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

           No. 110                                       September 1, 2010

Mt. Gretna 2010 Outdoor Art Show:
An enduring favorite that's personal & perpetually new
A newspaper columnist last week may have put his finger on precisely the reason Mt. Gretna's outdoor art renews, refreshes and endures year after year.
"One of the pleasures of Mt. Gretna is speaking with the artists whose work you're buying," noted Reading Eagle
writer John Fidler.
He touched on a resounding truth. The experience is a world apart from shopping in giant retail stores or online for things that come in boxes, usually from China and made by people that one never can hope to meet.
Personal, enticing and riding a wave of fresh creative impulses, the 2010 Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show swept into town last month on a Friday afternoon. By the following Tuesday, only a few remnants from straw bale benches remained, along with brightly colored banners still fluttering on a mid-August morning minus the crowds.
An annual rite of 36 years standing -- the biggest event that takes place in Mt. Gretna all year long -- had again fallen into place, guided almost imperceptibly by 250 or so

Art that transforms

volunteers who, with remarkable precision, accomplished their tasks without manuals, supervisors or endless committee meetings. Able, amiable people united in purpose and centered in goodwill.
Building on the traditions of nearly four decades, they again fashioned an outdoor showcase for 250 artists and thousands of appreciative visitors.
True, the numbers were down this year, but only slightly.
During the two-day festival that earned Sunshine Artist magazine's honors this year as one of the best in the country, some 12,139 patrons poured through the gates -- almost 17% fewer than last year because of downpou

Art that attracts

rs that threatened all through the morning on Sunday -- causing many prospective visitors to alter their plans -- and finally erupted shortly before noon.
Yet gate revenues of $84,218, bolstered by a $1 increase in the price of admission, nudged to within 8% of last year's totals. Not bad in a year when the twin forces of summer heat and reverberating echoes of a stubbornly persistent recession have buffeted outdoor art exhibits across the nation.
The totals were nevertheless sufficient to produce revenue-sharing checks immediately -- $15,159 to Mt. Gretna Borough (which maintains roadways surrounding Chautauqua grounds where the show takes place) and $11,158 to the fire company (a payment that president Joe Shay says arrives just in time to nearly cover the annual insurance premium that comes due every August for the fire engines and fire hall itself). 
Other sectors of the community also benefit, with surplus funds often going to support such things as emergency generators for water supplies, a lakeside fire h

Art that invites a touch

ydrant, buzzard-rousting equipment and similar investments that extend benefits to residents throughout the seven neighborhoods known as Mt. Gretna.
Amid generally upbeat endorsements from artists and repeated comments
("straight-up zen," said one patron) from visitors about the scope, quality and creativity of artistic endeavors on display, affirmations echoed that this event -- even after 36 years -- continues year after year with unabated freshness.
Yet one veteran artist, who has exhibited here since the show began, shared a disquieting thought. Looking over his colleagues during Sunday's downpour, many with graying heads that matched his own, he wondered aloud: "Where will the artists who are willing to risk bad weather, dwindling crowds and economic uncertainty come from in five years?"
Amid the banners, objects of beauty and hay bales, it was a question that arts-based communities like Mt. Gretna must now ponder.
For as Mr. Fidler observed, the art show is more than a festival, more than a hectic weekend that we carve out in the course of a busy summer.
Like music, plays, poems and other artistic expressions that take us out of ourselves, it is a part of the total Mt. Gretna experience, a venue that -- for reasons transcending economics -- is essential to preserve.


In other news. . .
A Mt. Gretna network to help neighbors?
It's a possibility say Julia Bucher and Kathy Wall, two Mt. Gretnans with professional experience in caregiving.
Their idea is a volunteer service that might help elderly residents who wish to rem in their homes, aid single parents who must cope with special medical needs and assist Mt. Gretnans who might need someone to drive them home after medical appointments that require sedation.
Timber Hills resident Evelyn Koppel hopes to hear from folks who think such a service might be desirable.
The idea began percolating last month after Julia presented talks as part of the Chautauqua summer program series. She and Kathy have offered to add their expertise to the effort. Think the notion has merit? To add your ideas or serve as a volunteer, contact Evelyn (e-mail or Tel. 964-3412).

Scott Hirst photo

He was the 39th fastest runner in the Boston Marathon 34 years ago. Several records he set as a student at Millersville University in the early 1970s still stand. And as an athlete, Campmeeting cottage owner Jeff Bradley has always been driven by speed.
Yet when he switched to a bicycle last spring -- on a 4,178-mile TransAmerica Route through America's small towns and villages -- he shut down the speed display on his Garmin cycle computer.
Rather than focusing on how fast he could pedal, the normally competitive

First priority: sever the speedometer

cyclist concentrated on how much of America he could take in.
"I had two main goals: Never pedal when I could coast. And keep my head up, to enjoy this great country," says the 58-year-old former high school math teacher and track coach.
They were goals his wife Nancy shared as she drove ahead of him in a support van checking out the map, making sandwiches and offering encouragement. In lightning storms, she doubled back to supply emergency shelter. But in non-electrical storms, no matter how heavy the downpour or how strong the winds, Jeff kept pedaling -- switching occasionally from his Shimano-equipped Norco Quest touring bike to a Cannondale Caad 8 (10 pounds lighter) to scale the mountain peaks.
On most of their 65 days along the route, Nancy by mid-afternoon had found the motel where they would relax, rest a bit, then go to dinner (usually at a local restaurant where they could meet the townsfolk). "That's where you really get to take the pulse of a local community, in the eateries," says Jeff, who
chronicled his adventures online.
After their long (usually 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) days on the road with only one flat tire -- on Nancy's support van, a 2003 Ford Windstar, not the bikes -- they reached Yorktown, Va. Observing a time-honored ritual of transcontinental cyclists, Jeff dipped his front tire in the water. and Nancy at Yorktown

Now that it's over, would Jeff recommend doing anything differently?
"Instead of trying to average 80 miles a day, I'd slow down to maybe 50 miles a day," he says. "I wish we'd taken more time in places like Charlottesville, Va, at Monticello and Ash Lawn, or maybe wander through town and get an ice cream cone." 
Savoring small town life is a specialty for the Bradleys. When they're not in Mt. Gretna, they spend time at their year-round home in Landisville, about 18 miles away.
Owning a Mt. Gretna cottage had been Jeff's dream, ever since he first ran a 10,000-meter race here 36 years ago. In 2002, Campmeeting friend and neighbor George Resch called to tell him about a nice cottage coming up for sale on Sixth Street. "You ought to take a look at it," said George.
The Bradleys bought and never looked back.
"Nancy loves it," says Jeff. "And in September, after the tourists leave and things quiet down, it's the most spectacular time of the year. The more I'm here, the more I realize how special Mt. Gretna is."



The "Miracle of Boulevard Avenue"
How they create a $15 bargain

So how do they do it?
We're talking about those fire company volunteers who create the annual "Miracle of Boulevard Avenue" (where the Mt. Gretna Fire Company is headquartered).
Their miracle? A $15 pig roast buffet complete with not just tender roasted pork sizzling on an open pit, but also baked beans, succulent vegetables, pineapple filling, salad, hors d'oeuvres, coffee, sodas and beer with a baked potato, dessert, rolls, and -- for those seeking an alternative pork -- hamburger barbecue. Plus there's entertainment. All coming Sept. 11, from 4:00 to 10:00 p.m.
But for $15???
Yes, and here's their secret: Virtually all the up-front costs are covered by donors who years ago figured out they could multiply their fire company contributions by sponsoring an event that would attract others, spur donations, and provide a community gathering that everyone looks forward to and nobody misses if they can help it.
Turns out they were right.
So who are the folks who are again helping create another pig roast this year? Here's the list:

Emi Snavely and Rhoda Long of Brownstone Realty, the Mt. Gretna Men's Club, restaurant owner Jason Brandt, the Mt. Gretna Hideaway, musician Scott Galbraith, Timbers Dinner Theater, Gretna Graphics, Gretna Computer Consulting and Mt. Gretna builder John Balmer.
These same folks, of course, along with many others, also contribute in other ways, says fire company president (and Mt. Gretna mayor) Joe Shay, adding: "But the annual pig roast is just one of the ways they add something extra to 'the spirit of Mt. Gretna.'"



Displays that Positively Dazzle

For a glimpse into how a community that celebrates porch living while people elsewhere are drawn indoors to computer and television screens, take a look at the luminous
d that  Campmeeting residents put on last month. are scenes from the "Illumuniation of the Grove" ceremony, harkening to the days when youngsters, finishing up their lessons at summer church camp, strolled through the Campmeeting Grove, singing their newly learned hymns.

That tradition got a modern twist when residents throughout the turned on their porch and interior lights to honor that heritage.

In the process, they also helped encourage others throughout Mt. Gretna to do the same.
That, in fact, will happen next July. are now underway to celebrate Independence Day 2011 with a Grand Illumination throughout the town -- building on an idea that's at least 100 years old and first started in other Chautauqua and Camp Meeting communities throughout America.

Karl Gettle heads a Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society group to shape those plans. He invites others to join in (telephone 964-2292, e-mail him at, or wri to Karl Gettle, P.O. Box 419, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064).
He expects to come up with a format that will permit everyone in Mt. Gretna -- including homeowners that don't have porches -- to participate with luminous displays that celebrate the nation's in a way that Mt. Gretnans did more than half a century ago. . .  without the hazard of fireworks.
It's a grand theme with possibilities that most agree are ideally suited to a creativity-ladened, porch-lined and patriotic-minded community like Mt. Gretna.
And as Campmeeting residents showed last month, the results can be positively dazzling.

Photos by Madelaine Gray


During the 51 years she lived in Mt. Gretna, Kim Miller Gardner showed up as a volunteer nearly everywhere: at the Playhouse, the library, the information center and the refreshment stand.
The widow of beloved musician, Lebanon Valley College Creative Achievement award winner and Timbers Dinner Theater co-producer Rodne

Ollie and friend

y S. Miller, who died unexpectedly five years ago at the age of 49, Kim was back in town last month to collect some items she had placed in storage.
"I don't know what's in all those boxes," said Kim, looking at a fully stuffed U-Haul as she contemplated the long drive back to St. Paul, Minn., where she and her new husband, Bob Gardner, now make their home.
Bob is an antique car buff. Kim was working as a research librarian at the Antique Auto Club in Hershey when he stopped in one day and asked for her help. Soon afterward, he was asking for her hand in marriage.
While she was here last month (with Bob and their collie, named Ollie), Kim had time to visit with her son Andrew, now married and living in Baltimore, and two sisters: Kyle Witman, in Elizabethtown, and Judy Schweingruber, a Mt. Gretnan. Another sister, Wendy Ulmer, who lives in Maine, was in town earlier this summer to promote her
latest book for children. Their parents, the late Bill and Ruth Uhler, lived in Mt. Gretna Heights 40 years.

Seven years after they left Mt. Gretna, Bruce and Trish Myers are busier than ever. The energetic couple, honored as two of Mt. Gretna's outstanding volunteers here in 2002, are now
instructing Hershey visitors in the fine art of Segwaying -- on the self-propelled chariot that Bruce, no

Bruce at 80: Setting the pace

w 80, masters

Trish challenge: Keeping up

with ease.
Not far behind is wife Trish, another Segway guide, instructing visitors in the joys of seeing Hershey's sights from this motorized, gyro-equipped and computer-controlled platform that travels over the Hotel Hershey grounds at speeds up to 12 mph.
When they're not leading visitors along the Segway trails, Trish works at a downtown museum while Bruce is busy over at the Giant Center's food and beverage department.
"We don't have to work," says Trish, "but we choose to. When Bruce has something to do, he's excited. In fact, I have a hard time keeping up."

Vegetarian chef and restaurant owner Kendra Feather, in a TV interview month after her popular cafe was voted "best vegetarian restaurant" by Richmond Magazine readers.
The daughter of Conewago Hill residents Laura and Joseph Feather, Kendra recently opened
Garnett's, a second eatery in  Virginia's capital city. 

Sue Pera, telling a
Harrisburg Patriot reporter this week the recession has actually boosted business at Cornerstone, the popular Camp Hill coffeehouse that she and husband Al bought 11 years ago.  As an alternative to expensive restaurants, "it's a small luxury that people can afford," she said. Sue is the daughter of Mt. Gretna summer residents Nancy and Earl Besch. She and Al once owned a cottage here. Folks here are keeping fingers crossed they'll return someday.


Special Bulletins
Mount Gretna

They are special bulletins intended primarily for people who live in and around Mt. Gretna. These occasional advisories usually contain information about such things as temporary road closings, disruptions to municipal services, utility repairs, severe weather shelter availabilities and other items of local interest.

To avoid overburdening readers who live elsewhere in the world, we normally do not circulate such bulletins to the full Mt. Gretna Newsletter mailing list. They are, however, available to anyone who wishes to receive them, regardless of where they live.

If you would like to receive these interim bulletins, please send an e-mail request to with "Local Updates" in the subject line.  We'll add your name to the mailing list.


Three cheers for the deer

"Deer hunting would be fine sport, if only the deer had guns," wrote the English librettist William S. Gilbert. But this year, the deer won't need armaments -- in Governor Dick Park at least. There will be no special limited hunt in 2010.
In fact, unless the herd thickens considerably, the 1,105-acre park's dwindling deer population may have an easier time of it for y

Who's counting?

ears to come.
That's because of shrinking deer counts and the end of a five-year exemption to land donor Clarence Shock's ban on hunting.
Since the court lifted that decades-old prohibition for a period of five years -- starting in 2005 -- hunters with restricted types of firearms killed a total of 94 deer in three years. In two of those five years, no hunts were allowed because the deer counts fell sharply. 
But never so much as this spring. Astonished officials could confirm fewer than five deer per square mile. That contrasted dramatically with the 32-deer-per-square-mile findings of only a year earlier. Yet when hunters were allowed on the site last December, only 24 reported they had killed deer.
Clearly, coming up with accurate population counts is anything but easy. In 2004, forestry official Barry Rose had estimated that "more than 100" deer were roaming the forest (which he said could reasonably support only 20 to 35 deer). Mr. Rose's projection prompted officials to obtain a temporary court order that lifted the ban in 2005. In that year, a total of 55 deer (having never before glimpsed hunters) were killed in four days.
But nothing close to that has occurred since.
"Our survey this year showed the lowest number of deer in the past six years. Neither we nor the foresters know why," said Chuck Allwein, a former biology teacher who serves on the park board. "Our five-year window allowed by the court is now closed. If we want to conduct a hunt in the future, we will have to go back to the court."
That's probably just fine as far as the deer are concerned. Any judge poring over the confused jumble of herd population statistics to determine whether to allow a resumption of special hunts in the future will likely wind up with the bewildered look of a deer in the headlights. 



 Questions Readers Ask
[] I have heard about a frog pond in Mt Gretna.  Can someone please tell me how I can find it?  I have two young boys who would love this. 
<> Little-known but much-loved by those who have discovered it, the Frog Pond is one of Mt. Gretna's hidden gems. Located just 50 yards up a path in the woods off Fourth Street in the Heights, it is a place where for more than half a century children have played, couples have fallen in love, and artists and writers have come for solitude and inspiration. A stone marker identifies it as the location of a cabin occupied in the late 18th Century by the former slave and charcoal burner known as Governor Dick.
Curiously, few people today seem to know much about it. Yet for those who grew up here, it was a favorite spot, particularly for people like Kim Uhler (now Kim Miller Gardner) and Elizabeth Wein.
Now living in Minnesota, Kim recalls scooping up frog eggs and

Original painting by Robert Nisley, commissioned as a birthday present by her grandmother Betty Flocken, now hangs in Elizabeth Wein's home.

watching them hatch into tadpoles. Elizabeth, the author of historical fiction for young adults who now lives in Scotland, was courted there by her future husband.
And both, with friends and family, spent endless hours as teenagers, making the pond a suitable home for goldfish that people sometimes dropped off.
The pond is today maintained by Heights property owners who sometimes add their own labor to the services of professional tree cutters and confront such issues as what to do about the pond's only bench, recently smashed by a falling tree. Max Hunsicker recalls a winter in the 1980s when Tom Lloyd, chopping away at a huge poplar that had fallen across the pond, lost "a particularly fine axe" in the frigid waters. "We never did find it," says Max, who adds that Tom Nicholas and many other residents often lend a hand to keep the area clean, but natural. 
That makes the pond and its surrounding grounds a marvel

For residents like Barbara Lauver, who moved to Mt. Gretna five years ago, the pond is a special place. 

ous and magical place for people like Bob and Barbara Lauver who now live on Maple Avenue in the Heights and often stop by with their dogs.
The goldfish? Folks still drop them off from time to time, but reports of people stopping by to scoop them up to feed their pet piranhas have not only been confirmed over the years but continue to circulate. Recently, in fact, when a group seen near the pond with nets got away before anyone could stop them. A visitor to the pond yesterday morning, however, assured that the goldfish were still there, safe and sound in numbers, nibbling away at the algae, insects and abundant plants. The magic continues.
Never been to the Frog Pond?
Click here for a YouTube video, complete with genuine frog sounds.



People who build community
So when it comes to figuring out how the Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show gets underway each year -- with only volunteers and no paid staffers -- here's one answer: People give their time to do the essential set-ups a week or so before the show.
So on a Tuesday morning before the weekend show got underway last month, volunteers turned out on the Chautauqua grounds doing things like rebuilding the stage that art show entertainers would use for the two-day event.
From left, Mt. Gretnans Tom Sheaffer and Joe Feather got things started with the help of John McCord (center, just in from Arizona) teaming with frequent hurricane catastrophe volunteer Val Sarabia (foreground) and Terry Miller (far right). All five men know their way around a hammer and nails, but only Terry does this sort of thing for a living. Nevertheless, on a steamy August morning, they furnished yet another example of how Mt. Gretna's art show gets created each year: with teamwork, talent and a can-do spirit.



90 People, maybe more, expected to show up at the annual Mt. Gretna community picnic at the Hall of Philosophy Sept. 4.

Absent rigamarole, it just happens

body in town is invited -- from Timber Bridge to Stoberdale, the Heights and all points in between.
The doors open at 4 p.m. and folks begin eating around 4:30 p.m., says coordinator Barney Myer.
Call 964-1830 to reserve your spot, let Barney know how many are coming and what covered dish you'll bring (salad, entrée or dessert).
Barney himself usually prepares a three-pound meatloaf, and someone asked last year what would happen if everyone decided to bring, say, a dessert. "It's never happened in six years," he said. "It all just balances out."
That qualifies the community covered dish supper as another of those Mt. Gretna mysteries: Absent rules, rulers and rigamarole, it just happens.

Race coming up this month for Pat Allwein, who turned 60 this year. The Campmeeting mom, grandmother and has placed first in her age group at the Mt. Gretna Triathlon for the past two years and has kept a log of her races since 2001.
If all goes as planned, she will cross the finish line of her 100th race, the 5K Delaware Mud Run, on Sept. 26.
$1,500 Shared by three different groups benefiting from the 7th annual "Music Under the Stars" season-ending musical fundraiser last week at Lake Conewago. Organizers Ceylon and Karen Leitzel presented $500 gifts to Mt. Gretna's fire company, Lawn Ambulance and the American Lung Association. 
Will there be another event next year? "We'd like to see it continue," says Ceylon, "since many people in Mt. Gretna, even if they don't come, have told us they enjoy listening to the music from their porches. So it strikes us that a local non-profit group might want to take it over as an annual fundraiser. We'd be open to that," he says.


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, the commercial service which 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; different 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: Evelyn Koppel, who joins husband Sid Hostetter o the Mt. Gretna Bird Club's Friday morning jaunts (starting 9 a.m. at the Chautauqua parking lot), says fall is just around the corner and sent this photo to prove it.
"The bird migration has begun with warblers and raptors migrating through," says Evelyn. "And the butterfly eggs are turning into caterpillers."
She caught a photo of this Buckeye butterfly just after it landed on a Mexican Sunflower in the garden of their Valley Road home.

Readers who have digital pictures of Mt. Gretna scenes, events or people likely to interest others are invited to e-mail them to
We're delighted to receive Mt. Gretna-related photos from readers here and around the world. We'll use them whenever possible.


This is an unofficial community newsletter unaffiliated with any group or organization. Rather, it is simply a retirement pastime, much as woodworking might be for others, with no political or commercial axe to grind. We send it by e-mail on request, without cost or obligation.
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 them live outside Mt. Gretna -- in other cities, states and countries -- we sometimes include condensed versions of stories affecting Mt. Gretna that appeared in local newspapers.
In preparing our reports, we try to keep in mind 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 writers of community newsletters as well. 
We also try to adhere to the code of Rotary International. Its Four-Way Test of the Things We Think, Say or Do strikes us as a useful guideline not just for writers of newsletters and blogs, but for everyone: "Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?"
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 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 out on its journey around the world. They include folks in Mt. Gretna, New York City, St. Paul, Minn. 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, we understand, sometimes proves helpful to researchers and scholars. 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 observed, "is not a place, but a spirit."
Kindest regards,
Roger Groce

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