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March 25, 2003

More about contents of the old Perry High School cornerstone, which soon will be offered by the Perry Masonic Lodge to the Grand Lodge in Guthrie.

A small metal box in the cornerstone contained memorabilia from the early years in Perry. Included are newspapers and other paper documents, and as you would expect, most of the material is so old, it falls apart in your hand. Nevertheless, with careful handling, a reader is rewarded with a great deal of interesting information. For instance:

A copy of the printed program for a "Decoration Program" on May 29, 1909, apparently sponsored by the local G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic), the W.R.C. (Women's Relief Corps) and local citizens and dignitaries. The schedule called for a march from the G.A.R. Hall (now the American Legion Hall) at 1:30 p.m. ending at the Grand Opera House on the east side of the square where a program would be presented. William McNeely would be master of ceremonies, invocation would be given by Rev. Parvin of the Presbyterian church, followed by a recitation by Miss Edna Brown (later to become Mrs. Ralph Foster, Sr.). An oration was scheduled by Rev. George H., Bradford, chancellor of Epworth University (now Oklahoma City University). Ina McCarthy was to offer a solo, Rev. Miller (probably A.M. Miller of the Methodist Episcopal Church) was to recite Lincoln's Gettysburg address, then a song by Miss McNeely, remarks by Father Willibord of the Catholic church, a closing song by the audience and a benediction pronounced by Rev. Wolf.

The newspapers offered several items of interest on the front page, but unfortunately there is no translation of the German language paper that was printed in the basement of what we now know as the Foucart Building on the east side of the square. Here are some examples obtained by careful handling of the frayed old papers and by not trying to unfold them.

From the August 3, 1911, Perry Republican, edited by E.W. Jones Three interesting page one stories, including the editor's urging of local officials to push for a proposed state highway leg in this area; a report on the monthly meeting of the "borough council," presided over by Mayor Fry. Council members present were Kite, Knox, McCormick, Miller, Shortman and Woodruff. None of their first names were given. Also, a roundup of activity by a Perry neighbor, headlined PONCA CITY DOING THINGS. The article recited how Poncans were planning and preparing for growth, with the implied threat that Perry had better be doing some of the same things.

From the August 5, 1911, Perry Enterprise-Times (editor's name not shown) - Page one articles about flood damage in Oklahoma and Kansas after recent rains, with damage estimated at more than $1 million; a weekly church announcement from the Presbyterian church, with the pastor, S.H. Parvin, to preach at both morning and evening Sunday services; an announcement by A. Kraemer that he had moved his stock of shoes and gents' furnishings to the Doggett building on the east side of the square; an annual sale at the Lobsitz Hardware Store, operated by James Lobsitz and Sons; and an offer by the City Drug Store to repay in cash all of their cash register coupons for merchandise bought in that store on some certain day in August. The proprietor was Fred W. Beers, my Dad.

Much more is contained in that tin box from the school cornerstone, but space does not permit more in this column. Thanks again to Clifton Franklin and other members of the Perry Masonic Lodge for sharing this with the rest of us. It was fascinating to read and handle it.