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October 19, 2005

LETHA PROCTOR and Fred G. Beers (pictured above) did this tableau when the Pioneer Woman statue was first displayed in Ponca City, around 1932. This was a performance for the Progress Club that year.

Mr. Wayne Proctor was our registered pharmacist at the City Drug Store (643 Delaware) when the World War II clouds were hovering over Perry. That would be around 1935 or a little beyond. He came here at a time when our family was still mourning the 1931 loss of my Dad, Fred W. Beers, and my mother was still coping with the intricacies of operating a retail drug store business with absolutely no preparation. The law required that the registered pharmacist must have a degree, and Mr. Proctor had one. He was part of a succession of hired pharmacists who kept our store afloat, but he was one of the best. He spent only a couple of years here, but he was a friend of many Perry area residents during his brief tenure.

This is not to put down the others. Some of them were Arthur Reed, a rotund little Republican who ordered most of his meals from the Kumback menu; and Bill Good, a very likable and friendly person who had personal problems. Heading the list, probably, would be the late Merrill Hamous, a Perry-grown pharmacist who worked for our family before he joined Charlie Watson's crew at the Brownie Drug, and, later, his own store in the Masonic building. It was called Hamous & Hopper Pharmacy.

Then, of course, there was my cousin, Fred W. Beers, who came here when my Dad died and served as manager of the store until leaving Perry in 1939. He was not a registered pharmacist. Mr. and Mrs. Proctor had no children but they sort of adopted me and my sisters, and we thought of them as a kindly aunt and uncle. The city employed her as librarian and she was active in many roles. When the Pioneer Woman statue at Ponca City was being dedicated, she and I did a tableau with that theme. I was just a punk little kid, about ten years old, but we had fun.

Looking back, those were mostly good days and I know I learned a lot from the people who went out of their way to be helpful. I miss them all.