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

No. 136                                                                                                          January 2013

The sun sets over Mt. Gretna, heralding the end of another year in a community that more than 1,500 residents now consider their full-time home. For many, the quiet time of winter is one of the best -- in truth, a season to savor.      -- Jane Mourer photo
Why so many artists live in Mt. Gretna


   ONE thing you can safely say about Mt. Gretna: There are more artists here per square inch than most places.  


   I thought about that last month after spending time with some of them at gatherings leading up to the holidays. It's a good thing to have artists around -- not just those who paint and draw, but also those who play music, forge iron works, write, sculpt and weave. They help shape our world and widen our view.

Christmas Eve 2012 at the Hall of Philosophy   Earl Lenington photo


    Artists are interesting people, even the ones who are quiet. If you're an artist, you don't have to talk a lot. People just seem to sense that deep inside something interesting's going on. Whether or not you're not an artist, it's sometimes nice to listen. You usually go home smarter than you were before you came.


    My doctor reminded me recently of the "wise old owl that sat in an oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why can't we be like that wise old bird?"  


   Not all doctors are in a hurry. I try to schedule mine at the end of the day, when he dispenses more wisdom than pills.

Christmas morning 2012.          Earl Lenington photo 

   One enterprising fellow I met last month told me that he believes almost anyone doing anything can be an artist. He started out as a machinist. Machinists are more like sculptors -- sometimes a little temperamental, but always instructive. Now he's a hairdresser and a superior cook. People who develop talents in their kitchens are among the best of all artists, I think. Their creations spring straight from the heart. 


   Why does Mt. Gretna seem to have more artists per capita than most places? Lately, they are sprouting up from everywhere -- Timber Hills and Timber Bridge especially, as well as from traditional havens like the Campmeeting, Chautauqua and Mt. Gretna Heights.   


   Is it because artists are attracted here? Or does being here spark long-held creative impulses? What makes people who've never painted before suddenly want to paint once they come to Mt. Gretna?


  Partly it's probably the ambiance. People like to talk about driving into Mt. Gretna under a canopy of trees and feeling tensions at the end of a day melt away. Or walking beneath ice-covered limbs that sparkle to electrify cold winter mornings when the sun breaks through.

Campmeeting entrance on Christmas Eve 2012                     Earl Lenington photo

Or hearing the peal of a bell at the Tabernacle on a Campmeeting summer Sunday morning. 

   It's magical, some say. "Not a place,
but a spirit" echoes Marlin Seiders' familiar reminder.


    Yes, all of that and more. 


   But I suspect it's also got a lot to do with the simple joys of personal happiness -- which often come from doing the things that we want to do.    

   A wise old owl once told me that his idea of the perfect retirement is doing what he wants to do when he wants to do it. That's as good a goal to aim for as any I can think of, whether or not you're retired.    


    The artists who live here? All are doing what they want to do. Their happiness probably rubs off on the rest of us. Maybe that's why we like having them around.    


   Thoughts like that as a New Year begins can make all your days merry and bright.      




Return to Sunday night classical concerts  

fortifies Music at Gretna's new strategy

    MUSIC at Gretna will have a new look when the season opens this summer. Well, maybe not so much of a new look as one that resembles its origins 38 years ago, when gifted musicians came to the Playhouse on Sunday nights.

Filling a niche -- "Inexpensive superstars" in a July to early September festival that returns classical concerts to Sunday nights. Audiences may be smaller, but success doesn't depend on filling every seat.

   That's the positive upside to a near calamity last summer, when sparse audiences and soaring debts created a financial emergency that forced Music at Gretna board members to dig into their own pockets. They quickly came up with $65,000 to pay the bills and assure that the festival, once heralded by TIME magazine as "one of six of the best" in America, would continue. 

   Thanks to a successful winter season (
now in progress at Elizabethtown College) and an outpouring of financial support from donors, it now looks as if the crisis may have passed. With an annual operating budget of $300,000, the series will continue, though on a smaller scale and with an intensified focus on artists whose performance fees haven't yet caught up with their talents. "Inexpensive superstars," founder Carl Ellenberger calls them.

   Perhaps the best outcome of the crisis is a decision to scatter Sunday night classical concerts from July into early September. That's a shift from a previous schedule that crammed most of Music at Gretna's summer season into August. "Even if you're a chamber music nut, two concerts in one weekend is a challenge," acknowledged Ellenberger in an insightful

   Rather than 17 concerts, the new summer season will be scaled back to six classical and perhaps two jazz (including the Black Eagles) concerts. That schedule, alternating concerts between plays, required the cooperation of Gretna Theatre. "They've been wonderful," says Music at Gretna president Susan Hostetter, "not just in working with us on the schedule but with good communications and a close working relationship."  

   The new strategy also demands a sharp focus on finding extraordinary talent at bargain prices. While it's easier to fill seats with big names, "we learned that when we present blockbusters to make a profit and pay artist fees that in some cases approach the cost of a BMW, any unexpected event -- a thunderstorm, power outage or miscalculation -- can

 An unwavering focus on musical excellence.

sink us," said Ellenberger.  

   Filling that niche with little-known but jaw-dropping talent may be difficult, but not impossible. "It's not necessary for us to fill every seat to be successful," says co-director Carl Kane. "We don't have to have huge crowds and we don't expect to." He estimates that 225 to 325 patrons at each concert will cover 40% of the costs, with the remaining 60% coming from private donors, commercial sponsors and foundations. 

   Will a new strategy spawned by crisis work? Ellenberger, Kane, Ms. Hostetter and their colleagues are resolute. "We asked ourselves, has the time come to settle for other kinds of 'arts and entertainment'? From our board and supporters came a resounding 'No' in all the ways they could have expressed it," says Ellenberger.   


   Contributions may be made directly through the website at or mailed to Gretna Music, 1 Alpha Drive, Elizabethtown, PA 17022.




   TOUGHEST assignment of the Christmas season? Which of these dubious Saturday morning regulars at the Mt. Gretna Pizzeria had been good all year? Santa dispatched Carol and Paul Ceresini, two of his helpers from nearby Mt. Wilson, to sort through the record books of (from left to right) John Stein, who drops in from Hershey now and then; retired Air Force colonel Joe Feather; former elementary school teacher Tom Sheaffer; attorney and Pennsylvania Chautauqua president John Feather; woodworking wizard Gordy Ebright; Philhaven family therapy chief Michael Russell; and (in the foreground) globe-trotting adventurer Val Sarabia and man-about-town Bill Andrews. All got rewards, none a lump of coal -- a verdict that left onlookers bewildered, dismayed and scratching their heads. SQUIRREL-PROOF bird feeders are all the rage. Trouble is, the squirrels may be smarter than the guys who invent the bird feeders.
    Lois Herr, who lives at 210 Lancaster Ave. in the Chautauqua, found a squirrel she quickly named Houdini at the base of her bird feeder recently.
   She doesn't know how he got in, but she's sure he got out.
   Maybe he's curled up in a nest somewhere, writing a book. It'll probably be a best-seller.

Memo to GPS: You can't get there from here.

   IN THE middle of a clear afternoon last month, the scene startled Mt. Gretnans out for a stroll. Right before their very eyes, a car slowly wending its way through the Campmeeting headed straight for the ditch along Pinch Road.
   A first-time visitor from Allentown -- using GPS to locate 8th Street in Lebanon -- somehow found himself approaching Eighth Street in Mount Gretna's Campmeeting.
   Amid the sometimes baffling maze of narrow streets and pedestrian pathways in this 121-year-old historic district, it's easy to get confused. Especially when one places complete trust in that electronic genie known as  GPS. Although he wound up in the culvert, no injuries were reported, save perhaps for a bruised ego.                                                                                                           
Elaine Baum photo         


   ANO feather in the cap for Ceylon Leitzel (inset) of Timber Hills. Winner of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce 2012 Community Builder Award, Leitzel operates a family-owned jewelry business and is the only person ever to have twice been elected president of the Pennsylvania Jewelers Association. He's also active in the American Lung Association, Mt. Gretna Cicada Festival and Rotary Club of Myerstown.
   Last year's Community Builder Award winner was another Mt. Gretnan, Dr. Carl Ellenberger, founder of Music at Gretna.

                                                                                                                                Mt. Gretna Newsletter composite photo


5 Years after the gypsy moth invasion, this is the scene atop Governor Dick Mountain along Pinch Road. To the left, the Pennsylvania State Game Lands, where foresters removed 10,721 trees on 53 acres. David Henry, a regional forester with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said last month he's convinced that action "was a sound forest management and wildlife habitat decision."
   At right is Governor Dick Park, where officials cut down only about 4,000 trees on 67 of the park's 1,105 acres.
   Now there are plans to take down additional trees in a 49-acre section of Governor Dick Park near Route 72,  the park's winter newsletter reports. Park board member Chuck Allwein says 749 sawtimber trees (14" or more in diameter) and 451 cords of pulpwood trees (6" - 9" in diameter) will be removed. Most are tulip poplars and other trees that "dominate the forest and keep other trees from maturing," he says.
   Some local environmental advocates have questioned the plans.

5 Months: The length of time Penn Dot estimates that it will take to replace a single span bridge on Route 117 between Timber Bridge and this summer.    
   Construction should begin in early April says Penn Dot assistant maintenance manager for Lebanon County Chris Miller. Engineers hope to finish the work before the Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show Aug. 17-18.
   While the work is in progress, all traffic between Mt. Gretna and Colebrook will be directed around Mine and Butler roads, the same detour used during the art show.


5 Young Adult Novels You'll Never Outgrow. NPR's favorites includes 

Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein, who cherishes memories of growing up in Mt. Gretna Heights with her grandmother, Betty Flocken.

    Code Name: Verity climbed into the No. 10 spot on The New York Times list of best-selling young adult novels last month. "This tale of a spy and a fighter pilot during World War II is at heart a story about female ­friendship," says the Times.

$9,000 The premium that homebuyers are now willing to pay to be closer to scenic rail trails for walkers, hikers, horseback riders and bicycle enthusiasts, according to a study by University of Cincinnati researchers. Thanks for that news go to John Wengert, who lives just over the hill and founded the 14.5-mile Lebanon Valley Rail Trail which has a connecting spur to Mt. Gretna. 



A coach for wellness at any age


    WHY do so many people flock to Janice Balmer's health, wellness and exercise classes? 

   They're not necessarily looking to lure a mate, slip into a smaller dress size or make a dazzling impression on the dance floor.

Janice Balmer: "I'm not a nutritionist or therapist,
but I'm a pretty good coach and cheerleader."

  Most are in their 40s, 50s or 60s. A few are in their 70s. They're happy with who they are and realistic about their goals, says Janice, now 41. Seventeen years ago, she was 50 pounds heavier than she is today.

   Married with two children and a bustling career, "I couldn't be happier," she says.

   An essential part of what accounts for that happiness is life with husband Brett, a computer whiz and the son of John and Susanne Balmer, who live in the Campmeeting

   From their home just south of Governor Dick Park, tucked inside a 35-acre site off Pinch Road, Brett runs a successful computer company, based near Denver, Colo.  

   Their two sons -- Logan, 6 and Chase, 8-1/2 -- also contribute to their full lives together. "Our main goal is to raise two fine men," she says. "We think the best gift we can give them is a good example, which is what our parents gave us."

   And what is the gift that attracts mostly women (but recently, one brave man) to her classes and personal training sessions?

   That may be the uplifting experience most feel whenever they come to one of those happy, energetic classes in the fire hall or to one-on-one sessions which she usually provides in her home gym. Most of those who prefer in-home individual sessions, she says, like to come to her gym for a change of both pace and scenery, in a setting where deer freely roam and occasional wild turkeys come into view by her pond.

   "Most of my clients want to make positive, healthful changes in their lives," she says. "They simply want to be able to get down on the floor and play with grandchildren, or come home from a supermarket and place groceries on the shelf without huffing and puffing. Some want to ditch bad habits, like loading up on daily doses of sugar-ladened sodas."

   Although she's professionally certified as a group instructor as well as a personal trainer, Janice thinks she's probably best at being a coach or cheerleader. Those who attend her classes at the fire hall are enthusiastic. "You can feel her energy," said Marcia Judd, who regularly shows up for her Zumba classes in the fire hall. 

    She's one of perhaps 60 students and clients that stay in touch with Janice through personal or group sessions from week to week. To join her classes, go to the website


Mt. Gretna Residents: Keep this number handy 

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.     

   Make the call even though your neighbors might also have reported the outage, advise company officials.   

   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.  




Campmeeting cottage owner with a playful view of the world builds garage studio with a view

    YOU can tell a lot about Mt. Gretnans by the names they give to their cottages. 
    Rumpelstiltskin? Rapunzel?  When you run across names like that on the outside, you may be sure that on the inside are people with a lighthearted view of a sometimes crazy world. They're an essential part of the Campmeeting, in fact, home to some of Mt. Gretna's most interesting and fun-loving neighbors.

Lynn Reisinger: Loves Mt. Gretna, where people are smiling. 

     Lynn Reisinger isn't yet a full-time resident there, but he hopes to soon become one. In the meantime, he's launched two major remodeling projects -- at his cottage on Second Street and another around the corner, at one of his two garages. It's a second story loft that will soon become his

studio for pursuits such as a long-delayed plunge into creative writing.

Studio with view on all four sides.

    A Perry County native and former public school and college instructor in mathematics, Lynn for the past 27 years has overseen vocational and educational studies for about 3,500 inmates at the State Correctional Institution in Camp Hill, 25 minutes from his current home near Linglestown. The switch to Mt. Gretna, he figures, would add only about 15 more minutes to his daily commute.
    It's a price he's willing to pay. After living in a beach house at Rehoboth, a lodge on a 100-acre site in the Tuscarora mountains, and a Harrisburg home on Front Street that got flooded every few years, he's ready for more manageable,

smaller-scale and full-time cottage living here.

    That's why he's building a studio loft. It won't have running water, a kitchen or bath. But Lynn thinks it'll make a perfect air-conditioned private retreat, complete with windows on four sides and a cozy fireplace.

    How does he come

A name he gives his other garage.

up with names like Rapunzel, which hangs over the entrance to his other garage? "I just like the sound," he says. Same goes for "Rumplestiltskin," the name given to the cottage he purchased nine years ago from Sally Bomberger, who now lives in the Chautauqua.

    "I bought the cottage because of Mt. Gretna's scenic beauty," he says. "Also because of the summer events and, of course, the people. People here are smiling in this community, and I can see why. It's a beautiful place, and I'm fortunate to be a part of it." 

    Lynn sketched out the initial plans for his studio, then turned them over to a professional designer. "The guys now building my garage tell me they get a lot of questions. They also took an unofficial poll: 80% of the people who've seen it like the idea, 10% hate it, and the other 10% are still scratching their heads," says Lynn, smiling.
    THOSE 385 or so Mt. Gretnans who live in Timber Bridge, Timber Hills and Conewago Hill may want to drop in at the South Londonderry Twp. supervisors' meetings in Campbelltown over the next few months. A long-range comprehensive plan dealing with neighborhood planning, farmland preservation, transportation, water quality and environmental concerns is now headed toward a final vote. Those for and against the proposal, sometimes called the Roth Plan, are turning out in large numbers to make their voices heard, the Lebanon Daily News reports.
   Although the supervisors usually meet on second Tuesdays of the month, their next session will be held on Monday, Jan. 7. The planning commission meets on third Tuesdays (next, Jan. 15); both normally take place at 7 pm in the Municipal Building, 20 W. Market St. in Campbelltown. Next month, however, supervisors plan to hold their meeting at the Timbers in Mt. Gretna on Wednesday, Feb. 13, starting at 7 pm. 
   In neighboring North Londonderry Twp., supervisors recently
rejected a similar proposal, the newspaper reported.
   SELF-DEFENSE classes for seniors start Monday, Jan. 21 at Cornwall Manor. The sessions teach how to reduce the risk of physical assault, combat scams, avoid ID theft and other threats that the elderly sometimes face. Presented without charge by Cornwall Police Dept., the 15-hour course runs 10 am-noon Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through Feb. 8. Open to all seniors (whether or not they live at Cornwall Manor). For details, email administrator and co-instructor Stephanie Burris,, tel. 274-2071.

   JOB OPENING next month at the Governor Dick Nature (inset) just off Pinch Road. This part-time (12 to 15 hours a week) post calls for public relations, scheduling, advertising  and financial record-keeping duties (QuickBooks knowledge a plus); also occasionally teach school groups, update website, supervise weekend staff and volunteers, and serve as secretary to the Governor Dick Park board.
Ideal for someone in Mt. Gretna. Send resume -- P.O. Box 161, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.

Every year, Penny must face a panel of tough-minded 4-year-olds

Think global warming's
a groundhog's
biggest challenge?


    EVERYBODY knows one thing for sure: The only treat better than homemade chocolate chip cookies and hot coffee on a cold winter's day is chocolate chip cookes and coffee served by a groundhog.

    Of course, that only happens once a year in Pennsylvania. And your best chance of finding them on Saturday, Feb. 2 is in Mount Gretna, so don't waste time looking elsewhere for handouts from, say, Punxsutawney Phil or Octoraro Orphie.

    No, the place to be on Groundhog Day is along Route 117 in front of Penn Realty's offices. Penny, the gregarious groundhog, makes her annual appearance, looks for her shadow and issues her go-to-the-bank-on-it prognostication for the winter ahead.

     With Groundhog Day on a Saturday this year, Penny will have to alter her plans a bit. She'll show up for her nursery school inquisition a day earlier than usual, on Friday, Feb. 1 around 11 am. That's where she faces that panel of tough-minded questioners whose incisive probes rival those of the Washington, D.C. press corps. Since groundhogs can't talk, teacher Joanne Gingrich (wife of Mt. Gretna's assistant postmaster) serves as Penny's interpreter.

     Questions will likely include whether Penny has children, where she lives, why her fur has a vaguely familiar scent of moth balls and -- since groundhogs are vegetarians -- what she eats if hot dogs are simply out of the question. On one snowy day a few years ago, Penny showed up in galoshes, a credibility-stretching glitch that required fancy verbal footwork. Nothing's quite so hard to quell as a surging tide of doubt among suspicious four-year-olds.

    As for Feb. 2, look for her in front of the Penn Realty offices along Route 117 from 9 to 11am, serving her grown-up fans, waving to passing motorists and getting the most out of a custom-tailored winter outfit that then goes back in the closet, moth balls and all.



Col. John Theodore Kramers (1917-2012)


   John Theodore Kramers, a retired U.S. Army colonel who had lived in Mt. Gretna Heights with his wife of 14 years, Ellen, died Dec. 4 in Elizabethtown at age 95. He had been a distinguished World War II officer, participating in major battles in Europe and Northern Africa. Following his retirement from military service, he enjoyed a second career until age 86 as a stockbroker with Wachovia Securities in Lebanon. He was preceded in death by his wife of 46 years, June Werner Kramers. A complete obituary appears online.    

   Music at Gretna founder Carl Ellenberger's tribute, citing Kramers' experiences with the composer Richard Stauss and the late Dave Brubeck, also appears online.


Frederick O. Seltzer (1941-2012) 


   Perhaps too few of us have had the benefit of appreciating their home town from both sides of a road that runs alongside the seven distinct neighborhoods familiarly known as Mt. Gretna. Fred Seltzer, who died on Dec. 13, was one of them. He and wife Linda moved to Timber Hills in 1970. Eighteen years later, they built a home in the Chautauqua.  

   Among his survivors are daughter Rebekah, who grew up in Mt. Gretna and still attends church here, her husband Dev Idgunji, a granddaughter, Katherine Elizabeth Idgunji, and a soon-to-be grandson Samuel Frederick Idgunji.   

   For 42 years, wherever he went he was fully engaged in Mt. Gretna life: as a member of the municipal water authority, a volunteer and usher at the Playhouse, and as a ticket distributor and money collector for the outdoor art show. He also helped out at the Campmeeting playground, converting an ordinary trash can into a Pig's House, painting the shuffleboards and building picnic tables. That wooden cross outside the entrance to Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church in the Campmeeting? Fred created it. "He simply loved Mt. Gretna," says Linda, whom he met when they were co-eds at Elizabethtown College, where he starred in soccer and as captain of the baseball team. A lifelong Philadelphia Phillies fan who followed their fortunes throughout the farm system from Clearwater to Reading, he also loved the children he taught as a reading instructor and later as an administrator in a 32-year career in education. It was a full and rewarding life. A complete obituary appears online.




Updates & Stuff to 

Post on

The Fridge



Italian Night Jan. 19

Time for winter stroll
   Jane Mourer photo



New Year's Day special: A pork and sauerkraut dinner at the Mt. Gretna Pizzeria (following breakfast), 10 am to 3 pm.

Pastries return to Le Sorelle 



Le Sorelle Porch & Pantry reopens for winter  weekends (with Friday mornings a favorite of locals, when it's easier to find a seat). Breakfast and lunch menus Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 8 am to 1 pm.     






Italian Night at the Firehall. It's Jason Brandt's annual pasta spectacular. . . with meatballs the way only (former Hideaway owner) Brandt can make them.  

Plus salad, Italian bread and mouth-watering desserts in this eat-what-you-want, pay-what-you-want extravaganza that the firefighters hope will be a big fundraiser to kick off the 2013 season. Starting at 4, continuing through 7 pm.  



R.A.D., a class in self-defense for seniors, begins with sessions scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through Feb. 8. No charge for these classes, sponsored by Cornwall Police Dept. Learn how to reduce risks of physical assault, combat scams and avoid ID theft. For details, email or call 274-2071. 10 am - noon at Cornwall Manor.








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   




Other newsletters of interest:

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

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

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

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

Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society Newsletter -- Online at 

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

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

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

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

Campmeeting Newsletter -- Available online and mailed to residents.

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




                                                            A PLACE YOU NEVER HEARD OF

   WHENEVER I'm someplace a long way from Mt. Gretna, people occasionally ask me where I'm from. I usually say, "Oh, a little town in Central Pennsylvania that you probably never heard of."

    "Where's that?" they sometimes ask.

    "Near Hershey," I say, confident that everybody thinks they know where Hershey, Pa. is, even if they really don't. Eating a lifetime's worth of Hershey bars and Kisses gives people certain credentials that they know the territory.
    Only if they press further do I finally mention Mt. Gretna.
    That generally stops conversations right there. We switch to another topic.    

     Yet sometimes I'm surprised.     

     More people than we'd expect already know about Mt. Gretna. Often that happens a long way from Pennsylvania.   

    Rosemary Milgate mentioned Mt. Gretna to her tour guide while riding in a train through the Arizona desert. It turns out that he was the same guy who had sold her the Mt. Gretna Heights home that she and her late husband Gary had bought 40 years earlier.

   Joe and Laura Feather of Conewago Hill, waiting in line for a luau in Hawaii, turned to the people standing in back of them, introduced themselves and met -- for the first time -- John and Gaile Del Baugh of Timber Hills. Joe and Laura pass by their home every day on the way to the gym.  

   A few years ago, Sarah Ellis and husband Jim discovered that their tour bus driver in Boston had spent several days at the home of their neighbor who lived right across the street on Village Lane.    
  You may have had similar experiences.    

  Dan Hottenstein, a retired radiologist, thinks there may be some entertaining stories here. He and wife Pat have a nice home on Valley Road, but they like to travel to New Mexico. Their favorite column in New Mexico Magazine is called "One of Our 50 is Missing," about the bank tellers, cell phone providers and ticketing agents who tell New Mexicans that they reside in another country.    

  Mt. Gretnans have the opposite problem, Dan thinks. We live in a place that's better known than we suspect. In fact, when he and Pat were in Australia a few years ago, they met a woman in Mudgee, about 260 kilometers from Sydney, whose grandparents owned a cottage in the Campmeeting. Growing up, she'd spent her summers here.

 Tom Mayer, who'll soon move to Florida, says he intends to wear his Mt. Gretna Fire Dept. volunteer T-shirt wherever he goes in The Villages. He thinks that will be a magnet to attract folks who already know about Mt. Gretna.       

 Maybe he'll turn up stories of a few interesting encounters. You can, too, if you've had similar stories to share and the spirit moves.  

  Meanwhile, I'll go back to my usual purpose in this space and tell you that this newsletter is nobody's official anything. It's just a retirement hobby that keeps me out of the kitchen. 


 Roger Groce


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