The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Perry and His Smudge Pot
The leading Oregon humor columnist for over 35 years.

North Yakima Man Says Spokesman-Review Is the Best.

    To the Editor of the Spokesman-Review: I take this opportunity of congratulating the Spokesman-Review upon the improvement in the sporting page. For years I have looked upon the Seattle Times as the real thing in the Northwest as far as sports were concerned. During the past summer, or baseball season, the Spokesman-Review has every sporting page in the Northwest beaten to a frazzle. I can say without exaggeration that 90 percent of the baseball fans of this city have been weaned away from Tacoma and Seattle sporting pages by the clean, bright, reliably up-to-date, classy page dished up every day in the week, and particularly on Sunday.
    North Yakima, Wash., Aug. 26.
Spokesman-Review, Spokane, August 30, 1909, page 4

    Carl Heilbronner, merchant, and Arthur Perry, newspaper reporter, left Friday evening for Portland, where they were under instruction to report to Captain Blackwell for service in the naval reserves, having been called to the colors. Over 100 of their friends gathered at the station to bid them "hurry back."
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 7, 1917, page 2

    With the unmistakable walk of a seagoing gentleman and air of confidence such as persons wear with money in their pockets, a handsome young man sauntered into Emil Mohr's hostelry Monday and wrote the name "Arthur Perry" on the register. Then he looked up and said, "Haw do."
    Yes, it was the same former distinguished Medfordite who used to while away his time, mostly while away gathering pieces for the local newspapers, and when particularly suffering with brain storms and ennui ran a column in the Sunday Sun under heading "Smudge Pot." Many a Medford man took his first drink after reading the "Smudge Pot."
    But a year ago last April while awfully incensed at the kaiser and following the loss of three rummy games in succession his patriotism reached the limit and he hurriedly enlisted in the naval reserve, and in that service he has stuck as close as glue to Uncle Sam ever since, especially on pay days. He was stationed at Portland for several months and then was transferred to the Bremerton navy yard, where he has since been. Mr. Perry is now home enjoying his first furlough since entering service.
    In an interview today he unqualifiedly approved the manner in which Secretary Daniels is running the navy with but one exception, and that was that pay days are too infrequent in the navy. Mr. Perry admitted that there was not much pep in the navy until after he had joined it and got things going right.
    "I can't help but note the great changes that have taken place in Medford since I went to war," said Mr. Perry. "While there are fewer rummy players at the card joints, I observe that what they lack in numbers they make up in quality. I first set eyes on your new Rialto Theater today, and I must say it is a bird and well worthy of this fine city."
    Asked if he was going to return to Medford to live he emphatically replied that he would never think of such a thing until Germany was everlastingly licked. Then he had it all planned out that he would return to the city and set or settle down here.
    Mr. Perry was the guest of honor of Mr. Court Hall at the Elks club for dinner today.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 8, 1918, page 2

    Commodore Perry has bade farewell to the briny deep and is now in Portland. He was discharged from the navy April 4.

"Local Briefs," Medford Mail Tribune, April 11, 1919, page 2

    From wandering afar in distant lands and on strange seas this col. has returned to the valley, full of seaweed and joy.
    To return from travels that skirted at times where Hell had passed and into spots full of the troubled news of the day, to the peace and quiet hereabouts is a pleasant experience. One day last January we walked over a deserted battlefield, where in a short and bloody afternoon history will state 17,000 men died. And yesterday we saw a man with flowing whiskers slaking his thirst at the Main and Central Avenue drinking fountain.
    Another day, our feet ambled over the Rock of Gibraltar, and on still another day, the famed Seven Hills of Rome, but they were not the hills of home.
    Down the streets of Trieste and Fiume and Pola, and into their cafes--no longer places of joy--we strayed. Yesterday the papers said revolt seethed in these war-stricken cities, with fighting from the street corners. Mayhap a machine gun spits death from behind a lamp post where we stopped to scratch a match to light a cigarette.
    In Taranto, where Anthony and his Cleopatra had a date, there is an eating house, the Nuevo York Cafe, and yesterday we broke meat and bread in Medford in the Paris Cafe.
    In Spain this col. lingered for a week. There the sun shines as bright, and the skies are as blue, as here in the Rogue River Valley. Night and day the people, young and old, are singing, but what the dickens they have to sing about is a mystery, for they are a trifle poorer it seems than any of the rest, with the national misery thicker than in other lands.
    In all the lands overseas, the masses and the classes were shy of bread and pants, but the wine and the high-powered booze flowed freely. They handled it with delicate eclat.
    Also they seemed to possess most of the vices of the human family, and most any town would be a fine training school for American reformers. The field is unlimited, for sin and cussedness flourish mightily. Before departing thence, any budding reformer is advised to fix up his will and his life insurance, as European folks are temperamental.
    With these few words, this col. resumes hostilities on the home front. It is good to be back again among old friends and old scenes. As to foreign lands, your humble servant is like the careless cat that sealed himself on a hot stove lid--Never again!
Art Perry, "Ye Smudge Pot," Medford Mail Tribune, April 15, 1919, page 4

    Arthur Gordon Perry, star reporter and colyumist of the Medford Mail Tribune, tarried briefly in Portland yesterday while on his way to the Shelby arena, where he hopes greatly to witness the downfall of a certain J. Dempsey, but admits that T. Gibbons hasn't a June bug's chance with a rooster. "If they weren't going to celebrate the Fourth at the Montana burg," confided Arthur, "I certainly would turn aside to Meacham and assist in welcoming the President. But duty calls. How do you get that way, when you ask if it isn't unusual for the Mail Tribune to send a fellow away on a big assignment? The Mail Trib covers its own stories anywhere in the West." During the World War Mr. Perry was the tarriest of tar and sailed to the far lands and cultivated the expressive vocabulary of a rear admiral. He says, however, that he has found his life work in Medford, where everyone knows him and reads his column.

"Those Who Come and Go," Oregonian, Portland, July 2, 1923, page 6

Eagle Point Wants Perry
    To the Editor: The people of Eagle Point feel highly flattered at the interest that Mr. Perry has been taking in our town and its good name.
    We feel that the only way we can repay him for the compliments he has been throwing in our direction is to offer him the position as the Eagle Point correspondent. Of course we can't expect him to come up to the high standard that we have been used to, but he seems to know a lot about Eagle Point, and will probably learn a lot more before he is through, and will wish that he didn't know quite so much.
    Please tell him of our offer, and if there is anything he doesn't know about "our fair town," to come to me and I will show him around.
J.V.D.H.  [Joyce von der Hellen]
    Eagle Point, Oct. 19.
"Communications," Medford Mail Tribune, October 20, 1923, page 4

Back Fire
                *    *    *
IT HAS occurred to me
                *    *    *
THAT SINCE your oftentimes
                *    *    *
ESTIMABLE Mail Tribune
                *    *    *
AND ALMOST all of its
                *    *    *
                *    *    *
                *    *    *
OF THE Craters' edition
                *    *    *
BY THE April Fool's club
                *    *    *
NOT TO mention the
                *    *    *
                *    *    *
WILD KNOCKS foully and
                *    *    *
                *    *    *
YOUR OWN smudge potter
                *    *    *
THAT ANYTHING might get by
                *    *    *
ESPECIALLY IF it happened
                *    *    *
TO BE the real
                *    *    *
                *    *    *
I'M TELLING it straight,
                *    *    *
FOR I HAPPEN to know
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WHAT THE old town
                *    *    *
THINKS on some subject.
                *    *    *
                *    *    *
AS THEY happened to
                *    *    *
HAVE THE big chance
                *    *    *
TO MAKE A real old-style
                *    *    *
CLEAN-UP on the not
                *    *    *
                *    *    *
ALL THE nasty knocks
                *    *    *
HE'S IN the habit
                *    *    *
OF TAKING at everybody
                *    *    *
AND EVERYTHING in general.
                *    *    *
THE CRATERS felt the same
                *    *    *
THEMSELVES, I'M told, but
                *    *    *
                *    *    *
TAKING THE limelight.
                *    *    *
AND I hear that
                *    *    *
                *    *    *
WERE HELD trying hard, but
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IN VAIN to devise
                *    *    *
A SCHEME how they
                *    *    *
MIGHT BELL the old
                *    *    *
                *    *    *
WISE GUY who was
                *    *    *
NAMED TO do the job
                *    *    *
AROSE tremulously and said:
                *    *    *
"GENTLEMEN, I earnestly crave
                *    *    *
THE HONOR of smearing
                *    *    *
                *    *    *
OF HIS own rare smudge,
                *    *    *
BUT WHEN I start
                *    *    *
I WANT a chance
                *    *    *
THAT'S MORE even a start
                *    *    *
THAN 364 to 1."
                *    *    *
You're more than welcome.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 8, 1924, page 4

By Edison Marshall.

    Printed near Ye Smudge Pot, and attracting attention because of this very proximity, I noticed, last night, an attenuated column in the style of K.C.B. and signed Censor Morum. I couldn't quite follow it, myself, or quite see what I was getting at, except that it seemed to be about the Tribune column and its columnist. In all likelihood it was meant for a good-natured dig at Arthur Perry, in spite of the fact that some of its phrases, such as "daily assortment of wild knocks foully and freely administered," and "the nasty knocks he's in the habit of taking at everybody and everything in general," seemed somewhat ill-chosen; but in all events it prompted what I have had in mind for a long time--a little public airing of my own views of Arthur Perry and his famous column.
    I hope I have not a local complex. I don't think I even lost money betting that Bud Anderson would be the lightweight champion of the world. On the other hand, I see no harm in occasionally honoring a prophet in his own country. I would like to say right here, at this point, that in my none-too-humble opinion Arthur Perry is one of the most vital figures, one of the most delightful townsmen, and one of the greatest assets possessed by this little city lost in its western mountains. Perry does more good and has more influence than quite an assortment of leading citizens, a politician or two, and even one or two of the more serious organizations.
    Every day, including Sunday, Perry gives us a smile. His quaint humor goes everywhere, and it never fails to bring back treasure. I do not say that all of the Smudge Pot is good. Genius and near-genius has a way of taking a cropper now and then. I do defy any man of intelligence to read through any day's column without a smile, a warmth, a refreshed human sympathy, a very friendly and wholesome delight. Perry's wit flashes, and it cuts through bigotry and hypocrisy like a sword. and it has a way of puncturing, with a word or two, self-inflated people and pompous schemes. Unlike many humorists--and Perry is a real humorist--he is almost never vulgar. He has a humorous appreciation of life, a sense of correct proportion, and a great deal of human tenderness besides.
    Nasty knocks indeed! The objectionable adjective is the last one that could be applied to Arthur Perry. In the first place, he does not knock: occasionally he fires a broadside, but petty hammering is conspicuously absent in his column. Knocking is one vice which calls forth the full powers of his satire, for instance in the "Gossipers Convention" which was worthy to appear in any publication in this land. On the other hand, his comments on children and small things in general--birds, of the humble, everyday kind, flowers; and such-like--possess a real tenderness, a whimsical and poetic insight which distinguish them anywhere.
    Don't make light of Perry! It is easy to deprecate one who lives among you, but it is a bit embarrassing explaining about it afterward. I firmly believe that few columnists in America are more gifted than Arthur Perry, in that his style is wholly original and individual; and I believe that, if any luck is with him, he will go far. I doubt if Medford can keep him always. For the sake of your own comfort, don't make light of Perry--because he has a wallop in each literary hand!
    Certain things arouse his ire--for instance the dead or dying Ku Klux Klan, bigoted and bigot-pandering candidates, hypocrisy in any form, and General Nincompoops in office--and he has at them from time to time. He has his prejudices and his failings. On the whole, he has ability to interpret Medford and the state second to none, and Medford is lucky to have Perry.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 9, 1924, page 4  This essay was abridged in Alfred Powers' History of Oregon Literature, Portland 1935, pages 706-707

Another Boost for Smudge.
    To the Editor:
    I suppose "Censor Morium," in his K.C.B. column, which appeared in a recent edition of your paper, had an idea that he was going to give the readers of the Medford Tribune a rare humorous treat. Well, he did. Only the humor had to be supplied by the reader, as the author of the article seems to be entirely deficient in that saving grace--a sense of humor.
    Anyone who fails to enjoy the "Smudge Pot," with its quaint observations, gentle ridicule and most times droll humor, is either lacking in literary appreciation or else is a member of that organization which once flourished in our midst, but has since, thanks to Perry, been laughed into oblivion. The poet's prayer:
"Would some power the giftie gie us
That we might see ourselves as other see us"
has been granted to Medford at least. Mr. Perry with his keen insight into human nature, blended with his subtle humor and originality, has held a mirror up to Medford, which has reflected back an image of ourselves as others see us. I have heard more than one mother of a high school girl say that his comments on the galshevikis and their silly little fads has carried more weight with their girls than all the maternal and paternal lectures could ever have done. We used to scare the children with the threat, "The bogie men will get you." But now when Daughter starts out all rouged up, with dangling earrings and exaggerated hair, we say "I hope Art Perry sees you," and it has the desired effect.
    Once a thing is made ridiculous, nobody wants to do it, and Art Perry has kept most of our high school girls from looking like chorus girls by holding up his magic mirror to them.
    Everybody reads the "Smudge Pot"--even "Censor Morum" seems to have given it quite a little of his unsmiling attention.
    Most people turn to it before they read the daily news, and scarcely a day passes but someone greets you with "Did you see that in the Smudge Pot last night?"
    When such a magazine as The Literary Digest scarcely lets a month pass by without reprinting some squib from "The Smudge Pot," I guess the stuff is not so bad.
    I know that each time that I read one of these reprinted bits of humor in that criterion of American magazines, I feel very proud of Medford, the Medford Tribune and Arthur Perry.
MRS. FLOYD COOK [Helen Colvig Gale Cook]
    Medford, April 10.
"Communications," Medford Mail Tribune, April 10, 1924, page 4

No Smudge Pot Today; Arthur Perry Is Ill
    For the first time in his 14 years' service on the Medford Sun and Mail Tribune, Commodore Arthur Perry, Smudge Pot editor and managing editor of the Sun, was confined to his room today with illness. Perry has taken occasional vacations, but never before dropped out because of indisposition. This morning, however, the skipper of the Smudge Pot only wrote the first line of his daily screed and deserted for his bedroom at the Hotel Medford, buying a box of his favorite pills en route. Although far from well, Perry refused to consult a doctor and said he expected to be on deck again in time for Sunday school.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 12, 1925, page 3

    Arthur Perry "broke into the movies" yesterday while enjoying the Medford-Ashland football game. Here's how it came about. He was located as usual on the sidelines where he could get an unobstructed view of the game. For some unknown reason he had squatted down in order to allow those behind him to glimpse an occasional play.
    It so happened that the movie man was behind "Admiral" Perry "shooting" an interesting play over his head. Just as the action was at its height, Perry became excited, rose to his feet, completely obstructing the camera so that the net result was one excellent "closeup" of, not the quarterback and the team, but the "full back" of Mr. Perry himself. And there he remained despite repeated shouts of "down in front," "sit down," "get off the earth," and other more forcible and lurid remarks. The cameraman finally gave up in disgust and moved to a new location where he could get more interesting results.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 12, 1925, page 5

    It is anticipated that Arthur Perry will soon be leaving for Hollywood now that he has seen himself in the "movies." The "Smudge Pot" conductor appears in several scenes in connection with the local films of recent football games and shares the limelight with the Medford team. In one scene, however, he "hogs" the camera by excluding the team when he backs up directly in front of the picture machine and shuts out the play. This picture appears under the title "Smudge Pot Perry Breaks into the Movies Through the Back Way," and causes a burst of applause (or laughter) whenever shown.
    Perry attended the free show at the Copco building Saturday night, and it is rumored that he threatened to break up the show unless the producers paid him a royalty on his films.

Medford Mail Tribune, November 30, 1925, page 2

Smudge Smoke
    Ev. Ferguson, our homely, ornery, no-account, worthless, shiftless, grouchy telegrapher, passed the 35th milestone in the race for eternity Fri. Mr. Ferguson is an outstanding stemwinder of the local humdingers.
    One of the Hank Bates chinwhackers is back at his razor after the painless extraction of a molar.
    The report that the sun had gone out of business was refuted Wed. p.m. when a number of our wide-awake citizens allege they saw it.
    The high school bb. team was defeated Fri. eve. If this had happened 2 wks. later, A. C. Allen would have shot the victors at sunrise.
    Spring skirts will be 3 in. shorter. Several of our progressive Galshevikis are now wearing the 1932 mode.
    The middle name of the Bill Coleman kid has become public property, and will be called to the attention of the next grand jury.
    Newt Borden and Judge-Colonel Kelly attended a Democratic meeting in Portland the end of the week. The other 2 members of Jack. Co. Democracy stayed home.
    Dame Rumor hath it that one of our outstanding bass singers has taken up husbandry.
    Louis XV. Richardson is raising a C. Chaplin mustachio. The XV. indicates the hair acreage.
    Walter Pierce is out 50 percent of the way for governor, and is bawling the old blat--lower taxes. This is the wail that paralyzed the GOP, in these parts completely, under the delusion they were going to get a fish commissioner. There was also some religious fervor mixed up in the horror. Mr. Pierce should be a popular candidate. Many want to get another crack at him, and many desire to vote for him for pure cussedness. He will be hard to beat, as he has pardoned enough bootleggers, between dry sermons, to elect if they all vote for him.
    A prosperous farmer, who denies it, bought a new high-toned car Tues., and plowed a straight furrow to a phone pole.
Art Perry, Medford Mail Tribune, January 10, 1926, page 4    This was the first installment of the Smudge Pot's Sunday column.

Cynic of Southern Oregon Here for Game.
Arthur Perry of Smudge Pot Fame Once World's Toughest Gob.

    Along with the rest of the citizens of Medford, Arthur Gordon Perry, newspaper man extraordinary and champion pinochle player at the Elks Club in the Southern Oregon city, arrived yesterday morning for the Benson-Medford football game. The fact that Mr. Perry came all the way from Medford for the game at once stamped it as one of unusual merit and outstanding significance.
    Mr. Perry, it might be remarked, conducts a column in the Medford Mail Tribune known as the Smudge Pot. In it he enjoys life, plays games with his friends and enemies and in general has a good time. Mr. Perry has a particular ability in his writing in that he is always able to have the last say, and further, frequently able to keep some citizen from taking himself too seriously.
    In a calling that boasts some of greatest self-declared cynics, Mr. Perry is recognized as being at the head of the class. He not only is a self-declared cynic of the first water, but he looks it. This cynical expression, it is confidentially said, has been worn ever since another newspaper man in a weak moment called him a journalist. Since then Mr. Perry has refused to even trust himself.
    Being a self-declared cynic, Mr. Perry isn't a cynic at all. As a matter of fact he is a good fellow, but professionally he is a cynic. Some time ago he took a vacation from his desk at the Mail Tribune and his column was conducted by a high school girl. A characterization of the regular conductor of the column was printed while he was on vacation, and this is still pointed to with pride by the citizens of Jackson County as Southern Oregon's most brilliant composition.
    Mr. Perry is a man of championships. Nothing is done in half. When he was discharged from the navy after the war, he had the undisputed reputation of being the toughest-looking "gob" in the service. His pea coat and knit cap had an individualism not to be copied.
Oregonian, Portland, November 30, 1928, page 7

Art Perry and His Carrots Given Big Boost in Portland Oregonian
    Writing in the Medford Mail Tribune, to which he contributes a column of whimsical disillusion, albeit droll and diverting beyond the ordinary, Arthur Perry is moved to speak with scant courtesy of a staple vegetable highly esteemed by rabbits and universally endured by invalids. One alludes, of course, to the carrot--to that golden prodigy of the earth which, requiring but a mean soil and most indifferent attention, repays the gardener with a heavier yield than does almost any other vegetable. Plain it is to see, for he does not scruple to assert it, that Mr. Perry allots to the carrot, in the vegetable kingdom, a position comparable to that infested--as journalists have ever held--by the delinquent subscriber in an ostensibly higher scheme of life, The mild-eyed kine may yearn toward the carrot patch, securely fenced against their intrusions, but as for Mr. Perry he would clamber no rails to filch from any field a single carrot for his refreshment. Yet, we dare say, in days gone by, before he became a columnist, in times when he had a stone bruise on his heel and freckles on his nose, Mr. Perry did not have this aversion for carrots. but quite understood the zest with which tame rabbits and wild attack them, and the melancholia of contemplative and carrotless cattle.
    Though the carrot, so long endeared to the heart and stomach of humanity, is really in need of no defense, there is little harm--and possibly there is some gain--in a general review of this vegetable and its considerable service to man himself. We call to mind no vegetable that has submitted more readily to the imposition of tameness, that has more cheerfully renounced its feral habit and abandoned its unfettered vagabondage for the restrictions of the acre and the plot. In its wild state it is, of course, a weed, and as a weed it is possessed of more than usual tenacity and fierceness. One cannot imagine the wild, free carrot as submitting with docility to the selfish ministrations of men, as welcoming the hoe, as hearkening dully but with delight for the footfall of the gardener. Yet this is precisely what has befallen the tame. The inutile and pernicious weed, thin and bitter of root, and pugnacious of habit, has become an amiable and responsive ward of the agricultural art. It is as grateful as cabbages.
    No place for the carrot? In the mysteries culinary? There are many places, as Mr. Perry must concede if he is a gentleman of candor. We are of one mind with him touching the inclusion of carrots in a salad of vegetables, or almost, though we do not own to such an antipathy as his. It has ever seemed to us also, but wholly as an expression of individual feeling, that the baking of a carrot constitutes a grave and wasteful error. There hovers over a baked carrot, insofar as we are concerned, an aura of sadness and loss, of utility and depression, which restrains the fork and chastens all save the most insistent appetite. But what of certain soups? And more specifically, of the soup that is compounded of vegetables and a choice joint? Ah, then it is that the carrot really enters into its birthright, and progresses beyond praise, proving not only its indispensability but its right to a shrine in the agrarian hall of fame. For the carrot, when so treated, so employed, and with affectionate nicety, imparts to such a soup that blandness which not even the onion is potent to convey without assistance--that singular savor and bouquet which cannot be counterfeited nor fittingly extolled. So much for the inclusion of carrots in soups.
On this alone one might rest one's case.
    Yet in simple fairness to the derided carrot, it should be said, in any discussion thereof, that the point of view of the rabbit and the milk cow is not without merit, nor alien to the understanding of such as endeavor for an open mind. Not any of its darkling comrades of the garden, not even the crisp and rotund radish, has caught and held and transplanted, in a chemistry all its own, the rich, vital essence of the earth, as surely as has the carrot. This excellence may only be discovered, this specific excellence, when the carrot is consumed in a raw state. It is chill from its dark and damp imprisonment, this golden, rounded spearhead of crisp tissue; it breaks briskly between the teeth; it exclaims at the severity to which it is subjected. And it tastes--such is the truth of it--as though it were good for one; as few raw vegetables, and scarcely any of the root varieties ever taste. It is sweet and aromatic, it is sugar and spice in one. It is the ultimate confection of the loam. The addlepated rabbit seems not so witless, after all. On a dull day--and we intend no disrespect--when man and nature alike appear of scant value, and his fancy is off to the Applegate, and the column will not come, Mr. Perry will be well advised to try a carrot.--Oregonian.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 15, 1930, page 3

   Had Ben Hur and his horses moved their famous chariot race into the Mediterranean, a splash similar to that which churned the tranquil waters at Lake o' the Woods last Sunday might have resulted--but Ben Hur and his horses kept to land and that's what Arthur Perry, U.S.N.R.F., should have done, say seasoned vacationists at the lake.
    The Smudge Pot editor, who is enjoying a vacation, left the call of the sea as he did during the late war when he joined the navy. There was no sea, so he chose the lake and an outboard motor. Ignoring the instruction offered by Heine Fluhrer, pilot of the Flying Dutchman, he took to the water. Displeased with Admiral Perry's overconfidence, Heine gave the boat a push and the columnist, who knows more about Bartletts than perches, was traveling among the latter. 
    The motor climbed into high speed and was soon riding the dashing waves created by its own violent disturbance of the water. Round and round the lake the craft sped and only the fishes viewed the frenzied expression conquering Admiral Perry's features.
    Heine Fluhrer was oblivious to his plight. The race continued. Perry tried all knobs and levers, but the engine didn't stop. On the verge of establishing a new record for outboard motors, he thrust his hands into the air with a cry for help. The boat tilted, he crouched in the stern and a faint echo of "How do you stop the ------ thing" traveled to shore.
    A spectator with kinder heart than Fluhrer rushed into his boat and headed for Perry's dashing craft. After many futile attempts to instruct the delirious pilot had failed, he leaped into the boat and stopped the engine. The frantic Perry only murmured, "What a boat!" And a suggested lead for the next issue of the Smudge Pot is: "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong."--Eccl. 9:11.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 30, 1931, page 4

Mr. Perry and the Klan.
To the Editor:
    In one of Art Perry's recent Smudge Pots we find an article dealing with a raid the K.K.K.s made on some communists of Long Beach, Cal., who were peaceably assembled in one of their homes. When we were afflicted with the Klan in these parts a few years ago, no virtue whatever was found in them, and we were surprised that praise should be given them for their activities in the land to the south of us.
    Mr. Perry does not believe in using them only for special occasions. Of course not, none of us do. If the recent breakdown of everything in Jackson County could only have been accompanied by the activities of such a bunch of self-appointed bigots--w't-a-mess! Were it not for the fact that sauce for the goose usually proves to be sauce for the gander also, this theory might be more palatable.
    We are told they are the cat's whiskers in dealing with the bomb-throwing, government-cussing bolsheviks. California should not need their assistance to enforce their bomb-parking ordinance, judging from the way they handled Tom Mooney, the notorious bomb-thrower, which he was not.
    As for cussing the government, that seems to be the most popular outdoor sport at present. "Everybody's doing it, doing it, doing it," at least prior to November 8, A.D. 1932.
    We all, no doubt, have moments when we are so overcome with righteous zeal that we would be willing to turn things over to Tom, Dick and Harry, or even the shirttail gang, provided they agree to always work on the other fellow and not us, and our pet notions and cravings.
    We have a national law that has given us considerable concern. It has almost been decided that we, a great race of red-blooded, two-fisted he-boys, can't enforce. So we have started to wipe this one off the books before the public discovers our weakness and they try violating some of our other laws. If the Klan can cope with the reds so efficiently, before we throw up the sponge, why not sic them on our gangsters and bootleggers who have been giving our wet friends so much worriment?
    Jacksonville, November 27.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 29, 1932, page 4

Smudge Pot Takes a Rest.
    To subscribers who have inquired about the absence of Smudge Pot the past 10 days, this absence is only temporary. When "Smudge Pot" Perry returns from Eugene, where he is covering the Banks trial, the popular colyum will be resumed, and no doubt improved by the enforced rest and absence of its pilot and navigator.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 9, 1933, page 1

    County Commissioner R. E. Nealon is shy a new hat for his spring campaign, and Arthur Perry is wearing one--all because the heavens gave forth rain last night. Nealon got rain, Perry got a hat, and the judges say it was a square deal. But Nealon would like to know just what power the Smudge Pot editor exerts over the great god, Jupiter Pluvius. C. W. (Wig) Ashpole witnessed the transaction.
    It happened this way. "We got to have rain," the Table Rock farmer informed Arthur Perry. "No rain, no potatoes."
    "If I had a new hat it would rain in 36 hours," Perry declared, scanning his frayed chapeau. "It never fails."
    An argument ensued, during which Perry maintained his stand--"No hat, no rain."
    Nealon took a good look at his own recent purchase, then slipped it on Perry's head, taking the latter's headplece in exchange.
    "If it rains in 36 hours the hat is yours," Nealon declared in departing. And before he reached Bybee bridge the heavy shower spilled its blessings upon him.
    His problem today is--how long will it take the alfalfa to grow enough bales of hay to finance a new hat--can it be before election?
    Perry, who is also an authority on the hay crop, says "No."
Medford Mail Tribune, March 25, 1934, page 10

In the Medford Sun and the Medford Mail Tribune
Since 1911
    Edison Marshall, the novelist, has called Arthur Perry "A Medford Institution" and Ben Hur Lampman, the editor and poet, has called him "A Southern Oregon Cynic." The latter also insists on calling him Arthur Gordon Perry. There is no Gordon. Arthur Perry is the whole name. [Perry's sports stories were bylined "Arthur G. Perry" in the Spokesman-Review.] He is a bachelor, a Republican and a Methodist.
    "Ye Smudge Pot" was started in the Medford Morning Sun on September 15, 1911, and for 24 years has appeared every publication day, except the two-year war period between April 5, 1917, and April 13 [sic], 1919, when Mr. Perry was in the United States navy.
    Shortly after the war, the Medford Sun merged with the Mail Tribune, in which "Ye Smudge Pot" became a daily feature, occupying the same space on the editorial page throughout the years.
    The name "Ye Smudge Pot" was selected because it was symbolic of the Rogue River Valley with its vast pear orchards. The smudge pot is an orchard heating appliance used in the spring to protect the fruit blossoms from Jack Frost. The smudge pot ranks with the plow in assuring bountiful harvests. Thus the column's name.
    The column itself is devoted to a discussion of "divers and sundry matters, with a humorous and ofttimes gently sarcastic angle." On Sundays it is called "Ye Smudge Smoke" and consists of jibes and quips at Medford and Jackson County residents.

    Miss Iona Smith lost her purse. She put a want ad in the Mail Tribune. When she got home, there was her purse on the piano, right where she left it. The Mail Tribune want ads get quick results.
    The country sausage is staying in the country.
    Robins, which have been here all winter, are arriving as the harbingers of spring.
    Young onions are now on the market and are being crunched by members of the fair sex who are not going anyplace after supper.
    Jim Dinkens of Beagle towned and traded Monday. Mr. Dinkens, being weary in the knees, sat down on his own heels, without any visible means of support. Such suppleness is never found save among cowboys and long-legged mountaineers. While thus squatted James drew a rough map of Eastern Oregon, on the sidewalk with a red-headed match, and pointed out the latitude and longitude of a water hole 67 miles from Lakeview.
    Coyotes have started killing turkeys, before they can eat enough grasshoppers to be milk-fed birds next Thanksgiving.
    A baseball game played in old man Jones' pasture broke up in the seventh inning in an uproar when Joe Spivis slid into what he thought was third base.
    C. Strang, the pioneer pillist, is getting ready to celebrate 50 years in his drugstore next March.… In 1884 he rode all over the country on a horse, and has since made it in Buicks. Most of the female population of the county have weighed themselves on his scales. Mr. Strang always figured this was none of his business, and looked the other way. This shows his bringing up, and, besides, the scales are reflected in a showcase mirror. He has managed to keep his drugstore a drugstore, and has never handled J. I. Case harvester parts, or ham sandwiches.
    Mr. Jim Dinkens of Beagle came to town yesterday from the hills.… The following facts were gleaned from Mr. Dinkens' remarks: The deer has the best recollection of all four-legged creatures, "and would be a holy terror in the timber if the Lord had only given him a fighting heart." The wildcat has a sense of humor, but loses it if kicked in the short ribs.… A bald-headed eagle will starve before he will eat a blue jay.… The object of Mr. Dinkens' trip to town was to get a haircut, and three teeth pulled.
    Del Getchell picked up a door nail in front of his bank. Yes, it was dead.
    A Table Rock barn was shot by a hunter the first of the week. He was armed with a 45-55-65 rifle and a pair of field glasses, and insisted that the barn had tail-feathers.
    We note again, at the start of another year, as we noted last year, the shortage of calendars.… This makes us sad, as we will have to go down to C. Strang's druggery and snoop around until we find one of Dr. Jayne's Almanacs. It was not always this way. In 1927 your corr. received by actual count by mail 197 calendars. They varied in size from the flap of a side show tent up. No census was taken of the calendars received in 1928 or 1929.… 1930 was the last year that Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, Pa., sent us a calendar. We are now buying our locomotives elsewhere.… Besides the foreign traffic in calendars, there used to be a brisk local solicitude that we know the day, and when the next full moon would beam. The home calendars, this being an outdoor country, always showed a man catching a fish, killing a cougar, or just gawking at a snow-clad peak.… It is hoped that the calendars come back. They are an unfailing sign that Prosperity is upon one and all.
    Jim Dinkens of Beagle, who grabs exuberant skunks by the nape of their necks to thwart their ingenuity, is balking at an ordinary doctor looking down his throat.
    We would like to be rich enough to throw our venerable typewriter out of the window and buy a brand-new one of the same make, and throw it out of the window, too.
    Taxes: As usual, they will be raised, to be lowered.
    It now develops that the parties who purloined Dub Watson's car did not steal it--they just drove it away. Mr. Watson is an accessory to the theft, inasmuch as he left the key in the car, but forgot to leave the engine running.
    The notch-tailed, red-headed woodpeckers, who last summer withdrew their nut deposits from the First National Oak Tree because they thought a fence post would be safer, now know better, according to Game Warden Bill Coleman. The Scarface Blue Jay Gang are busy robbing the new depository and replacing the stolen collateral with pebbles from the banks of Butte Creek. The depositor does not realize that he has been bilked until he goes to dinner and gets a severe shock to his beak. He then flutters away in high dudgeon toward Eagle Point.
    Spring did not tiptoe over the Siskiyous, as in previous years, but, instead, sneaked in through the low place in the hills three miles this side of Gold Hill. We will slay the society editor if she mentions the "vernal debut."
    Reports from the tall timber bring the astounding news that Jim Dinkens of Beagle, the eminent hillbilly, is skylarking around the mountain social whirls, and has descended to wearing a white-speckled red necktie in the middle of the week.
Alfred Powers, History of Oregon Literature, Portland 1935, pages 522-525

From the Klamath Falls Herald

    Here's a clipping from Arthur Perry's "Smudge Pot" column in the Medford Mail Tribune:
    "The deer-hunting season opens next Sunday. Hunters are urged, as usual, to be careful, positively identify what they are supposed to be shooting at as a deer, and scratch the phone numbers of the coroner and a doctor on the wooden end of their rifles."
    That slyly drives home the warning that must go out to hunters at the opening of every deer season. Excitement that breeds carelessness lies back of almost every hunting accident--and there have been a tragically large number of them in the Oregon woods in past years. Over-eager after weeks of talking deer hunting, some nimrod doesn't wait to make sure when he sees a movement in the brush--and then there must be a call to the doctor or the coroner.
    Along with the plea for a deliberate trigger-finger goes another for caution with fire. There have been some light rains, but their effect has been largely nullified by succeeding dry weather. Fire not only destroys forests but if destroys the habitat of wild life.
    Those are the warnings. If there is trouble and tragedy. it will be due to carelessness and thoughtlessness.
Oregon Journal, Portland, October 1, 1935, page 10

Take a Bow, Perry
“A prophet is not without honor save in his own country.”
    For nearly a quarter of a century Art Perry has been banging his weather-beaten typewriter in the M.T. office--and throwing smoldering cigarette butts into the old cracker barrel that serves as his wastebasket--but whoever hereabouts ever accused him of producing literature, or running any risk of setting the world of letters on fire?
    A.P. a member of the LITERATI? Absurd. Everyone in Southern Oregon knows Perry, the veteran skipper of the Smudge Pot, a column that is pretty good one day, and not so good the next; but neither he nor his column anything to write home about--just another happy-go-lucky newspaper scribbler, whose waistband has been expanding rather alarmingly of late and whose hair has been getting pretty thin on top. He never took himself seriously so why should anyone else do so?
    Just shows how true that quotation above from the gospel of Luke is, and how little we know about those we rub elbows with, on terms of the utmost familiarity, every day in the old home town.
    For Perry, all this time, with his wisecracks and his cracks, not so wise; his quaint comments on human nature and the local scene, his characterizations of this local celebrity and that from Prospect to the Applegate, has been contributing to the bibliography of the great state of Oregon, and "Smudge Pot" now has a prominent and permanent place in the "History of Oregon Literature"--a volume just off the press, the result of many years of study and research by Professor Powers, dean of the general extension division of the state system of higher education.
    Until a copy of the book has been received, we don't know just what extracts from the Smudge Pot have been selected, but we have a hunch they deal largely with local types and human interest--the more original and individual contributions of the skipper--rather than with general run of the columnist mill.
    It is in this direction, at least, where Commodore Perry has been outstanding. Literature is not necessarily "fine writing" any more than humor is necessarily manufacturing "puns" and sprinkling them liberally with wisecracks every day.
    Literature is essentially drawing a true picture of contemporary life in words, and humor consists largely in the ability to maintain a proper sense of proportion, as the parade of life passes on, placing incidents and the actors in the drama of life in the various niches where they belong.
    This is what Perry has done. Anyone who should wish to secure a TRUE picture of the life, manners and customs of Southern Oregon during the past two or three decades would find their material, not in this or the news columns of this paper, but in the Smudge Pot, where the creative and distillation processes have been going on.
    Not that Smudge Pot should be taken as a model for literature, native humor, or a MODEL for anything else. That isn't it. The point is that in that department and that department alone, life as it has been lived in Southern Oregon has been amusingly and accurately observed and depicted--true, typical and alive--and that is why it has been, and why it deserves to be, preserved in the literary archives of this state.
    In addition, there has been from time to time some shrewd observations on human nature, some effective puncturing of stuffed shirts, and some ironical comments upon the political scene, national, state and local, which have added materially to the vitality and value of the column.
    So congratulations to A.P. for the recognition that has been so long delayed but has at last been tendered. We knew it all the time. Don't go prima donna on us, Arthur. Come forward to the footlights and take a bow!
Medford Mail Tribune,
November 14, 1935, page 8

Medford Character Disappears
    For more than a few years Arthur Perry, author of the Medford Mail Tribune's column, Ye Smudge Pot, has been ably assisted in his literary stint by a feline character styled "the Elks' old tomcat." That is to say, this tomcat-ward of a great fraternal order was more than occasionally employed as a character in Mr. Perry's column, to such degree that almost he had risen, in the public fancy, to the status of assistant director. To the best of our recollection the columnist never has described the Elks' tomcat, save by the adjective of age and the designation of sex. Yet as the slow, fleet seasons passed, and the meanderings and maraudings and meowings of the tomcat repeatedly were chronicled, and engagingly, one came to feel that one knew him well, the cynic eye of him, the moth-eaten but valiant tail, the jaunty, swaggering intrepidity.
    And this is mentioned for the reason that recently Mr. Perry reported, in the Smudge Pot, that for a matter of two weeks the Elks' old tomcat has been absent from his accustomed haunts in the club room, and though rumor has it that he has been seen in various far places, none of these accounts has been substantiated. "Hope," sighs Mr. Perry, "has about faded…he is ten years old." In the vernal period of a tomcat's life, when all the geese are swans, an absence of a fortnight might pass without other than the lightest if suggestive remark--but, as the columnist intimates, the Elks' old tomcat has begun the descent, as the moon of the tomcats declines, and in any case it is late in the season for him to neglect the more substantial comforts of existence for the illusions of romance and the spurious glory of combat. It may, indeed, be that some strange ash can now affords a resting place for his heroic but weary remains; or some weed patch to which the crows are stooping. For he ought to have been home long ago, at his time of life.
    When a cat is a tomcat and also an Elk by adoption, and likewise a sort of newspaper man, as assistant to a columnist, and that columnist Arthur Perry, heaven alone, in any instance, knows when that cat will come stalking out of the gloaming. In addition to the natural excitements and impulses to which any proper tomcat is heir he has acquired three hazards not common to tomcats--and we may fear, as does Mr. Perry and the B.P.O.E., that which is gloomily styled the worst. Yet we once knew a cat, of the masculine gender, who by positive count squandered not nine but twenty-seven lives, and lived to breathe peacefully his last on a cushion at home, in an odor of catnip and sanctity. On this, as well as similar observation, we consider it at least even money that the Elks' old tomcat has yet to finish his saga. Kitty! kitty! kitty!
Oregonian, Portland, July 3, 1941, page 6  Reprinted in the Mail Tribune of July 14.

Record for the Rogue
    This green Willamette Valley has, we very greatly fear, lost at least one of its cherished and accustomed laurels. Where are our purposeful pussy willows? Why have our pussy willows, if any, not been reported? The disconcerting fact is that the first mention of first pussy willows is found in Arthur Perry's column, on the editorial page of the Medford Mail Tribune of recent date. Sweet Home is silent, Lafayette has not said they are there. But Mr. Perry, seemingly unaware that he had a chance to chortle, has this to say of pussy willows in the valley of the Rogue:
    "Fishermen report pussy willows that failed to purr last spring are now doling it."
    Mr. Perry is very casual in the announcement, and perhaps he has striven to seem so--but nothing can be more certain than that the Medford Chamber of Commerce will feel that the columnist cynic-philosopher of the Rogue has singularly failed his community. For there is renown to be shared with first pussy willows, quite as there is with huge and precious pears. It was a time when "Ye Smudge Pot," as Mr. Perry styles his column, should have blazed high with regional pride. Nevertheless this approximate indifference on the part of the columnist is but cold comfort to us. Where are our pussy willows?
    If you are of these parts, dear reader, and know of any first pussy willows hereabouts, which you have grievously failed to report, send them in, we entreat you. It is about time for pussy willows that can't wait. There is just a chance that we may yet beat the Jackson County record, though to do so would entail a lot of explaining.
Oregonian, Portland, November 2, 1945, page 8

    Arthur Perry, reporter and columnist for the Medford Mail Tribune for many years, died Saturday at a Medford hospital following a brief illness. Mr. Perry, who had written the "Smudge Pot" column for the Tribune for over 35 years, was widely known throughout Oregon for the original, homely humor of his writings.
    The body is at the Perl Funeral home from where last rites will be held Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. with the Rev. Meredith Groves of the First Methodist church officiating.
Born in Kansas
    Born September 26, 1885, in Severy, Kan., the deceased was orphaned at an early age and was raised by relatives. He came to Medford from the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., and had been on the staff of the Mail Tribune ever since. He took leave of absence to serve in the navy during World War I, holding the grade of yeoman first class and seeing service in European waters.
    He was a member of Medford Elks lodge and Medford American Legion Post No. 15.
    Only known survivors are Frank Carey of Seattle, Wash., and Miss Minnie Stine, New York City, cousins. Miss Stine had visited Mr. Perry here January 13 en route to New York after a coast trip.
    First arrangements have been made for establishing a memorial fund to honor Mr. Perry, the fund to be used as a scholarship to further the education of some student. Mrs. R. W. Ruhl, Mrs. E. H. Hedrick, Mrs. R. B. Sammond, William H. Fluhrer, Judge F. L. TouVelle and Lee Watson will act as a committee to administer the trust for the present, and later it will be put in the hands of an educational agency or board.
    A number of Mr. Perry's closest friends are making the first gifts and it is suggested that additional gifts to the memorial fund be made by others in lieu of the traditional floral pieces for the funeral service.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 19, 1948, page 1

Arthur Perry
    One of the familiar obituary cliches of newspaperdom is the statement that the deceased's place will be hard to fill. In the case of Arthur Perry that phrase would also be not only trite but inaccurate, for "Smudge Pot's" place will be impossible to fill.
    Art Perry was unique. His humor, his style were unique. He was literally a rare bird and there is and will be no one to fill his shoes.
    Nor will there be another "Smudge Pot," for Perry was the smudge pot.
    His record was also unique. Thirty-six years of service; producing with practically no days off, though he could have had plenty had he agreed to take them. He preferred to stick to his job--that was his habit, his life. During all that time he produced a column of wit, humor and dry native human philosophy which was enjoyed and appreciated by discriminating people, not only in Medford and Southern Oregon but throughout the state.
    The only serious illness he ever had during all that time proved to be his last one, which was his good fortune, for there was no long period of suffering or subsequent invalidism. His work had been done--and well done--he had earned a rest and now has one.
    He will be greatly missed by scores of readers young and old, particularly the former. For, while he was in a sense a lonely soul and had few intimate friends, those he had were devoted to him and he to them.
    He was particularly liked by and particularly devoted to children.
    He had his critics and his admirers as is usually true, but to the latter, at least, the Mail Tribune will never be quite the same without Arthur Perry and his column.--R.W.R. [Robert W. Ruhl]
Medford Mail Tribune, January 19, 1948, page 4

    It will be difficult for fellow workers and thousands of friends and readers to realize that Arthur Gordon Perry is gone, that his whimsical, philosophical and always entertaining daily column "Ye Smudge Pot" will appear no more.
    Death, which came Saturday night after only a day's illness, brought "30" for Arthur and his writing, ending one of the longest individual feature authorships in newspaper history. For over 35 years he had ground out his pithy paragraphs with exception only of a 22-month break while he served in the navy of World War I. Art and his "Smudge Pot" had become a part of the Medford scene--as much so as Main Street.
    With an individuality of expression which won him recognition as one of the country's best commentators, Arthur liked most to write of the little everyday things and about the people he knew. The fact that so-and-so had become "the bouncing papa of a proud baby," the advent of the Jones infant's first tooth, the robins on the court house lawn, the coming of the first pussy willow--these he loved and chronicled with a neighborly and understanding touch. Perhaps because of his own orphaned life, children held his special interest. Many a one now grown treasures a scrapbook of clippings from Arthur's columns.
    Hating political sham, and hypocrisy in any form, Perry could spot the phony and the demagogue afar and loved to pop the verbal whip about their figurative ears, a fact which added spice to his daily jottings.
    For years the "Pot," as Arthur liked to refer to his column, has been widely quoted in other newspapers and in magazines. The feature won mention a few years ago in Prof. Powers' History of Oregon Literature, a fact which moved one upstate editor to remark that the professor had "used discrimination in placing Perry among Oregon immortals--a regular newspaper writer who turns out a pleasing grist every day."
    Although Perry received many attractive offers from larger newspapers during his long career, he steadfastly refused to leave Medford. A kindly man with a capacity for loyal friendship possessed by very few, he loved the simple routine of life in a small town. For years he had refused to take a vacation because, as he explained, there was no place he would rather be than right here, and nothing he would rather do than write his daily column.
    Another reason why offers from the larger newspapers failed to lure Arthur was that like many true creative geniuses, he had a fine disdain for money. Much he gave away, a fact which he never revealed himself. Friends know, however, that many a ragged urchin has been taken into the nearest store and outfitted with a new pair of shoes or completely decked out in clothing. And the bringing of hungry and miserable alley cats into the news room for a saucer of warm milk sometimes brought maledictions from coworkers but gave a typical insight into his feeling for the unfortunate.--E.C.F. [Everett C. Ferguson]
Medford Mail Tribune, January 19, 1948, page 4

"30" for Art Perry
    The death of Arthur Gordon Perry of the Medford Mail Tribune is genuinely regretted, not just by the people who knew the old Smudge-Potter personally, but by his wide clientele of readers which stretched far beyond the limits of the Medford area.
    Mr. Perry's Smudge Pot column appeared in the Mail Tribune for 35 years. Reading it was a daily habit with thousands of people. It was an editorial page brightener that became an institution, presenting a folksy literature that was unique and flavorful.
    Although he picked his ideas mainly from the local scene, Perry's stuff had the universal touch that made it readable anywhere. We never knew F. Luy, the cowman who was always getting into the Smudge Pot when he "towned" from the back country, but we've known people like him. The "young fry" and "older girls" of Perry's columns are the same everywhere. His report of the appearance of the first tooth in the mouth of the young son of a local dignitary was worth a chuckle from anybody who had ever been present at the discovery of a first tooth--which makes it unanimous.
    Art Perry was subject to prejudices, as are we all, and that helped to make his stuff readable. He never loved Klamath Falls, for obvious reasons, and he cracked pretty regularly at us folks in the east-of-the-mountains hinterland. To him the Pelicans were always the "mighty (at home) Pelicans." But on occasion he rose to say a good word for them, as he did recently when he praised both the Pelicans and the Henley Hornets as representatives of this district in state football playoffs. Some of the folks who live over here, or lived here and moved to Medford, used to get pretty sore when they encountered one of Perry's digs at the Klamath country. We never saw him over here; he probably didn't want to come because he was afraid he might like us if he got to know us.
    In one of his last columns he carried a typical comment on politics. He said: "Supporters of Henry Wallace's third party notion plan a cross-country survey on his presidential possibilities. The survey will probably reveal as far as his White House dreams are concerned, the country is as cross as a 'fretful porcupine' and in no mood to fool with a political crossword puzzle." Art was pretty regular in his politics.
    Though Perry is gone now, Perryisms will be quoted for a long time. Art will be pleased about that.
Herald and News, Klamath Falls, January 20, 1948, page 4  Reprinted in the Mail Tribune of January 22, which credited it to Malcolm Epley.

Art Perry Goes Away
    The newspaperman whose name is a household word in Southern Oregon, and affectionately, has written his last page of copy. The death of Arthur Perry, general all-around staff member and columnist of the Medford Mail Tribune, leaves a gap in Oregon journalism you could drive a stagecoach through--so different he was, so well-nigh unique, so droll, so fondly cynical. He had been so long with the Mail Tribune that he seemed always to have been there, though the fact is it was about thirty-five years. Bigger towns, bigger papers, these beckoned to no avail, for Art Perry was where he wanted to be. The valley of the upper Rogue was his first love, and his last.
    Arthur Perry was the inimitable interpreter of the rural life of the Southern Oregon ranches and hills. In his daily column, "Ye Smudge Pot," he sang the seasonal delights of pig's backbone and country sausage, and similar viands, and he jested gently with his friends, journalistically, for, cynic though he affected to be, his heart in truth was all gentleness, and the laughter in his eye and on his lips never was bitter. If you never have read Art Perry's column, perhaps to quote a couple of typical paragraphs will help you to understand why we have called him an interpreter. The following fragments are found in our own files, in editorials that were written about Art Perry years ago. Here, then, is the jester and sage of Jackson County:
    The fried chicken and corn-on-the-cob season is now in full swing in the rural areas. Expert eaters maintain the way to eat the first named is with the fingers, and the party of the second part, with both elbows on the table.
    The oaks in the high country have started to take on their autumnal garb. At present they are just a rumpus of color, but soon will be a riot of the same.
    Apple cider is on tap in some of the rural areas, and would violate the late Volstead Act, it is said.
    So it's over the hill to Jacksonville, and down the Applegate.
    Well, that's the way it is. Art Perry won't be around to welcome the first lamb tongues, nor, in the golden fall of the year, to write how the first deer has fallen in the Jim Dinkens country, nor yet to praise a dish of hominy, nor the flirt of a silvergray's tail. Quail in the manzanita, Arthur! But Arthur's gone yonder, and it's no manner of use. Now people remember how happy he was, and how happy he made them.
    Until it has been run a couple of times through the clarifier, the opinion expressed by Hank Wallace does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Hank Wallace.
    It is at least convenient that Hank Wallace, casting himself in the role of Gideon, can be called Giddy for short.
Oregonian, Portland, January 20, 1948, page 10

The Master Hand Is Stilled
(By Don Upjohn, in Capital (Salem) Journal)

    Arthur Gordon Perry, genius of the gentle quip, Oregon's greatest paragrapher, columnist of the Medford Mail Tribune for the past 35 years, died Saturday night at his Medford home after a brief illness. No feature in any Oregon newspaper could be missed more than "The Smudge Pot," the column he created and carried on in an endless stream of barbless wit, for his was a column which never scarred nor maimed, humor superb in execution.
    Edison Marshall, a Medford institution himself, writing in Alfred Powers' History of Oregon Literature, has this to say about Arthur Gordon Perry, among other things: "I would like to say right here, at this point, that in my none-too-humble opinion, Arthur Perry is one of the most vital figures, one of the most delightful townsmen, and one of the greatest assets possessed by this little city lost in its western mountains. Perry does more good and has more influence than quite an assortment of leading citizens, a politician or two, and even one or two of the more serious organizations ... Perry's wit flashes, and it cuts through bigotry and hypocrisy like a sword, and it has a way of puncturing with a word or two, self-inflated people and pompous schemes, Unlike many humorists--and Perry is a real humorist--he is almost never vulgar. He has a humorous appreciation of life, a sense of correct proportion, and a great deal of human tenderness besides."
    Yes, Arthur Gordon Perry was master of the gentle quip. And can you blame the others of us who in a very inferior way have attempted to wrest something of a living by walking in his footsteps, if from time to time we've cast the green shade of envy at his genius? He not only had it, but for 35 years he maintained it unfalteringly to the end.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 21, 1948, page 5

Eulogy to a Philosopher
(Grants Pass Courier)

    Sunday's Medford Mail Tribune failed to carry its column, "Smudge Pot," a popular feature of our sister daily for much of the past 35 years. Reason: The "Smudge Pot" author, Arthur Gordon Perry, was dead.
    The pioneer Medford columnist had entered a hospital only Saturday morning for a routine physical checkup.
    Tuesday's Oregonian, in an editorial headed, "Art Perry Goes Away," pays tribute to the Southern Oregon newspaper veteran. After emphasizing his homely wit and simple zest for living, the editorial concludes, "But Arthur's gone yonder, and it's no manner of use. Now people remember how happy he was, and how happy he made them."
Medford Mail Tribune, January 21, 1948, page 5

(From Oregon (Salem) Statesman)
    Art Perry, who fired the Smudge Pot column in the Medford Mail Tribune for a span of 35 years, is dead. He was an authentic humorist, original, incisive, who found in the Southern Oregon country ample material for his daily grist of witty paragraphs. The lure of the "metropolitan field" never attracted him, but his unique column attracted the newspaper folk of Oregon and the coast to the Mail Tribune. He had none to match his style, which never seemed to lose its freshness. They say no man is indispensable; but readers of the Mail Tribune will vigorously dispute that adage as far as Art Perry is concerned; and so will his contemporaries in Oregon newspaperdom.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 22, 1948, page 8

Editorial Comment
(By Editor Arthur Powell in Central Point American)

    It's beginning to get mighty lonesome in this neck of the woods, fellers. Hardly a week passes but some one of the oldtimers falls by the wayside. Only a "corporal's guard" of the men with whom the writer labored in the earlier years of his residence in the Rogue River Valley are left. We go down the streets of Medford and meet so few men we know we feel almost as if we were in a strange town. And now Art Perry's gone!
    The writer was employed as pressman and master mechanic for the Mail Tribune at the time the old Morning Sun was started in about 1911 by S. S. Smith and a man named Branson. A short time later the Ruhl family appeared on the scene and purchased Mr. Branson's interest. Mr. Robert W. Ruhl became editor of the Sun and brought to Medford a young man with whom he had worked on the Spokesman-Review in Spokane--Arthur Gordon Perry. Soon after his arrival the "Smudge Pot" column was inaugurated and has been a regular feature of the Medford daily ever since until Mr. Perry's death January 17.
    Of the men in the mechanical department of the Tribune who worked with Perry when the Smudge Pot was new, this writer is the only one left in the valley still actively connected with the printing industry. (The only other one of the old gang still living is J. A. Manke, linotype operator, who retired a year or so ago.) And as the old poem said:
"When I consider all the friends, so linked together,
I've seen around me fall, like leaves in wintry weather;
I feel like one who treads alone some banquet hall, deserted.
    Whose lights are fled,
    Whose garlands dead,
And all but he, departed."
    Yes, we shall miss Art Perry and his inimitable column. His memory will always abide in the hearts of men who hate sham and bombast. Even the robins on the courthouse lawn must feel lonely today as they watch for their friend in vain.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 26, 1948, page 6

The "Smudge Pot" Is Extinguished
    Every newspaper man on the Pacific Coast will regret the death of Arthur Gordon Perry, of the Medford Mail Tribune. For nearly 35 years he has written the column known as "The Smudge Pot." Most of us have gone to it time and again to pick up clever, humorous "items." The column, of course, got its title from the devices used to ward off frost when it threatens the budding pear orchards of the Southern Oregon country. It was an apt name for Arthur Perry’s column, and it might be said that he helped to keep "frost" out of newspapers.
    Perry was a good reporter as well as an able columnist and for the same reason. He really liked people. He was interested in every little thing affecting people, and he did not take people too seriously, which is to say that he was friendly and charitable. Lately we have been studying the requirements for training "journalists" (in company with some real experts).
    Journalism is both a business and a profession, and its requirements are much more difficult to define than those for law or medicine or engineering, for instance, where there is a certain "body of knowledge" and "combination of skills" without which nobody can qualify. Journalism covers the whole range of human knowledge and activity, and it is almost impossible to say that this or that is "indispensable"--unless it would be to say that this "feeling for people" is the one essential.
    That is something that cannot be taught. Arthur Perry, a small town newspaper man, had it to a high degree. His columns were not learned but they were often profound in human wisdom.
Eugene Register-Guard, January 27, 1948, page 6  Reprinted in the Mail Tribune of January 29, which credited it to William Tugman.

No More Smudge Pot
(By Nolan Skiff in Pendleton East Oregonian)
    The people of Oregon in general and the Medford district in particular suffered a distinct loss in the recent death of Arthur Gordon Perry, 63, veteran newspaperman and columnist for the Medford Mail Tribune.
    His work was best known under the column heading "The Smudge Pot," which he had conducted for nearly 35 years, with a wealth of humor, wisdom and pointed paragraphs that must have brought chuckles, new thoughts and at times a great deal of comfort to his many readers.
    Because of that, his life was truly a success. To be able to make your fellow man occasionally smile--or maybe laugh out loud--makes your short span on earth worthwhile. A man who can do that, whether verbally or in words to be read, is like a sunbeam filtering through a heavy overcast. Perry was that kind of a man.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 28, 1948, page 6

Last revised June 23, 2023