The building on Main Street known by most as the Thomas, Kincannon & Elkin Drug Store (TKE) was founded 1907 as Pound, Kincannon & Elkin (P.K.E.)
R.L. Pound (1866-1956) lived in the home, which is now called the Spain House, from 1914 to 1948. Mr. and Mrs. W.D. Spain bought the house, lived in it and operated a funeral home in the house from 1948 to 1960.
Pounds was a regionally prominent pharmacist during the early 20th century and was active in establishing an important banking enterprise.
Van Kincannon was a drug salesman out of Memphis.
T.F. (Thomas Fitzgerald) Elkin was a doctor, and his drug store, of choice, where he called in prescriptions was P.K.E. That might seem like a conflict of interest to us today, but was common place in those days.
In 1918, Pound decided to exit the partnership to open a jewelry store with wife Lucy Carter Pound (1872-1956).
P.K. Thomas Sr. (1881-1963) was a pharmacist and had a business in Nettleton, and decided to join in with Kincannon and Elkin, and thus started T.K.E.
P.K. was honored on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour in 1956 when Mack told of his accomplishments in Tupelo.
The store began promoting itself as “The Rexall Store,” calling itself the largest retail druggist, complete with soda fountain, the first in Tupelo.
Pharmacist Ed Furr worked at TKE up into the 1940s, before starting Furr Drugs.
The first drug store in Tupelo was Clifton’s Pharmacy, 1880, which sat on the corner of Main and Broadway.
P.K. Thomas, Jr., MD, (1919-1995) a Tupelo physician was instrumental in developing Tupelo's hospital into North Mississippi Medical Center. His wife, Edith “Ruff” Thomas was one of the founders of Tupelo Community Theatre and the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra.
Elvis Presley was often sent to T.K.E. to pick up medicine for his mother.
Prescription pill bottles didn’t show up until shortly after World War II, around 1945. The orange color helps to prevent light from penetrating through the prescription bottles and degrading the medicine.
Prior to that, from around 1890, most medicines were liquid and stored in a variety of bottles. Of course, we now know the key ingredient in a lot of early 19th century medicine was alcohol. Prior to that the “medicine” was even more potent — opiates, cocaine, morphine and even heroin.
T.K.E. originally only occupied half of the building. Shelby-Topp General Dry Goods was in the other half until 1927.
In 1927, they knocked out the wall, taking over the dry goods store and added the soda fountain, giving them 7,500 sq. ft. on the ground floor.
T.K.E. became much more than just a pharmacy, they were the premiere location to buy cameras, film and get that film sent off to be processed. As a young artist / photographer with TV9, that’s where I carried my film in the mid-1970s.
They were also the first place to buy school supplies, including books and work books.
Of course, many remember T.K.E. for their soda fountain, restaurant. They served hot dogs, slaw dogs, sandwiches, their signature potato salad (which I understand is still sold at another Tupelo landmark, Finney’s), a variety of fountain drinks, milk shakes, malts and banana splits.
During the 1950s they offered the “Pig’s Trough Dinner” for 50¢. It was a banana split served in a wooden trough, with two bananas, six scoops of ice cream and all the toppings you could think of. Davis Temple ran the soda fountain. T.K.E. closed in 1986.