by Erna Motl Hereford

Entry B19 from the History of Hooker County Nebraska
with permission of the Hooker County Historical Society

John Motl Druggist in his store - 1955

The Motl Drug Store 1939

The northwest corner of Mullen's main
intersection was the location of the Motl
Pharmacy from September 11, 1911 until the
business was sold in 1957. In September 1911,
John J. Motl moved the stock and fixtures
from his pharmacy in Dodge, Nebraska to
Mullen. As he said, "I had $60.00 left, plus
a note for $1,200.00. My first month's receipts
were $185.00." The time was right for the
move because the country around Mullen was
being settled by "Kincaiders" and the com-
munity certainly needed a drug store.

John Motl's retail experience had been in
pharmacies in eastern Nebraska where a
customer seldom bought more than one of a
particular item at a time. He knew he was in
another world when a rancher from the north
country came in and wanted one dozen
bottles of Castoria. He couldn't fill the order.
He learned quickly to adjust his stocking
procedures to fit the rancher's buying pat-

In the early days, a pharmacist filled some
prescriptions by counting pills and measur-
ing liquids. Much too often, it seemed,
powders had to be mixed, measured as to
dosage, folded into papers and boxed. It was
some years before blank capsules simplified
that process.

In addition to drugs, the Motl Pharmacy
stocked cosmetics, tobacco products, candy,
magazines, house paint, and cattle vaccines.
Later golf supplies and phonograph records
were added. Of course there was the soda
fountain. That was a happy part of the store.
The ice cream, Hardings, came up on the
train from Omaha. It had to be packed in ice
in the soda fountain. When electric refrigera-
tion became available and there were eager
competitors, Mr. Motl gladly sold the foun -
tain and left the ice cream business to others.

For years, there were no brown sacks in
which to package purchases. Items were given
the "drug store wrap" with paper from the big
rolls on the counter and tied with string.

In about 1925, the Motl Pharmacy took on
the Rexall line of products. It became the
Rexall Store, John J. Motl, Druggist. With
that change came the One-Cent Sales and the
first doll contests at Christmas time. The
purchase of a sale item plus one cent, gave the
customer two items for the price of one. From
November 10 through December 24, custom-
ers voted for their favorite little girl in the
Doll Contest. It was one vote for every penny
spent in the store. On Christmas morning
fifteen little girls received the dolls.

John Motl was proprietor and principal
clerk of the drug store, but he always had the
help of his family. His wife, Ann and their
children, Frances, Erna, Rosalie and John Jr.
served time behind the counter. In addition,
he had the loyal help of Elsie Dietrich
Hoferer, (his sister Ann), Nadene Carlson
and a number of other clerks, at various

The Drug Store served the needs of the
community well and it prospered. It weath-
ered the wars and the depression. In 1946,
after service in the United States Navy, John
Jr. took over operation of the store. In 1953,
John Sr. again operated the business and in
1957 he sold the store to Bob and Claire

Improvements in transportation lessened
the dependence of drug store customers on
the store in Mullen so several years later after
a number of different owners, the store was