Nostalgia Rings at Bell's Resort Bar and Grill
A melting sunset drips pallets of color onto a mirrored lake, cuing a chorus of crickets, then a fleet of firefly lanterns. Darkness lingers in the still of a mid-summer night. Hours pass until a dewy twilight emerges and a hopeful angler guides the saw of a 10-horse motor, cutting into a foggy calm, headed to the Big Lake just before sunup.
Star Lake life: Unchanged.
It's the quiet beauty of Star Lake's North Arm that romanced Ernie and Luella Pederson back in 1945. Ernie worked at Dent’s Wilcox Lumber yard before he opened a hardware store in town. For him, the means and connections were ripe when it came time to build a resort campus on lakeside land for the new family business.
Ted Hahn dug the basement with a horse and a scoop for what would become a discreet beer pub. He used earth from the steep incline to fill the swampy bog below. With hard work and craftsmanship, one-by-one buildings emerged - a garage, a storage shed, a dock house, a bunkhouse, 11 "modern" cabins and the all-important fish-cleaning house where Pederson offspring filleted fish for guests. The Pederson family of six resided in the modest three-bedroom house built over the pub. The kitchen accommodated Luella for the three-squares daily she served to Galaxy Resort guests. Luella would ring a large bell affixed to the side of the home, a bell that echoed across the bay and beyond - the signal of mealtime.
Retreating from lake play or rising from vacation naps, guests would shuffle up to the large dining area just off the family's kitchen to crack bread with fellow cabin folk. In winter, when Ernie's Resort went dormant, the dining room transformed into the Pederson living room with furniture hauled from a cabin. Eventually, it came time for the Pedersons to add onto the Pub - a long wing that would become Ernie's Resort lakeside restaurant.
Come 1966 upon the passing of both Luella and Ernie, the Pederson family surrendered their beloved resort to what would become a respectable lineage of Ernie's-turned-Bell's Resort owners. Through and through, the camp mealtime tradition continued.
Following the Wicklands, Bornemeiers, Swanns, Gumphreys, and Binas, the Bell family took over operations in 2018. Save for the destruction of cabin 10 near the lake, the resort had remained mostly the same from Ernie and Luella's original vision.
JoAnn Bina quickly fell into her multi-faceted role - "from cook to bottle washer." Kitchen functions, inventory, cabin reservations and the resort's overall welcome wagon all came under her charge. Ron Bina, or "Jack of All Trades," assumed everything from plumbing, electrician work and bartending, to accounting and grounds maintenance. Even so, he always found time for a water-ski pull around the bay. Ernie's eldest son Bruce Pederson grew integral to Galaxy operations for more than two decades, fulfilling the duties of boats inspector, dock serviceman and head groundskeeper.
In winter, hills embracing the restaurant became ideal for sledding, and the swimming area became an ice-skating rink cleared by Ron and his trusty tractor, the one he endearingly called "Mrs. Ferguson." Mrs. Ferguson would later haul sand to the beach along Galaxy's shore. The dock house was relocated to free up a commanding Star Lake view for Galaxy's diners.
Now Broasted Chicken and the view summon those diners like the bygone ring of Luella's bell. A nostalgic ornament on the side of the restaurant, it still rings, a reminder of Galaxy history and tradition.
With each passing year, the Bina family grows more fond of this place, a Star Lake gathering spot where others make the endeavor possible - through camaraderie and loyalty, good times and, certainly, hearty appetites.