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Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 124                                                                                                    November 1, 2011

It is a scene unlikely to be duplicated anytime soon: Fall foliage draped in a layer of snow. . . photographed last weekend by  Chautauqua residents Tom and Carol Mayer as they walked along Route 117 on their way to a Sunday morning breakfast. The late fall storm took on a Beauty and the Beast aspect: True, it felled trees, clipped branches, punctured roofs and left many without electrical power, but it also provided glimpses of a fall grandeur rarely seen. And it provided for everyone remaining in Mt. Gretna an instructive, if abrupt, reminder that now's the time to prepare for a winter that's right around the corner.

Nature's Surprise
Late fall mornings in Mt. Gretna normally summon misty impressions over the lake, a transitory yet satisfying reminder that grace notes await those who linger for summer's encore. It is a bounty rarely matched in other times or places. Occasionally, however, nature changes the agenda.
Last weekend caught many by surprise. As a snowstorm swept through the Northeast, knocking down trees, blocking roads, and disrupting electrical power and Internet service

Betsy Stutzman photo.

, Mt. Gretnans found comfort in animated conversations with friends and neighbors, survivors all of the earliest snow storm in memory, marveling at the unexpected foretaste of what many suspect could be a challenging winter.
In this issue, as in others that have come before, we attempt to catch our readers up on events that have transpired over recent weeks, few of which would qualify as honest-to-goodness news elsewhere. World-shaking events don't happen here. Yet it strikes us that regardless of where they live, nearly everyone could use a little dose of Mt. Gretna-style un-eventfulness in their life every now and then.
So this newsletter, with only modest aspirations, sets out to deliver that.
Most readers of this letter live outside Mt. Gretna, a fact that surprised us when we first began writing it in quest of a retirement pursuit over a decade ago. Our aim then was to report on such matters as whether cellular telephone service would ever become a reality, whether snowfalls piling up on the rooftops of century-old cottages were a cause for concern for absent owners who lived far away, and the rewarding experience of chronicling achievements of Mt. Gretna citizens who had before their deaths become almost legends.

Madelaine Gray photo

What also surprised us were the numbers of people who seemed eager to read about a tiny village whose population of 1,500 or so swelled to perhaps 2,500 in the summer. At least 2,000 readers now regularly receive and read this letter -- some of them in Europe, Africa and the South Pacific -- and an untold number who receive pass-along copies forwarded by friends and relatives.
Thus we have come to realize that the spirit of Mt. Gretna, in truth, has no boundaries. Almost everyone who ever grew up here, everyone whose summers were enriched by childhood experiences here, everyone who shares memories of times with their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents in Mt. Gretna has been stamped with credentials that endure forever. In the spirit of those who founded this community, that approbation also extends to those who first came to Mt. Gretna in their adult years, perhaps even in their 50s or 60s. The legitimacy of belonging resides not in a deed but in the heart. Those who truly understand that seem to grasp it instinctively. "I've never lived anywhere I've felt so accepted," said the first neighbor we met upon purchasing a  cottage on Harvard Avenue more than 20 years ago.  It is a resonance that leaves no doubt, the unmistakable warmth of something irreproducible, and therefore irreplaceable. Something to be valued. And, at all costs, to be preserved.


News Roundup

Eastern Enterprises, Inc. notified West Cornwall Township last month that the company was withdrawing a petition to rezone its 65-acre tract along Route 117 from Residential Forest (RF) to Residential 1 and 2. The requested rezoning would have allowed multi-family dwellings such as townhouses and also a greater number of single-family homes than are possible under RF. The company's action came 10 days after another landowner, Valeria Heisey, had withdrawn her rezoning request as well as her support for the Eastern Enterprises petition, which had been filed last June. The entire 90-acre tract thus continues to be zoned as a Residential Forest District, which current zoning laws describe as "land which needs regulation to protect and preserve its environmental integrity for future generations."

Did Tropical Storm Lee leave a legacy of humming generators? Those two or three days in September that some spent without electrical power sent generator sales climbing. Many report that friends and neighbors bought either gas- or propane-powered units in the weeks immediately following Lee's multi-day outage when suppliers scrambled to keep up with the demand. That need surged again last weekend as Mt. Gretnans rushed to local hardware and farm supply stores, only to discover that the generator shelves were again bare.
Although propane models are capable of running 24 hours a day for five to seven days at a time, depending on tank capacity, during the summer when windows are open, thoughtful owners shut them down after 10 pm to allow close neighbors a good night's sleep.
No one knows exactly how many homes and cottages in Mt. Gretna now have emergency power supplies at hand, but estimates in some neighborhoods such as the Village Lane section of Timber Hills or Conewago Hill range from 30% to 60%. Elsewhere, in communities such as the Campmeeting and Chautauqua, where many homes are occupied only in summer, Borough crewman Joey Wise estimates the average may be closer to 10%. But, summer or winter, nearly everyone misses Met-Ed when it's gone. Clearly, even in Mt. Gretna, the nostalgia of kerosene lanterns and wood-burning stoves fades quickly. Good night, John Boy.

More deer here than ever? It would seem so, says Cynthia Condrack, who has lived in the

Bill Shoals photo

Chautauqua for the past 25 years and never before saw deer walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. "Now, they're eating my impatiens," she declares.
Others have spotted deer, in clusters if not bona fide herds, in Mt. Gretna Heights and along Batdorf Avenue in the Campmeeting.  Across the highway, folks in Timber Hills regularly discover anywhere from 10 to 14 deer grazing at night on Soldiers Field. In the weeks before rutting season, three bucks suddenly showed up on the spot where the Conewago Hotel once stood. Increasingly, local residents are concerned about the threat of Lyme disease, which has already affected a number of Mt. Gretnans. Some believe that Lyme disease could become the major public health danger in the next few years.  



Online edition goes "live"

Now, a Year-Round Calendar for Mt. Gretnans  

You won't have to wait for the Summer Calendar to know what's going on in Mt. Gretna.

Introducing the Arts Council's year-round online edition.
No, it's not a replacement for the popular -- and ultra-handy -- "chunky book" that's crammed full of cultural, recreational, religious and social events from May to September.
The traditional Summer Calendar will continue to be the No. 1 reference for year-rounders, summer residents, casual visitors -- and news media, including this newsletter.
Supplementing the printed calendar now will be a new online edition, which has just gone "live." It lists events that will take pla here as well as out-of-town happenings that include exhibits and performances by artists, writers, musicians and others with ties to Mt. Gretna.
Does that mean you'll find listings for concerts by Dallas Symphony Orchestra oboist (and former Mt. Gretnan) Erin Hannigan, or exhibits in Florida by Art Show founders Reed Dixon and Bruce Johnson? "Yes, all they have to do is let us know when and where they'll be," says Jennifer Veser Besse, a third-generation Mt. Gretnan who spearheads the Internet project.
Ten color-coded category keys help readers quickly spot items of special interest: For example, kids' events appear in yellow, religious activities in red, nature events in green, recreational events in pink, concerts in purple, arts exhibits in orange.
The online format allows up-to-the-minute changes whenever they occur, says Jennifer. It's part of a revamped
Arts Council website that includes the council's newsletter and a comprehensive list of painters, sculptors, musicians, writers,  jewelers and other artists with current or historical ties to Mt. Gretna. "Our area has a rich cultural heritage," says Jennifer. "This new website both recognizes and celebrates that distinction."  She adds that notices should be for events similar to those which have traditionally appeared in the Summer Calendar, and she promises to post them promptly. Yet it's a good practice to send items as far in advance as possible. "If someone tells me on a Thursday about an activity that'll take place on Friday, it might not make it onto the calendar in time," she warns.   

The site also offers pop-up details as readers cursor-over event listings. That clickable feature will add useful details about shows and exhibits, which helps both presenters and readers, she says.

How to get your event listed? Send details to: or Even if your event is months away, Jennifer will see that it's posted online now. She'll also forward copies of your information to the Summer Calendar's editorial team. That means both summer and winter events will be covered at all times. The printed calendar will continue to carry both advertising and a comprehensive listing of  events that take place during the height of the summer season.



Conversation with...

Merv Lentz

Although he's retired twice before, the Campmeeting's superintendent
now says reading and staying busy -- not rocking chairs -- are his passions

Finishing up nearly 15 years as a township supervisor but not about ready to retire, Merv Lentz, at 82, says he gave some thought a few years ago to retiring as Campmeeting superintendent. "Yet, here I am. I decided I didn't want to sit in a rocking chair and rock myself to death. I make a point of having something to do."

A German and Spanish teacher, he's been to Europe 15 times.

Something to do? Usually up before 5:30 am, he makes daily checks on the Campmeeting water supply, scoops up leaves, spreads rocks with a skid loader, pulls weeds, reviews building permits, checks water lines, cuts grass, trims branches, arranges special pickups when someone wants to get rid of an old sofa, repairs broken benches at the Tabernacle, cleans out bathrooms, and handles dozens of other chores that most people never think about. Sometimes he even builds bird and butterfly houses for children to assemble and paint. Already retired twice -- as a bakery route supervisor and a high school teacher -- he'll give up being a West Cornwall Township supervisor when his term ends next month. It's a non-paid job [Merv convinced his fellow supervisors to forgo their $50-a-month salary.]


Whether they're kids or adults, when people come to you with their problems, it pays to listen, not lecture. Most problems get solved by sitting down and talking, not in a public setting, not with criticism, but just talking one-on-one. . . and listening.


I once had a smart teacher who said, "You have to teach in order to learn." That was good advice. I learned a lot from teaching. Irene [his wife of 60 years] and I never had any children of our own, but in 26 years of teaching I had 3,000 kids. I often run into them in restaurants or the supermarket. They still remember me.


My parents [in South Annville, where Merv was born] spoke Pennsylvania Dutch, but only to each other, never to us children. I picked up Dutch and can speak it as well as any Amishman.  So I guess languages just came easily to me. I got my teaching certificate on a Friday and started teaching the next Tuesday. I was always the first to arrive at school. I taught German and Spanish and loved teaching.


I think small government works best. A big, countywide government could get bulky. As it is now, we can work together to purchase things at the same price the state of Pennsylvania gets. It's called "piggybacking" and it works. I wouldn't like to see all townships get wiped out and have one government. But maybe I'm wrong. It might be worth a try, and maybe it would work out.


I usually read a book a week. My favorite authors include Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Vince Flynn, David McCullough, Ken Follett and Karl Rove, who I met last year at Borders. I also do crossword puzzles and have a garage for minor carpentry work. I once built a 7' x 7' hutch. [Most intricate carpentry project ever? "I've built five houses in Mt. Gretna from scratch," he says.]


Maybe Penn State football games. I used to watch pro games because Tom Landry set a good example. But they didn't treat him right, so I'm just not a Cowboys fan anymore.


I'd like to see people from all parts of Mt. Gretna get together and discuss mutual problems and concerns so we could help one another out with ideas. Plus, I'd like to see more people get involved with voluntary things. Maybe we need to publicize volunteer opportunities more, hold annual volunteer picnics and find other ways to show our appreciation for people who pitch in and help do things like run the library, build butterfly gardens and organize the Heritage Festival.



Annual Glimpse into Artists' Creative Lairs 

Will Attract Visitors to Mt. Gretna this Weekend

It's one thing to admire a work of art in a gallery, quite another to poke around inside the studio where it was actually created.
That's the essence of the Lebanon Valley Art Studio Tour which takes place here this month, and also a key to its popularity over the past 12 years.

At Betsy Stutzman's studio: delicate art of Oriental brush painting

The 13th annual tour Nov. 5-6 will feature the works of 33 artists assembled in 20 different studios and galleries from Hummelstown to Schaefferstown -- with nearly a third of them centered in Mt. Gretna.
David Adams and Madelaine Gray will open their studios in the Campmeeting. So, too, will Campmeeting artists Fred Swarr, Mary Kopala and Elizabeth Stutzman.
Stroll across Route 117 to

Basket maker Van Hoesen

La Cigale, the headquarters of John and Nancy Mitchell's imported French Provencal table linens , and you'll find five more local artists, including Gretna Springs wildlife painter and photographer Susan Afflerbach, water colorist and former Mt. Gretnan Carol Snyder, ceramic ware creator Dennis Maust, basketry wizard Garrett Van Hoesen and stoneware clay artist Margaret Seidenberg-Ellis.
With 10 of the 33 exhibiting artists clustered in Mt. Gretna, it's a good bet that many of the 4,000 visitors expected to take the three-county driving tour will find their way here.  No admission charge. Hours: Saturday, Nov. 5 from 10 am to 5 pm; Sunday, Nov. 6, noon to 5 pm.



SIGHTINGS, it's not an everyday sight in Mt. Gretna, but wildlife painter and photographer Susan Afflerbach was at the lake with her camera on a Sunday afternoon in late October when four Amish carriages clip-clopped their way past the Mt. Gretna Men's Club and down Route 117 toward Colebrook. "They were singing as they passed by," she says. "It was beautiful." Susan's
works will be among those on display at La Cigale this weekend, during the Lebanon Valley Art Studio Tour (see story above). 

What will you discover
at the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society museum? Volunteer Glin Atkinson (right), who once designed those head-turning showcase windows at the

Scratchy suits?

nationally famous Donecker's womens store in Ephrata, and Pat Pinsler (left), a former managing director at Gretna Theatre who grew up in Mt. Gretna and remembers those scratchy woolen bathing suits at the lake, puzzled over what to do with this sign last month.

Rearranging the first-floor showrooms for visitors next season, they dusted off, spruced up and aligned items in the museum to highlight  each phase of Mt. Gretna's history. Located at 206 Pennsylvania Avenue and open only by

appointment during the winter months, the society offers online glimpses 24/7.

Well, where'd you hide it?

Most forlorn dog in Mt. Gretna?  That's Bo, the English Springer Spaniel that lives in Timber Hills and carries a glove everywhere he goes.
Everywhere, that is, until last month.

Bo & glove 2 years ago  

Somehow, somewhere in the excitement of Tropical Storm Lee,

which sent trees crashing down around the Village Cove home where he hangs out with Tom and Joanne Honeychurch, Bo's glove disappeared.

 "We tried to interest him in three different gloves, but he only wants

his glove," says Joanne (left), who spent summers growing up in Mt. Gretna and is, like her husband, now a retired computer specialist. Both continue the glove search for Bo, now 6 years old and himself retired (as a show dog). Meanwhile, a groundswell of empathy surges in Bo's neighborhood, particularly among men. Every guy who's ever had a favorite pair of jeans, or beat-up sneakers that his wife insisted on tossing out, or a sweater punctuated by tiny specks left by wayward ashes of a Garcia & Vega corona, understands Bo's plight. When a guy's got a favorite, it's a keeper. That's just the way life is.

Peter Hewitt, who makes Mt. Gretna a "must" stop for aspiring Juilliard School organists, attracts his share of intriguing encounters. For example, a performer at one of Peter's popular July organ recitals once showed up late but nevertheless had promised to take Peter and Walter McAnney to lunch in his chauffeur-driven limo. Choices were limited, however, since the concert would soon begin. They opted for a quick snack at the pizzeria. So Peter, Walter and

A certain attraction

the performer crawled into the limo, made the 50-yard-journey across the street, picked up flowers from Marion Brubaker's stand on the opposite corner and even brought her back to arrange and display the flowers. Marion, who spent most of her life on a farm, talked about that experience for years.

Last month, as Peter put the finishing touches on his recital lineups for 2012 and 2013, a bicyclist stopped to chat with Peter on his porch. The cyclist, a Brethren Church minister, then pointed across Route 117 and informed Peter that the lady on horseback was his wife. She and her horse Lisle came up on the driveway and they chatted while Peter patted the horse. They then left on their respective modes of travel and headed to the tennis courts, where their children and grandchildren were playing. No sooner had they left when another passerby, riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, pulled up onto Peter's driveway and asked for directions to the Hideaway.

A bemused Peter, whose distinguished mien seems unlikely to attract either horses or bikers on a Sunday afternoon, suggests "things like that could only happen in Mt. Gretna." Perhaps. But somehow they're more likely to happen when Peter's around.



Nobody knows better what it means to have a well-equipped fire company nearby than RaeAnn Lynch. On a bright spring morning in 2008 she returned to her Campmeeting home afte walking her dog to discover flames searing the side of her home. Although she had turned off the gas fireplace before leaving her home, a bird's nest over the fireplace's outdoor vent caught fire. Thanks to an alert neighbor, the fire engines were already there when she returned. Although she lost the roof and workmen had to replace the entire second floor, the firefighters' quick work saved her home.

That's why RaeAnn, a real estate agent (who makes gemstone and sterling jewelry in her spare time and twice has won a spot in the Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show), jumped at the chance to help the fire company as it nears its fundraising goal. She was out last weekend painting ever higher levels on the ladder as the $400,000 campaign comes within $68,145 of its target. With just a few more contributions and pledges, the goal will be achieved -- maybe even before 2011 comes to a close.

To help in the final push, send your tax-deductible gift this month to Mt. Gretna Fire Company, P.O. Box 177, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064. For questions and other details, contact campaign manager Tom Mayer, 964-1987 or email



Christmas gifts inspired  by Mt. Gretna? Lisa Schwartz, an illustrator, fine artist and jewelry designer -- and a friend of La Cigale owners John and Nancy Mitchell -- has just created a Mt. Gretna-spec series of brooches. Inspired by the "shocki" Mt. Gretna bather, Doodle the rooster, and giant acorns that often pelt Mt. Gretna's tin rooftops at this time of year, Schwartz brings her signature style to the ornate and nostalgic line, reminiscent of Mt. Gretna itself.

Crafted in enamel over brass and layered in an intricate collage format, they're now sold exclusively at La Cigale. Schwartz, who lives in Bucks County and was commissioned by the White House to create special jewelry designs during the Clinton years, plans to add some new Mt. Gretna-themed styles featuring canoe charms. "Mt. Gretna is absolutely charming," she says. "The houses with porches and the lake make it a wonderful place. It goes hand in hand with my work because it has such a nostalgic sensibility."

When photographer Madelaine Gray goes to Paris, count on her to come back with an exquisite
portfolio. That's just what you'll find at a new exhibit, "Paris: As Seen by Two Photographers" -- one of whom just to be Madelaine herself -- which opens in Lebanon next month. It includes pictures that Madelaine and fellow photographer Al Hollida shot during the same week of September this year when both were in Paris. And both, it turns out, will be at the Lebanon Valley Council of the Arts' 734 Willow Street headquarters Dec. 2 to launch the opening and greet visitors from 5 to 8 pm. The exhibition will continue throughout December. has yet devised a more welcoming nor more spirited launch of the holiday season than Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney, whose home, tree and musical enchantment has ushered in Mt. Gretna's holiday season for the past 14 years.

With energy, charm and an enthusiasm that belies his 79 years, Peter will officially launch the 2011 holiday season on the third day of December, starting promply at 5:30 pm. That's when the tree that serves as Mt Gretna's holiday centerpiece lights up for carolers who'll stream into the Hewitt-McAnney residence at 1 Cedarn Point to begin the holiday festivities. Everyone in town is invited, and those who come are asked to bring a dish of finger food that will be served buffet style along with hot mulled cider.


Why Thatcher Switched to Soup. . . and Hot Dogs 

Thatcher Bornman can't remember the year Mt. Gretna's soup contest got started, but he'll never the moment his brief career came to an end as a contestant in a chili cook-off.  That occurred soon after Chef Thatch had entered the capital city's ren chili contest. A woman spotted him at a supermarket and asked whether he'd been one of the chili chefs the day before.  "Why, yes I was," said Thatch, taken a little off guard.  "Well, my husband was one of the judges, and he's been home sick all day. That's the last time he'll ever be a judge." That might explain why Thatcher (inset, right) got out of the chili business altogether and now is probably best-known as the guy who serves up free hot dogs to celebrate Mt. Gretna's Big Junk Day.  For the past eight or ten years now, ever since he and former Mt. Gretnan Tom Miller hatched the idea, he's organized the annual Mt. Gretna Soup Cook-off.  In the interim, he's made a few changes. First, he got rid of a formal judges' panel. Instead, he now gives a ballot to everybody who comes in the door. It's democracy in action. Besides, says Thatch, "Everybody likes soup, especially on a cold day in November. And everybody can vote for their favorites." ingredients add to the success of this event, which repeats at the Mt. Gretna fire hall Saturday, Nov. 12 from noon to 2 pm: First, there's the wide variety of soups themselves, all with exotic names and tastes, cooked up by some of Mt. Gretna's best -- usually with a few out-of-towners. "This is really tough competition," says Thatch, "but everybody who enters seems to have a lot of fun." Entries often come with elaborate decorations as contestants also compete for "best presentation" honors. Added pleasure comes from Scott Galbriath (inset, lower left), who donates his time to add soft background music that serves to "take things up a notch," says Thatcher.  Then there's the socialization factor: In Mt. Gretna on a chilly November day, there's no better place to meet and greet your friends.

Thach, who looks forward to a big turnout of both contestants and soup-tasters again this year, repeats the theme that sets the tone of this annual enterprise: "Challenge your pallet and cast your ballot," he says.  

The annual Mt. Gretna Soup Cook-Off, Saturday, Nov. 12, noon to 2 pm. Admission: $10.  All proceeds benefit the Mt. Gretna Fire Company. 



Lawrence Welk may be gone, but you can still hear an accordionist who loves telling stories at the Winterites. Storyteller and musician Rich Renalgia of Hershe appears today at 1 pm in the Mt. Gretna fire hall. It's the Winterites' second gathering of the 2011-2012 season, which runs from October to April. They've been meeting on first Tuesdays of the month [except January] ever since Maggie Stroh founded the group in 1950. Come to think of it, that was about the time the "ah-one and-a-two" champagne music bandleader was getting his start as well.   

All are welcome, including growing numbers of men who turn out for the sprightly sessions each month. With their revenues from membership dues and $3 Duplicate Bridge sessions, the group recently donated $1,000 to the fire company, says president Donna Kaplan, who invites questions by email.   


Recipe Roundup: Favorites, Including an Irish Dish, Pour in for New Edition of Firefighters' Cookbook
Must you have a name like McGuire to create an exquisite Irish Shepherd's Pie? No, but it probably helps.

"Too good to cut, but they ate every morsel"

Friends like Campmeeting neighbor Kathy Kercher keep finding Irish cookbooks to drop off at Peggy McGuire's Fifth Street cottage. "So with all these cookbooks I've given you, why not cook something for us?" asked Kathy.
Cat-lover Peggy's first try with this recipe turned out purrrfectly. "The potato topping looked like meringue, so good I didn't want to cut it," says Peggy. As a senior research associate and training specialist for the University of Tennessee Center for Literacy Studies in Knoxville, Tenn., Peggy's "the ultimate telecommuter." But when she has a few spare moments, she can turn out masterpieces like this. . . with a little help from her friends.

Here's her recipe for . . .  


Irish Shepherd's Pie

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped                                             

4 tablespoons sunflower oil

1 lb. very lean ground beef

3 heaping tablespoons cornmeal

1/2 pint beef stock

1/4 pint leftover wine (optional)

2 tablespoons tomato puree

salt and pepper

1/2 lb. peas

1/2 lb. carrots, sliced

3 lbs. potatoes, boiled and mashed with 1/2 pint milk and 2 oz butter 


Preheat oven to 350. Fry onions and garlic in oil until soft. Add the meat and stir until brown. In a bowl, mix the cornmeal with half of the beef stock; then mix in the wine, the rest of the stock and the tomato puree. Pour this over the meat. Season well with salt and pepper, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.  

Pour all this into an oven-proof dish. Stir in the vegetables and top with the mashed potatoes. Bake for 1 hour. Serves four. 


The Cookbook volunteers still need lots of receipes to stuff into their 2012 edition. Have a favorite you can contribute? It doesn't matter whether you live in Mt. Gretna, Singapore or sunny California. . . if you're a Mt. Gretnan at heart, they want to hear from you!  

Send your entries now to: Mt. Gretna Fire Company Cookbook, P.O. Box 177, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.   




20 Volunteers working two to three days to raise $1,000? That's what it takes to on a fire company breakfast like the one coming up Sunday, Nov. 6.

The 13-item menu includes eggs strata, pancakes, sausage, potatoes, baked oatmeal, creamed chipped beef with sausage gravy and biscuits, plus toast, juice and coffee. Somehow, despite a $500 bill at the grocery store to purchase their ingredients, the volunteers squeeze out a profit, which goes to help pay for the building and put a little toward equipment purchases. Just how much profit, of course, depends on generous donations There's no charge at the door. Only an empty fireman's boot. The idea is to stuff it with cash, and most people feel $10 per person is a reasonable contribution . . .  not just for the sumptuous breakfast, but for the reassurance of knowing that those who would protect our homes and lives in an emergency will always be there.  

Is all the work worth it? "Well, we have a lot of fun," says Karen Lynch, who's been helping coordinate breakfasts and other fundraisers for the past 33 years. She hopes that everyone who stops by (from 8 am to noon) will visit Kathy Kercher and Sharon Solie's crafts table. They donate their time and materials to create one-of-a-kind crafts that will make wonderful Christmas gifts... another way to thank Mt. Gretna's firefighters.

192,123 Miles before it finally collapsed, utterly unrepairable. With a blown engine that "runs but can't be depended upon in emergencies," says chief Bob Dowd, the Mt. Gretna Fire Company volunteers hope that someone may have a serviceable SUV or similar vehicle they're willing to donate as a replacement. This one, a gift of Mt. Gretnan Sam Bonacci, needed some transmission work when he gave it to the fire company four years ago.
Yet after a few repairs, it served well as  Station 38's Command Vehicle. That's the unit which is usually first on the scene in emergencies and the central coordinating point for other volunteers and equipment.  If you have a vehicle you'd like to donate to the firefighters, contact Bob ( or fire company president Joe Shay ( or call 964-1106. Who knows? Your gift could save a life.

 The tradition goes back at least three decades. Not the biggest parade by any measure, but certainly one where it's difficult to tell who has the most fun: parade watchers (who number perhaps 30 or 40) or parade marchers (whose ranks this year may have swelled to nearly 200). The spectators enjoyed every scintillating moment as police cars, three fire engines with flashing red lights, snazzy farm vehicles dressed up with cobwebs and pumpkins passed by in this annual "over-in-the-blink-of- an-eye" procession.
"It was my first Mt. Gretna Halloween parade," said Village Lane resident Cathryn Amdahl. "As the music played, I marched behind a devil and an angel, singing 'Be Kind to Your Fine Feathered Friends' at the top of my voice. It was perfect!"
The parade made its way along Route 117 to the fire hall, where Super Pumpkin, witches in tall hats, spooks, princesses and assorted goblins combined to make this occasion one of the best things that happens in Mt. Gretna all year long. 

by Bill Shoals
and Susie Afflerbach




Updates & Stuff to 

Post on

The Fridge

 Lakeview Drive  

October 2011 

 Lakeview Drive

3 Days Later 



Tuesday, Nov. 1: Winteries, Mt. Gretna fire hall, 1 pm

Thursday, Nov. 3:  
Regional Comprehensive Plan meeting, 6 pm. So. Lebanon Twp Munic. Building. See "meeting notices" below.

Friday, Nov. 4: Nocturne at Governor Dick Tower, 6:30 pm. Sing-along, bonfire. Registration & fee required, 964-3808.

Saturday, Nov. 5: Organ Recital, Harmonia Club; American Music Program, 3 pm, Hewitt-McAnney home. Millersville University professor of music Ross Ellison.  


Sunday, Nov. 6: Fire Company breakfast, 8 am - noon. Mt. Gretna fire hall (See story above for details.) 

Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 5-6: Art Studio Tour
in Mt. Gretna and surrounding counties. (See story above for times and other details.)


Saturday, Nov. 12 Bouldering Competition. For beginners and advanced climbers. 9 am. Details online.

Sunday, Nov. 20: Thanksgiving Breakfast, at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. Open to all, this event combines the church service with a delicious breakfast, starting at 9:30 am.  

Tuesday, Nov. 29: Canadian Brass. Gretna Music, Elizabethtown College, 7:30 pm

For the latest updates throughout the year,
click on the Mt. Gretna Arts Council Calendar of Events:


Public Meetings of Interest to Mt. Gretnans:



Scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 3 and Thursday, Dec. 1 at 6:30 pm in the South Lebanon Twp. Municipal Building,1800 S. 5th Ave., Lebanon) To confirm meeting times, locations and agendas, see



Borough Hall, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064 Tel. 964-3270

Council Meeting - 2nd Monday of each month, 7:00 pm, Board Room behind Post Office

Water & Sewer Authority Meeting - 1st Monday of each month, 7:00 pm, Board Room behind Post Office


SOUTH LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP (Timber Hills, Conewago Hill, Timber Bridge)

20 W. Market St., Box 3, Campbelltown 17010 Tel. 838-5556

Supervisors: (Meeting - 2nd Tuesday of each month, 7:00 pm, Municipal Building)

Planning Commission: (Meeting - 3rd Tuesday of each month, 7:00 pm, Municipal Building)

Zoning Hearing Board: (4th Tuesday of each month 7:00 pm if needed)

Authority: (Meeting - 1st Thursday of each month, 7:30 pm, Municipal Building)


WEST CORNWALL TOWNSHIP (Heights, Stoberdale, Campmeeting)

73 S. Zinns Mill Rd., Lebanon 17042 Tel. 272-9841    

Supervisors Meeting:  2nd Monday of each month, 7:00 pm, Township Building

Planning Commission Meeting - 4th Wednesday of each month, 6:00 pm,

Township Building - as needed

Sewer Authority Meeting - 1st Tuesday of every other month, 7:00 pm, Township Building



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, crossword puzzles or fishing might be for others. It produces no income, but huge quantities of personal satisfaction since it keeps us in touch with people around the world 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. (In that way, we occasionally learn things. Those elongated Philadelphia sandwiches are called hoagies, for example, not hoagys. Bet you didn't know that either.)  

We don't cover everything. Some topics are better left to daily newspapers, TV and others with greater skills, resources and insights. We also must decline the often thoughtful suggestions from readers to run items that lack ties to our community.

Generally speaking, we try to cover stories that readers may not have already read elsewhere. Yet since the majority of our readers live not in Mt. Gretna but in other cities, states and countries, we sometimes summarize stories that appear in local newspapers. We also depend on our readers to alert us to news, including 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 living a life.  

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 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. and New Cumberland, Pa.  

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 sometimes proves helpful to people planning to move here 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. Constant Contact is the commercial distribution service we employ to keep up with growing numbers of folks around the world who enjoy reading about Mt. Gretna. Please add to your e-mail address list; that will help your server distinguish the Mt. Gretna Newsletter from unsolicited email messages (spam).  


Privacy policy: E-mail addresses on the Mt. Gretna Newsletter mailing list are not sold, rented, shared or traded with any individual or organization.

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