SKF NOTE: After I had closed for the night the cheese shop I managed in Huntington, NY, I was standing outside with Andy, one of the meat cutters from the butcher shop next door. Somehow we got around to talking about drums, and Andy said Glenn Miller‘s drummer, Maurice Purtill was a Huntington, NY native.
“No kidding?” I said. “Is he still alive?”
“No,” said Andy. “He died.”
Fast forward a decade. I’m Managing Editor of Modern Drummer magazine. A letter from a reader arrives asking, “Whatever happened to Moe Purtill?” That letter was floated during an editorial meeting as a candidate for publication in an upcoming MD. Neither Publisher Ron Spagnardi nor Features Editor Rick Mattingly had an answer for the reader.
“Oh, Maurice Purtill is dead,” I said. “I use to work next to a butcher shop in Huntington, NY — where Purtill’s from. The butcher knew Purtill. He told me Purtill died.”
So, I penned the “Purtill is dead” answer which accompanied that reader’s letter in the magazine. And not too long after that month’s MD hit the newsstands I received another reader letter from a NJ town not too many miles from MD‘s office. The letter said, in essence, “I am not dead. Signed, Maurice Purtill.”
I wrote Mr. Purtill an apology — which included my Huntington, NY story. Published a correction in the next available MD. But, boy, that was a great lesson in fact-checking.
— end —