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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 134                                                                                                       November 2012

On the sunny afternoon of October 16, before heavy rains came to knock most of them down, the leaves of Mt. Gretna slowly ascended to their peak. At almost that precise moment, Mine Road resident Elaine Hartman came by to take another photo in the picture-a-day project she's pursued over the past year. Among her goals is not only to sharpen
her skills in photography but also to see everyday sights in new and interesting ways. In this shimmering photograph, she encapsulated a season that many Mt. Gretnans consider the most beautiful of all.


Grace notes. . . and the gifts of artists         


  Just about every year when fall comes along, somebody suggests taking a long Sunday drive somewhere to look at the leaves. Whenever that happens, I think of Grace Garrett.

    Grace, all 90 lbs. of her, lived up on Lebanon Avenue in the Chautauqua, worked at Le Sorelle Porch and Pantry into her late 80s and had that remarkable ability to add up your check at the restaurant in her head. She died three years ago at age 94. 

     Grace didn't need a cash register. She belonged to a different generation. People in those days were good at adding and subtracting. Not like most of us today. In one dramatic "use it or lose it" technological sweep, electronic calculators wiped out a whole part of the human brain. Half of us now can't add up scorecards on the golf course. 

     Grace didn't need long Sunday drives either. She rarely went anywhere. "Where could I go that I'd

Chautauqua Park, Oct. 11, 2012

like better than Mt. Gretna?" she asked. 

     Maybe Grace had a point.  

     Two of our Lancaster friends came up to see us late one recent afternoon. They drove along Pinch Road, up from Route 72 and over the mountain. By the time they arrived, they were ecstatic. "We've never seen such beautiful trees," they said. They're both world travelers. If they think the trees in Mt. Gretna are as beautiful as any they've ever seen anywhere, that's good enough for me. Long drives to look at leaves in other places will probably remain a low priority.       

     Several days later, Elaine Hartman sent a nice note with a picture attached. She and her husband are former Campmeeting residents who moved to an even more wooded spot nearby on Mine Road 25 years ago. But Elaine still likes to come back into the heart of Mt. Gretna every now and then to walk her dog.   

     Elaine's picture appears at the top of this month's letter. For the past year, she's had a goal to take at least one photograph every day to sharpen her perception of lighting, color and composition. Another goal is to show "how interesting and beautiful ordinary things are when you take time to notice." You can see her entire portfolio here. A friend who looked over Elaine's collection recently told her, "I sometimes think you must live on a different planet." 

     People who see things through the eyes of artists have a lot to give to the rest of us. 

     Eva Bender, one of the first artists to exhibit in the Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show 38 years ago, was out by the lake with her water colors again the other day. She said that her newspaper column, "Evastina's USA," written for a newspaper in her native Sweden for over 30 years, helps her to paint pictures.

Sunday drive by the lake, Oct. 21, 2012

   "Coming up with each new column forces you to see things differently," she said. That's probably true. Writing, photography, performing music and painting all seem to have something in common: they force new ways of seeing.   

     Another Mt. Gretna artist, Lou Schellenberg, just opened a new exhibit in Lancaster (see "Sightings," this issue). Most people here are probably familiar with Lou's paintings of "backyards, the spaces in-between houses and the boundaries people create around their homes," as she describes in her artist's statement.  Yet her newest works draw inspiration from a construction project that took place near her cottage in the Campmeeting. Amid a jumble of tools and trucks and men at work she found a beauty that often goes unnoticed. Artists can open eyes and lift souls.  


  All of this, late on a lingering fall day in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, comes as a reminder: Because we live in Mt. Gretna -- a setting that with all its natural beauty attracts artists, musicians, writers, craftsmen and others with gifts to give -- we have around us everything that we truly need. 

      Grace, it turns out, was probably right. 


   Whew! Only a glancing blow to Mt. Gretna as menacing Hurricane Sandy unleashed its turmoil upon the East Coast.
   Cleona native Ed Neidigh (left),

After the storm, new neighbor Ed saws one of the four or five trees felled in Mt. Gretna by Hurricane Sandy.

who retired recently after 35 years as a political science and economics teacher in Chester County, sawed up a 60-ft. tree at the Campmeeting home he moved into last July. It was one of three or four in Mt. Gretna felled by the storm.
   Mt. Gretna volunteer firefighters, who remained at Station 38 all night as the storm passed, responded to only five calls for help. Hit most seriously was an area of Timber Hills that lost power for several days. All other sections of the community escaped with only momentary interruptions to electrical power. A tribute, perhaps, to Met-Ed's equipment upgrades and selective tree trimming operations here in recent years.
   While other areas of the country suffered devastating blows, Mt. Gretnans echoed the gratitude of fire company president Joe Shay: "We lucked out."                                   (
Jane Mourer photo)

   Farthest marcher in this year's Halloween Parade? It was Gumby, a.k.a. Cindy Sheaffer.

She came from Tuscon, AZ, to march in Mt. Gretna's Halloween parade.

A nurse practitioner with the neurosurgery department at the VA Hospital in Tucson for past 15 years, Cindy spent summers as a youngster at her grandparents' 1909 cottage near the Tabernacle. She returns twice each year for what she calls "my semiannual Mt. Gretna fix."

    No, this wasn't her first Mt. Gretna Halloween parade. "It's a hoot. I love it," she says. "It brings back such wonderful memories: the lake, roller rink and that little stand where they had sandwiches, 10-cent pony rides and arcades."  

    She and brother Bruce Sheaffer both now have cottages in the Campmeeting, and they have a sister, Lisa, who lives in Hershey. Cindy plans to retire here. "In five years and 11 months," she laughs, "but who's counting?"


   Nicole Roberts, who usually at this time of year could be counted upon to lead the Halloween parade band, is a first year student at Berklee College of Music in Boston. A Music Business major, Nicole is also a DJ who goes by the name of D.J. Cloves at The Birn, Berklee's student radio station. Catch her show, "Saturday Morning Grooves," over the Internet Saturdays from 8 am to 10 am via the online link
   Nicole, of course, is part of the Timbers Dinner Theatre dynasty, the daughter of Andy and Tap Roberts. Her late grandfather John, who once ran the Mt. Gretna Playhouse, also owned the Hideaway until the late 1950s. He bought the Timbers in 1960. So her family has been part of the Mt. Gretna scene for more than half a century: Grandmother Joanne (known to most as "Josie"), aunts Rachel and Becky and uncle Bart, who also runs the Maple Street Cafe in Lebanon. Her dad, who teaches jazz studies at Lebanon Valley College and is music director at both the Timbers and the American Music Theater in Lancaster, is also a Berklee alum.

   A new Lou Schellenberg? Not exactly, but fans of the noted Mt. Gretna painter who divides her time between a cottage in the Campmeeting and summers in Nova Scotia will be delightfully surprised to discover her latest paintings,
now on display at the Lancaster Arts Hotel. 

newest exhibit draws its inspirations from a construction

"Bright, busy, fresh perspectives on the chaos we call life," notes Lynden Gallery proprietor Lisa HB Clemens.

project near her Campmeeting cottage: "The men working, their equipment, tools, trucks and raw materials of the project became a part of my daily routine," she says. "Each day brought a new phase of activity determined by what needed to be removed or added to the house -- earth, cement, cinder blocks, rock, gravel, a cement hose. The yard became a cluttered varied terrain of new shapes -- a new landscape."

    An associate professor of art at Elizabethtown College, Lou explains her fascination with backyards and the boundaries people create around their homes in an artist's statement: "Painting my immediate surroundings over and over from all different vantage points, I form a collected experience of a particular spot." That inspiration is manifest in this evocative exhibit which runs through Jan. 12.

   Kim Miller Gardner (inset below, right), who lived in Mt. Gretna 51 years before she moved to St. Paul, MN a few years ago, was back in town last month. She and husband Bob stopped by on one of their faithful

He came from St. Paul looking for books and took home a bride.

treks to the Antique Auto Show in Hershey, where they displayed this eye-catching 1928 Gardner Model 85 sport roadster.

   Antique cars are Bob's passion, which led him to Kim a few years after the unexpected death of husband, Rodney S. Miller, one of the area's best-loved music teachers and a co-producer at the Timbers Dinner Theatre.  

   Working as a librarian at the Antique Auto Club in Hershey, Kim helped Bob delve into obscure facts about early cars. It wasn't long before he began asking to take out not only books but also the librarian herself. A short while later, he asked for her hand in marriage.   

Idea to help

Mt. Gretna area resident Bea Brown (right), who often comes down the hill from her Mine Road home with husband Bob to attend events that support the Mt. Gretna fire company, is a 2013 winner of the prestigious Jefferson Public Service Award, the Lebanon Daily News reported.   

    Bea launched a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in Lebanon County to help lower-income families. Her award will be presented in ceremonies at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey hotel Nov. 5.  


   Time was when fun-loving Mt. Gretnans, dressed up in Halloween costumes, headed for the Community Building (also known as the Hall of Philosophy) every year after the Halloween

Kathy can't wait


    Now, it seems they just can't wait for Halloween to begin. That may explain why the Lebanon Humane Society now holds its biggest fundraiser of the year in mid-October at The Timbers, where residents from Mt. Gretna -- one of the smallest communities in Lebanon County -- dominate the crowd.

Susie casts a spell


  Peggy Seibert, who helps organize the affair, estimates that half of the 140 attendees at the BowWow Meow Ball Oct. 20 were from Mt. Gretna. That's one of the biggest turnouts in the past four or five years. It raised $15,000 for the animal shelter, thanks to people like Peggy, La Cigale artist Susie Afflerbach (right), Timber Hills resident Kathy Yohn (above left) and many others who took part.   

    True, the Lebanon Humane Society could probably hold this event anywhere. In fact, when it  started 10 or 15 years ago, it was a black tie affair at a country club and 50 or so people came, some in limousines. "But they didn't appear to have a lot of fun," says Peggy -- who sells real estate, lives on Valley Road and is also a fire company volunteer. "When we switched to a Halloween party in Mt. Gretna, more people started coming. All ages, ages 25 to 75, mostly from Mt. Gretna," she says. "I think Mt. Gretnans just love to dress up, dance and have fun."    


Kendra Feather, featured in "The Girl From Ipanema" in the Richmond, Va. Style Weekly website. "She may not be a chef, but she knows what she likes -- "which happens to be

What Richmond loves

what Richmond loves," says a commentary in the popular online bulletin.  

Kendra's the daughter of Conewago Hill residents Joe and Laura Feather. She now runs three of Richmond's most popular restaurants, including one that just celebrated its 14th anniversary. This month, she'll open her fourth venture, what she calls The WPA bakery. WPA? It's a Well-Made Pastry Alliance, she explains.


   Good friends in a canoe. Old Mine Road residents Lamar and Betsy Stutzman were out the other day with Mt. Gretna resident Sharon Solie, one of the fire company's active volunteers. On such a beautiful day, thought Betsy, why not take Sharon for a ride on the lake?  

      Lamar, a pharmacist, grabbed his canoe paddle and Betsy, a watercolor artist, grabbed her camera. Before long, they were creating this scene, replicated dozens of times every fall in Mt. Gretna.

On a sunny afternoon in the fall, nothing's better.

   "Sharon and I share common interests, including art," says Betsy. "We go on art-related bus trips together, paint together, have a good time and share a lot of laughs."  

    Adds Betsy, whose studio, "The Painting Place" is near Sharon's Campmeeting cottage, "my art journey continues, and I've met a lot of nice people along the way."   



Dressed to the nines, Mt. Gretnans support their Theatre   

Oh, what a gala!

At the Hotel Hershey last month, a surprising number of Mt. Gretnans turned out for the annual Gretna Theatre Gala. The fundraising event tops all others in the local theater's multiple strategies for raising money to offset costs that cannot be recovered through ticket sales. The gala helps guarantee a future for drama and musicals at the Playhouse..


   Well, yes, there's probably a secret to what makes dressy fundraisers so wildly successful: Deeply implanted inside the psyche of every little girl destined to someday become a big girl, we suspect, is an unquenchable desire to every now and then play 'dress up.'

     That, in a more or less scientific nutshell, may explain the buoyant success of Gretna Theatre's annual gala, an event that's open to everyone and has just completed its 28th successful year.

     It's not only successful, but downright essential. Without it, summers at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse would be very quiet indeed. 

    Every year the Gala brings somewhere in the neighborhood of $80,000 to $100,000 -- pure  lifeblood to Gretna Productions, which staves off what might otherwise be certain financial disaster.    

     Summer theaters, some may not realize -- even in towns like Mt. Gretna, where straw hat productions are an 85-year tradition -- are a hand-to-mouth endeavor, teetering almost every year on the cliff of a financial abyss. That $97,000 production of "Meet Me in St. Louis" last summer, for example? After the bills were paid, it netted a profit of just $500. And one of the Theatre's six shows last season, "Little Women," actually lost money. Most of the others struggled to cover their costs, which is why so much depends on the Gala's financial success.    

      Out of the more than 220 attendees, about two dozen or more were bona fide Mt. Gretnans. That's a pretty good percentage. Normally, Mt. Gretnans constitute only about 5% of the crowds who gather at the lake, the Jigger Shop, Timbers, Hideaway or Le Sorelle. Nobody knows why, exactly. Mt. Gretnans love Mt. Gretna, yet they welcome others to share their unique community.

   Talk about elegance -- that quality stood out at this gathering for one memorable night. At left, long-time Mt. Gretna resident Rosemary Milgate (left), who retired a few years ago as a high school English teacher and recently returned from a 'round-the-world cruise.

   Above, center, Chautauquan and Gretna Theatre's devoted mentor Dr. David Bronstein presents the coveted Coghlan Award posthumously to the widow and daughter of ASK Foods founder Robert DiMatteo, a major contributor to Gretna Theatre over past decades. 

   At right, Becky and Earl Lenington, Chautauquans who also contributed two of Earl's distinctive photographs to the silent auction. Becky heads the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association; husband Earl, a director of Gretna Theatre, recently retired as an executive of the Applebee's restaurant chain in Central Pennsylvania.

    Also in attendance, from left to right: Gretna Theatre President Tom Dunlevy and wife Janice, who own a cottage in the Campmeeting; Chautauqua President John Feather, an attorney, and wife Elaine, who recently retired as director of graduate studies and continuing education at Lebanon Valley College; Timber Bridge residents Larry Phillips, now retired from professional life, with wife Julia, a former model who now keeps busy with family life and a real estate career.

Above, from left to right: Chautauqua residents including Central Pennsylvania contractor Terry Miller and wife Shirley; college professor and registered nurse Julia Bucher with husband William Barlow, an architect; and Chancellor of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua Nancy Besch, former commissioner and current member of the Theatre's board of directors who has been coming to the family's Mt. Gretna cottage every summer since she was an infant.  

   At left, former Blackhawk helicopter pilot and trainer Bob Oburn and wife Patsy, who have been among those active in promoting community events to help Timber Hills residents get to know one another better.    


   Also enjoying the occasion, above from left to right: Village Lane residents Karen and Ceylon Leitzel, operators of Leitzel's Jewelry in Myerstown; Peggy McGuire, who lives in the Campmeeting and is a senior research associate and training specialist at University of Tennessee Center for Literacy; Timber Bridge resident Joyce Ebright, a Playhouse benefactor, with neighbor Robert McCullough, a retired pharmaceutical industry executive.

    And the approximately 10% of gala participants who were, in fact, full- or part-time Mt. Gretnans? That doesn't even include those who donated crafts, photographs and paintings to help this event meet its financial goals. Among them were Madelaine Gray, Geri Benseman, Eleanor Sarabia, Barb and Glen Acker, Tom and Carol Mayer, Fred Swarr, Larry Roush, Jessica Kosoff, Max Hunsicker, Pearle Parsells, Penny and Jerry Flury, Mary Kopalla and David Adams. Also contributing items for the auction were La Cigale, Le Sorelle, Gretna Music, Mt. Gretna Lake and Beach, Mt. Gretna Inn, Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show and the Timbers Restaurant and Dinner Theatre. 





<> We love your newsletter, but we cannot get the pictures. What do we have to do? Any suggestions?

[] Sure, just look for the little note above The Mt. Gretna Newsletter's green masthead, which asks, "Have trouble reading this email? Click here"
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The biggest Halloween Parade ever -- all 7-1/2 minutes of it    As 300 or so marchers (above) assembled outside the Jigger Shop last week, 30 or so spectators (left) waited patiently alongside Rte. 117 for the parade to begin.

   That preserves the traditional spectators-to-participants ratio for Mt. Gretna Halloween parades -- regarded as one of the best (if also smallest) Halloween observances in the whole USA.

   Well, the head gear may be slightly askew and the tooth brush a little frazzled, but that didn't stop these guys from having fun, especially with pretty girls wherever they looked.

   The place was abuzz with excitement and anticipation. . . even thought the fairy queen and gladiator (above, left) seem to be asking, "Just when does this parade get started?" Yet some, like the little girl (center) needed to be comforted from pre-parade jitters by a loving touch. Perhaps she could take solace from the neighboring tooth fairy (right). With a smile like that, there's just nothing to be afraid of.

TRICK OR TREAT ALERT: Several area communities yesterday postponed Trick or Treat night until this evening (Thursday, Nov. 1) from 6 to 8 pm. They include Mt. Gretna Borough (Chautauqua), West Cornwall Township (which includes the Heights, Campmeeting and Stoberdale and the Butler and Mine road areas) as well as South Londonderry Township (including Timber Hills, Timber Bridge and Conewago Hill).


   Below, more photos from area photographers that capture the thrills, fun and excitement of Mt. Gretna's Halloween celebration. With more children appearing in this parade every year -- perhaps four or five times more than ride the school buses here -- the parade's fame appears to be spreading.

   No wonder, especially with rewards like those free hot dogs at the fire hall when the long march is over. The Mt. Gretna Halloween Parade: one of Mt. Gretna's finest moments . . . all year long.




Updates & Stuff to 

Post on

The Fridge    




















Storyteller, creative

photographer and  

always intriguing  

Jane Mourer of the Campmeeting  


a spooky spider

web atop the

Tabernacle last  


She sent us this  

photo, just in

time for

















Carol singing at the

annual Christmas  

tree lighting, Dec 1  

with hot mulled  



Trick or Treat night: Now rescheduled from Oct. 31 to tonight for area communities including Mt. Gretna Borough and both West Cornwall and South Londonderry townships. 6 to 8 pm.


Friday Art Walk:
The Gallery at La Cigale on

Stained glass, by Luise Christensen-Howell, one of 11 artists at the gallery.   

Route 117 in Mt. Gretna joins the Lebanon Valley's First Friday Art Walk, Nov. 2 (and also Friday, Dec. 7). Eleven participating artists there during the gallery's extended hours (until 8 pm) with refreshments, answers to questions and help for patrons eager to get a jump on Christmas shopping.

What's a good bonfire without stories to tell? 


Nighttime  hike.  

 Nocturne: at Governor Dick Park, Nov. 2. Hike to the tower, enjoy storytelling around the bonfire (with stories both real and imagined) and refreshments.  Starts at 7 pm at the Nature Center, off Pinch Road. Bring flashlights and lawn chairs. Fee required. Tel. 964-3808.


Concert: Organist Chelsea Chen and violinist Lewis Wong, who first played together in Mt. Gretna's 2010 summer series (including a Hewitt-McAnney residence recital), are now making a name for themselves internationally. They return Nov. 3 for a Harmonia Music Association scholarship fundraising concert at
First United Methodist Church of Hershey, starting at 2:30 pm.

   Their diverse program will include Ms. Chen's Emmanuel Suite for Violin and Organ, Japanese melodies and Taiwanese folksongs, Texas fiddle music and Scott Joplin's Ragtime Suite. Tickets: $15 adults, seniors $12, students $5.


14th Annual
Lebanon Valley Art Studio Tour, featuring the works of 29 artists including nine in Mt. Gretna: Elizabeth Stutzman and Fred Swarr at their private studios and, at the Gallery of La CigaleMary Kopala, David Adams, Madelaine Gray, Susan Afflerbach Ruthann Santry, Doris Jean Silva and Carol Snyder. Long-time Mt Gretna resident Barb Fishman will also open her new private studio at Alden Place.


Fire Company Breakfast:

Volunteers such as Laura Feather help assure that Darlene Eckert and others find good food aplenty.

  8 am to noon. Known as the best breakfast bargain in town. But count on those who come to stuff generous donations of $10, $20 or $50 or more in a firefighter's boot at the entrance door.


What do they get in return? Far more than scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, chipped beef and hash browns: It's a chance to catch up on the news and share breakfast with just about everybody in Mt. Gretna. . . plus opportunities to find unique hand-made Christmas gifts by counted cross-stitch artisans Kathy Kercher and Sharon Solie. . . and leave with the satisfied feeling you've helped put another dent in the firefighters' $400,000 goal to pay for that fire hall expansion.



Winterites, 1 pm at the fire hall. Retired dentist Dean Rust describes his hobby: monitoring 308 bluebird boxes in 15 locations throughout three counties. "You watch these docile birds raise their family, and it's mesmerizing," he says. All welcome. Details: Donna Kaplan, 964-2174.



Vendor Open House 11 am to 4 pm at the fire hall. Now repeating for the third time, this event brings exhibitors including Tastefully Simple, Motives Cosmetics, Pampered Chef, Silpada Jewelry and maybe more. Their $20 exhibitor fees, plus donated items in a raffle, last July helped add $800 to the firefighters funds. Plus there's a sub sale, along with soup, hot dogs and refreshments.   


Music at Gretna Concert: Anne-Marie McDermott performs Bach's Goldberg Variations at Elizabethtown College, 7:30 pm. Pre-concert dinner reservations needed by Nov. 12. Call 717-361-1508 or
order online.

Mt. Gretna's top cooks compete for your vote. 

Soup Cookoff at the fire hall, noon to 2 pm.

Insider tips: Lip- smacking soups from some of the area's best cooks. Amazing varieties, each with distinctive names created by the cooks themselves. Plenty of tastings -- enough to fill you up on a crisp fall afternoon, so come expecting to make this your lunch. . . all for a $10 donation that benefits Mt. Gretna firefighters.

There's no entry fee for cooks. Just tell Cookoff CEO Thatcher Bornman you'd like to pre-register and enter this event (964-1851).  


Holiday Concert: Riverdance star Eileen Ivers presents "An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas" with Celtic music in a Music at Gretna program at Elizabethtown College, Leffler Performance Center at 7:30 pm. Tickets: 361-1508 or order


15th Annual Community Christmas tree lighting, 5:30 pm. Carol singing, hot mulled cider and organ music at the home of Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney, opposite the post office. No admission charge; please bring a holiday treat to share.


See the show. . . or shop 'til you drop. A do-as-you-please day in New York City to benefit the Mt. Gretna Fire Company. 

Rockettes Bus Trip to New York City. Tickets still available (to benefit the Mt. Gretna firefighters): 
   Show and bus: $115, or $50 if you skip the 5 pm show. Call Rhoda Long 717-304-0248, or email 

Better hurry, however: When we checked last week, the bus was already over half full.



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