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July 18, 2003

Earlier this year, the newsletter of the National Rural Letter Carrier Association featured an article about an interesting sidelight of the early days in Noble county, Oklahoma Territory, specifically 1903. Thanks to Harold Luter, a rural mail carrier at Red Rock, we can share the tale with you. In the newsletter, this was headlined "Dog Helps Oklahoma Routes." Here's the story as it appeared in the newsletter:

Postoffice Inspector Higsby, who is in the city, has been stopping at the home of Postmaster (Will) Little, says the Perry (Okla.) Republican. They were in the sitting room talking over the rural free delivery situation for Perry. Mr. Higsby was talking favorably considering the matter and was just questioning Little as to the condition of the roads and bridges through the territory which it is desired to cover, when an unearthly squawking and squalling and infantile barking was heard in the rear of the house.

Mr. Little lighted his dark lantern and, with the inspector creeping along behind with muffled tread, they went to see about the noise. They expected trouble and both armed themselves. Now, everybody in town knows Bess, the family dog of Little's. Well, she had stolen into the kitchen and had given birth to a litter of pups. When the bull's eye was thrown upon the sight the two men burst out into roar after roar of laughter and each man argued that the joke was on the other fellow.

To settle the matter, Inspector Higsby agreed that for every pup he would start a rural mail route as soon as the roads and bridges met the demands of the department. To this Little at once agreed, and they went to the nest of the domestic pet.

Little made terms of peace with Bess and began counting. When he had stacked up five and still more remained in the nest, the inspector gave a whistle of surprise and snapped his fingers. Then Little counted three more, making eight in all, and the postal service man sank down into a chair and wilted. But the routes will be established for Higsby is a man of his word.

That's the story. We're much obliged to Harold Luter for passing along this humorous little slice of life from a century ago. And, this story is interesting for several reasons. For one thing, it reminds us that Mr. Will Little did more than plant those stately elm trees that used to grace the courthouse park. He also was postmaster in Perry in the early days, and that was a demanding job in those chaotic days right after the Cherokee Outlet land run. We need to be thankful to him for many of the conveniences we now enjoy.