I first met Orvel shortly after he bought the drugstore in Lockwood. I’d been weedeating around town without goggles and a guy pulled up in a car and said I should be wearing some, and handed me a brand new pair. I did not know him, but when I went into the drugstore a couple days later, there he was.
Orvel KNEW medicine ! Plus, he knew what you needed, how often, what you needed it with, and if you needed it with a good joke.
He could remember with great clarity his boyhood in Webb City. My favorite story was of the times his father, or grandfather, would fill a huge water trough with ice and water and float all of the Arkansas-bought watermelons it would hold at the family owned store.
He would tell me countless stories from World War One and Two of people he knew and events and episodes they had experienced. I think he had a brother that lived in Tulsa, and he would send Orvel articles each week from the newspapers there about veterans and the wars. Orvel would hand them off to me, and I would take them home and devour them, and return them to him like a he was my personal librarian.
Not many townfolk knew it, but Orvel was so dedicated to his constituents, he spent many nights in Lockwood in times of inclement weather. Just a cot in the storage building next door was all he needed.
Now one time I really needed some medicine. My 35 year old son was born prematurely by 3 months and has been taking some pills daily for years. It was Friday night and I realized I had let him run out. I couldn’t get anyone on the phone nor get the prescription filled at another pharmacy without the doctor’s orders. So I called Orvel as a last resort, thinking I could get some first thing in the morning. He insisted that I come to the store that night and he would be there about 11 o’clock to get a few pills to tide me over. I thought he was coming from El Dorado Springs…bad enough. I found out later he was at his grandsons ‘s football game in Harrisonville !
Orvel was a merchant. Not just a business owner. A man who gave away countless toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste to send to soldiers in care packages. A true merchant, storyteller, joke teller, and he was a friend.
Mike Shores