Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Mt. Gretna, Pa.
"Not a place, but a spirit." Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)
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, 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
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
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.
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
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."
who see things through the eyes of artists have a lot to give to the rest
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.
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
storm, new neighbor Ed saws one of the four or five trees felled in
Mt. Gretna by Hurricane Sandy.
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.
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?"
Roberts, who usually at this time of year could be counted upon to
lead the Halloween parade band, is now 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
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.
Her newest exhibit draws its
inspirations from a construction
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
It's not only successful, but downright
essential. Without it, summers at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse would be
very quiet indeed.
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
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.
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 county
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.
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The biggest Halloween Parade ever -- all 7-1/2 minutes of
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.
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
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
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.
& Stuff to
Jane Mourer of the Campmeeting
a spooky spider
web atop the
She sent us this
photo, just in
Carol singing at
tree lighting, Dec
with hot mulled
THURSDAY, NOV. 1
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, NOV. 2
Friday Art Walk: The Gallery at La Cigale on
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
good bonfire without stories to tell?
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.
SATURDAY, NOV. 3
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.
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, NOV. 3-4
14th Annual Lebanon Valley Art Studio
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 Cigale: Mary 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.
SUNDAY, NOV. 4
Fire Company Breakfast:
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.
TUESDAY, NOV. 6
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.
SATURDAY, NOV. 10
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
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.
top cooks compete for your vote.
Soup Cookoff at the fire hall, noon to 2 pm.
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).
THURSDAY, NOV. 29
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 online.
SATURDAY, DEC. 1
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.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 5
See the show. . . or shop 'til you drop. A
do-as-you-please day in New York City to benefit the Mt. Gretna Fire
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
however: When we checked last week, the bus was already over half full.
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