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September 19, 2003

A reader agrees with my recent comment about the hazards kids incur when they dash out on the streets during our Cherokee Strip celebration parade. My suggestion was to just totally outlaw the practice of having candy and other souvenirs flung from the floats toward the crowds on either side of the parade route. My friend suggests that adults or kids from the floats could hand out the goodies as they walk along close to the sidewalks and curbs around the square. That would eliminate the skirmishes now' taking place as float riders, with every good intention, pitch their stuff onto the street and watch kids of all ages trying to scoop them up.

It seems obvious that something needs to be done. As it now stands, our parade is just an accident waiting to happen. The parade is the single biggest feature of Perry's annual Cherokee Strip Parade, and we need to protect the tots, teens and adults who now scramble for the stuff being flung toward them from the floats and other entries.

Another bit of our local history is about to be sold in just a few days. The elegant former home of the W.M. Bowles family at 801 Holly Street has been put up for sale at auction next Saturday (September 27), and it will seem like a sad day for many of us. Judge Bowles was a distinguished jurist and a stern family leader after the opening of the Cherokee Outlet to settlement on September 16, 1893. He served by appointment of Mayor John Brogan as a member of our first city school board. The Bowles home, at the northwest corner of Eighth and Elm Streets, is a classic example of the type of architecture favored here in the early 1900s. The two-story frame dwelling was built in 1903 by David McKinstry, owner of the Perry Milling Co., where "Pride of Perry" flour was milled and packaged for shipment all over the U.S. A detached one-time carriage house at the rear of the property later served as a spacious garage for the Bowles family, but a second-level space was still floored for use as a hay loft.

In later years the home was occupied by Judge Bowles, his wife and their family. Most of them were gifted musically and in other ways. I particularly remember Judge Bowles' son, Ed, who became postmaster of Perry. He was a violinist and a faithful member of the Presbyterian Church Choir. One of Ed's sisters, Ellen, was an accomplished pianist and another daughter, Clara, was a talented singer. Most recently the home has been occupied by Mrs. Bill Hodge, who no longer needs all that space.

Speaking of Perry history, I'll have more to say in a few days about the newly announced acceptance of the Perry business district by the national register of historic places. This is an exciting and promising designation, something that should make us proud.