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No. 108 July 1, 2010


 Mt. Gretnans savor the season:
Summer Hits Full Stride

It started when headlines around the world last month flashed reports that a straw hat summer theater had tallied its first ever sold-out performance. The news ricocheted from Pakistan to Paso Robles as theater world media, astonished amid a recession, trumpeted that a summer stock production in Mt. Gretna, Pa., had eclipsed box office records that had stood for 83 years.
Gretna Theatre's record-setting production of "Nunsense" had sold out. Every one of its 708 seats filled for the first time in anyone's memory. Extra folding chairs, in fact, as many as fire marshal regulations would allow, had to be brought in to accommodate the crowds.

A promising start for the summer season?  Yes, but even uncommonly strong openings in the spring need audiences to turn out in substantial numbers as the summer progresses and temperatures soar.

Yet another good omen, however, is the Cicada Festival, which began selling tickets two months ago and reports that three of its five August productions are already sold out. Moreover, some of the season's best Playhouse offerings from Gretna Theatre and Gretna Music are yet to come. Count on Mt. Gretna's presenting groups to have their fingers crossed and marketing guns blazing as the season moves into high gear.

To be sure, what happens at the theater can have a reverberating impact on the community as a whole, as the entire town discovered when the Playhouse collapsed under heavy snows 16 years ago. Yet it is also a fact that Mt. Gretnans consistently show that they have what it takes to make the most of Mt. Gretna summers.

Neighborhood gatherings can sometimes take
 up a whole street.

Across town, for example, Mary Kopala and Dave Adams joined neighbors Chuck and Paula Deppen to assemble the first annual Fifth Street block party in the Campmeeting (inset, left), a celebration that brought out some 60 parents and grandparents, kids and grandkids.
Unusual? Not in Mt. Gretna, where porch parties can erupt at a moment's notice, where patio b

Big Junk Day? Reason enough for a party at Thatcher's front door -- roasting hot dogs on a grill once discarded as "junk."

reakfasts and neighborhood corn roasts are embedded in the Mt. Gretna tradition. Some, like Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney, open up their homes for morning coffee to anyone who wants to stop by. Neighbors elsewhere sometimes exchange pancakes and sausages for scrambled eggs and salsa across porches so close together they nearly touch. And any excuse for a party will do, like the free hot   dog extravaganza on Big Junk Day (inset, left) outside Thatcher Bornman's Chautauqua cottage. Or the impromptu get-together last week alongside fire engines when the bridge club's usual meeting site suddenly became unavailable.

Taken together, Mt. Gretna's neighborly patchwork quilt sometimes defies description, mystifying visitors who wonder aloud how people can live in friendly accord in such close quarters.
Making the most of a Mt. Gretna summer invokes a blend of neighborhood gatherings, trust and friendship that some suggest may be diminishing in American life. A recent art

Suddenly no place to play bridge last week? How about inside the fire engine bay? In Mt. Gretna, unexpected problems can sometimes have spontaneous solutions. 

icle in Parade magazine, for example, cited the spreading isolation among neighbors in places where people disappear behind their garage doors into suburban cocoons and rarely get to know the people who live alongside them.
In Parade's
"Meet the Neighbors," author Peter Lovenheim asked why it is that "in an age of discount air travel, cheap long distance, and the Internet, we can create community anywhere, [yet] we often don't know the people who live next door."
He pointed out what most Mt. Gretnans probably understand right down to their fingertips: "By not knowing our neighbors, we lose a crucial safety net. We lose social and economic benefits: the ability, in a pinch, to borrow a cup of sugar or a dash of vanilla instead of making yet another trip to the supermarket."
Indeed, wrote Mr. Lovenheim, suburban isolation can disconnect us from "the simple pleasure of daily, unplanned contact with people with whom we have become friends."

Is it any wonder, then, that Mt. Gretnans -- people who instinctively know what it means to live among neighbors who are also friends -- value their community more and more with each passing year?



 In other news . . .

"Glimpses of Mount Gretna, " a signed, limited edition poster by photographer Madelaine Gray, is the first of what she plans as an annual series dedicated to the Mt. Gretna Fire Company, which will receive up t $1500 of the proceeds.
Her 2010 edition of the 18- by 24-inch poster has just come off the presses in a 500-print run. It's now available in either unframed ($30 each) or framed ($70) versions.
Among first reactions to the print last week were comments suggesting that this is the finest collection of Mt. Gretna photographs ever assembled in a single grouping. The pictures, many of which also appear in the photographer's
online Mt. Gretna gallery alongside her stunning photos from Provence and ancient cities in Europe, "capture not only familiar scenes in unique, imaginative and never-before-seen perspectives but also the essence of Mt. Gretna itself, " said Tom Mayer, who heads the fire company's current $400,000 fund-raising campaign. "A perfect illustration to hang in our home in Florida," said one summer resident at an informal breakfast showing last week, who  acknowledged that it's often difficult to tell someone who's never been here just what it is that explains Mt. Gretna's special appeal. "For me, that poster does it," he said.
The framed and unframed versions are on sale at Mt. Gretna Fire Company, Gretna Consulting, La Cigale and from Madelaine Gray (at

Zoning Change Clears the Way for Cornwall's Water Park

Cornwall's Borough Council, as expected, voted last month to change a zoning ordinance and allow the $250 million "Preserve at Historic Cornwall Village" project to go forward at a former iron ore mining site.
With additional tax revenues predicted to flow from the development and ease municipal burdens, five of the council's seven members voted in favor of the change, which had drawn some opposition by a citizens group including several Mt. Gretnans. The zoning change was supported, however, by the Lebanon County Planning Commission and Chamber of Commerce officials. 
The project, which now is likely to move ahead, will create an indoor water park, a hotel, marina, shops and stores plus 590 housing units four miles east of Mt. Gretna.
The project will be carried out in multiple phases, creating 2,240 jobs during the construction phase and 505 permanent ones when the entire development is finished in about 15 years.
The developers, from Skippack, Pa., have pledged to build highway entrances and bypasses that would deflect traffic away from the borough's historic districts, including Burd Coleman and Minersvillage. A Lebanon Daily News
editorial hailed the decision as "the best of the options that were possible."
Was it a tornado?

A storm that swept through the area last week may have included weak tornadoes, National Weather Service officials said. Two homes in Mt. Gretna Heights were hit by falling trees. Route 117 was closed to traffic while crews removed limbs and debris. And some residents in the Heights and Campmeeting were without power for 30 hours.
Officials classified the tornadoes in the  EF-o category, with 80 MPH winds. The tornado that demolished several homes in Campbelltown six years ago was an F3, carrying winds of more than 160 MPH.

Motorists beware:

Photo: Lebanon Daily News

A deer crashed through the windshield and wound up in the rear seat of a car traveling along Route 72 near the Mt. Gretna exit one day last week, the Lebanon Daily News reported. The driver, a 19-year-old Hummelstown man heading for an orientation at Temple University, was knocked unconscious but quickly recovered. The 180-pound deer was killed.
Although the Pennsylvania Game Commission warns that deer are most active after dark and before sunrise, this accident, which occurred at 11:30 a.m., proves that Mt. Gretna motorists should be wary at all times.




Is the reputation of Gretna Green, the little town in Scotland that is one of the world's favorite wedding sites, having an impact on Mt. Gretna in the U.S.A.?
Could be, as wedding ceremonies here, with increasing frequency, take on a magic and elegance of their own.

Photos: Kahl weddings

Take, for example, the marriage last month of a Silver Spring, Md. couple who exchanged vows in the Hall of Philosophy, then canoed across Lake Conewago to a reception at Mt. Gretna's Lake and Beach.
For Brandy Fureman and Matt Fowler, it was the perfect setting. She had spent summers since she was a youngster coming to the Jigger Shop and Playhouse. He had grown up in a lakeside town in New Jersey. And her parents, Rev. Dr. John and Rogie Fureman, live nearby on Old Mine Road.   
So how did they meet? Brandy, epilepsy research director for th National Institute of Neurological Disorders, was in training for a triathlon with the sister of Matt, an arborist for the City of Gaithersburg, Md. "When we first met he shook my hand and held onto it for a really long time," she says. "And I didn't want to let go either. We were married almost exactly three years later." Mt. Gretna magic: it works again.

Customers at Collins Grocery
store in nearby Colebrook can find darned near anything they're looking fo among the 1,300 or so items crammed into that 800-square-foot emporium.
So it was highly unusual when a Mt. Gretnan, asking for red food coloring, finally stumped Marjorie Daub. But not for long. 
Margy, one of the store's most beloved employees, scanned the shelves and, finding no food coloring, quickly added: "I've got some in my kitchen. I'll give you the key and tell you where to find it."
And that little anecdote neatly sums up why small stores like Collins in small towns like Colebrook will probably always survive. 

How long has it been since you stepped inside the Mt. Gretna Skating Rink? Click here for a YouTube glimpse of  what it looks like today.

Look closely at the Arts Council's 2010 Summer Calendar cover. Artist Elizabeth Stutzman, who has lived in the Mt. Gretna area for over 35 y, quietly inserted two iconic neighbors into this year's calendar. In addition to a lurking turkey vulture perched in a tree, the artist has inserted a tiny image of Doodle, the bantam rooster that has won a place in the hearts of many (but not all) Mt. Gretnans. He appears along the roadside in her depiction of a "well-worn path beneath century-old white pines forming canopies high overhead."
Neither obvious nor ostentatious, Doodle occupies a position of quiet respect in the painting, which Elizabeth calls "Quiet Time." It is thus a fitting tribute to the wily rooster that outsmarted his would-be captors last fall. In fact, in a place brimming with doctors, college professors and Ph.D.s, Doodle may turn out to be the smartest guy in town.


Did somebody really spot a black bear crossing Route 117 last month just a mile or so east of Mt. Gretna? That's possible. In fact, several bear sightings have been logged througho

Outside his Huntington County cabin, Campmeeting resident Tom Baum discovered this 600- lb. guy at his deer feeder. Smaller bears sometimes turn up closer to home.

ut Lebanon, Lancaster, Dauphin and York counties in recent weeks.
The local sighting occurred not far from the rock waterfall along Route 117, built a few years ago by Janet and Jonathan Rudd. Mrs. Rudd says she hasn't seen any signs of bears although deer do nibble away at plants in her garden. "When I'm out working with my hostas, I sometimes wonder if something may be looking over my shoulder," she laughs.
Yet signs of black bear show up in the area from time to time. Elaine Baum, who lives in the Campmeeting and bicycles along the rail-trail from time to time, reports seeing evidence of bears along the trail near Colebrook. And Pennsylvania wildlife officer Tim Smith says it's not uncommon for yearlings that have been kicked out by their mothers to wander into areas around Mt. Gretna, even into Maryland, before they usually decide to return to northern parts of Lebanon County.
But when bears do show up here, they're transients, says Mr. Smith. Animals that qualify as true "locals"? They include deer, coyotes and bobcats (which are often mistaken for mountain lions).


Where's Postmaster Steve? Atop a mountain with wife LuAnn, every chance he gets. Together they're building a  weekend getaway near Houstontown, in Western Pennsylvania, at a site overlooking a pond, with breathtaking Ful County vistas on the horizon. All this and wildlife, too, as they put their time, talents and energies into building a retreat about an hour and a half from home that will likely serve as a retirement spot someday. At least, that's what Mr. and Mrs. Strickler hope, even though that may be a few years off. "I'll probably never really retire," says Steve.

That, in fact, would be just fine with the folks around Mt. Gretna, who think they got a winner when the postal authorities picked Steve to sort their mail.
The Stricklers hope their new retreat, which they started with the help of family and friends last April, will be finished by Labor Day.



On State Game Lands overlooking Mt. Gretna
A slow, difficult comeback

Game Lands
August 2009

Game Lands
June 2010

Nearly two years later, a desolate vista on the mountaintop to the south of Mt. Gretna echoes the dire predictions of Pennsylvania State Game Land foresters:
"Let's not kid anybody. The aesthetics won't be pretty," southeastern regional forester David Henry had warned in public comments made in October 2008, just before logging operations began.
That was before contracts were signed and lumber crews began chopping down 10,721 trees on the Game Lands west of Pinch Road. 
The thick forest that had formed a canopy for summertime travelers from Lancaster abruptly disappeared, ending what for generations had been a brief, but pleasant tree-shaded interlude on their trips up to Mt. Gretna.
Foresters had determined that repeated gypsy moth attacks, which seemed undeterred by repeated aerial insecticide bombardments, had doomed vast swatches of the forest.

Mr. Henry estimated then that it would take a year before the cleared land would again see green across the forest floor. By 2011, he had said, the visual impact would begin to dissipate as blackberry briars and thousands of newly planted seedlings started taking hold. 

A Harrisburg Patriot-News report, reviewing the aftermath of logging operations in Mt. Gretna, recently asserted that removing trees from the site -- a decision that many local residents questioned and some experts criticized -- "was the recommended forestry practice and, from a safety perspective, an absolute necessity." 
That conclusion is less certain in some quarters, however. Directly opposite the State Game Lands on Pinch Road is the 1,105-acre Governor Dick forest,

Gypsy moths attacked both sides of Pinch Road. Two years later, lightly harvested Governor Dick Park to the east thrives while State Game Lands to the west remain devastated.

where far fewer trees were removed. Those that remain appear healthy. Was the State Game Land decision to chop down more than 10,000 trees really necessary? Was anything learned? Questions linger.  

~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


If Mt. Gretna had a Social Register, an event coming up this month would be to this community what the Jazz Festival is to Newport or the Kentucky Derby is to Churchill Downs.
It's the "m

Where big bills sometimes
show up in a fireman's boot

ust attend" July 11th edition of a Mt. Gretna Fire Company gastronomical treat that features, as its main attraction, the attendees themselves: friends, neighbors and newcomers who make their way to the fire hall early in the morning and stay late -- reminiscing, relaxing and regaling one another with stories, merriment and a brand of friendship rarely matched.
With it come eggs, sausages, pancakes, home fried potatoes, muffins, coffee, juice and assorted other treats. All for the price of a donation you stuff in a firefighter's boot at the entrance. Whatever you care to give (magically, $50 and $100 bills sometimes appear) to help the firefighters pay for that new addition to their building and hit their $400,000 fund-raising goal.

The official starting and ending times: 8:00 a.m. to noon. On July 11, it's the place to be.   



"Take two Kisses and call me in the morning."  That may not be a quote one would expect to find from a world authority on chocolate in a prestigious journal like A Magazine. But that's exactly what showed up last month in the magazine's interview with Mt. Gretnan Jeffrey Hurst, a principal scientist at the Hershey Company.
The topic was Archaeology's report on chocolate's earliest use by the ancient Maya civilization. But it quickly blossomed into a report on early medicinal uses of unprocessed cocoa, called cacao.
In addition to whipping it up in a foamed drink, the Maya also found medicinal benefits, which Dr. Hurst often describes in a talk he calls "Ethnobotanical Uses of Cacao In Mesoamerica, or Take Two Kisses and Call Me in the Morning."
What are those uses? "We know it lowers blood pressure and recent studies have indicated that long-term consumption of cacao lessens the incidence of stroke," he says. "It also has many cardiovascular advantages. What it does is it dilates blood vessels to improve blood flow. In addition, there have been reports of an increase in mental cognition."
Thanks, Doc. That's all we chocolate lovers needed to hear.



How to pick the best from a gro

Madelaine Gray photo

up like this?

How do you select the "best" among  volunteer firefighters who devote their time and sometimes risk their lives to protect us?
Answer: You don't. You leave it up to the  firefighters themselves.
And when the Lebanon County Firefighters Association voted last month, it's not surprising that two of the best this year came from Mt. Gretna's Volunteer Fire Company.

Brad Yeingst, who lives on Timber Cove and has been volunteering at the Mt. Gretna company for the past six years, was named Lebanon County's "Firefighter of the Year." E this year, his Mt. Gretna colleagues accorded him that same honor.
Brad is also a business owner and operator. He runs Gretna Graphics, a private printing firm.  Yet he somehow finds time to serve as a fire department captain, respond to 60% of Mt. Gretna's emergency calls, attend 500 hours of  meetings, fund-raisers and training in such programs as Essentials of Firefighting, Vehicle Rescues, Hazmat Operations, Emergency Medical First Responder and other specialized courses.

The firefighters association's Emergency Service Award went to Mt. Gretna Fire Company president Joe Shay, whose service to the fire company and community is measured not merely in terms of years.

"Joe has been a leader in the fire company and the community for decades," said the nomination submitted by his peers. "He's at the station every day. He' there at Sunday breakfasts, greeting everyone who walks through the door. And his efforts pay off big. Joe recently played a vital role in securing funding for a three-bay station addition and renovation project.
"He cleans the fire company apparatus, goes to training and attends every meeting and fundraiser he can.
"Last year, at age 60, Joe finally had the opportunity to complete the Essentials of Firefighting program, something he had always wanted to do but felt he was too old to accomplish. Currently he is president of the fire company, a firefighter driver, relief secretary and serves on several committees. When he's not doing that, he's assisting with grant writing, organizing fundraisers, involved in fire prevention activities, making repairs to the building and firefighting equipment and responding to Mt. Gretna's 250 emergency calls each year."
The award nomination didn't mention, by the way, that Joe is also Mt. Gretna's mayor, a volunteer coordinator at the annual art show, and an owner of the computer repair shop that many Mt. Gretnans utterly depend on.

Joe says that he and Brad were surprised, stunned and left speechless by the honors. "We don't do this for the recognition but because we love living here. We also realize the value of the fire company to Mt. Gretna. It's not just Brad and me. It takes an entire crew and support staff. They all deserve to be recognized."

Perhaps that's why photographer Madelaine Gray recently took the picture above. "While it captures some of the volunteers who protect our homes and lives, it symbolizes them all," said Tom Mayer, who is leading the fire company's current $400,000 fund-raising campaign.
"In a time when awards are being given, it is a reminder that every single one of them -- plus the guys and gals who serve in key support roles to keep the fire company an integral part of Mt. Gretna community life -- merit similar honors, appreciation and a huge debt of gratitude," he said.
Contributions and pledges are being accepted by Mt. Gretna Fire Company, P.O. Box 177, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.



4  Volunteers signed up last month for duty at the Playhouse Concession Stand after coordinator Gary Shrawder's earnest plea in this newsletter last month. But more are still needed.
As this month's deadline closed in, he dispatched a note: "I hope it's not too late to add another request," said Gary, who finds that rounding up volunteers to serve at the Playhouse stand isn't exactly a snap. He can use your help. "There are still quite a few slots to fill for plays and music this season," he says.
Want to lend a hand? Give Gary a call (717-272-2284) or drop an e-mail note to:
And  here's yet another late-breaking opportunity: Volunteers are needed for both of the Art Show's Information Booths Aug. 21-22. Contact Deborah Hurst:

6 Of Mt. Gretna's seven neighborhoods now have official signs at their entrances.
Stoberdale residents Patty Reichenbach and Debbie Clemens took it upon themselves to commission the sign after a newsletter article last November pointed out that Stoberdale was the only Mt. Gretna community without even a hint telling visitors where they are. (Although Timber Hills has no welcoming sign, the distinctive Timber Hills Apartments sign at least gives newcomers a clue as to where they've landed.)
Stoberdale, with 24 homes nestled between Mt. Gretna Heights and the Campmeeting, traces its origins to the late 1920s when Jake Stober and his two brothers, John and Willie, came to Mt. Gretna. Jake, an early owner of the tavern known today as The Hideaway, called it "The Stoberhouse." From there, the Stoberdale name evolved.

17 Number of Broadway shows that actors at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse this summer have to their credit. A partial listing (enough to convince anyone that you don't have to go far to see tomorrow's stars):
Mame actors Christopher Vettel and Kirsti Carnahan have credits that include Radio City's Christmas Spectacular and The Three Musketeers; the Broadway credits of Will Rogers Follies stars Scott Wakefield, Steve Luker and Elizabeth Ward- Land  include Ring of Fire, 42d Street and The Scarlet Pimpernel; David Edwards' (Captain Hook in Peter Pan) Broadway appearances include The Producers; and Mr. Hobbs' Vacation star Jeff Williams' credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Music Man. celebration for Nancy Hatz -- beloved musician, Susquehanna University and Elizabethtown College professor, and Mt. Gretna Heights resident for many years.
Well-wishers turned out for a party June 27, jamming the Heights Community Building with over 100 friends, colleagues, neighbors, former students and fellow members of the Harmonia Music Club.
Said attendee Susan Hostetter: "It was great to see the range of ages attending the party and the sense of community that one dear lady, tiny in stature but tall in spirit and wit, can inspire."

575 Events packed into the Arts Council's 56-page Summer Calendar for 2010. And now, thanks to author, Timber Hills resident and computer wizard Jennifer Besse, a downloadable PDF version now appears online. Click here to see what's up if you're coming to town.
And if you'd like to peek into the Arts Council's colorful new Summer Newsletter, that's now available online with a
click here.  Author, mom and Arts Council member Kerri Royer now edits the new version, which probably will soon be available only in electronic form to save on printing and postage costs. So if a friend or neighbor doesn't have e-mail service, they'll probably appreciate your making a copy for them.

1,000 Troops marched down Route 117 and assembled on Soldiers Field 25 years ago this month to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first encampment of the Pennsylvania National Guard at Mt. Gretna's Camp Siegfried.

Amid ruffles and flourishes with 13-gun salutes, the grand ceremonies on July 20, 1985 brought together an assembly of trucks, tanks, bands, politicians, infantry units and helicopters, plus an engineering battalion, field artillery and medical and transportation groups passing in review for Pennsylvania National Guard Adjutant General Richard M. Scott.
It was, says
historical society president Fred Buch, "no small task to pull off, and it brought back memories to the older folk."
During the height of the PNG encampment, over 10,000 soldiers were quartered in Mt. Gretna. The guard moved to Ft. Indiantown Gap in 1937.
Also of interest to Mt. Gretna history buffs this month: "Growing Up in Mt. Gretna in the '20s, '30s and '40s (July 9);" "Mt Hope Furnace and the Grubbs Community (July 30);" Visit Mt. Hope Village and furnace and charcoal house ruins (July 31). See the 2010 Summer Calendar for details.

$10,000 Matching Grant for Gretna Music? It depends on whether over the next 12 months they can find 35 supporters who'll give $250 each to meet a goal set by the Lancaster County Community Foundation.
Why 35? It's a fitting goal to match the group's 35th anniversary as a premiere performance venue for classical music and jazz.  (Yet since every contribution counts toward the goal, they'll appreciate them all -- regardless of size.)



Mt. Gretna's signature Thursdays-in-July organ recital series starts off with a bang tonight (July 1): Harvard University organist Christian Lane performs classics and works by contemporary composers at the Hewitt-McAnney home along Princeton Avenue, opposite the post office.

Ahreum Han

Other artists appearing in the 7 p.m. weekly series: Organist, pianist and violinist Jonathan Lefever July 8; Lebanon Valley College graduate Andrew Long July 15; David Crean, a New York organist, choir director and organ builder now enrolled in graduate studies at Juilliard July 22; and on July 29 (in "a concert not to be missed," says impresario Peter Hewitt) South Korean organist Ahreum Han, whose teachers at Westminster Choir College, Curtis Institute and Yale include three of the world's most respected organists, adds Mr. Hewitt.
Reservations: 717-964-1830, ext. 3. Free will offering requested.



"The best thing in Mt. Gretna since Mary Hernley came to town"
Surprises at the French Country Market


Stacey Weaver, a doctoral candidate in archeological studies who moved from the Campmeeting last year to grow her own fruits and vegetables in Campbelltown, stood beside her husband, marveling at the crisp organic spinach, garlic, kale, cucumbers and

Lose weight, eat healthy foods, yet never starve: The discovery of organic market regular Stacey Weaver, who lost 40 pounds. 

onions displayed along Mt. Gretna's Route 117.
She's a believer in fruits and vegetables -- especially those grown on farms free of pesticides. Over the past year, she's lost 40 pounds through a fruits, vegetables and legumes diet. It's one that she discovered in Eat to Live, a book that she says "changed my life."
"I did it without exercising, never got hungry and am still losing weight without really trying," she says. "I'm not starving, ever. You can eat as much as you want as long as it's a diet consisting of 90% fruit, vegetables and legumes, with a little bit of nuts." 
She and husband Eric are raising their family on organic produce. Like many who are flocking to organic foods these days, the Weavers have become regulars at the Mt. Gretna food stand on Saturday mornings. It's part of the outdoor French Country Market that has suddenly become one the most popular spots in town.
No wonder. In addition to its weight loss qualities, an all-vegetable diet can fuel super athletes like ultramarathoner and "Born to Run" star Scott Jurek. Mt. Gretna adventure writer and editor Bill Gifford just signed a contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to write "Eat & Run," a book chronicling Jurek's inspiring running career and entirely plant-based diet.
Luring visitors to the Mt. Gretna market each week are fresh breads brought in from Philadelphi

If it's Saturday, it's Mt. Gretna Market day for organic farmer James Landis (right).

a bakeries and organic produce and meats from James Landis's Landisdale Farm, located just outside Jonestown.
Gretna Music founder Carl Ellenberger declares the fresh food market "the best thing that's happened in Mt. Gretna since Mary Hernley [now in her 44th year of selling flowers] came to town."
"The produce, and now meats, from Landisdale Farms is worth driving miles for," says Dr. Ellenberger, a physician who is also an accomplished musician and writer with surprising culinary skills as well.
Mr. Landis started farming organically in 1998, soon after he "saw what chemicals were doing to the environment." He now operates food stalls in five locations, including three Philadelphia suburbs and a new one in Hershey.
Can Mt. Gretna provide enough business to keep the venture going?
"It's one of our slower markets," he admits, but he likes the idea of developing his business in places where there is no supermarket and residents have to run into town only to find produce that sometimes has been sitting in the store for a week or more.

He also offers grass-fed beef, chicken or turkey; organic cheese, and snow peas, and yogurt and invites Mt. Gretnans to visit his Jonestown farm (where Sockeye salmon from Alaska is available).
A group trip from Mt. Gretna to see the farm? Chautauquan Ned Wallace, a retired medical missionary who seems to possess an enthusiastic curiosity about nearly everything, was standing alongside his wife Emily to purchase fresh vegetables one recent Saturday morning when the notion struck. "What a splendid idea," said Ned. Naturally, he plans to look into it.



Nobody knows what it takes to win a state championship better than Mt.

Lebanon Daily News photo

Gretna sophomore Shaun Ditzler (inset, far right) and his teammates. In winning the state title, every single member of this Cedar Crest High School relay team set "personal best" records.
For Shaun, who received his coaches' Come Back Award, it was a special triumph. He overcame everything from extreme knee pain, flat feet and severe shin splints to run 500 miles over one summer. He began school days with 7 a.m. workouts followed by mandatory knee ice-downs to ease the pain. And all the while he had carried a full academic load with advanced placement and honors courses while simultaneously playing in a jazz band. Self-discipline and determination? "Shaun has learned all about that," says Faith Ditzler, who with husband Brad showered him with encouragement. She looks on the gruelling experience as a gift: "It will," she says, "make him a better man someday."



Mt. Gretna joining the second annual "Steps to Survival" walk to raise funds for Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails and the Sexual Assault Resource Counseling Center of Lebanon included (pictured, from left): Jane Mourer, Bobbie Warshaw, Linda Gettle, Kathy Wall, and Barbara Hoffsommer.
Also joining them on the "Footprints" team were Geri Benseman, John Dempsey, Evelyn Koppel, Gail Babic, Sid Hostetter, Madelaine Gray, Judy Bojko, Tom Mayer, Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz and a mascot named Clema.

Speaking of fundraisers: Ceylon and Karen Leitzel are doing it again: It's their 7th Annual Music Under the Stars Aug. 28, an evening of Big Band dancing at the lake. The event will top off the summer and raise money for Mt. Gretna non-profit groups and the American Lung Association, which recently named Ceylon as one of its top volunteers across the nation. Reserve your tickets ($18) by calling 717-866-4274 or 964-1829.



Com up at Governor Dick Park
Music on the Porch July 11. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old Time music by anyone with an acoustic instrument who wants to join the fun. 2 p.m.

Teddy Bear hike for girls and moms July 17. Take a short hike with your daughter, share a picnic lunch and stories in the woods. Bring a teddy bear. 11 to 12:30.
Butterflies: Haunts and Habitats with Fred Habegger July 18. Learn how to lure butterflies to your garden. 2 p.m.
Fitness Hike July 24 on park trails. Starting at 9 a.m.
Mt. Gretna Bird Club meets every Friday at 9 a.m. Everyone welcome; birding experts share their knowledge.
Details for all programs: e-mail, call 964-3808, or check the calendar at



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 distributes this newsletter, also gives this advice to readers when pictures don't appear: Look at the top of the e-mail message for a button that may say something like, "Show images and enable links. Always for this sender." (That's AOL's wording; e-mail services use slightly altered terminology. Yet the meaning is the same.) If you click on "Allow content from this sender," photos should appear immediately.
If you 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: Nan McKay, who lives along Pennsylvania Avenue in the Chautauqua, spotted these orchids growing along her street last month and took this picture (left). "They look rather weedy until they bloom," says Nan, who moved to Mt. Gretna last fall. "I asked a few people around here if they had seen or heard of them before." No one had. It's another photgraphic treat from the newcomer who spends her days as a staffer at Milton Hershey School's Horticulture Center and sends us samples of her discoveries from time to time.    
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. We'll use them whenever possible.


Kathryn Hambright Sutcliffe, 1924-2010

Few roots penetrated more deeply into Mt. Gretna life than those of Kathryn Sutcliffe, who died June 16 at the age of 85. The mother of a former Mt. Gretna fire chief,  she and her late husband William J. Sutcliffe had provided the Borough's police services for 17 years. They lived at the corner of Princeton and Muhlenburg avenues and were active in many Mt. Gretna organizations. They had four children, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A brother, John Hambright, also lives in Mt. Gretna and continues to serve as a member of the Borough Council.
Graveside services were held last week at Ft. Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, where her husband also was buried following his death in 1986.




We gladly send this community newsletter by e-mail to anyone who asks for it. There's no cost or other obligation. The newsletter is simply a retirement hobby, much as woodworking is for others, with no political or commercial ax to grind. We don't cover everything. Some topics, we believe, are better left to daily newspapers, TV and other media.
Generally speaking, we aim to report on things that our readers haven't read elsewhere. Yet since well over half of our readers live outside Mt. Gretna -- in other cities, states and countries -- we sometimes include condensed versions of major stories affecting Mt. Gretna that appeared in local newspapers.
In preparing our reports, we try to keep in mind (in addition to accuracy and fairness) the example set by the late Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who regarded his audience as people who invited him into their homes. That's a good standard, we think, for community newsletters as well. 
We've been writing this newsletter since January 2001, usually once a month unless we're traveling, ailing or attending to household duties that (in the interest of domestic tranquility) sometimes take on a higher priority. 
We thank the many people who help us gather the news, take the photos, and then edit, fact-check and proofread this newsletter before it starts on its journey around the world. They include folks in Mt. Gretna, New York City and Hilton Head, SC. 
If you have difficulty reading or printing the newsletter, please click on the online version appearing at
Thanks to our friends at Gretna Computers, you can always find back issues of this newsletter on the Web. That online archive sometimes proves helpful to researchers and scholars, we understand. It's also consulted occasionally by people planning to move to Mt. Gretna who want to know more about what goes on in a community which, as the late Marlin Seiders once said, "is not a place, but a spirit."
Kindest regards,

Roger Groce
P.S. We use "Constant Contact" to help us keep up with growing numbers of folks around the world who seem to enjoy reading about Mt. Gretna. It's a good idea to add to your address book to help your Internet Service Provider (ISP) distinguish the Mt. Gretna Newsletter from spam (unsolicited email messages).

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