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May 20, 2003

Interesting interlude at one of the local restaurants after church services Sunday morning. A familiar gentleman and his charming wife presented themselves at the table we occupied and identified themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Jim Barge, who grew up here and are now living in retirement in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a most pleasant surprise and I had the opportunity to escort them to some of the tables where Perryans with long memories got to see them. In the 1930s Jim's dad, the late Lester Barge, operated a grocery store on the north side of the square in the Palmer & Smelser building, on the east side of my Dad's business, the City Drug Store. That building is now occupied by Georgia Curtis' furniture and antique business. Lester later moved to the south side of the square in the building where our city councilmen now meet twice monthly.

Several year after Lester's death, his widow, Mary, married L.O. Winters Sr., the Perry fire chief. Jim, meanwhile, attended seminary and became a Presbyterian pastor. His mother was the Perry Carnegie librarian for several years before her retirement. She died five years ago. Jim's wife is the former Silvey Wood, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Lew Wood. Jim and Silvey were here as part of their "jubilee celebration," which means they are retracing some steps in 2003 as a means of taking note of their Golden Wedding Anniversary year. As part of that, they attended services here Sunday morning at, the First Christian Church where they were married in 1953 by Rev. Cryder Brayshaw. We enjoyed spending a few minutes visiting about some of the olden days with Jim and Silvey.

Apparently all went well at the Perry high school graduation ceremony Saturday morning on the football field of Perry Stadium. The weather is always questionable, at any time of year, but considering the storms we've experienced lately there was good reason to be wary. A large crowd of parents, other proud relatives and interested spectators filled the stands. The school's fine auditorium was designed to hold a large crowd, but with more than 90 seniors receiving diplomas this year there was just no way the ceremony could have been held there. Too many family members and friends deserved seats, and the auditorium would not have held them. OSU's athletic director, Harry Birdwell, who has many friends here, was the commencement speaker. Even though young graduates are not too apt to remember the remarks of their commencement speaker, we hope the Perry grads, as they go on with their lives, will bear in mind some of the points Mr. Birdwell made. He's a very level-headed man doing a great job for the Cowboys' athletic program.