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Familiar face retiring from Howard Lake Drug
DEC. 26, 2011
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By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE, MN – When Mary Hall began working at Howard Lake Drug, she was only going to try it for a week, but ended up staying 15 years.

She will now be retiring, with her last day scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 31. A retirement open house will take place Friday, Dec. 30 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Howard Lake Drug.

Before working at Howard Lake Drug, Hall worked at Prudential in Minneapolis for 26 years, underwriting medical insurance, until her position was moved to Jacksonville, FL.

“That was alright because the commute here is much nicer – it’s only five minutes,” Hall said.

After her job at Prudential moved, Hall was working on-call at Gage Lettershop (now American Spirit Mailing) in Howard Lake.

At the time, John and Marilyn Ringold, who own the drug store, were looking for help on the floor, and former employee Lois Oltmann suggested they call Hall.

Hall decided to stay after the one-week trial because she would have a schedule she could plan her life around, she said.

Some of Hall’s duties at the store have included getting coffee ready for the morning coffee crowd, assisting customers, some clerical work, and unpacking and stocking the shelves when the daily order comes in.

Hall is also licensed in food service, so she has been in charge of the soda fountain, making malts, sundaes, and cones for customers.

“My husband calls me a licensed soda jerk,” Hall chuckled. Her husband, Doug, had a 30-year career with Metro Transit and now works part time at Mumford.

A favorite memory of the Ringolds and Hall was when John told Hall to lock him in one night as he finished up some work.

Without thinking, Hall set the alarm, which was motion-activated and sounded as soon as John moved in the back of the store.

“I got to see how fast John could move,” Hall said about John running to the front of the store to shut off the alarm.

One of the things Hall has liked best about her job at Howard Lake Drug is meeting the people from Howard Lake.

When the Halls go out now, she said her husband laughs, saying, “You know everybody in town.”

She will also miss all the people she has worked with.

“John and Marilyn are great to work for. We’re small – kind of like a family,” Hall said, adding “Lois was great to work with.”

Another favorite for Hall was in the summer when kids would come in for ice cream.

She also enjoyed working there around Christmastime. “It gets busy this time of year – but it’s fun.”

In her retirement, Hall looks forward to catching up on some things at home.

“I thought I would catch up on all that stuff when I started working part time, but no,” Hall said.

She also plans to volunteer for local organizations such as the First Presbyterian Church and the Good Samaritan Society.

Hall and her husband also plan to do some traveling when possible.

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