Mary’s Snack Shack is running again.
It opened last weekend at Ding’s Dock Landing off of Parfreyville Road.
That is where the Ding’s Dock Crystal River canoe trip ends.
Mary’s Snack Shack is named for the late Mary Moser, who ran the shack for Bill and Maria Belke for several years until being diagnosed with breast cancer.
In July 2008, Maria Belke asked Moser’s family to bring her to the landing.
“They didn’t tell her why,” said Moser’s daughter Kris Sroka. “They had named it Mary’s Snack Shack.”
Mary Moser’s eyes filled with tears, she recalled.
The next month, she passed away.
Now, four years later, Sroka is being joined by daughters Hannah and Jessica in running the snack shack.
Several weeks ago, Sroka sent Maria Belke a message on Facebook, asking if they had anyone to run the snack shack, explaining that she and her daughters would like to help.
The Belkes are the owners of the Ding’s Dock Crystal River canoe trip, and on June 25, Bill Belke called Sroka and said, “I’d like to have it (the snack shack) up and running by Friday.”
Sroka and her daughter Hannah chose which snacks and sodas to sell.
“It’s a great learning opportunity for her,” Sroka said. “She already has learned how to price things, created an inventory sheet and made posters.”
On Friday, June 29, they were ready to go.
The family first became involved in the canoe trip when Sroka’s father, Chuck Moser, began driving a bus for Ding’s Dock.
The Mosers built a house by Emmons Creek in 1990, which was 10 years after his retirement from Allis Chambers in West Allis.
The family had always camped at Hartmann Creek State Park.
Chuck Moser had also driven school bus in Menomonee Falls, and during a conversation with Maria Belke, learned that Ding’s Dock was in need of a bus driver for its canoe trips.
“I said I was interested, depending on what was involved,” he said. “I got to be the oldest driver they ever had.”
He began driving bus for them around 1995, deciding to stop about five years ago after having his third stroke.
One of the buses is named after him.
It’s called Chuckles.
He remembers joining Bill Belke in his negotiations with Big Top to buy the snack shack, and Sroka’s daughter Jessica remembers helping her grandmother in the stand. Sometimes, they played card games.
Sroka says they will be working the stand daily through the summer – except when it rains.
“I call Bill around 10 a.m. to check how many canoes are going out. We will be here by noon and be here until the last group comes in,” she said.
During her down time, she will plan her lessons for the upcoming school year. Sroka teaches fifth grade at Fremont Elementary School.
Being part of the canoe trip brings back memories for her.
“I went on these trips back when I was 7, 8 years old,” she said. “Mom and Dad sat on the bridge and watched for us.”