Down “Memory Lane” – Woodloch’s Early Days

In a recent issue of WLP Family Magazine, we decided to share the “throwback” photo to the left with our guests as a fun way to celebrate our 60th Anniversary. Little did we know, some of our original staff would cross paths with the magazine!

Doris, one of our first employees, recognized the photo and gave us a call- we were happy to invite her back for a visit! She sat down with us, along with her friend and co-worker Gretchen, and chatted about “the good ole days.”

“I first met Harry Kiesendahl when I worked in his Heintze Townhouse in Huntington, Long Island. I was a waitress there. I waited tables; sometimes I helped to make the sodas or the food. Harry said ‘to have a smile and be welcoming to the guests.’ One day, I was standing talking with the person who made the sandwiches and the grill lady, Sally. I was just chatting and talking, and Harry said, ‘You know I am paying you to be here, and I’d rather not see you standing and talking. There’s always work to be done. The straws need filling. Mustards need wiping. Ketchups need filling.’ That set an example for you about what his expectations were!

One day, Harry told me that he was thinking about how he was going to buy a place in the Poconos, and he would like me to come work for him once he got the lay of the land. The second year of operation he asked me to come up, and he said I could bring a friend if I wanted to, which I did. I brought a sorority sister. The two of us worked that year, and it was very different than what it looks like today. We washed all the dishes by hand; there was no dishwasher. But it was a wonderful place to work. Harry had big expecations for his staff with work, yet he was exceptionally kind and generous with his time for us. He taught us to water ski. He wanted us to learn a new sport and have fun at the lake, and that’s where we spent our time.

The following year, Harry said, ‘you know, we probably need more people waiting the tables.’ So my other sorority sisters came, including my friend Gretchen. There were a total of nine girls altogether that I brought to Woodloch.”

Gretchen & Doris

“But it wasn’t all work. We had so much fun. Sunday nights were particularly fun because Harry served us drinks. There was such camaraderie with the staff in the kitchen, and Mary was a large part of the camaraderie with her ever-present smile and concern for us. Everybody was just so congenial, so generous with their time. We all respected their need for us to be on time and to serve their guests.

I remember sharing Wooodloch with our boyfriends who came up on weekends and also had a chance to do dishes! It was shared work, and then we could go out. From here, we went to the Cuckoo’s Nest, which featured fiddlers playing on Friday night with square dancing!

One memory I think about is when I was learning to water ski. I think everybody learned to water ski. And Harry was so careful about helping us do the right thing, to get up on skis. Eventually Joy and Ben (co-workers) and I did “doubles,” and we were part of the water show. And so we skied criss-cross and inside-out. I was the one who went under the ropes. This one time, the rope wasn’t held quite high enough to the right. I zoomed in, then zoomed out. It was just too close to my head! And I wasn’t going to do that again. But I loved the thrill of it.”

“When I think back to that time, mostly there are people memories. I think about Mary’s kindness, Harry’s great laugh and a wonderful sense of humor. And he was very proud of us. And he let other people know that he was proud of us and that was just very affirming. I think you don’t have that unless you have clearly laid expectations of what is expected of you so that you can work within that framework. It was just a wonderful place to be. There was appreciation for the work done, and it was just so beautiful. Walking around now and seeing how Woodloch has expanded and changed, it is obvious that the spirit of what we were is very much alive and well!”