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May 25, 2004

Congratulations to Leroy J. Rolling of LJR Enterprises and to everyone else who had a hand in restoring the front of the LJR store on the south side of the square. And of course that includes J.W. Shepherd, owner of the building. Our Perry Main Street organization has been working closely with Mr. Rolling, Mr. Shepherd and other principals in hopes of making the restoration a successful undertaking. Indeed it is, thanks to all concerned.

The old Famous Store has been gone many years but many of us still recall it fondly. It was the largest department store in Noble County and it drew customers here from all over north-central Oklahoma. A principal feature of the front entrance was the use of glazed, black ceramic tiles beneath and around the show windows, where quality wearing apparel was shown by the Gottileb brothers, who owned the business. The included the brothers, Morris, Rudolph and George, and at one time in the early days, another brother, Sam, who died fairly early in life. All the brothers are now deceased. Morris had a daughter, Ann, who lives in Norman/Rudolph had two daughters, Ethel Maurice, now of Stillwater; and Edith, of Oklahoma City. George and Sam had no children. The brothers did not make the Cherokee Strip run in 1893, but they were early arrivals. This is not so much a story about the Gottliebs, though they deserve a feature focus one of these days, as it is about their store, the Famous.

The Famous had show windows across the 50-foot front of the building. Quality merchandise for men, women and children was displayed there in a central island window standing in front of the recessed display window behind it.

The tiles have been there all along, Leroy tells us. They were hidden by an aluminum veneer placed there years ago when the front of the two-story building was brought up to date. Some of them still bear the drill marks where aluminum was attached, and it may be necessary in time to replace those tiles.

For me, this has been a memorable trip down memory lane to another era in Perry America, when retailers throbbed with time and effort to provide families of this area a wonderful assortment of fashionable things to see in brightly lit show windows. It's good to know that others enjoy a reflective thought about them every now and then.