Tuesday, September 29, 2015

McLain celebrates 44 years at Grove Drive-In Pharmacy

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller • khutson@grovesun.com

Carolynn McLain celebrates behind a cake purchased
for her by her colleagues at Grove Drive-In Pharmacy.
 McLain's final day at the business will
be Wednesday, Sept. 30.
- Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun
Thursday, Oct. 1, will mark a new chapter in the life of Carolynn McLain.

It will be the first workday, in 44 years, the Grove woman will not be behind the counter at Grove Drive-In Pharmacy.

Instead, she'll be at home planning trips to visit her newborn great-grandson, organizing items for future garage sales and maybe even sleeping in late.

On Monday, family and friends gathered at the Grove Drive-In Pharmacy to kick off a three-day celebration of McLain and her work at the business.

"I started in October 1971," McLain said. "I've done everything that could be done in the pharmacy from book keeping, filing, typing of prescriptions.

"When I started, there was a little shelf in front of the register that held checkbooks with blank checks for all of the banks in town. People would pick up the book for their bank, and write a check. It wouldn't even have their address on it. Then the checks would go through the bank. We had very few hot checks."

In the beginning, McLain said she did lots of work by hand - including the processing and filing of prescriptions. Now through the advances in technology, much of the work has been computerized.

As McLain has worked behind the counter at the pharmacy for 44 years, she has been joined for all but a few months by Pharmacist Carl Deason.

Deason jokes that people often thing he and McLain are married - because they would often be found "fussing" at each other behind the counter.

McLain said Deason after all these years is like a brother, joking that he likes to bully her.

Co-worker Linda Beal said at times, she had to stand between the two, to keep them from squabbling - all in good fun.

McLain credits her longevity at the pharmacy to her colleagues.

"It's very easy to work with someone you like," McLain said of Deason and the rest of her co-workers, adding that she had trained most of the current staff.

McLain said Deason served as a mentor to her, helping her learn how to develop her customer service skills.

"I've always enjoyed learning about medicine, what it does and how it came to be," McLain said, of her time at the pharmacy. "And the people. I like cutting up with people."

McLain said changes over the years often mean more time working with insurance companies and less time visiting with customers.

Colleagues placed signs on the doors at the Grove Drive-In Pharmacy on Monday, letting customers know about Carolynn McLain's plans to retire after 44 years of service. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun
As she ponders her future, McLain said becoming more active within the ministries of the Assembly of God church in Grove tops her list.

She also plans to travel to Bismark, North Dakota to see her great-grandson, Liam McLain, born to Jamie and Garrett McLain on Aug. 12.

Additionally, her husband Leon, plans to take her to Branson for a three-day weekend to celebrate her retirement.

After her initial flurry of trips, McLain plans to clean her house of "40 years of stuff," as well as items in storage from her in-law's home.

They also plan to hang out at their travel trailer, housed at Snider's Campground in Grove or Leon McLain's hunting cabin.

McLain might even dive into a few books she's had on her "to read" list, including several from the Left Behind series.

"I'm going to miss my co-workers," McLain said, "as well as my job. I've always liked it.

"It makes me feel good knowing that you can help [a customer], especially if they are struggling with their insurance."

More about McLain

McLain and her husband, Leon, recently celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary. They moved to Grove from Bristow following Leon McLain's graduation from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol academy. The Vinita District was his first posting, and the couple chose to remain in Grove ever since.

The couple have two adult children, Leah and Lee, who are both Grove High School graduates. Leah Tyner and her husband, Mike, reside in Grove, while Lee McLain lives in Wagoner with his daughters, Elizabeth, 20, and Haley, 18. Other grandchildren, Garrett and Jamie McLain reside in Bismark, North Dakota, and Jaden and Bradley Thomas live in West Siloam Springs.

This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 29 issue of The Grove Sun.

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