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Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 120 July 1, 2011

July 4th celebration that fulfills a dream

Get Ready for Mt. Gretna's Grand Illumination

From Timber Bridge to the Heights, Mt. Gretnans are revving up for the 4th of July. Residents of Timber Hills are setting out luminaries along streets and pathways, people

An inspired approach to "Let Freedom Ring"

in the Campmeeting and Chautauqua are stringing lights across their porches, and in surrounding neighborhoods like Conewago Hill and Stoberdale, many are decorating Liberty Bell shapes to echo this year's theme, "Let Freedom Ring."

On West Yale Avenue, Patty and Rob Gokey (left) last week fashioned a three-dimensional Liberty Bell of paper mache to suspend atop their front porch against the background of a "Betsy Ross" 13-star flag.

Reflecting the enthusiasm swirling for this event, David and Connie Steinke (Tel. 964-3062) purchased 500 bags for illuminated candles that they'll distribute among their Timber Hills neighbors.

For Karl Gettle (below, right), who headed the Mt. Gretna Art Show for many years and has become the spark plug behind this year's community-wide celebration, the 4th of July's Grand Illumination could turn out to be a dream fulfilled.

"One of the things I always wanted to do with the art show was get the communities of Mt. Gretna together," he said. "We're not just Chautauqua, we're not just Campmeeting, the Heights or Timber Hills, we're Mt. Gretna."

This will be the "first real community-wide effort we've had, with everybody participating," says Karl.

A dream to get the communities of Mt. Gretna together

The 4th of July Grand Illumination draws its inspiration from century-old traditions, many that extend to Mt. Gretna's early days when the "Chinese Shop," which disappeared sometime after the 1950s, sold paper lanterns that cottage owners strung across their porches. Other Chautauqua settlements and Camp Meeting associations across the nation hold similar festivals. One of the biggest is in Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

Two years ago, Mt. Gretna's Campmeeting resumed its "Illumination of Our Cottages" ceremony, a quiet tradition that traces its roots to the days when youngsters who finished summer church camp strolled through the Campmeeting Grove to sing their newly learned hymns. That historical observance repeats on August 20.

And this year, following a July 4th concert by the Rehrersburg Band, bells will chime at 9 p.m. at both the Playhouse and the Tabernacle. Hundreds of candles placed in holders nailed to trees near the tennis courts will be lit, and residents everywhere in Mt. Gretna will be invited to illuminate their homes and porches as neighbors and visitors walk or drive through streets.

From the looks of things, nearly everybody will be joining in. The nation's grandest holiday will get a big boost in Mt. Gretna. And the retired Art Show chairman may have realized yet another dream.


Opening possibility for 80 to 85 Townhouses & Single Family Homes

Zoning Changes Sought for Mt. Gretna Land

Could 90 acres of land adjacent to the area where Mt. Gretna's amusement park once operated be rezoned to allow townhouses and additional single-family homes? That's a possibility under a request that turned up last month in meetings held at West Cornwall Township and appeared to catch many Mt. Gretnans, and even some township officials themselves, by surprise.

The municipality's commissioners and planning commission received requests to rezone the land north of Route 117 (where the roller rink, inset, is now located), from

Mt. Gretna's oldest building: located on a tract that could be affected by a rezoning request.

Residential Forest (RF) to R1 and R2, greatly expanding the number of homes that could be built on the site.

(Click here for a Lebanon Daily News account of the June 22 planning meeting and here for definitions of Residential Forest [p. 27-37] and other zoning regulations in the township.)

Making the request were Eastern Enterprises, Inc., a private firm with historical ties that trace to the earliest days of the amusement park, as well as several private landowners.

If approved, the rezoning would change the number of allowable dwelling units on the site from one-per-acre to as many as five townhouses per acre in a section of the tract that runs closest to Route 117, south of the rail-trail.

At a planning commission meeting last month, Michael L. Saxinger, a landscape architect representing Eastern Enterprises, said topography considerations, flood plain restrictions and environmental concerns would limit the number of dwellings that could be built. In response to a question, he added that an initial sketch plan his firm developed showed as many as 80 to 85 dwellings, which included townhouses and single-family homes, were possible on Eastern Enterprises' 69-acre usable land site. That could mean, at the standard measure of 2.1 persons per dwelling unit, another 175 new Mt. Gretna residents if the land is developed someday.

Just how likely is that? Objections to changing the zoning for land originally designated as Residential Forest are likely to be strong. As planning commission member Dr. Raymond Dorsch pointed out, RF designations were intended to "preserve and protect ecologically sensitive land ... for future generations. We'd have to have very good reasons to be overturning that," he said.

Township commissioner Russ Gibble added that among the regrets of his "30 years in the township business" was seeing a townhouse development created which later spawned neighborhood parking problems for residents. "If I had it to do over again, I would look at the whole issue differently," he said.

Gibble added that once land is rezoned,"If you get somebody who really knows the ins and outs, what you think can't be done can end up being done."

Ben Wiley, a Campmeeting resident who serves on the West Cornwall Township Planning Commission, cautioned, "We're not just looking at turning another cornfield into a development. We're talking about an area that, in addition to its beauty and wonderful history, is a unique community."

Dr. Eugene Otto, also a Mt. Gretna resident and a principal of Eastern Enterprises (which also owns the lake, miniature golf course and other commercial properties locally), pointed out that "nothing is set in stone at this point" and any structures built on the site would not be visible from Route 117, at least during the summer when trees are in full foliage. He also said that additional users on the newly-installed sanitary sewer line now under construction would have the effect of reducing the $250 quarterly fees for existing homeowners.

Among a handful of Mt. Gretnans attending the June 22 meeting were Campmeeting residents Patricia and Mike Allwein. "We just learned about this today at 3:30," said Mrs. Allwein. "I hope that before anything is rezoned, the uniqueness of Mt. Gretna is taken into consideration. I believe that multiple housing units would be very detrimental to the entire area." Her husband also asked if environmental studies might affect rezoning. Township consulting engineer Jeff Steckbeck said that although environmental surveys aren't involved in rezoning, they trump every other consideration -- regardless of zoning -- before development can begin. "There are a lot of protections," he said.

Any decision on the rezoning request is likely to be delayed, possibly until sometime late next winter or early spring. Planning officials decided to take no action now and tabled the request for the next few months. They will seek comment on the proposed rezoning from Michelle Brummer, of Gannet Fleming's Harrisburg office, now developing a regional comprehensive plan for several municipalities in the Cornwall-Lebanon School District. Once the township planners get a clearer idea of what's involved, they'll submit their recommendation to West Cornwall's supervisors, who must make the final decision. Gretna, Pa:

A Stop for Vacationers On

New Chautauqua Trail

A story in The Cleveland Plain Dealer last weekend announced that a Chautauqua Trail, linking more than a dozen chautauquas, including Mt. Gretna's, will be established throughout North America.

Kevin Sibbring, president of Lakeside Chautauqua, on Lake Erie, one of the earliest chautauquas still operating, leads the group to create a Chautauqua Trail from Maine to Colorado, the newspaper reported.

Mt. Gretna resident Kathy Snavely, a member of Sibbring's planning committee, says the effort is well-funded and has the staff it needs to complete the task. She added that research shows more and more people now plan vacations based on an interest in history and, as Teddy Roosevelt once observed, "chautauquas are a uniquely American invention."

A chief aim of the project is to promote and provide information on 13 remaining chautauqua communities that were among several hundred spawned by the Chautauqua Movement founded in New York State nearly 140 years ago.

"The chautauqua concept is probably more in demand today than it's ever been," according to Sibbring.

He hopes to encourage vacationers to include chautauqua stops in their travels, capitalizing on the growth in cultural heritage tourism and programs that promote lifelong learning.

According to its website, The Chautauqua Network "brings together all of the member chautauquas to encourage people to plan their own trip, their own safari of discovery, or virtual visit. For the vast majority of Americans, it is an opportunity to discover that chautauqas are all over the United States and Canada and, maybe, even in their backyard."

The network plans to launch a Website devoted exclusively to the Chautauqua Trail this month.

In addition to the Chautauqua Institution in New York, Mt. Gretna, and Sibbring's in Lakeside in Ohio, other stops on the trail include Waxahachie, Tex.; Boulder, Colo.; DeFuniak Springs, Fla.; New Piasa, Il.; Ocean Grove, N.J.; Ocean Park, Me.; Bay View, Mich.; The Florida Chautauqua near Pensacola, Fla.; Monteagle, Tenn.; and Muskoka, Canada.


Proposed Water Park, Hotel, Shops & 590 Homes:

Hotel's Two-Year Delay Impacts the Timing,

But Not the Scope, of $350 Million Cornwall Project

America's economy may be on the rebound, but you don't have to look very far to find reminders that the road to recovery is still bumpy.

Take, for example, The Historic Preserve at Cornwall Village, that $350 million water park, commercial center and 590-home project in Cornwall.

Last August, developer Haines & Kibblehouse, Inc. had hoped the first phase of that 15-year project might be well underway with its 250-room

hotel and indoor water park by next year.

This year, however, those same officials say that although several hoteliers are keenly interested in the opportunity, banks aren't loaning money for new hotel construction. "We have met with some of the major hotel developers, and they have expressed real interest in our site," says project coordinator Paul Callahan (inset, right). "They have told us that at the present time banks are not lending any money for hotel development."

That means the hotel and water park, in the critical first phase "may have to wait until the money crunch eases, possibly...closer to 2014," he said.

Adding to that hurdle is a soft housing market affecting homebuilding nationwide. Callahan says he recently heard Toll Brothers founder Bob Toll describe his multibillion dollar company's sales declines over the past two years, noting that 2011 isn't turning out to be much better. The homebuilding giant is, however, projecting an improved housing market in 2012. If that forecast turns out to be correct, he says, it should help put the Cornwall project back on schedule for its next phase.

Responding to a question about how H&K has fared over the past two years, Callahan said the privately owned firm, with 2,500 employees and operations in five states, remains strong. He feels the company has demonstrated "an uncanny ability to vertically integrate and diversify into connected markets prior to the downturn. That has enabled us to weather, even prosper, in these very difficult times," he said. The firm has tapped into emerging markets, such as natural gas well pad construction work in Pennsylvania's northern tier and heavy highway and bridge reconstruction, which provide "a much-needed stimulus as the housing and commercial construction markets have continued to stagnate." a Friday evening last April, about 55 folks in Mt. Gretna who for the most part didn't really know each other met at the Timbers Restaurant. It was an enjoyable social gathering to be sure but also an experiment of sorts.

"We weren't sure if people were craving more contact," says Evelyn Koppel, a Valley Road resident who helped organize the affair by circulating leaflets throughout Timber Hills. "But the feedback we got is that there certainly is a segment of people who are."

From that positive response, she and others now plan several follow-on events.

Ideas range from an outdoor popcorn and family movie night this summer to a backyard BYOB party in September to block parties and maybe even an ice cream social. There's no shortage of ideas. And anyone in Timber Hills who wants to keep up with plans through timely bulletins and Facebook notices can email Evelyn ( or call 964-3412. "We're not excluding anybody, but we're focusing on activities for Timber Hills," she says. "The whole point is to develop a sense of community and connection."

The April dinner sparked a lot of good feelings, says Evelyn. "Newcomers were excited about finding a way to meet their neighbors. Some working people who don't have much time to volunteer and get involved were really enthused, and others with children told us that because of parochial schools, various public schools and homeschooling that their children don't necessarily have an awareness of the others."

Get to know neighbors that one rarely sees? It's a hurdle that nobody expects to solve overnight. But Evelyn feels that if people get together occasionally, have a good time and tell their friends and neighbors, the idea could grow.

So how does it happen that Saylor Zimmerman, who has lived in the Heights for 42 years, is the only guy in Mt. Gretna (and presumably one of only 26 in the entire state of Pennsylvania) with a one-letter license plate?

Turns out, he had connections.

Saylor's dad once headed the Motor Licensing Division in Harrisburg. When the senior Mr. Saylor discovered one day many years ago that nobody had yet snatched up the letter Z, he claimed it for himself. And when his father passed away in 1995, Saylor, who has been coming to Mt. Gretna ever since he was an infant, transferred the distinctive single-letter plate to his own car.

Scott and Jane Zellers, part of a brigade of volunteers now drumming up business for the Campmeeting's Heritage Park and playground. They're selling tickets for a drawing that comes up Sept. 4. First prize? A two-night stay at the Hilton Harrisburg Executive Tower with concierge lounge use and food voucher -- just the sort of basking-in-luxury spot which Scott, an epicurean to the core, recommends for everyone. Second prize, a family season ticket for next year's Mt. Gretna Children's Theatre. There's even a third prize: Dinner at the Trattoria Fratelli restaurant in Lebanon. Tickets: $5.00.

New guy in town: Ezra Minter (inset, right), the Chautauqua's summer intern in charge of Mt. Gretna's Visitor's Center who's putting out a stream of press releases about the fascinating stuff that goes on here during the summer.

Local news media outlets are his chief target, but if you'd like to know more about what's happening here, drop him an email ( He's a senior at Elizabethtown College majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing. And a marketing maven he is: On the job only a few weeks, Ezra's already released a blizzard of press releases and flyers around Mt. Gretna and through social media such as Facebook and Twitter (@PaChautauqua). So this old town is getting a new lift into cyberspace. Send him an email, telephone 926-9458, or do it the old fashioned way: Stop by and say hello, Tuesdays through Saturdays, Noon to 8 p.m. And be sure to ask Ezra about opportunities to be a Visitor's Center Volunteer on Sundays. are the chances that a couple of graduates from the same high school class in Milwaukee, Wis. could wind up in Mt. Gretna 53 years later and not know that the other also lives here?

Sharon Solie (inset, left), one of the fire company's famous ham and bean soup makers, discovered that an unknown classmate from her 1958 graduating class also lives in the Campmeeting. The revelation came through a University of Wisconsin researcher doing a longitudinal study of her class -- delving into such things as careers, marriages, lifestyles and health issues. Because of privacy concerns, the university researcher couldn't

reveal the name of the other classmate from her alma mater, Rufus King High School. But Sharon did discover that her fellow alum and neighbor is a man who lives in another of the Campmeeting's 243 cottages. She's hoping that he, or perhaps someone who knows him, will read this story and contact her (email: or 964-2336.


What's it like to attend the University for a Day session coming up July 13?

Click here for a 4-minute glimpse into one of last year's sessions at the Hall of Philosophy. This year's topics will include a look at "Pennsylvania's Natural Gas Boom," "Tremors in Northeast Africa and the Middle East," "U.S. Government Debt--It's Worse Than You Think," and "The Genius of Frank Lloyd Wright." The $50 session includes lunch by Becky Briody and an wine and cheese tasting by the Lebanon Valley Wine Club. Call 964-1830 for reservations or send a check to Pennsylvania Chautauqua, P.O. Box 622, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064. Limited to first 65 registrants.



$50,000 Raised at this year's "Got the Nerve" triathlon in Mt. Gretna. That's a record for this event, now in its eighth year. Coordinator Chris Ka extended thanks to all who helped make it possible, including over 100 volunteers who made it one of the smoothest-running races ever. He also thanked Mt. Gretna residents for their race day courtesy, especially for putting up with a few hours of minor inconvenience to make a major difference in the lives of the disabled.

The May 21 race benefited handicapped folks such as Ephrata resident Derek Carbaugh, who received a new handcycle through this annual fitness competition which encourages everyone to "Get Up and Move!"

14th Season for Mt. Gretna's Thursdays-in-July Organ Recital Series. Raymond Nagem (inset, left), a Juilliard School student (click on this YouTube video) whom series organizers Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney discovered at an American Guild of Organists program three years ago, opens the recitals July 7. Daniel Umholtz, the Hershey Theater's youngest organist, follows July 14. James Wetzel, of St. Agnes Church in New York City, appears July 21. Matthew Weaver, a Lebanon Valley College graduate now at the First Presbyterian Church of Lancaster, completes the series July 28. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. at the Hewitt-McAnney home, 1 Princeton Avenue. Tel. 964-1830, ext. 3, to reserve seating. Concerts, including light refreshments, are free, donations are appreciated, and Rhoda Long (304-0248) loves volunteers who can help with snacks.

3 Restaurants now owned and operated in Richmond, Va. by Kendra Feather (inset, right), daughter of Conewago Hill residents Joe and Laura Feather.

Her newest, The Roosevelt, specializes in Southern food and harkens back to the New Deal era "before there was fast food and mass transit," says Kendra, who's becoming something of a celebrity. Her reputation at her two other restaurants, Ipanema and Garnett's, has garnered favorable attention in regional magazines and TV shows. Another Paula Deen on the horizon?

8th Annual "Music Under the Stars" big band dance party at the lake next month is guaranteed to revive memories of music and dancing on summer evenings during the 1950s and 1960s, says this year's organizer Rhoda Long. her fulfill that promise will be Nitrophonic, a spin-off of the Hershey Big Band -- plus folks providing wine, munchables and tables for eight under cover in case of rain.

The date? Saturday, Aug. 27. "It's a great way to end the summer," says Rhoda.

Advance tickets ($18) are available from Music Under the Stars, P.O. Box 552, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064. Admission at the gate: $20. Phone orders? Call 304-0248 or 813-3880. Proceeds benefit the Mt. Gretna Fire Company, Lawn Ambulance and other local non-profit groups.


Friday Mornings at 10

A Summer Series Where the Talk is About Writing

Bill Gifford, who arrived in Mt. Gretna a few years ago and now owns (with fiancee Elizabeth Hummer) the two-story mansion that was once the home of Jack and Jeanine Bitner, is, even for Mt. Gretna, an extraordinary guy.

First and foremost, he's a writer. An adventure journalist, actually, one who covers "anything on skis, wheels, dirt, road, dope, graft, hooves, paws, wings, fins, waves, cheese, red wine, high heels and wingtips."

Gifford: wings, hooves and high heels

Just the sort Mt. Gretna needs to light the spark for a new series of programs that will unfold here this summer.

His idea? Bring in a slate of writers with solid reputations, experience and talent, and let them talk for an hour or so each week at the Hall of Philosophy in a Mt. Gretna Writer's Series. "I got inspired after watching the PBS special about the 'other' Chautauqua. All the writers who spoke there looked really happy to have an excuse to spend a weekend in the woods. I figured the same could work here," he says.

It'll be held every Friday morning, starting July 15, promptly at 10 a.m. "Not exactly the best of times," admits Gifford, "but I'm hoping we can get some respectable crowds."

Who's in the lineup of speakers? Start with Jack Brubaker, son of Marie and the late John Brubaker who once owned a cottage on Stevens Avenue, next to Bill and Leanne Harrington. Best known locally as "The Scribbler" columnist at Lancaster Newspapers, Brubaker has published five books. His latest, Massacre of the Conestogas, deals with the killing of the last of the Conestoga Indians 250 years ago by the Paxton Boys gang.

Seth Fletcher, author of Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars and the New Lithium Economy, follows on July 22. Fletcher, recently interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air," is a senior editor at Popular Science.

Christopher McDougall (inset, left) on July 29, is a former Associated Press war correspondent and three-time National Magazine Award finalist. He's the author of Born Run: A hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen. Gifford calls the work "a publishing phenomenon, inspiring controversy and debate about barefoot running."

Writers who'll appear next month include Ken Wells (Aug. 5). The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous won the Harry Chapin Book Award for Wells, who is a former reporter and features editor for the Wall Street Journal.

Steve Volk (tentative, Aug. 12), author of Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable -- and Couldn't. Gifford says that in this, Volk's first non-fiction work, he moves from telling a family ghost story into the "unexplored territory where science and the paranormal converge. . . . Along the way [he] encounters a psychologist who concludes that there is life beyond death, people who claim to have survived alien abduction, a former NASA astronaut who's now an avid paranormalist, professional ghost hunters and more."

Winding up the series is Chet Williamson (Aug. 19), who makes his home in Elizabethtown. Since selling his first short story in 1981, Williamson has written more than 20 books, including a locally popular children's favorite, Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas. One of his short stories, "Ghandi at the Bat," which appeared in The New Yorker, recently was made into a movie now popular at film festivals.

As for Bill Gifford, he's the author of a first book, Ledyard: In Search of the First American Explorer, and is now deep into a second. Sample his writings at the archives of Men's Journal, where he is an editor, and at


Kathy Snavely, perhaps the most energized Mt. Gretnan of all, needs help. She's looking for volunteers to serve as discussion facilitators for Chautauqua summer programs

based on the popular Internet feature TED: Ideas Worth Sharing Series.

The sessions take place on Tuesday evenings (July 12, 19, 26, Aug. 2, 9, 16) at 7:30

in the Hall of Philosophy. Pick a topic you'd like to facilitate from the list below, it out online, and contact Kathy (email:

TED Topics: Big History, Three Things I Learned When My Plane Crashed (into the Hudson River),Why the World Needs Wikileaks, Underwater Astonishments, On Being Wrong, Asia's Rise: How & When.


Where tennis matches and meatloaf vie for top honors

Even for die-hards, it's sometimes hard to say what's the top attraction at Mt. Gretna's annual tennis tournament: the quality of play, conversations with friends or Jan Brandt's meatloaf sandwiches. But you can always count on that winning combination to draw a crowd every evening around dusk when play begins at the Chautauqua courts along Route 117. the event this year is Mike Rohrbach, a Lebanon elementary school teacher who also teaches tennis at Hershey Country Club each summer. (Mike's the grandson of the late Bob and Betty Mason, who lived on Timber Road from the mid-70s until 2005.) He expects to attract to this year's tournament 40 or so of the area's best players, including 25 single competitors and 20 doubles teams.

The countywide tournament starts on Sunday, July 31. And it will continue every evening until around Aug. 7. Just how long the matches last will depend mainly on the weather. Yet somehow, the foods prepared by volunteers like Jan and Mt. Gretna's other kitchen magicians always seem to hold out until the tournament's conclusion, whenever it comes.

What you absolutely can count on is "good tennis," says 84-year-old Stan Templin, who for the first time in 44 years won't be around to see the action. He and his wife are taking time off to enjoy more of their retirement, even though he intends to remain active as a Hospice volunteer at the VA Hospital where he continues to find that helping dying veterans in the last stages of their lives "a beautiful experience."


Questions Readers Ask

Follow-up to an item in last month's "Questions Readers Ask" column: Yes, a few copies of Mt Gretna: A Postcard History by Michael Schropp still exist. They turned up two years ago when someone cleaned out the Hall of Philosophy's second floor.

Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society president Fred Buch says fewer than 20 copies remain on sale ($35 each) at Gretna Emporium, with proceeds going to the society for the purchase of archival materials to preserve the Chautauqua minute books and other items.


[] Why is the type so tiny on the online Summer Calendar? It's barely readable.

<> The Calendar, of necessity, must fit into a PDF format for the Internet. Online readers can sometimes make the type appear larger by pressing the Control key simultaneously with the Plus (+) key.

About 10,000 copies of the calendar are distributed each year throughout the area. Readers may order copies by mail: Send $2 to Mt. Gretna Arts Council, P.O. Box 513, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.


A Quest to Do Useful Things

Dale L. Grundon (1932-2011)

On a weekday morning in mid-June, Elaine Feather stood on her tiptoes to straighten out the community bulletin board in back of the Mt. Gretna post office. It was all that she could do to rearrange the jumble of out-of-date bulletins, cards and public notices -- especially the ones along the top row.

"John and I thought it was something I should do now," she said. Pausing briefly, she added, "Dale did this."

Dale. It is among a handful of first names immediately recognizable in Mt. Gretna. Straightening the kiosk was but one of at least a dozen miscellaneous tasks, maybe more, that he undertook without anyone ever having to ask.

In the days following his unexpected death from an apparent heart attack sometime over the weekend of June 12-13, people throughout Mt. Gretna have rediscovered how much he did for the community that he loved.

He was the youngest of five children born to Nora and Forrest "Si" Grundon, former chauffeur, who as owner of Si's Garage, became known as the best Buick mechanic in Harrisburg, which is where Dale grew up. As a youngster, he built his own Heathkit radios and won the local Soap Box Derby. Dale first began coming to Mt. Gretna during the 1930s and, as a teenager, worked as a bus boy at the former Chautauqua Inn. Following studies at DeVry Technical Institute in Chicago, he took a job as a radio station engineer, first in York at WSBA and later at WHP in Harrisburg (for the popular Ron Drake Show). He subsequently went to work at the Pentagon, where he was chief of electronic media. "My job kept growing and got so interesting that I stayed there for 27 years," he told a Susquehanna Style magazine interviewer. He relished sports cars, photography and skiing, and upon his retirement discovered the world of stained glass-making. But Mt. Gretna was his first and most enduring love.

Whether he was leading nature hikes, teaching others how to make stained glass artwork, or serving on the Borough Council, the Mt. Gretna Library Board, the Chautauqua and the Mt. Gretna Arts Council, he was never intimidated by a new challenge -- from mastering computers and Website development in his 60s right down to peeling onions for his friends at the Jigger Shop on Thursday afternoons. A tall, stick figure who strode, never sauntered, he moved with the air of a man out to accomplish something important. Even to his close friends, however, Dale remained a man of mystery. Some say that amounted to purposeful detachment, a style perfected in his years at the Pentagon, where he scanned news releases to protect classified from going out to the news media. That skill in parrying questions with enigmatic answers which rarely disclosed anything you could sink your teeth into sometimes confounded others.

Yet listen closely. Wit -- the drier the better -- was his unexpected, spontaneous specialty. Once, over breakfast, upon hearing fellow artist Les Miller's complaint that his shell bracelets and necklaces had fared poorly at an outdoor art show along the boardwalk, the poker-faced Dale observed, "Well, I guess that just goes to show you can't sell sea shells by the seashore."

Curiously for a small town, even as a legendary figure, Dale remained essentially unfathomable. A guy wearing a railroad cap who made Mt. Gretna a chief concern for most of his 78 years. A guy who never married, yet was fully engaged in the quest to do useful things. In that, he succeeded.

A memorial service is planned for 6 p.m., Monday, July 18 at the Timbers Restaurant. Contributions in Dale's memory may be made to either Music at Gretna, 1 Alpha Drive, Elizabethtown, PA 17022 or WITF, 4801 Lindle Road, Harrisburg, PA 17111.



Updates & Other Stuff

To Post on

The Fridge

TONIGHT, July 1: Memories of the Summers of 50's. 7:30 pm, Hall of Philosophy. Recollections from people who grew up here.

Sunday, July 3:
Outdoor Worship Services at 10 am begin at the Tabernacle and continue throughout the summer, offered by Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. An 8 am service is offered in the air-condition UMC sanctuary on Fourth and Boehm avenues.The 10 am Chautauqua Services,held throughout the summer, also begin July 3 in the Playhouse.

Sunday, July 3: Bishop Peggy Johnson brings a deaf singer to tonight's Bible Festival program to show how she works with deaf persons; 7 pm at the Tabernacle. "Don't miss it," -- Tom Meredith.

Monday, July 4:

Grand Illumination throughout Mt. Gretna. After the band concert, walk to the tennis courts to see the candle display, then stroll or drive around Mt. Gretna to see the illuminated homes and decorated Liberty Bells. At 9 pm, join the Tabernacle and Playhouse bells as they sound this year's theme: Let Freedom Ring.

Saturday, July 9: Come to Your Senses. Use your senses on this woodland hike with Diana Sprucebank; 9 am, Nature Center.

Sunday, July 10:
Fire Company Buffet (inset, left), 8 am to noon at the fire hall. All you can eat for a donation you stuff in a fireman's boot.The most popular breakfast in town. This month, buy a chance on a full-sized, handmade quilt donated by former Mt. Gretnan Kim Miller Gardner, now living in Minnesota.

Sunday, July 10:
Fitness Hike at the Nature Center, 8 am.. Join Diana Sprucebank for this fast-paced walk. (After burning those calories, you can really enjoy a late breakfast at the fire hall.)

Sunday, July 17:
Men in Harmony, a popular Christian male chorus, 7 pm at the Tabernacle. One of the Bible Festival's bests..

Friday, July 22:
Bird photographer Andy Ohrman shares pictures and insights into birds plants and animals, 7:30 pm. Nature Center. Gain tips on bird photography.

Thursday, July 28:
"Jazz Reverend" Darrell Woomer introduces his new book "A Reasonable Christianity," on which he'll base four 10 am Hall of Philosophy classes that start today.

Thursday, July 28
Workshop for Forest Landowners, a Conewago Creek Conservation program, 6 pm, Nature Center.
Highly recommended by Mt. Gretnan Matt Royer.


Other newsletters of interest:

Mt. Gretna Updates -- Issued as warranted to alert local residents to such matters as temporary road closings, utility repairs, shelter advisories for adverse weather 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,

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 -- E-mailed updates on concert events, schedule changes and other news. See "Join Our Mailing List" at

Mt. Gretna Area 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 unofficial community newsletter has neither any attachment to a particular group or organization nor any political or commercial ax to grind. Mainly, it's a retirement hobby, much like woodworking, model airplane building, or fishing might be for others. It produces no income, but a great deal of personal satisfaction, mainly because it keeps us in touch with people who have come to be friends.
We send it by e-mail to anyone who asks, without charge and with no expectation of anything other than a gentle prodding when we err.
We don't cover everything. Some topics are better left to daily newspapers, TV and others with greater skills, resources and insights.
Generally speaking, we try to cover things that readers may not have already read elsewhere. Yet since the majority of our readers live outside of Mt. Gretna -- in other cities, states and countries -- we sometimes supplement local stories that appear in area newspapers. We also depend on our readers to alert us to news, including local obituaries, relating to present and former Mt. Gretnans.
In preparing each issue, we try to keep in mind the example set by the late Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who felt as if listeners had invited him into their homes.

We also value the practical wisdom of Rotary International's Four-Way Test of the Things We Think, Say or Do: "Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?" It's a good guideline not only for writing a newsletter but also for conducting a life. Anchoring that guidance is the assurance that people may not remember what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. .
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, take a higher priority.
We thank the many people who help us gather the news, take the photos, 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., New Cumberland, Pa. 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 here and 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

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 e-mail address book to help your Internet Service Provider (ISP) distinguish the Mt. Gretna Newsletter from spam (unsolicited email messages).

Privacy policy: The Mt. Gretna Newsletter mailing list is not sold, rented, traded or shared with anyone. Period.

Mt. Gretna Newsletter: Winner of Constant Contact 2010 All-Star Award