Hello and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage blog!
Today I found something interesting about Perry that many of you might not know. If you grew up in Perry, or raised kids here, you know that Perry has many different buildings used as schools. There is the Elementary School near the Recreation Center, St. Pat’s School, and the connected Middle School and High School. However, did you know that there used to be another school building? Before you say something like “of course I did, they only demolished it recently silly”, the old High School that they recently demolished and are turning the grounds into a nursing home is not the school I am referencing. There is actually a second school in Perry that no longer exists!
This second school was demolished in February 1967, so it makes sense that many of you probably do not even know that it existed. Called the “Willard School”, it was built in 1900 at the Northeast corner of Seventh and Lucinda. It was primarily a school for young children, as it did not go past sixth grade. The Willard School was used for school purposes until 1940, when it was then converted to a youth recreation center due to disrepair until its demolishing 27 years later. Unfortunately, this is as far as the story goes in our catalogue. Why was an active school allowed to fall into disrepair? Why did Perry need so many school buildings? Who was Willard and why did he have his own school? These are just some of the questions that plague the mind concerning this school. We do not even know why it was eventually demolished, although it can be assumed that it was due to a continuing state of disrepair. If any of you readers have any more information on the Willard School, we would love to hear it! Adding new information to our records is always welcome and ensures future generations will be able to learn about the town they live in, so do not be afraid to leave a comment with your thoughts or extra facts!
Hello readers and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage blog!
This week is a big week in Perry, with many events going on. Primarily, this week is Homecoming, and in addition, we will see the return of the Homecoming Parade! It has been awhile since the last parade (I was still in High School when the parade was cancelled), so in honor of the return of the parade we are going to look at what the homecoming parade was like in years past!
First, we have a picture of a float from the 1960 Homecoming Parade. As you can see, that year Perry was facing Greenfield. The freshman of that year designed the float, and it appears to indicate that Perry is going to put Greenfield in the ground. The grave even has a sign that reads “defeat” sticking out of it. Unfortunately, our records do not show if we won this game or not. I hope that we did, or this float would have been digging our own grave!
Our next photo is also from around 1960. This one depicts a float with a sign that reads “Let’s Swing Homecoming”. Personally, I am unsure what that means; perhaps it is hoping that Perry wins the game? Aside from that, it appears that the students on board went to a lot of work to make this float. Our collection says that the students are Helen Lavell, Kenneth Huitt, Jim Kanealy, Pat Pritchard, and Don Hase. I say that they went to a lot of work because as you can see, it looks like they have gotten a full swing set onto the float! It is not possible to tell if it is made of wood or metal, but either way it must have been a pain to get onto the float, especially after wrapping it in what looks like ribbon or streamers.
Our final picture for today is a photo of the Homecoming Parade in 1977. This one shows Vicki Pies riding in a car during the parade. Unlike the others, I choose this photo more for the background than for the subject of the picture. First, you can notice all of the older cars that are parked outside a jewelry store that no longer exists. Next, you can see the old-fashioned yellow streetlight on the corner! Really, this photo is an indication of how much times have changed. I hope that we get some photos of this year’s parade in our collection, so that future generations can compare it to their parades!
Finally, I want to invite all of you to tomorrow’s Gary Ernest Smith Event, Art Tour Odd # Thursday #3. This time Rachel Schwaller, an Assistant Professor of Art & Design at Grandview College in Des Moines, will be in Perry. Rachel is an artist who uses Video and Performance in her work. She will be sharing her story, and relating it to creating art in Iowa. The event starts at 4:30 P.M. in the Hotel Pattee, and I encourage all of you to attend!
Good afternoon Readers!
Summer is in full swing, and July 4th is quickly approaching. Because of this, I thought that today we would look at what the holiday was like in Perry in years past!
For instance, the parade seems like it used to be much more ornate than what we have now. As you may know, now the parade is mostly a collection of floats, with a people walking around handing out candy to the kids. However, did you know that the Perry High School Marching Band used to participate in the parade? As you can see in the picture, the parade in 1969 included the old Perry High Band. This is quite a bit different then what it is like today. For starters, the uniforms are a lot different: simple black and white instead of the more elaborate blue and white uniforms of today. In addition, the band does not march in the parade anymore. As far as I know, they do not even start practicing until for marching band until August!
Going back another ten years, we discover another event that is missing from today’s 4th of July celebrations. In the second picture, you can see a group of girls who are in a room in the Hotel Pattee. These girls are the candidates, according to our records, for a 4th of July queen! It seems that the residents of Perry used to vote for a queen for the 4th and, I am assuming, a king as well. The girls in this photo are, starting from the left, Judy Hastie, Sheri Mullen, Phyllis Hall, Joyce Neal, and Bonnie Crouch. This fun tradition does not seem to be active anymore, and it makes me wonder why. Did the people of Perry simply stop choosing candidates? Or was the tradition ended for a specific reason? Readers, do you know what happened to this tradition? If you do, please tell us in the comments below!
In fact, if you have any memories of some lost 4th of July tradition, please share them with us, too, and have a good 4th of July weekend!
Good Afternoon Readers!
Today I have another interesting story from out of our collection of Oral Histories. This story is about a darker time in Perry and America’s history: segregation. This story comes from the Oral History of Glen Theulen. It is about a high school dance that he attended and danced with an African American classmate, and the reactions of people at the dance:
“When I was in high school…I was a junior…we had a dance up on the old gym floor up here…the old high school. And the whites were not to dance with a black girl, never and vice versa. And so… So anyway why the…the dance goes on and so I went over and I said to Sophia White, I says come on Sophia let’s dance. Oh we can’t. I said come on, come on, let’s dance. And Sophia White is the sister to Roy White. Okay. Sophia was a year ahead of me…brilliant girl…and man we got on that floor and jitterbugged and I thought every teacher in that gymnasium was gonna have a heart attack and I’d forgotten about that but Kenny Appenzeller, kid from Perry…farmed outside of town here… When I first got home here in ’89 said you remember the night that you got old…got the…Sophia White on the floor? He says I thought the teacher was gonna have [unclear]. I thought she was gonna…and I said well I kinda remember that, yeah. And you know I just never…”
Unfortunately, we do not know what Kenny thought the teacher was going to have, as the translator for the script could not make out the words being said. However, as you can see, segregation was a real thing here in Perry. Even dancing together was not allowed, and from the sounds of it almost gave all the teachers heart attacks! Clearly, dancing with Sophie was completely unexpected, even if their jitterbugging was amazing. It is such a shame that a simple act of dancing with another person could lead to such awful words and hate. Thankfully, segregation no longer exists in our country today, and we have come a long way on discrimination. Do you, readers, have any stories about segregation? If you do, please feel free to share them with us!
Hello again readers,
Have you ever looked back on a picture, and realized that you have no idea who is actually in the picture? Perhaps you took it to capture a moment that you liked, perhaps it was at a social gathering where you did not know everyone, or maybe you just have forgotten some people that you once knew. Whatever the case maybe, you have somehow gotten a picture of people that you do not know any more. I hope that you have wrote down on the back the names of the people so that you could remember them. If you are less lucky, you might have the kind of situation that we have right now at Hometown Heritage.
Recently someone came in and asked us to identify two people in a picture that we have on rotation in the commons of the high school. The picture, as you can see below, is of Rich Saemisch introducing couples at the 1976 prom. However, there is little more information than that about this picture. We know that Rich is wearing a blue, red, and white suit (I will leave the decision about how fashionable that is to you), and that this was a 1976 prom. The couple were wearing very similar clothes too. Unfortunately, that is all we know about this photo. Little other description is given, aside from the fact that Mr. Saemisch is introducing couples.
This is where you come in, readers. Please take a careful look at this photo, and see if you can recognize either of the couples. If you do, please tell us! We searched high and low to see if we could find an answer. We checked the old newspapers, our database, and even the old Eclipse yearbooks, but could not find any more information. So please, if you recognize any of the couples in the picture, contact us with the information! We would greatly appreciate, and it would allow us to grow our database, be more informative, and answer the question of the person who came in asking.
Today we are going to talk about something other than Perry, Iowa. Of course, we are not going to far, just down the road about 8 miles to a little town called Bouton!
Nowadays, Bouton is a quiet little town, if you can even call it a town. All it has is a post office, a bar, a fire department, and baseball field. Other than this, there a few churches, which mostly sit unused, and a magical little place called “Friendship Hall”. That is right; there is not even a gas station of any kind! The place is so small, you can literally stand at one end of town and see all the way to the other side (trust me, I know). However, did you know that Bouton was not always like this?
Way back around 1910, Bouton had a lot more to offer then it does now. For instance, did you know that Bouton once had a High School? The High School was a simple building with two stories with only a few rooms and was built around 1910. The classes were not very big, but that is typical in 1910. The high school even had a band that played in various parades. A high school is not the only thing that Bouton used to have. Bouton used to be a big enough town to hold parades, such as the Sauerkraut Days Parade that you can see pictured below (As to the activities of Sauerkraut Days, I can only imagine copious amounts of sauerkraut being devoured).
“Why did Bouton used to be so big?” you may be asking. Well, here is the answer: Trains. Bouton was a railroad town, where the town springs up around a train stop, to provide services and living spaces for the workers. Unfortunately, just as the trains left Perry, so the trains left Bouton. The trains left Bouton before they left Perry, but the result is clear: the town started to shrink. The last students to attend the high school, for example, attended in 1941-42. Eventually, the town shrunk down to what it is today. Thankfully, Perry has not taken the same route after the trains left, and has stayed vibrant. If you wish to know more about Bouton in the old days, please stop by and look at our collection!