"I started out working at the high school under Leona Drimel. She had my daughter ask me if I could work as a substitute and help wash dishes," Arlene said. "I started working three hours a day, then five and now it's seven hours per day."
Arlene worked at the high school 21 of her 23 years in the kitchen. The last two years she has been head cook at the elementary school. "I really enjoyed working at the elementary school," she said. "Many of the children look at me as a grandmother. When they say something smart to me, I replied that it wasn't funny and they back-off."
On the last day of school, one little first grader came around the serving counter in the kitchen and gave her a big hug. She knew it was Arlene's last day and that she wouldn't be back next year. "One first grade class sent her thank you notes on her last day of work saying good bye," she said.
"I have really been fortunate to work under too very good cooks and excellent workers: Leona Drimel and Delores Schwandt," Arlene said. "The last two years under Barb Koehn has also been good."
Her day usually started at 6:30 a.m. or earlier. "I always like to start early. I'm the kind of person who worries that I won't get things done," she added. After the students were fed, there would be cleanup and sometimes they would have to start food preparation for the next day.
Arlene said on the average, they fed about 450 students per day and breakfast averaged 95 to 127. "The students really liked pancakes or French toast for breakfast," she said.
After retirement, she plans on helping her husband Cal with his carpet cleaning business, continue doing bookwork for the Sportsmen's Club and for her son Bill Stanger at Stanger Steel. "I like to sew and plan on doing more sewing," she said. She would also like to do more flower gardening.
Another item on her agenda, now that she is retired, will be to take in Grandparent's Day with her grandchildren in Melrose, Paynesville and Litchfield. "I always had to say no to them before because I was always working," she said. She will also be more free to attend her grandson's football games and wrestling matches.
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