

Elsewhere on this page are some photos of early day Perry fire stations. These were provided by David Payne from his excellent collection of historic pictures. I appreciate the help offered by David and everyone else who contributed to this series.

The Perry fire station has been in at least four locations since the Cherokee Strip opening on September 16, 1893, when the city was “born.” Photos and information provided by David Payne show these building as they looked when they housed the fire department.

On east side of 7th, facing west, between Delaware and Elm Streets. This brick and masonry building was approximately where the Dollar General Store now stands. After the fire station moved, this became the home of Ivan Kennedy’s tire repair shop.

Available information puts these two wooden front buildings at the southeast corner of 7th and Delaware. The buildings face the west. In the left background, the building in photo A is visible. Names of the two firemen on the fire truck in this photo are not known.

On south side of Delaware Street, facing north, between 7th and 8th Streets. The present fire station, including this building now occupies this space, pluse a major addition on the right (west) side.

On the west side of 7th Street, between Delaware and Elm. This was the Perry fire station at one time. Later it became the home of the Red Front Garage. The year is not certain and the name of the man in the doorway on the right is not known. Many Perryans will remember when this building was the home of Ivan Kennedy’s Roller Rink. Now located there are Dr. Stacy Wilda’s optometry office in the north half and Marilyn Hamman’s Cherokee Hair Company in the south half.