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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 130                                                                                              May 1, 2012


 Delving into Mt. Gretna's Unique Spirit  

Nobody knows precisely what it is that gives Mt. Gretna its appeal, but there's the hunch it has something to do with trees, tranquility and the tempo of an earlier era. 

It probably also has something to do with the types of people who choose to live in Mt. Gretna. 


Nobody asked them...

 We are, in the best sense of the word, different. In addition to a willingness to put up with no supermarkets, Starbucks or nearby shopping centers, those who are drawn here share certain traits. A sense of curiosity, independence and self-reliance, to be sure, plus a unifying sense that the uplift that comes when we help others usually starts, and seems to satisfy best, when we help out in the place where we live.     

This is our annual Volunteer Opportunities issue.  

Try as we might, we can't develop a list that covers everything that our talented neighbors do to make things better when they put their minds to it.  In fact, we don't even try.   

Some of our best enterprises started as spontaneous acts, launched by those who never were asked to do anything at all. Their gifts simply emerged, fueled by unstoppable energies and a sense that something, by golly, needed doing.


. . . they just do it.

Nobody asked the late Dale Grundon to straighten up the community bulletin board each week, or to lead hikes to see the cardinal flowers, or to teach classes in stained glass-making. Nobody asked Jack Bitner to take on the task as Mt. Gretna's historian. Nobody, as far as we know, has ever asked people like Betty Miller (inset, right) and Peg and John Smith to transform the Playhouse grounds into a glorious garden every summer.  

And that universally admired Summer Calendar? Yes, it's an Arts Council endeavor. But nobody envisioned what it would take to make it a reality each year, a labor of love for the entire team headed by Jeff and Deborah  


Cheer-up specialist


People who do things like that year in and year out ought to have different titles. "Volunteers" doesn't quite seem to cover it.

Maybe we ought to find different words, words that describe the effects such people have on our lives.

Mary Hernley (inset, left) isn't a volunteer, but instead of calling her "Mt. Gretna's flower lady," maybe we ought to think in terms of the business she's been in here for the past 45 years. "The cheer-up business," she once told us.  

Opportunities to help? Look over our list in this issue. Maybe you'll find a match for your unique ideas and energies. And if you don't find something that suits, delve deeply into that which makes your heart sing and get started. You'll not only make a difference, but rewards will cascade across the years to future generations. And that, you may be sure, will propel a spirit that for more than a century -- combined with the trees, the tranquility and the tempo -- has helped Mt. Gretna solidify its enduring appeal. 



Gala Summer Premiere May 26

Let the Season Begin!

For the past 22 years it's had music, art auctions, good food and entertainment. But its chief attraction has always remained the same:

"After a long winter, it's just nice to get out and see people that you don't see in the wintertime," says Summer Premiere co-organizer Debbie Clemens (inset, left), who started the whole idea two decades ago.


A finishing touch for Dale's last lamp, one of the highlights of this year's auction.

Tom Mayer photo 

She and daughter Jessica Kosoff, together with a band of energetic volunteers, are looking forward to what has become the principle event of the busy Memorial Day weekend and a highlight of Mt. Gretna's social calendar.

"Before the Summer Premiere, people didn't have anything special to do on Saturdays at 4 o'clock on Memorial Day weekend. Now, it's a time that people put on their calendars. They have a good time, get to meet a lot of people they otherwise wouldn't have known, and make a difference in their lives," says Debbie.  

Making a difference? That's Debbie's chief reward too, although this year she'll be forced to keep a delicate balance. In addition to watching over details of the Premiere, she'll have to remain alert for the arrival of youngest daughter Caitlin's first child. To add further complications, that grand event now appears likely to occur on the same weekend that Catlin is scheduled to graduate from medical school in West Virginia.  

"If the baby comes first, I'll have to be there. But since Catlin's usually late," she says with a smile, "it'll probably work out."  

Highlights of this year's Premiere?

They are certain to be two items up for auction at this annual event, sponsored by the Mt. Gretna Arts Council, which raises money for things like the popular Summer Calendar, hands down the most widely-referred-to booklet in town each season.  


2012 Summer Calendar cover
 Artist: Matt Royer  

One of the most-coveted items will be the last stained glass lamp produced by the late Dale Grundon. The lamp was under construction at the time of his unexpected death last June and is a gift to the Mt. Gretna community by Dale's nephew, Gaye Liddick.

Another much sought-after item is expected to be the original artwork for this year's calendar cover. It is an oil painting by Mt. Gretna resident Matt Royer (inset, left). An environmental attorney who now heads Penn State's Lower Susquehanna Initiative to clean up the Conewago Creek and perhaps pave the way for a model solution that could benefit the entire Chesapeake Bay, Royer began painting during his high school days, under the guidance of Mt. Joy artist Brad Strohman. He hasn't had much time to pursue that passion, however, until recently when he produced some 30 illustrations for two children's books written by his wife Kerry McGuiness Royer.

"One of the things Kerry and I love about Mt. Gretna is no matter how busy it is in the summer, there are those little quiet corners you can find. I've always liked those pitcher pumps around the Campmeeting. I like to paint things in natural light and the contrast of light and dark."  

Description: taking photographs of a pump near the playground, he set aside a Saturday this past winter to sketch and paint it all in a single day. "I paint with oils on a Masonite board and don't like to go back to resume something once the paint is tacky and starting to set," says Royer.  

He was honored by the invitation to create this year's calendar cover, and the auction will be the first time he's ever offered a painting for sale, perhaps lifting the curtain on a possible hobby in retirement someday. "Perhaps," he says, "but I'd like to save time for some fly fishing too."



              The Mt. Gretna Newsletter's

Annual Listing of  

Opportunities for Volunteers

. . . and other ways to invest your time & talents in 2012

We took a stab at compiling all the things you can do in a summer, but this list is by no means complete. Some of the best ideas come from people who were never asked. They just saw a need and filled it.
Have a talent, a service or an idea you think others will appreciate? See a role where your unique abilities might be helpful? By all means jump right in. Don't wait to be asked. Lend a hand and make a difference.
We Mt. Gretnans are a tiny boat in a big ocean. But from Timber Bridge to Mt. Gretna Heights, we're all in this together.


Art Show: Linda Bell, director: 964-3270 or
Art Show coordinators of volunteers: Saturday admission gates: Sam Bonacci 964-3111. Sunday admission gates: Joe Shay, 964-2209; Office staff: Doug Leiby, 272-8871. Kids' Art Show: Faith Mummau, 964-2212. Exhibitor traffic control: Fred Seltzer, 964-3763. Soldiers' Field and Philhaven area parking: Bob Dowd, 964-1106. Booth sitters: Stacey Margut, 964-3366.


Bible Festival:

Don Zechman: 653-8588 or; also Bruce Gettle 813-5319


Bird Club:

Sid Hostetter and Evelyn Koppel, 964-3412 or The group meets Fridays at 9:00 a.m., Chautauqua parking lot weather permitting. Two-hour walk to observe flora and fauna, often followed by a late breakfast. Not a volunteer opportunity, but an interesting and enjoyable way to spend Friday mornings and meet others.

Buzzard Busters: (Active November -March)
Max Hunsicker, Max's band of stalwarts ("The few, the proud, the Buzzard Busters") needs volunteers who can safely encourage migrating turkey vultures to choose roosts other than the treetops over Mt. Gretna. The emphasis, he says, is to keep noise to a minimum and fire aerial explosives only at dusk, before the vultures have a chance to settle down for the night.       

Campmeeting Playground:
Rachel Schmalhofer, 606-9845. Organizers need volunteers to help with various projects, including the annual carnival June 23, from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm.


Chautauqua Summer Programs:

Kathy Snavely, 964-2191 or 


Cicada Festival:
Rhoda Long coordinates usher assignments, 304-0248   


Concession Stand at Playhouse:
Gary Shrawder, 272-2284 or, says he needs added help this year for all performances of Gretna Theatre, Gretna Music and Cicada Festival.


Who makes the grounds throughout the Campmeeting, Chautauqua and Mt. Gretna Heights burst with color each year? Lots of folks, all of whom love gardening, love their communities, and love to share their passion with others.


Bleeding Hearts in the Campmeeting Madelaine Gray photo 

In the Campmeeting, Deborah Hurst ( coordinates gardening volunteer efforts. Deb Barnhart and Jane Zellers tend the Butterfly Garden between First Street and Markwood Avenue. Madelaine Gray takes care of the garden at the corner of Bell Avenue and Pinch Road.
Around the Playhouse, Peg Smith ( and Betty Miller landscape the grounds (with mulching and watering help from Peg's husband John). Tending to plants around the post office are Bill Care and Linda Bell. Shirley Miller nurtures flower boxes at the Information Center. Carol Morgan maintains the Fairy Garden, located between the Jigger Shop and Playhouse.
In Mt. Gretna Heights, Charlie Harris ( often organizes volunteer gardening projects.


Grand Illumination Nights: (July 3-4)
Karl Gettle, 964-2292 or A community-wide celebration of the nation's birthday, as only Mt. Gretna can do it! This year over two nights, to give everyone a chance to enjoy the lights and specially-crafted decorations throughout Mt. Gretna, including Timber Hills, Timber Bridge, Conewago Hill, Mt. Gretna Heights, Stoberdale, the Chautauqua and the Campmeeting Grounds.  

The Campmeeting will also hold an additional celebration in August, The Illumination of the Grove. That tradition began in the 1950s when youngsters who had finished church camp strolled through the Campmeeting, illuminated by porch lights, singing newly learned hymns.


Gretna Cares:

Evelyn Koppel, 964-3412  Volunteers help neighbors who have specific time-limited needs for assistance in driving, shopping, babysitting and similar requirements.    


Gretna Theatre:

Like to host an actor or actress in your home this summer? Who knows? You may even host the next Bernadette Peters or Charlton Heston, or maybe someone like Timothy Shew, who became a friend of Mt. Gretnan Tom Mayer four years ago and now appears in the Broadway revival of Evita (see last month's issue).


HDR photo by David Adams

Coordinator Renee Krizan says they need homes with  private bedrooms and access to kitchen facilities for anywhere from two to ten weeks.

Although Gretna Theatre is grateful for the help of Cornwall Manor, which makes its North Hills Apartment Complex available, "we still need assistance from the community with housing our Equity Actors," says Ms. Krizan. She invites inquiries at 964-3322 or


Governor Dick Environmental Center:
Janie Gockley, 964-3808 or 

Opportunities available throughout the year, including trail maintenance, light cleaning and graffiti removal.


Heritage Festival:

Pat and Mike Allwein, 964-2352. Concerts that include patriotic music, bluegrass and swing, country and hits from the '40s through the '80s. Admission is by donation.   


Deborah Hurst,  


Mt. Gretna 9th Annual Got The Nerve? Triathlon:  (May 19)  

See Volunteers needed for pre-race set up May 18th from 9:00 am - 6:00 pm as well as on race day (May 19) from 6:00 am - 12:00 pm including clean-up. Visit the above website for more information about specific volunteer opportunities during the race and to sign up as a volunteer.  Description:


Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society:   

Pat Pinsler, 964-3858 or, coordinates volunteer activities and welcomes people who can assist with museum maintenance, work in the library/research room on Saturday 9:00 am to 11:30 am, as well as help with other work including service as museum docents on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Fred Buch is chairman of the Society: 1-800-242-3901 or  


Mt. Gretna Fire Company:

Joe Shay, 964-1106 or, and Karen Lynch, 964-3505 or Volunteers always needed for darned near everything you can think of!  


Mt. Gretna Tour of Homes:
Suzanne Stewart, 361-1510. Needed are volunteers to serve as guides and house sitters during morning or afternoon shifts on Saturday, Aug. 4, from  10:00 am to 5:00 pm.       


Organ Recitals:
Rhoda Long, 304-0248 or, coordinates refreshments at these recitals, held at the Hewitt-McAnney residence on Princeton Avenue. Contributions appreciated.


Summer Premiere: (May 26)
Jessica Kosoff, and Debbie Clemens, 304-3915


Mike Dissinger, 949-2367, schedules trail clean-up days; John Wengert ( posts e-mail bulletins for other volunteer tasks -- including public relations, fundraising, and trail development. Also needed: volunteers to staff the Root Beer Barrel in Cornwall on weekends May through October. Lebanon Valley Rails-to-Trails meets first Wednesdays of the month, Cornwall Borough Hall, 7:00 p.m.


Visitors' Information Center:
Kathy Snavely, 964-2191 or Volunteers may also check in with the summer intern.


Winterites: (October - April)
Donna Kaplan,  964-2174.

Held at the Mt. Gretna fire hall on the first Tuesday of each month,* the Winterites season begins with a noon catered luncheon in October and continues into April, usually with guest speakers. The only other 12 noon meeting is the potluck holiday luncheon each December. All other sessions begin at 1:00 pm andDescription: include desserts but no luncheon. Annual dues are $10; both men and women are invited.  

The Winterites also sponsor Duplicate Bridge games at the fire hall on alternate Mondays and Thursdays. Volunteers provide snacks, help set up tables and make coffee at 9:00 (and also help with the 2:00 pm cleanups). Bridge players pay $3 each for the game that day, with proceeds going to the fire company.   

*Except January, typically the snowiest month.  



On Memorial Day Weekend

68 Years Later, You Can Still Get a $1 Hot Dog

In 1944 you could buy fresh meats, cigarettes and grocery staples at this Campmeeting store. Today, it's the adult Sunday School room at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. 

Description: next door, in the parking lot on Memorial Day weekend, you'll again find bargains -- including $1 hot dogs with all the trimmings, say Timber Bridge residents Bob McCullough and Bray Brunkhurst. As they roast their Heavenly Hot Dogs outdoors, the former grocery will be filled to overflowing with antique treasures, offered during the giant porch sale extravaganza throughout the Campmeeting and Chautauqua Saturday, May 26.

"As self-appointed Chairman of the Federal Hot Dog Reserve," says McCullough, "it's my duty to strike a blow at the inflationary cost of escalating food prices by providing the very best product at a price that may be below actual dealer cost. Heavenly Hot Dogs deserve their rightful place in the pantheon of  'Greatest Gretna Hits.' Pizza is going up. Jiggers are going up. Even a dozen doughnuts are now available on a payment plan," he says.


McCullough, left, with sidekick Brunkhurst: "We flop 'em, you top 'em"

"But Heavenly Hot Dogs are the real answer to a tight budget. 'Bring a Buck, and you're in Luck,'" beams McCullough. As anyone who knows this retired pharmaceutical industry executive probably 

suspects, however, there is, well, what he calls "a Methodist to our madness."   

In a nutshell, it's all about "meeting new potential customers for our local mission. First, we spread the mustard; then we spread the Gospel. Both are guaranteed to satisfy," he says. 

The top photo, by the way, came to our attention from former Mt. Gretnan Sheryl Mellor, who is on an island in the South Pacific --New Caledonia to be exact--where she's a translator and avid reader of

The Mt. Gretna Newsletter. Her parents are Mt. Gretna Heights residents Jack and Evelyn Yocklovich. Mrs. Mellor, now a grandmother, spotted this photo in a 1996 historic calendar published by the Lebanon Daily News.



Edging ever closer to the U.S. Register of Historic Places

A Crown for the Mt. Gretna Campmeeting

Sometime this summer, there's a pretty good chance that Mt. Gretna's Campmeeting will become a Historic District on the official U.S. Register of Historical Places.  

Of course, that honor still has a few hurdles to jump, namely final approvals by the Pennsylvania Bureau for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service. 

But if a pretty Kutztown co-ed hadn't sat down next to Tom Meredith on a bus over 70 years ago, none of this might ever have happened.

And if photographer Madelaine Gray hadn't decided to move to Mt. Gretna, and if people like Esther Mefferd, George and Chris Resch and Linda and Jim Campbell hadn't put their energies together 


"Without my committee, this wouldn't be happening," says Meredith (center). Among committee members missing in this photo was Madelaine Gray, who took this picture and over 250 others to help push the historic district application closer to success.

 to photograph, classify and categorize 255 Campmeeting structures -- everything from historic cottages to water pumps that haven't been used in over a century -- Tom's dream (and the hope of that girl who sat down next to him on the bus) might never have been realized.  

To gain historic district status for an area like the entire Campmeeting grounds is a journey that took about eight years, says Tom. But two of those years were interrupted by illness -- his own and the girl on the bus, Marie, who later became his wife. Even as her life was nearing an end in 2010, she urged him to continue the project. Tom, who will celebrate his 91st birthday in August, pledged to her that he would.

Marie had been Tom's link to Mt. Gretna. For the first 18 years of her life, she had spent her summers here with her parents. Tom, as far as he knew, had no connection to Mt. Gretna. It wasn't until after they moved here in 1985, following his retirement, that he discovered his great-grandfather had, in fact, been one of the founders of the Campmeeting.

What does the historic designation mean? "Not a whole lot," admits Tom. "Bragging rights, maybe. But it won't mean that your taxes will go up or that you can't paint your cottage a certain color."


At 90, fulfilling a pledge.

 Aniko Gayhart photo

What it does mean, however, is that officials at the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Bureau will take a keen interest in the types of developments that might be proposed for Mt. Gretna. 

"Although the historical designation wouldn't have any official impact, people like Bryan van Sweden, the Bureau's architectural historian and regional community officer, are very much concerned about managing the environment around the historic district. So this gives us access to advisers from the Bureau," says Tom.   

Details of what historic district status will mean for Campmeeting residents will be explained this Friday, May 4 at a 7:00 meeting in Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church.   

"It doesn't impose any restrictions on the right of property owners to paint, remodel or do whatever they wish with their property," said Tom. "The listing is simply a recognition of the historic integrity and significance of the district."
So if the Historic District eventually comes to pass, we asked, "Do you think you've ever done anything you're more proud of, other than marrying Marie?"  

"Probably not," he said.  

Something to keep that in mind, the next time a pretty girl sits down next to you on a bus. 




 Jeff Hurst, the long-time Mt. Gretna resident who normally spends long days at Hershey Foods Description:

delving into the mysteries of chocolate, including its ancient origins and uses, just popped in with the announcement of "an exciting initiative for our community."

What he had in mind was a new magazine that fills a need. "With our cultural heritage, one of the things that has been lacking is a resource for original contributions," he said. Thus was born The Mt. Gretna Review -- a publication of original stories, poems, photos and historically related submissions about the Mt. Gretna area.

Dr. Hurst heads a peer-reviewed team that hopes to publish its first issue this fall, with submissions accepted until Oct. 1. It's another feather in the cap of the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society. 


A 15-year-old Mt. Gretna high school student with a published book to her credit?

That's Hannah Fouché, the daughter of Doug and Jaunine Fouché who moved to a home in Timber Hills a little over a year ago.

"Other kids come home and watch TV or play video games," says Jaunine, "but Hannah would just write, for maybe two or four hours. She's been doing that since she was five, whether school was in or out."Description:

For Hannah, writing comes with a compelling allure. "To me, it doesn't feel like anything else," she says. A student at Palmyra High School, she's already won two Internet-based writing contests and has just published Wake of Dreamer, a collection of short fiction, microfiction and poetry, now available on

"A lot of people say that when they're older, they want to have a book out. But I realized that doesn't really happen. As you get older, you forget about those sorts of things. I wanted to do something like this before I lost my chance."

A few months before the publication date, a girl in her class asked what she was working on. "I told her it wasn't done yet; but when it was finished, I printed one of my stories and gave it to her. When she finished reading it, she said, 'Your writing is beautiful.'

"I can still hear those words in my head," says Hannah. "They made me so happy I wanted to cry." She and her family are now happily enmeshed in the details of publicity, coffee house readings and book signings. You can order it online or get a signed copy, $12, directly from her mom at


Talk about a man who makes a difference. Pastor Mike Remel (inset, below) roasts hot dogs, reads Billy Goat Gruff to mesmerized youngsters and injects a buoyant spirit into life at the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church.


Anna McDonald photo

This month, he'll be formally ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church. It's the culmination of a 14-year odyssey that began when he first heard the call to the ministry. A graduate of East Stroudsburg University, where he majored in history, he later enrolled in Master of Divinity studies at Palmer Seminary, near Philadelphia.

"Until now I've been what Methodists call a Provisional Member," says Pastor Mike. "It used to be called 'Probationary Member,' but that sounded like we were in jail," he laughs. Provisional status lasts two years, allowing ministerial candidates and the denomination "to further discern one's call to the ministry," he says.

Before he came to Mt. Gretna three years ago, he served as pastor to two small churches in southern Lancaster County, an experience that placed him in the national spotlight when he was called upon to conduct services for the gunman forgiven by the Amish community following the Nickel Mines school shootings in 2006. Although that was a difficult assignment, Pastor Remel won international accolades for a sermon that called for "less violence, less hatred, less evil in the world" and expressed hope that "the world would learn from the lesson of forgiveness." Press reports carried that message to a global audience.  

His ordination service Friday, May 18 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa. is open to everyone and will begin at 7:00 pm. 


Description: you thought Nicole Roberts could energize a band marching along Route 117 from the Jigger Shop to the fire hall every Halloween, wait'll you hear her sing. This audition video just helped her win a spot at Boston's Berklee College of Music this fall, following in the footsteps of her dad, Timbers Dinner Theatre music director  Andy Roberts (who's the accompanist in this You Tube video).
Nicole plans to study Music Business and voice and build a career in music production and marketing. She hasn't yet decided just what role the Timbers might play in her future.
A Cedar Crest High School senior, Nicole was a finalist in the 2012 Lebanon Idol competition and recently appeared at the All State Jazz Band Festival. 
Her mentors? Among those she credits are dance instructors Judy Williams Henry and Kevin Krum, Ronnie Waters "who helped me grow in understanding and performing jazz," and actor Will Stutts, the former Gretna Theatre producer who introduced her to the theater world.


All winter long we waited. Former Mt. Gretna postmistress Cathy Dugdale (inset, right) had moved to the normally snow-covered regions of Wisconsin, to the quaint little city of Waukesha, to be nearer her daughter.  

"What? You want to leave Mt. Gretna for gloomy winters, icy sidewalks and months of shoveling?" we asked as she packed up to leave last fall.  

"Send us a picture when you're up to your waist in the snow," we chuckled.  

Cathy agreed. But we waited and waited. Months passed. 

Description: showed up in our mailbox. Nothing, that is, until last week, when finally a photo arrived.  

It was one that Cathy's daughter took in her mom's new backyard. The snows never came, said Cathy, so "my daughter put up this sky chair for me to take advantage of the big trees in my yard and the incredible weather here. Records set in 1903 were crushed this year.

Some days in March reached 80 degrees," she said. 

Description: day or so later, on April 16, former Mt. Gretnan Kim Miller Gardner (inset, left) posted a message on Facebook: "It's snowing," she chirped from her home in St. Paul, Minn.  

We rushed a request to Kim: Please send us your picture, knee-deep in snow."   

A few hours later she replied. "Sorry," she said, "the snow pretty much melted as soon as it hit the ground."

So let's go over this again, slowly. Exactly why is it that we Mt. Gretna snowbirds spend thousands of dollars each year for travel, houses and condos -- not to mention taxes, insurance and upkeep -- for places in Florida, California and South Carolina?


No, not just any ordinary band of guys in the parking lot. This, ta-dah!, is the first gathering of the newly formed Mt. Gretna Sports Car Club. "Old guys in hot cars or hoDescription: guys in old cars?" It doesn't seem to make any difference.

Their first outing was April 12 and they've got a followup drive coming this month.     

Last month's inaugural run saw five Mt. Gretnans in sports cars winding through the Lebanon and Lancaster farm country on a leisurely Thursday afternoon. Mel Kaplan, David Wood, Sid Hostetter, Paul Heise and Chuck Long stopped for lunch at the Brickerville House.

The only thing missing were their wives.

"They must have missed us," said Winterites leader Donna Kaplan, "because next month we're invited to come along too."

If you're a sports car owner and would like to join the group, give Sid Hostetter a call, 964-3412. The next outing is Thursday, May 10 with a drive to the historic Reinholds Inn. Don't own a sports car? This may be the excuse you've been waiting for. Too expensive? As Terry Miller once told Shirley when she asked if they shouldn't be saving for a rainy day, "Shirley, the umbrella is up." And as a friend once told us when we balked at buying a golf cart, "Remember, you're going outta here in your underwear." There you have it. Life lessons in a nutshell.    


Ryan BrunkDescription:, Mt. Gretna organist now finishing his first year at The Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington Indiana, leads off Mt. Gretna's Summer Organ Recital Series July 5. Also appearing in this year's Thursdays in July series at the Hewitt-McAnney residence, 1 Princeton Ave., are Russell Jackson from the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (July 12), Tyler Canonico of the First United Methodist Church in Palmyra (July 19) and Julie Vidrick Evans of the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC (July 26). All concerts begin at 7:00 pm. Reservations may be made after May 28 at 864-1830, ext. 3.


Well, not everybody in this photo looks overjoyed with the idea of wearing funny hats and singing "If I Were A Butterfly." But it was, after all, the premiere performance of Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church's new Children's Choir, part of an Earth Day celebration last month. And sometimes, even when it's not exactly show business, you gotta have an act. They'll perform again this month at the Mother's Day 10:00 am service, Sunday, May 13. 



Best spot for Mt. Gretnans to catch a glimpse of the Transit of Venus in the late afternoon sun next month?
Probably Soldier's Field  (starting around 6:03 pm, June 5), says Mine Road resident Jim Seltzer. The spectacular celestial show (when Venus passes directly between the sun and earth)
happens only rarely and comes in pairs eight years apart. Since the telescope was invented, it's happened only in the 1630s, 1761 and 1769, 1874 and 1882. It also occurred in 2004, and after it happens in June, it won't be seen for more than a century (2117 in fact). To view the event, experts recommend eclipse shades (1 - 25 for $0.95 each).
Isn't it downright amazing what you can learn by reading The Mt. Gretna Newsletter?



A Photographer's Gentle Stroll through  

Mt. Gretna on a Sunday Afternoon 














Whenever photographer Madelaine Gray goes walking around Mt. Gretna on a Sunday afternoon with a camera in hand, we can be sure something good is about to happen.


On a beautiful final Sunday in April, it happened again:  

Description: photo essay of the season about to begin.  

Her travels took her through the Campmeeting garden, then to a stop alongside ferns that suddenly appear everywhere in Mt. Gretna. ("To me, they are a symbol of new beginnings," says Madelaine.)Description:

Description:, a visit to a garden angel, and then on to a flamingo, one of her favDescription:  

And those colorful but empty chairs?  

Her photographer's eye is unerring.

"They are waiting for fun summer times on the patio," says Madelaine, whose photographs of the lavender fields of Provence are now legendary.  

Increasingly, so are her photographs of Mt. Gretna.



Preservation Group Shares its Concerns

In the days leading up to their public meeting at the fire hall last Sunday, Preserve Mt. Gretna's president Marla Pitt had summed up why she and others formed the group last fall.
It began with a concern for Mt. Gretna's natural beauty, she said. "To me, the trees lining Route 117 as you come into Mt. Gretna set a prelude. The trees and roadways set a backdrop and cadence that create and emulate nature. With more development always a possibility, especially as sewer lines are built, with the decision to relocate a pumping station from the Rail Trail down to Route 117, and while plans for a Regional Comprehensive Plan are being drawn up, we felt there were too many uncertain variables.
"We didn't want to wake up one day and realize that somehow we had passed a certain tipping point where we were never going to get back the Mt. Gretna we know," said Mrs. Pitt, a
Description: lifelong Mt. Gretna resident.
She and others helped lead a campaign last summer to block rezoning of a 90-acre parcel of land across Route 117 from Mt. Gretna Heights and the Campmeeting. Land owners subsequently withdrew their requests to change the zoning from Residential Forest (RF) to R-1 and R-2, which would permit higher densities of single-family housing as well as townhouses and garden apartments.

At Sunday's meeting, attended by about 85  persons, Preserve Mt. Gretna attorney Dwight Yoder reviewed municipal zoning regulations and advised citizens to remain alert to plans for future development. He said that although the PMG remains open to suggestions, a recent proposal for an alternative approach that would could allow rezoning of a portion of land now designated as Residential Forest was inconsistent with PMG's stated aims. He circulated a letter which stated the group "believes the existing RF the appropriate zoning classification for the area and opposes any change to a higher classification."  

On the latest version of the Regional Comprehensive Plan which now in its final stages of development, RF remains the classification for the 90-acre tract involved in the controversial proposal put forward by Eastern Enterprises and others last summer.    

In addition to Mrs. Pitt, the board includes vice president Ned Gibble, secretary Annie Roach, treasurer Peggy O'Neil, Mike and Pat Allwein, Pam Bishop, Dr. David Bronstein, Doug Lorenzen, Ted Martin and Dr. Charles Pitt. Funds are being collected by Preserve Mt. Gretna, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.

 "We want to preserve the historical character and integrity of Mt. Gretna," said Mrs. Pitt."We hope to do that for future generations, not just the present day. So we intend to be around for a long time."



Coming June 18

Mt. Gretna's Favorite: Big Junk Day!

Thatcher Bornman has a unique way of taking a good idea and making it even better.

Big Junk Day (officially "Large Item Collection Day") got started in Mt. Gretna more than 30 years ago. 


This year, chili & sauerkraut, too.  

But in recent years, Thatcher (inset, left) has taken it upon himself to make the occasion for discarding unwanted  

Description: -- too large for regular trash pickups -- a Sunday afternoon festival  outside his cottage at 108 Lancaster Avenue in the Chautauqua.

"Stop by for a hot dog," he calls out to folks out on scavenger hunts to discover what Mt. Gretnans are discarding. It's an invitation that stops newbies in their tracks. Who would give away hot dogs to strangers?

That's Thatcher, who's heart is as big as his spirit, and who has kept the tradition going for nearly a decade.

Whose idea was it to start Big Junk Day in the first place? The plan was first suggested by former borough councilman Gene Tidwell, an Alcoa executive who moved here from another community down South, where he first saw large item collections in practice.

It's since become not merely a convenience for residents but also a cause for celebration, thanks to Thatch, who uses the annual rite as just another excuse for a party (that's a specialty among Mt. Gretnans, of course) -- one with hot dogs and all the trimmings, including chips, soft drinks and spontaneous conversation with the 30 or more neighbors who usually stop by on a Sunday night preceding the start of pickups on Monday. This year, he's even adding homemade sauerkraut and chili to the mix. "Chili dogs are my all-time favorite," he said last week.

"It used to take us two weeks to collect all the stoves, refrigerators, furniture and mattresses that people no longer wanted," says Mt. Gretna borough manager Bill Care. "But now with all the scavengers, who usually start their hunts around Friday afternoon and all day Saturday and Sunday," by the time we get there on Monday most of the stuff is gone."

True, the service is officially intended for Mt. Gretna Borough residents, who live in the Chautauqua District. "But some of the stuff gets dropped off by people who live in other areas, usually under the cloak of darkness," laughs Bill. As long as that doesn't get out of hand, nobody seems to mind. Especially since the scavenger patrols do such an efficient job of trash removal on their own.

The Borough recycles any metal objects that remain and also takes care of freon removal from discarded appliances. Hazardous waste materials are not permitted, says Care.

Other than that, it's a simple solution to a community problem that has worked beautifully for more than three decades.

No, it's not exactly what you'd find in most places. But this, after all, is Mt. Gretna, where we do things a little bit differently. . . and thanks to people like Thatcher, with flair.




Madelaine Gray photo

This year, a celebration spread over two full nights
Here Comes a Grand Illumination to
Light Up Mt. Gretna for Independence Day  When it comes to planning something special, nobody's better than Barb Kleinfelter and Evelyn Koppel. Add Karl Gettle to the mix and you know you've got something special indeed.

That's why plans now shaping up for Mt. Gretna's Grand Illumination observance around the Fourth


Coming up: Grand Illumination days in July

Tom Mayer photo

of July this year are likely to make it a memorable event of community-wide proportions.

"We had a great response last year and hope to have even more people participate this year," says Gettle. "We're encouraging all areas of Mt. Gretna to take part."

Why are the planners adding a second night (July 3 and 4)? "People told us they couldn't get around all of Mt. Gretna after the concert to see the various illuminations. They suggested an additional night. Plus there were others who felt a Grand Illumination should have more than one night of exposure in order for more people to enjoy it," he adds.
With the help of Chautauqua artist Barb Kleinfelter and regional coordinators like Evelyn Koppel, who lives in Timber Hills, plans are shaping up for festive decorative touches to celebrate the nation's birthday.

"We will again have Liberty Bell shapes as we did last year as well as two new ideas we felt people would like -- a garden flag and a wooden Uncle Sam," says Gettle.

Mrs. Kleinfelter will hold four Tuesday workshops in the Hall of Philosophy to help residents paint their four-foot replicas of Uncle Sam or put finishing touches on the bell shapes. "People won't need prior experience in painting," he says, "Barb will lead them through the process." Barb's husband Bill, a master craftsman, has prepared pre-cut wooden shapes so people can paint them with their own distinctive touches. Supplies needed for these projects will be $20, with proceeds divided between the fire company and Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society. Gettle says there'll be samples on display at the post office on Saturday mornings leading up to the event as well as at the Summer Premiere May 26.

Where to buy other decorations you may need to celebrate the Grand Illumination Fourth of July? "We'll be giving more ideas later, but two good places to start are Michaels and Hobby Lobby locally," says Gettle.                                                               



Mary B. Hoffman (1909-2012)

Even if you didn't know who she was, when you glimpsed her walking across the Chautauqua grounds she left no doubt that she was a woman of purpose. She strode with the dignity characteristic of women born in an earlier era, when elegance and eloquence flowed naturally and evenly from women of stature in their community.
Mary Buch Hoffman was such a woman. And though she played a major role in the entire community of Lebanon, Mt. Gretna was where she made her biggest contribution. "Of all her achievements," said her daughter Mary Louise Harris, "the ones of which she was most proud were those she accomplished in Mt. Gretna." It had been her beloved summer retreat for nearly three-quarters of a century.
Mt. Gretna's theatrical tradition was the centerpiece of her accomplishments. During the days when its future was darkest, she led the effort to restore it to grandeur. Energizing everything and everyone from cookie bakers to bankers, she resolved that the theater would not go dark.
During much of that time she also served as Chancellor of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, presiding over summer worship services. She held that post with distinction for more than 20 years. And for 15 years she served on the Chautauqua Board of Managers, with a reputation for stating her positions firmly and often without compromise. Compromise, some felt, was not a word in her vocabulary. But that probably was not true. It is just that people of high standards often convey their ideas resolutely. It has its usefulness. "Nothing convinces like conviction," goes the quote sometimes attributed to Cicero. With her steely glance, no one ever doubted that Mary Hoffman meant what she said.
A woman of ideas, she was also a woman of intense energy and little concern for the clock. A night-owl, her friends often remarked that if their phone rang between 11:00 pm and 2:00 am, they knew who was calling. "That's Mary," their sleepy spouses would say. "It never occurred to Mary that other people slept when she was up half the night," said Nancy Besch, her friend, admirer, long-time neighbor and successor to the post of Pennsylvania Chautauqua Chancellor.
Always in a hurry, she was a legend in her white VW convertible, darting around town and reportedly attracting the attention of every police patrol car in the county. It was said she bought the same model and color car so police patrols--long wondering "what to do about Mary"--would resign themselves to getting yet another lesson, and sometimes, a cup of coffee if they accepted the invitation to join her for a chat.
Mary Hoffman--energizer, invigorator, innovator and leader-- died April 26 at the age of 102. Mt. Gretna will not likely see her equal again. She set the highest of standards and was determined to put this community foremost in her concerns. It was a legacy unmatched, and one guaranteed to reverberate for at least a century.
A visitation will be held Friday, May 4 starting at 10:00 am at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 600 S. 12th Street in Lebanon. Services will be conducted at the church starting at 12 noon. An
online obituary is expected to soon be posted at the website of Christman's Funeral Home, which is handling the arrangements.  



Updates & Stuff to 

Post on

The Fridge










Friday, May 4:

A Public Meeting
to explain details of what establishment of the Campmeeting as an Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places will mean to residents, in Fellowship Hall, United Methodist Church, 7:00 pm.

Tuesday, May 8:

Friends of Cornwall Furnace lecture
: Lime Kilns, by retired Millersville State professor Kenneth Miller, now writing a book about the lime burning process and its history in steelmaking. Freeman Hall, Cornwall Manor, 7:00 pm.

Thursday, May 10:


Carriage rides, wellness checks and campus tours. Cornwall Manor's "Day Well Spent" welcomes Mt. Gretna residents beginning at 2:00 pm. A 7:00 pm Dixieland Express concert with hot dogs, drinks and ice cream treats winds up the affair.


Saturday, May 12:

Ham & Bean Soup, Hot Dogs & Fun at the Mt. Gretna Fire Company's Spring Block Shoot, 12:00 Noon to 5 pm. Prizes galore, even if you don't fire a shot. Plus food and friends in this popular fundraiser that helps put a dent in the mortgage. 

Community Shredding Services Available without charge to Mt. Gretna residents of South Londonderry Twp.; (10 box limit, documents only.) North Londonderry Twp. Building, 655 East Ridge Road, Palmyra, 9:00 am to 12:30 am. Questions: call 838-1373.

Saturday, May 19:

9th Annual Mt. Gretna Triathlon, Mt. Gretna Lake and surrounding area, 6:00 am to 12 Noon.

Saturday May 26:

Pancake and Sausage Breakfast at the fire hall, 8:00 to 10:00 am. 

Community Porch Sales throughout the Campmeeting and Chautauqua, with some of the best treasures on sale at the fire hall and church, 8:00 am - 2:00 pm.


A Premiere to launch the summer season ahead, May 26 at 4:00 pm  

Summer Premiere Hall of Philosophy, 4:00 pm. See story this issue.

Tuesday, May  29:

Earliest date to make reservations for this year's Thursdays in July Organ Series: Call 964-1830.  All recitals begin at 7:00 pm, 1 Princeton Ave.

Saturday, June 2:

Community Potluck Supper, highlighting Mt. Gretna's summer programs. At the fire hall, 5:00 pm. Information and reservations: 964-1830.

Saturday, June 9:

Book and bake sale at the fire hall, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. (Book drop-off at the fire company June 2, from 10:00 am to noon.

Sunday, July 1:

Breakfast buffet (everything you could imagine) at the fire hall, 8:00 am to noon.

And don't forget:

Check the Mt. Gretna Arts Counci's new
online calendar

for events coming up in the year ahead.
Send listings for the new online version to Jennifer Veser Besse (




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,




Does the Mt. Gretna Newsletter guy ever take a vacation? Not often. But this year, for the first time since I began writing this letter as a hobby 11 years ago, I will. I plan to take a couple of months off. Mainly to spend some time traveling with friends and see a different part of the world. I probably should say I'm really looking forward to going. 

But I'm not sure that castles and cathedrals are better than Mt. Gretna cottages. In fact, I'm pretty sure they are not. If somebody told me I'd have to spend the rest of my days walking the streets of Mt. Gretna with my dog Winston, that would suit me just fine. At 71, I don't need variety to know what I like. Winston doesn't care much for it either. It's nice to have a dog that thinks the way you do.  

See you in a couple of months.

Roger Groce  



The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

Mt. Gretna, Pa.

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