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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Mt. Gretna, Pa. . . .'Not a place, but a spirit."
  -- Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)

                       No. 107                                                                           June 1, 2010


An insiders' guide to the newest, the favorites & the sleepers:
Mt. Gretna's Top 15
"Don't Miss" Events for Summer 

If Mt. Gretna has a problem, it surely is not the lack of things to do in the summertime. 

Summed up in the 58-page Summer Calendar just published are 575 events that unfurl from Memorial Day to Labor Day. On most days, the question is not whether there's anything to do but, rather, which things to pick. For busy Mt

The Art Show tops nearly everyone's list

. Gretnans, the dizzying array of choices right outside their front doors often poses a formidable challenge.

Outsiders have an easier time of it. Every year, perhaps 168,000 of them come into town with a laser-like focus -- for a day, a week or a month -- to see plays, take in concerts, dive into the lake or, alternatively, into an ice cream sundae.

Yet we who live here may sometimes share an affliction with, say,  New Yorkers who never glimpse the view from the top of the Empire State Building. Or Washingtonians who rarely make it to the Tidal Basin at Cherry Blossom time. Indeed, at the Playhouse on some nights, Mt. Gretnans constitute only about 5% of the audience, a fact that surprises many.

One solution may be nothing more than to start the summer with a slate of things that we really want to do. 

It is in that spirit that we offer the Mt. Gretna Newsletter's 2010 "summer musts."  It's not necessarily better than anyone else's "musts," but it has merits that include the wisdom of crowds and a dash or two of insider tips.

What follows are the happenings most frequently cited by 30 or so Mt. Gretna veterans who -- in telephone, e-mail and while-walking-the-dog interviews -- offered their ideas of what to see, do, and plunge into this summer.  It may not be perfect, but who knows? Starting out the summer with a plan may, at the very least, produce more happy memories (and fewer "I meant to see" regrets) by the time Labor Day rolls around.

1. Mt. Gretna Art Show (Our panel's top tips: Sample the food court fare, pick a straw bale to catch entertainers like the Carmitchell Sisters on Sunday afternoon; stroll down Pennsylvania and Chautauqua avenues to view exhibits, then work your way into the park so you catch them all.)
2. "Nunsense" (Top tips: "If you never see another "Nunsense," this is the one to see," with its New York cast and original playwright directing S

Sally leads a New York cast

ally Struthers. But if you must miss this one, at least plan to catch "Peter Pan," "Mame" or "Will Rogers.")
3. Elisabeth von Trapp Aug. 29 (Guaranteed to pack the house on this, the abernacle's only 2010 ticketed performance. Other Tabernacle picks: "Silver, Wood and Ivory" July 28 and Susquehanna Chorale, Aug. 15.)
4. Phil Dirt and the Dozers: Already sold out. (Act now to grab matinee or evening tickets for The Grassroots with Rob Gill, Aug. 12 or Billy Price's evening concert Aug 11.)
5. Grand Illumination of the Cottages (inset, right) Aug. 21. Reviving a Campm

Campmeeting Grand Illumination Night Madelaine Gray photo

eeting end-of-season tradition, residents will light up their porches and windows as passersby stroll through the historic grounds. No admission charge.
6. House and Garden Tour Aug. 7. Mt. Gretna cottage and home owners graciously open their homes to benefit Gretna Music in this annual favorite.
7. Pastimes, the a cappella Doo Wop group opens this year's Heritage Festival June 19. The festival's sleeper? Could be the Lebanon Community Band's July 3 patriotic concert.
8. Capitol Steps, coming to the Playhouse Aug. 26 with a Surgeon General's warning: "The Capitol Steps will cause your sides to split."
9. Baltimore Classical Players Aug. 15. A big, costly-to-produce concert "unlikely to be heard here again for at least a decade" (featuring a Beethoven septet and Schubert octet on the same night). Also add to this year's "musts": Sultry vocallist Hilary Kole and trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, Aug. 14.
10. Day at the lake ("Try it," says man-about-town Tom Mayer. "It's lik

Bluegrass at La Cigale

e a day at the beach without the three-hour drive.")
11. Tuesday morning book reviews -- Hall of Philosophy, starting June 22.
12. French Country Market, 9:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. (Saturdays) and Mrs. Hernley's flower stand (Fridays and Saturdays, for over 40 years).
13. Monday night Bluegrass sessions, where talented pros and earnest amateurs assemble for their own enjoyment -- and yours -- at La Cigale, next to miniature golf course.
14. Chautauqua University for a Day July 10. Like going back to class -- but with no exams.

Timbers' mixologist Kate Dolan takes center stage

15. Closing Night at the Timbers, (inset, left) Sept. 4. (Insider's tip: Reserve your spot now!)
And for kids: Peter Pan (alternates: Visits to the Fairy Garden in Chautauqua Park; Teddy Bear picnics at Governor Dick Park, plus bug hunts and other kids programs; Gretna Gala Idol Competition June 19; Theater for Young Audiences, on five Saturdays in July; and Steve Courtney at Tabernacle Aug. 7.)

Jigger Shop: It shows up on just about everybody's list, every year; an iconic Mt. Gretna ice cream legend that ranks among the nation's best.
Chautauqua Summer Crafts classes: Learn to make everything from a broom to a basket or a stained glass lamp.
Monday night foodie classes at the Hall of Philosophy: milk, mozzarella and more!
Breakfast on the porch at Le Sorelle Café (Tues-Sun. thru Labor Day)
Wednesday night movies at the Hall of Philosophy. (This year, a Cary Grant festival starting July 7)

Thursday organ recitals in July at the Hewitt-McAnney residence, Princeton Ave.

Tennis matches (watch top local talent, enjoy the food: especially those barbecue and meatloaf sandwiches), July 24-31.

In summer, even rainy afternoons can be fun.


Handbell Festival at the Tabernacle, July 31
Book and magazine exchange at the Library

Sunday morning interdenominational services; guest musicians include the Eaken Trio and a Susquehanna Chorale quartet.
Rainy days on the porch with a good book (Or "a true Mt. Gretna thunderstorm when you lose power.")
Rail Trail hikes with a lunch stop at Colebrook Tavern
Collecting berries on the Horseshoe Trail
Music Under the Stars - Mt. Gretna's only dance event, Aug. 28.

Massed Choir Concert with composer Joseph Martin conducting many of his compositions, at the Tabernacle (Aug. 1)
Cameron Carpenter organ concert at the Playhouse (Aug. 5)
Hall of Philosophy 100th anniversary, July 17.
Hot Club du Jour mini concert of gypsy swing music at Hall of Philosophy, Aug. 15.



Already past the halfway point
Firefighters buck national trends in a $400,000 "stretch"

Charitable giving may have tumbled to its point in 50 years, but you couldn't prove that in Mt. Gretna.
Despite national trends making this "the worst possible time to launch a fundraising campaign," Mt. Gretnans have already passed the halfway point in an ambitious -- some said impossible -- effort to raise $400,000 for the fire company.
What was needed -- and couldn't be delayed to wait for a more favorable economy -- was a new, larger facility to house larger firefighting equipment demanded by national safety standards as they faced requirements to replace trucks more than 20 years old.
In the first wave of the campaign, 62 early donors have already committed to multi-year pledges totaling $226,000, or 57% of the goal. A letter from campaign chairman Tom Mayer last month proclaimed, "What that says is that Mt. Gretnans believe in what we do."
It was a sentiment echoed by fire company president Joe Shay, who's devoted more than 25 years in voluntary service to the Mt. Gretna organization as a firefighter, administrator, leader and fundraiser himself.
"Our volunteers are a small, dedicated group that serve 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Tom in a letter to prospective donors last month.
"They can provide that support because of thousands of hours they spend in training, without pay, to handle emergencies."
He pointed out that

Tackling the impossible: Tom Mayer, Joe Shay

during the past two years, firefighters responded to over 400 calls, "everything from downed electrical lines to burning homes." They also devoted nearly 8,000 hours to other tasks, including administrative duties after they come home from their regular jobs.
Noting their additional hours spent in raising money at bake sales, block shoots, spaghetti suppers, book sales and community breakfasts, he added: "Things like that not only raise funds, they also help knit the whole town together in fun, friendship and shared memories."
Tom, himself a bit overwhelmed by the scope and intensity of the initial response, nevertheless urged those who can help to "stretch harder than you've ever stretched before."
Apparently, Mt. Gretnans both here and around the world are doing just that.
The address for donations, pledges and other contributions: Mt. Gretna Fire Company, P. O. Box 177, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.



In a field of 700 competitors
Mt. Gretnans Make their Mark at 7th Annual Triathlon  

For a small town hosting a race that attracted 700 contestants from 16 states across the U.S.A. and Canada, Mt. Gretna acquitted itself with distinction.
Two of the women's category winners in the Seventh Annual "Got the Nerve" triathlon May 22 were Mt. Gretnans. The seventh-fastest finisher traces his heritage to Mt. Gretna. And the great-great-great nephew of Mt. Gretna's shocking turn-of-the-century bather -- who exposed her bare forearms in post card photographs that rocked this tiny hamlet in the ea

Marla Pitt

rly 1900s -- again placed first in his division.
In all, it was a season-opening triumph for Mt. Gretna, for well-organized planning that wrapped up the entire event in a little over three hours, and for a fundraising venture that ov

Pat Allwein

er the past six years has raised more than $160,000 to help victims of neuromuscular disease.
This year's race should probably add another $20,000 to that total -- and to race organizer Chris Kaag's I'M ABLE Foundation, which helps provide adaptive sporting equipment for disabled people determined to keep moving.
Taking first-place honors in their age groups were Marla Pitt, a Chautauqua resident who won the top award for women in the 55-to-59 category, and Pat Allwein, a previous winner and Campmeeting resident who led the women's 60-to-64 group.  Also competing in the race was Chautauquan Bill Gifford, 43, who finished in an hour and 27 minutes the 500-yard-swim (in a 68-degree lake--balmy by the standards of previous years), 16-mile bike race and 5 km (3.107-mile) run. Seventh-place finisher was Philadelphian Timothy Otto, 28, who grew up in Mt. Gretna; he completed the circuit in 1:11:27, less than three minutes behind overall winner Daryl Weaver of Lititz.
"Mt. Gretna, with its idyllic setting, is a beautiful course for all three events," says organizer Chris, himself crippled by a neuromuscular disease 12 years ago. "I continue to make sure we improve every year." 
As for the competitor whose daring ancestor shocked Mt. Gretnans a century ago, it was T.J. Jordan, the 42-year-old Lancaster banker who's been here before. He runs the race around Mt. Gretna's lake every year, in fact, presumably to keep in shape. But perhaps also to perpetuate the smile, likely punctuated by a wink, which undoubtedly radiates from the visage of his long-departed aunt.



In other news. . .

Yes, it's true, says Mt. Gretna pizzeria owner Damien Orea: He plans to add another restaurant to his burgeoning business activities. 
It's the former Donecker's restaurant in Ephrata, which he, waitress Rose Bair and his
brother-in-law plan to soon open as "The Ephrata House."
But they're not attempting to recreate Donecker's upscale dining. They'll offer comfort food menus, featuring New York strip steaks, meatloaf and chicken croquettes, says Rose.
Both she and Damien plan to continue working the morning shift at Mt. Gretna, then switch to Ephrata for the afternoons. Damien's dad Elidio and others will keep the pizzeria humming at night.
Will they succeed? If the persistence, determination and adaptability they've shown here over the past four years are an accurate measuring stick, bet on it.

Planning a cottage makeover?
Preserve "the look of then with the comforts of now;" talk with specialists at the Hall of Philosophy June 4: Architects, contractors, suppliers and others assembled by the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society will offer suggestions, photos, landscaping ideas and other guidelines to help preserve historical accuracy and property values during a remodeling project. Time: 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

They'll need your help at the Playhouse concession stand this year.  Volunteer coordinator Gary Shrawder says open dates for plays, the Cicada Festival and Gretna Music performances remain unfilled. If you'd like to help out, call 717-272-2284 to sign up or drop an e-mail note to:

John Condrack's tennis clinics for eight-to-14-year-olds proved so popular last summer he's offering them again this month. Call 964-1830 for details.

Book lovers, sub specialists and pastry fanatics unite!
It's time for the fire company's annual "Book, Bake and Sub Sale." Books to donate? Drop them off June 5 outside the post office. Subs made to order: American, ham, turkey or roast beef. Reserve yours by tomorrow (June 2), but extras will also be on sale -- along with books and baked goods -- at the fire hall, Saturday June 12, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Mountain bike night rides, native ferns of Lebanon County, fitness hikes, Celtic and Bluegrass music on the porch, and backpacking tips headline Governor Dick Park's events this month. For details, call 964-3808 or e-mail

The annual bike rodeo, sponsored by Cornwall Police for youngsters 12 and under, begins at 6:30 p.m. June 8 at Cornwall Elementary School. Details: Officer James Conklin, 274-2071 or e-mail:

Stay alert for deer around Mt. Gretna, warns the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Deer are most active after dark and before sunrise.

Coming this week: The Summer 2010 edition of Mt. Gretna
Arts Council's Newsletter, "now going electronic," says Kerry Royer. Also expected to be posted online soon: the Arts Council's 2010 Summer Calendar.


Get ready for Big Junk Day
Wacky celebrations? That's our specialty

When it comes to finding something to celebrate, nobody even comes close to Mt. Gretnans. Everything from Bastille Day, Beaujolais Day (to celebrate the grape harvest in France) and the Halloween parade (with 120 marchers and 15 spectators) is reason enough to spark a celebra

Thatcher: "Junk day and hot dogs go together like New Year's Day and pork and sauerkraut."

But per

Even the grill once was "junk."

haps wackiest of all is the event about to erupt at 108 Lancaster Ave. in the Chautauqua, home of bachelor, entrepreneur and hot dog griller extraordinaire Thatcher Bornman.
Celebrating Mt. Gretna's annual "Big Junk Day" collection on June 21, Thatcher will commemorate the occasion with a Sunday-night spectacular that includes free hot dogs and all the fixings for anyone who happens to stop by. Fellow junk collectors, mostly. People from around town and elsewhere who annually roam the streets of Mt. Gretna Borough seeking treasures that others have discarded.

Fire chief Bob Dowd extinguishing a
peckish urge.

attracted to this lumpy adventure should know that the process usually starts as the "Big Junk" weekend begins. Fridays, maybe, as residents start putting alongside the curb items too big and too bulky for the regular trash collectors: Refrigerators, washing machines, old TVs and other items that disposal services normally shun.
So that leaves opportunities aplenty for scavenger hunters, who seem to delight in picking up discards. In fact, when the Borough cr

What, they're free?

ew makes its rounds on Monday, there's sometimes scarcely anything left. "Call it the great community-exchange day," says Borough Manager Bill Care. "It's true what they say," adds Jessica Kosoff (inset, above right), "one man's junk is still another man's junk."
Thatcher's annual celebration, which began around 2002, grows bigger every year. He buys the hot dogs, buns and sauerkraut. Neighbors sometimes pitch in with offers of soft drinks, potato chips and other embellishments. But the spirit is spontaneous, widespread and infectious, starting around 6:00 p.m. on Sunday before Big Junk Day, or what's left of it, actually begins.



Interview with John Dempsey:
Top international competitor brings chess, and a winning perspective, to Mt. Gretna

 There's a good chance that Mt. Gretna's next distinction may be that of a leading chess center in Pennsylvania, if not the U.S.A.
That's because of two newcomers who are international competitors, avid teachers and expert chess players eager to share their love of the game.
John Dempsey, former captain of Scotland's Olympic chess team, and his new bride, Gail Babic, a painter and former art teacher who moved to the Campmeeting a few years ago, are offering chess lessons for beginners and pros alike.

In the na

"Adaptability is crucial to survival... and winning"

rrative that follows, John shares his perspectives on the game, Mt. Gretna and life itself:

[] As a newcomer to Mt. Gretna, what are your impressions of the land, the people, the pace of life here?
<>   I know that across this vast country the climate and geography vary enormously, as do the peoples who have been shaped in part by their environment. Yet I cannot help but think that the nature of those who live in Mt. Gretna is a major contributing factor in turning a wooded piece of land into a something special. If this nature could spread, then so many other places could be their own versions of Mt. Gretna. 
[] What are people usually most surprised to discover when they begin learning to play chess?

<> They are often surprised to find that they need only learn how six different pieces move. They see all those pieces on a board and do not realize that, in fact, there are only six different types. When they learn what one pawn can do, then they know what all 16 pawns can do!

[] What you like best about living in Mt. Gretna?
<> There are many things. One of the things that I love is that most people seem open to new experiences, new understandings. This bodes well for this community as adaptability is a key to surviving in a changing world.

[] What you believe is the biggest misconception people have about playing chess?

<> One of the things which most surprises people about chess is that adaptability is crucial to winning. A player has to take account of how things change from move to move, the new reality, as opposed to how they wish, or want that reality to be.
Just because something worked before is no guarantee it will work now!  Observe, process information, analyze, and then move! 

[] There's the impression that chess is a game only for intellectuals.

<> Another big misconception is that one has to be some kind of genius to play chess. That it is in some way a cold, scientific, supremely logical game. This is not the case! You need imagination, creativity, visualization, and above all a feel for what is happening. There is logic, but it is not enough by itself. In fact logic without an artistic, creative side is a poor companion at the chess board!

[] In addition to chess, what other interests do you intend to pursue?  

<> I would like to write a novel. Probably it would come under the genre of science fiction or fantasy. And what material I already have gathered about different worlds living side by side: Mt. Gretna and Milngavie (Scotland), Washington, London, Paris, Edinburgh. U.S. Mainland, Caribbean, Europe. One day perhaps! 
Can you imagine a world where the inhabitants slavishly obey their masters, and like it? Welcome to parts of Europe! Can you imagine a world where you don't have to work as nature throws food upon your doorstep?  Welcome to St. Croix! Can you imagine a world where...?, and that's just it, somewhere on this earth of ours, the world you can imagine probably does exist!

If you'd like to know more about learning chess or how to improve your game this summer, drop a note to: or call 717-450-5115.



Durable summer programs prove mightier than. . . well, a 76-foot oak
Summer playground activities will continue this month, despite the collapse last month of a 76-foot oak that demolished the Chautauqua playground pavilion.
The tree toppled early on a Saturday morning

Judy Bojko photo

when, providentially, no one was around.
During a typical week during the summer, 50 or more youngsters use the facility.
As insurance adjustors wrapped up their work and architect
Roland Nissley finished drawings to preserve the appearance of the 60-year-old structure it replaces, officials said they hope to complete construction of a new pavilion this summer. Meanwhile, playground coordinator Kim Beiler is romping ahead with plans for a full schedule of activities in areas roped off from the construction site. 
The Lebanon Valley College senior will oversee playground activities Mondays through Fridays, 9:30 to 12:3o, in areas fenced off from construction work. For details, contact her at




In an emergency, count on Sharon Solie and Dot Frymyer to keep their priorities straight. Early on the morning of May 15, just before the fire company's semiannual block shoot, Sharon and Dot showed up for the task as usual: Behind the stove, stirring the soup kettle and pouring rivels into a secret ham and bean mixture when, suddenly, a fire broke out -- in

1st priority: save the soup

the fire company's own kitchen. Someone had dropped behind the stove a tea towel, which ignited when they turned on a rarely-used middle burner.
Sharon quickly did the only thing she could: Call 911. Then, with the coolness of an emergency volunteer, she whisked the soup pot to safety, rivels and all.
As the alarm sounded, Mt. Gretna's off-duty firefighters responded, squirted the flames with an extinguisher, then stayed around to clean up the mess.
But when the festivities started a few hours later, the soup was safe and ready to eat. Good thing, too. When block shoot regulars talk about "hitting the bullseye," they mean polishing off a bowlful of Mt. Gretna fire company's legendary ham and bean soup.

Stacey Pennington: a Midas touch

Getting ready for summer: Gretna Emporium's Stacey Pennington and Le Sorelle new owner Ken Shertzer.

At the shop for imaginative toys, puzzles, games and pastimes, Stacey has been delivering, unpacking and assembling displays for last weekend's grand re-opening. It's her third year in Mt. Gretna. Best-selling items last summer included

Ken Shertzer: Despite "a lot of  work," he's happy

"anything with Mt. Gretna printed on it," she says.
Apparently there's lasting appeal to Mt. Gretna souvenirs -- including those fire company fundraising coffee mugs first issued in 2001 (which recently brought a 775% return on investment).
Also popular are board games and home decor items, all with a stimulating twist that speaks to Stacey's unerring merchandising sense, a Midas touch  seemingly built into her DNA.

Le Sorelle, Ken Shertzer, who took over operations last November says he's happy with results so far. But (with a full-time job as a plastics engineer) he's also discovering that running a restaurant "takes a lot of work."
Fortunately he'll have the help of family members as the cafe switches to a summer schedule that includes weekdays as well as weekends.
Assisting along with wife Judy will be their son, now attending college, and a married daughter who is also a professional photographer.

Back in town last month: UPS driver Shirley Rennix, filling in on a temporary assignment in the territory she served for eight years. Saying good-bye to Mt. Gretna was

Nobody knows Mt. Gretna like Shirley

"a hard choice," says Shirley, who nevertheless opted for shorter hours afforded by a route in Southern Lancaster County.
The new assignment gives her more time to spend with her kids -- all nine of them.
"I don't have to look after them all," she says. "Two are grown and out out of the house." Yet that still leaves seven for her and her husband.
How many are adopted? "They're all mine," she laughs. "I don't like splitting them up that way."
In truth, four are adopted, three are biological and the couple serves as guardians for another. They range in age from 24 to four. "It's fun," says Shirley. "My husband's a stay-at-home dad."
Although she's now assigned to a new route which allows her to leave later and get home a bit sooner, she never really knows when she might be called to return temporarily to her former route.
And even when she's delivering packages in places like Kirkwood, she often gets calls from newcomers assigned to Mt. Gretna. "Where is this street?" they want to know. "How do you get there?"
She says one UPS driver recently gave up trying to decide which streets were driveable. He simply parked his truck at the church and walked all over the Campmeeting, delivering packages along streets that are often too narrow for cars, let alone a "Big Brown" truck.
Shirley misses her friends here but cherishes the extra hour and ten minutes she has at home in the morning. "You know, doing all the cute stuff, like tickling their little pigs and braiding their hair. I enjoy that."

Ron and Karrie Hontz, strolling along Pennsylvania Avenue one recent Saturday morning and placing alongside the curb limbs downed by a storm the previous nigh

From NY to PA,  balloon hones in on Pennsylvania Ave.

The Skippack, Pa. couple escape on weekends as often as they can to their Campmeeting cottage, together with their handsome collies -- now Mt. Gretna icons.
As she set one limb to the curb, Karrie noticed that it had snared a drifting balloon.
Fearing that a dog or cat attracted to the rubber balloon might eat and choke, Karrie removed it. It was then that she discovered the balloon had a long tail, with a small, handwritten note attached.
Scribbled on the paper were explicit instructions from a preschool youngster in upstate New York: "If you find this, please write back and tell me where you found it."
Karrie carried the note back home, then did a quick Google search. It turns out that the balloon was launched from a preschool located in Friendship, NY. The school is headquartered on Friendship's Pennsylvania Avenue. And the town itself is only a little more than one hour's drive from Chautauqua, NY, which inspired the Pennsylvania Chautauqua -- with its own historic Pennsylvania Avenue -- exactly 118 years ago. 

Glassafrass! It's the first of a one-of-a-kind, "bend-your-imagination" series of mirrors that come from, g

One of a kind: Thatch ...and his mirrors

uess who? Thatcher Bornman.
Yep, the same guy who gives away hot dogs on Big Junk Day (see story above, this issue), marches down the street as SuperPumpkin on Halloween and, oh yes, runs a home construction and maintenance business that thrives on equal doses of perfectionism and creativity -- seems to justify his business slogan: "Home & Garden Projects with a Twist."
His latest venture: Novelty mirrors that appeal to little girls, big girls and just about anybody looking to start the day with a sense of fun.
Fun, in fact, is a guiding principal for Thatch himself. "I like doing things a little bit different. Whether it's repairing a porch or creating a mirror, my name's on it."
With its "no-two-alike" marketing mantra, his newest venture gives him yet another outlet for those energies. "Glassafrass," which inspired this newest venture, was a highlight of last weekend's Summer Premiere auction. So he's now at work in his Mt. Gretna workshop on other mirrors, each with unique names to match. Looking to put a little zest in your mornings? Give Thatch a call: 717-228-7506. Or drop him an e-mail note: (

 the surprise of probably no one, an idea first begun here three years ago has now captured the attention, imagination and enduring loyalty of Mt. Gretnans. This, after all, is where summertime studies to promote "cultural and scientific enlightenment" were spawned from their Chautauqua roots in New York over a century ago.
And if birds of a feather truly flock together, nowhere are you likely to find birds more eager to continue stimulating their minds.
That, no doubt, explains why the first University for a Day program here in 2008 lit a spark. It continues this year in July, with offerings that will span everything from Fred Astaire to the State of the Union and another probe into the endless appeal of the Canterbury Tales with Lebanon Valley College professor Kevin Pry.
The cost is $50, which includes a luncheon with wine, cheese and conversation at the end of the day.


And if all that isn't enough, summer programs coordinator Kathy Snavely promises to start the day with warm blueberry buckle -- "an old-fashioned single-layered cake, peppered with blueberries, and topped with a streusel topping."
The date is again on a Saturday (July 10), to facilitate attendance by those with weekday commitments. The telephone number to reserve your spot: 964-1830.



Where's Icky?  
People everywhere are searching high and low for the elusive sandhill crane who made an abrupt and errant landing here last fall, then decided -- what the heck -- to winter over.
In our last report, we noted that Icky hadn't been seen for more than a month. But no sooner was our May issue out than Laura Feather, of Conewago Hill, spotted him foraging along the

Susan Afflerbach's "Upside Down Ichabod"

creek just west of the lake, striking his usual stately pose alongside the rushing waters.
A few days later, Pennsylvania Avenue resident Jim Miller reported a sighting -- or at least what he thought was a sighting -- as a large bird flew over his car along Route 117 near the ice dam. That's where Icabod spent the winter, munching bugs and berries while attracting legions of photographers. But few others have caught sight of him.
Meanwhile, some people are turning themselves upside down in the search. And as
wildlife photographer and artist Susan Afflerbach of Spring Hill Acres shows, Icky sometimes returns the favor. (Susan frequently exhibits at La Cigale and hopes to offer reprints soon.)
So is he still around? Nobody, not even our Mt. Gretna Bird Club stalwarts, seem to know for sure. Keep your eyes peeled and your cameras ready. Along with Doodle, the daring rooster, Icky's also now part of the family.



Making a difference

On most days she's dashing about the country advising business owners on how to achieve top results at their dry cleaning establishments. Her husband, an entrepreneur with wide-ranging interests, is equally busy with pursuits that keep him hopping along the East Coast.
Yet when they touch down at home base in Mt. Gretna, they make a

Dale Grundon photo

Despite schedules with commitments that stretch two years or more into the future, Jane and Scott Zellers find time, energy and resources to make their stopovers in Mt. Gretna rewarding both for themselves and their community neighbors.

Don't forget: The Campmeeting Playground's 2nd Annual Children's Carnival
 Saturday, June 12, noon - 2:00 p.m.

Together with friends like Tom and Edie Miller and Deb and Jay Barnhart, they've helped start and nurture the Campmeeting's butterfly garden, launch fire company fundraisers like the coffee mug and cookbook series, and ignite everything from car shows to soup cook-offs to the Heritage Festival.

Newest feather in their cap: a Campmeeting Playground Pavilion honoring their late parents, Dick and Judy Zellers and Jack and Jeanine Peck.
"We felt a need to help revitalize the playground," says Jane. With a new shuffleboard court and the butterfly garden attracting adults to the area, she and Scott thought the area would be attracting growing numbers of adults. "The gazebo should provide a safe, comfortable place to sit and watch their children in the playground," she says.

 Jet-setter Jane and her equally busy friend, Campmeeting summer resident Deb Barnhart, could use a hand in the butterfly garden. Interested? Call Jane at 717-507-4607.



12 Year odyssey completed, but now it's time to cool off: Mt. Gretna United Methodist minister Michael Remel finished his master of divinity studies at Philadelphia's Palmer Theological Seminary last month.
Celebrating his new status as an ordained UM minister, he conducted services May 23 for the first time in a black robe. But he warned parishioners that until things cool down in the fall, don't expect to see him in the formal vestment again.

13th Season of Chautauqua organ recitals begins July 1 with Harvard University assistant organist and choirmaster Christian Lane performing works by Bach, Charles-Marie Widor, and John Knowles Paine's Concert Variations on "The Star Spangled Banner."
The Thursdays-in-July recital series takes place at the home of Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney. Seating is limited. Reservations required: 964-3856.

870 Dollars added to Mt. Gretna's $400,000 fire hall campaign, thanks to the latest Mt. Gretna bus trip to New York. In addition to proceeds from ticket sales, as the group rolled down the highway toward Manhattan, organizer Rhoda Long raised more cash with a raffle of summer performance tickets donated by Gretna Theatre.
Coming next: a $60 bus trip to the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament's final qualifying rounds Aug. 27.  For details, call Rhoda at 304-0248.

15,000 Seedlings planted in Governor Dick Park to replace trees damaged by Gypsy Moths. A WGAL-TV website shows fencing erected to protect the shoots from deer.




For Lancaster columnist "The Scribbler"
How Mt. Gretna's mystique helped cement the deal of a lifetime

He writes "
The Scribbler," perhaps the most popular newspaper column in Lancaster. His parents met in Mt. Gretna and spent fond years here in a Chautauqua cottage they converted to a year-round home. And last month, discussing his latest book, columnist Jack Brubaker underscored his strong ties to Mt. Gretna. 
Remembering Lancaster County" is crammed full with vignettes of local patriots, artists and inventors illuminated over the years in his newspaper column. 
Yet other, more personal, recollections not recorded in the book are nevertheless etched deeply in the memory bank of this prolific author, son of the late John Brubaker and Marie Brubaker (an artist who helped get the Mt. Gretna Art Show started and now lives in Lancaster).
It turns out that Jack, clearly fond of Mt. Gretna, once employed its transcendent qualities to help convince his wife Christine to marry him.
"We had been dating in Danville, Va. for several months before I asked her to join me on vacation in Mt. Gretna in June 1972. She stopped by for several days on her way home to Toledo, Ohio. I suppose I had not properly described the place, so she had no idea that she was on her way to one of the coolest retreats on earth.
"A lifetime outdoors enthusiast, she drove up Pinch Road through the summer trees and then down to my parents' cottage on [what is now called Stevens] Avenue. She decided she was on the right path. We were married two Junes later."
Yep, that ol' Mt. Gretna magic. It works every time.



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 e-mail version is dispatched.) Once you've opened the current online version, just press the "print" command on your computer. 

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: and click on the current issue.
Constant Contact, a commercial service that we use to distribute this newsletter, also gives this advice to readers when pictures don't appear: 
Look at the top of the Newsletter for a button that may say something like, "Show images and enable links. Always for this sender." (That's AOL's wording, but different e-mail services use slightly different terminology. Yet their meaning is the same.) If you click on "Allow content from this sender," the photos should appear immediately.
If you use an e-mail service other than AOL and are still having problems, drop us a note. We'll forward Constant Contact's specific recommendations for the e-mail service you use.
Speaking of photos: Who says you can't grow a garden in Mt. Gretna? Pat Pinsler's Mt. Gretna Heights cottage garden, winner of an honorable mention award in Central Pennsylvania magazine's roundup of top area gardens in 2006, began as a failure 30 year ago. 












Yet Pat's disappointing experiments with tomatoes and petunias in spots that get little more than an hour of sun on most days nevertheless led to her ultimate success as a shade garden specialist. She sent this photo recently to show how her favorite spot appeared this spring.
If you have digital pictures of Mt. Gretna scenes, events or people likely to interest others, please e-mail them to us at

We're delighted to receive Mt. Gretna-related photos from readers here and around the world. Send us photos that capture the events, surprises and passing pageantry of Mt. Gretna. We'll use them whenever possible.



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This Week in Mt. Gretna"
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