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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 132                                                                                                          September 2012


Season' s end. . . and beginnings

Of preludes, pitcher pumps and perpetual hope

Those who know Mt. Gretna only when it comes dressed in its summer wardrobe may be excused for misjudging the arrival of Labor Day as a prelude to runner-up seasons. When summer glides into fall, they assume, a curtain comes down and Mt. Gretna folds up -- shrouded, neatly packed and put away until sometime next spring.


Campmeeting pitcher pump.   By Matt Royer 

    They have a point, of course. Gone are the plays and concerts, Jigger Shop crowds and Tabernacle assemblies, laughter at the lake and the tree-shaded lure of Mt. Gretna's Outdoor Art Show. Gone, too, are the cultural offerings, crafts and educational pursuits that spill over the edge of a jam-packed summer calendar and -- amid their sheer abundance -- make "what-to-do" choices difficult.


    Yet the truth is that months that end in"er" figure among Mt. Gretna's best, a secret year-rounders often keep close to their vests.

   When the curtain drops and crowds depart, you can almost hear a sigh of relief. Welcome, sounds of silence.

    We who have opened our homes and community to share with others now pause to catch our breath, and to catch up with one another.

    "Nothing much to do?" For many who remain in Mt. Gretna throughout the year, that is precisely and richly the point.Although fire company gatherings and chats outside


As cardinal flowers return, so do the swallowtails.
                                                                Jim Seltzer photo

the post office continue, expansive periods of solitude ushered in with the coming of fall are among Mt. Gretna's special gifts.

    As an antidote to a sometimes tumultuous world, nothing is so comforting as walks through Mt. Gretna, where scenes abound like the one (above) that illustrator Matt Royer captured on the cover of this year's summer calendar -- set in an oasis of calm, a sturdy pitcher pump that rendered years of dependable service to the community. Every town ought to have at least one. Mt. Gretna, in fact, has three.

    Soon enough, the leaves will turn and ultimately drop, forming a carpet that calls out for the crunch of delighted tiny feet. Another treasure, a signal that another cycle is set to begin.

How can we know? Nature assures with its promise. . . and Mt. Gretna responds.

    A few weeks ago someone spotted cardinal flowers once again near the rail trail, in a secluded area where the late Dale Grundon liked to take hikers. The flowers had been wiped out last year by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, which left a path of total destruction around an earthen dam where the cardinal flowers once flourished. They too were casualties of the storm; gone, utterly gone.

    Yet seeds strewn by the parent plants survived. Somehow, despite the destruction, the cardinal flowers returned this year.

   Call it a sign of perpetual hope. An assurance that Mt. Gretna will also survive. . . along with a reminder that you can't get very uptight in a place where they still have pitcher pumps.



Slice of Americana?

It comes every September, with all the trimmings


Darlene Eckert leads a line of those who come to annually support the firefighters.

   Few insights into the dynamics of small town American life are more revealing than the morsels available at Mt. Gretna Fire Company's annual pig roast.
    There's another one coming up Saturday, Sept. 8, complete with a 260-pound guest of honor, succulently roasted and carved by former Hideaway owner Jason Brandt, who now runs the popular Station House Tavern at the Fruitville Pike gateway to downtown Lancaster.
   Brandt sold the Hideaway nearly three years ago, but his heart is still with the Mt. Gretna firefighters -- who annually benefit from this popular gathering amid copious outlays of corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, cole slaw, glazed carrots, baked potatoes and pineapple filling.

     All this and a Christmas surprise, too  

   The feast begins at 4 pm and continues to 10 pm.
Along with catching up on the latest news with friends, you can also buy chances on a gift guaranteed to make every grandkid's eyes light up this 


For 9-year-old guys like Tucker, it's a Christmas dream.

Christmas -- a fire truck of their very own.

   The miniature fire engine is part of a raffle that begins at this year's pig roast and continues through Saturday, Dec. 8, when Old St. Nick himself -- at the Mt. Gretna Fire Company's annual Lunch with Santa -- will pull the winning ticket ($2 each or three for $5).

   Already persuading his parents to purchase lots of tickets is 9-year-old Tucker (inset, left), whose mom, Samantha, just happens to be married to Mt. Gretna's newest fire chief, Albert Sutcliffe. They live in Mt. Gretna just off Butler Road, and Tucker already knows exactly what he wants for Christmas. "Anything" says Samantha, "that has something to do with fire engines."




What --muggings in Mt. Gretna?  

      Nobody's truly alarmed, but there was a report last month of muggings in the parking lot of the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. 

     Pastor Michael Remel (inset, below), a confirmed coffee hound, says the reports centered on a wave of spontaneous "muggings," of the coffee mug variety, which church members now give to newcomers who stop by to attend the Sunday services.  



Ringleader in the coffee mug caper

    Inside the mugs are informative details about the church and its growing range of activities for adults, young adults and kids. The mugs are free, the smiles spontaneous along with fun being had by the fun-loving pastor, who delights in peppering ecclesiastical fine points with puns and word plays whenever he gets a chance. 


     As when, for example, he completed his formal ordination earlier this year as an Elder from "provisional" status: "They used to call us 'probational members,'" he said, "but that sounded like we ought to be in jail."      

     He also noted that the transition from seminary training to selling hot dogs at church fundraisers required a shift from Church Dogmatics to Hotdogmatics.     

    And he once sparked interest in a Christmas sermon series that delved into early Christian history by saying, "I know this series probably sounds boring, but once you learn about some of the characters in Jesus' family, our own families don't seem so bad."       

    Parishioners who want to help fund the welcome mug project can buy them for $7 each, says Pastor Mike, who adds that they make good Christmas gifts.

     The Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, located on Fourth Street and Boehm Avenue in the Campmeeting, holds services at 8:30 am and 10 am every Sunday.





   Not since the days when Wells Fargo wagons rolled into town has anything created


Big deal for a small crowd

excitement like the arrival of a school bus on the first day of school. 

    If you're one of just a handful of youngsters who live in Mt. Gretna, that's a big deal indeed. Lucy and Sadie Kosoff and Luke and Finn Royer eagerly awaited the bus Monday, Aug. 27 out on Pennsylvania Avenue (one of the three elementary school bus stops here). With them, of course, were their moms -- writer Kerry Royer and real estate agent Jessica Kosoff (who captured this photo of the bus just as it rounded the curve on a street already spotted with the first leaves of fall).  

   Thank heavens for moms and cell phone cameras. Always there just when they're needed.   




     Mt. Gretnan Kathy Snavely (inset, right), profiled in a cover story in this month's Business Woman magazine. Description:
    "She believes in being a vital part of her community and that service is essential," says BW writer Linda Hudzick . 

    An entrepreneur (owner of Lightship Consulting, which specializes in business start-ups and development, strategic planning and marketing), Harrisburg Area Community College adjunct professor in entrepreneurial studies and now launching a venture in public relations services for municipalities, Snavely (who also publishes Mt. Gretna Week in Review during the summer months) is fully committed. 
   "It sounds trite, but I very much want to leave the world a better place than I found it in any small way that I can," she told BW.
    In a candid two-page story ("Socially Connected in all Realms of Her Life"), she acknowledged that "being a woman has impacted consequences I have experienced in the workplace. The fact that I'm blonde, female and overweight has also worked in my favor -- as I have been underestimated, which has worked to my benefit."
    She's also been active in politics, including helping her dad, a former school board member in Upper St. Clair, Pa. "I am proud that he allowed me to assist him in winning his campaign last year (at age 83) for the Cornwall Borough Council, where he is now president," she says.   



   In any hierarchy of the world's top photographers, Madelaine Gray (right), who moved to the Mt. Gretna Campmeeting ten years ago, surely ranks near the summit. She proved it again this summer at the 44th Gosport Arts Festival in Virginia's Tidewater region, capturing first place


Ten top prizes in ten years

among 150 juried exhibitors including 15 photographers. It was one of 10 top prizes she has collected in juried shows over the past decade.  

   A specialist in the colorist genre of art,  Madelaine says "color is a magnet for me." It is the hallmark of her work in Mt. Gretna and the European countryside -- especially the lavender and sunflower fields of Provence in the south of France, where she travels often. Her work also appears in galleries throughout the country including locally at the newly opened La Cigale Gallery along Route 117 in Mt. Gretna.  



  Could a setting be so serene that a guy would forsake forever his favorite thingamabob? That's about the size of it. Bo, the English Springer Spaniel and former show dog that once wouldn't leave home to roam Timber Hills without an inexplicable glove in his mouth, now 


With Mt. Gretna friends all over, what  else does a guy need?

seems perfectly content without it.  

   Ever since his companions, Joanne and Tom Honeychurch (left), moved from their home on Timber Cove last March to Cornwall Manor -- where they not only have a home that allows dogs, but also a garden that overflowed this summer with zucchini and tomatoes -- Bo's forgotten all about, well, girls and other playthings that start with "g."  


So last year

   Even without his favorite glove (seen in this 2011 photo, 

right), Bo has sedately settled in. That's probably because so many other Mt. Gretnans have also moved to the nearby retirement village. They include Jeanine Bitner, Thelma Grillo, Willie Chase, Pat Walther, Jim and Janet Sheely, John Stoudt, Ethel Beittel, Doug and Dawn Bedell, Jeanne and Gerry Boltz, Morry and Miriam Albertson, J. B. Yorty, Joe and Anne Shemeta, and soon, we hear, Anne's sister Fran Bova.  


   How often does the cast of a major Broadway show stop by to join you for dinner? It happens, especially on a Gretna Theatre bus trip after a Saturday matinee.
Sharing a buffet last month with Mt. Gretnans Pat Shay, Larry Rousch, To


Renee, Larry and Broadway friends

m and Patti Rowe, Shirley Seldomridge, Carol Groce and David Bronstein following an Evita performance were Gretna Theatre associate artistic director Renee Krizan (inset right, at top left) and producing artistic director Larry Frenock (top center).  

    They invited their pals (and former Gretna Theatre stars now appearing in Evita) Tim Shew (far left), who appeared here in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Shenandoah, as well as Brad Little and his wife Barbara McCullough (stars of A Little Night Music here last year). Little, incidentally, appeared as the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera, longest-running Broadway show of all time. Also attracted to the post-performance gathering was Howard Kay (green cap) --  who played the King in Gretna Theatre's 2008 production of The King and I. 


Renewing a friendship 30 years later

All of the stars currently appear in roles on Broadway.
   Inset, left: Lancaster Avenue cottage owners Tom and Patti Rowe with Tim Shew (center) had first seen him in a Broadway performance back in the mid-1980s. They've followed his career -- including his roles here -- ever since.  

   Now a frequent Mt. Gretna visitor (and also a good friend of Chautauqua residents Tom and Carol Mayer), Shew was delighted to discover the scrapbook photo that Tom had taken of him and Patti almost 30 years ago. Memorabilia from these stars and shows will be featured items for sale at the Gretna Theatre gala, coming Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Hotel Hershey -- an annual fundraiser that counts heavily in the drive to keep the Mt. Gretna Playhouse going.  


   In the world of publishing, Lancaster Farming is to farmers what The Wall Street Journal is to bankers. Every Saturday, 56,000 farmers eagerly await delivery of the thriving news weekly, which often runs to 200 pages or more. (That bulk, in an era when even the Sunday New York Times is but a willowy shadow of its former heft, is in itself a notable achievement.) For over 50 years, the farm weekly has enjoyed a reputation as the best source of news about all things agriculture. Its feature articles command attention across Pennsylvania and 15 other states.


For 45 years, Mt. Gretna's "Flower Lady"             Madelaine Gray photo

   Thus Mt. Gretnans, who for the most part aren't regular readers, were duly impressed last month by an illustrated story, "Have Flowers, Will Travel", which described Mary Hernley's 45-year reign as the Mt. Gretna "Flower Lady."   

   Writer Sue Bowman reported that the "white canopy set up alongside the van that Mary uses to transport her stock from the farm to Mt. Gretna shades a profusion of brightly colored flowers. In addition to her trademark gladioli are typical garden-variety blooms like daisies, sunflowers, snapdragons, phlox and zinnias nestled among what some would call weeds -- namely white Queen Anne's lace and golden yellow yarrow. Also are less commonplace posies such as larkspur, rose-like lisianthus, two-toned drumstick allium and classic calla lilies. Some already arranged in vases as bouquets-to-go, while many more sit in water-filled buckets and jars waiting to be arranged by creative customers."

   What Mary enjoys most about selling flowers? Her customers -- "I learn a lot from them, it's part of the fun to see what flowers they put together," says Mary, who shares the proceeds from her flower sales with worldwide ministries, especially those that help orphans. She and Peter, her husband of 56 years, have six children including a daughter who is a missionary in Indonesia, 19 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.



Anna with husband Luke Baker on their wedding day, with Muffin

In case you ever wondered if you should adopt

an abandoned pet, Mt. Gretna Heights resident Anna McDonald's experience with her adopted dog Muffin may help you decide.  

   Muffin's first eight years will forever remain a mystery, but the last seven with Anna became "a source of comfort, love and understanding that I cannot fathom going without," she says.

   Following Muffin's death last month, Anna wrote a piece to share with her friends. That would include, we feel certain, all who share her love for their pets.   




Mt. Gretna Residents: When power outages occur, call . . .  



Met-Ed gives top priority to outages that affect the most people. The more calls that come from Mt. Gretna, the more likely we are to soon see their repair trucks in town.  

Make the call even if you know your neighbors have called also. (Yes, by golly, despite what some may tell you, the squeaky wheel theory does work, even in a world where computers sometimes seem to make all the decisions. And, when the power goes out, Mt. Gretna residents have a well-deserved reputation for lighting up the display panels at Met-Ed.) 

During extreme hot or cold weather, the Mt. Gretna Fire Company provides emergency shelter if power outages last more than three hours. Fire company president Joe Shay reminds you to bring medications and medical equipment; a sleeping bag or blanket and pillows; food for yourself and your family; books, games and other items to help pass the time. Unfortunately, there's no room for pets. That includes Sadie, his own collie. 



 Sometimes, 1 + 1 = eleven or more    



Stained glass artist Louise Christensen-Howell: "Colors and textures make it come alive"

    Ever since he built the La Cigale Design Center in Mt. Gretna nearly 10 years ago, John Mitchell has been trying to come up with the right aperitif for his new enterprise.
   Mitchell -- entrepreneur, raconteur and man-about-town -- is also an unrepentant Francophile who has moved seamlessly from selling Michelin tires in nearby Manheim to spreading French Provençal "table art" to garden shows, DAR conventions and other upscale gatherings along the Eastern Seaboard.
   What accoutrements might be fitting adornments for the 2,400 sq. ft. building along Route 117 that serves as his fascinating workshop, warehouse and merchandising headquarters?  


   This summer, from all appearances, he appears to have found the answer: A cadre of 11 talented artists -- including painters, photographers, woodworkers and stained glass artisans -- who have assembled key elements from their formidable collections under one roof.  

    The result -- an explosion of color and steadily growing stream of prospective customers interested not only in objets d'art but also in Mitchell's unique assortment of tablecloths (in oval, square, round, and rectangular shapes) plus distinctly designed dishtowels, placemats and napkins. It's proof that good ideas often come in bunches, and La Cigale is starting to draw crowds.




On a slow news day in Mt. Gretna. . .

Our reporter digs deep to come up with a story


The upside down mystery of a lane that never got named.  

   Waste not, want not, a homily rooted deep in American traditions, remains alive and well in Timber Hills.     

   It also helps explain why an upside down sign intended for a street that never got named wound up in a storm drain at the corner of Oak Road and Lakeview Drive.

     Stay with us now as this tale unfolds: 

    Hanna Fouché, the gifted young Timber Lane writer who published her first book at age 15 and was the subject of a story in our May 2012 issue, discovered the sign and wondered how it got here. Her Mom, Jaunine Fouché, became curious too and sent us a note.

Sensing a story, we put our top investigative reporter (Winston, below) on the assignment.

    It turns out the sign should have gone up 15 years or so ago on an unpaved road that South Londonderry Twp. emergency planners wanted to identify. It was part of a project to assign names to all streets with two or more homes. Most of the unnamed roads were rural, many of them unpaved. The planners wanted short names to make the signs less vulnerable to high winds. "We realized that danger after installing a sign for North Thistledown Drive," says Scott Galbraith, the township's public works superintendent.  

    Scott says they had to come up with about 30 new names for the unmarked roads. Because street signs carry letters that are 6"-high, the choices were appropriately short --  names like Gold, Silver, Deer, Twisty and, of course, Flower.


Our investigative reporter, determined to get to the bottom of things


   But one of the primary residents on what would have been Flower Lane apparently didn't like that name, says Scott, who's unfamiliar with exact details since that was before he joined the staff.    


   So the lane, located near Eby Road, never did get a street sign. "I don't know for sure if the resident just didn't want a sign or truly didn't like any of the names we chose. We dropped the issue, and to this day that lane doesn't have a name," says Scott. 

    That's how the "Flower Lane" sign , unused and unwanted, found its way into a "someday-this-might-come-in-handy" stack.  And when crews had to add reinforcements to the storm water catch basin along Lakeview Drive a few years ago, the sign finally found a useful niche.   

      Our thanks to Hanna, a storyteller whose natural curiosity lit the spark . . . and to Winston, a natural-born news hound who helped us sniff out this tale. . . on a day when nothing much else was happening in Mt. Gretna.   





On quiet afternoons, a favorite spot for Becky.

Sprightly sayings of a spirited chef

       There's a quieter, almost contemplative, side to the perky proprietor of Mt. Gretna's most successful catering business.   

     Some may not realize it, but Becky Briody -- a part of the well-known family of Briodys that created and still run the popular Timbers Dinner Theatre -- is drawn to summer nights under open skies (when she pauses to catch a glimpse of the manned International Space Station), or to cycling along Chautauqua paths as the sun goes down, or to paddling a canoe on sleepy summer afternoons at the lake, where she sometimes captures picDescription: like the one at right.  

    But there's another Becky, one that proves an endless source of delight for both her customers and many friends on Facebook.   

   Some recent Facebook observations, which often as not appear to spring from out of nowhere and land straight in your heart, your head or your funnybone:   

  • "I already want to take a nap tomorrow."
  • "The problem with the world is there are too many stupid people."
  • "I got a black belt in crazy."
  • "Common sense is so rare it should be classified as a superpower."
  • "I see no good reason to act my age."
  • "Gardening, yoga, exercise, and meditation and I still want to smack someone."
  • "I'm nicer in person than I am in my head." 

   More on Facebook. Her random quips (some we dare not print) are positively guaranteed to reveal insights that are spontaneous, imaginative and thoughtful. Come to think of it, that's a pretty good description of The Chef-on-the-go herself.




Two "picture perfect" days 

A record-breaking art show

   Sunny skies, imaginative artwork and crowd-pleasing 82-degree temperatures helped attract 16,731 visitors -- 36% more than in 2011 -- to the 38th annual Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show last month. The surprisingly huge turnout -- fourth highest ever -- countered


Sunny skies, striking art and 36% bigger crowds.

Madelaine Gray photo

sagging attendance trends at sweltering outdoor arts exhibits across the country and also reversed a declining pattern seen here over the past several years.

   One result: Record  revenues of $109,898, shared by local non-profit groups that include the Mt. Gretna Fire Company, ambulance services, local municipalities and Mt. Gretna-based cultural and arts organizations.

   Among an estimated 1,500 Mt. Gretna residents who annually attend the show were over 200 volunteers who helped collect receipts at the gate, serve as temporary booth-sitters, whip up eggs strata dishes and clean trays at the always popular Men's Club breakfast, and answer questions for visitors who wanted to know everything from where are the restrooms to "do people really live in these cottages?"

   As always, the show served as Mt. Gretna's answer to Manhattan's Easter Parade -- a procession of fancy hats, vivid outfits and head-turning hairdos that underscored this annual assembly as an occasion for  creative expressions of all types.

   We dispatched our roving photographers to catch several Mt. Gretna notables as they made their way through the throng. Among local icons who made their appearance in this grand finale as the 2012 summer season neared its climax were. . .


    Organ recital series impresario Peter Hewitt (left), decked out proudly in a T-shirt that hints at his ancestral ties to the land of The Bard Himself. . . . Dale Dourte (center), the electrician known for a creative spark when it comes to figuring out knotty electrical problems, who emerges on art show weekend as a nimble-fingered, banjo-strumming bluegrass wizard. . . and Manhattan-to-Mt. Gretna commuter Elizabeth Hummer (right), whose artistic talents make a distinctive difference at Harper's Bazaar magazine and, in recent years, at the Mt. Gretna Art Show, where she's one of the judges. . .



   Ceylon Leitzel
(left), a sparkplug behind the popular Cicada Festival with wife Karen (an integral part of the festival's success and the family's thriving jewelry business). . . Paul Heise (center) former White House economist in the Jimmy Carter administration and now retired Lebanon Valley College professor . . .and Gretna Heights summer residents (right): Music at Gretna president Susan Hostetter with husband Drew, the chief accounting officer and executive VP at Susquehanna Bancshares, Inc. . . .


   Champion triathloner Pat Allwein (right in above photo) and husband Mike, among the many active Campmeeting residents who help make the art show hum as energetic volunteers. . . Joe Wentzel (center), one of Mt. Gretna's top realtors who loves to collect tickets at the main gate . . . and Chautauqua president and well-known area attorney John Feather (right) with wife Elaine, recently retired and former director of graduate studies and continuing education at Lebanon Valley College. . .


Description:     Chautauqua residents Barney and Cindy Myer (left), a couple who help organize the annual community-wide picnic and have served as art show volunteers for at least a couple of decades. . .realtor Brenda Henning (center), who's also on hand each year at the main gate to collect tickets, answer questions and welcome visitors with her trademarked big smile. . . and Timber Hills residents Bernie and Kathy Yohn (right), among the Thursday night regulars at the Timbers each week following church choir practice. Still busy with full-time jobs in Lancaster and Lebanon counties, they nevertheless love Mt. Gretna, and, obviously, each other.



Mayor, fire company president and Mr. Fixit


Record revenues of almost $110,000 for non-profits. 

   Finally, to make sure that everything goes smoothly are dozens of emergency folks who devote countless hours to keeping the community safe, especially during art show weekend when crowds reach their peak. Among them, fire company president Joe Shay, right, who is also the town mayor and Mr. Fixit for many of the computers in Mt. Gretna.
   Like the guys and gals who serve with him at the fire department, Joe's patience is endless, his devotion unmatched and his value to this community. . . well, priceless.



                   Evelyn Myrl Yocklovich (1927-2012)

Jack Lewis Yocklovich (1926-2012)

    A Mt. Gretna Heights couple whose life together included five children, 11 grandchildren and Description: great-grandchildren recently died within nine days of one another. Description: Yocklovich, who retired 23 years ago following a career in education, died July 29 at age 84. Her husband Jack, who served in both the European and Pacific theaters in World War II, died Aug.7 at age 85. 
   An active supporter of the Mt. Gretna Fire Hall, Yocklovich had retired from military duty in 1965 but continued to serve his country as an ordinance specialist at the Army's Aberdeen Md. Proving Grounds until his second retirement in 1987.
   Their children included four sons (two of whom, Steven and John, live in Mt. Gretna) and a daughter, Sheryl Mellor, who lives in the South Pacific. In addition to travels in their motor home, a dog named Roscoe and making breakfast for their grandkids, the couple enjoyed diverse pursuits that included the Audubon, National Geographic and Wildlife Conservation societies, the American Legion and the Rexmont Fire Company.  Full obituaries (
Evelyn and Jack) appear online.










Updates & Other Stuff to Post on The Fridge

    Description: (Two of 'em . . . and everybody in town's invited to both!) 
   First is the CLOSING COMMUNITY-WIDE POTLUCK PICNIC Saturday, Sept. 1 at the Hall of Philosophy, 4 pm. Bring a dish to share.
    Next comes the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church picnic immediately following a special 10 am worship service being held Sunday, Sept. 16 -- not at the church but at the Gretna Glen campground on Old Mine Road.  All are welcome. Please bring a dish to share.  Description:
    Bluegrass fans meet at the Governor Dick Park Nature Center  for a MUSIC ON THE PORCH session Sunday, Sept. 2 from 1 to 4 pm. If you're a musician, bring an instrument and play along; if not, bring a lawn chair to sit and enjoy the music.


    AUDUBON CELEBRATION GALA CONCERT, a final tribute to the Audubon Quartet (shown, left, in a 1977 photo) and its 35-year tradition of season-ending concerts at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse. Sunday, Sept. 2 at 7:30 pm.
Lancaster Newspapers writer Jane Holahan's retrospective, detailing  the group's long history with Gretna Music and its founder Carl Ellenberger appears




"INSECTS EVERYWHERE" a Nature Center program at Governor Dick Park, will help you look at these little creatures from an entirely new perspective.  Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 pm

    Planners promDescription: to answer that age-old question, "Can a Wooly Bears

really predict what winter will be like?"
   A Wooly Bear race is also on  tap, so bring your caterpillar for a well, er,  dash to the finish line. 

   WEBELO NATURALIST WORKSHOP planned at Governor Dick Park Saturday, Sept. 22, from 10 am to 1 pm. Space limited; registration and fee. Details 964-3808.

   Ever since they built the residential suburb of Timber Hills (on the former Army encampment grounds which historian Jack Bitner used to say "was Mt. Gretna seven years before the Chautauqua was even founded"), folks there have been looking for ways to make it a tighter-knit community. Thanks to an energetic core of active residents, that's exactly what's happening. Description: next big gathering -- a TIMBER HILLS GARDEN PARTY at the 231 Valley Road home of Pat and Dan Hottenstein -- comes up Saturday, Sept. 29. It's a bring-a-treat-to-share-and-beverage-of-your-choice affair, starting at 5 pm.
   What if it rains? "We'll simply move inside," says Pat. That makes RSVPs doubly important: 964-3423.
   If you live in Timber Hills and would like to get email notices of future get-togethers, drop a note to Patsy Oburn ( or Evelyn Koppel (

Description:    RAPE DEFENSE TRAINING emphasizing self-defense techniques available to women 14 to 65, starts Saturday, Sept. 22 in a special 12-hour Cornwall Police Department series. The 9 am to 2 pm sessions are held at Pollock Community Center on the Philhaven campus. Class size is limited. Contact Stephanie Burris , 274-2071.



Other newsletters of interest:

 Mt. Gretna Updates -- Issued as warranted to alert local residents to such matters as temporary road closings, utility repairs, shelter advisories for adverse weather and other conditions affecting people who live in the seven neighborhoods served by the Mt. Gretna post office. Send an e-mail request, with "LOCAL UPDATES" in subject line, to

This Week in Mt. Gretna -- Issued during summer months; a week-by-week listing of local events, sent by e-mail on request. To add your name to the mailing list, e-mail 

Mt. Gretna Arts Council Newsletter -- Now available only online (no mailed copies). Updated to include news concerning groups dedicated to the arts in Mt. Gretna, Calendar of Events, Summer Premier and Arts Council scholarships. Click here 

Gretna Music bulletins -- E-mailed updates on concert events, schedule changes and other news. See "Join Our Mailing List" at 

Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society Newsletter -- Online at 

Mt. Gretna Bible Festival Newsletter -- Mailed in the spring and fall without charge. Send request to Bible Festival, P.O. Box 408, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.

Governor Dick Park Newsletter -- Online and by e-mail. See 

Cornwall Police Department E-Mail Bulletins -- issued as warranted to update residents on events of community interest, including crime alerts. To add your name to the mailing list, e-mail request to 

South Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of primary interest to Mt. Gretnans in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge; online at 

Campmeeting Newsletter -- Available online and mailed to residents.

Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights residents. Address inquiries to Michelle Shay, 




This newsletter has neither any attachment to a particular group or organization nor any ax to grind. Mainly, it's a retirement avocation that produces no income but huge quantities of personal satisfaction because it keeps me in touch with people who have become good friends.  

I send it by e-mail to anyone who asks, without charge and no expectation other than a gentle prodding when I err, which, as I round the bend this month toward age 72, comes with increasing frequency.  

I don't even try to cover everything. Some topics are better left to daily newspapers, TV and others with far greater skills, resources and insights.

I do try to cover stuff that readers probably haven't already read elsewhere. Yet since the majority of newsletter readers live outside Mt. Gretna, I occasionally summarize local newspaper stories. I also count on readers to alert me to news -- obituaries especially -- about Mt. Gretnans, both past and present. I'd appreciate it if you could keep that in mind when you hear about folks who have died, especially in distant places.  

In preparing these newsletters, I sometimes think about the late Harry Kalas, who before every game reminded himself that his Phillies broadcast listeners had invited him into their homes. I also keep a coin in my pocket that reminds me of Rotary International's Four-Way Test of the Things We Think, Say or Do: "Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?" I find it a good guideline not just for writing a newsletter but also for living a life. But some days I mess up. 

I've written this newsletter since January 2001, usually once a month unless I'm traveling, recuperating or attending to household duties that take higher priority. In truth, however, nothing quite satisfies me as much as this, so I try to keep it going. I'm grateful to those who take the time to read it.   

I'm especially grateful to the many people who help me gather the news, take the photos, and edit, fact-check and proofread this newsletter. They include people with special skills and knowledge of Mt. Gretna who preview this letter each month to offer comments that will help clarify tangled sentences, minimize grammatical errors and avert other goofy mistakes. Also people who stop me on my walks about town to tell me about something they've seen or heard that's amusing, insightful or instructive. Sometimes a hour walk around the lake to the post office and back takes two hours. I like that. So does Winston, though he gets antsy if I stop to talk too long in one place.   

I'm also delighted when people send their photos. Most are surprisingly good and nearly always contain the essence of a tale that bears looking into. We have lots of superb photographers here in town, which, come to think of it for a place filled with creative people, isn't all that surprising.

Thanks to Keith Volker and our friends at Gretna Computers, you can always find back issues of this newsletter on the Web ( That online archive, I've heard, often proves helpful to people planning to move here who want to know about what goes on in, as the late Marlin Seiders once observed, "not a place, but a spirit."


Kindest regards,


Roger Groce 


P.S. I use Constant Contact to help keep up with the 2,000 or so people around the world who enjoy reading about Mt. Gretna in this newsletter. Please add to your email address book. That will keep automated spam filters from blocking this letter to your mailbox. You should also be careful about forwarding copies. Sometimes, those to whom you forward the newsletter will hit the "unsubscribe" button. If they do that on the copy I sent to you, then your address will be removed permanently from the mailing list. It takes a devil of a time to get your deliveries reinstated. One of the joys of the computer age.    


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