by Mary L. Hawkins

For 54 years, Pine Acres on Lower Cullen Lake has been our family¹s
second home. In June, 1948 my husband, Ernest W. Keisling, and I,
with three children, Bill (11), Jacqueline (7) and Teresa (6 months),
purchased Pine Acres Resort from Otto and Ruby Bosch and moved
in the week of July 4th. Otto managed a hotel in Illinois, while Ruby
ran the resort with a lodge and seven cabins. Ruby, a.k.a. ³The
Chicago Blonde², had vacationers who fished little but enjoyed the
night life she provided in the lodge. Having a family, it was quite a
job to honor her reservations and we soon informed the Brainerd,
Nisswa and Pequot Lakes Chambers that we wanted families as our
Through the years, we had nice friendly families and our children
made a point of making friends and planning activities with them,
whether they particularly liked them or not, because I told them their
hospitality was their ³bread and butter². We took movies of everyone
and then showed them when the guests returned the following year.
The children did a lot of work at the resort. Bill cleaned boats,
collected and delivered wood, took the ice to the ice boxes in the
cabins, dug and sold worms to the fishermen, cleaned their fish, and
also served as a fishing guide. Jackie helped with the boat cleaning,
cabin cleaning, ran the linens through the Mangle for pressing, took
over the worm patch and fish cleaning when Bill got older, and sold
groceries, pop, and ice cream in the store. As soon as Teri turned
four years old, it was her job to listen for my whistle, then bring the
cart to the cabin, pick up the bed linen, rugs, etc., take them to the
laundry house and sort them for Monday¹s wash.
We were told that a colonel bought the property in the late 1920s and
built a lodge and four cabins. They served meals in the lodge, which
had a beautiful fireplace made from the large stones gathered on the
shore of Lower Cullen Lake.
Mary Brockhouse owned the resort in the 1930s, added three more
cabins and served meals. This was substantiated, by mistake, as I
was scrubbing the lodge floor and accidentally snagged a corner of a
panel which opened up under the stairs and there I discovered a
large set of dishes, a six slice toaster, large iron frying pans and pots,
and checkered tablecloths. We were also told that Indians and
traders dealt with furs at the highest point of the land called ³High
Point² where there were stone tables and benches.

We had many activities at the resort, such as ³Get Acquainted Night²
for the adults, movie night with popcorn and pop for children and
interested adults, midnight swimming for teenagers, with sloppy joes
and hot chocolate in front of the fireplace, trips for the ladies to gift
shops around Gull Lake that served tea and held style shows,
besides the beautiful gardens we enjoyed. My husband, Ernie, had a
serious heart problem and in 1959, we hired a school teacher and
family to manage the resort, but soon learned they were vacationers
and not managers. Business fell off with many complaints from our
regular families.
In 1960, Ernie and Teri took over the resort and, having a job in
Minneapolis, I drove up each weekend to help clean and do
laundry. By September, 1960, that was enough; so we asked Martin
Johnson, a realtor in Nisswa, to have the lots surveyed (the cabins all
face the lake) and sell them individually, rather than as a resort. He
didn¹t believe this was a good idea, but started advertising. Torrance
and Emily Bergstrom purchased the first cabin in October of
1960. Bert Beaver and his son, Tom, bought two cabins (#3 and #4)
in October 1961, and Jackie and her husband, Dick, purchased small
cabin #6. The remaining cabins, except for a small cabin (#5) to the
east of the lodge, were all sold by 1966. Teri and I drove up
weekends to join Ernie in the remodeled cabin #5. Ernie¹s brother,
Lenny, had purchased the lodge and many of the Keislings were
coming up for the July 4, 1965, weekend. While Ernie was mowing
Lenny¹s lawn for the weekend, he suffered a heart attack. The
Bergstroms, coming home from town, saw him and called 911. Lil
Beaver administered first aid to him until the ambulance arrived, but
he was pronounced dead on arrival at the Brainerd hospital.
In 1967, cabin #5 was sold to Les and Bernice Loomer. At that time, I
purchased 60 feet of lakeshore from Lenny, between the lodge and
the first cabin. After Fritz Hawkins and I married in 1968, we hired a
contractor who found an old time carpenter at $5 an hour, a plumber,
and an electrician to build a two bedroom cabin on the lot. Fritz and a
son-in-law, Clayton Woelfel, did the finishing work and we officially
moved in 1971.
Bill and Lorraine, who live in Arizona, and Jackie and family, who live
in Montana, enjoy the cabin every year. Teri, who lives in Maple
Grove, uses the cabin whenever possible throughout the
season. Now, all three own their second home with me, since Fritz
suffered a major stroke and passed away on August 29, 2000.
There have been many changes since 1948: modernizing the
cottages; improvements in Nisswa and Pequot Lakes; more
restaurants; Bar Harbor moving to the other side of the road (without
slot machines); condos at Breezy Point; additional golf courses; the
dance hall across Lower Cullen Lake is now the Nisswa Legion Club;
wider highways; larger boats and pontoons; and the main lodge
demolished for a new year round home