Mt. Gretna, Pa.
"Not a place, but a spirit." Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)
March 1, 2012
The Mt. Gretna
the best things about writing a community newsletter are the notes that
come from readers. Often they have the effect of sharpening awareness,
strengthening an appreciation for the things that we have in Mt.
Gretna, things which sometimes seem muted elsewhere.
For example, there was the note a few years ago from a man who had
moved here from the Camp Hill suburb of Harrisburg. He wrote to tell us
that he'd met more people after living on the Campmeeting grounds for
three months than he had in his former home town after 23 years.
We were reminded of that recently when a similar note arrived from
Karrie Hontz, a master gardener and a good friend. She and her husband
Ron live in Skippack, outside Philadelphia. They bought their summer
cottage here in 2006. Occasionally, they make return trips during the
winter to check up on their cottage. The last time they drove up, they
decided to also stop in on Morris Greiner's talk at the fire hall. He
was showing slides that day of his postcard collection, probably the
biggest stockpile of historic Mt. Gretna postcards in existence. Karrie
and Ron, who are known to most people here as "the couple with two
collies" (inset, left), looked around the hall, which was packed.
Suddenly, it struck them: they realized that they knew almost everyone
in the room. "If we'd gone to a similar program in Skippack, where
we've lived for 16 years, we probably wouldn't have known anyone,"
Is it that elusive spirit which some call the Mt. Gretna difference? A
spirit that nobody has ever quite adequately described, but which
everybody who lives here -- or nearly everybody -- feels deeply in
Despite differences in age, experiences and individual tastes, we Mt.
Gretnans are probably more alike than we realize. Birds of a feather do
indeed flock together. On a per capita basis, we probably have more
artists, musicians and writers per square inch than most other places.
And even those of us without such talents appreciate them in others. We
applaud their achievements, empathize with their strivings and
celebrate their contributions to our lives. Along with a healthy
respect for those who prefer solitude, we share the pleasures of being
in touch with, and getting to know, our neighbors.
Many things draw us together -- daily interchanges with others at the
post office, talks as we walk along the street, invitations to join
others on their wraparound front porches -- all are springboards for
conversations that have sticking
power. Such qualities see us through tough times and remain rooted
because within us all, deep down, is a yen to return to gentler times,
and to carve out in our lives time for the things that matter.
A newspaper article last month cited the sudden appearance across
America of a new website that hints at that idea. It's an idea to
divide modern suburbs into block-sized chunks, to establish computer
equivalents of neighborhood bulletin boards. Need a babysitter? Want to
borrow a ladder? Need transportation to see the doctor? We in Mt.
Gretna solve those needs easily. But in communities where few people
know their neighbors, such tasks can become a formidable challenge. Can
local electronic message boards put neighbors in touch once again? It's
a step in the right direction, bringing people a step closer toward the
things that have always been best about America.
Yet something is missing: Absent a community post office where
neighbors greet one another daily, lacking broad front porches where
children play games on a summer afternoon and porch swings where
friends gather to relive shared memories, somehow even the best of
suburbs are little more than, well, merely comfortable places to live.
What's missing? Things that cannot be measured. Unfathomable and
undefined, they nevertheless are the very qualities that Mt. Gretna
seems to have in abundance. Perhaps their essence lies in those whom we
come to know first as neighbors, and then as close friends. There is
something about that which resonates in the soul. Something that makes
"Five sales before the snow melts"
Something Stirring in Mt. Gretna Real Estate?
No one's forecasting a
miracle for the Mt. Gretna real estate market, but since the first of
the year something's happening that never has happened before.
In a community where only 22
homes changed hands in all of last year, five were sold or went under
agreement this year before Valentine's Day.
"That's unheard of in Mt. Gretna," says real estate veteran
Fred Schaeffer of Mt. Gretna Realty. "Normally we don't
start selling until after the snow melts in March."
A turnaround? Maybe the start of one, say real estate veterans like
Schaeffer, Emi Snavely, Joe Wentzel and Rhoda Long.
"We're not out of the woods yet," suggests Wentzel, Penn Realty's cautiously optimistic
chief. Adds Long, of Brownstone Realty, Mt. Gretna was "one
of the last areas to feel the effects of a recession and therefore may
be one of the first to feel the turnaround."
But she and her compatriots sound a familiar and consistent note: It's
still a buyers' market. And if you're a potential seller, set your
price accordingly, with the best professional advice you can find. One
reason for that, says Wentzel, is that buyers
have learned to use real
estate pros as advisors when they set out to purchase properties.
"It's the new age of 'buyer agents,' he says. "Their realtors
do a market analysis for them and suggest what price they should pay.
If your home is priced $10,000 or $30,000 over the market value, you
may not even get an offer," he warns.
Schaeffer, who annually
compiles the most comprehensive statistics of Mt. Gretna real estate
sales (he combines both private transactions and those
handled through the
realtors' multiple listing service) says prices last year returned to a
median of $188,500, matching levels of 2005. That's down about 32% from
the $278,750 median price of homes sold during the peak year of 2007.
In 2011, the majority of sales were for homes in the $200,000-and-under
"People still wanted to
buy homes in Mt. Gretna, but they weren't willing to pay a lot to get
them," says Schaeffer. Only 10 of the 22 homes sold last year were
for more than $200,000. Top price paid was for a $375,000 contemporary
home in the Chautauqua section,
on Temple Avenue. By
contrast, during 2005-2008 top prices ranged between $429,000 and
Yet Mt. Gretna retains its appeal for second-home buyers, said all the
real estate pros in our survey. "Homes in Mt. Gretna are
priced lower than I've seen in all my years of real estate," says Brownstone Realty's Snavely, who enjoys a reputation as
the doyenne of Mt. Gretna real estate. "People who are asking what
they should do with their money are missing a great opportunity if they
don't purchase a home now, with these low rates. Rather than put your
money in a stock portfolio and watch it go up and down, you're better
off investing in something you can see and enjoy at the same
time," she says.
Is Mt. Gretna likely to
become a more active vacation rental market? Not according to those we
surveyed. People who buy Mt. Gretna real estate do so because they want
to live here and enjoy what Snavely calls "the wonderful Mt.
Gretna spirit." Echoes Scheaffer, "Those who want rental
income and the headaches that go with it usually focus on foreclosures
in the city of Lebanon. Those who want to enjoy life buy in Mt.
and Doodle's Still Here
may just be the finest Doodle portrait ever. A midwinter glimpse, taken
by wildlife photographer and painter Susie Afflerbach, perhaps to
reassure his fans around the world that Doodle is alive and well.
If you haven't been a regular newsletter reader,
of course, what you have to know is that Doodle is the most famous
rooster in Mt. Gretna. True, he's the only rooster in Mt.
Gretna, but he's become a kind of walking monument ever since he
Susie Afflerbach photo
from the back of a pickup truck here four years ago.
capture -- even from a Mississippi chicken catcher who claimed that his
whistle could stupefy the wiliest rooster -- Doodle has continued to
skirt the law. (Yes, chickens are illegal in municipalities like ours.
But nobody's pressing that -- mainly because nobody's figured out a way
to catch him). So he lives life on his own terms. For a while, he even
had a brief fling with a hen named Dolly. But she was soon carted off
to a farm when the fetish for looking at her reflection in the plate
glass door to the post office lured Doodle across the busy highway on
too many occasions.
Doodle spends his days charming people like pizzeria waitress Rose Bair
and computer guru Joe Shay into giving up their cheese curls, peanuts
and sunflower seeds all through the winter. He also has convinced Peggy
Seibert and Brenda Henning at the real estate office to keep on hand a
supply of gourmet chicken feed, which he usually has as his first
breakfast course each day. Once fed, he heads down to the pizza parlor
to see what Rose has for dessert.
out life on his own terms, he'll likely be memorialized with a
"Ballad of Doodle" someday, with echoes from that Sinatra
standard, I Did It My Way.
A Serious and Growing
Threat, But One That We Can Control
No, they're not calling it
an epidemic. But the problem of Lyme disease is now much worse than it
was 15 years ago, and the number of reported cases is likely to grow in
the decade ahead.
visitor last month
Lois Herr photo
Gretna, surrounded by trees and favored by both deer and white mice --
the two prime carriers of Lyme disease -- lies smack in the heart of
the largest target zone for Lyme, namely, the Northeastern U.S.
cases occur between May and October, so the curtain for this year's
outbreak is about to go up.
you get infected, the first signs are usually a skin rash, but only 60%
of cases show up in the familiar
surge of Lyme disease has been dramatic, 50 times more prevalent than
it was just a few years ago. From a reported one case per hundred
thousand population in the U.S. in 1998, it now has grown to 50 cases
per hundred thousand. In one Timber Hills community, about half of the
neighborhood's 20 homes have been affected by Lyme disease, residents
speaking, most vulnerable are youngsters
from 5 to 15 years of age
and adults in the 50 and over
category -- chiefly because
both groups spend time outdoors, playing or doing yard work.
the disease can cause permanent damage if left untreated, Lyme can
usually be cured within a few months says Dr. Debra Powell, a
specialist at the Reading Hospital's
Infectious Disease Center.
Yet despite advances in treatment remedies, she believes the continued
spread of Lyme disease is inevitable.
Reported cases of Lyme disease 2011: 50 times more than
15 years ago
it already become an epidemic? "I wouldn't call it that," she
says. "I usually think of an epidemic as something you really
can't treat. And we can treat Lyme. More and more doctors are
diagnosing it better, and early detection and treatment are now
Dr. Powell expects "the number of reportable cases to keep going
up." She is familiar with Mt. Gretna -- "a beautiful area,"
she says -- and is also personally acquainted with the havoc that Lyme
disease can play in the lives of families, especially those with pets.
asked Dr. Powell if she used something like Frontline tick and flea
control to protect her own dogs. "I do, and there's also a Lyme
disease vaccine for dogs. That said, my dogs still got Lyme disease,
and I have a fenced-in backyard in suburbia. Yet my dogs come in with
reduce the risk of infection, Dr. Powell recommends practical steps
such as wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors, changing
clothes once you come inside from yard work, and doing a skin check to
get the tick off early. "Check yourself and your animals,"
measures, symptom descriptions and other helpful information is
available from the Pennsylvania
Department of Health
and the Pennsylvania
Game Commission Wildlife Reference Library.
Elizabeth Wein (inset), who grew up
spending summers in Mt. Gretna Heights with her grandmother, Betty
Flocken, interviewed by BBC Radio last month about her new book, Code Name
Verity, to be published May 15 in
the United States with Kindle and audio editions available.
"One of the things that
my first readers loved about Code Name Verity was how truthfully it
describes the magic of having a best friend," says Ms. Wein, who
now lives in Scotland with her husband and two children and has
published six novels. "When people ask me to describe the book I
tell them it's a 'World War II spies 'n' pilots thriller', but when
they ask me what it's about, I always answer, 'Friendship.'" Read
click here. She hopes to return to Mt.
Gretna for a visit this summer, an annual pilgrimage she makes to see
the grandmother who raised her and her sister after their mother died
in an automobile accident.
Gretna Theatre producing
artistic director Larry Frenock,
Gold Medal winner in the age 50-60 category at Pennsylvania's Keystone
Games figure skating championships last month. Putting on skates for
the first time at age 38, Larry has overcome not only a steep learning
curve but also -- more recently -- arthritis, knee and hip problems.
The latter he's solved by doing ice
jumps in a different direction -- "like learning to write with
your other hand," he says. Next, it's on to the U.S. Adult Figure
Skating Championships in Illinois.
Meanwhile he does what it takes to run Gretna Theatre, which last
season for the first time hit three-quarters of a million dollars in
revenue (and an almost equal sum in expenses). Amid budgeting,
selecting talent and technical staffers, negotiating contracts, and
finding sources of costumes, Larry must handle countless other details.
When the "Funny Girl" script called for a $3,000 Austrian
drape on stage last season, Larry bought the material, thread and
supplies for $285 and sewed it himself. All in a day's work for a guy
devoted to his calling and driven by his passion.
Lois Herr, one of Mt. Gretna's newest residents, has been named
recipient of the 2012 Jean Royer Kerr Award by the Lancaster Women's
Alliance for her work on behalf of women
throughout the area. A former teacher, AT&T executive and
three-time Democratic candidate for congress, she has been a leading
advocate for women's rights and is the author of a book, "Women,
Power and AT&T: Winning Rights in the Workplace.'' The award will
be presented March 21 at a meeting of the alliance in Lancaster.
Honored on her 96th birthday
last month: Edna Barnes,
whose ties to Mt. Gretna extend to her grandparents' cottage, one of
the first to be built on the Campmeeting grounds in the late 1800s.
Together with her sister, whom she lived with for 89 years before
Jeanette's death last July, the "Barnes sisters"
have figured among Mt. Gretna's best-known, best-loved summer
Born in Elizabethtown, both graduated from Elizabethtown College and
taught in the public schools there for nearly four decades. Together
they enjoyed careers in teaching as well as travel, painting and music.
Visits from former students as well as friends with whom she played the
viola with the Hershey, Lancaster and Harrisburg symphonies continue to
brighten Edna's days at the single home she occupies at Masonic
Village. She also enjoys showing visitors her private art gallery
(formerly a garage no longer needed after Edna sold her car) which
holds paintings and other art and craft works that she and Jeanette
The sisters sold their immaculately-kept Mills Avenue cottage in 2008.
The following year, artist Eva Bender made it the cover illustration of
Mt. Gretna's Summer Calendar. A nearby tree, planted in their honor by
friends and neighbors, serves as a tribute to their contributions to
Mt. Gretna life -- including its theater, historical society and fire
department. Neighbors looked forward to their return each summer.
From their kitchen window, the sisters always acknowledged friendly
waves from people like Madelaine Gray, the photographer and neighbor,
who delighted in taking baskets of freshly baked blueberry muffins over
to their porch for afternoon tea and conversations about their mutual
travels and adventures. Among other Mt. Gretna friends to join Edna's
birthday celebration were Judy and Victor Bojko, Mary Kopala, Barbara
Hofsommer, Barbara Mark, Fred Buch, David Bronstein and Rupert Bullard.
On the way to Mt. Gretna Nursery School after her
shadow-sighting stint outside the Penn Realty office last month, Penny
the Groundhog ran into two of the school's graduates,
Before the big event,a warmup
the Kosoff girls. Sadie, 6,
and Lucy, 8. Since this is Penny's seventh year, they'd seen her during
their undergrad years, of course. So in this unscheduled warmup the
questions were few. Thus primed, Penny strolled across the street to
face lurking doubters who over past years have asked some tough
questions: "Why does a groundhog need galoshes?" one little
boy wanted to know on a snowy February day last year. Then there was
that other young man, bent on exposing a fraud several years ago, who
declared: "There's a man inside that suit. I know. I've been to
Whew! No pesky guys.
This year, however, all the
nursery schoolers were girls, who asked, well, girl things: What do
groundhogs eat? Do they swim? Does Penny have children? Will she go
back in her burrow since she saw her shadow?
No, it wasn't exactly Meet The Press. And don't count on girls to
always ask gentler questions. But this year the interrogation was, like
the winter itself, mild. Spring must be just around the corner.
Coming this summer: a Farmers' Market
and. . .
Maybe Even Weekly Deliveries of Fresh Organic
report last month on plans for a new organic foods venture topped The
Mt. Gretna Newsletter's list of best-read articles in February.
of fresh organic vegetables this summer? Yes, if 20 Mt. Gretnans sign
stirs the interest? In part, it's the announcement that Phil Stober,
who traces his ancestral roots to the Mt. Gretna community of
Stoberdale, will launch an organic foods stand along Route 117 in the
heart of Mt. Gretna this summer.
But a Saturday farmers' market is just part of it. Also stirring talk
and growing interest are plans for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
service deliveries to Mt. Gretna residents. That is, of course,
provided enough customers -- at least 20 -- sign up to make the plan
A similar idea, tried a few years ago by a Lancaster County organic
farm, netted 19 Mt. Gretna customer contracts. For Stober and his
colleagues -- who launched Barefoot Organics at
just five miles away in 2009 -- that gives rise to optimism.
His venture has enthusiastic supporters. Local cheerleaders (and the
first two Mt. Gretna customers to sign up) are Timber Hills resident
Evelyn Koppel and Susan Wood of Mt. Gretna Heights. They'll divide a
CSA "share," splitting the weekly delivery of fresh
vegetables between their two households.
Details of the CSA program, including pricing, appear on the website for Stober's organic farm,
located betweem Rocherty and Zinns Mill roads in West Cornwall
What's behind all the excitement?
"Organic gardening is healthy for the soil and for us," says
Evelyn. In addition to reducing toxicity levels in the soil and
streams, she feels that the locally grown food is not only fresher but
also "we know more about what has been done in the growing."
She points out that imported foods can come from countries that use
pesticides banned in the U.S. Moreover, she adds, "I don't want to
eat meat or eggs from animals that spend their lives under cruel
conditions or have been fed things that I wouldn't want in my
In addition to organic produce, the Barefoot Organics website also has
details of the full 21-week season, including offerings such as
artisanal raw milk cheese, incremental fruit, and eggs from
His great-uncle, Jake Stober, ran the Mt. Gretna Hideaway in the 1930s.
"He'd get a kick out of his great-nephew bringing another
much-needed service to the Mt. Gretna community," jokes Stober.
"In his case, it was beer. In mine, fresh, locally grown organic
Stober's great-great grandfather was also a farmer. "It wasn't
called 'organic' in the 1890s," he says, "but it was working
in harmony with nature, and that's how we're doing it now."
to a farm near Mt. Gretna
their farm, Stober, his wife Barbara and field operations director Sean
Huie and their crew already serve restaurants and 130 families in New
York City, where they lived until a few years ago when Stober switched
to farming after a business career in marketing. They plan to expand
their enterprise to include restaurant customers in Philadelphia and
other areas as well.
What drives his vision for a 42-acre, USDA-certified organic farm in
the rural countryside of Lebanon County? As Stober sees it, the world's
food supply is threatened. The world food chain's variety of plants and
livestock has diminished greatly since the Industrial Revolution, he
says. About 75% of that food supply now depends on 12 plant and five
animal species. Moreover, "six big corporations control 98% of the
world's seed stock," says Stober. He also shudders at the
thought of an earthquake that could destroy aqueducts and disrupt water
supplies in California, which provides half the nation's produce. That
event is predicted, he points out, and "it doesn't take a rocket
scientist or a hydrologist to figure out what's going to happen when
the 'Big One' hits. Especially," he adds wistfully, "if the
last remaining tillable soil in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey has
been paved over with strip malls and subdivisions."
His efforts alone, of course, won't prevent that. But as the Helen
Keller quote cited on that bronze plaque at the Campmeeting entrance
says: "I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And
because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do something that I
Epicenter of Mt. Gretna?
It's down the street and around the corner. . .
Maybe this is something that
only a guy who writes up the news of Mt. Gretna every month would
notice, but it's probably impossible to realize just how much of life
spins around a single pivotal point: the volunteer fire company known
as "Station 38."
Take this month, for
Fill your bottles with dimes, asks Avery Dowd
- The ladies who brighten
these pages with photo reminders are out again, asking you to fill
those water bottles in their annual "Dimes in a Bottle"
campaign to help put a $400,000 burn-the-mortgage effort over the
top. (Yes, they're getting close, but they need your help.)
- When the giant
community-wide porch sale arrives on Memorial Day weekend,
organizers at the fire company will open those giant bays at the
newly expanded fire hall where their fire trucks are housed.
Inside will be donated treasures that volunteers are now
collecting. Have items to donate? Call or email Laura Feather, 964-3607. All money raised will
buy protective firefighter gear which, you may be surprised to
learn, is priced at $1,875 per set.
Fueling events like this, a $15,000 matching funds offer.
- And keep in mind that
tempting invitation to match, dollar-for-dollar, up to $15,000 to
outfit a new kitchen in the fire hall -- the hub of countless
breakfasts, Italian dinners, pig roasts and other soirees that
raise both funds and fun levels.
- Then there's this
breakfast at the fire hall. Most folks look on it as an
opportunity to stuff as much as they can into the firefighter's
boot as they enter, sample fare prepared by volunteers who ought to
be awarded angel wings, and then share a morning with friends they
don't get a chance to see often enough. The fun starts at 8 am
March 4 and runs through noon.
- Then there's that new
cookbook, soon to go to press. Mt. Gretna's best cooks have
contributed all new recipes, replacing an edition that sold out
three times and became one of the most sought-after Mt. Gretna
collectibles on eBay. Now the cookbook chefs have everything they
need for their cookbook except what to call it: "Mt. Gretna
Eats" was the previous title. Now there's even a contest to
name the new version. Send your suggestions to Karen Lynch.
Who's behind all this?
You'll probably never meet them all personally. But they're the people
who answer fire calls at all hours. People who plan the special events.
And people who raise money to keep volunteers equipped and trained.
Volunteer of Year Laura
Most were assembled at the
Annual Volunteers Dinner last month, and a few of them were honored,
including fire company secretary Laura Feather (inset, with president
Joe Shay), who organizes everything from bridge groups to meeting
minutes and dozens of other things for the firefighters. "After
they gave me the award, I learned they now expect me to wash and wax
the new fire engine," joked Laura.
Hers is typical of the dedication that powers the Station 38 team. For
those who were honored in this and previous years, as well as others
whose recognition is still to come in the years ahead, all may be sure
of one thing: the appreciation of everyone who lives in Mt. Gretna -- a
community of tall trees and wooden structures -- runs deep.
Day in the Big Apple
Do-What-You-Want Outing for April
Do people always wait 'till the last minute to sign up for a bus trip?
Not if they're smart, say savvy travelers.
Eager beavers and early birds benefit when they shun their procrastinator
tendencies and jump on opportunities.
Gotham for a day in April"
Coming up Wednesday, April
18 is another New York City bus trip to benefit those who act quickly
and, also, the firefighters of Mt. Gretna, who benefit from the proceeds
once again. This, in fact, is the fourth New York City trip that
Rhoda Long has lined up, but this one comes with a twist: It's a
"do as you please" trip, one she calls "Springtime in
the Big Apple."
Details? The bus leaves Mt. Gretna at 7:30 am on April 18. That should
give you all day in New York, from around 10:15 am or so until early
evening to do what you like, where you like. Departure time from New
York is 7:30 pm. The cost: $50.
Don't tarry, says Rhoda, who
frets that some people will be disappointed if they wait until the last
minute. Call her now to reserve your seats (717-304-0248) or, if you
prefer, email: email@example.com.
It'll stretch over two days this year
A Community-wide Grand Illumination to Honor the Nation's
A Grand Illumination in Mt.
Gretna to celebrate the nation's birthday again this year?
Count on it, says Karl
Gettle, a man who helped shape the Art Show into a community tradition
more than 30 years ago and
now hopes to do the same with Independence Day.
This year, the illumination
of homes and cottages here will take place over two days -- Tuesday,
July 3 and Wednesday, July 4.
"That will give people more time to enjoy the lights," says
In addition to brightly lit
cottages throughout the historic sections of Mt. Gretna and illuminated
homes from Timber Bridge to Mt. Gretna Heights, last year's festivities
included a theme: decorated liberty bells, hand-painted with the
distinctive touches of individual homeowners.
Will there be a theme for
2012? Yes, says Gettle, whose Grand Illumination committee is still
working out the details. Ideas under consideration include decorated
garden flags, replicas of Uncle Sam, and that familiar symbol of the
Mt. Gretna lifestyle,
the iconic rocking chair, without which no wraparound porch seems
"People have told me
that they want this celebration to grow and become a year-after-year
tradition in Mt. Gretna," says Gettle, who admits that he, too,
would like to continue to lead the effort for a few more years. This,
despite the call of family concerns. His
law was recently deployed for the second time to Kuwait. "We're
trying to stick closer to our daughter and two grandsons, to spend more
time with them when Daddy's away. So I don't want to tie myself down
with too many projects. But enough people have called and encouraged us
to keep going, so I said 'okay'."
Among those helping him pull
this year's Grand Illumination together is Barbara Kleinfelter, who
will be helping residents prepare their decorations through lessons
scheduled at the Hall of Philosophy on four Tuesday evenings in June.
agreement that Mt. Gretna should take a lead in celebrating the
nation's birthday," says Gettle. "And people are more up for
it this year than ever."
for Mt. Gretna Residents:
When power outages occur,
gives top priority to outages affecting the greatest numbers of people.
Your call helps pinpoint the scope of an outage but may also speed
repair crews to Mt. Gretna.
even though neighbors might also have reported the outage, says Met
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, pets not allowed.
With a tip o' the Irish cap
Residents Set Out to Have Fun this Month
it's just because the winters are warmer. Maybe it's because they're
tired of winters, period. But the folks who live on the lake side of
town have rarely seen anything like this.
It began over a year ago with a midwinter "meet the
neighbors" gathering at the Timbers.
That happy event sprouted others, including a community-wide garden
party at the Valley Road home of Dan and Pat Hottenstein last
This year, another Timbers gathering, in January. And coming this
St. Patrick's Day celebration for everyone who lives north of Route
It'll take place at the Timbers Restaurant. Following a newly
established tradition that seems to work pretty well and get out a
crowd, everyone makes their own reservations, orders from the menu and
pays their own bill. The difference this time? An unmistakable theme,
wrapped in the wearin' of the green with Irish sayings, name tags that
are actually pieces of a get-to-know-who's-here puzzle, and plenty of
Irish cheer. The proceedings get underway Friday, March 16 at 5 pm.
(And reservations -- 964-3601 -- are needed by Tuesday, March 13.)
Organizers emphasize that everyone's invited to take part, including
folks in Timber Bridge, Conewago Hill, and all the Timber Hills
neighborhoods including Lake View Drive, Timber Cove, Timber Lane,
Village Lane and Village Cove. "That means everybody on this side
of the lake," says Deb Haney, one of those setting up the
activities planned this year? They hope to sponsor a community-wide
garage sale in April, a game night in May, and maybe a private
community-wide network on the Internet for those who'd like to keep up
with all that's going on in the neighborhood -- including lost and
found pets, needs for babysitters or transportation assistance and
other neighborhood messages.
In terms of its scope, nothing like this has ever happened before.
What's it all mean for Mt. Gretna's lakeside region? Probably the start
of a new era of neighborliness, closeness and fun for everyone who
calls it home.
13 Years ago the journey to a
dream began for Mike Remel, pastor of the Mt. Gretna United
Methodist Church. That's when he first heard the call to the ministry. Last
month, after divinity studies at Philadelphia's Palmer Theological
Seminary and some 200 pages he had written as part of that process, he
received word he had been approved by the UMC Board of Ordained
Ministry to become an Elder. "It wasn't easy," says Pastor
Mike, "but it was -- and is -- totally worth it." He'll be
formally ordained at an evening service to be held Friday, May 18 at
the Philadelphia Expo Center (near Phoenixville and Valley
2,000 Number of people estimated
to read The Mt. Gretna Newsletter. "Estimated?" We're
really not sure how many people forward their copies to friends and
relatives. Take, for example,
Pat and Dorothy Bowman, the aunt and uncle of Lebanon Chamber of
Commerce director Larry Bowman and his wife Kathy Wall, Campmeeting
residents who moved here a few years ago.
Pat and Dorothy, who moved
to Mt. Gretna in 1950 and lived on Eighth Avenue, are now making new
friends at the Elmcroft Personal Care Home in Lebanon. Every
month, Kathy takes them a copy of the newsletter, which she dutifully
prints out from her computer. "They pour over it with much
interest," she says. "Then they pass it around to other
residents at Elmcroft, some who are former Mt. Gretna residents and
others who just enjoy reading the news of Mt. Gretna," says Kathy.
"Uncle Pat told me today that the October 2011 issue is still
Mama Mia! Mt.
Gretnans Rediscover an Old Favorite
the desserts coming out of Mt. Gretna's Le Sorelle Porch and Pantry
Restaurant these days look scrumptious, there's a reason. Actually,
first is that the caf?'s top cook (aside from owner Ken Shertzer
himself) is pastry specialist Angela Licata, who just happens
to live atop the hill on Batdorf Avenue. The second is Amy Wolfe,
Ken's married daughter, who helps manage the restaurant and runs
her own photography business. She has a knack for making
Vistorta Torta di Cioccolato (a chocolate flourless cake) look like it
jumped right out of an oven rather than a Canon 5D Mark II.
to that, their love for all things that come out of Italy, where Amy
and husband Alex vacationed with friends last September. Moreover,
Angela is married to an Italian, so she has a trove of family recipes,
skills and secrets. Add all that together and you'll know why Authentic
Italian Nights at Le Sorelle are so popular.
Amy Wolfe photos
year's was a sellout ("the portions were perfect, allowing us to
enjoy the entire meal" wrote a Hershey patron), and the one coming
Friday, March 30 is likely to be as well. So it's probably wise to make
the temptations will be appetizers like Pomodori a Riso and Sicilian
stuffed mushrooms (Funci Chini); first course choices of Pasta E
Fagioli or Risotto al Limone; main courses like Chicken Marsala, a
Florentine style Cod (Merluzzo alla Fiorentina), and Sicilian
Veal Rolls (Involtini all Benedettina). The full menu is posted online and choices must be made in
advance: 269-3876 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sorelle has quickly become the No. 1 Secret Mt. Gretnans have
rediscovered in the past few years, largely because of its expanded
menu, a customer focus that allows credit cards, cooks and servers
intent on making the meals memorable, plus a convenient
serve-yourself-whenever-you're-ready-for-refills bar offering coffee,
tea and lemonade.
food for people has a certain satisfaction, especially when they love
it," says Amy. "We like to try new dishes and recipes, so our
specials are always changing."
restaurant's winter hours, continuing until Memorial Day, are
Fridays-Sundays 8 am to 1 pm. Starting Memorial Day, they'll switch to
a summer schedule, Tuesdays-Sundays 8 am to 1 pm.
Cottages You Won't See in the Chautauqua
Glimpses of Ireland on Tap
at the Winterites This Month
it's not exactly like the cottages you find along Harvard Avenue, but
in Galway Bay, Ireland, it fits into the landscape perfectly fine.
That, in fact, is where Peggy O'Neil, Kathy Snavely and Peggy McGuire
intend to take you this month when the Winterites assemble March 6 at
the Mt. Gretna fire hall.
Ms. O'Neil, pictured outside the entrance to this prehistoric dwelling
Barely 5', Peggy fits right in.
beehive, says not much is known about the people who once occupied
these stone-laid-on-stone buildings. They were built perhaps two
thousand years ago to be windproof and waterproof, yet without a trace
of mortar. "They must have been awfully small," says the
diminutive Peggy, who barely tops the 5' mark herself.
Yet the Winterites audience is in for more.
you know about nettles?" asked Peggy McGuire, the Campmeeting
resident who calls herself the "ultimate telecommuter."
Although she lives in Pennsylvania, she's a researcher for the
University of Tennessee's literacy studies center in Knoxville.
Nettles, she will explain, grow wild in the west of Ireland. "They
sting the skin brutally if you touch them," she says, "but
they make a wonderful and healthy soup -- or a very effective
fertilizer." (Then she adds, with a wink, "Do you get the
idea that my stories might be a bit different from other Irish
McGuire: Nettles & wine
Ms. McGuire spent a few
weeks recently working with her cousin, who owns an Irish farm.
"We also spent a little time lounging around and drinking great
wine, watching the French Open," she says.
them will be Kathy Snavely, an adjunct professor at Harrisburg Area
Community College (and one of the top 100 marketing professors on
Twitter) who also heads the Chautauqua Summer Programs series.
Kathy likes best about Ireland? Desserts. Especially sticky bread and
toffee puddings and Pavlova, a meringue-based treat. She, husband
Cliff, and Peggy O'Neil made the trip through Ireland together,
including one popular tourist stop where Cliff nearly left Ms. O'Neil
behind. (Kathy can't wait 'til Peggy shares that story next week.)
sessions start at 1 pm on first Tuesdays October through April. Now in
their 62nd year and enjoying a sprightly renaissance, the gatherings
are open to all residents -- guys, too -- throughout Mt. Gretna.
Gretna Theatre Opens Auditions for Summer Series
auditions for Gretna Theatre's Summer Theater Series, 10 am-6 pm, March
3. Signups begin at 9 am at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. Seeking
triple threat actors/singers/dancers for the musicals listed, and
character actors for the play and musicals to portray ages 45-65.
are "Little Women, The Musical," "Grease,"
"Burt & Me," "Meet Me in St. Louis" and Agatha
Christie's "A Murder is Announced." Also seeking two young
girls, one to play age 6 and one age 12, both excellent actors/singers,
for "Meet Me in St. Louis." Also seeking design and technical
staff. Email resume to email@example.com. For details: www.gretnatheatre.com/auditions.
The annual appeal for help
Yes, they're looking for volunteers at the Playhouse this summer, lots
of them in fact.
Gretna Music needs ushers, artist hospitality, box office, boutique and
administrative volunteers. Call 361-1508 or e-mail Michael Murray at
If you'd like to work at the concession stand, call Gary Shrawder at
272-2284 or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To check in for volunteer assignments with Gretna Theatre, call Renee
Krizan, 964-3322 or email@example.com.
Elmer Seiger, Jr.
Some Mt. Gretnans paint, others play music, a few sing, and still
others write. Elmer Seiger as far as we know did none of these. Yet he
was as sparkling a presence during the more than 20 years he lived here
as any who have walked these streets and greeted their neighbors. The
essence of Mt. Gretna itself, a reassuring, friendly, and reasonable
man of good cheer who made the day
a little brighter each time he came into view. He also loved this
place. And he often returned for visits after he and Ruth, his wife of
65 years, moved to Pleasant View Nursing Home a few miles away.
"I'd move back to Mt. Gretna tomorrow if I could," he told us
a few weeks ago when we ran into him during breakfast at the pizza
Six years have passed since he left, but the twinkle in his eye was
still there. A man who loved Mt. Gretna. A navy veteran and a retiree
of the VA Hospital in Lebanon, he died Feb. 22. In every sense of the
word, Elmer Seiger was one of us.
Memorial contributions may be made to GSH Hospice, PO Box 1281,
Lebanon, PA 17042. A full obituary appears online.
& Stuff to
Sunday, March 4
Breakfast Buffet at the Fire Hall
All you can eat
for a donation you stuff in a fireman's boot (just inside the door).
The food's great, the friends you'll see even better. And your generous
donations help "burn the mortgage" for the firefighters; 8 am
Bluegrass Music by the Fire
Nature Center, with Patsy Kline and others. Bring your instrument. All
welcome., 1-4 pm.
Sunday, March 11
Teacher Appreciation Service at Mt. Gretna
United Methodist Church Saturday, March 17 to honor all Sunday School teachers and their assistants,
at the 10 am service. The church will also start a new Sunday class in
March for four-year-olds and kindergarteners. (There's already a class
for first- and second graders, plus another for third grade on up. What
about those fifth graders? It's coming, just as soon as they get some
more volunteer teachers.)
History of Mt. Gretna and Governor Dick Park, 2 pm. A
presentation by Diana Sprucebank. Walk to historical sites afterwards,
Friday, March 16
A "Meet the Neighbors" party (with a St.
Patrick's Day theme) for everyone on the lake side of Route 117. At the
Timbers Restaurant, starting 5 pm. Make your own reservations and pay
your own bill. Call 964-3601 (by March 13, please).
Saturday, March 17
Trio for Nuevo Tango, the second in Gretna Music's Intersections series exploring
classical music and dance at Elizabethtown College. 7:30 pm.
Saturday, March 24
Gretna Theatre Broadway Bus Trip "GHOST," the
musical. Call 964-3627 for tickets ($175; not available online).
Monday, March 26
LAST DAY to
register for Philadelphia Orchestra Bus Trip (Sunday, April
29). Call Gretna Music, 361-1508, or visit www.GretnaMusic.org.
Wednesday, March 28
The Gathering Place Luncheon Meet
friends old and new at this popular monthly event for everyone in Mt.
Gretna, at noon. Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church.
Mid-Week Lenten Worship Service, followed by an
all-you-can-eat dessert buffet following the 7 pm service. Mt.
Gretna United Methodist Church
Thursday, March 29
Easter Egg Dye
Night at Mt. Gretna
United Methodist Church. Think that only children have fun? Wait until
you see expressions on the faces of parents, grandparents, and their
friends at this annual event. Warning: Wear old clothes and don't be
surprised if palms and fingers remain multi-colored for days
afterwards. Starts at 6:30 pm.
Saturday, March 31
Annual Easter Egg Hunt at the
Chautauqua Playground, starting at 11 am. Chances are, it'll all be
over five minutes later as 50 or so youngsters scoop up 360 or so eggs
faster than ice cream disappears on a 93-degree day at the Jigger Shop.
Rumors persist that the Easter Bunny himself may make an appearance,
sources say. Rain date: April 7.
Check Mt. Gretna's new year-round online calendar for events coming up in the year ahead. Send listings
for the new online version to Jennifer Veser Besse
Other newsletters of
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mt. Gretna Arts Council
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
Gretna Music bulletins -- E-mailed updates on
concert events, schedule changes and other news. See "Join Our
Mailing List" at http://gretnamusic.org/
Mt. Gretna Area Historical
Society Newsletter --
Online at http://www.mtgretnahistory.org/newsletter.php
Mt. Gretna Bible Festival
Mailed in the spring and fall without charge. Send request to Bible
Festival, P.O. Box 408, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.
Governor Dick Park
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 email@example.com
South Londonderry Township
Newsletter -- of primary interest to
Mt. Gretnans in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge; online
Campmeeting Newsletter -- Available online
and mailed to residents.
Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter
-- e-mailed to Heights
residents. Address inquiries to Michelle Shay,firstname.lastname@example.org