Written by John H. Meyer Friday, 30 April 2010 00:00
During a long weekend vacation at Split Rock Lodge in the Poconos, Marge and Don Kranich who made their home in Baldwin, and Mary and Harry Kiesendahl from Massapequa, spent most of their time discussing the resort business and what it would be like to own and operate a resort. Both families agreed it was worthwhile looking into.
Here on Long Island while living in a Cape-Cod style house on Massachusetts Avenue during the 1950s, Mary and Harry operated the Parkside Sweet Shop on Broadway, opposite the Massapequa School District’s bus and truck garage. That space is now a part of Modica’s Broadway Market. The Sweet Shop was known for its ice cream sodas and a variety of stationery and office supplies. Donald and Marge owned and operated the Park Sunoco station at the corner of Park Boulevard and Sunrise Highway in Massapequa Park.
Right up to the last minute of their weekend stay, they were still talking about the resort business. They toasted the idea and made their way back to the hustle and bustle of the Long Island lifestyle. On Monday, his first day back to the sweet shop and whenever he had a free moment, Harry checked all the newspaper classified ads daily to see if any up-state resorts were for sale. One day in the mid 1950s, he saw a small ad in The New York Times about a place for sale on a lake in Pennsylvania. The ad didn’t identify what lake or town it was near, but listed a local telephone number. Harry decided to call and get further information.
The listing was for a place that no one every heard about. It was a small lake near the little town of Hawley in the Poconos. Mary will never forget overhearing the conversation as Harry asked questions. When she heard the excitement in his voice as he repeated the familiar names: Hawley and Lake Teedyuskung, she knew exactly where the place was. Mary first saw the lake when she was 12 years old. Her family used to visit friends who had a cabin on that lake. She remembered how beautiful the area is and was anxious to return to relive those early years.
When Mary learned the property for sale was the old Lockwood family estate, she could picture the area in her mind. On her many visits to the cabin of their friends, Mary remembered that the waterfront estate had been private and off limits to the public who may be seeking a place to fish or to go swimming. However, she recalls getting glimpses of the buildings from the road and lake while paddling in their friend’s rowboat. Louise and George Lockwood, a wealthy couple from Waverly, PA, had owned the place since 1918. Mary remembered that the talk in the area was that three full-time men took care of the estate grounds in those earlier days.
In April 1958, Harry and Mary became the proud owners of the 12 acres that included 400 feet of lake frontage, a main lodge, annex and two small cottages, all of which only accommodated about 40 guests. The place had been operated as a summer house by Olga and George Swenningsen catering primarily to Scandinavians.
At first the entire Kiesendahl family ran the resort as a part-time venture. Harry had taken a position managing the restaurant at the former Roosevelt Raceway with his brother Joe. Since Harry was gone all week, the brunt of the housekeeping fell on Mary. It wasn’t long before Harry had to give up his job at the track and work full time at Woodlock Pines.
Don and Marge Kranich would come on weekends. Being a mechanic, Don would help out with the maintenance. However, there wasn’t enough to keep him busy, so he worked in the kitchen also. The Kiesendahls relied more and more on their best friends to help run the very busy resort. On Labor Day, 1959, the Kranichs made the decision to become partners.
Expansion was the next step at Woodlock. More property was purchased and contemporary two- and three-story units were built. Indoor and outdoor pools, Jacuzzi, exercise room, racquet ball courts and a world class golf course were all added.
The ideal Pocono Mountain getaway resort continued to be operated by the two families and their children for many years. Eventually, the former Massapequians, Harry and Mary bought out the shares of the Kranich families. Now in 2010, the resort, over 1,000 acres in size, and can accommodate more than 900 guests, continues with the same quality of excellence that began over 50 years ago. If ever you decide to visit Woodlock Pines look for Harry and Marge and tell them you are from Long Island, and Massapequa is still there.