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A Passion For Purple

Story ID:648
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Only Here
Location:Manhattan KS USA
Person:Coach Snyder
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A Passion For Purple

By Nancy Julien Kopp

Mix red and blue, and you get purple. I learned that way back in grade school, and I remember trying it with some watercolor paints. I experimented with varying amounts of each of the two primary colors to see what shade of purple popped up next. My white sheet of paper was slashed with streaks of different purples.

In a history class I learned that the robes of royalty were often purple. It was a rich, and regal hue seen fit for kings and queens through the ages. It’s easy to imagine a king in a purple velvet robe trimmed in ermine.

But it wasn’t until 1975 that purple became the main color in my life. We moved from northern Illinois to Manhattan, Kansas, the home of Kansas State University. Our family learned quickly that K-State colors were purple and white, and we found out that people who lived in K-State country wore purple—lots of it!

At the time, K-State had one of the worst college football records of any school at any time. We played in the Big Eight conference in those days, and the purple flag with the KSU on it got a lot of snickers and darned little respect during football season. When the final football game ended, it was basketball season, and the purple came out in all its glory. Those were the days when K-State was a basketball powerhouse, and the fieldhouse rocked with the cheering and chanting of the purple-clad fans who proudly wore the school color.

One year we had two players that played so well together they were known as the “Purple Popgun Duo.” Fans were said to bleed purple should they have an accident. I bought purple shirts for everyone in our family until we all had a K-State section in our closets.
Children requested purple frosting on birthday cakes and wanted their bedrooms painted purple. To this day, when I ask my son what he wants for Christmas, he always answers “Anything purple.” And he means it!

A lot of years and many football coaches later, Bill Snyder came to town to attempt what so many others had failed to do. He would make K-State purple known in the college football world. He had a plan, and it worked. He promoted purple everywhere he went, and the fans loved this winning coach who believed in his teams. So purple became even more prominent in our community. The conference had grown to The Big Twelve, and K-State purple finally earned the respect it had hoped for all those losing years.

Have you ever seen a purple car? Well, I have. Does your bank have one whole outside section painted purple? Mine does. Have you ever walked down a main street of a town and found 90% of the people wearing purple? I do on every game day. Hundreds of purple flags fly in the stadium parking lots on game days, and purple campers, trucks and bikes abound. Little boys play catch with purple footballs while their folks cook on purple grills. Fans wear purple shirts, purple pants, purple hats, purple coats, even purple tennis shoes. And once inside the stadium you have the rare opportunity to purchase a great big bag of purple popcorn.

The local grocery store employees all wear purple to work the day before a game. They’ve done it for years, and other stores in the area followed their example. Then fans decided to wear purple the day prior to a game, too. Walk down the aisles of our grocery stores on a Friday before a game, and you’ll think you’ve fallen into rabbit hole like Alice. Purple everywhere you look! Even the cakes and cupcakes in the bakery department are frosted with white and decorated in—you guessed it—purple.

The one thing I haven’t seen yet is purple beer. But given time, I bet some innovative students will come up with it one of these days.

We have a new football coach this year. His last name is Prince. Seems like the perfect guy to wear royal purple.