Winter That Almost Wasn't? In mid-January, with only a dusting of snow on
the banks surrounding the still unfrozen lake, many began to wonder if
winter would every really get here. Less than a week later, however, a
brief but statement-making snowstorm removed lingering doubts. Although
the winter of 2012 may turn out to be "Winter Lite," the quiet
time that some regard as Mt. Gretna's most picturesque season has indeed
Who needs Paris?
In Mt. Gretna, Romance
In Mt. Gretna in the midst of winter when not much
happens, putting together a community newsletter seems akin to what we
suppose must be like stitching a patchwork quilt: With persistence and
a little bit of luck, after a while the random bits and pieces come
together in what one hopes will be a pattern.
First came those youngsters, trekking early last month through the
Chautauqua grounds on a scavenger hunt. They had on their list of
things to find "the Mt. Gretna museum." We directed them to
the historical society, right up the street. Then they wanted to know,
"Where's the Valentine
As it happened, Madelaine
Gray, the photographer, had only days before sent us a picture
of the sign outside that cottage, one she hoped might be useful as we
assembled our February issue. We
Before the name,
then talked with the cottage owners, Victor Massad and
Joann Tucker, who are college professors at Kutztown and Shippensburg
universities, respectively. Victor's specialty is marketing, and he had
applied his talents in making the rental cottage more appealing to
couples who wanted a romantic getaway in the Campmeeting. Victor and
Joanne painted the cottage red and white, added shutters with
heart-shaped cutouts and furnished the interior with cupid-themed decor
found on eBay. Yet it wasn't until after they'd added all those touches
that they discovered the previous owner, a woman who lived there until
she died in her 80s, may have cast the most lingering inspiration of
all: She had been born on Valentine's Day.
Hmmm. Was there a storyline developing here? A scavenger hunt for a
"Valentine Cottage," a photo that suddenly arrived in the
mail, a coincidental birthday? Editors of newsletters in small towns
must seize upon such bits as they tumble from the sky.
Mt. Gretna sight:
Hand- holders everywhere.
Then came an invitation from Audrey Manspeaker (inset
left, with fiance Lee), a favorite Governor Dick Park tour guide, who
weaves enchanting spells when she introduces youngsters to the
creatures who live in the forest.
Would we like to have pictures and a narrative of the wedding she had
planned atop the Governor
With our February issue now only days away, her offer in
mid-January seemed like the gift of an angel.
Suddenly, it was clear: A Valentine's Day theme. Why not?
After all, the day holds a special place in the traditions of Mt.
Gretna, where many of our readers first met, fell in love and married
their mates. Hand-holding couples abound here, even in winter (see
"Proposal Made in a Tree," below). And in summer, Mt.
Gretna's towering pines, moonlit nights and canoes on the lake become
essential elements in a century-old mixture tailor made for romance.
As a beacon to writers, artists, musicians, poets and
photographers, Mt. Gretna is a place that hearts find first and the
arts soon follow. A treasure trove of memories: Perhaps that's what the
author of a first novel had in mind when she wrote "The Buried
Treasure of Mt. Gretna." That author is, of course, the longtime
summer resident and now frequent visitor from Maryland whose name is
none other than Charlotte
February 14th? It's one of those times -- not really a holiday -- that
become welcome respites from cares of a busy and often chaotic world. A
time when we stop to reflect on what's most important to us, and
usually that comes down to the people and surroundings that add most to
our lives. Such qualities are integral to Mt. Gretna, adding a
dimension that others sometimes miss. That's why we suppose if there
weren't already such an occasion in 1892, when founder Robert H.
Coleman acted on his dream, Mt. Gretna --or someplace like it -- is
where they'd have invented Valentine's Day in the first place.
Things to do, places to go
to celebrate Valentine's Day
better than a moonlit hike on the trails of Governor
Dick Park? How about hot chocolate, cookies and sitting by a warm
fire inside the lodge after you return?
starts at the Nature Center along Pinch Road at 7 pm, Friday, Feb. 10.
(That's just two days ahead of the next full moon,) To register, email email@example.com or call
964-3808. Be sure to leave your name and phone number in case of a
cancellation, advises coordinator Janie Gockley.
Gretna Playhouse stars Scott Wakefield and Kathryn
Kendall return for the second in what seems on its way to become an
annual Valentine weekend series, "Love ...'Round the Piano,"
benefit Gretna Theatre.
actor Wakefield appeared here recently in "The Will Rogers
Follies" and was also seen a few years ago in the popular hit,
"Pump Boys and Dinettes." Kendall starred in Mt. Gretna
productions of "Mame" and "Hello, Dolly!" and has
just finished a run of "Gypsy."
return for a dinner-cabaret of love songs at the Lantern Lodge in
Myerstown Saturday, Feb. 11 at 6:30 pm and Sunday, Feb. 12 at 1 pm. The
$48 tickets include dinner (tip included) and the show. Call 964-3627
Tuesday, February 14
Le Sorelle, 6:30 seating (Reservation required by Feb. 11), take your
Chicken Saltimbocca, Boneless Pork Chop or Roasted Vegetable Linguine
with vegetable and scrumptious dessert options, like the strawberry
confection at right.
here to see full menu online (http://www.porchandpantry.com/index2.php?v=v1#/info1/3/)
Tony's Mining Company in Cornwall, owner Jean Kotkas says they'll
create their special Valentine's Day menu around one that's similar to
the restaurant's popular New Year's Eve fare, which attracts capacity
here to view Tony's offerings online. (http://tonysminingcompany.com/menu.php)
Timbers plans a choice of Duck a la Orange, Crab Stuffed Shrimp,
Brandied Chicken Portabella or Broiled Haddock Provencal Valentine's
Weekend specials on both Friday and Saturday. Pianist Andy Roberts will
perform for Valentine's Day diners.
see menu online, click here. (http://gretnatimbers.com/)
A Marriage Made in the Park
Note: Ever since 2007, Governor Dick Park staffer Audrey Manspeaker has
been weaving a magic spell for youngsters. Helping them discover birds,
tadpoles and other assorted creatures that dwell in the forest, she
has, in fact, entranced visitors of all ages, including adults with a
sense of childlike wonder, such as Lee Wells, whom she married last
stalwartly against the threat I felt he was, I let him know I didn't
appreciate being addressed as "Beautiful." He would reply
with a wry, "Mzzzzzzz. Manspeaker."
began his two-year conquest for my affections.
is Lee Wells, 59, and I am now Audrey Wells, 51. I didn't like this guy
who came on the walks I was leading at the
Park, who pointed out that he was a "fun guy" when I spoke
about fungi, who walked with a saunter I mistook as cocky and too confident.
asked Janie Gockley, the office manager, to leave my name out of the
advertising for these walks so that he wouldn't come along. I would spy
him strolling in on the Center's sidewalk and inwardly groan. He tried
too hard to be funny.
2008, he asked me to dinner and, after I told him "No,"
claims I almost drove over his foot to speed out of the Park and get
away. I really did have something to do.
thinking of his foot, it took him a year to ask me again. And by the
following September, I entertained the idea that there just might be
something to like about him after all.
first "date" was a 9-mile hike in 2009 to Pulpit Rock and the
Pinnacle in Hamburg.
both love the woods and walking, identifying wildflowers and birds and insects
and trees, just being outdoors. And hike we did, from the Appalachian
Trail to the trails at Jim Thorpe, Dehart Reservoir and throughout
he officially asked me to marry him last November on the heights of the
Pinnacle, we decided that Governor Dick Park would be the place where
we would signify our love and commitment.
had introduced himself to me at the Tower, on one of our November
Nocturnes, and we agreed that would be where we would be married. Joe
Shay, the gracious mayor of Mt. Gretna, climbed to the top, and in the
dead of winter performed our very private ceremony.
it is at least breezy on the Tower, but on January 20, 2012 our prayers
were answered. The wind was still, the sun had a brilliant blue sky all
to itself, and the day was glorious. Janie and the Park's other staff
member, Diana Sprucebank (a Mt. Gretna resident) were present. In what
took just a few minutes, the Mayor performed the ceremony, and
pronounced us man and wife -- 66 feet above the Park that had brought
A Proposal Made in a Tree
Weaver, 35, owner of Climb High Tree Service, knows where all the tall
trees are in Mt. Gretna. He's been up in most
of them, and his trucks are a familiar sight here. Julie Noll, 28, is
an agricultural specialist at the Dauphin County Conservation District.
Both are Penn State graduates. Ever since they met on Match.com and
began dating last April, Julie has wanted Bryan to teach her how to climb
Saturday, he did.
drove out to Mt. Gretna Jan. 28 to a parking area where the Lebanon
Valley Rail-Trail spur connects at Timber Road, and Bryan pointed out a
big Eastern Pine tree. "That looks like a good one," he said.
agreed, outfitted herself in the gear Bryan had brought along, and
began to climb. When they got to a spot nearly 75 ft. up overlooking
Soldiers Field, they had a good view of Mt. Gretna, with the sun
setting over a mountain ridge, adding a late afternoon glow to the
lake. Climbing a little higher, Julie came upon question and answer
which answer Julie chose? They'll be married this spring, probably
before Memorial Day.
Gretna Heights resident Rosemary Milgate, on a
sightseeing train in Arizona, marveled at the scenery and
said, to no one in particular, "This sure doesn't look like
from Pennsylvania?" asked a man in a big hat, standing nearby. Now
retired, he was the official tour guide of the Verde Canyon Railroad,
I am" answered the former Lebanon High School English teacher.
part of Pennsylvania," he asked.
a little town you probably never heard of. Mt. Gretna."
used to live there," said the astonished guide. "Where in Mt.
Birch Avenue," Rosemary replied.
lived on Birch Avenue," said Don Gibble, now flabbergasted. Yet it
didn't take either of them long to realize that Gibble had lived in the
house that Rosemary Milgate and her late husband Gary bought from him
in 1972. Until that moment, on a train rumbling through the Arizona
desert, they hadn't crossed paths in almost 40 years.
More than 100 people turned out Jan. 29 for Morris Greiner's
presentation, "Old Mt. Gretna Through the Eyes of a Postcard
Photographer," sponsored by the Mt. Gretna Area Historical
Society. Greiner, who grew up in Mt. Gretna, displayed to the
standing-room-only audience cards from his collection, believed to be
among the most complete ever assembled by a single collector.
day for the Applegates. After 35 years at their Valley
Road home in Timber Hills, Shelby and Howard
moved last month to a new home they've just built in Chester County, to
be closer to two of their two grown children.
professor emeritus of History and American Studies at Lebanon Valley
College, may be best known to Mt. Gretnans for his (usually standing
room only) book reviews in the Chautauqua Summer Programs series.
an accomplished artist, was among the co-founders of the popular Art
Studio Tour, which now attracts visitors from throughout three
counties. She has also been a frequent exhibitor at the Mt. Gretna Art
Show and galleries throughout the Northeast. She loves the sunrises and
sunsets from their new home, where she intends to keep painting.
surprise: Their next-door neighbor turns out to be a woman who, now an
attorney, was once a star pupil in Howard's LVC history class. Their
new address: 125 Whitehorse Dr., Honeybrook, PA 19344.
to Mt. Gretna Lake and Beach this summer will notice that
something's been added to the landscape along Lake View Drive.
"It's part of 'going green,' said Eastern Enterprises official
Phil Schneider, commenting on Mt. Gretna's first commercial solar panel
installation. The units should help reduce energy bills by converting
the sun's rays into electrical power.
on the tiltable ground-mounted solar photovoltaic panels started last
December, and technicians put finishing touches on the project last
month. An electrician overseeing work at the site estimated that the
panels could pay for themselves with energy savings in 10
The installation was handled by Energy
Systems & Installation Corp. of Jonestown, a firm that has
also done work locally for Hershey Chocolate World, Hershey Technical
Center, and Country Meadows Retirement Communities.
"Like a really big, really
mad mama vulture"
A new (and quieter) way to scatter the birds?
since the first scarecrow, mankind has searched for strategies to
outsmart airborne creatures.
In Mt. Gretna, turkey vultures have seemed smartest of all. They're
large, persistent and have long lives -- with memories to match. They
favor coming back each year to the spots they knew as youngsters.
Although the USDA's experts recommend aerial bombardments to shoo them
to less populated spots, the noise often bothers pets and people,
especially writers and others with solitary pursuits
Scott Adams shows
how he scatters vultures: Open two heavy black plastic trash bags,
snap your arms up and down like flapping wings.
"Make the bags pop and rustle." says neighbor Bill Gifford.
"It will clear the trees in seconds." Tom
require huge quantities of quiet concentration.
Everybody knows that, of course, especially volunteer coordinator Max
Hunsicker, who implores his team to keep noise to a minimum and fire
aerial explosives only at dusk, before vultures settle into the trees.
Unfortunately, he has no control over those not a part of his group. So
the unwanted, and usually unproductive, noise continues.
comes Scott Adams, who thinks he may have a solution -- one he
discovered by accident. While preparing to dispose the garbage
late one afternoon, Scott shook out a couple of heavy plastic trash can
of a sudden, whoosh! Dozens of vultures roosting in the trees over his
Chautauqua cottage took off.
Gifford*, a next-door neighbor and professional writer, says the noise
must sound like a "really big, really mad mama vulture swooping
it was, it worked, says Scott.
intends to keep on using the low-tech solution as an alternate to the
it have a chance of success?
Max is doubtful but nevertheless open to new ideas. Meanwhile, he could
also use more volunteers. If you can spare a few minutes each day at
dusk, from November to March, he'd love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: Adventure writer Bill Gifford's latest article
on Lance Armstrong and Livestrong, the disease-fighting
charity Armstrong founded during his recovery from testicular cancer in
1997, appears in the Jan. 5, 2012 issue of Outside Magazine.
after it began, the long odyssey to a spot for the Campmeeting on the
National Park Service listing of historic places should take a big step
forward this month. That's when the Pennslvania Historic Preservation
Bureau expects to respond to the application. "They've warned me
that there may still be many questions yet to answer," says
coordinator Tom Meredith, "but they don't see any serious
problems." Harrisburg's green light is a key step on the way to
NPS approval. Tom says the request includes 26 pages of text, 26
original photos by Madelaine Gray, descriptions of 234 buildings, six
maps and eight pages of NPS forms.
Dog Biscuits and Christmas chocolates, sold by Campmeeting resident Pat
Allwein to help finance a trip with her daughter Tanya Igou, a
missionary, to the Village
in Gulu, Uganda. The village is a community for children who have
been abducted and forced into becoming soldiers if they are boys,
children who need help
mothers if they are girls.
Tanya: woman with
a cause ...
"I still have a few bags of dog biscuits in my freezer, and I'll
make some more if anyone asks," says Pat, winner of the Women's 60
and over class in last year's Mt. Gretna Triathlon.
Tanya, who chronicles daily challenges of Uganda on her blog, has
been working at the Village of Hope since 2009. This year, Pat will
join her, so they plan several more fundraisers: A "Rice and Beans
Week" for members of a team who will each contribute $40 or more
for the experience of living one week on a diet of oatmeal for
breakfast and rice and beans for lunch and supper. As Easter draws
near, they'll make peanut butter eggs, a venture that annually produces
"a nice sum of money," says Pat. "It's a lot of work,
but many hands make it fun. Plus, they're really good."
The sum contributed over the past three years to Mt. Gretna's Fire
Company by those Monday and Thursday duplicate bridge players. Want to
join them? Bring a partner and your lunch to the fire hall at 10 a.m.
Snacks and drinks provided. The fun starts at 10 a.m. Fee: $3, which goes
to the firefighters. Laura Feather has details: 964-3607.
Matching funds donated to date toward refurbishment of the fire
company's aging kitchen. An anonymous benefactor offers $15,000 to
update the facility, now a hub around which community gatherings take
place (like last month's wildly successful Italian Night Dinner, which
netted $2,535, despite the season's first big snowstorm). Far-flung
readers who want to help: Send contributions, earmarked
"Kitchen," to: Mt. Gretna Fire Company, P.O. Box 177, Mt.
Gretna, PA 17064.
At the Winterites this month:
A Call to Action, Certified
Organics and a Surprise
ties to Mt. Gretna that go back nearly a century and a great uncle who
once owned The Hideaway (formerly The Stober House), this former New
York City-based marketing executive is, as you might guess, no ordinary
Stober, whose family settled the Mt. Gretna community of Stoberdale in
the 1920s, is on a mission:
A farmer on a
and his wife Barbara have launched
Bare Foot Organics at Greystone Farm
Lebanon to grow quality produce, practice state-of-the-art animal
husbandry, and sound the call for sustainable and organic farming
a tall order, but one he'll cover at this month's meeting of the
Winterites, Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 1 pm at the fire hall.
has undergone profound changes in the past decade," says Stober.
"The costs to our society of farming's status quo can no longer be
overlooked: physical illness brought on by tainted food, environmental
degradation caused by mass market practices, and over-reliance on
fossil fuel-based fertilizers. Farming, as practiced in the U.S. over
the past 50 years, is unsustainable," he says.
news of all: Stober's website announces that he'll introduce
a small farmer's market this summer in Mt. Gretna,
located in the parking lot outside La Cigale, along Route 117.
website, a centerpiece for his burgeoning 130-member CSA program that
spreads from Lebanon to Philadelphia and New York City, says CSA
activities here will begin June 13 and continue through October.
Organics will also serve a farmer's market on Manhattan's Upper West
Side as well as a growing number of restaurants in Pennsylvania and New
meetings, held September through April, are open to all in Mt. Gretna
-- guys, too. For details, call Donna Kaplan, 964-2174, or email email@example.com
Keep This Number Handy:
outages occur, call Met-Ed immediately:
gives top priority to outages affecting the greatest numbers of people.
Your call helps pinpoint the scope of an outage and may also speed
repair crews to Mt. Gretna.
the call even though your neighbors have also reported the outage.
Squeaky wheels? They sometimes get oiled first.
extreme hot or cold weather, the Mt. Gretna Fire Company provides
emergency shelter in power outages lasting more than three hours. Bring
medications and medical equipment; a sleeping bag or blanket and
pillows; food for yourself and family members; books, games and other
materials to help pass the time and, if the stay is likely to be for
several days, a change of clothes. Sorry, no pets.
wintertime dinners and more.
Sign Up Here to Meet Your Neighbors
in Timber Hills
hills are alive with the sound of music? It sure seems that way these
days in Timber Hills, where music, dinners, plans for a big garage sale
and maybe a party on St. Patrick's Day are on the tip of everyone's
tongue after last month's big gathering.
Folks from Timber and Valley roads, Timber Cove and Timber Lane filled
the entire downstairs room at the Timbers Jan. 20, with friends around
every table, says Valley Road resident Evelyn Koppel. Now other
meet-the-neighbors events are in the
Oburn (inset, left) invites everyone who's interested to send
their name, street and email address to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Names
will go on an email list for notices about upcoming community-wide
month's get-together was wonderful," says Evelyn. "Patsy
found great ways to get everyone talking and visiting. Folks were able
to not only catch up with each other but also meet neighbors they
hadn't met before," she said.
you thought those R.A.D. (Rape/Aggression/Defense) classes for women
weren't popular, here's surprising
news: The next classes scheduled Mar. 13-26 haven't been advertised yet
but they're already half-filled, says police chief Bruce Harris.
This self defense program protects against potential and actual
Cornwall Police Department officers Candace Miller and David Troxell
join staffer Stephanie Burris to teach the 16-hour course. All are
certified R.A.D. instructors. The course will be taught at the
Training and Community Center, Philhaven starting March 13. For
details, contact Stephanie at the Cornwall Borough Police Department,
274-2071 or email email@example.com.
& Stuff to
Le Sorelle photo
Sunday, February 5
Souperbowl Sunday Luncheon After the 10 am church service, come downstairs
to enjoy good soup and fellowship (around 11:30) before the big game.
All that's required is your presence and a can or soup or monetary
donation for the local food pantry. At Mt. Gretna United Methodist
Superbowl Specials When it comes to pizza, nobody does it better,
especially for the big game tonight. Damien, Rose and the crew will be
there, with smiles, specials and Italian delicacies to make the
occasion memorable. Mt. Gretna Pizzeria, 964-1853. Take out or eat in,
by the big screens.
Friday, February 10
Moonlit Walk On Governor
Dick trails. See "Things to do ... on Valentine's weekend..."
Saturday, February 11 (and Sunday, Feb.
Love Round the Piano (See story above.)
Tuesday, February 14
See Valentine's Day Dinners listings at area restaurants (above).
Wednesday, February 15
Special meeting of South Londonderry Township Supervisors (for residents of Timber Hills, Timber Bridge and Conewago
Hill) at The Timbers Restaurant, 7 pm
Thursday, February 16
10-Year Land Use Forum involving areas surrounding Mt. Gretna. Starting 6 pm at
South Lebanon Elementary School, 1825 S. Fifth St., Lebanon.
Saturday, February 18
The Great Backyard Bird Count Bring your binoculars and join Audrey Wells
at the Governor Dick Nature Center to tally the birds. Your totals will
go to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, part of their citizen
scientist project. Register at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 964-3808; leave your name and number.
Intersections: The first in a four-concert
series that explores the ways classical music and the dance have melded
into 'must-see' effect over the centuries. At Gretna Music's winter
venue. 7:30 pm. Check
Wednesday, February 22
The Gathering Place Luncheon Come meet friends, new and old, in this increasingly
popular monthly event for everyone in Mt. Gretna, noon. At Mt. Gretna
United Methodist Church, Campmeting.
Ash Wednesday Service. Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, 7 pm.
Speaker: Pastor Jim Heath of Cornwall UMC. It's the first in a Lenten
Mid-Week Series to be held through April 6 at area churches.
Sunday, February 26
Confirmation Classes begin for all children 12 and older, at 6:30 pm, Mt.
Gretna United Methodist Church.
Don't forget: Check Mt. Gretna's
online calendar. for events coming up
in the year ahead. Send listings for both the Summer Calendar and the
new online version to Jennifer Veser Besse (Jennifer@mtgretna.com).
She'll see that events taking place this summer reach the Summer
Calendar's editors as well.
Mt. Gretna visitor Jack Forney, who was the brother of the late Betsy
Brown, a long-time Chautauqua resident, died in Illinois Jan. 16. He
would have been 100 in September. Still active in real estate in the
region around Libertyville, Ill., he loved to come to Mt. Gretna and
the Brown Avenue cottage, "The Mary Lee," which his sister
had named in honor of their mother. Betsy Brown died in 2003 at the age
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, email@example.com
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
Music bulletins -- E-mailed updates on concert events,
schedule changes and other news. See "Join Our Mailing List"
Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society
Newsletter -- Online at http://www.mtgretnahistory.org/newsletter.php
Mt. Gretna Bible Festival Newsletter -- Mailed
in the spring and fall without charge. Send request to Bible Festival,
P.O. Box 408, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.
Governor Dick Park Newsletter -- Online
and by e-mail. See
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of primary interest to Mt.
Gretnans in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge; online at
Campmeeting Newsletter --
mailed to residents.
Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter --
e-mailed to Heights residents. Address inquiries to Michelle Shay,email@example.com