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October 26, 2004

Okies on the West Coast

Yvonne Hodge is a warmhearted, happy individual, and she has a way of making everyone around her feel good. On our trip to the West Coast with a Perry bank group last week, we knew that. We just didn't know how much her happy-Okie brand of good cheer would be evident to strangers from other parts of the world, namely the people who interview prospective game-players for "The Price is Right," the venerable CBS show that we attended along with about 300 others. Yvonne was chosen as a participant, and she won a new car and a trip to the Grand Canyon in the melee. She won them because she had the approximately right answers to the prices of several obscure items. When she won the car and those other things, our part of the audience erupted in shared joy. As for Yvonne, she was on cloud 9 just for having been chosen as a contestant. The show's host, Bob Barker, visited with her during commercial breaks and she came home with an autographed picture of the star himself. The show will air nationally on Dec. 15, so write the date on your calendar and be watching.

Some of the things you won't be seeing include Calvin Kelley's brief appearance on stage at the warm-up, dancing a hip step or two with a gyrating partner, and Sallie Waltermire's introduction to the crowd as a gold medal Olympian. Sallie, as you no doubt know, is an accomplished bowler and she won her medal at the recent Senior Olympics in Stillwater. Mr. Barker was impressed and spent a few minutes in conversation with Sallie after my Laura announced to him that our group included a sort of celebrity in her own right. That really added to the fun for our little band of Oklahomans at the taping.

In short, we had fun and despite the endless waiting such things entail, we enjoyed being bewildered by all the glitz and glamour that was shown to us. Mr. Barker, in his 80s, is a physical and mental wonder and seems to relish the brief talks with his guests. He was gracious, witty and appeared to be truly interested in his audience.

Earlier in the trip we saw some other fascinating things on the West Coast, and even had a brief reunion with former Perryans Jane Schneider Morrison and Lila Lee Davis Auer in San Francisco. All in all, it was a great trip in every way except for the lost sleep, but it was not a sleep deprivation endurance test so we expected that. It was a compatible group, ready for some fun, and when it was all over we remembered the phrase that began this two-column series:

"There's No Place Like Home." Especially a home in Perry America.