What we value
snowdrops, a winter's worth of lingering mounds of snow melted into the
record books last month, signaling a welcome end to the coldest season
and striking an upbeat
by Ann McKay (Pennsylvania Avenue)
tempo for spring. Now begin the preparations for
Mt. Gretna's 118th summer -- a swirl of events that, even for communities
three or four times our size, would be daunting.
Yet if it
is a burden, it is one we take on willingly. Something stirs deep within
most of us, something that responds to a long-standing tradition of
sharing experiences that lift hearts and elevate the mind. For both
residents and visitors, what kindles such energies is a restless
generosity, an immutable impulse to share the gifts that we ourselves
enjoy. And only rarely do we hear anyone fretting over whether we are
spending more than towns similar in size but vastly dissimilar in scope,
cultural pursuits or quality of life.
here because we choose to be here. Touched by qualities rarely
duplicated, we welcome others to join in a sense of place, in a sheltered
woodland that some say time forgot.
what we value, start with a heritage which springs from the early
traditions of an enlightened Chautauqua movement more than a century ago.
Regardless of where we have chosen to live in Mt. Gretna, we are, all of
us, in the broadest sense "Chautauquans." We understand that
the bracing tonic which fills our days with endeavors that lift the
spirit also enriches our very lives. It is a part of who we are.
people, we often stop to admire the talents of our neighbors, pausing
frequently to appreciate the gifts and professionalism of those in our
midst. Whether artists creating a distinctive glimpse of the world on
canvas, musicians executing a difficult Bach concerto on the Playhouse
stage, or skilled crewmen repairing frozen pipes in the middle of a
February night, they earn our admiration and deserve our applause. That,
in fact, is one reason we'll pay special tribute to the Mt. Gretna
Borough team at an appreciative gathering this month (Sunday, April 18,
from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.) at the fire hall. It will be simply, and
sincerely, a heartfelt affirmation of their competence, dedication,
honesty and reliability -- qualities essential to a community with aims
that stretch further and reach higher than most.
that Jeff and Debora Hurst chose for the entrance to the Campmeeting
heralds the inspiring thought that, though we cannot do everything, we
can all do something to light a brighter path in the world.
sentiment is, of course, by no means exclusive to the Campmeeting.
Indeed, it radiates throughout this community, to every neighborhood from
Stoberdale and the Heights to Timber Bridge. It is a shared value: to
leave this place better than we found it. And given the rich heritage
passed along to us by our predecessors, it is a calling that calls out
for nothing less than our best.
With Phil Dirt and the Dozers Already Sold Out
Delay May be Risky Strategy for Ticket
When it comes to getting Cicada Festival tickets this season,
procrastinators may be out of luck. Finding a seat for the nearly always
sold-out performances is never easy. But this year, the challenge has
Not only are top-rated attractions luring concert-goers fast, but
Festival planners introduced a new website that invited advance ticket
orders before the box office officially opened today (April 1).
Early-order envelopes began piling up sooner than ever this year, and
Cicada's all-volunteer staff has already begun sorting requests according
to postmark dates.
announced that the Phil Dirt and the Dozers Aug. 10 concert is already
sold out, with more ticket orders than the box office can honor.
Coordinator Dick Smith was mulling over the possibility of scheduling an
extra "Dozers" concert Monday night (Aug. 9). He’s not sure he
can do that, but he'd like to hear from those who might be interested;
(send him an email at email@example.com or leave a message on the
Cicada phone at 717-964-3225). He stresses, however, that another
"Dozers" concert is, at the moment, "only a
Ticket prices are low ($11 for each of the six
performances, including the festival's first-ever matinee with The
Grassroots Aug. 12). And here's a tip to help keep them that way next
year: Add a generous contribution when you send in your ticket order.
Click onto the new website, make your choices
and mail to: Cicada Festival, P.O. Box 637, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064. And
remember to include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Every little bit
helps, say volunteers.
It's probably well
that every 100 years or so something happens to remind us that
architectural landmarks can occasionally add not only convenience to our
everyday lives, but also color, richness and a sense of our place in
Early Harpel Postcard
So it was when bricks began tumbling down in the 117-year-old railroad
bridge east of town last January. To prevent injury, Cornwall police temporarily
closed the popular thoroughfare, which Mt. Gretnans often prefer to use
on their northbound journeys into Lebanon rather than the more heavily
traveled Route 72.
It took exactly 52 days to complete repairs as
workers sprayed a coating of mortar inside the structure. Officials
surmised the bricks had been loosene
March 11, 2010
d by varying
temperatures over the years, causing the mortar to contract, expand and
finally start giving way -- threatening passing motorists.
Now a part of the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail, the scenic overpass was once
part of the Cornwall and Lebanon Railroad, which carried passengers and
freight to Mt. Gretna and the Pennsylvania Railroad's Conewago junction
around the turn of the century, says Thomas J. Edkin, a realtor and avid
local historian who supplied the photo at upper left.
Barriers were removed March 11, opening the historic tunnel to local
motorists and restoring convenience, connection and a reassuring link to
a more tranquil era.
Untying the Tax Bureau's Gordian Knot
Officials charged with untangling the chaos resulting from the Lebanon
County Earned Income Tax Bureau's apparent $5.7 million error in
distributing municipal tax revenues from 2004 to 2007
-- including $210,000 to Mt.
-- unveiled their proposed solution last month. In essence, it was a plan
to levy paybacks from allegedly "overpaid" municipalities over
periods ranging from 10 to 20 years.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone agreed with the recommendation. Bill Barlow,
who moved to Mt. Gretna only a few years ago, was among several people
who challenged the claim's accuracy, the Patriot News
Cornwall Mayor Mark Thomas pointed out that the EIT bureau is
"asking us to pay back a ($1.06 million) bill you can't prove and
we're not sure we owe. Let's start from here, get it correct and move
If everyone agrees to drop their claims, "that's fine with us,"
replied tax bureau attorney Howard Kelin. Otherwise, he said, the matter
will likely end up in the courts.
That prospect looms large, according to the Lebanon Daily News,
quoting EIT official Gordon Waldhausen: "We have an obligation to
facilitate a resolution." But that means getting "32 different
entities to sign on the dotted line. If that doesn't happen, a lot of tax
dollars will go outside Lebanon County."
One happy result of a
community filled with artists is that creativity just keeps bubbling up like
a freshly opened bottle of champagne.
Latest to overflow the rim is professional photographer Madelaine Gray,
starting a multi-year poster project depicting the diversity of Mt.
Gretna in all its neighborhoods and starting, naturally enough, in the
Campmeeting, where she herself makes her home when she's not
Mt. Gretna Posters
wandering through the lavender
fields of France.
Madelaine intends to donate 10% of the proceeds to Mt. Gretna's fire
company, currently in the midst of its $400,000 fundraising campaign.
"I want to do a series of posters featuring Campmeeting, Chautauqua,
Timber Hills and the Heights," she says. She hopes to have the
Campmeeting poster ready by Memorial Day. "I have already taken a
number of of photographs in the Campmeeting but I want to take some more.
I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has an interesting feature to
their cottage that I could consider photographing." Contact her at
964-3118 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jerry and Mimi Swayze, frequent
Mt. Gretna visitors each summer (and sometimes in the winter,
too), stopping last month en route to a South Carolina
vacation at Garnett's Cafe, the Richmond, Va. restaurant that Kendra
Feather opened last October.
The owners' proud parents, Joe and Laura Feather of Conewago Hill,
happened to be there as well, with son Curtis and several New Jersey
cousins, all celebrating Kendra's second successful restaurant
launch in Virginia's capital city. "Ipanema Cafe," which she opened in
1998, is Richmond's favorite vegetarian/vegan restaurant.
Garnett's, named for Laura's lively 103-year-old mother (Garnett Kiki
Beckman), who until just a few years ago was still climbing the Grand
Canyon, is winning high praise from Richmond reviewers. Said one: "A
simple, whimsical lunch, a good sandwich, a slice of chocolate cake with
boiled icing, an experience reminiscent of a visit to grandma's -- more
than a meal is offered here. Nostalgia is for sale. The experience of
being fed on simple food, by someone who cares, is what Garnett's serves
Darting to and fro between Manhattan and Mt. Gretna (wh
design director and friend Lizzie.
ere she and adventure writer* Bill Gifford are
preparing to move into their newly acquired Muhlenberg Avenue residence
that was formerly the home of the late historian and aerospace engineer
Jack Bitner), Elizabeth Hummer may have trouble squeezing enough time
into her schedule to accept the latest accolade bestowed by her alma mater.
Elizabeth, design director at Harper's Bazaar magazine, will
receive Penn State University's 2010 Alumni Award from the Department of
Integrative Arts and Graphic Design Program this month.
As for plans at their historic home in Mt.
Gretna, Elizabeth is excited, but acknowledges, "We have our work
cut out for us."
She says that Jack once mentioned the house was designed on the back of a
napkin by the famous architect Stanford White. "It was probably
linen," says Elizabeth. She'd like to hear from anyone who can
provide additional details on the napkin-spawned design.
Gifford's latest review,
of John D'Agata's "About a Mountain," the account of "a
colossally bad idea" to bury nuclear waste deep inside Yucca
Mountain in the Nevada desert, appeared in last Sunday's Washington
Marriage made. . . well, if not
in Heaven or Gretna Green, the next best place. Mt. Gretna's
newest newlyweds took their vows here Feb. 22, setting in motion the
possibility of a new epicenter for chess enthusiasts.
Entering into matrimony were Gail Babic and John Dempsey. Names sound
familiar? She is the painter and former art teacher who moved to a
Campmeeting cottage a few years ago from St. Cr
Mt. Gretna, "checkmate" means "happy surrender"
oix. He is the former captain of Scotland's
Olympic chess team who gave chess lessons here last summer at the Hall of
Philosophy. And, oh yes, she formerly played chess for the U.S. Virgin
Islands Olympic chess team. Therein lies a tale of entwined interests
leading to his visit here last summer, which led ultimately to a proposal
So is Mt. Gretna, their new permanent home, likely to become a major
chess capital? It's a good bet. Both are world-class competitors. And
they'll likely have a series of class offerings for beginners of all ages
this summer, not to mention instruction for both intermediate and
tournament-level players. Like to know more about opportunities to learn
the game? Drop John a note at JohnDempsey323@live.com or call 717-450-5115. Photo: Madelaine
9 Seats left on that bus headed to New York City
April 24. That's because Rhoda Long, who is sponsoring the trip to raise money for
Mt. Gretna's fire company, suddenly discovered she can switch to a
55-passenger bus from the almost-filled 48-passenger version she booked
initially. "The more, the merrier," she says.
Leaving Mt. Gretna at 7:30 a.m., the bus departs New York City at 7:30
p.m. in a "day-on-your-own, do-what-you-want" spring break that
Rhoda figures is "just what everyone needs after a winter like
this." Give her a call (717-304-0248) or click here to send her an email.
official tally for the number of deer harvested at Governor Dick Park in
a special four-day hunt last December. That unexpectedly low number
surprised officials. Last spring, tracking surveys had estimated the population at 32
deer per square mile, up from a 10-per-square-mile finding revealed by
similar studies two years ago.
Since the first Governor Dick Park hunt was authorized in 2005, hunters
have reported a total of 94 deer taken during three limited hunts
sanctioned by a Lebanon County court ruling. The court overturned a ban
on hunting in the 1,105-acre park specified in the will of land donor
Park officials are now installing special fencing to protect 15,000
seedlings being planted in areas where trees were decimated by gypsy
moths. Board member Chuck Allwein, a former biology teacher, cautioned
that "people are going to see bare spots" after spraying
operations are completed this spring to control invasive species such as
Alanthus (Tree of Heaven) and Mile-a-Minute plants. If left unchallenged,
he says, those invasives threaten to "take over the mountain."
Photo: Head Gear LLC
360 Easter eggs that coloring specialists
like Carson Brooks, 5, prepared last week before the annual egg hunt sponsored by Mt.
Gretna United Methodist Church.
About 45 youngsters turned out for the sunny, if chilly, Saturday
on March 27, starting promptly at 11:00 a.m. Within five minutes, the
keen-eyed hunters had spotted and scooped up all 30 dozen eggs, plus some
plastic ones that volunteer Ron Jones annually stuffs with candy and tiny
slips of paper announcing a prize for the lucky finders. Dale Grundon photo.
80,000 That's how many $5 subs
it would take to hit the fire company's $400,000 goal in their current
OK, so they won't quite make it to the top this
Saturday, no matter how many turkey, ham or roast beef subs they'll sell.
But that doesn't mean our determined fire department volunteers won't be
out there trying. Look for 'em outside the post office April 3, from
10:00 a.m. until noon (where you can also buy raffle tickets on Madelaine
Gray's newest Mt. Gretna photograph; see "Magic at a Miniature Golf
Course," below.) Then sign up for as many sandwiches as you can,
and maybe toss in an extra buck or two for the cause. (It'll make you
feel good!) Your subs will be ready for pickup April 14 at the fire hall
-- so mark the date: You won't have to fix dinner that night!
2nd Annual "Steps to Survival Walk"
coming up in Mt. Gretna May 22 to benefit Lebanon Valley's Rails to Trails group and the Sexual
Assault Resource & Counseling Center.
Register by May 1 ($20, payable to SARCC; tax deductible) and get a free
T-shirt: Madelaine Gray, P. O. Box 219, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064. Details:
Call (964-3118) or email Madelaine.
Coming in August
An Organist with Style, Talent. . . and
A New York Times reviewer says he pushes "the boundaries of
& Swarovski crystals, too
chnique to breathtaking heights."
Following his concerts in Russia last year, audiences in Moscow's
Tchaikovsky Hall demanded eight encores -- and 12 in St. Petersburg's
The Philadelphia Inquirer's music critic says Cameron Carpenter --
who this summer will be the first organ soloist ever to appear on the Mt.
Gretna Playhouse stage -- "cultivates an avenging angel image at the
here to see
him in performance.)
And Peter Hewitt -- the Mt. Gretna organ impresario who worked with
Gretna Music to arrange his Aug. 5 performance as an extension of the
regular July organ series -- says that getting Carpenter here, amid a
summer already packed with bookings in Switzerland, Russia, France,
California and New York City, is "quite a coup."
The flamboyant soloist, acclaimed as a worthy successor to famed organist
Virgil Fox, will appear through a grant made by a Mt. Gretna resident. It
will be Carpenter's first tour with a custom-built traveling organ he
calls Excalibur. Tickets are now on sale online.
At this year's summer programs
Choices, choices. Have we got choices.
What might make a fascinating study for college interns sometime is a
survey of people who live in Mt. Gretna but miss out on opportunities to
take advantage of summer programs unfolding right at their front doors.
This year there's something to tempt even the most reluctant hold
Campmeeting soda parlor around 1946, when milkshakes were a dime and
ice cream cones 5 cents each. Ed Landis (seated at counter, facing the
server in apron) recalls once eating a full pint of ice cream there in
one sitting. "At 20 cents a pint, that was a fortune," he
says. The soda parlor and an adjacent store, operated by Barbara
Acker's grandfather William Harbach, were located in the building later
converted into Mt. Gretna's United Methodist Church. At right, behind
counter: Barb's mother, Katherine Ulrich, serving Bill and Alan Schick,
whose parents lived in Lancaster and owned a cottage on 3d Street.
outs. From another University for a Day program
July 10 to the Hall of Philosophy's centennial celebration July 16, plus
a program on what it was like growing up in Mt. Gretna during the 20s,
30s and 40s; a Planet Earth and Art History series based on Discovery
Channel programs; popular entertainer Steve Courtney and the Sunday mini
concert series on the steps of the Hall of Philosophy.
Opportunities to learn line dancing, pottery-making, ornamental
Fraktur, and jewelry-making with wire wrapping have also been injected
into the 2010 offerings -- all part of a rich Mt. Gretna tradition of
sharing, learning and exploring.
So with 138 different choices on the menu between Memorial Day and Labor
Day, there's a good chance that nobody will be bored.
What evokes magic at a
miniature golf course? In the case of this photograph -- being raffled
as part of the fire company's "burn the mortgage" campaign --
what inspired this mystical scene were childhood memories of a Manhattan
resident, whose grandparents brought him to Mt. Gretna.
Last summer, he commissioned photographer Madelaine Gray to recapture
some of those memories in six scenes. After she sent him multiple
choices, including this one of the miniature golf course stand at twilig
"If it hadn't been for
that commission, I probably never would have thought of doing this
scene," says Madelaine Gray. The framed 16 x 20 print will be
raffled this month to benefit the fire company.
ht, he wound up buying 11 pictures.
"I had to really work on getting this one right, with just the right
light and few people in the background," says Madelaine. "If it
hadn't been for that commission, I probably never would have thought of
doing this scene."
Normally, says Madelaine, she doesn't go out looking for anything in
particular, sometimes bypassing subjects she had never before thought of
as a photograph. "It's an interesting process. I just start walking
around, letting my consciousness guide me so I find something
unexpected." This framed 16 x 20 photograph is one of two she
donates annually to fire company's $400,000 campaign.
At this month's raffle, 50 tickets will be offered at $5 each, starting
Saturday (April 3) outside the post office at the sub sale (see
Mt. Gretnan Sue
Pera, who runs the award-winning Cornerstone Coffeehouse in Camp Hill with husband and
business partner Al, tells what she's learned about
running a successful enterprise in a video interview with the Central
Pennsylvania series, "Learn From Our
Sue and Al return frequently to Mt. Gretna, visiting her parents, Earl
and Nancy Besch, and volunteering at the art show each summer. Their
popular cafe is a perennial winner in readers' choice contests sponsored
by regional magazines including Central Pennsylvania and Harrisburg
Mathias Harms got
off to a good start last month, helping "Pop" Bill Kleinfelter
tackle the leaves outside his cottage on Pennsylvania Avenue.
"Grammy" Barb Kleinfelter, who grabbed a camera and sent this
photo, reports however that once indoors, both of the busy rakers soon
took a mid-morning nap.
Yet even with occasional breaks for a snooze, getting a jump on
spring cleanup is probably a good idea. Mt. Gretna Borough will conduct
leaf pickups only once this spring, starting May 10 on Chautauqua Drive
and continuing up the mountain.
Officials ask residents to rake leaves to the curbside, separate leaves
from brush, and keep streets open. They'll collect brush (including tree
limbs up to 3 inches in diameter) on May 3 and June 7. Questions? Call
the Borough office: 964-3270.
In the Campmeeting, supervisor Merv Lentz says no specific dates are set
for spring clean-up. "Many residents have their roofs and yards
cleaned and then place leaves and branches 'curbside.' This method seems
to work best for us. As things appear, we collect them," says Merv.
No word yet on pickup schedules for Mt. Gretna Heights and Stoberdale
residents. Leaf pickup services are unavailable for those in Timber
Hills, Conewago Hill or Timber Bridge.
Free Plants for your
Brown's third annual "native plant dig and exchange day" comes up April 24. The
retired educator (named Lebanon County's 2009 "Conservationist of
the Year") invites you to dig up native plants overflowing the
garden at his 980 Mine Road home. Come with your own tools at 9:00 a.m.
or 1:00 p.m. so he can show you where to dig. He sets an "exchange
table" for visitors bringing plants to share with others.
Details: 964-3006, or click here to drop him an email note.
What's up as Governor
Dick Park stirs
into spring? Plenty.
 First, a fast-paced fitness hike, geared to raise your heart rate,
April 3 at 9:00 a.m. Wear proper footwear; hiking poles are optional in
this morning workout.
first of four "Progressive Walks" starts April 10 at 10:00 a.m.
Walk on wooded trails to see how the forest unfolds week to week.
 April 11, Dick Brown (see above item) presents a
program at 2:00 p.m. on how to use native plants in your backyard garden
or a small meadow.
 Earth Day celebrations April 18: At 1:00 p.m.,
"Element-ary!" a family-oriented workshop about our connection
to the earth; 2:00 p.m., Progressive Walk No. 2 to continue watching
changes seen along the trails; 2:45 p.m., "Get to know the
earth," free play time digging in the dirt, building something with
sticks and turning over rocks to look for little creatures -- at a spot
designated for this activity.
Questions? Email email@example.com, call 964-3808, or check the online calendar.
What Dale Dourte
started last summer is blooming this spring at La Cigale design center along Route 117.
Strains of bluegrass, rich and pure, emanate from the hall on Monday nights, drawing
ever-increasing numbers of musicians and aficionados into the lair
entrepreneur John Mitchell has created amid acres of French Provencial
linens, napkins and other table art.
The musical olla-podrida attracts an audience diverse in their
artistic tastes but unified in their appreciation of live music flowing
as much from the hearts as the instruments themselves. (Sample
what you're missing with these YouTube videos.)
Tracy Fellin, the engaging Milton Hershey
School publicist who drops into town occasionally to visit her dad,
Chautauquan Scott Zellers, was bubbling over the other day about the
upcoming "18,000 Voices," a rollicking Barry Kornhauser
original musical celebrating the school's centennial year, blending
experiences of generations of MHS students with familiar tunes from the
past 100 years. Performances begin at 7:00 p.m. May 6 and 8 at Founders
Hall on the school's campus. No tickets required.
A Sunrise Worship
Service at Soldiers Field begins the traditional Easter observances for
Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church April 4, at 7:00 a.m.
Regular Sunday services, with music by the church choir, will be held at
8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Everyone is welcome.
S.P.L.A.T! It's how to add the touch of
magic to an otherwise dull Sunday afternoon, say Lucy Kosoff, Chase and
Logan Balmer and Luke Royer. They are among a group of about
a dozen youngsters taking part in the Mt. Gretna Arts Council's first
foray into a program called "Spirited People Learning Artfulness
Together." (Everyone agrees: S.P.L.A.T.! is much easier to
Jessica Kosoff is coordinating the effort, a cooperative venture with a Palmyra-based
group that offers arts instruction for four- to 10-year-olds at the fire
hall in five sessions that continue through May 16.
Will there be similar programs in the future?
That's a distinct possibility. "It's a good wintertime
activity," says Jessica. If you'd like to know more about this or
other Arts Council ventures, drop her a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Printing tip: If you have trouble printing
copies of this newsletter, click here for the latest issue. (Keith
Volker usually has it posted on the Web within a few hours immediately
before or after the email version is dispatched.) Once you've opened the
current online version, just press the "print" command on your
Photos not visible?
Some readers solve that problem by right-clicking on the picture space
and then selecting "Show Picture."
Another way to see the photos is to go to our Website: http://mtgretna.com/news and click on the current
Constant Contact, the commercial service that distributes this
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Look at the top of the Newsletter for a button that may say something
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That's AOL's wording, but different email services use slightly different terminology. Yet their meaning is the same. If
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If you use an email service other than AOL and are still having problems,
drop us a note. We'll forward Constant Contact's specific recommendations
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Speaking of photos: If you
have digital pictures of Mt. Gretna scenes, events or people likely to
interest others, please email them to us at email@example.com.
(That's what Mark Flannery of Wyomissing, Pa. did following a recent trip
here to check on his summer cottage. No, seeing a Jigger mirage won't
hasten summer's arrival, but at least it's a pleasant thought when one is
sampling the last taste of winter -- we hope!)
Whenever possible, we'll use the photos our readers send us -- with
appropriate credit. Thanks so much for your help.