Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Memories of Deer Park Lodge with Rita Anderson
Rita Anderson worked at Deer Park Lodge on Spider Lake as a summer employee from 1956-1960. At the time of her employment, Ben and Ruth Epstein were the owners.
Rita's very first job at Deer Park was cleaning cabins. She did that for two weeks before moving to a more enjoyable job as a lobby girl. Lobby girl duties included cleaning the lobby, bathrooms, bar room, and cocktail lounge.
Another job that Rita had was play school manager. Taking care of the kids was fun work. The children ate before the other guests so they had the dining room to themselves, giving the parents time to enjoy their lunches and dinners. After lunch, Rita had all afternoon off. At 5pm she returned to help the kids with dinner and stayed with them until 7pm.
In the evening, staff members had the option of babysitting if parents wanted to go out. The adults enjoyed going to a traveling orchestra. This orchestra visited one other resort, and a professional dancing couple gave dance lessons to the guests and put on an evening performance.
Rita also had a waitress job at Deer Park Lodge. Her wage was $60/month, plus room, board and tips. Waitresses would have the same families/tables to wait on each day for however long the family stayed. Each waitress had six tables and a bus boy was shared with another waitress. The kitchen staff had off every other Sunday afternoon.
Rita enjoyed working with the kitchen help. The main workers in the kitchen were the chef, first cook, fry cook and salad man. Rita remembers the salad man, John Now. He was very talented and would sculpt ice and food for the lodge's guests. But he was also sort of a mystery man - he never left the lodge.
Another worker Rita remembers as a mystery was the laundry man. Rumor had it that he had served time in Alcatraz, and he was a bit strange!
Rita really enjoyed the group she worked with, and many of them returned each summer. The kids could go to the rec hall for entertainment, and Mr. Epstein also gave them a lodge car o Sundays to go to church.
The girls/women lived in the upstairs of a large building on the property. It had one big room plus a separate bathroom with shower. The boys/men occupied the downstairs, where there were separate rooms.
Ben Epstein was a good boss. He was also very watchful of the lodge. At night he slept in a screened-in porch near the road so he could hear anyone coming or going. Before the lodge opened for the summer, Ben would open up for conventions, such as A.O. Smith and a doctors' group, to name two. Most of his guests were Jewish. Ben and Ruth Epstein had three children: two boys, Frank and Steve, and one girl, Marilyn. Rita, Frank and another friend, Susie, would go water skiing together on some afternoons. The five years at Deer Park Lodge were fun and memorable for Rita.