Mt. Gretna E-Mail Newsletter

"A Bulletin For Folks Who Love Mount Gretna. . . Wherever They Happen to Live"
Newsletter Home
Join Our Mailing List
Email: The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 123                                                                                          October 1, 2011

From the other side of the lake on a foggy first day of fall, sunrise brings a view of Mt. Gretna that some never see. Above, a woman and her dog stroll at dawn, in what for many becomes the best of all seasons.

The Lessons of a Quieter Time

For a glimpse into what makes Mt. Gretna special, consider the onset of fall. Not only are we beginning to lose our leaves, but also many of our friends, the people who come to live in their cottages each summer but soon slip away after September has passed.
By November, Mt. Gretna will have picked up fully the tempo of a quieter time. Friends who are left become special treasures. social scientist in Europe a few years ago noted that we typically lose half of our best friends every seven years. When we first read that, it seemed impossible. Now, with the passage of time and a check against experiences of our own, we conclude that he may well be right.   
One friend who divides his time between Mt. Gretna and a high-rise condominium along a beach in Florida says that he and his wife had debated recently about whether to buy a new condo in the building next door.  It had a better view of the ocean.
While they were deliberating that move, they decided to rent a garage space in their old building. Suddenly, they could go right from their car into an elevator that whisked them straight to their condo on the 21st floor. Yet a few days after they began using their new garage, they noticed something had changed; they no longer walked through a lobby where they talked with people who over the years had become their friends. That experience convinced them. Not only would they stay put in the old building, but they also returned their key to the garage.
In Mt. Gretna, the post office is not only where we receive our mail, but also a reassuring mixture that somehow makes our lives run more smoothly. Smiles, greetings, genial glances -- even if they o acknowledge mere acquaintances -- it is at the post office where we rediscover their true value. There is comfort in familiarity. If America ever decides to close down its rural post offices, it will make a huge mistake. No matter how much money it saves.
How do we know that? It's not that we Mt. Gretnans are smarter. It's simply that we live among assets often unrecognized in busier places. The yearly coming and going of good friends prepares us for the process of change. Fortunately, most who leave in the fall will return in the spring. While we are acquainted with the realities of disabilities and death, we are also conditioned to the realities of renewal. Part of what attracts people to Mt. Gretna is the lure of old friends and the assurance that new ones will add steadily to our rich treasure trove.   
It is probably that quality which seemed so appealing about another "meet the neighbors" gathering in Timber Hills last month, for no

In Timber Hills, bring a treat to share and meet the neighbors... an old idea, with renewed vibrancy.

other purpose than getting to know better those who share similar experiences. Absent daily walks to the post office, many miss out on the sustaining pleasures of repeated contacts with people who live next door or just down the street.
Perhaps that is why our pets are such useful companions. More than good friends, they are also magnets for human contact. They stimulate conversations we might otherwise not have. Winston, our soon-to-be-4-year old Cavalier King Charles, has a regal name but a down-home nature. He reminds us sometimes of the old men who gathered around the post office our grandfather ran in Worthville, N.C. In the days before iPhones, Twitter and Facebook, they sat on benches, whittled wood with their pocket knives and talked face to face. It was a setting where we first learned the value of friends. Now in the fall in Mt. Gretna and in our 70s, it is a fitting setting where such lessons may be reaffirmed.    



A Property Owner Withdraws Her Rezoning Request

The owner of a 20.7-acre tract who originally had joined in a rezoning petition affecting residential forest land in Mt. Gretna has, "after further consideration," decided to withdraw her request.

In a letter dated Sept. 23 to the West Cornwall Township supervisors, B. Valeria Heisey said she "no longer supports" the Eastern Enterprises rezoning petition and is "officially withdrawing my request to have any of my property rezoned from R-F to R-1." She added, "I oppose Eastern Enterprises' rezoning petition and ask that the board not agree to the requested rezoning."

Officials of Eastern Enterprises were unavailable for comment last week on how Mrs. Heisey's decision might affect their plans. Their June 10 petition had requested that 90.5 acres,
including Mrs. Heisey's land as well as their own 69.8 acres, be rezoned from RF (Residential Forest) to R1 and R2. If approved, that would permit more single-family homes and open the possibility of townhouses on a 25-acre tract they own south of the rail trail where the roller skating rink is now located.   

At a public meeting the supervisors held Aug. 22 to address rumors and stem "a deluge of public records requests" following the rezoning proposal, some 250 citizens turned out to voice their concerns. Citing its potential impact on Mt. Gretna's unique character, environment and quality of life, several groups formed to oppose the rezoning plan. One of those groups circulated a poster at this year's art show under the banner, "Help Save A Very Rare Piece of Our World as You Know It!"

Also opposing the rezoning change is the Mt. Gretna Campmeeting Association Board of Managers. A Sept. 14 letter to other local governing bodies and the news media cited a resolution stating that the board  is "vehemently opposed" to the rezoning proposed by Eastern Enterprises.  

Township supervisors have tabled the motion and are expected to take no action until later this year or sometime early in 2012, In addition to listening to the views of local citizens, they await recommendations from Gannett Fleming consultant Michelle Brummer, who is reviewing long-range development plans for several municipalities in the Cornwall-Lebanon School District. Ms. Brummer said Sept. 30 that the site still shows on her planning maps as land that does not need a zoning change.



A Quiescent Artist Who Loves Her Customers at Mt. Gretna's Post Office Prepares to Retire

When she landed the post office job in Mt. Gretna, it was like winning the Miss America contest. "Thirty-five of us had applied, and they called out the names of three finalists. Mine was among them. I guess I got the job because I was a veteran" says Cathy Dugdale, who retires Oct. 31 as assistant postmaster.

She knows most of them by name, including Campmeeting resident Dorothy Landis Gray

She'll then head for Waukesha, Wisc. to be near her daughter,  son-in-law and Kevin, her 6-year-old grandson. It will be Cathy's second retirement. Her first was as an Army cartographer 19 years ago after a military career that spanned two decades and took her to an assignment in Hawaii that lasted seven years.  

From Hawaii to Mt. Gretna to Wisconsin? Does Cathy really prefer cold weather? "I love the changing of the seasons. Snow especially," she says, "at least if I don't have to drive to work in it."

With a home she's just purchased near a park located only about a mile from her daughter, Cathy looks forward to the move.

Does she mind living alone? "After my father died and her friends thought she should remarry, my mother, who was vary happy while married to Dad, used to say, 'It's so much better to be alone than not to be alone and wish that you were.'" Cathy's own marriage during her Army career ended because her husband, a civilian, found it hard to always be on the move.  

"My mother was right. I like living alone. Dinner is whatever I want to eat at whatever time I get home, and I don't have to explain what are all the packages that I bought."

Cathy recently stocked up on books on sale at Borders, which is closing. "I'm going to love reading them this winter in Wisconsin," she says. Yet she'll miss Mt. Gretna, especially her customers. She knows almost every one of them by their first names.

Like winning the Miss America contest: "I was so lucky to be picked for Mt. Gretna."  

"I was so lucky to be picked for Mt. Gretna," says Cathy, who yearned to become an artist after she got her bachelor's degree in art from Penn State University in 1968. She never got the chance to make art her career. But working in the post office has brought its own rewards.    

"The people here are so friendly," she says. "Sometimes I'm assigned for short-term assignments at other post offices. In many places, everyone seems to be in a hurry. They're often tense and get mad if there's a long line and you take a moment to notice that someone has a new baby or make some other friendly comment. In Mt. Gretna, nobody seems to mind if you say something besides 'Next.'"

Cathy hopes retirement may finally bring the chance to pursue her long-delayed interest in art.  "My dad was a history teacher at Lebanon High School and thought art was a hobby, not a career. So he wanted me to teach. I tried that, but it wasn't for me." So, after experimenting with other jobs for several years she decided to go into the Army, which had begun a renewed emphasis on recruiting women. Having now worked for the past 18 years in a community where artists abound, she hopes to at last be able to pursue passions she has deferred for so long -- photography, painting and sculpting.

Might she come back to exhibit in the Mt. Gretna Art Show someday? Cathy hesitates, with just the trace of smile and a faraway look that suggests the thought may have already crossed her mind. "Well," she says ". . . maybe."   

For more than 70 years, the cardinal flowers were part of a Mt. Gretna tradition. away in a secluded setting just north of the rail-trail, they grew in a thick forest where sunshine scarcely penetrated. 
Before Dale Grundon led annual treks to see these seldom-glimpsed flowers, Mt. Gretna summer residents Leonard and Alice Bennetch had previously led groups for many years. When they were no longer able to do so, Dale picked up the  
After his death last June, Sid and Evelyn Hostetter volunteered to carry on the time-honored  hike, and this spot came to be called "Dale's Garden." But that distinction was fleeting.  
Floods that followed Hurricane Lee into Central Pennsylvania last month ravaged the garden and much of the surrounding area. The storm left the entire Lebanon Valley Rail Trail with an estimated $125,000 in restoration work to be done. Gone is Dale's Garden. Gone is the footbridge that led hikers over an earthen dam that formed nearby ponds. Gone perhaps forever are Mt. Gretna's cardinal flowers.



Coming: A Year-Round Website

To Promote the Arts in Mt. Gretna

The Mt. Gretna Arts Council seeks your ideas for a new year-round website that's under development. Jennifer Veser Besse created the site ( with the aim of making it a lively online hub for arts activities in and around Mt. Gretna.
"I hope we can really get this to be a central location for arts information, whether in the summer or at any other time of year," she says. The idea is to  promote Mt. Gretna activities and artists as well as other Arts Council programs including scholarships, programs for kids, the Calendar of Events, the Summer Premiere, the council's quarterly newsletter and similar activities.
She also wants to be sure that all artists with ties to Mt. Gretna have a place to post their information, whether they're painters, writers, sculptors, musicians, actors, jewelers, woodworkers, photographers or those working in multi-media.  

How can you help? Take a look at the beta site and send Jennifer a note with your suggestions. "It's not perfect, and that's why I want people to give me feedback," she says. "Please poke around and let me know what you think." Jennifer's eager to begin posting events on what will become a year-round calendar, updated as events change or are added, with plenty of hyperlinks to direct readers to appropriate web pages.



Le Sorelle's winning formula:

Magic in the Pancakes, Fruity French Toast

And Customers Brimming with Neat Ideas  

Is there something magic about Mt. Gretna that even transforms the blueberry pancakes?

Priority #1: Pleasing people with good food and a first-rate staff. 

"Honestly, for some reason I can't even make them taste like that at home," says owner-chef-and-full-time-engineer Ken Shertzer, left, who lives just over Television Hill on Northwood Drive. 

With no prior experience in running a restaurant, he's nevertheless made the tiny cafe a surprising success. Sales this year will likely eclipse last year's records by 10% to 15%. That's an achievement not many businesses, restaurants especially, can claim nowadays.

What's behind Le Sorelle's success? Shertzer credits his team, which includes veteran and newly-hired employees as well as his wife Judy, a married daughter Amy who's also a professional photographer and a son, Greg, now in his senior year at Lock Haven University where he's co-captain of the soccer team.

Sunday breakfast is a special treat for locals like Joyce and Gene Nagy, left, and Lancaster friends Barry and Pam Emich.


All play a part in the family business, which is now back to its three-days-a-week winter schedule. He also relies on chef-managers Amy and Angela Licata, a Batdorf Avenue housewife and mom who are his backups when Shertzer is tied up by his full-time job as an engineer for the division of a company he helped launch more than 30 years ago. That assignment takes him on an hour-long commute five days week to Schuylkill Haven, in Pennsylvania's coal region.  "The restaurant business is successful, but I couldn't give up my day job," he says.

Shertzer also credits his customers for ideas that have helped the restaurant flourish. They include the introduction of credit cards as well as favorites such as eggs benedict, corned beef hash, make-your-own-omelets and French toast loaded with fresh fruits. Le Sorelle has also moved its beverage bar to the front, so it's easily accessible to patrons both inside or out on the porch. "The porch is the No. 1 favorite summertime spot," he says. Breakfasts constitute about 80% of business, but he's thinking about adding dinners at some point.

He guesses that 15% of Le Sorelle customers are first-time visitors. Daughter Amy keeps plenty of staff on hand to serve them promptly. "When the porch is open, it's hard to get orders out of our tiny kitchen fast, so we want to have people on hand so no one is kept waiting," he says. "When somebody is disappointed, I take it personally," Shertzer admits.  

"My big thing at this restaurant is having good food, good atmosphere and customers who enjoy the experience. That's what keeps me going. And that all happens with having good employees. I can't emphasize that enough," he says. 

Shertzer is also big on what he calls "the Le Sorelle 'experience,'" one that people can't get anywhere else. It's a combination of things: "The trees, the quaintness of Mt. Gretna, the ambiance." But he also knows that some things -- asking patrons to get their own beverages, for instance -- probably wouldn't elsewhere.

Then there's the Art Gallery, operating under the same roof but a totally independent activity from the restaurant. Nine artists display their works, which dominate the interior walls. On the back of each painting is an envelope. All gallery sales work on the honor system. People take down the paintings and carry them home, sending their checks directly to the artist. In effect for many years, the honor system works pretty well. But every now and then there's a hiccup. One customer, after having lunch at the cafe left with a painting but when they got home discovered they'd made a big mistake: "Oh, my goodness," said a desperate voice over the phone, "I'm going to have to return this. I thought I'd chosen a $35 print, but when I looked inside the envelope, I discovered it's an original that's well over our budget."

Another patron, learning of the gallery's honor system, remarked, "That wouldn't work in Philadelphia."  Maybe not, but add it to the list of things that make "the Le Sorelle experience" distinctive.    



3rd Winter coming up for the hale and still hearty Doodle, who's become increasingly urbane. Now settled down into life befitting a country gentleman, he makes a porch rocker his usual perch, seldom pays attention to passing dogs anymore, and crows with the of a German burgomeister.   

Most mornings find him settled at Penn Realty's entrance, where he greets Brenda Henning when she arrives for work. Brenda and Peggy Seibert keep a jar of Brown's Song Blend Supreme Buffet handy, a premium grade of dark oil Sunflower seeds that is Doodle's first breakfast course. That keeps him contented until it's time to strut down to the pizzeria where a second breakfast treat awaits. Depending on the day, waitress Rose Bair doles out Cheerios, cheese curls or baked oatmeal -- dry, no milk.  

Double-dipping? A trick, some say, Doodle must have picked up from those birds in Washington, DC.


7 tips to get homes and cottages ready for winter from borough staffer Joey Wise:

[] Clean gutters and downspouts by mid-November. It eliminates headaches this winter and next spring. "I can't stress that enough. It's the number one cause of problems in my experience."  

[] Even if you don't rake your leaves this fall, at least get them away from foundations; adequate ventilation around the base of a home deters wood rot.[] Turn off water lines to outdoor faucets, especially if they're not the frost-free type.

[] Disconnect hoses. "It's easy to ruin a $40 hose that wasn't disconnected," he says.  "And don't forget those seepage hoses for flower beds."    

[] Clean your chimney. Creosote builds up quickly, especially if you're burning unseasoned wood.

[] Get your furnace serviced every year. Many furnaces that were under water last month are at risk, even if they were checked after the flood. Although they may now be working, electronic components are vulnerable to failure at any time. "Replacement parts are in short supply, so repairs this winter could be delayed," Joey warns.

[] Reseal cracks in caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors.

When he's not on the job for Mt. Gretna Borough, Joey Wise runs a home repair service. Email or call 717-304-3343.

 15 years ago, Pat Pinsler was talking with a friend outside the post office about the mess the buzzards caused as they roosted every night above Mt. Gretna's rooftops, decks, shrubbery and parked automobiles. A government official who happened to be passing by overheard their conversation and casually interjected, "Well, why don't you just cut down all the trees?" That wasn't, to put it mildly, the solution Pat wanted to hear. 

The buzzards, or turkey vultures as they're officially called, started to roost here more than 25 years ago. They have long memories. Where they grew up is where they return every November -- unless something happens to discourage their roosting patterns., their numbers increased, eventually reaching 600 or more swirling vultures every night. It looked like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds."
Yet in recent years their numbers have dropped to maybe 200. What happened? Mt. Gretnans organized. Rather than every-man-out-for-himself, beating pots and pans to scare the buzzards away from the top of his own home, people set up a strategy to drive them out of town. A coordinated campaign sent the birds into nearby forests, where their droppings landed without harm to property or danger to human health.
That coordinated strategy was an extraordinary success, one of the best the USDA had ever seen.
Lately, however, the ranks of volunteer patrols that once covered every Mt. Gretna neighborhood have dissipated. People retired, moved away, died or simply tired of the nightly duty, says Max Hunsicker, who helped organize the effort.
Now he needs fresh volunteers to use aerial screamers, lights, and other devices that chase the birds to out-of-town roosts.
Will the buzzards be back next month? Count on it, says Max. "They have long memories," he repeats. He hopes he can count on you to help reinvigorate the shoo-away effort. It's one he calls "The few, the proud, the Buzzard Busters." He needs about 25 volunteers who'll go out each night around dusk, discourage the birds and keep up the effort until they've flown to new roosting spots in unpopulated forests. To sign up, email him at Or call 717-964-3108.  



Winterites' Season Opener Oct. 4:

Memories Wrapped Up in a Billion Dollar Industry

If you thought that building doll houses was a cheap way for grownup girls to indulge their passion for decorating and moving furniture around, think again. first dollhouse that Eleanor Sarabia ever built (right), with electric lights wired into all three floors, took six years to build and cost more than all but the snazziest of modern kitchen stoves. "That's nothing," she says. "I recently saw a dollhouse that had smoke coming out the chimneys and surround-sound in every room. I'll bet it cost $100,000."

Dollhouses don't have to be over-the-top, of course. About $700 may be a good average, but the hobby has sparked a billion-dollar industry that gives enormous satisfaction to people like Eleanor, the publicity-shy artist who lives with adventurer-husband Val atop Conewago Hill on a spot once occupied by the 125-room hotel built there in 1909.

Her pen-and-ink sketches of the hotel and other notable Mt. Gretna buildings appear in the fire company's fundraising coffee mug series, which has become a favorite of

She does paintings, too. But almost never is an Eleanor Sarabia original offered for sale, execpt for charitable occasions like the Summer Premiere or Gretna Theatre Gala (which comes up Oct. 8).

Even the Christmas cards she designs and sends with hand-made touches to friends are eagerly sought and often framed.

The dollhouse (shown at right) that she's done for a grandaughter will be the program feature of the Winterites' season opener Tuesday, Oct. 4 (a luncheon at the fire hall, 12 p.m.; reservations required: 964-2174).

Why the fascintation with dollhouses? "I haven't a clue says Eleanor, a former motorcycle enthusiast who once worked as a bartender at Catalano's Restaurant, a favorite of Harrisburg politicos. ("It's where I learned there are a lot of lonely people out there," she says.)

Eleanor adds that almost every woman she meets has favorite memories of the time when their father, older brother, uncle or a kindly neighbor made them a dollhouse. "It's a hobby I hope to still be doing when I'm in the retirement home," she says.

Starting Oct. 4, the Mt. Gretna Winterites meet every first Tuesday of the month except January from now through April at the Mt. Gretna fire hall. Except for a Christmas potluck luncheon in December and this month's $12 catered buffet at noon, other Winterite gatherings begin at 1 pm and are not luncheon meetings. All Mt. Gretna area residents, men as well as women, are welcome. For reservations or other details, call Donna Kaplan, 964-2174. 



Artist Fred Swarr, sighted last month amid his paintings at Lebanon's popular Trattoria Fratelli Restaurant, where he's the September-November featured artist. Fred is the marathon painter who celebrated his birthday in 2007 by painting one fresh canvas for each of his 60 years in a single day. Then he swapped one painting for a bottle of wine among each of the spectators who'd gathered to watch the 7 am-5 pm exhibition outside his 301 Bell Avenue studio in the Campmeeting.  

He'll do another live painting show at the Lebanon Valley Realtors' Habitat for Humanity aucti Oct. 14 at Lebanon Country Club. He's also just issued two instructional DVDs, "Painting to Music," on sale at his studio.


Julia Bucher, co-author of a new book on family caregiving, is a college professor, a registered nurse and a PhD. Turns out, she's also PDQ* when it comes to accepting an offer of peaches-ladened French toast at Le Sorelle. The dessert magically appeared right after Julia and her husband, the architect William Barlow, turned the corner as a Mt. Gretna Newsletter photographer was winding up a photo session. Since nobody else seemed hungry, Julia got the offer and dived in. And we suddenly got another "Sighting" to brighten the pages of this month's letter.

*Pretty Darned Quick  

Something about those fire company fundraisers must stir a sartorial surge. At the annual pig roast, count on Joe Shay, the normally sedate fire company president, to turn up in a vibrant Hawaiian, looking as if he's on his way to a luau. Last month, in muted tones with distinctive red, yellow and gray accents that looked as they might have been hand-painted, his honor (Joe is also Mt. Gretna's mayor) took sartorial splendor to new heights, looking as if he'd just stepped from the pages of Travel & Leisure magazine
A few days later, at the block shoot, volunteer Morris Coleman (right) showed up in a kilt that would have made Scotsman and La Cigale proprietor John Mitchell envious. Married to the granddaughter of the late Ed Miller, who for more than two decades served as Mt. Gretna fire company's president, Coleman is also a Lebanon police officer. Why the kilt? When someone asked him to wear one for a friend's wedding several years ago, Coleman discovered they're comfortable. They've since become his favorite "special occasions" attire.

After a shooting incident that wounded a Mt. Gretna woman and her dog as they walked near the State Game Lands along Pinch Road last month, even Moumba, a 4-year-old American Mastiff, is wary of hunters. 

Everyone should take extra precautions says owner Christi Reistad, who's lived on Timber Lane for the past three years. She recently purchased this fluorescent hunting vest for her pet.   

Christi is especially cautious at this time of year as she walks along the rail-trail. Hunting season has already begun, and sportsmen are often out early in the day.    

Christ gets an early start herself. She's up at 5:30 am to take Moumba for his first walk around the neighborhood. Then she's off to Palmyra to take son Holden, 8, to school before she heads to work at the Lebanon County Assistance Office.   


The Music at Gretna Bargain

Making Tight Budgets, Short Schedules And a Tough Economy Pay Off 

Buffeted by storms, electrical blackouts and a 30% drop-off in ticket sales this summer, you'd think Music at Gretna chief Michael Murray might be discouraged. But you'd be wrong.

Finishing the fourth year of a whole season's worth of concerts that lumps everything into August and the first week of September, Murray wouldn't have it any other way. "The ability to book artists on any night of a given week gives us scheduling flexibility," he says. That translates into savings. Murray takes advantage of a Thursday night performance for performers en route to weekend engagements in New York or Philadelphia. Usually at fees under their normal rate. That translates to bargain prices for area music lovers, a fact that some are only just now beginning to appreciate.

Bargain night in Mt. Gretna? It's not exactly a marketing theme, but it might be. The struggling music festival, now in its 36th year, offers many plusses in a throttled economy. Murray and his team are out to capitalize on them all.

Worth 1,000 words? This picture boosted ticket sales nearly 70% after it splashed across the front page of a Lancaster newspaper four days ahead of a Music at Gretna concert by Barrage this summer. The group blends Celtic, classical and pop music.

They also assume some risks by   occasionally catering to special interests. Since most audiences prefer familiar standards like Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, few presenters would dare to offer two concerts of Bartok string quartets. But last April, Gretna Music did just that, winning the hearts of devoted Bartok fans. .    

With its end-end-of-the-summer schedule, Gretna Music can also afford to wait two months before locking down its season. It's a distinct advantage that he uses to negotiate performance fees under the most favorable terms. Even the best artists, he finds, are anxious to block unfilled dates, usually at a deep discount.

Still, challenges remain. Most people still don't realize that when they buy a ticket, their purchase doesn't come close to paying for what they get, says Murray. Typically, 60% of the performance cost must be covered through private donations. "We need to develop the culture of philanthropy," he says. "If you want it, you've got to pay extra for it. Fortunately, growing numbers of people now understand that."   

Note: Music at Gretna announced this week that it has reached over 70% of a goal to meet a benefactor's $5,000 challenge. If they raise $5,000 on their own by Oct. 15, they'll have $10,000 to go toward future classical concerts. Make donations through their website, call 717-361-1508 or mail a check (noting "Classical Match Challenge)" to Gretna Music, One Alpha Drive, Elizabethtown, PA 17022. 



Mt. Gretna's Firefighters Need Your Recipes

Barn Burner of a Cookbook

Readies All-New Edition for 2012 

When it came off the presses nearly 20 years ago, the Fire Company Cookbook was -- by Mt. Gretna standards at least -- a publishing phenomenon. The first edition went into at least two, and people still ask for copies. One budding entrepreneur, poised to open her new restaurant several years ago, was downright desperate to find a copy. Yet none turned up, even on eBay.  

So now, a second cookbook edition is in the works. Not a reprint, but an all-new collection of recipes from the culinary wizards of  Mt. Gretna.  

Fire company volunteers -- ever in search of successful fundraisers -- hope to have it ready for sale next spring. But they still need more recipes. 

Among the first to offer an original recipe for the new edition was former model, interior designer and Timber Bridge resident Julia Lurz-Phillips, a native of Canada who now divides her time between Mt. Gretna and Sarasota, Fla. and loves to cook.   

Here's her recipe for . . .


Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Cookies
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons Chambord
2 eggs
2 1/2 cup white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 well chilled 3.5 oz bars of Ghiradelli Dark Raspberry bars

Preheat over to 350. Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. On low speed add the Chambord. Do not over-beat. Add eggs using electric beater on low speed. Again, do not over-beat. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. As batter begins to thicken, use a large spoon. Break the Ghiradelli Dark Raspberry bars into small pieces on top of the cookie dough. Fold in the pieces until pink raspberry swirls form (over-beating the chocolate pieces will give you a gray cookie dough). Drop by the teaspoon onto cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheet before removing as the chunks of chocolate when warm will cause the cookies to break if they are too hot.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Tips: Over-beating the Chambord may cause the butter to curdle. Smaller pieces of broken chocolate bar will give more pink swirls. Big chunks of broken chocolate bar and big cookies will break. If the cookies turn out "flat," the dough was beaten too long and at too high a speed.

The cookbook volunteers expect to gather additional recipes from Mt. Gretnans all over the world "at least through the end of October." So even if you live in Pago Pago but are still a Mt. Gretnan at heart, submit your entries now to: Mt. Gretna Fire Company Cookbook, P.O. Box 177, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064. They'd love to hear from you



No, it doesn't help to wait 'til spring to rake your leaves, arborist John Brewer told a Hall of Philosophy audience last month. Decomposed leaves make a rich compost  -- great to spread around the base of a tree as long as you don't pile them against the trunk. But decomposition is slow, so leaving them out over the winter doesn't do much good. What does work? Put leaves in a compost pile and turn them occasionally. When fully decomposed, they make an excellent mulch. 

Brewer, of Lancaster-based Arborist Enterprises, Inc., says threats like Emerald Ash Borer and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid now are spreading across Pennsylvania, but they're treatable. Such invasive pests soared after free trade agreements spiked wooden pallet shipments to the U.S.


Writing a community newsletter is never boring. Take, for example, this tale, which unfolded in Timber Hills la month. Seated quietly at home one evening, Teressa Ceresini and her husband heard a van full of teenagers pull up along their driveway. Someone got out, ran up and deposited this bird right at her doorstep. Then they took off, laughing as they disappeared into the night.

So much for the adventure. Teressa, now stuck with a bird she didn't ask for and doesn't want, would like to return the bird to its owner.

If you have any clues, send us a note. We'd like to help clear up the mystery before (when the bird-snatchers reassemble over a few beers at the Hideaway 30 years from now) it has morphed into an exploit akin to the Harry Winston Paris Jewelry Heist.

Energized Mt. Gretnans, led by Harmonia Music Club's grand doyenne Nancy Hatz (below), are out drumming up ticket sales for the Tamburitzan Dancers (right) at Allen Theater Oct. 22 to benefit the club's scholarship fund. Mt. Gretnan Pat Walter says that in addition to Nancy (who began playing piano at age 3 and was honored this summer at age 96 by the National Federation of Music Clubs Convention in Virginia), their team includes Dorothy Landis Gray and organ impresarios Walter McAnney and Peter Hewitt (now planning the Harmonia Club's American Music Month tribute in Mt. Gretna Nov. 5 with Ross Ellison, a featured Longwood Gardens and Bruton Parish Church recitalist).  

The Harmonia Club provides scholarships for Lebanon County seniors who'll major in music.  




Runners' World? Ever notice those Saturday morning runners warming up on the Chautauqua parking lot? They say there's something special about Mt. Gretna. "Not only is it a beautiful spot, it's safe," says Bucknell graduate and Cedar Crest High School cross-country coach Brandon Risser (right). He puts beginners on the rail trail with confidence, knowing they're not going to get lost. " markers tell them precisely where they are, and the advanced runners can leave the trail and run on dirt roads, stone, tracks and switchbacks without fear of injury. It's unbeatable," says Risser.
Although he favors softer surfaces and encourages kids to run with as little shoe as possible, he doesn't go as far as Chris McDougall, a Mt. Gretna Writers Series speaker this summer who advocated running barefoot. "We do some barefoot running to help them get used to it, but we don't advocate suddenly switching from shoes with a 1" heel to nothing. The foot needs time to adjust."

Is it easy to get kids running these days? Not always, Risser says. "We've got kids who are addicted to video games. But this is a positive offset, a healthier alternative. Once they start running, they love it. They're out here on a Saturday morning because they want to be. Running's a social sport, less adversarial than soccer, where only 11 kids can be on a team. Here, everybody who wants to can take part. No one's excluded."



Natalie Jean Smith (1935-2011)

The morning after Natalie Smith's death on Friday, Sept. 2, a friend stopped by the office they had shared as Cicada Festival volunteers. She wanted to straighten out a few things Natalie had worked on just days before. needed to be straightened. Natalie had left the office as tidy as she had left her cottage on Muhlenburg Avenue. The cottage was one that she had inherited from her uncle, Arnold Bowman. It was a treasured spot that provided for her and husband Richard enduring Mt. Gretna memories throughout their 55-year marriage.  

With a reputation for getting things done well, Natalie was a co-chair of the Cicada ticket office, manager of the Summer Program Play Readings, a volunteer at the Mt. Gretna Art Show, and she often housed and fed visiting artists during the summer season. 

Known for her broad, expansive smile, even after cancer took its hold, Natalie focused on others and made her Mt. Gretna cottage a haven for friends and family. 

Born in Harrisburg, she was a graduate of Allentown High School and the Allentown Hospital School of Nursing. She was a registered nurse and a volunteer for organizations that included the Red Cross and Meals on Wheels.  

Following a Celebration of Life service last month at the Plymouth Meeting Church of the Mall (which she helped found and to which memorial contributions may be made), friends and neighbors in Mt. Gretna began plans to dedicate a memorial bench in Natalie's honor near the Playhouse. Those wishing to help purchase the bench may send checks made payable to Maryanne Spychalski, P.O. Box 135, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064. 



Updates & Stuff to 

Post on

The Fridge

Pileated Woodpecker... posting stuff on the fridge.

Bill Shoals photo.







Saturday, Oct. 1: Cornwall Manor's Fall Festival. Pancakes 8 - 10 am, hot dogs, hamburgers, silent auction, clowns, balloons, arts & crafts, plants & fall flower sale; 9 am - 2 pm

Sunday, Oct. 9: Patsy Kline's final Bluegrass workshop and jam of 2011 season at Gov. Dick Park; 1:00 pm for beginners; jam starts 2 pm. Bring lawn chairs.

Sunday, Oct. 9: SFJazz,
Gretna Music, E'town 7:30 pm

Monday, Oct. 10: R.A.D.,
personal safety course for seniors, begins locally, sponsored by Cornwall Police Dept.  Call Stephanie Burris, 274-2071 for details.

Tuesday, Oct. 11: Blacksmith Fred Eberly shows tools &  techniques of his craft in colonial times. An Iron Furnace Lecture Series talk, Cornwall Manor Freeman Hall, 7 pm

Thursday, Oct. 13 Home school Field Day at Gov. Dick Park, 9:30-12:30. Need 5 registrants by Oct. 7 or events (Insects & Forester) will be cancelled. Register: 964-3808

Monday, Oct. 17 The English Concert, period instrument ensemble from the U.K., 7:30 pm,
Gretna Music, E'town.

Friday, Oct. 28 The grandest parade of the century! It at the Jigger Shop at 6:30 pm and steps off promptly at 7.
Spooks, goblins and SuperPumpkin himself march down the highway to the fire hall, where hot dogs, drinks and a cakewalk await. Mt. Gretna's official Halloween Band will be there, too. Don't miss it!



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, 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 -- 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,