January 23, 2004
On a steamy September day in the 1930s, when the midsummer heat was barely tolerable, I buddied quite a bit with Richard Lane, a young man of about my age. Actually, he was a few years older than I was and he taught me some of the ways of the world, as he knew it. We enjoyed each other's company because it was cheap and neither of us had any spending money.
My family had an apartment on the second floor of the building where our store, the City Drug, was located. Richard's family had an apartment over the Sheets Plumbing Co. on 6th Street, where the Exchange Bank drive-through facility is now located. His father was Mr. Bill Lane, circulation manager of The Journal. Mr. Lane was in charge of local and rural deliveries of the paper and he spent most of his days roaming the countryside, collecting for subscriptions and signing up new readers. Mr. Lane also had charge of hiring and dismissing the newspaper's carriers, and those jobs were greatly coveted by those of us in the early teen-age stage. I had my application in for a carrier route when one became available, but there were too many ahead of me so I did not get a route. But that's off the subject for today.
Richard and I were both "downtown brats," so we hung out together a lot. We spent a lot of time sitting on those iron benches in the Courthouse Park, just talking about topics that teen-age boys of that era had on their minds. One day while we were so engaged, the attorney Al Singletary came strolling down a sidewalk in the park and he stopped to speak to us. We felt honored. He was a noted trial lawyer in this part of the state and it was flattering just to be recognized as a human being by someone of his stature. He and I were, after all, both Presbyterians, but he was a grownup and I was a mere kid.
Mr. Singletary asked us if we were pretty familiar with the park and the Cherokee Strip celebration that was coming up in just a few weeks. Of course we wereŚ every Perry youngster knows about that event. "Would you like to earn a little money?," he asked. That was the clincher. Almost in unison, we both said, "yes." Well, Mr. Singletary explained that he was the Noble county campaign manager for Josh Lee, who was running as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate and he was going to be in Perry for the celebration. Our job, should we accept it, would be to maintain a barrel of ice water and hand out cupfuls, along with campaign literature, to anyone who came by. Our table would have a large "Josh Lee for Senate" banner to identify the one who provided that welcome refreshment. Richard and I would each receive fifty cents a day for our work, with a minimum of one day guaranteed.
We accepted the offer, and it turned out to be a one-day job. But each of us received a half-dollar for about eight hours of work, plus (on our own) we stayed up all night on election day in November listening to the radio just to see how things turned out. So, when we heard Mr. Lee declared the winner, we told ourselves that we had played an active role in getting him elected. We basked in the knowledge that we had helped even in a small way.