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Ice hockey makes its return to Lake Conewago as the coldest days of the season set in on the final weekend of January.



 Things that sometimes you just can't replace

   THE news last month included a newspaper report that at a meeting of the Mt. Gretna Borough Council, John Hambright had submitted his resignation due to health reasons. There wasn't much more to it than that, other than the fact that borough officials said they would set about the process of finding someone to take John's place. Apparently, several have already expressed interest in the job.

      Maybe so. But when it comes to finding a replacement, it'll be hard to come up with someone who's always good-natured, whose voice rumbles with the undercurrent of an irrepressible chuckle, and whose eyes have a trademarked twinkle. Equally elusive will be someone who never gets excited, consistently applies good judgment and nurtures both people and relationships with kindness.

At a corn roast with daughter Lynn, John and one of his favorite gals 

   Although John can't get around as much these days as he'd like to, that's not really a handicap. Count on him to have a good time wherever he goes. One of the places he's always liked to go is Le Sorelle, home of sticky buns that probably merit a U.S. patent. John doesn't go just for the stickies, however. Like many men who lose their wives late in life, John misses Betsy most of all.  

   So a few words exchanged with pleasant waitresses over an egg sandwich in the morning can sometimes be the highlight of an entire day. Some people have a knack for getting the most out of any day. It rubs off on the people around them too. 

   Right after reading the news about the changes at Borough Council, I came across a magazine article about the future for all our lives, a future filled with robots.

   The article predicted that robots will soon do darned near everything that people do: Roam up and down hospital corridors delivering pills to patients, drive our cars and long-haul trucks, even take our orders and serve our meals to us in restaurants. One restaurant in Japan is already doing that, it said. Their robots take orders and deliver food exactly as ordered, work 24/7 and never make a mistake.They cost about $3,200 to $4,700, depending on their skills, and should last about 10 years.

Bill Shoals photo

   I wondered what Mt. Gretna would be like with robots in the future.           

   Then I remembered my first experience in one of those special check-out aisles they now have in supermarkets. Rather than waiting in line to wait for someone to check your groceries, you can scan them yourself. But weighing bananas, scanning cereal boxes and stuffing dollar bills in a slot seemed complicated. I chose instead a line with a pretty young cashier behind the cash register. 

    When it was my turn, I asked if she was worried that automated check-outs might someday take away her job.

    "No," she said. "They may be faster, but they don't smile."  

    Now, several years later, I notice that most folks still don't use those speedy, but smile-less, check-out-yourself lines. That's reassuring. It's still Pretty Girls 10, Robots 2. 

    It's the sort of thing that you learn living in a small town like Mt. Gretna: People who brighten your days are irreplaceable.      



Mt. Gretna School of Art lays plans 

to open its doors this summer


     Ready to begin its first year, the Mt. Gretna School of Art -- now with its faculty members chosen, a Wednesday lecture series set and museum bus trips already planned -- this month will begin extending invitations to 18 or perhaps 20 top art students across the country who will become part of its first class and bring founder Jay Noble's idea into reality.

Jay Noble

   The school's lead teachers for its Intensive Program studies will include Chris Semergieff, Stony Brook University instructor in foundation drawing and painting, and Glen Cebulash, chair of the Wright State University Department of Art and Art History. Both have experience at the Chautauqua Institution in New York, where Noble himself once studied, and whose artistic director, Don Kimes, will be a guest lecturer at the Mt. Gretna school's inaugural year.

    Artists who have committed to serve as visiting critics during this summer's six-week session include distinguished faculty members from some of America's leading colleges and universities. They include Celia Reisman of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Dartmouth, Swarthmore and Italy's International School of Painting; Deborah Kahn, who has taught at American University, Dartmouth, Yale and the New York Studio School of Painting and Drawing; Barbara Grossman, who formerly taught at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania and New York's Chautauqua Institution; and co-founder Ruth Bernard, a graduate of Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts and Queens College in New York City.  Now living in Lancaster, she displays her works throughout the Northeast, principally in New York and Philadelphia.
   Lecturers who will be part of a Hall of Philosophy Wednesday morning lecture series (open to the public as well as MGSOA students) include
Stanley Grand, former executive director of the Lancaster, Pa. Museum of Art; Kimes of the New York Chautauqua and Stony Brook University professor Semergieff. The sessions will be held at 10 am each Wednesday, June 5 through July 10.

   Noble, a faculty member at York College of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in Lancaster, says museum bus trips are currently planned to New York City in June and to Philadelphia in July. He expects that 20 to 30 seats will be available for adults and young people in the community who wish to join students on the trip. Tickets will be offered in April, he says.

   Tax-deductible contributions to help launch the school's first year and defray expenses for students participating in this year's Intensive Studies program may be made through its fiscal sponsor, the Philanthropic Endeavors Foundation, Inc. of York, Pa. The Mt. Gretna School of Art board includes Mt. Gretna residents Lou Schellenberg, artist and faculty member at Elizabethtown College, and Jennifer Veser Besse, an adjunct professor of philosophy at Elizabethtown College and Millersville University.

   Others on the board are Dr. Robert Colman, retired Penn State Harrisburg professor of psychology and social science; Barbara Grossman, who has taught painting at the Yale School of Art and the University of Pennsylvania; Rita King, gallery director at the York, Pa. Parliament Community Gallery; Linda Fanning Lefevre, executive dean emeritus at Harrisburg Area Community College who now serves with Delaware Valley College; and Dan Liberatore, president of Purpose1 Visual Marketing Group in Harrisburg.



First responders appreciation night March 20

From a grateful community,
a chance to say thank you 

   If you've ever wanted to say "thank you" to people who leave their homes in the middle of the night to answer a call, who give up their weekends for training that will qualify them as professionals albeit without pay, who put their lives at risk so our lives are safe, our dinners uninterrupted and our homes protected. . .  next month you'll have that chance.
    It's Mt. Gretna's night to recognize its First Responders, a night to make them distinguished guests at a dinner held

Answering the call, anytime of the day or night, 365 days a year. . .

Surrendering time with family and friends. . .

 in their honor.
    Who are these men and women? Many of them live outside Mt. Gretna. They come from places like Manheim, Cleona, Annville  and other communities throughout Lebanon and Lancaster counties.
    In fact, today about 50% of Mt. Gretna's Fire Department volunteers live outside this community. Five years ago, only 15% did.
         In a town where maybe half the cottages are sited closely together, built of wood from trees harvested more than a century ago, and clustered along streets where emergency access often is limited, the reasons for both concern and commendation for first responders are clear.  
    To be sure, among their biggest rewards is the extraordinary gratitude expressed by people they pull from overturned cars and burning homes. A level of satisfaction that most people doing ordinary jobs never approach.
    Recognizing their contributions is the idea behind this event -- a lasagna dinner Kathy Snavely is organizing, with the help of equally appreciative folks that include caterer Becky Briody, Earl Lenington, Tom Mayer and Rhoda Long.
    They plan

... after quenching sparks, adding sparkle to our lives.

a 6:30 pm dinner on March 20 at the fire hall that will take on grand proportions: meat or vegetable lasagna, Italian bread and salad from Becky, Mt. Gretna's Chef-on-the-Go, and a dessert buffet served by appreciative volunteers.
    Here's the key: First responders will come as honored guests that evening. So success will depend on others making their reservations in advance -- $20 per person -- and sending their checks in early to make sure that all costs are covered.
    Successful planning requires that everyone get their reservations in by March 8 along with their checks -- made payable to Kathy Snavely, P. O. Box 622, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.
    If you're out of town and unable to attend, you can still send a check as a token of your appreciation. It's just another way to say "thank you," say the organizers.  
    Who knows?  If a First Responders Recognition Night comes off as they hope, maybe it'll be a permanent fixture on the calendar each year. An annual expression of gratitude for the invaluable service they gladly render all year long.




   The Colemans as you probably never knew them  

    If you want to draw a crowd to the Mt. Gretna fire hall on a Sunday afternoon in mid-winter, talk to the folks at the Historical Society.

    Last year they packed the place to overflowing with an illustrated talk by Morris Greiner, probably the oldest living Mt. Gretna native who also happens to own probably the largest collection of Mt. Gretna postcards in existence.

    This year, they'll likely do the same thing with another

The Cornwall Furnace: Iconic symbol of Coleman family pride
                                                             Lisa Polczynski photo 

illustrated talk, this by former Chatuauqua resident Jim Polczynski, who has spent the last 15 years tracking down the marvels and mysteries of the Coleman family, one of the few six-generation business dynasties in America.

    It's everybody's favorite, "a rags-to-riches" story says Polczynski (pronounced Pole-CHIN-ski), who first peeked into the family saga after he began renovating the building (now the Cornwall Inn) that was once the Coleman Company Store, back in the

R. H. Coleman

days when the Cornwall Iron Furnace was operating. It's the story of how a 16-year-old boy left Ireland with a couple of months' laborer's wages in his pocket and ultimately became Pennsylvania's first millionaire.  Among his descendents, great-grandson Robert H. Coleman (left) ultimately became the founder of Mt. Gretna.

   Along the way were family squabbles, marriages and close personal friendships with other wealthy Americans (including U.S. presidents), business acquisitions on grand and sometimes dubious scales, and always "amazingly close family bonds" as well -- all centered on what was the Colemans' richest asset: the largest iron ore deposit east of the Mississippi and located just four miles from Mt. Gretna. "If you want to understand just how America was built, the Coleman family is a good place to start," says Polczynski.

   An iron and steel industry consultant who grew up near Pittsburgh, Polczynski is a frequent lecturer on the Coleman family history. "I try to present a new perspective each time I speak," he says. His next opportunity -- focusing on the evolution of the family business -- will be Sunday, Feb. 10 at 2 pm in the fire hall.   

   Organizers suggest that you might want to come early to find a seat.   A PROPOSAL to develop 37 acres of land zoned Residential Forest (RF) near Mt. Gretna could come before the West Cornwall Township planning commission at its Wednesday, Feb. 27 meeting. That timing, however, depends upon whether the developer, Eastern Enterprises, Inc., completes its final revisions of the plan.
   The projected development would involve ten single-family housing sites located along Mine and Butler roads, north of Mt. Gretna. Although not opposing the project since it must conform to existing RF zoning requirements, Preserve Mt. Gretna, a group which advocates vigilance over environmental and historic preservation concerns, advises area residents to stay close to all proposed land development activity in the area. As a practical matter, however, West Cornwall is one of 16 Lebanon County municipalities that have delegated subdivision and land development matters to the county planning department whose decisions, under the Municipalities Planning Code, are normally ratified at the township level only as a formality.
   The West Cornwall Township planning commission meets monthly on fourth Wednesdays, and the supervisors meet on second Mondays; both meetings are usually held at 7pm at the township office building, 73 South Zinns Mill Road.
   Also on the horizon: a public hearing, probably in early March, on the new Regional Comprehensive Plan for the area. Details on time and location for that hearing should be posted in the next few days at the website
   KATHY Snavely was among those welcoming Rosalynn Carter and the newly designated Chautauqua Assembly of Plains, Ga. into the Chautauqua Trail, a nationwide network of communities that trace their origins to the Chautauqua Movement. 

   Plains, pop. 634, "is not a sleepy little town anymore," said the former first lady, who led efforts to establish a Chautauqua Assembly. With 11 churches, cotton, corn and, of course,

peanuts, "it would be a wonderful thing if we could get a Chautauqua Assembly going in Plains," Mrs. Carter told delegates at a DeFuniak Springs, Fla. conference last month.

   The newly organized Chautauqua Trail -- created around 14 surviving Chautauqua communities in the U.S. and Canada -- will hold its national meeting in Mt. Gretna July 25-28.


   COUNT on those Winterites to come up with something special for February. This month it's Campmeeting resident Kathy Wall, a specialist in senior caregiving, who invites everyone to come with their favorite book from childhood in mind (or in hand if you've still got a copy).      Treasure Island, My Friend Flicka, Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella, Little Women, Alice in Wonderland, Black Beauty? All are grist for this month's gathering at the Mt. Gretna fire hall, starting promptly at 1 pm, Tuesday, Feb. 5.

   Memories and "yummy goodies" are what Kathy and her friends -- Vic and Judy Bojko, Mary Ellen McCarty, Sharon Solie and Walter and Claudette Steele have in store, says Winterites leader Donna Kaplan.

   The session, complete with desserts and beverages on tablecloths provided by Nancy and John Mitchell of La Cigale (and stitched together by energetic Mt. Gretna Heights volunteer Annie Roach), starts at 1 pm. It's open to all, including men, who are encouraged to come and bring a friend, says Ms. Kaplan (tel. 964-2174). "Everyone who spends their winters in and around Mt. Gretna is welcome, she says. Winterites annual dues are $10; proceeds benefit the fire company.


    GRAND ILLUMINATION plans for 2013? Barb Kleinfelter and Karl Gettle are already at work to add decorative touches that will enhance this year's national birthday celebration.

    One of the first ideas to emerge is a Flag Basket that will not only make porches more festive but also hold magazines, sewing supplies and other items. It'll feature a  Besty Ross "stars in a circle" design, based on the flag which, according to some, made its first appearance in the 1790s.

   Other ideas for the celebration will be announced, along with details of four special Tuesday afternoon paint-your-own decoration classes that Barb will hold at the Hall of Philosophy in the weeks preceding this year's Independence Day festivities.

   Their major objective right now: "We want to remind people to start planning and collecting decorations for Mt. Gretna's Grand Illumination," says Karl. It'll again be held over two nights this year -- on Thursday and Friday, July 4-5 -- to allow everyone a chance to fully appreciate the lights and handiwork that go into this annual event.    

    VALENTINE'S DAY? Those Gretna Theatre folks know how to make it truly memorable. Anybody can whip up a dozen roses, anybody can knock the door holding a box of chocolates, but only the GT pros know how to transform an ordinary winter weekend into an unforgettable romantic interlude well in advance of the Valentine's Day crowds -- with four Playhouse stars, sumptuous chicken breast or beef tip entrees, entertainment including taxes and tip for $48. All with a silent auction to boot, plus an optional overnight "sweetheart" all-inclusive package to make it really special.
    When we last checked they were working on this third annual
Love Round the Piano event with Meet Me in St. Louis star Chris Vettel plus other three other Mt. Gretna favorites to join him. Buy tickets online or call the office (964-3322).
    Better hurry. Catching an unforgettable night at the
Lantern Lodge might just be an impossible dream if you tarry. Saturday, Feb. 9, starting at 6:30 pm.



For Mt. Gretna real estate, encouraging signs despite uncertainty of tax impact   

    WHEN it comes to reading the tea leaves of Mt. Gretna real estate, there's usually no better place to start than the statistics that Fred Schaeffer assembles.

   That's because Schaeffer, a 30-year veteran of Mt. Gretna Realty, tallies all sales of real estate, both public and private, whether or not they are handled by real estate brokers and agents.      

   Viewed from one perspective, the number of homes that changed hands last year may spur optimism in the Mt. Gretna marketplace, albeit one where totals are tiny and trends difficult to detect.  

   Overall, 26 homes sold in 2012, more than than any year since 2007 (when 27 homes changed hands and housing prices approached all-time highs).

  Yet the stats also show that housing prices still have a long way to go on the road to recovery from peak years of 2007 and 2008. On a price-per-square-foot basis, home prices were down 14.2% from the $183 average recorded in 2008.

   The average price for a home sold in Mt. Gretna last year was $231,677, up 11% over the levels of a year ago but down from $272,872 recorded in 2008. Schaeffer points out that last year's 11% gain may reflect an increase in the number of sales in the Chautauqua, where home prices tend to be higher.   

   Perhaps most telling: some Mt. Gretna homeowners awakened to market realities last year. Original asking prices sometimes started out at unrealistically high levels. Five of the 26 properties finally sold anywhere from 30% to 42% below the original asking prices. Many others dropped original prices by 10% to 20%.  

   The outlook for this year? Still unknown is the impact of the recent countywide reassessment which sent property tax rates soaring sometimes as much as 500 or 600 percent. Actual tax bills for homeowners, however, probably won't be known until later this year after school districts determine their tax rates.   

    Some homeowners have challenged their new assessments in preliminary and formal hearings, often with mixed results. Although some have achieved assessed value reductions of $125,000 or more, others have been left with marginal or no changes. Appeals are now being processed by the Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas. 

Mt. Gretna's midwinter surprise

     ICEBREAKER! The term calls up images of double-hulled, 16,000 long ton displacement vessels slicing through icy chunks in arctic waters, bent on delivering emergency supplies to distant outposts.

Mission: crack through the ice. . .  

   Last month, with the sudden outbreak of 50-degree temperatures on January's second weekend,

Sunny day, but still an icy dip.

intrepid sailors were out on the still partially frozen waters of Lake Conewago in a canoe, slicing through. . . well, maybe a 1/8" film of ice, bent on the single-minded objective of just having fun on a bonus afternoon.      

   Photographer Tom Mayer, on assignment to catch "glimpses of a Mt. Gretna summer on the first sunny day in January," spotted this paddling pair (inset, left) near the lake's westernmost shore.  

   "They were playing 'ice breaker' along edges of the ice flow,"

At the eastern end of the lake, smoother sailing. 

says Tom. "First, they would paddle fast and ram into the ice. Then, they'd use their paddles to escape from the broken ice. I  have no idea who they were," he said, "but they seemed to be enjoying themselves."    

   Two hours later, at the opposite end of the lake (right), Milton Hershey School horticulturalist and Campmeeting resident Nan McKay -- also a photographer given the same assignment -- spotted another pair out on the lake plying the waters in a more conventional way as they pursued the pleasures of a summer-like afternoon in their canoe, even though the temperatures were still 30 degrees shy of a day in June.


   Meanwhile, Minnesota native Katie Carpenter, a WITF-TV producer who's now a Campmeeting resident, also volunteered to take a walk through Mt. Gretna to capture a few additional pictures for this photo essay.
   "I love exploring Mt. Gretna," she says, "especially with camera in hand because it helps me to stop and appreciate the little details of each season.It really has helped me feel like this is home.
   "I love the tall trees, the light reflecting on the still lake, the mossy steps, cozy cottages and the beauty of the spring colors. Wow. I like the mild winters, too, even though, as a Minnesota girl, I'd like to see snow more often on the rail trail."

Katie's Galileo Thermometer hits 68 degrees

As temperatures climbed toward 70 degrees on  Katie's Galileo Thermometer (left), these spirited guys needed little prompting to romp though the day over at the Campmeeting playground.

No excuse needed to romp on a midwinter afternoon.

Visitors discover the magic of midwinter.

  Wending her way through

Awaiting Independence Day candles

Chautauqua park and heading toward the lake photographer Katie came upon visitors along the trail, finding that even though the leaves are gone the mysteries and pleasures of a Mt. Gretna winter are not.
   As Veda Boyd, a former resident who spent three decades here (and whose story appears elsewhere in this issue) told us the other day, "I think you have a deeper appreciation of the seasonal changes in Mt. Gretna because of the trees, the cottages, the quaintness of everything. It gives you such a euphoric feeling when the change."
   Veda spent three decades here as a year round resident. Even though the lures of grandchildren who live elsewhere are powerful, such memories never leave.
    Sure enough: A brief summer-like interlude on a weekend in the middle of what is turning out to be a surprisingly cold Mt. Gretna winter can teach many lessons. It's a part of the treasure.



Another 'meet the neighbors" party coming as lakeside residents extend a big welcome mat


    WHEN it comes to planning social events, those folks who live across the lake know how to do it.The magic keys: simplicity -- and a big, wide welcome mat for everyone in Mt. Gretna.

    "Come if you can, invite your friends, make your own reservations, order from the menu, pay your own bill and leave when you like:" It's a kinetic formula that's evolved over the past three years to build friendly turnouts and help casual acquaintances become good friends.

    That's exactly the recipe they'll apply for their gathering on Friday, Feb. 8 at the Timbers --  a midwinter party for no other purpose than to welcome newcomers, renew friendships, and meet people you may never have met before.

    While the original idea was to get neighbors together (from Timber Hills, along Lakeview Drive, in tiny nooks like Timber Lane and Timber Cove, on Conewago Hill and in Timber Bridge), event planners are going out of their way this year to make sure that everyone feels welcome -- regardless of where they live in Mt. Gretna and surrounding communities.  "Bring your friends along," says planning committee member Barbara Close. "The whole idea is to get to know one another."  

    The fun starts at 5 pm with dinner ordered at your leisure, anytime after 6 pm.

    Reservations: Call the Timbers at  964-3601.

    Have questions? Call Ms. Close at 964-2184. If you'd like to add your name to the mailing list for future lakeside social events, drop a note to Patsy Oburn ( or Evelyn Koppel ( 




      "SO COLD it hurts," was the way one reader described Mt. Gretna's topsy-turvey winter so far.

    As scenes in this issue show, the extremes of January ranged from downright balmy to decidedly artic as shiver-producing jet streams carved their way through the treetops.  

   Just how cold did it get? Bill Care says records at the Mt. Gretna borough dipped to 10 degrees Tuesday, Jan. 22.

   That sent photographer Bill Shoals into action. Undaunted by the cold, he was out on Jan. 24 to capture this icy scene at the waterfall just east of Mt. Gretna, along Rte. 117.

   Lowest temp on record? Bill Care recalls that it hit 19 below zero in 1994. That was the year Mt. Gretnans will likely never forget: 89 inches of snow piled up during the winter, collapsing the Playhouse.

   Nothing like that has happened since. But, no matter what the groundog says, don't go to the bank on it. Even in an era of global warming, you never know what lies just ahead.


    ONE problem with most job titles today is that it's hard to tell what people actually do. Timber Hills resident Patsy Oburn, winding up a career with the U.S. Government this spring, may have solved that problem. She sent friends and relatives an article her agency published last month.

   As program manager of the Defense Contract Management Agency's Combating Trafficking in Persons Integrated Process Team, Patsy's "a sharp cookie," says neighbor Evelyn Koppel. Patsy makes sure that regardless of where they are in the world, employees of firms hired by the U.S. government have a right to the same standards of fairness, dignity and respect from their employers that government workers themselves receive.   

   Maybe they should just say Patsy's in charge of the Golden Rule. Here in Mt. Gretna, she's one of the spark plugs who help plan, organize and stimulate social get-togethers for her neighbors in TImber Hills.   FLORIDA connections: On a trip to represent the Pennsylvania Chautauqua at a Chautauqua Assembly meeting in Florida, Jack and Jane Anderson (top left and bottom right) ran into Tom and Carol Mayer (top right and bottom left), who plan to move next May to the Villages, located in central Florida. Putting things in order at their new home there, the Mayers ran into Evelyn Duncan (center), now a permanent Villages resident who was honored as Mt. Gretna's 2002 Coghlan Award-winning volunteer.  

   How many of us scoot off to Florida every winter? We're not sure, but it's a bunch as many of us head for America's sun spots. (Mt. Gretna's 2,500 summer population drops 40% over the winter.) Count on most of them to return every summer, however. Even Tom and Carol are penciling in regular trips back to Mt. Gretna on their schedule as planned escapes from Florida's August scorchers.         

   WELL, no, there's nothing especially remarkable about this Cedar Waxwing, which  

showed up outside the Valley Road home of Mt. Gretna Bird Club member Evelyn Koppel last month, just in time to test out her new camera.

In midwinter, even a masked bandit finds pickings are slim.

   Except, that is, he's almost the only game in town these days.  "We're seeing very few birds this winter," she says.
    Normally, we can count on Evelyn and husband Sid Hostetter to come up with a wintertime oddity or two.

    Birds like Icky, the Sandhill Crane that made an unscheduled landing a few years ago, several hundred miles off his normal flight track and stayed the entire winter. Or that Ash Throated Flycatcher, which set off bird tracker alarms across the country in 2009 -- the fourth such sighting in Pennsylvania history. 
   Thus far, however, nothing.
   So an ordinary Cedar Waxwing takes center stage. Come to think of it, however, with that bandit mask, bright yellow tail and red-flecked feathers, he (or she) is not so ordinary. And in midwinter, during a slow news month, any bird (like any dream) will do.

 Mt. Gretna actress and author Veda Boyd

A taste of life
and then some

   CURIOUS thing about cookbooks. Some of the best might never have seen the light of day without the prodding of those who've tasted their treasures.

  "At 77, the last thing I wanted to do is take on another book project," says Veda Boyd. She'd already done several, including a frankly autobiographical novel based on her own turbulent life that landed her alongside Mother Teresa, Condoleeza Rice, Mary Kay Ash and others in an anthology of 365 stories of women whose stories have inspired other women.

   "My children and grandchildren begged me to assemble my mother's recipes which I loved growing up on Fulton Street in Manheim and which they came to love as well," says Veda, who spent over 30 years in Mt. Gretna. "Finally, I decided that a cookbook of family recipes would be a nice legacy to leave," she says.

  No, you can't buy it on, but Veda printed it privately and sells a few extra copies to friends, relatives and customers at a children's toy store near Charlotte, NC where she works part-time. (To order a copy, drop her a note at

   Never heard of Veda Boyd? That probably qualifies you as a genuine Mt. Gretna newbie. For 17 years, Veda ran the Mt. Gretna Sampler, a gift shop that now houses Gretna Emporium next to the Jigger Shop. Before that she was an actress at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse, co-starring with Katherine Claypool in productions like "Dear Me, The Sky is Falling." (That's where she first discovered that speaking with a Jewish accent came naturally. "It was so much fun," she says.) She also helped spark tennis tournaments in the days of the Mt. Gretna clay courts, procuring autographed Ivan Lendl tee shirts for the winners.  

     For many summers she and her family were regulars at the Mt. Gretna Lake, enjoying caviar, cream cheese and crackers and sipping wine with friends such as Dr. Charles and Marla Pitt, who still live on Pennsylvania Avenue.

    One Came to Stay (the novel based on her life and still available on both launched her career as an inspirational speaker and helped secure her place in the anthology, Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference.

    A life well-lived? You could say that, but spend a few minutes with Veda and you know that it wasn't easy. "I experienced frequent physical abuse. I survived traumatic flights to Europe -- once when we almost ditched in the ocean. I was shot at in Paris by the Algerians. I've escaped and been spared death many times. 

    "You don't escape that many times and be given another chance unless there's a purpose for your life. That's what I've discovered in my 77 years -- half of them living it the wrong way and the other half living it the right way. Believe me, there are many more benefits to doing it the right way," she says.  

     Her first book, which took three and a half years to write, "was like giving birth to my first child," she says. "The bottom line is that God can take the worst situation you could possibly have and turn it around for good."        




3d Consecutive year of growth in both membership and activity levels reported for 2012 by Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, offering 8:30 and 10 am services at Fourth Street and Boehm Avenue in the Campmeeting. This year's focus: programs for youth. Pastor Mike Remel welcomes ideas and suggestions from the community.  

$1,500 or more. The savings possible through a Lawn Ambulance subscription should you ever need emergency transportation to the hospital.  Lawn's team of highly trained volunteers covers virtually all Mt. Gretna neighborhoods, including the Campmeeting and Mt. Gretna Heights. They even have a cooperative agreement with neighboring ambulance services so your fees are covered even if they can't respond because they're already tied up on other calls.  

    Coordinator Steve Mrozowski says a Lawn ambulance subscription works like an insurance policy. You'll incur no added out-of-pocket costs other than any insurance deductibles or copays should you need transport to local hospitals, including those in Hershey and Lancaster. If you haven't yet signed up for the service, check it out online at or call 964-2369. 



A midsummer glimpse of Mt. Gretna in the '70s 

By Elizabeth Wein

Faded shuffleboard signs recall fond memories

   WHEN I was a summer kid in Mt. Gretna in the mid-1970s, I felt like the place was deteriorating around me.

Stone steps to Campmeeting adventures 

   There were cottages that had been closed for years with no sign of their owners; the buildings of the Mt. Gretna Park, Otterbein Lodge, Melrose's store, and the Kauffman Mansion all stood empty and unused.

   'Governor Dick's' enclosed springhead at the Frog Pond had been buried by years of runoff. A group of friends and I spent the weekend of my twelfth birthday digging out the mud to reveal the 18th century stones around the spring. (Bet you didn't know that, Heights residents.)
   Apart from the Kauffman Mansion (now revived as the Mt. Gretna Inn) and the spring, all the buildings I mentioned in the previous paragraph are gone now.

    I don't really miss the feeling of faded decay that permeated Mt. Gretna during my pre-teen years -- I feel like Gretna has undergone a renaissance since then. But hints remain here and there of summers that are mostly forgotten, and in 2012 I tried to document a few of these in pictures. I call them my 'decaying Mt. Gretna' snapshots.

   Does anyone recognize these? Enjoy.                 

Above, a cracked shuffleboard court, a speckled railroad marker and an abandoned porch where laughter once reigned
Author, pilot, wife and mother Elizabeth Wein spent summers growing up at the home of her grandmother Betty Flocken, who still lives in Mt. Gretna Heights. She is the author of six books including "Code Name: Verity," a current New York Times best-selling novel for young adults. She now lives in Scotland but continues to visit Mt. Gretna as often as she can. 



When the power goes out,

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.  

Why do lights often flicker but not go out altogether during storms? It's Met-Ed's adaptive relay system, says spokeswoman Karen Baxter. "It gives power lines a chance to 'self-heal,'" she says. "We use it only during storms. Often, a branch will hit a line and then fall off. Under the old system, that branch would cause a fault, and a truck would have to be dispatched to fix it. With the new system, if the line goes out for a couple of seconds, it tries to close again. If it can, it self-heals, and no one has to go out to make the repair. It's annoying because sometimes the power can be off just long enough for you to have to reset your clocks, but it does save maybe a three-hour outage if you must wait for a line truck," she says.
NOTE:  In extreme weather conditions, the Mt. Gretna Fire Company provides emergency shelter during 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, no facilities are available for pets.


DORIS M. STONE (1930 - 2013)

Doris Stone, a native of Lebanon and long-time resident of Mt. Gretna, died at her home Jan. 20 at age 82, surrounded by her family. The widow of Luther W. Stone, whom she married in 1951, she had enjoyed the outdoors of Mt. Gretna, arts and crafts, volunteer work and time -- especially vacations -- with an extensive family, including three sons, two daughters and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A complete obituary appears online., winter


   Depending on their point of view, those who thought we'd escape with yet another mild winter this year were suddenly shocked or delighted to discover a late-arriving winter storm in their midst -- one which blanketed the area with a wispy layer of snow as January headed into its final weekend.

   For photographers like Campmeeting resident Jane Mourer, who captured this late-night scene at left, the unexpected invitation to capture vistas like this, amid the glow of street lamps aided by the light of a full midwinter moon, was almost irresistible.

   Below, on a Sunday afternoon as the snow began to melt, Elaine Hartman, who lives on nearby Mine Road, joined the cavalcade of photographers who grabbed their cameras and, hiking through areas like the 121-year-old Campmeeting, came upon sun-speckled scenes like this. Is it a stretch to imagine that such sights might prompt even confirmed snowbirds to scratch their heads and wonder whether, when it comes to getting the most out of life, winters in places like Sarasota and Palm Springs are truly better?


Calendar updates and stuff to post on the fridge
















Christensen-Howell stained glass


Luise Christensen-Howell, one of the artists at Mt. Gretna's Gallery at La Cigale, will display her stained glass work in an exhibition that runs throughout this month and benefits Aurora Social Rehabilitation Services for adults with mental illness.   

Opening reception tonight (Feb. 1) 

at The Gallery at Lebanon Picture Frame & Fine Art, above the Lebanon Farmer's Market on South 8th St.


Groundhog Day. Look for Penny along Rte. 117, 9 to 11 am with donuts, coffee, waves and good cheer. (She'll be at Mt. Gretna Nursery School Fri. Feb. 1.)


SouperBowl Sunday at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. Following the 10 am worship service members prepare their favorite soup for a luncheon and invite all in the community to join them. (Please bring a donation or can of soup for the food bank.)     

Two $10.95 cheese pizzas for $15.95? for watching those new Anheuser-Busch commercials. . .  and the tantalizing Mt. Gretna Pizzeria special cooked up for the Big Game by Damien and Rose. They'll be open til 8 pm. Call in your orders: 964-1853. (Their biggest Super Bowl order ever? 12 pizzas plus a 5 ft sub) 


Favorite books from childhood: that's this month's theme at the Winterites (see "Insights," above). Bring your books, stir your memories with Kathy Wall and friends, Dessert served. Starts at 1 pm. All welcome, including men. At Mt. Gretna fire hall.  


"Meet the Neighbors" gathering at the Timbers: Folks in the Timber Hills area invite all in the community to come and bring their friends. Just make your own reservations (964-3601), order from the menu, pay your own bill and leave when you like. For details, see article this issue or call Barbara Close, 964-3601. Starts 6 pm.  


Love 'Round the Piano, a pre-Valentine's Day special event by Gretna Theatre at the Lantern Lodge, starting 6:30 pm. See story above.


"From Iron to Steel," the 150-year saga of the Coleman family by Jim Polczynski (inset), 2 pm at Mt. Gretna fire hall. See story, this issue.   


The first of two meetings South Londonderry Twp. supervisors plan this year in Mt. Gretna. At the Timbers, starting at 7 pm. 

Lenten services begin at 7 pm at Cornwall United Methodist Church and continue each Wednesday at churches in Quentin, Rocherty, Rexmont, Mt. Gretna and Cornwall Manor until Good Friday, Mar. 29.


Valentine's Day Spectacular at Le Sorelle Porch and Pantry Cafe. Me choices (advance orders required) include Baked Salmon stuffed with crab meat; Chicken Saltimbocca with ham, Swiss cheese and tomato; Boneless Pork Chop with baked apple cranberry stuffing and gravy; and homemade Fettuccine Alfredo.  (Reservations required by Feb. 11. See full details online or call 717-269-3876.)

Valentine's weekend specials (Feb. 14-16) at the Timbers include Norwegian salmon with pesto, filet mignon with portobella bordelaise, broiled scallops in bacon with teriyaki sauce, and Chicken Florentine. With pianists Ron Waters and Andy Roberts on Thursday and Friday 6 to 9 pm. Tel. 964-3601  


Confirmation classes for 12-14 year-olds begin at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. For information, call the church: 964-3241.  


Another in Gretna Music's series of the most challenging works ever composed for piano. Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata delights audiences and sends chills down the spines of even accomplished performers. Pianist Joel Fan takes up the challenge at Leffler Hall, Elizabethtown College, 7:30 pm.  For performance and pre-concert and dinner: order online or call 717-361-1508.   

Basic Boating, a PA Fish and Boat Commission one-day course for safety certificates required of anyone 10 or older who operates a boat, at the Gov. Dick Nature Center off Pinch Road. To register, call 964-3808 or email (Course cancelled if fewer than 10 sign up.) Hours: 9 am to 5 pm.

On the last Sunday afternoon of January, skaters finally get their chance on the lake .
Jane Mourer photo 

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  




   THIS unofficial community newsletter is merely a retirement hobby, much like woodworking, golf or fishing might be for others. It has no attachment to any particular group or organization nor any political or commercial ax to grind. It produces no income but provides enormous quantities of personal satisfaction because it keeps me engaged with life and in touch with interesting, talented and kind people, many who have come to be friends.

   I don't cover everything. Some topics are better left to daily newspapers, TV and other media with greater skills, wisdom, energy and other resources. Generally speaking, I try to cover things that people have not already read elsewhere. Yet since the majority of readers live outside Mt. Gretna, sometimes this letter summarizes events already covered by local newspapers. I also depend on readers to alert me to news, including obituaries, relating to present and former Mt. Gretnans.

   I send it by e-mail to anyone who asks, without charge and with no expectation of anything other than a gentle prodding when I err. It is not available by U.S. mail, although many readers kindly print copies themselves and mail them to friends and relatives who don't have computers. 


   In preparing each issue, I like to keep in mind the example set by the late Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who felt listeners had invited him into their homes. I also value the practical guidance of Rotary International's Four-Way Test of the Things We Think, Say or Do: "Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?" While that might not be a practical standard for most journalists, I find it a useful guideline for writing a community newsletter and also for living a life.  

   I strive to get this newsletter out on the first day of each month unless I'm traveling, ailing or attending to personal duties that sometimes must take a higher priority. This year, with 2013 travel plans again in the offing, I may have to skip one or two months. 

   It is impossible to adequately thank the many people who help me gather the news, take the photos, then edit, fact-check and proofread this newsletter. They include people with special skills and in-depth knowledge of Mt. Gretna who live both here in this community as well as in places such as New York City, St. Paul, Minn., and Camp Hill and Lititz, Pa. 

   If you have difficulty reading or printing the newsletter, please click on the online version -- which appears through the courtesy of friends at Gretna Computers.

Should you have difficulty seeing the pictures or adjusting text size to fit your screen, click on the "click here" hyperlink which appears just above the masthead.


   Our online archive, I'm told, sometimes proves helpful to people planing to move here and who want to know more about this community, which the late Marlin Seiders famously called "not a place, but a spirit."

   Kindest regards,


Roger Groce