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May 18, 2005

I'm finding that hanging around book stores and associated businesses can sometimes be downright dangerous. That applies even when eyesight, like mine, is dimming along with other problems that seem to accompany the aging process. For example, the other day at our wonderful local Carnegie library, I found some pamphlets that had been there for quite some time, just waiting for some softie like me to pick them up and read at least portions of some of them. Yes, it happened to me, as it probably has to you, and bingo! I was hooked. The subject was Oklahoma's historic places and the fact that we are losing them through inattention. Our history in Noble county is still so new and so exciting that we are inclined to forget that it actually is history, and we are allowing substantial parts of it to slip through our fingers unnoticed.

The losses listed in the little pamphlet probably were insignificant to the folks who lived nearby, but still they should have been preserved and identified for what they are. For the record, here are the listings: A WPA-built school gymnasium in Moss, The Meadors Hotel in Wetumka, and the Moses Keokuk house near Stroud. Few outside those towns have any idea what those buildings mean to the history-minded, but they have a great historic value. The interest in them, however, goes far beyond the complaint of local folks.

Perry stands to lose the same way if we are not careful. It's an old joke that people hereabouts snort a bit when they think about the 30- and 40-year-old buildings that have been destroyed to make room for newer buildings. Some of our school structures are the result of WPA projects the Perry Stadium is a good example and there are others. Who do we consult when "a newer building" is under consideration? Who do the municipal and school authorities rely on when asking that question? Who took action when the "church on a perch" was moved from the Episcopal church property to CCC Park? There should have been some group with legally designated authority to render a verdict and approve or disapprove the project. The fire the other night at the flower and gift shop on the west side of the square is another good example. Do we pull it down or rebuild? Should the old Masonic building be razed? Those are questions that may require answers in a few weeks, and we had better be ready to provide answers. Let's not change the names of historic streets or demolish old but historic buildings on a whim. Think about it and see if you agree.