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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Mt. Gretna, Pa. "Not a place, but a spirit."
Surrounding Mt. Gretna this
two plans that will help chart its future
THERE'S more than usual on the
plates of people concerned about the future of Mt. Gretna and its
environs this month.
Two Regional Comprehensive Plans
that will help shape the destiny of neighboring communities are
nearing final approval stages in both townships surrounding Mt.
For many, Mt. Gretna's tree
canopies are its essence.
And in one of them, South Londonderry Township,
supervisors are also mulling a request made several years ago by
Eastern Enterprises to change the zoning of its township properties
from the current designation of Conservation to Residential. Dr.
Eugene Otto, a principal of the firm, had asked for an update on
that request at last month's supervisors' meeting in Mt. Gretna. He
was out of the country at this newsletter's deadline, however, and
unavailable to answer questions concerning reasons for the
Township supervisors have asked for public comment on
the requested zoning change at their Tuesday, March 12 meeting.
They will also entertain comments following their
regular meeting on that date on the final draft of a Regional
Comprehensive Plan that would chart the future for all of South
Londonderry Township, including the Mt. Gretna suburbs of Timber
Hills, Conewago Hill, Timber Bridge and the residents of Timber
Cove and Lakeview Drive.
West Cornwall Township will hold its public
hearing on its Regional Comprehensive Plan Thursday, March 7 at
Cedar Crest High School.
Both plans have attracted widespread comment from
varied perspectives. Two municipalities that were part of the
planning process a year ago (Cornwall Borough and North Londonderry
Township) have since dropped out. Others have also expressed
concerns over what they feel may be an erosion of property owners'
rights through linkage to Agenda
21, a United Nations plan adopted in 1992. Yet
supporters of the Comprehensive Plans feel they are needed to
assure efficient use of existing resources and to protect
environmental and historical preservation
Preserve Mt. Gretna president
Marla Pitt hopes that West Cornwall Township supervisors will
remain committed to the regional plan. "If they pull out, the
township will have no comprehensive plan for future land use. How
do we preserve the land and precious mature forests without a plan
for suggested land use over the next ten years?"
Ms. Pitt says that anyone looking at West Cornwall's
planning map for surrounding municipalities will be struck by just
how scarce are the forests. "We've already lost a large number
of mature trees along each of the four entrances to Mt.
Gretna," she says. "Where is the tipping point for the
environment, the spirit and character of our unique
West Cornwall Township engineer Jeff Steckbeck points
out that even without a Comprehensive Plan, West Cornwall Twp. has
undergone less development in the past two decades than 24 of
Lebanon County's 26 municipalities. That is due to the
township's "excellent zoning map and zoning
ordinance," he says, which do not change because of
Citing the 2011 request to rezone Eastern Enterprises'
land in West Cornwall Twp., Steckbeck noted that "the sitting
supervisors are not inclined to change the zoning of land around
Lebanon County planner Kristopher Troup told a Harrisburg
newspaper earlier this year that he regrets decisions to pull
out of the regional planning process. With revenues limited, he
said, "funding for new roads probably isn't going to happen.
We've got to make what we have work better."
Officials expect big turnouts at both sessions,
and many of those concerned about the future of Mt. Gretna
have urged attendance. (See calendar below for details.)
How a sudden impulse nearly a
century ago could make Easter dinners in Mt. Gretna suddenly easier
It's a story that probably could happen
only here, where sudden impulses to buy a cottage sometimes link
families to Mt. Gretna for the next five or six generations.
As a bonus, it just might help Mt. Gretna homemakers
place a freshly baked ham on their Easter dinner table without even
driving to the store.
AB Groff: He knew what he liked
when he saw it.
The story unfolds all because of New Holland, PA
entrepreneur AB Groff. It was when he decided to take his family to
dinner 92 years ago that the tale begins, at what was then known as
The Kauffman House (today, the Mt. Gretna Inn).
Mt. Gretna, as everyone knows, is a place where sudden
inspirations to purchase cottages can strike without warning. The
place Robert Coleman founded more than a century ago often has a
magnetic effect on visitors.
When AB Groff brought his family here in 1921, he,
too, was entranced by the setting.
While everyone waited to be seated for dinner, Mr.
Groff -- who had started the New Holland Bank as well as the town's
wagon works, hardware and farm implement stores -- decided to take
a stroll around what was then a new neighborhood that would come to
be known as Mt. Gretna Heights.
When he returned a few minutes later to rejoin the
family, he announced that he'd just bought a cottage at 72 Pine
Six generations later, that cottage is still in the
same family and the site of biennial family reunions. It is today
owned by AB Groff's great-granddaughter Patricia Groff Hershock and
her husband Bob, a former 3M executive.
Bob and Pat Hershock, who had grown up in Lancaster
County, returned after he retired from his business career. They
bought and renovated a farm in Mt. Joy. When they later placed it
in the Lancaster Farmland Trust, it was time to move permanently to
the family cottage in Mt. Gretna.
So how does that connect to ham dinners at Easter in
Headed for Easter dinners
It just happens that the Hershock's daughter, Lynn
Thompson (inset, right), also moved back to Lancaster after she
retired last summer from restaurant operations in Southern
Ms. Thompson, 53, thought it might be nice to open a
HoneyBaked Ham franchise not only to keep busy herself ("You
don't know how young 50 is," her mother, now 78, had told
her), but also to keep both of her still-bursting-with-energy
parents engaged as well.
Lynn Thompson: Apples don't
fall far from the tree.
Together they're opening a HoneyBaked Ham Café and
Catering business at Mill Creek Square on Route 30, 2350 Lincoln
Highway East in Lancaster.
Ms. Thompson says they'll take credit card orders by
phone (717-208-3595) and arrange for Mt. Gretna deliveries.
"Depending on how many orders we get from Mt. Gretnans, we'll
either make home deliveries or arrange for pickups Wednesday, March
27 at the Playhouse parking lot," she says.
Ms. Thompson adds that you can register to
receive coupons and other offers online at www.HoneyBakedRewards.com.
"Be sure to select Lancaster as your favorite
location," she adds.
So what about those Groff/Hershock Family Reunions
which take place on alternate years on Pine Avenue? There's another
one scheduled for 2013. But won't Bob, Pat and Lynn simply be too
busy with their new venture?
Not at all, says Ms. Thompson. "Only this year,
the whole affair will be handled by HoneyBaked Cafe and
Questions Readers Ask
A residential area sewer
pumping station in South Carolina.
 I thought you might like to
see how they camouflage sewer pumping stations down South.
This photo is of a site 24' square surrounded
by shrubbery and a gated wooden fence 8' high in a suburban
community in South Carolina.
In Mt. Gretna each summer, an estimated
168,000 visitors come to our community, and many of them enter via
Route 117 where the first thing they see is our sewer pumping
station. All of us who live here have to look at it every day as
well. Can't something be done to change the appearance of a
facility that nearly everyone agrees is simply atrocious?
<> Help is on the way! Enthusiastic
volunteers are now at work with Preserve Mt. Gretna to soften the
appearance of the pumping station. They will be discussing their
ideas with West Cornwall Township officials over the coming weeks
to create a more attractive façade.
Township engineer Jeff Steckbeck says the
municipal authority has approved $600 in funding which could be
used for shrubs, plants and mulch. He himself has offered to
The Mt. Gretna sewer pumping
station built last year along Route 117
Hopefully, others will as well.
Originally the pumping station was to have been
constructed along the rail trail. Later, however, West Cornwall
sewer authority officials decided to move it about 800 yards
downhill to the Route 117 site. "It made sense to put it at
the bottom of the hill to serve the community's needs for many
years to come," says supervisor Glen Yanos.
Both Steckbeck and Yanos say they had hoped to
construct the station 25 feet closer to a creek that runs in back
of the facility to allow a side entrance rather than one out front.
"We recognized the importance of having the station blend in
with the area," says Yanos. Yet an Army Corps of Engineers
biologist asked that it be moved 150 feet away from the creek to
provide a wetlands buffer. Steckbeck points out that eliminated 25
feet of what might have been front yard space for plantings to
shield the facility from public view. Accomplishing that goal is
now the aim of Preserve Mt. Gretna, other community volunteers
including a Master Gardener, and West Cornwall officials like
Yanos. They hope to come up with a solution this spring.
WINTERITES meetings have a
decidedly new look nowadays. Men as well as women now attend monthly
gatherings of a 63-year-old organization that once was the
exclusive province of women. Last month's session -- favorite books
from childhood -- brought out Timber Hills neighbors Dominick
Morriello, Sid Hostetter and Mel Kaplan, among 40 or so others.
"The meetings are open to all in the environs of Mt.
Gretna," says President Donna Kaplan. "I say 'environs'
because some of our members have moved away, but not far
. This month's gathering, on Tuesday, March 5, begins at 1 pm when
the Winterites will assemble at the fire hall for desserts,
conversations and maybe a game of Scrabble, bridge, Canasta or
whatever other games people bring along to share with friends both
old and new. "Playing games is not compulsory," says Ms.
Kaplan. "Socialization is the purpose."
EARLY SIGN OF SPRING? They
certainly look for all the world like the first sprouting buds on a
cherry blossom tree somewhere in Mt. Gretna.
Alas, they're not.
Still, photographer Jane Mourer came up with a pretty
promise of spring in mid-February through this interpretive glance
of a snow-covered tree along Pinch Road opposite Governor Dick
It happened on one of the 19 occasions this season that snow plows
and salt trucks have swung into action. So far, this winter has
been unusually cold, but it has seen only about 15 inches of snow.
No, that's not a record by any means. But the borough
has used more ice-dissolving road salt this year than last, says
Bill Care who, among dozens of other duties, is more or less Mt.
Gretna's official record-keeper of what's known in municipal-speak
as "snow events."
That's because when whatever comes down falls in solid
form, he and his intrepid crew must scurry to shovel, scrape and
subdue it. So it pays to keep tabs on the totals..
Jane Mourer photo
MAYBE the toughest part of being a
groundhog is answering the questions of 4- and 5-year olds.
This year's inquisition zinger came from
Mt. Gretna Nursery School skeptic-with-hand-in-mouth Zen Donten (inset,
left): "Why does a groundhog wear Crocs on her feet?"
Translator Joanne Gingrich (seated to
Zen's right) provides all the answers since Penny can't talk. Her
inspired reply: "Groundhogs get cold just like people."
Making up stuff on the fly is the top
prerequisite of a CGT (Certified Groundhog Translator).
Penny's answer apparently dispelled 5-year-old
Zen's doubts about whether a person was actually inside the furry
suit. Afterwards, he brought forth a Valentine's Day treat he'd
made himself, gave her a big hug and told Penny he loved her.
2013 Restaurateur of the Year. That's
Kendra Feather, daughter of Joe and Laura Feather of Conewago Hill.
Ever since she moved to Richmond, Va. a dozen or so
years ago she's discovered a knack her mother never knew she had:
A Brobdingnagian talent for running restaurants. First it was
a vegetarian restaurant in a university campus community, then a
breakfast and luncheon cafe she named after her late grandmother,
then an elegant spot called The Roosevelt and last year a bakery.
All of which was enough to win her the top award at
this year's Elby, a gathering of nearly 400 Richmonders held last
month to honor excellence in the Richmond area's restaurant
There's nothing quite so lonely as a Mt.
Gretna tennis court in March, so newly elected Men's Club
president Sandy Moritz
(inset) decided to brighten the scene with Murphy, an
11-year-old black Labrador Retriever that, she says, simply adores
Rest assured, however, the whole place is about to
perk up as volunteers turn out at 9 am Saturday, April 6 with rakes
and gloves to spruce up the courts, benches, barbecue pit,
shuffleboard courts and pavilion for summer.
Like to become a member? Call or email Ms. Moritz, 269-3989
for a membership application.
Social memberships provide use of the grounds
including a pavilion and shuffleboard area and cost $20 a year.
"It's a great place for a reunion or family picnic," she
You probably already know that nobody -- absolutely
nobody -- is more serious about their fun than a Duplicate Bridge
So it won't surprise you to learn the details of this
story: When they arrived at the fire hall for their regular 9 am
Thursday morning game on Valentine's Day,
the Winterites bridge players discovered a nearly frozen hall.
That's because sometime in the middle of a 10-degree night the
furnace had suddenly conked out.
Turn around and go home? Not these folks.
They dashed back to their cars, but only to collect
blankets from their trunks. Then, in coats, caps and scarves, the
Somebody called a repairman, of course. But in the
meantime, gloves and mitttens were out. Frozen fingers were a price
stalwarts like Dr. Steve Winer (inset, right) were willing
So were Charlie
Harris, Laura Feather and Pat Quarato (inset, left) and more
than two dozen others.
A few hours later the repairman arrived. He untangled
a kink in the gas line, and the heaters were soon working
again. Play continued with coffee and snacks until nearly 1
The games are a $3 per person fundraiser for the
Winterites. They donate the proceeds to the fire company. "We
didn't charge anyone that day, however," said the group's
president, Donna Kaplan.
Dinosaurs? Don't count them
out just yet
JUST because nobody's seen a dinosaur recently -- and
by that we mean in the last
65 million years or so -- doesn't mean they're not still with us in
one form or another.
Sid Hostetter, who moved here five
years ago and (with wife Evelyn Koppel) promptly founded the Mt.
Gretna Bird Club that attracts enthusiastic birders on hikes every
Friday morning, thinks there's a good chance that dinosaurs
survived as the birds we see around us today.
It's an opinion founded on solid
experience and years of training, an interest kindled by a
life-long fascination with dinosaurs that began around age 6 when
he first discovered tiny plastic dinosaurs packed into cereal
boxes. Over the ensuing years it's been fortified by more than a
decade of scientific research and exploration in the dinosaur bone
beds of Montana.
Laid by a dinosaur 65 million years
ago, maybe it'll wind up someday in an Easter Egg hunt on the
White House lawn.
A retired teacher who spent his summers at
excavation sites and museums unearthing and mounting dinosaurs with
professional researchers, Sid Hostetter probably ranks among the
best-informed amateurs anywhere. A former president of the Delaware
Valley Paleontological Society, he also has one of the
largest Northeastern U.S. private collections of dinosaur fossils,
including fragments of dinosaur eggs he discovered in Montana,
where he often spent summers during his years as an earth science
teacher in suburban Philadelphia.
How do researchers sort through mounds of
dirt, rocks and debris piled up over the centuries to discover
dinosaur remnants, some of which Hostetter now displays in tiny
circular glass cases?
It's a different way of seeing, he says.
"You begin by fixing in your mind that what you're looking for
is something brand new to your brain. It's called a 'search
"Once you get that image firmly in mind,
you can then find these things. But without a search image, you
can't see them at all. It's a matter of training your mind to pick
out, from the thousands of things you're looking at, unique things
of a certain shape, design, texture and sometimes color. It's
something I've done for a very long time, doing it over and over
again. Not everyone has that ability, but it's one reason I was
asked by the professionals to participate in this type of
Why didn't dinosaurs survive?
"My feeling is they did survive," says Hostetter.
"They survived as the birds we see today. The non-avian
dinosaurs died out about 65 million years ago. The first ones were
discovered by people who thought they were giant lizards, so they
classified them as reptiles. They weren't. Yet they weren't exactly
"They were different from any group
that's alive today. They had some characteristics
Sid Hostetter photo
of reptiles and some of birds or perhaps even mammals.
They may have been warm-blooded as babies and then became cold
blooded as they grew into adults," he says.
What does he intend to do with his
private collection? Probably donate it to a museum someday so that
others can also enjoy it, he says.
Meanwhile he's thinking about pursuing a
missed opportunity that occurred when someone from President Ronald
Reagan's staff one day interrupted Hostetter's class with a phone
call. They wanted to know if they could borrow a dinosaur egg to
use at the annual Easter Egg Hunt on the White House lawn.
"I checked with the scientists who
had invited me to participate in their research," says
Hostetter. "But they thought that using a dinosaur egg for
such an event might be considered too frivolous, not quite
appropriate for the serious nature of their scientific
"Now that I'm retired, I have
different thoughts. It might just help kindle youngsters' interest
in science," he says. Maybe even more than plastic dinos in
Mt. Gretna-to-Colebrook travelers this summer: Route 117 will not
be closed this year, thanks to a delay in plans at PennDOT to
replace a small "single span bridge" beneath the highway
that had been scheduled for replacement. The project would have
detoured traffic to Mine and Butler roads north of Mt. Gretna for
five months this summer.
Penn DOT assistant maintenance manager for Lebanon County
Chris Miller now says the project won't get started until May 1,
"I think they ran into permit issues with DER,"he says.
When the work finally gets underway, PennDOT expects to have the
road open in time for the 2014 Art Show weekend.
closed, however, is a road that Mt. Gretnans often use
whenever they're headed to Tony's Mining Company restaurant or
Cornwall Manor. The ancient bridge near the
Cornwall Iron Furnace museum has now been demolished and removed,
says Cornwall borough manager Steve Danz. He's now preparing bids
for its replacement, at an expected cost of $200,000. Dantz thinks
the work will be finished and the road reopened this summer.
THEY'RE going up on homes throughout the Campmeeting: 7" x
5" bronze plaques designating each cottage as being listed in
the National Register of Historic Places.
Created as a
Campmeeting Association fundraiser by resident Ben Wiley and
featuring Andy Shemeta's 1992 Centennial pencil drawing of the
Tabernacle, the first 100 plaques sold out in 23 days. More are
expected, hopefully with deliveries sometime in May. For details,
contact Campmeeting office manager Debby Erb, email@example.com.
CORNWALL Police last month reported a new twist on an old scam. An
elderly woman received a phone call offering free medical supplies
for her diabetes tests "if she qualified." To determine
her eligibility, however, the caller needed her Medicare account
number (which, of course, is exactly the same as the Social
Security number with one extra digit).
provided her Medicare number, police determined the call had
originated from the Dominican Republic and was, in fact, a scam.
"Never provide Medicare account information over the
phone," police said in an email advisory to residents.
To receive such emailed alerts from police chief Bruce
Harris, drop him a note (firstname.lastname@example.org). Cornwall Police
Department provides coverage for most of Mt. Gretna together with
South Londonderry Township P.D. (which serves the Mt. Gretna areas
of Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge).
A sprightly series heads into
Mt; Gretna has a knack for turning spontaneous
inspirations into good things that last. Maybe it's bound up in our
After all, nobody actually asked Robert Coleman to
start a railroad and build a town here in the first place.
Music at Gretna started when Carl Ellenberger decided to
invite a few friends to play classical music on Sunday afternoons.
The annual art show began when a handful of artists who
lived here got together nearly 40 years ago and came up with the
idea to hold an exhibit for maybe a few people who liked art.
And 16 years ago who would have thought that organ
recitals in the cozy living room of a private home would launch a
series that would come to be recognized as a coveted
"must" on the schedules of aspiring performers.
Few saw the promise. Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney,
however, acted on its potential.
This year, now in their 80s, they'll again welcome
guest performers and audiences into their gracious two-story home
at the intersection of Princeton Avenue and Pinch Road.
It will be the 16th year for a four-concert
series in July that annually brings to Mt. Gretna organists with
exceptional talent and ascending careers.
Ryan Brunkhurst: "native
For its 16th season, Hewitt has lined up: an organist
who also oversees 16 different choirs; a Wilkes-Barre artist who
performs regularly in Europe as well as America; the music director
at one of Harrisburg's most celebrated churches; and the young man
who became perhaps the youngest church choir director in America
during his early organ studies under the tutelage of Hewett and
McAnney here in Mt. Gretna.
[ ] Wednesday, July 3: Helen
Anthony, Derry Presbyterian Church organist in Hershey. A graduate
of Westerminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, Ms. Anthony not
only concertizes but also oversees 16 choirs.
[ ] Thursday, July 11: Mark Laubach,
organist and choirmaster at St. Stephens' Episcopal Church in
Wilkes-Barre. A Canon Precentor of the Diocese of Bethlehem, he
regularly performs in Germany and Great Britain as well as America,
[ ] Thursday, July 18: Eric R. Riley, of
Harrisburg's Market Square Presbyterian Church, has performed
throughout the country and appears regularly at the Festival dei
Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy. A critic in Bologna, Italy wrote,
"Riley enchanted the audience."
[ ] Thursday, July 25: Ryan A.
Brunkhurst, "our native son," says Hewitt. Brunkhurst,
currently studying Organ Performance at the Jacobs School of Music,
is assistant organist at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in
Indianapolis. He will soon resume duties as assistant organist in
Louisville, KY at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church.
Brunkhurst began his professional life at age 13 here at Mt.
Gretna's United Methodist Church as both organist and choir
Concerts that include light refreshments are presented
without charge but donations are appreciated. Rhoda Long (304-0248)
welcomes volunteers who can help with snacks.
Space is limited, and details concerning seating
reservations are usually announced in the spring.
With a knack for picking stars, Gretna Theatre's
headed for Broadway
DON'T THINK for a minute that Gretna Theatre goes to
sleep in the winter. They're lining up shows, auditoning more than
a thousand actors both here and in New York City, presenting
Valentine's Day specials and arranging bus trips to Broadway like
the one coming up this month.
on the website for two Broadway choices this month -- both with
actors who have also starred at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse. Scott
Wakefield (here in 2010 as Will Rogers and back last month for the
Love Round the Piano
Valentine's Day favorite at Lantern Lodge) appears in
the new musical Hands on a Hard Body. Jack Scott (in Gretna
Theatre's 2011 production of Funny Girl) is now on
Broadway in Disney's Newsies.
The $145 trip offers a luxury motor coach
complete with coffee and donuts for the 9 am departure, free time
in Manhattan, and a glass of wine for the return trip which departs
at 7 pm. Details appear online.
Coming: Another community-wide
yard sale in Timber Hills
IT'S the third annual yard sale for
organizers in Timber Hills who are leading efforts to make the
neighborhood more of . . . well, a neighborhood. With game nights,
bring-your-own-beverages-and-treats-to-share parties at a private
home in summer and order-what-you-want gatherings at the Timbers in
mid-winter, the initiative is well underway.
Yard sales are another ingredient to help folks get to
know their neighbors better. The first two sales have worked so
well that another is coming up Saturday, April 20.
Patsy Oburn asks those who want sale items or
addresses shown in advance publicity and maps to contact her (email@example.com) before
Monday, April 1.
For Gretna Theatre, it's a
country music night
SHE'S a two-time Grammy winner, had 14 top five country music hits
with six topping the charts at No. 1, and sold over six million
records with tunes like this (click
here for video).
It sounds like a sure sell-out for Country Music Female Vocalist of
the year Pam Tillis (inset) when she stops here at the Mt.
Gretna Playhouse June 8. Never heard of Pam Tillis? Maybe
it's time to broaden your horizons. For sure it's time for country
music fans to reserve their seats. This one's likely to be SRO. Details
BOOK STUDY planned at Mt. Gretna United
Methodist Church next month, with teachers Dave Garver and Ron
Jones leading four weekly discussions on faith sharing, based on a book
by William Fay. Jones is now taking orders (at firstname.lastname@example.org) for anyone
who wishes to attend the sessions or simply obtain a copy of the
JOHN E. WENGERT (1933 - 2013)
JOHN WENGERT, 79, a former president of Wengert's
Dairy who lived north of Mt. Gretna on Butler Road, died Feb. 26 in
Good Samaritan Hospital. He and wife Marie Bowman Wengert
had been married 48 years. A graduate of Lebanon High School, where
he played varsity football and was Student Council president, he
graduated in 1955 from Yale University and then served in the U.S.
Navy until 1958. Afterwards, he attended Penn State University for
a year to study dairy science.
Among his many activities, both locally and
statewide, he was president and chairman of the Lebanon County
United Way, acting president of the Lebanon YMCA Board, president
of the Lebanon Valley Conservancy and served as an advisor to the
Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails, which runs through Mt. Gretna and
was founded by his son John B. Wengert. Services will be held
Saturday, March 2 at 12 noon at Cornwall United Methodist Church. A
complete obituary appears online.
STANLEY T. HOLLINGER (1920 - 2013)
STAN HOLLINGER, 92, a former board member of the Mt.
Gretna Campmeeting Association and active member of the Mt. Gretna
Bible Festival program committee, died in a Mechanicsburg hospital
Feb. 25. An Army Air Corps veteran of WWII, he had worked at
Olmsted Air Force Base in Middletown and, later, at the Navy Supply
Depot in Mechanicsburg, where he retired.
Surviving are Edith, his wife of 53 years, two
daughters and a granddaughter.
A celebration of life service Monday, March 4 at 3 pm
will be held at the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, to which
contributions in his honor may be made. A complete obituary appears
ALMA R. SCHMALZER (1922-2013)
FROM the time she moved to the apartments in Timber
Hills in 2003 with her husband Hank, the former Lebanon High School
football coach, Alma Schmalzer quickly converted it into a warm and
welcoming spot not only for close neighbors but for the whole
A graduate of Mary Washingtion College and a special
education teacher at Cleona Elementary School, she had seemingly
dedicated her life to extending a helping hand wherever she saw a
need, says her friend and neighbor Donna Kaplan.
Born in Vienna, Va. 90 years ago, she died Jan. 31 at
home. Survivors include her husband of nearly 68 years, Henry W.
Schmalzer, two sons, a daughter, eight grandchildren and nine
"She was a cheerful woman, active in her church
at Schaefferstown and involved as a volunteer at Cedar Haven,"
says Ms. Kaplan. "She never passed by anyone without stopping
to offer a ride or perhaps just to chat. Her always thinking of
others made you think of her." A complete obituary appears online.
NOTED in passing. . . Kevin
Gray, a former Mt. Gretna Playhouse performer who billed
top roles on Broadway in "Miss Saigon," "Music of
the Night" and became the youngest actor ever to play the
titular role in "The Phantom of the Opera," died of a
heart attack Feb. 11 in Hartford, Conn. He was 54. When he appeared
here in "The Three Phantoms" in 2008, Gray reminded the
Playhouse audience that he had been here once before, in 1987.
That turned out to be a magical year for Gretna
Theatre Associate Artistic Director Renee Krizan, just out of
college. The performers on Mt. Gretna's stage that year not only
convinced her to renew a season ticket subscription, but -- under
the enchanting spell of Gray, fellow lead performer Faith Prince
and a bit player by the name of John Pielmeier who later wrote the
award-winning "Agnes of God" -- Renee also determined to
become "a part of the magic." She's been an
integral part of Gretna Theatre ever since.
JUDITH KOOY UHLIG (1914-2013)
JUDY UHLIG, 98, died Feb. 19, in Anne
Arundel Medical Center, of pulmonary complications. She was
predeceased by her husband, William "Frank" Uhlig. Prior
to moving to Annapolis, she and her husband had lived for a time
alongside the Wenzlers in Timber Hills Apartments. That put her
close to a daughter and her husband who lived in the Campmeeting,
recalls Nancy Hatz, herself a Mt. Gretna resident of long standing.
Next-door neighbor Donna Kaplan remembers that Judy
"had coffee ready for us and the movers when we moved
Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Ms. Uhlig was a graduate of
the New York School of Art. She enjoyed travel and spent time in
South Korea and the Caribbean with her husband, a consultant for
SCORE (formerly, Service Corps of Retired Executives).
She attended Zion Lutheran Church in Lebanon where she sang
in the choir. An accomplished pianist, she also sang with the Sweet
Adelines and the Harmonia Society. A
complete obituary appears online.
Updates & Stuff to
someone say Irish dinner?
SUNDAY, MARCH 3:
Buffet breakfast with all the trimmings at the fire hall,
starting at 8 am and continuing until noon. Just stuff your
donation in the firefighter's boot (where donations usually average
close to $11 per person and some folks generously stuff in $50 and
Music by the fire. Bring your instruments for a bluegrass session
and sing-along at the Governor Dick Nature Center, 1 to 4 pm.
FRIDAY, MARCH 8:
Reservations deadline to honor our First Responders --
that big Lasagna (meat or vegetable) Night Dinner at the fire hall
March 20 by Chef-on-the-Go Becky. Donation: $20 per person, payable
to Kathy Snavely, P.O. Box 622, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.
THURSDAY, MARCH 7:
Hearing for the Cornwall-Lebanon Regional Comprehensive Plan, Cedar
Crest High School, 6 pm. Details appear online
SUNDAY MARCH 9-10:
auditions at Mt. Gretna Fire Hall for Gretna Theatre, 10 am - 6 pm.
Note: Sunday's call is only for those with local housing and
transportation. See website for details.
on South Londonderry and Palmyra Regional Multi-Municipal
Comprehensive Plan at the Municipal Building, 20 W. Market St.,
Campbelltown. The session will begin at approximately 8 pm,
immediately following the supervisors' monthly meeting. An original
draft of the plan appears online.
FRIDAY, MARCH 15:
Naturalist program at Governor Dick Park for children 5 and up, 7-8
pm. Registration: $10. Details: 964-3808 or email
SATURDAY, MARCH 16:
Irish dinner at Le Sorelle. Take your choice: Sausage in puffed
pastry; Beef, Beer and Blue Cheese Pot Pie; or Cheesy Baked Fish.
With appetizers like Irish potato cakes and desserts that include
Irish Trifle and Chocolate Beer Cupcake with whiskey filling.
Details: Call Amy 269-3876, email@example.com.
hailed as one of the six greatest pianists of the last 50 years,
performs works of Beethoven and Chopin in a Gretna Music concert at Elizabethtown College, 8 pm at the Leffler
five-session R.A.D. self-defense course for women,
sponsored by Cornwall Police Dept., begins at Cornwall Elementary
School, 5:30-9:30 pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call
Stephanie Burris, 274-2071. Offered without charge.
RESPONDERS DINNER, honoring those who protect our community.
A meat or vegetable lasagna dinner with Italian bread, salad
and dessert. Starting 6:30 pm at the fire hall. Kathy Snavely
has details: (email@example.com).
at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. 7 pm
Easter Egg Hunt, 11 am at the Chautauqua playground. Rain date:
March 30. (Note: Egg dyeing fun begins at Fellowship Hall at Mt.
Gretna UMC, Thursday, March 21, 6:30 pm)
Owl Prowl with
naturalist Tom Powers at the Governor Dick Nature Center. Dress for
an outdoor adventure calling owls. 6:30 pm
Place, a fellowship luncheon at Mt. Gretna UMC, noon. Everyone
invited; free will offering.
Cornwall Twp. Planning Commission expected to consider approval for
a 10-home development on 37 acres zoned Residential Forest and
located along Mine and Butler roads. 7 pm at the township
office, 73 South Zinns Mill Rd.
Thursday services, Mt. Gretna UMC, 7 pm
service, Soldiers Field, 7 am; traditional worship services at Mt.
Gretna UMC, 8:30 and10 am.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
You don't have to travel very far before
you wonder why you ever left Mt. Gretna in the first place.
I read about those new statistics they call the
"Happiness Index." They say it's a way to tell where
people are happiest. How do they really know?
What they might want to do instead is come up with a
"Trust Index," something that measures just how jumpy
people are about walking down a street, locking up their car or
leaving their tip out in the open on a restaurant table.
Down in a small Southern town last month, three
well-dressed ladies came into the best pancake place in the
vicinity and rushed through a late breakfast. As they were leaving,
one turned to go back and move their tip to the cash register.
"I'd better not leave this on the table," she said.
Other than a guy seated at the counter, Carol and I
were the only two people in the place. We resisted the urge to ask
who, exactly, she thought might want to deprive the waitress of her
hard- earned money. Then we noticed their license plate. A thousand
miles from Chicago, they probably had never really left.
That brought to mind a fellow who pulled up in a car
outside the Mt. Gretna post office, parked it along Princeton
Avenue, and inserted one of those unwieldy devices known as
"The Club" (a hardened steel anti-theft bar) across his
"You're not from around here, are you?" I
"How'd you know?" he asked.
Then he turned around, looked back at his car parked
on a placid street, a Club locked down tight and, with a wry grin,
answered his own question.
Want an antidote to jumpiness? Give up 24/7
television news channels and get out to talk with people who live
in the neighborhood, people having breakfast at the pizza shop, and
people you meet in the post office. "One of the healthiest
things for any community," said Andy Rooney, "is a post
office where everyone comes to pick up mail." Let's hope ours
continues. It's one of those spots that regularly brightens your
outlook, where the people you meet every day restore your faith in
Of course, Mt. Gretna isn't perfect. We have
just enough reminders to keep us on our toes.
Every so often the Cornwall Police Department
sends out email notices when somebody tries to take advantage of us
older folks, or actually make off with something from the inside of
a house. It doesn't happen often, but it happens just often enough
to send a beneficial jolt. We all need something to push up
against, something besides frosty winters and soaring tax
Still, Mt. Gretna may be the only place where you can
walk out of an art gallery with a painting that has an honor system
envelope on the back, addressed to the artist who'll receive your
As far as I know, they never get burned. People like
to be trusted.
About 20 years ago, in the same Southern town where
the Chicago ladies retrieved their tip last month, a woman at a
local store told me I didn't need an ID for the personal check I
wrote. "You have an honest face," she said. Every time I
go back to that town, I make it a point to stop in her store and
A Trust Index? Maybe it isn't such a bad idea after
I'll bet they'd give Mt. Gretna a high score.
P.S. It is in this space that I usually add a reminder that
this newsletter is nobody's official anything. It is, like a
crossword puzzle, merely a retirement pastime. It keeps me out of
the kitchen and in touch with people I like -- people who also
happen to like Mt. Gretna, which, as the late Marlin Seiders once
observed, "is not a place, but a spirit."
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