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History Vs. Memories

Posted September 05, 2012 in Community Featured, Perry

My love for history started about 1958, working at my first real job, Stern and Fields Clothing Store on Second.

Photos — like this one of McDonald’s Drug — can trigger fond memories.One of my co-workers was Harold Reel; he worked in retail and lived here all his life. We lived a block apart, and we’d walked home together after the store closed. He would share stories with me about how it used to be in Perry and what used to be in different buildings or locations… I  was hooked.

For instance the big fires of Perry, the KKK, all the different movie theaters or ice cream parlors or when the circus came to town on a train and railroad stories. My dad worked on the railroad all his life; he would tell me about the Milwaukee and what he remembered when I was 15 years old, and I soaked it all in.

People eventually started sharing their memories with me, which only made me want to know more. So I started looking for the history to go with these stories.  The difference for me is the facts about an event, person, building or town. History facts are the same for everyone.

Memories are something different all together. Your memories of the old fire station are not the same as mine. I love history, but I love the memories people have even more that create feeling or excitement.

I collect old photos, and when people look at them, memories flood back in. Memories are like collecting photos — they create a better view of our past and bring all the history facts to life for myself and others. I am a huge fan of Ken Burns on Iowa Public TV. He mixes the history facts with personal accounts, as well as memories of people who were there. He brings history to life.

Many of you have wonderful stories to share, and you can assist me in my quest for Perry area history. We are looking for old photos, old home movies and the stories to go along with them.  We have the ability to scan photos or letters so that we can promptly return them, unless you’d like to donate items to the Perry Historic Preservation Commission.

Photos of all our local businesses, schools, or buildings are currently being taken and documented about every two years.  The photos will be passed on to the historic commission. In 2062, when the class of 2012 has its 50th class reunion, members will look at these now-historic photos and remember what Perry was like. This history will fuel their memories.

“You know, I once thought about being a historian, but I saw there was no future in it.”

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