An audience with the "White Castle Queen"

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MT. PULASKI, Ill. (WAND)- It can seem like everything in Michelle Purcell’s house has a story, and most of those stories involve White Castle.

The doorless pantries of her kitchen are lined with White Castle cups, toys and trinkets, while the pantries themselves are topped with a castle-block pattern.

“This is my legal garbage can,” Purcell says, gesturing to a blue restaurant-style garbage can. “Mike, from White Castle 54 said ‘if you can get down here Monday morning … you can have anything you want. We’re re-doing the dining room.”

Another blue restaurant garbage can has a more mysterious past, involving a rendezvous at a gas station, a truck and few questions.

“Every year, I hand out a Valentine,” Purcell said, holding up a card made to look like the familiar White Castle sandwich. “This says ‘All steamed up for love … you are the pickle on my slider.’”

Purcell says her White Castle fancy dates to her childhood.

“I’m from Chicago originally … we’d eat there when I went to my aunt Barb’s,” Purcell said. “I’ve always loved them, but when I moved down here and there isn’t any, then I’d have to make runs for it.”

Until her recent retirement, Purcell worked for the Illinois National Guard, where soldiers kept her supplied with White Castle.

“I work at Camp Lincoln in Springfield, and they’re beautiful people,” Purcell said. “They help me with my crave. They bring me crave boxes all the time.”

Purcell’s passion for White Castle has earned her a spot in the White Castle Cravers Hall of Fame. (In the interests of full disclosure, the reporter writing this story is also in the Hall of Fame.)

“My friend Debbie from the old neighborhood, she’s the one who got me started in the Hall of Fame,” Purcell said. “I thought it was a gag thing. I thought, where are you getting the stationery where you’re writing this stuff?”

Still, changes are coming for the woman known as the White Castle Queen. She plans to move to Florida to be near her son and others, but she also plans to maintain her crave for White Castle.

“I’ve been blessed to go to two Hall of Fames, and the people are awesome, just awesome,” Purcell said.  

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