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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 135                                                                                                          December 2012

A Mt. Gretna that those who come only in summer never see.

   Scenes on a late afternoon in November by photographer Madelaine Gray, amid sounds that the crowds of never hear. . .  the quiet of an empty Tabernacle, the rustle of leaves along the path to the Jigger Shop, the utter stillness of a setting that thrives on the energies of both its residents and its natural surroundings.

   It is a place like none other, a touchstone of solitude in a busy world. A place where, if you stop to take it all in, the soul is restored.  


    Is there any question why so many love it? None have summed it up better than the late Marlin Seiders, a former Navy chaplain who said, "Mt. Gretna's not a place, but a spirit."

    To all our readers around the globe, our very best wishes for a joyous holiday season, from the many folks who have helped put this newsletter together in 2012:

   Sarah Ellis, Keith Volker, Donna Kaplan, Vanessa Groce, Madelaine Gray, Joe Shay, Susie Afflerbach, Debbie Clemens, Dave Adams, Kim Miller Gardner, Evelyn Koppel, Fred Schaeffer, Dina Keller, Nancy Besch, Kerry Royer, Debby Erb, Bill Shoals, Laura Feather, Tom Mayer, Nan McKay, Tap Roberts, Judy Bojko, Anna McDonald, Lois Herr,
Patty Reichenbach, Earl Lenington, Jane Mourer, Thatcher Bornman, Elaine Hartman, Bill Care, Carol Groce, Kathy Snavely, Pastor Mike Remel, Chuck and Charlotte Allwein, Pat Allwein, Chief Bruce Harris, Stephanie Burris, Diana Lynn Orley, Jennifer Veser Besse, Fred Buch, John Hambright, Rhoda Long, Tom Miller, Ron and Karrie Hontz, Carl Ellenberger, Betsy Stutzman, Peter Hewitt, Max Hunsicker, Jessica Kosoff, Merv Lentz, Jeff and Deborah Hurst, Rose Bair, Karen Lynch, Nancy Rogers, Peggy O'Neil, Kent and Mary Jane Fox, Carl Kane, Tom Meredith, Peggy McGuire, Jean Healy, Phil Schneider, Cindy and Barney Myer, Joe Wentzel, Emi Snavely, Marla Pitt, Joe Foltz, John Feather, Patsy Oburn, Steve Strickler, Susan Wood, Amy Wolfe, Glenn Yanos, Scott and Jane Zellers, Karl Gettle, Barb Kleinfelter, Bruce Gettle, Sid Hostetter, Renee Krizan, Dorothy Gray, Joey Wise, Ben Wylie, Peggy Seibert and Roger Groce.  


In the Chautauqua tradition

A new idea that could launch  school for artists in Mt. Gretna 


   If all goes well, a nascent idea for an art school with the potential to rekindle century-old Chautauqua traditions and perhaps open the way for an infusion of fresh new talent into Mt. Gretna's future may emerge here next summer.


   What Jay Noble, 36, hopes to create is a school where perhaps 18 to 20 top undergraduate and graduate art students -- under the guidance of nationally known and respected instructors -- could immerse themselves in specialized art studies, professional discussions and Mt. Gretna community life for six weeks every summer.

Jay Noble: High hopes for a Mt. Gretna School of Art in 2013

     It's an idea inspired by the New York Chautauqua, which Noble himself once attended and where he later became an instructor. He has since gone on to teach at colleges and art schools elsewhere, including York and Lancaster, where he now is an instructor and lecturer at

York College of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design.

     For this idea, he has the support of a key mentor -- Don Kimes, who for the past 27 years has headed the School of Art at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State, where the Chautauqua movement itself was founded.

    His proposal is quickly gaining momentum among key supporters in Mt. Gretna, including two residents who have become board members of the new school: Lou Schellenberg, artist and faculty member at
Elizabethtown College and Jennifer Veser Besse, an adjunct professor of philosophy at Elizabethtown College and Millersville University


    He has also briefed the Pennsylvania Chautauqua Board of Managers on his plans and is working with Kathy Snavely to integrate the school's lecture series into the Chautauqua's 2013 Summer Programs. He says that he has also received helpful guidance from Mt. Gretna artist Barb Kleinfelter and Chautauqua president and attorney John Feather.

    Noble says the initial fundraising goal will be $100,000, a target he hopes to hit in large part through individual and corporate gifts of $10 (fans), $100 (backers), $500 (advocates), $1,000 (benefactors) or $5,000 or more (major benefactors). He hopes to use those funds to help attract top-quality students, including those who may not have funds for a tuition that he intends to keep to minimal levels.

   According to its website,, the school was "formed as a non-profit and is seeking 501(c)3 status." The site says that donations to the Mt. Gretna School of Art are currently tax deductible through the Philanthropic Endeavors Foundation, Inc., a York, Pa.-based fiscal sponsor.

          Noble also foresees "sweat equity'" opportunities for students who will pitch in with help in cooking, cleaning and set-up chores throughout their studies here.


          As for faculty members, Noble thinks he can attract "headliner" teachers -- people with names and reputations that will encourage art teachers at colleges and universities throughout the country to send their top students to immerse themselves in intensive studies. Among the key subject areas will be landscape painting and figure drawing studies. Noble thinks there's a possibility that Don Kimes, who created the Chautauqua arts program a quarter century ago, may be able to arrange his schedule to allow time for a welcome lecture here next year.

         Noble says the Pennsylvania Chautauqua has agreed to host the school's lecture series, which will be free to the public, at the Hall of Philosophy. Students will live in rental cottages here, part of a plan to integrate students into the community.


          Although he has been teaching only about a decade, Noble's experience includes undergraduate studies at Anderson University in Anderson, IN and a master of fine arts degree from American University in Washington, DC. He moved to the Lancaster area about six years ago to begin teaching at York and the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. He formerly taught at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., Western Carolina University and the Chautauqua School of Art in New York. He was also lead painting instructor at the Putney School Summer Programs in Vermont.

    What is the potential for a program such as this? It's hard to say, and Noble is cautious as he takes the first tentative steps to get this idea rolling. He wants to test the model here in a first-year program that will be primarily for students already enrolled in undergraduate or graduate art programs elsewhere. He believes that the idea may also appeal to a few adult artists, including public school teachers wishing to further their professional careers. He adds that classes and workshops at all skill levels will be offered to area residents.


    As an economic stimulant in communities where they now flourish, arts schools

Getting to know Mt. Gretna: Jay and wife Heidi and son Henry, at last month's fire company breakfast.

started elsewhere have sometimes had dramatic impact. The Savannah, Ga. College of Art and Design, begun in 1979 with 71 students, now has transformed that city into a thriving arts and commercial center with more than 4,000 students. A New York Times article a few years ago credited SCAD with transforming a dying city of abandoned brownstones into an oasis for artists, thriving galleries, restaurants and hotels.

   Lancaster's Pennsylvania College of Art & Design emerged from the collapse of the York, Pa. Art Academy into what became the Pennsylvania School of Art in Marietta, Pa. 30 years ago. The PCA&D now has 400 students and has helped lead an arts, education and economic renaissance in downtown Lancaster.


    Although Noble's plans for the Mt. Gretna school aren't aimed at such lofty goals anytime soon, many who support the proposal hope it could spark yet another initiative to help Mt. Gretna further the traditions of a Chautauqua spirit that began here 120 years ago.





    The answer to e chocoholic's prayer? Could be in a new book co-authored by Campmeeting resident and Hershey Foods analytical chemist Jeffrey Hurst (inset).
     Chocolate as Medicine takes a serious look at the long march throughout history to assess chocolate's potential medical benefits. Starting in the Mesoamerican era, many have claimed beneficial effects for everything from alleviating fatigue to treating snake bites. Hurst and co-author Philip Wilson delve into the remarkable claims made for a treat that nearly everyone on the planet dearly loves.    Published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the book is available through and other book sellers.
     Yes, he's a serious scientist. And yes, he's had a long and distinguished career. But if Dr. Hurst is unaccustomed to the sounds of "hip, hip hooray" in his laboratory, it's likely that cheers from Mt. Gretna's chocolate lovers will now greet him at the post office whenever he strolls down to pick up his mail.


    Eva Bender (inset), a the first artists to exhibit at Mt. Gretna's Art Show 38 years ago, now getting ready for her new show at The Gallery at Lebanon Picture Frame & Fine Art above the Lebanon Farmers Market.
   Eva's approach -- a simple pencil sketch to which she applies generous amounts of water and color to allow her paints to bleed deep into the paper -- invites "accidents and surprises," she says. "I enjoy the lack of control in working this way."

Art clarifies, some-
times saves, lives..

   Although perhaps best known for her scenes of Mt. Gretna over more than three decades, Eva's works also spring from summers in her native Sweden by the Baltic Sea. 

   Most of her paintings are done in one sitting, including the piece at left, which she just finished.
    "Art deepens and clarifies, sometimes even saves your life," she says. Her show runs throughout this month, with an artists' reception Friday, Dec. 7 at the
Gallery, 31 South 8th St., from 5 to 8 pm.

   Back in town after a two-year absence: UPS driver Shirley Rennix, mother of nine (f still at home), who left Mt. Gretna in July 2010 for a route in the Quarryville area to spend more time at home. "But it didn't work out that way," says Shirley. 
   She found that she spent as much time on the Southern Lancaster County route as she did here. "Most days I'd drive five hours without seeing or speaking to anybody," she says.
    The return to Mt. Gretna is refreshing, says Shirley: "It's good to be back. The atmosphere is so much better here. I even sleep better because the whole atmosphere is so much better. The job's the same," she says, "but it's really the people who make the difference." 

    Santa Sightings -- Where you're most likely to see him in and around Mt. Gretna:
    If you make advance reservations, join Santa for breakfast at
Sacred Heart Parish Saturday, Dec. 8 at 8 am or 9:30 am, compliments of Cornwall Police Dept. DJs, music plus pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes and gifts for all children. Email names, ages, phone number and preferred seating time to chief Bruce Harris by 4 pm Monday, Dec. 3.
     Then Santa will move Saturday, Dec. 8, to one of his favorite spots, the Mt. Gretna fire hall for lunch with Santa from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm.  No reservations needed. Lunch and gifts are compliments of the firefighters. (Note this special plea to all cookie bakers: The lunch was moved up to 11 am this year. Please drop off your Christmas treats at the fire hall early that morning.)
     Santa returns to
Le Sorelle Porch and Pantry Saturday, Dec. 15 from 9 - 11 am. Special $3.99 menu options include snowman-shaped pancakes and holiday-themed French Toast, plus a complimentary photo with Santa. Reservations not needed.    Just how much of your Christmas shopping can you do in Mt. Gretna this year? More than you probably think.
    Jane and Scott Zellers (left) got their start at the Vendors House last month, a fire company fundraiser sparked by Samantha Sutcliffe, who's married to Albert, the Mt. Gretna fire department's new chief.

  Helping them make their choices was Campmeeting resident Annie Roach, presiding over one of nearly a dozen tables scattered throughout the fire hall.
   Above right, Valley Road resident Sandy Roman eyed the selection of gift ideas throughout the hall on a November Saturday afternoon -- the third vendor open house in Mt. Gretna. Samantha plans two more next year, in July and November. All proceeds go to the fire company.

The Gallery at La Cigale, along Route 117 next to the miniature golf course, displays the talents of local artists -- in oil and watercolor paintings, acrylic on wood and canvas, and watermedia as well as pottery, stoneware clay, photography and stained glass - often with Mt. Gretna themes. Also on display is an entire showroom dedicated to French Provincial tableware.


   Looking for a 2013 Mt. Gretna Calendar? Carol Snyder, one of the artists at La Cigale, still has a few on hand. Featured are familiar scenes of Mt. Gretna, done in Carol's distinctive watercolor style. Cost: $15 plus tax and $2 S&H. Call her at (717) 304-3753 or email  


Christmas Gifts from Mt. Gretna

Hall of Philosophy

Christmas Tree

Ornament by
Susan J. Pouthier


Size: 4" x 2-1/4" x 3/4"

Chautauqua Cap

$15 Mail orders in U.S.

by 12/20/12;

Add $5 S&H


Chautauqua T-Shirt

(Color: Light yellow with Hall

of Philosophy early postcard imprint)

100% Cotton $20

(S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL)

Make checks payable to Pennsylvania Chautauqua, P. O. Box 622, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064. Contact: Kathy Snavely,   Coming up: A Valentine's Weekend Dinner Cabaret Feb. 9, Gretna Theatre's Broadway Bus Trip to New York City on Wednesday, Mar. 13 (your choice of "Newsies" or the new musical "Chaplin"), and Faith Prince in Concert, a one-night-only show Saturday, June 1.

   Or choose from the 2013 summer season lineup: A Tribute to the Music of Frank Sinatra June 12-23, "Watson: The Last Adventure of Sherlock Holmes" June 27-30, Cole Porter's "Kiss Me Kate" July 11-21, "The Wizard of Oz" July 25-Aug. 3 and "The Bikinis" (a new musical beach party) Aug. 22-25.

Call the box office (717-964-3627) to order your gift certificates, or stop by Gretna Theatre's booth at the Lebanon Farmers Market Thursdays-Saturdays thru Christmas Eve. Visit website


Give the gift of music


Tickets on now for these performances, all* at Music at Gretna's winter venue, Leffler Performance Center at Elizabethtown College

                        *except the Dec.5 concert at Ware Center in Lancaster:

Andreas Scholl, countertenor
Wednesday, December 5, 2012, 8 pm
(Steinman Hall, Ware Center, Lancaster, PA)

 Tudor Choir & Wheatland Chorale
                                       Saturday, December 15, 2012, 7:30 pm
                                       Joel Fan
, piano
                                       Saturday, February 23, 2013, 7:30 pm

                                       Emanuel Ax, piano
                                       Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 8 pm


Telephone (717) 361-1508 or order ticket packages online at


For those on your gift list who positively love Mt. Gretna history: ideas from  Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society
Just out: Reprints of Jack Bitner's 1990 classic,
Mt. Gretna: A Coleman Legacy
by Jack Bitner. $30

(Members $28)
Plus $5 S&H

Pennsylvania National Guard's Mt. Gretna Encampment (1885 to 1935), a DVD with 140 photos and music, created by Jim Seltzer. $10 ($3 S&H)

Two DVD box set, "The Early History of the Chautauqua and Narrow Gauge Railroad,"
$25 or two for $48. ($5 S&H)


Mt. Gretna Narrow Gauge Railroad, 1889-1915

by Jack Bitner $6.95, two for $11. ($2 S&H)

The Mt. Gretna Maximum State Security Prison," a special pamphlet by historian P.H. Gibble, Jr. $5. ($2 S&H)"A membership in the  
Mt. Gretna Area

Historical Society
makes a great gift!"
     -- Jeff Hurst


Stop by the Society's Headquarters, 206 Pennsylvania Ave., to pick up a gift for the history buffs you know. Deborah and Jeff Hurst will be there from 1 to 3 pm on Dec. 8 and 15 (on the lower level, accessed by steps on the Playhouse side of the building). Tel. (717) 964-1105.
Note: For mail orders, items purchased together with either the Bitner 2 DVD
Mt. Gretna History or the book, Mt. Gretna: A Coleman Legacy, will be included with no additional shipping charges.
Make checks payable to: Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society, P.O. Box 362, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064




In search of the perfect soup, Mt. Gretna cooks serve up a veritable feast


   They descend like a small army.  Newcomers and veterans -- armed with crockpots and kettles, scoops and dippers, recipes and aromas carefully crafted to tantalize taste buds the moment you walk in the door.

   Most of them from the hills surrounding Mt. Gretna and all ardent devotees of that wisdom: "Nothin' spells lovin' like something from the oven." All of them determined to knock your socks off with soups that win your heart and capture your vote.

   It's the annual Mt. Gretna Fire Company Soup Contest, which last month attracted 12 cooks and more than 150 judges -- each with a $10 bill in hand ready to donate to the firefighters for a chance to sample soups with gourmet ingredients and then cast their vote for the best-tasting, best-presented and most innovative soup in the fire hall.

   The voting was close (second and third-place winners separated by only a single vote), the soups irresistible and the judges all sated when the two-hour tasting safari was over. Capturing the first three places were Bob Hertzler of Lakeview Drive with his dessert-like "White Chocolate Alexander," Chautauqua cottage owners Nick and Deidre Sweet for their "Col. Mustard's Shrimp Lejon," and Campmeeting residents Eric Sheffer and Emily Hitz with their distinctive "Pickle Soup." For the first time ever, second- and third-place winners Nick and Deidre and Eric and Emily also walked away with best presentation and most unique honors.


   Other entrants included Ken Storck (BBQ Soup), Jay Yeager (Mexican Pulled Pork Chili Vegetable), Jean Ditzler (Spring Fever Asparagus Leek), Gloria Rust (Grilled Cheese and Tomato), Lorie Reichard (Spicy Chicken Enchilada), Deb Vollmar (Vermont Sausage), Keith Richmond (Stuffed Pepper), Glenn Yanos (Zucchini Parmesan) and Jeanine Krause-Bachard (Egg and Hot Dog Soup).

    All the cooks left with smiles, accolades and an assured confidence that their culinary skills will pay dividends. Campbell's has it right when it comes to the "M'm! M'm! Good!" qualities of steaming soup on a cold day. But so do our Amish neighbors, who may possess an even higher wisdom: "Kissin' don't last, but cookin' do."



Guidelines for Mt. Gretna Residents:

When power outages occur, call Met-Ed: 


   Met-Ed gives top priority to outages affecting the greatest numbers of people. Your call not only helps pinpoint the scope of an outage but may also speed repair crews to Mt. Gretna. Make the call even though your neighbors might also have reported the outage, advise company officials.  


   Met-Ed officials offer this advice for residents using generators: Never connect a generator (whether stationary or portable) directly to your home's electrical system without a proper isolation switch that disconnects your house from power lines while your generator is operating, and vice versa.  

   Use a qualified electrician to have an isolation device installed. Unless Met-Ed lines are positively isolated, a generator connected into your home's wiring system could start a fire or electrocute a service technician attempting to restore your power.

   Once power is restored, turn off your generator and activate the transfer switch.  If you don't have a transfer switch, disconnect the generator from your home's electric system and put your main breaker back in service. Drain any extra gasoline out of your generator's motor. 


Note: During extreme hot or cold weather conditions, the Mt. Gretna Fire Company provides emergency shelter in power outages lasting more than three hours. Bring medications and medical equipment; a sleeping bag or blanket and pillows; food for yourself and family members; books, games and other materials to help pass the time and, if the stay is likely to be for several days, a change of clothes. Sorry, there are no accommodations for pets. bus trip to see the Rockettes this year? That's right. . . unfortunately. The trip originally planned for Dec. 5 was cancelled, another victim of Hurricane Sandy. Volunteer organizer Rhoda Long had to decide by mid-November whether to reserve show tickets and a bus. Although a number of folks had made early commitments, the storm and its aftermath convinced many to cancel. With fewer participants than needed to assure that costs for this popular firefighter fundraiser would be covered, Rhoda had no choice but to shelve the New York excursion this year. She'll try again in 2013.

     Want to read one of the most literate, insightful new blogs on the Web? Check out Music at Gretna founder Carl Ellenberg's new blog, now a part of the Gretna Music website at Musician, physician, writer? It's hard to say which of Ellenberger's impressive talents triumph. But his blog is guaranteed to provide a fresh perspective on how music shapes our lives.    "It's getting to be quite a chore to get all the magazines and catalogs to the Ronald McDonald recycling bins in Lebanon and Hershey," says volunteer Evelyn Koppel, "especially with Christmas catalogs rolling in."
   She sends this reminder: If you're on your way to Hershey or Lebanon, it'd be a big help if you could pick up a filled bin at the post office and take it to the recycling bin at 16th and Cumberland in Lebanon or the Ronald McDonald House on Rte. 322 in Hershey. "You could be Santa's little helper," says Evelyn.

    Organist or pianist needed for Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church's 7 pm Christmas Eve service. If someone you know can help, please contact the Church (964-3241) or Sarah Ellis (964-2341). The 11 pm service will be performed by an organist with prior commitments at 7 pm. 

    "Absolutely ridiculous," says veteran real estate pro Emi Snavely, quoted in a
front-page Lancaster Sunday News article last month the 300% to 500% increases in reassessed values for seasonal homes.
   "They are priced as if they are year-round homes," she said, citing the example of a seasonal home without running water on the second floor that was assessed at $290,000.
   After having their appeals rejected, a number of Mt. Gretnans are now preparing to take their case before the Lebanon Court of Common Pleas. County officials quoted in a
Harrisburg Patriot-News story last month called the reassessment process "relatively smooth" -- despite 5,300 appeals filed by nearly 10% of all Lebanon county residents (including approximately 45% of those in the hardest hit areas -- the Chautauqua, Heights and Campmeeting).
    Yet another publicity coup for Kendra Feather (inset). The latest -- a glowing re for her newest Richmond, Va. restaurant, The Roosevelt, in Garden & Gun, one of the South's fastest-growing magazines (launched five years ago by former Mirabella and The New Yorker publisher Rebecca Darwin.)
   Feather, whom writer John T. Edge calls "an ascendant Richmond entrepreneur with four food businesses in her portfolio," is the daughter of Laura and Joe Feather of Conewago Hill.



19 Awards (so far) for Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein's new World War II spy adventure novel for young adults that's rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. A New York Times critic called it "a fiendishly plotted mind game of a novel, the kind you have to read twice." In fact, the newspaper just this week added it to the New York Times Book Review "Notable Children's Books of 2012."

   Wein (left, at a writer's series program at the Hall of Philosophy last summer) is a former Mt. Gretna Heights resident who spent summers here as a youngster with her grandmother, Betty Flocken. She now lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She is the author of
five other books.

   Among Code Name Verity's other 2012 honors:  Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist, selected for the best teen books list by Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist Youth Editors' Choice, Texas Library Association's top 10 high school reading list and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award honor book. Code Name Verity has also been nominated for ten similar awards in the United Kingdom.

600 Turkey vultures swarming over Mt. Gretna? No, we haven't seen that many since 2004, thanks to the team of volunteers who divided Mt. Gretna into territorial grids and followed a coordinated strategy to shoo them to unpopulated areas. It worked! One of the best campaigns ever seen by the USDA's wildlife experts.

    Only a hundred or so TVs are back this year, following an inbred instinct to return to areas they knew as youngsters. So Max Hunsicker's team still needs volunteers -- using techniques to keep noise to a minimum and birds away from Mt. Gretna's rooftops, patios, shrubbery and automobiles. To join the effort, drop him a note at

$2,800 Lebanon County Special Olympics' share of a windfall when the nearly 80-year-old Central Pennsylvania Dry Cleaners Association folded recently. Mt. Gretnans Jane and Scott Zellers, among 18 remaining members, presented Lebanon County's portion of a five-county split of leftover funds to the local group, which "provides athletic opportunities and helps create meaningful, lasting friendships," said Scott.  


$900,000 "waste," another account of the "escape-proof, riot-proof" Mt. Gretna Prison -- begun in the Depression era but never completed -- appeared in the Lebanon Daily News last month.  



You meet the nicest people  

at a fire company breakfast


   If there's a better place to meet people in Mt. Gretna on a Sunday morning, we certainly don't know where it is. So head on down to the Mt. Gretna Fire Company breakfast, a tradition now 10 years in the making.
   Before church, after church. . . even the minister shows up here. So does the police chief, the mayor and most of the other people who make the town hum.

Bumper sticker on Pennsylvania Avenue: Could be a motto for the Mt. Gretna Fire Company chefs

   It raises money for the fire company, gives you a chance to shop for one-of-a-kind Christmas items with a distinctive Mt. Gretna touch, and could probably even offer a money-back-if-not-satisfied guarantee. Nobody ever leaves here unhappy, unwelcome or underfed.

   Plus, it's where you probably get to meet more nice people per square inch than any other place on earth, including the 22 volunteers who run the Mt. Gretna Fire Company.

   All this for a donation you stuff in the fireman's boot as you enter the door. The typical cost of a meal is around $6, so donations in the $20 and up categories are welcomed. Sometimes grateful patrons have even been known to stuff $50 or $100 bills in the boot. Yet the impact of difficult economic times remains evident. Although the average contribution climbed to $10.81 last month, a breakfast in July netted contributions of only slightly over $6 each. That's a downside that could force the firefighters to think twice about holding a breakfast in July next year.

   Hands down, the absolute best thing about these breakfasts is that Mt. Gretna's a place where artistic talents abound and creative energies flow. So stopping by for breakfast at the fire hall is the very best place in town to learn something that you never knew before about talented, enterprising and engaging neighbors.   Take, for example, guys like Chuck Long (left), who's married to lively gal-about-town and Realtor Rhoda, who organizes fundraisers for the fire company and helps out at community gatherings like the Christmas tree lighting today (see Calendar items below), the annual tour of homes and other events that lend sparkle to Mt. Gretna life.


   Spend a little time with Chuck and, if you coax him enough, you'll learn that after a career in the auto parts business on the West Shore, he just retired as a National Ski Patroller (the EMTs for skiiers in distress). The Longs moved to Timber Bridge nearly 10 years ago.

   Other interesting people you're likely to meet. . . left, Lynn and Ed Phillips of Conewago Hill. Both are former superintendents of area school districts. Lynn just completed her term as chair of Board of Trustees at Lebanon Valley College. Ed topped the senior men's golf championship division this year at Lebanon Country Club. Above, center, Chautauqua borough councilman Bill Kleinfelter with wife (and artist) Barb, joined at right by son Brad and wife Allison with grandson Ben, 2. Brad Kleinfelter (who runs PA Evaluations, a health services company) and wife Allison (health  strategies director at Hershey Company), recently built one of the Chautauqua's newest homes, on Lehigh Avenue.
From left, former elementary school teacher Tom Sheaffer and wife Judy, who live in the apartments along Valley Road. Engaged in rapt conversation are former Congressional candidate Lois Herr alongside Jennifer Veser Besse, an adjunct professor of philosophy at both Millersville University and Elizabethtown College. At right, veteran agricultural marketing ace Jim Ellis and wife Sarah, who, among other talents, is an expert volunteer proofreader for this newsletter.

From left: Campmeeting cottage owners Ron Hontz, a healthcare software developer from Skippack, PA with Brad Charles, former co-owner of Lancaster's Chefscargot Cafe & Catering, and Bethlehem appliance store owner Chuck Deppen. Center: Stoberdale resident Debbie Clemens (right) with daughter/realtor/jewelry vendor Jessica Kosoff and granddaughters Sadie and Lucy. Topping off their breakfast at right: Campmeeting outdoor enthusiasts Pat and Mike Allwein. She's also the Mt. Gretna Triathlon champion in the Women-Over-60 division.
Left to right: After Sunday worship, even Pastor Mike Remel and son Shawn scoot to the fire hall for breakfast. Dorothy Gray, the Allen Theatre's pianist (at age 90) also shows up. When not at her Campmeeting cottage, she's busy with the Sarasota Opera Guild's popular prologue series in Florida. Then there's police chief Bruce Harris and wife, Donna, who sells tickets at the Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show. And at far right: former elementary school art teacher and tennis court maven for the past 24 years John Condrack, opposite wife Cynthia, who probably holds the length-of-service record as treasurer of the Mt. Gretna Men's Club.

Above, from left: Campmeeting residents Robin May (whose grandfather Col. Wiilliam Hicks ran the Mt. Gretna Army National Guard until it left for Indiantown Gap in 1936) with friends David Lloyd, who runs Ephrata Rehabilitation Services, and Marcie Webber, a fifth grade teacher in Ephrata (where Robin is an intermediate school literacy coach). Guests of honor? The firefighters themselves, who also roll up their sleeves and help make these breakfasts happen: Josh Thies of Manheim,  fire company president Joe Shay, Tim Yeingst of Timber Hills and Steve Schall of South Lenanon Twp. Also, at right:, Becca Moyer of Cleona, Ian Gumbert of Lancaster (but soon returning to Mt. Gretna) and Charlotte Freise of Annville. Surprised by the out-of-towners who now respond to our emergencies? It's a fact: About 60% of Mt. Gretna's firefighters now live outside of Mt. Gretna. Five years ago, only 15% did. 




Updates & Stuff to 

Post on

The Fridge




















15th Annual Community Christmas Tree Lighting and carol singing at the home of Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney, across

Carol sing starts the season at the Hewitt-McAnney residence.

from the post office. Hot mulled cider, organ music.  

No admission charge.   

Everyone's invited.  

Please bring a holiday treat to share.    

Tree lighting promptly at 5:30 pm.  




Winterites covered dish luncheon in the Mt. Gretna Fire Hall. Bring a main dish, salad, side dish, vegetable or dessert. Kathy Kercher and Sharon Solie will be there with handmade gifts: proceeds benefit the firefighters. All are invited -- men and women. Bring along a friend or two.  Begins at noon.



The Gathering Place luncheon at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. Good food and conversation in a "between the holidays" break. Free will offering supports the ministry. All invited. Begins at noon.    




Candlelight dessert buffet with "holiday music, candles everywhere and

Incredible treats at Le Sorelle's candleight buffet 

desserts to get you into the Christmas spirit," says the website at Le Sorelle. Reservations (717-269-3876) needed by Dec. 2.

Also see "Sightings" above: Santa comes to breakfast Saturday, Dec. 15. 



Lebanon's First Friday Art Walk extends to Mt. Gretna as the La Cigale artists gather to greet visitors with refreshments, answers to questions and Christmas gift ideas galore. Open until 8 pm.    




Santa arrives on Dec. 8 (see "Sightings," above, for details.) 


Christmas Scavenger Hike at Governor Dick Park. First to find all clues to old Christmas rhyme wins a prize. Small entry fee. Hike starts at 1:30 pm.   




Wheatland Chorale joins the Tudor Choir from Seattle in a Holiday Choral Spectacular at Leffler Performance Center, Elizabethtown College.  Tickets online at Music at Gretna or call 717-361-1508.  Concert begins 7:30 pm.   




Winter Stoltzfus at the Timbers. Nobody delights more in narrating the Amish Christmas story than Mt. Gretna's celebrated Belsnickel, Tom Baum -- surrounded by friends, fans and family.  Reservations recommended for this popular night, when prime rib's the specialty. Tel. 964-3601.  Starts 6:30 pm.   




Children's Christmas Pageant at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. "Our Children's Sunday School works hard preparing for this yearly performance and it shows," says Pastor Mike Remel. "If you know of a child who's not involved but would like to be, call 964-3241," says Pastor Mike. Held at the 10 am service.




Christmas Candlelight Services, Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church.  What's Christmas without a traditional Christmas Eve Candlelight Service? Perish the thought, says Pastor Mike. Carols and readings to warm the heart and inspire the soul. Two services: 7 and 11 pm.   



A New Year's Eve tradition at the
Timbers that includes buffet dinner ($21.95) with pianist Andy Roberts , vocalist Nicole Roberts, guitarist Scott Galbraith, Andrew Loose on trumpet, drummer Max Hunsicker, vocalist Bobby Licata on bass and harmonica artist Bart Briody. Reservations: 964-3601. Starts 7 pm.



Pork and sauerkraut dinner at the Mt. Gretna Pizzeria (following their regular morning breakfast menu) on New Year's Day, 10 am to 3 pm.  


Don't forget:

Mt. Gretna's new year-round calendar appears online, a service of the Mt. Gretna Arts Council. Email listings and updates to Jennifer Veser Besse at 



George F. Pearson (1933-2012)


George Pearson, who formerly lived on Timber Road with wife Barbara, a respected teacher who succumbed to cancer nine years ago, died Nov. 9 in Glenmoore, Pa., near the home of his daughter, at age 79 following a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. The former steel industry executive was an Army veteran of the Korean War, a Penn State graduate, and had been an active member of this community, serving as president of the Lebanon Rotary Club and as a member of the Central Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. A complete obituary appears online


Philip H. Seltzer Jr. (1931 - 2012)


Phil Seltzer, a Chautauqua resident who, together with his wife Terrie, had loved antiques and collectibles and sharing them with others, died Sept. 18 in a Harrisburg hospital at age 81. He was an Army veteran of the Korean War and a graduate of Lebanon Valley College. Following his retirement in 1991 from a life-long career in the insurance business, he continued to serve as an insurance consultant over the ensuing 20 years. He and Terrie, who had been married 26 years, once operated an antiques business in the Route 117 location now occupied by Gretna Computers. An obituary appears online.  



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,





   An article in last month's AARP Magazine reminds us that the best way to stay healthy is to keep busy. That, in a nutshell, sums up why I write this newsletter.
   It is in this space that I usually explain that the newsletter is utterly unofficial, with no particular ax to grind, and nothing more than a retirement hobby. Yet, as the writer J. M. Thorburn once suggested, "All the genuine, deep delight of life is in showing people the mud-pies you have made; and life is at its best when we confidingly recommend our mud-pies to each other's sympathetic consideration."
   This month, I thought I'd share one of my recent ones, spawned just before Thanksgiving. . .

The Mt. Gretna "Supermarket" 

    Readers of this newsletter sometimes comment about what they perceive as a similarity between Mt. Gretna and Lake Wobegon, where Garrison Keillor maintains "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average." 

   Just how we'd stack up against such illustrious competition I don't know, but I suspect Mt. Gretna -- with its high PhDs-per-square-mile quotient -- might fare pretty well in the smarter-than-average category. So I'm surprised whenever I hear people say there aren't any supermarkets nearby. 

    You can tell that people who say such things are what the late Dale Grundon called "flatlanders."   

    Since this is the time of year when many of us are cooking and baking and driving to the store for things we overlooked on what should be our once-a-week trip, newcomers ought to know exactly what it means to be a certified Mt. Gretnan. 

    For those occasional incidentals, Mt. Gretnans don't buy, they borrow. Need a few eggs, a bottle of wine, or an ingredient to whip up pumpkin bread for the holidays? The Mt. Gretna Supermarket has precisely what you need. 

   Here's a hint for how to find it: Get to know the good cooks in your neighborhood. They always have what you're looking for. Or, if they don't, they know someone down the street who does. In nearly a quarter century of living here, I've yet to find even one person who isn't happy to help out a fellow Mt. Gretnan. Not one.  

    Mt. Gretna's that kind of place. Borrowing from a neighbor rather than dashing to the store is embedded in our DNA. 

    Of course, if you insist on not bothering the neighbors and want to drive to the store, you'd do well to think first of Collins Grocery in Colebrook. Collins sells darned near everything, including gas. Only once have I ever asked for an item they didn't have. Margaret, who's usually behind the counter, told me she didn't have any red food coloring. Instead, she offered the key to her house and told me where to look for a bottle of red food coloring in her kitchen.

    When it happened last month that we found ourselves suddenly out of three ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner -- namely ground allspice, cloves and nutmeg -- I walked to the homes of two neighbors, knocked on the door and found exactly what we needed. Jan Brandt and Eleanor Sarabia are excellent cooks and superb neighbors. Borrowing stuff in a pinch leads to delightful visits, better than anything you can find on Facebook. 

    If you're new to Mt. Gretna, I figure you'd want to know about these things.  


    Happy holidays,


Roger Groce 


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