Career spans life of history

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It was great sharing the story about Audrey Francis in Sunday’s issue of The Tidewater News.

The story focused on Francis’ six-decade career with Parker Drug, which came to end Tuesday when the 123-year-old downtown Franklin soda and gift shop closed.

Francis, 71, worked for Parker Drug for 53 years. That’s a heck of a long time.

If you compare her time with Parker Drug to what happened locally, Francis began working there one year after Camp Manufacturing Corp. merged with the Union Bag and Paper of New York in 1956. This merger formed Union Camp.

Francis also was still working at Parker Drug when Union Camp was acquired by International Paper in 1999 and when the company closed its doors this year, eliminating 1,100 jobs.

Francis was at Parker Drug in 1999 when the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd caused the Blackwater River to overflow and flood the downtown. The flood left the downtown, including Parker Drug, under as much as 12 feet of water.

On the national front during Francis’ tenure with Parker Drug, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy occurred on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas, and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on April 4, 1968, in Memphis.

She was at Parker Drug when Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin were the first to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Francis was there in April 1975, when the fall of Saigon led to the end of the Vietnam War, a 20-year conflict that left 58,159 U.S. soldiers dead. She was at Parker Drug when the Berlin Wall came down on Nov. 6, 1989, and the collapse of the Soviet Union occurred in 1991.

On the sports front, Francis probably heard the guys talk about Barry Bonds setting the single-season record for home runs in 2001, hitting 73, and when the U.S. hockey team defeated Russia during the 1980 Olympics to win the gold.

Yes, Francis’ time at Parker Drug spans a significant amount of history and now she will go down in history in Franklin for her 53 years of employment.

Like Parker Drug customer Doris Myers of Franklin told The Tidewater News, Francis “is Parker Drug.”