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

No. 114                                                               January 1, 2011

No image? See Website

  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 vanish altogether.
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 mid-December.  Nan McKay photo.

People 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 friend.


Italian night launch for a brand new stove:

Coming 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 new stove.

"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 past 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 7 p.m.

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.


The Campmeeting's quest for National Historic Registry
A prestigious payoff for persistence 
Mt. 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.
Tom Meredith, who with the help of spirited volunteers has headed that project, says the long-sought goal could be realized this year.
"It's 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 remodeNo image? See for latest issueling 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 rolling.
With the help of volunteer teams loaded with armfuls of maps and property descriptions, Tom began compiling a catalog of 228 Campmeeting buildinNo image? See for current issuegs. 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 TNo image? See Website 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 ServNo image? See Website grant, the township's general funds, and a recreation fund collected from developers, the Lebanon Daily News 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 or P.O. Box 3, Campbelltown, PA 17010.


When Mt. 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-No image? See Website 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 specifically.
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 handy.

Nter had scarcely begun when some folks wished it were already over. Adding his pitch fNo image? See Website 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.
Truth is, 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 and longer.   

Campmeeting resident Kerry McGuinness Royer, author of two children's Nbooks 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

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.No image? See Website
At right, 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 ChNo image? See Website 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.
Matt's 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
No image? See Website 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 charge. 

A Coleman Family Calendar for 2011 
It's a Mt. Gretna memorabilia collector's dream -- and by late last month was on track to become the hottest item of the season.
No image? See Website 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 Iron Furnace, 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:
The list 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,No image? See Website Fourth Street and Boehm Avenue).
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."
For details, tel. 964-3241.


More TVs this Year?
Are the turkey vultures showing up in greater numbers? 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 and decks.

The 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 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)
David Long, a former mayor of Mt. Gretna who also presided for a number of years over the Chautauqua Board of Managers and No image? See Website 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.

Marc Meteyer (1956-2010) Marc 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 optimisNo image? See Website 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 No image? See Website 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)
Betty 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.  
Born in 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
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, e-mail
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 here.
Gretna Music bulletins -- Updates on concert events, schedule changes and other news. See "Join Our Mailing List" at
Mt. Gretna Historical Society Newsletter  --  Online at
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
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
South Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of primary interest to Mt. Gretnans in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge; online at
Campmeeting Newsletter -- Available online and mailed to residents.
Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights residents. Address inquiries to Michelle Shay,


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 err.
We don't cover everything. Some topics, we find, are better left to daily newspapers, TV and others with greater skills, resources and insights.
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 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 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
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 spirit."

Kindest regards,
Roger Groce
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