By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, MN With a 1940s soda fountain, an old-fashioned rope-propelled elevator, and whimsical decorations of days gone by, the Howard Lake Drug Store on Highway 12 in Howard Lake invites customers to take a step back in time.
“We still sell malts and shakes, and a little sundae called ‘Mud Ball Sundae’,” said Marilyn Ringold, who has owned and operated the store with her husband, John, for more than 30 years.
The acclaimed “Mud Ball Sundae” has been a tradition at Howard Lake Drug for several decades.
In Howard Lake’s 2008 history book, former Howard Lake resident Rev. Gerry Montgomery is quoted as saying, “In the 1940s, the mud ball was served in a champagne-style glass with vanilla ice cream, a generous amount of chocolate syrup, sprinkled with peanuts and eaten with a long thin spoon.”
The Howard Lake Drug Store is part of the Realty Building, which includes “six apartments and two commercial street level spaces besides the drug store,” according to an article by Marilyn Ringold in the 2008 history book. From 1908 to 1917, the building was used for The Cash Store, operated by Ferrell & Gerard and the German American State Bank. Other commercial tenants, such as the telephone company, an attorney, accountant, dentist, and physician, occupied the upper level.
In 1917, the building became a pharmacy, owned by Wesley A. Scheer and Richard E. Bushey until 1948. It was then sold to Bob and Ruth Rekedal, who owned the business until the Ringolds’ purchased it in 1978.
In 2001, the Ringolds redesigned the rear entry to become the new “front” door, because of Highway 12 construction. The soda fountain was remodeled in 1948, and again in 1995 when it was moved to its present location in the store.
“Over the years, the fountain area of Howard Lake Drug has been the meet and greet center for town information, good jokes, and debates. Nothing is ever settled, but a lot of topics are discussed,” Ringold said in an article for the 2008 history book.