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January 11, 2006

A few days ago I ran a column featuring a photo of the City Council and other city officials who served in the 1930's, with a note that the original caption in the PDJ did not give the names of any of the men. I knew Fred Kretsch, who was mayor at the time; Harry DeLashmutt Sr., who was bookkeeper at the PDJ when I went to work there as a reporter in 1941, and a few others. For the most part, however, the city officials were strangers. I asked for help in identifying them.

What followed was a deluge of phone calls advising that the gentleman on the right end was Chester Swart, who operated a car repair building and service station approximately where the Noble County Family YMCA now stands. First to call with that information was Marilyn Seeliger, Chester's granddaughter, but several others soon followed. I appreciated every call. Those who shared their knowledge included Archie Moore, Hugo Friedemann and others - too many to list, actually. My thanks to all of them. But the names of others in the photo remain unknown, so if you know them, please let me know.

Mayor Kretsch, by the way, would make a good subject for a future column. He and his wife operated a Ma and Pa grocery store on the west side of the square, next door south of Doc Miller's auction business. Kids knew they could always find candy there, in the dimly lit interior of the little store, plus other goodies that did not seem to be available anywhere else. Mr. Kretsch was an authentic pioneer of the Cherokee Strip Run on September 16, 1893. Mr. Kretsch had served as mayor before the 1930's, and he was a good one, considering the difficulties he confronted.

Mr. and Mrs. Kretsch had a son, who worked as a pharmacist and clerk at Foster's Corner Drug, and a daughter, who taught school in Enid after graduating from OSU. She was honored by the Enid school system when she retired a few years ago. Bob Wilson was city clerk when the photo was shot by Virgil Sherrod of the PDJ advertising staff, as I recall. Anyway, thanks to all those who tried to help solve the mystery of the anonymous city officials shown in that historic photo.