Archive for Thursday, June 30, 2005

Who was Audrey Purcell?

June 30, 2005

Audrey Purcell and his wife, Edith, owned and ran the Drug Store in Lansing from 1937 to 1946.

During those years I considered him the unofficial Parks and Rec director because of all the things he did to help the kids. He helped form and equip the Lansing Merchants softball team in the '40s. Most of the players were young men returning from WWII, but he also helped the younger boys.

I was too young to be on the team at that time, but one day he invited me to the store and gave me a new softball. During the summer when we had games, he always made sure that we had a good softball to play with.

I remember going to two Kansas City Blues baseball games with Mr. Purcell, Dr. Moore and Mr. Dean, who was the Santa Fe railroad agent. They had three carloads of boys, and we really had a great time.

The Drug Store was a very popular place. The first thing we saw when we went in were two "one-arm bandits" right in plain sight. To the left was the soda fountain, and they had the best cherry sundaes that were 10 cents; the Green Rivers were so good. Many of our school friends had their first jobs there. In the center were tables with wrought-iron chairs and ceiling fans overhead. Even several booths were on the back side. There was a typewriter on one of the tables, and you could get your drivers license there for 50 cents.

Mr. and Mrs. Purcell had an apartment in the back of the store. I remember Mrs. Purcell as being a tiny, very sweet and friendly lady.

Audrey Purcell was born in 1892 in Leavenworth. He graduated from Leavenworth Senior High in 1910 and from KU with a degree in pharmacy in 1912. He returned to Leavenworth, where he worked in the Silas Putnam and the Reif Drugstores until 1917 when he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army.

In 1946, he sold the Drug Store to John and Avis Kendall and went on to do many politically activated jobs, including being appointed postmaster at Leavenworth by President Eisenhower, whom he helped elect in l952 at the National Republican Convention. Audrey Purcell also was tax examiner for income and sales tax. He wore many hats.

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