Mt. Gretna, Pa. . . . "Not a place,
but a spirit." -- Marlin Seiders
January 1, 2011
In the final days of 2010,
sunrise peeks over the mountaintop onto a frozen Lake Conewago
Ice hockey on the lake weeks ahead of schedule. Neighbors swap
hasty greetings in puffy, see-your-breath conversational clouds outside
the post office. Weekend promenades of hand-holding couples along
Pennsylvania Avenue slow to a trickle, then
Signs, all, that winter has arrived. And with it, as the new year begins,
a time to pause and reflect.
Hockey on the ice at
Nan McKay photo.
who live in small towns often have an edge when it comes to philosophical
musings. They usually focus on things close at hand. That sometimes not
only makes the big wide world less intimidating but also fosters a certain clarity.
As the writer of "Outta the Way!", an online travel journal,
suggested several months ago, "spending a day in Mt. Gretna will
make you feel that life is a whole lot simpler."
New Year's Day becomes a useful turning point. For we are heirs to the
visions of Robert H. Coleman, Tom Ebright, John
Wentzler, Jack Bitner
and former mayor David Long (whose obituary appears in this issue).
People with personal passions, they all left their marks on Mt. Gretna.
Although the scope of their gifts varied, all had a common thread: they
helped build the stage from which others could launch their dreams.
Personal enthusiasms have brought forth an uncommonly rich cornucopia: a
summer music festival that now commands a national reputation; a summer
stock theater that ranks as one of the nation's oldest; and a blend of
cultural, religious and recreational pursuits marked by quality and
distinction rarely equaled in towns three times our size.
More recently, similar passions have sparked an organ recital series of
growing renown; a historical foundation and museum that is anchoring Mt.
Gretna to its roots; a resounding summer programs series that inspires,
instructs and illuminates; and the Campmeeting's
reawakening of honored traditions such as Grand Illuminations that will
spread throughout all of Mt. Gretna on July 4th this year.
Such assets buoy the spirits and enrich the lives of all who live here,
with benefits that flow to every sector of this community, hopping over
municipal boundaries and drawing upon talents that link neighborhoods,
hearts and minds.
Nothing happens, it is said, until somebody gets excited. As a new year
begins, that lesson stands out in sharp relief: Agog is a man's best
night launch for a brand new stove:
January 22: A treat to top them all
As winter gatherings in Mt. Gretna go, this one
nearly tops the SuperBowl. It's a tradition
that started in 2008 and quickly became the hit of the season.
This year, the pasta event extraordinare
has a special mission: Raise money to help defray the cost of a $3,300
"It's a move we had to make," says
fire company president Joe Shay.
"We had kept our old stove going for 30
years, and it was used when we got it. The old ovens couldn't hold
temperatures anymore, and during our last breakfast we had a disaster.
The kitchen filled with smoke, pans in the oven turned black, and we had
to throw out some of the food. So we had no choice. We needed a new stove
for our fundraisers."
What that means, of course, is that if you're
yearning for a taste of pasta and meatballs like Jason Brandt used to make at the
Hideaway, guess what? Jason will be back -- putting this year's Italian
Night Dinner together on the new stove in a fundraiser that kicks off the
2011 season Saturday, Jan. 22.
The gala event begins at 4 p.m. and continues through
With salad, Italian bread and mouth-watering
desserts, it's likely to draw another record crowd. Plus generous
contributions in an eat-what-you-want, pay-what-you-want
extravaganza that Joe and his team hope will give the fire company's new stove
a champagne send-off.
quest for National Historic Registry
prestigious payoff for persistence
Gretna's Campmeeting is nearing the finish line
in a nearly five-year quest to win its spot on the National Park
Service's listing of historic places.
Meredith, who with the help of spirited volunteers has headed that
project, says the long-sought goal could be realized this year.
mostly a matter of prestige," Tom says. "It offers some
protection against major changes, but it won't cause taxes to go up or
prevent anyone from painting or remodeling their cottage." What
it does assure is that major construction projects, such as rerouting a
highway, for example, would first need the Pennsylvania Bureau of
Historic Preservation's approval.
Tom, whose great-grandfather
was among the Campmeeting founders, lives in
Timber Hills. A Bible Festival volunteer, he started working on behalf of
the Campmeeting to gain national register
status in February 2006. That was when the state's historic bureau came
to the Mt. Gretna fire hall and held an informational meeting for the
entire community. Officials explained how to go about achieving status as
a historical district. The idea lit the spark for Tom and others in the Campmeeting. Another impetus spurred the decision:
the Methodist Church had already included the Tabernacle on its national
register of historic sites. Combined, those two events got the ball
help of volunteer teams loaded with armfuls of maps and property
descriptions, Tom began compiling a catalog of 228 Campmeeting
buildings. It turned out to be a
long, arduous process. Getting registered as a national historic site can
take decades. (Twenty years after Lebanon's Salem Evangelical Lutheran
Church launched its quest for a spot on the national historic register,
for example, it finally achieved that honor last summer.)
When the Campmeeting's
application is completed, the state historic preservation bureau will
evaluate and send it to the National Park Service. Tom expects the park
service to endorse the state bureau's recommendations.
Might other Mt. Gretna
neighborhoods also qualify for historical register status? Without
question, says Tom. "Although I'm no longer able to take a
leadership role, I'd enjoy helping others and share what I've learned.
One thing I know: It really helps to have enthusiastic volunteers.
Without people like Esther Mefferd, Linda
Campbell, Madelaine Gray, George and Chris Resch and Debbie Erb, I'd
have been lost."
In other news. . .
Broadway bus trip coming up in March
Gretna Theatre plans a bus trip to see
"Jersey Boys" on Saturday, March 26. Producing Artistic Director Larry Frenock
says plans are to leave from Mt. Gretna's main parking lot, enjoy a few
free hours in New York City, then see the matinee of this Tony
Award-winning ("best musical") biography of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
Memorable tunes include
"Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Can't Take My
Eyes Off of You," and "Oh, What a Night." For details, click here.
Officials call for comments on park plans
South Londonderry Township
seeks residents' opinions on a proposed $500,000 15-acre park it could
acquire in Campbelltown. Funds to buy the land
would come from a $243,750 National Park Service grant, the township's
general funds, and a recreation fund collected from developers, the Lebanon
reported. Sixty residents signed petitions favoring the plan in November.
By December, however, a spokesman opposing the park said he had collected
signatures from 150 to 200 others who disagree with the idea.
Supervisor Phil Rothermel encouraged views from residents (including
those living in the Mt. Gretna neighborhoods of Timber Hills, Timber
Bridge, and Conewago Hill) before the supervisors
act in February. Contact email@example.com or P.O. Box 3, Campbelltown, PA 17010.
Gretna fire chief Bob Dowd needed a way to focus attention on the fire
company's latest fundraiser to pay for that 2,300 sq. ft. addition to the
fire house and new firefighting equipment, he called on Avery, his
15-year-old sister, to help folks in
town remember their pledge.
The campaign is merely the freshest way to put aside a little extra money
to help "burn the mortgage." Pocket change, really. Dimes
The idea is to drink the water in those bottles that firefighters handed
out in recent weeks and then fill them up with dimes.
On Sunday April 10, they'll invite everyone to a big celebration at the
firehouse. Bring your dime-filled bottles and join in a big celebration
that's sure to include prizes, a raffle, and plenty of fun.
Avery, a student at Cedar Crest High School, agreed to help big brother
Bob spread the word. Aiming toward a career in writing, psychology
"or maybe both," she proves that little sisters sometimes
do come in
Winter had scarcely begun when some folks wished it
were already over. Adding his pitch for an early end to the season
was Mt. Gretna Mayor Joe
Shay (left). The mayor noted those
8-ft.-long icicles which hovered -- even before the third full week
of December -- over Janet and Jonathan
Rudd's waterfall along Route 117. Then he implored Penny, Mt. Gretna's groundhog guru, to stay
indoors next month. Especially if there's even a remote chance that she
could spot her shadow on Feb. 2.
however, even Penny looks forward to an early spring. Yet come snowfalls
or sunrays, she vows to be out in front of her Penn Realty den on
Groundhog Day. There, she'll pass out donuts, coffee and friendly
greetings. But if she sees her shadow, those icicles will grow thicker
Campmeeting resident Kerry McGuinness
of two children's books illustrated by husband Matt, added a special Christmas story to her literary credits last
month. Appearing Dec. 25 in the Harrisburg Patriot-News, "A Flash of Red"
revolves around a young boy, a "perfect red feather," his
Grandpa's workshop, and a house they built at Christmas for an elf who,
by the way, just happens to live in Mt. Gretna.
Kerry's books, "Nightbear & Lambie"
and "A Christmas Ride," are available at Pottery Barn Kids and
online at nightbearandlambie.com.
It was a
show stopper. The Historical Society's gala open house celebration on
Pennsylvania Avenue last month spilled all over town -- with caroling,
museum tours, craft activities, fossil giveaways and artists displaying
their creations at La Cigale. The event
ended up by the fireside at Mt. Gretna Inn.
water color specialist Barb Fishman points out an item of
interest to Amanda Pennypacker (left, who coordinated holiday craft projects
at the museum) and fellow exhibitor Luise Christensen-Howell (a noted artist whose custom
stained glass designs are described online).
"The caroling was rather wet," says event volunteer Evelyn
Koppel, but a large group "gathered at the Inn and sang by the fire
to enjoy the beautiful decorations, hospitality and refreshments of
innkeepers Harry Short and Frank Romonoski."
Matt Goudie, the son of Ginger and Jim Goudie
(former Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church minister, 1983-2001), was
married last month. Matt, who grew up here, is a golf
professional at Lancaster Country Club. His bride, the former Ashley Graby, is a registered nurse.
sister, Jennifer Schall, a consummate chef
whose website contains scrumptious photos of the wedding cake, baked the cake for her
little brother. Matt's grandparents, Joanne and Tom Honeychurch,
live on Village Cove.
Personal glimpses of Mt. Gretna history:
It's coming Sunday, Jan. 30: Another chance to share a bit of Mt.
Gretna's history from personal perspectives.
"Every few years we like to give folks an opportunity to share items with the
community," says Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society president Fred Buch. He's urging people with Mt. Gretna artifacts,
documents, photographs and stories to bring them to this special session,
which is open to the public.
Fred notes that while some participants may feel comfortable making
presentations themselves, others might prefer to have historical society
volunteers describe the items for them.
Stories about activities or people of yesterday are also welcome. The
event starts at 2 p.m. in the fire hall; there is no admission
A Coleman Family Calendar for 2011
Mt. Gretna memorabilia collector's dream -- and by late last month was on
track to become the hottest item of the season.
Rare and previously
unpublished photos of Lebanon's legendary Coleman family appear in a 2011
Calendar that's proven surprisingly popular. Issued by the Friends of Corwnall
the calendar was originally printed in only 250 copies. Supplies
disappeared quickly, so officials ordered 300 reprints. They'll be on
sale as long as supplies last, says Steve
Somers, administrator at the historic furnace.
The calendar includes photos from private collections, including one of
Mt. Gretna founder Robert H. Coleman's lavish private rail car in Florida.
Stories and photos about the Coleman family as well as the furnaces they
operated in Cornwall and Colebrook and their mansions appear alongside
pages detailing the history of Mt. Gretna, including the National Guard
encampments, and the Cornwall and Lebanon railroad stations and St.
Luke's Episcopal Church, where Coleman worshiped. To place your order,
send $15.90 plus $3 for shipping and handling to Cornwall Iron Furnace,
P. O. Box 251, Cornwall, PA 17016. The site is open Thurs-Sat 9 a.m. - 4
p.m. If you'd like to call first to be sure calendars are still
available, tel. 272-9711.
Coming at the church this month:
includes surprises you might not have expected to find. Here's what's
happening where membership is growing and good things are taking place
this month at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church (located in the Campmeeting, Fourth Street and Boehm
Zumba classes, every Monday morning at 8:00. Yes, it's the
popular Zumba-Gold class that enlivened the
Hall of Philosophy last summer. Now, it's moved to a building with heat.
You'll find this bursting-with-energy group working out (an ideal way to start the week) in the Fellowship Hall. To join
them, simply stop by any Monday morning and, well, zumba
yourself into a new you.
The Gathering Place, Wednesday, Jan. 26. More
than a luncheon -- it combines food, fellowship and the chance to greet
friends both old and new every month, starting at noon. All for the price
of whatever you care to give in a freewill offering. Something to put on
your "look forward to" calendar items every month.
Sunday Services, 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. Pastor
Mike Remel plans a special worship service Jan.
2. Based on a service first developed by Methodism founder John Wesley,
this special Wesleyan Covenant Service will focus on the Covenant Prayer,
which invites participants to fully commit themselves to God just prior
to taking the Sacrament of Holy Communion. "It's an effective way to
start the new year," says Pastor Mike, "because it emphasizes
making or renewing one's commitments."
details, tel. 964-3241.
More TVs this Year?
Are the turkey vultures showing up in greater numbers?
Depending on where you live, it might seem so.
Timber Bridge and Conewago Hill residents have
seen the birds arriving in clumps, attracted to treetops where they've
rarely been seen before.
Other areas of Mt. Gretna have also discovered huge flocks that, after
several hours of hovering aloft, suddenly swoop down to roost for the
night, often damaging rooftops, automobile finishes, landscaping, porches
buzzard patrol -- which over the past decade has discouraged all but a
few of the original 600 or so that first plagued Mt. Gretna in earlier
years -- could use some more volunteers. To sign up with Max Hunsicker's band of stalwarts ("The few, the
proud, the Buzzard Busters"), drop him a note at MHunsicker@comcast.net. The volunteers who take part
in a coordinated campaign regarded as one of the most successful in
Pennsylvania can use your help.
Program note: Quittapahilla
Audubon Society offers a program on turkey vulture migration Wednesday,
Jan. 26 at Lebanon Valley Home, 550 E. Main St., Annville at 7:30 p.m.
Mt. Gretna Bird Club member Evelyn Koppel says the session will probably
address issues facing Mt. Gretna.
David M. Long (1928-2010)
Long, a former mayor of Mt. Gretna who also presided for a number of
years over the Chautauqua Board of Managers and was a co-founder of the water
authority, died Dec. 8 at his home in Mt. Gretna. It was a town that he
loved, a town where his parents had met in the Campmeeting's
historic Tabernacle, and a town to which Dave himself devoted much of his
life and considerable energies after serving as a Marine Air Corps pilot
during the Korean conflict.
Paul Enck, a cousin and summertime neighbor,
recalls that after Korea, Dave continued to fly Marine Corps jets as a
reservist once a month, sometimes buzzing over crowds at the lake to make
their summer afternoons memorable.
In addition to his municipal activities, which helped rescue Mt. Gretna
from the brink of financial collapse at one point, he devoted much of his
time and talents to the Mt. Gretna Art Show, Music at Gretna and the Mt.
Gretna Fire Company. He was instrumental in consolidating Mt. Gretna's
two separate fire departments, one in the Chautauqua and another in the Campmeeting. "Dave played a principal role in
either establishing or strengthening foundations on which we are now
living," said long-time friend and borough council president Chuck Allwein."Without those foundations, I'm not sure
there would be a Mt. Gretna Borough today."
Surviving are his wife Barbara (Hupp) Whitson
Long, two sons, two daughters. eight
grandchildren, a sister and a nephew. His official obituary appears
online and may be viewed by clicking here.
Meteyer, a Woodbine, Md. resident who had
delighted in spending time in Mt. Gretna, died Nov. 6 following a
year-long battle with brain cancer. "He fought cancer with optimism and courage," said
Debra, his wife of 29 years. "We extend our heartfelt thanks to our
neighbors and the Mt. Gretna community for their friendship and support,
especially over the past year." Marc was president and CEO of the
Compressed Gas Association, near Washington, DC. He had been a research
scientist, consultant and an environmental and development issues
lobbyist. He served 20 years with the American Petroleum Institute.
"Woodscent," the five-bedroom
Harvard Avenue cottage that Marc and Debbie enjoyed with their son and
two daughters for nearly a decade, is one of the largest and oldest in
Mt. Gretna; it was built in the early 1890s.
Erma Mae Rudy (1917-2010) Erma Mae Rudy, who for many years
had enjoyed the cottage she and her late husband Arthur F. Rudy owned on
Muhlenberg Avenue, died Dec. 26 at a hospital in Somers Point, NJ. A
native of Lancaster County, she had been a homemaker in Landisville
where, for 62 years, she was a member of the Church of God. She enjoyed
working with the choir, playing the organ and piano as well as gardening,
her online obituary notes. She is survived by a
son and daughter, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Betty G. Smith (1917-2010)
Smith, who had lived with her husband Charles at the corner of
Valley and Hillcrest Roads in Timber Hills, died Dec. 12 at the home
of her daughter, the Patriot-News reported.
Morenci, MI, she and her husband, who had died nine years earlier, were
active members of Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. They were the
close friends of Dr. Earl and Mary Snyder, former neighbors who recall
that Betty was a woman who loved cats, flowers and her carefully
tended gardens. She is survived by a son and daughter, one sister,
two granddaughters and one great-grandchild. Click here for the online obituary notice.
Other newsletters you may like to
receive. . .
Mt. Gretna Updates -- issued occasionally by e-mail and primarily of interest to
year-round residents. News of temporary road closings, utility repairs
and other conditions affecting people who live in the seven neighborhoods
served by the Mt. Gretna post office. Send an e-mail request, with
"LOCAL UPDATES" in subject line, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Week in Mt. Gretna -- Issued during summer months; a week-by-week listing of local
events, sent by e-mail on request. To add your name to the mailing list,
Mt. Gretna Arts Council Newsletter -- Now available ONLY
online (no mailed copies). Updated
to include news concerning groups dedicated to the arts in Mt. Gretna,
Calendar of Events, Summer Premier and Arts
Council scholarships. Click
Gretna Music bulletins -- Updates on concert events, schedule changes and other news.
See "Join Our Mailing List" at http://gretnamusic.org/
Mt. Gretna Historical Society Newsletter -- Online at http://www.mtgretnahistory.org/newsletter.php
Mt. Gretna Bible Festival Newsletter -- Mailed in the spring and fall without charge. Send request to
Bible Festival, P.O. Box 408, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.
Governor Dick Park Newsletter -- Online and by e-mail. See http://parkatgovernordick.org/dnn/History/Newsletter/tabid/63/Default.aspx
Cornwall Police Department E-Mail Bulletins -- issued as warranted to update residents on events of community
interest, including crime alerts. To add your name to the mailing list,
e-mail request to email@example.com
South Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of primary interest to Mt. Gretnans
in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber
Bridge; online at http://southlondonderry.org/.
Newsletter -- Available online and mailed to residents.
Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights residents. Address inquiries to Michelle
This is an unofficial community newsletter, with no political or
commercial axe to grind. It is mainly a retirement hobby, much as
woodworking might be for others. We send this letter by e-mail to
anyone who asks for it. There is no charge and no expectation of
anything other than friendship, conviviality and a gentle prodding when
We don't cover everything. Some topics, we find, are better left
to daily newspapers, TV and others with greater skills, resources and
Generally speaking, we try to cover topics that readers haven't
already read elsewhere. Yet since well over half of the folks who
receive this newsletter live outside of Mt. Gretna -- in other cities,
states and countries -- we sometimes summarize stories about Mt. Gretna
that appear 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 felt as if people were inviting him into their homes.
We also like the practical wisdom expressed in Rotary
International's Four-Way Test of the Things We Think, Say or Do.
. . a useful guideline not just for writers of community newsletters
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
We've been writing this newsletter since January 2001, usually
once a month unless we're traveling, ailing or attending to household
duties that sometimes must 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. They include folks with special skills and
knowledge of Mt. Gretna who live not only here but also in places like
New York City, St. Paul, Minn. and Hilton Head, S.C.
If you have difficulty reading or printing the newsletter,
please click on the online version appearing at http://mtgretna.com/news.
Thanks to our friends at Gretna Computers, you can always find back issues of this newsletter on the Web. That online archive, we're told, occasionally proves helpful
to people planning to move to Mt. Gretna and others 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
policy: The Mt. Gretna
Newsletter mailing list is not sold, rented, traded or shared with anyone,