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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 139                                                                                                          April, 2013


The Mt. Gretna School of Art:   

As summer approaches, a vision nears reality 

   THE list of faculty all-stars grows longer, support from colleges across the country grows stronger, and the outlook for a six-week Mt. Gretna School of Art this summer is brighter than ever.

  Jay Noble, 36, its upbeat and visionary founder, reports that nearly every one of the 50 or

Jay Noble

so art schools he's contacted across the country has at least one to four qualified students they'd like to see immersed this summer in the intensive studies his program will offer here. Applications have already begun to come in, but most are expected in the last-minute rush before an April 15 deadline.  

   Noble, an art instructor and lecturer at York College of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania College of Art in Lancaster, is now immersed himself. He's on a final push for funds to help lower the $3,900 tuition cost so it will be affordable to all of the top 18 to 20 art students who qualify, regardless of their ability to pay. He is within $12,000 of reaching that goal.

   He has received key support from leaders in the art world, including the Chautauqua Institution's Director of Visual Arts Don Kimes, who is "relieved and enthusiastic" about the Pennsylvania Chautauqua's plans for a school of Art in Mt. Gretna modeled after his own. Kimes can usually fit only 40 students into his $4,000 program in New York each summer, but last year had to turn down 30 others. He and Noble believe that some who can't attend the Chautauqua School of Art will be among those who come to Mt. Gretna. Kimes will be one of the guest lecturers here this summer. 
    They will be supported by an all-star faculty of instructors and visiting critics with experience and teaching backgrounds at the art schools of Yale, Dartmouth, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Italy's International School of Painting and other renowned art centers -- including the New York School of Painting and the New York Chautauqua Institution itself.

           Its affordable cost is an attraction. "Our students will come expecting to do household chores, cooking and cleaning," says Noble, who is now working alongside wife Heidi with their two-year-old son Henry from a crowded home office in Lancaster, where their living room is crammed with post cards, posters, envelopes and mailers as the deadline approaches. Heidi, also a graduate of the New York Chautauqua school, is very supportive, he says.

    Students will live in rented cottages and be welcomed by residents who will serve as hosts and help them integrate into Mt. Gretna summer life. They include

Jennifer Veser Besse

Susan and

Lou Schellenberg

David Wood, Dan and Pat Hottenstein, Susan and Drew  Hostetter, Bill and Barbara Kleinfelter, Bill Barlow and Julia Bucher, and Kristi Percell. Two other Mt. Gretnans, educators with ties to Elizabethtown College and Millersville University, Jennifer Veser Besse and Lou Schellenberg, serve on the Mt. Gretna School of Art board of directors.  

    Student cottages will be stocked with food for breakfasts and lunches. Dinners will be pizza parties, group cookouts, or private dinners with their student hosts. "We have everything tied together in one simple package," Noble says. That's a big advantage over schools offering programs of similar quality but in cities such as New York or overseas, where "everything is expensive," he says.

    The faculty is growing, with recent additions of the lead drawing instructor from Drexel University and guest critic Tim Conte and College of William and Mary drawing instructors Linda Carey and Bill Barnes.

    Noble says the Wednesday morning lecture series will be open to everyone at no charge. The Hall of Philosophy programs will include retired art history professor Stanley Grand; Chautauqua's Don Kimes ("Interruptions and the Creative Life: The only people who ever get any place interesting are the ones who get lost"); Drexel University professor Victoria Barnes ("Halfway Up: Notes on New Work"); Stony Brook University painting teacher Chris Semergieff ("Lecture on My Work"); artist Linda Carey of the College of William and Mary ("Affinities: An Artist Talk"), and Amber Scoon of Texas A&M Corpus Christi ("Quantum Art: Mimesis, Uncertainty and Desire").

    Noble expects local residents will want to attend some of the two-day workshops that will be open to all. Details will soon be posted on the school's website.
    The public will also be able to join the students and instructors on bus trips to art museums in New York and Philadelphia this summer as space permits.

    Noble says preliminary research showed a lot of support for his idea among art school faculties across the country, but equally important has been the support he's received from Mt. Gretna. "The Pennsylvania Chautauqua board was excited to see us enhance their own mission," he says. "Now others are just plain excited about the quality of teachers and artistic resources we'll be bringing to Mt. Gretna."



Cicada Festival, draping a cloak around its 2013 season, introduces the availability of season tickets     

    IT has taken on the Top Secret flavor of a CIA plot.
  The Cicada Festival's lineup for this summer, unlike in years past, is still under wraps.     
   Nobody's breathing a word about who's coming, when they'll be on stage, or how much it'll cost to buy a ticket to this bargain-priced series which runs Aug. 5-13 and is energized solely by a team of spirited volunteers rather than a paid staff.
   Wait til mid-April, says the always enthusiastic but this year exceedingly tight-lipped Ceylon Leitzel, who also serves as the festival's artistic director. That's when the mailings will go out and, he expects, ticket orders will start flooding in.
   T year, in an effort they hope will "streamline procedures and make ticket distributions fair to everyone," the Cicada team has cut off advance publicity and introduced new procedures. But patrons will have to follow instructions to the letter or their orders will be returned.

    The big news, says Leitzel (inset, accepting a Community Builder award from the Chamber of Commerce last December), is, for the first time, the availability of season tickets.
   Under the new guidelines, that should help curb recurring problems that can include premature ticket distributions, orders received in advance of "sell dates," and big orders for one or two shows that leave fewer seats in the 714-seat Playhouse for everyone else. Such practices can make ticket-buying for the the majority of patrons unfair, he says.
   So this year, before anybody gets a single ticket, all season ticket orders will be processed first, according to postmarks. A couple of weeks later, box office volunteers will begin processing the individual ticket orders, again on a first-come, first-served basis. 

   So here's what you need to know:
   Season ticket buyers: Use the separate Season Tickets Order Form that will be enclosed with the envelope you receive in mid-April (provided that your name appears on the Cicada's list of people who've ordered tickets in advance over the past three years.) 

   You must mail your season ticket orders with payment separately (not mixed in with  individual show ticket orders). Envelopes with combined season and individual show ticket orders will be returned, according to a Cicada Festival handout.
    Individual show ticket buyers: Orders for individual shows will be processed starting May 1. 
    And for everybody: Telephone orders (964-2046) cannot be accepted before June 3.

       Leitzel says the new policies are an attempt to be fair to all who want to buy Cicada Festival tickets, which -- at $13 per show in past years -- have been sell-outs at the Playhouse, with entertainers like Phil Dirt and the Dozers, Stayin' Alive, The 1910 Fruit Gum Company and other family entertainment favorites.  

    Need more information: Check their website ( or Facebook page. Then wait for the mail order forms to arrive in your mailbox.



A night to honor the First Responders

   IT was a "sold-out crowd," said Kathy Snavely, who grabbed on to an idea suggested by others and brought everyone together. More than a hundred showed up on an unusually bone-chilling night in the middle of March.   
   They came to express their gratitude for the men and women who serve in both

Serving those who serve. Community volunteer Rhoda Long, Borough councilwoman Ginny Minnich and art show director Linda Bell serve lasagna dinners to Lawn Ambulance president Steve Mrozowski, left, and Mt. Gretna Fire Company president Joe Shay.

volunteer and full-time positions, who work at night and on weekends, who often must say goodbye to warm dinners with families and answer a call, who  sometimes must put their lives on the line to protect ours. 
   It was the first such dinner ever held here, an idea spawned by Jim Miller and Ned Wallace at last year's Fourth of July band concert.
    From there, Ms. Snavely -- herself one of the area's busiest and most admired women -- joined with Peggy O'Neil, Earl Lenington, Chuck and Rhoda Long, Bill and Barbara Kleinfelter, Cliff Snavely, Linda Bell, Ginny Minnich, Tom Mayer, Barney Myer, Becky Briody and John Anderson to make the idea of a community dinner in tribute to Mt.Gretna's First Responders a reality.
   And when it was over, everyone in the hall agreed it wouldn't be the last. The annual recognition dinner is likely to become a regular feature of Mt. Gretna life from now on, probably in the fall.

   At this year's dinner, fire company fundraiser Tom Mayer (inset), up details of a $400,000 campaign, acknowledged the efforts of 35 responders in attendance, some with their children and spouses as guests. They were honored along with those whose duties required they  be elsewhere.  

   Mayer ran through a list of their accomplishments: 198 fire calls last year including 32 that required the firefighters to extinguish blazes that sometimes engulfed entire homes and buildings, plus a mesmerizing assortment of downed trees, vehicle fires, chemical and fuel spills, gas leaks and 45 medical emergencies.  


   In addition were the reassuring contributions of others, whose duty is to stay close at hand. That's where ambulance crews from the nearby community of Lawn fit in, standing by 24/7 to respond to calls for help throughout the region. And police patrolmen from

A community of 1,500 honored 35 first responders who could be there, as well as many who couldn't.   

Cornwall, who annually log over 1,000 miles in a tiny borough less than two miles wide, with  many additional hours on roads and byways surrounding the 312 homes of the Campmeeting and the Heights. 

   They also share with other responders the

Gracie at dinner with dad, policeman Dave Troxell.

burden of protecting adjacent communities in 

a network of reciprocal agreements that make maximum use of equipment and manpower. 

    Contributions, some by residents unable to be there, put this appreciation night in perspective.  

   After all expenses for the night were paid, organizers had $510 left over. Those funds went to help pay down the debt, some $60,000 still remaining in the fire company's "burn the mortgage" campaign, which the firefighters hope to wind up this year.  

   To reach that goal, they will need our help as much as we surely need theirs.  



Here they are, the top 3 things to do this summer: 


  Out of the more than 200 "things to do" that'll be in the 2013 Summer Calendar due out in a few more weeks, which would you pick as the Top 3?

   It's a diabolical, unfair question. Every year we ask summer programs coordinator Kathy Snavely and Pennsylvania Chautauqua president John Feather to name their favorites.

   President Feather, a man of shrewd political instincts, always wisely demurs. Ms. Snavely, a brave soul, kindly consents. Only this year she encouraged others to join in this perilous venture. The entire Chautauqua Summer Programs committee boldly their votes to come up with this "don't miss" list.
   All will take place in the Hall of Philosophy:

Wednesday, June 26:

   Poetry and Short Story Readings by three local writers: Hannah Fouche (the 16-year-old Timber Hills resident who has already a published book to her credit), noted playwright and former Mt. Gretnan Maureen Grape, and Joseph Wade, who once worked for the Lebanon Daily News and now lives in New York City. At 7:30 pm.

Friday, July 26:

   The Ghosts of Mt. Gretna's Past. It's part of Lebanon County's 250th anniversary celebration and the gathering of the Chautauqua Trail. (Representatives from Chautauqua communities across America will, for the first time, hold their annual meeting in Mt. Gretna. The audience at this 7:30 pm assembly will hear stories about the buildings and characters from Mt. Gretna history in a program sponsored by the Pennsylvania Chautauqua and the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society.

Monday, August 12:
   Kid's Art Camp: Children who've completed kindergarten through 5th grades are invited to sign up for a  creative afternoon session led by artist Barb Kleinfelter, Karl Gettle and Mt. Gretna Emporium owner Stacey Pennington who'll teach them how to make baskets, sharpie art, ice cream and other neat things. They'll display their creations at the Aug. 17-18 Mt. Gretna Art Show. $50 per child. Registration required a week in advance.

   Our thanks to Ms. Snavely and her committee, which includes the intrepid Peggy O'Neil, Bonnie Anderson, Barb Kleinfelter, Stacey Pennington, Bill Gifford, and Jack and Jane Anderson.

   As for the Mt. Gretna Newsletter, here are our top three 'things to do" this summer:
(1) Any of the lectures that will be open to the public at the Mt. Gretna School of Art, (2) Bill Gifford's Friday morning Writer's Series in the Hall of Philosophy, and (3) The Susquehanna Chorale; the Bible Festival's 2013 schedule's not out yet, but when the chorale comes to the Tabernacle, don't miss it.



Questions readers ask

<> Have you seen the logging that's just started at Governor Dick? Judging by the boundary markers, it looks like they're going to cut most of the east end of the park. They say they are following a "forest management plan" but it looks appalling. On paper, their plans sound good, but in practice they are destroying a real treasure. All to pay for that Nature Center that no one uses and whose budget, according to one watchdog website, has gone from $6,000 to $160,000. They need to come up with a better plan for funding their Nature Center, preferably one that doesn't require chain sawing nature. I'd rather see wildlife in a healthy forest, not mounted in a glass case.    


[] The Governor Dick Park Newsletter reports that the program now underway in the 1,105-acre park is restricted to a 64-acre parcel where one-third of the trees will be removed. Most will be tulip and birch trees which are to be replaced by beech, oaks "and other desirable species that will have a chance to grow with vigor." A spokesperson says that removal operations will be followed by re-grading, mulching, reseeding, trail repair and tree re-plantings. He adds that, as a matter of public record, the park's 2013 budget is $48,625 (not $160,000) and that all who are concerned about park operations are welcome to attend and ask questions at board meetings, normally held on the third Thursday of every month except December. The Park's Earth Day program April 20 includes a session, beginning at noon, devoted to a review of the current forestry management program.  

   Last year, 4,631 people visited the Nature Center, including 1,231 who attended its hikes and nature programs, one of which, a talk on mushrooms, attracted 82 people enthusiastic about the subject. Other popular programs include bluegrass music on the porch (or inside by the fire on cold days), bouldering competitions and programs for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  Coordinator Audrey Wells adds that over 100 students from two different schools will be at the Center next month as a new season gets underway. guy with a plea for help,
but not one you'd expect

   GARY SHRAWDER, the guy with a big smile and a small power-chair (that also serves as the driver's seat in his ramp-equipped minvan), runs around Mt. Gretna, never seems to notice he's "disabled," and rarely if ever asks anybody for help.
   Turns out, he does need help, but not for anything you'd expect.
   Gary, with more than a dollop of community spirit and goodwill, lives on the north side of Television Hill but is as devoted to Mt. Gretna as much as anyone who lives on the south side.
   Year in and year out, he schedules the all-volunteer concession stand staff at the Playhouse, where Chuck Long, a volunteer from Timber Bridge, orders the popcorn and sodas, candy bars plus other refreshments they sell.
   Bottled water, surprisingly, is their biggest seller. Who'd have thought that a decade ago? Selling water at $1 a bottle: Good for us and good for the Playhouse, which nets a helpful sum each year to offset at least some of the financial burden for those who perform at the Playhouse and keep alive a nearly century-old tradition of outdoor theater in a tiny woodland borough that ranks as one of the nation's smallest.
   Gary sends out a call, not yet urgent, but nevertheless heartfelt, for more volunteers at the concession stand this season.
   You can sign up for the days and times you want, meet new people and also have a good time watching the shows -- until just before and after intermission.
   Like to help? Give Gary a call for more details at 272-2284 or drop him an email note:   A summer job that opens doors

   Music at Gretna internships lead to jobs in big places. Students who've served in summer assignments at the Mt. Gretna festival rated as one of Time magazine's "six of the best" have gone on to careers at Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony.

   Coordinator Carl Kane wants to hear from students 18 or older who have good interpersonal, writing, research and design skills. They'll need to supply their own housing and reliable transportation and be willing to work weekends. The assignment comes with a $2,000 stipend. For more information, call Kane at 717-361-1508.


  Preserve Mt. Gretna plans public update session next month

   President Marla Pitt says they'll hold a meeting "to update the community," probably Sunday, May 5 from 2 to 4 pm in the Mt. Gretna fire hall. "Watch for flyers to confirm the date," she said in an advisory bulletin received just before deadline.    


    Zoning change request 

   "Don't mess with Gretna Lake," an editorial in the Lancaster New Era last month, brought a prompt response from Gene Otto IV, marketing director of Eastern Enterprises, which operates the 75-year old Mt. Gretna Lake and Beach.  

   Otto, a Lancaster County resident and attorney, wrote in a letter to the editor that there were no development plans near the lake and beach. The company intends to operate "this summer and into the future as it has for more than 75 years," he wrote.
   Otto said South Londonderry Township supervisors had been asked "to correct a zoning mistake" made in 2003, when zoning was changed from residential to conservation. "This change was made without notifying us," he said. Township officials received a letter Jan. 17, 2011 inquiring about the matter. Dr. Eugene Otto, a principal of the firm, approached the supervisors at their February 2013 meeting in Mt. Gretna and asked if they intended to act on his request.  
   South Londonderry Township officials, now reviewing the matter, have received messages from residents who made real estate investments in nearby properties during the years since 2003 with an understanding the lake and surrounding land was protected from residential development by the conservation zoning. The matter will ultimately be decided by the supervisors.


    Trip to New York Chautauqua coming in August   

   Jack Anderson says the Historical Society of Hershey and Derry Township has extended an invitation to Mt. Gretnans to join on a visit to the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York Aug. 4 to Aug. 9. It's part of "Diplomacy Week" and includes a five-night stay at the Athenaeum Hotel, with entertainment and lectures throughout the Chautauqua campus. Fliers are at the Mt. Gretna Post Office; see other details online or at the historical society office, 717-520-0748. Registration deadline: Wednesday, May 1.  


  What's up at the Winterites? 

Since their own retirements 15 years ago, former math teacher Dianne Shadle (inset) and husband Jim, who was a school principal, have helped

Calm, smart and trainable, racing greyhounds quickly win the hearts of adoptive owners.

racing greyhounds make the retirement adjustment themselves -- from race tracks to private homes and a world of steps, mirrors, sliding glass doors and other things they've never seen before.

   Contrary to a popular misconception, once they finish their racing careers, greyhounds are neither high-strung like thoroughbred horses nor do they need a lot of exercise. "Absolutely not true," says Ms. Shadle.  

   Placed in foster homes for a week or two after they leave the track, they adapt quickly to domestic life and become gentle, smart and easily trainable companions, she says. (Mt. Gretnan Maureen Gettle has been among volunteers who provide temporary foster homes.)  

   During the past decade, the Shadles have placed over 730 retired racing greyhounds in permanent homes.      

   Finding homes isn't hard, says Ms. Shadle. "They're not like used cars. Once people see how calm these dogs are, they sell themselves."  

   The Shadles will present this month's program at the Winterites, Tuesday, April 2 at the Mt. Gretna Fire Hall, 1 pm. All are welcome at this final program of the 2012-2013 season. 



Tax law advantage could push firefighters'  

"Burn the Mortgage" campaign over finish line

      IT'S the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, a change in the law that could help quench the last vestiges of a $400,000 mortgage which fueled a building expansion project the Mt. Gretna Fire Company was compelled to undertake five years ago, at the heighth of the Recession.

Phillips: He sees a chance to both save on taxes and help the fire company this year.  

    Despite unfavorable economic conditions, however, only $60,000 remains to be paid before the volunteer firefighters can finally burn the mortgage, says former Cornwall-Lebanon School District superintendent Ed Phillips, who recently took over the fire company's financial operations from Tom Mayer, who'll soon be on his way to a permanent home in Florida.     

   Phillips,who plans to take advantage of the new tax law himself this year, senses an opportunity for other older taxpayers to also capitalize on this fleeting chance to draw funds from their 401K savings accounts without affecting their Adjusted Gross Income..

   The act, passed by Congress and signed by the President Jan. 12, allows people over the age of 70-1/2 to make tax-free withdrawals of as much as $100,00 directly from their IRAs for gifts they make to charitable organizations such as the Mt. Gretna Fire Company, a 501(C)(3) organization.   
   Without the law, charitable withdrawals from their IRAs would be added to their Adjusted Gross Income, which can sometimes throw taxpayers into higher income brackets and inflate their tax bills.
   Phillips advises those considering tax-free gifts under the provision to check with their accountants or financial advisers to be sure that gifts drawn from their IRA this year will qualify.
   In addition to the safety of having a volunteer fire department to save lives and property, Phillips points out that having a fire department helps lower insurance costs for everyone in the community -- another reason to capitalize on savings this year that might not come again.    




 HUGH BRONSTEIN, son of Gretna Theatre guiding light Dr. David Bronstein and a Reuters correspondent in Buenos Aires, is now suddenly a man-in-the-news himself.

   He's been the subject of television and National Public Radio interviews ever since the election of Pope Francis.

    Hugh summers on Mt. Gretna Lake (inset, right) before launching a journalism career at the Hershey Chronicle

   He has been with Reuters News for the past 18 years, based in New York, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina.

   Along the way he covered the 9/11 attacks from Ground Zero, Colombia's cocaine wars as well as baseball and revolutionary politics in Venezuela. He has been kicked out of Ecuador, yelled at by the president of Peru and abducted in Bogota.

   Each misadventure, he says, makes him appreciate Gretna all the more.


    PALM TREES and ski jackets? Temperatures were brisk but so was business last week in Hilton Head

La Cigale: Turning ordinary meals into an event

, SC for John and Nancy Mitchell who sell French Provencal tablecloths at about 60 home and garden shows, some in outdoor malls.

   What surprises Mitchell most about La Cigale, the bustling business he started along Route 117 in Mt. Gretna 13 years ago, is that "even with a downturn in the economy, people still want to buy tablecloths," he says. "You don't need these, and they're not cheap." 

   Then he glances over to a utilitarian table with fold-up legs. "See that ugly table over there," he says with the gently enthralling cadence of a natural-born salesman. "Put a tablecloth from Provence on it and it becomes a work of art. An ordinary meal of cokes, french fries and hot dogs becomes an event."

   Mitchell, who drives about 40,000 miles a year

Temps may be brisk, but so is business.

to shows across the Eastern United States, says people linger longer over meals decorated with "the table art of Provence."  

   When two are more people are dining together, he says, it becomes a social occasion amid "the ambiance, the beauty and the surroundings."

   He likes selling tablecloths a lot more than running his former tire dealership in Manheim. "It isn't a business, it's an adventure," he says. "You meet a lot of nice people, including some who've 'adopted' us." 

   A barbecue connoisseur, Mitchell says travel gives them an opportunity to visit "all the crazy pig joints" around the country.

   How to find the best ones? "When you're out looking for barbecue," he says, "if it's a big and fancy place, don't stop. If it has a sign with the dumbest-looking pig you've ever seen, stop. Check license plates in the parking lot. If they're local, then you want to walk in. If the place looks like you don't want to go in, then you really do." 



   10th YEAR coming up for the Mt. Gretna "Got the Nerve" triathlon next month. It's a fundraiser to help people affected by disabilities become physically active again. "We change attitudes by redefining what is possible," says spirited organizer Chris Kaag.  

   Expect 1,000 competitors this year and 2,500 spectators. Scheduled for May 18, the event is a model of organizational efficiency, minimizing disruptions to residents while -- over the course of about four hours on a single Saturday morning each year -- doing a lot of good for a lot of people.   


  33 Mt. Gretna residents who have filed appeals in the Lebanon County Court of Public Appeals concerning the recent property tax reassessments. They are among the 585 property tax appeals made by property owners throughout Lebanon County. 


   33 PERCENT of trees being cut down on 64 of Governor Dick Park's 1,105 acres, part of a timber management plan to remove mainly tulip and birch trees to allow more vigorous growth for oaks, birch and other desirable species according to the park's spring newsletter. Several concerned residents suggest that consequences of the park's forest management program may be severe. Officials invite attendance at their public meetings and a special Earth Day Program on April 20. See "Questions Readers Ask" (above).

 $2,200 Fundraiser (so far) for the Campmeeting Association. first ones sold out in 23 days, so now a new supply of plaques is on the way at the original price of $75. Credit Campmeeting resident Ben Wiley for the idea and Andy Shemeta for his 1992 Centennial drawing of the Tabernacle.  

  Made of bronze and set in traditional, period typestyles, the plaques identify Campmeeting cottages as Listed in the National Register of Historic places. To order, contact Debby Erb,  



If you're not tuned in to the Ellenberger blog, you may be missing a treat

   Dr. Carl Ellenberger, who founded Music at Gretna more than three decades ago, keeps busy these days writing and staying abreast of trends in the world of music.   He began writing a blog a few years ago, revived it last October and we mentioned it this newsletter. 
   That spike in the chart at right was followed by steady growth ever since, with over 2,000 reader visits. 

    Most popular have been his posts on Thomas Jefferson, a tribute to former Mt. Gretnan Ted Kramers, a piece that begins, "Chamber music in Lebanon County? C 'mon!" and another about a countertenor with a soprano voice and the build of an Eagles fullback.

    All of which might just help sell tickets. A concert by the pianist Emanuel Ax last month in the Elizabethtown College winter series attracted 525 -- a number that surprised and delighted the Gretna Music team.



Nobody needs robins  

to tell when spring has arrived


   Spring and porch sales go together in Mt. Gretna. . . well, if not exactly like love and marriage, it's nevertheless a well-established tradition that seems to be getting stronger.

Mt. Gretna custom: First the cleanups, then porch sales

Maybe that's because generations of Mt. Gretnans who return to their cottages after a long winter are in a clean-up mode. 
   There's something refreshing about spring cleaning, a cleansing that ought to be instructive to us all as Elmos and Beanie Babies that once sent hordes to the malls no longer claim a spot in our hearts or even on our shelves.  
   Two big sales are on the horizon. The first begins April 20, in Mt. Gretna's lakeside neighborhoods of Timber Hills, Timber Cove and Timber Lane, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge.
   The other follows in the Campmeeting and Chautauqua on Saturday, May 25 to get the Memorial Day weekend off to an adventuresome start.  
   Porch sales in the past eight years have attracted up to 500 or 600 bargain hunters.
   They typically draw visitors to the "heavenly hot dogs and devilish drinks" sold at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. "First we spread the mustard, then we spread the gospel," says jovial grill master Bobby McCullough. "It's a hearty carnivorous breakfast with fancy fixins, and you can top it off with a sweet dessert at the adjacent bake sale, still the best deal in town that day." 
   Sales in all areas start at 8 am and wind down around 2 pm.

One man's junk is, ahem, another man's...

 Residents in the Campmeeting and Chautauqua can list their sales locations on maps distributed to visitors and promoted in advertising circulars. (As previously announced, the deadline for emailed listings that will be in handouts for lakeside visitors this month is April 1.)
   Campmeeting residents should email their street names and house numbers for a map that Dave Hartman will distribute.  He says he can probably include a note about food and beverage sales by groups planing charitable fundraisers.   
   Chautauqua residents should call in their porch sale location to a special recording line: 964-1830. Both the Chautauqua and Campmeeting maps have deadlines a week before the sale.
   Barney Myer says that anyone who wants to set up sales tables along Chautauqua Drive should be prepared to remain there throughout the day. He invites people from other Mt. Gretna neighborhoods, including lakeside residents, to join in the event and adds that contributions to benefit Chautauqua programs and activities are appreciated.
    As for the biggest discard event of the year, officially "Large Item Collection Day" which locals simply call "Big Junk Day," it'll take place Monday, June 17. But by that time it's almost over. Items set by the curb for pickup on Monday usually vanish by Sunday night as enterprising neighbors rediscover that abiding truth: one man's junk is another man's junk, too, for at least another year or so.



(ETHEL A. BEITTEL (1916 - 2003)

   Ethel Beittel, one of Mt. Gretna's most engaged, engaging and devoted champions throughout the last years of her life, died March 26 at age 97 in Cornwall Manor.

   Born in Kentucky, she and her mother had moved to Cincinnati, Ohio following the death of her father when she was a young girl. It was there, after graduation from high school, that she got a job in a Kresge's department store managed by a bright young man named Roy D. Beittel, Jr. who apparently found a way around the company's "management shalt not date employees" policy. She once confided to a friend that when they were dancing, he often said to her, "You are so much fun."
   Following their marriage, his career blossomed. He was transferred to ever larger stores, including one alongside Lake Erie in Buffalo, NY where the arctic winds never suited Ethel. That aversion to frigid winters must have nudged her husband to eventually accept a position offered by Strawbridge and Clothier in Philadelphia. The Beittels moved to nearby Collingswood, NJ, and Ms. Beittel found an administrative assignment at the corporate headquarters of Campbell Soup Company. She continued to work there until her retirement many years later.
   Together, the Beittels discovered Mt. Gretna around 1950 and bought a cottage at Third and Otterbein. (It was the same cottage originally purchased by Mt. Gretnan Tom Meredith's great-grandfather in 1892 from the Campmeeting Association, which Ms. Beittel would later head as its first woman president.)  

   Weekend trips here became the Beittel's favorite getaway. In 1972, she and Roy bought another cottage, at 601 Second St., that became what they hoped would be their retirement home someday. Her husband of nearly 34 years, however, died in 1974. Afterward, Ms. Beittel made the weekend treks from her New Jersey apartment alone. A woman named Lillian who lived in Lebanon usually drove over to Mt. Gretna and had the cottage warmed up and a hot meal waiting for her when she arrived. "That's the kind of friends Ethel had," says George Shaak, a neighbor who became a close friend in her later years.   

   She was one of the "most amazing and admired people in Mt. Gretna," says Sarah Ellis, a friend of long standing. Happy and positive, she "invigorated those around her, with a ready laugh and smile," says Ms. Ellis. Evelyn Duncan, now living in Florida, recalls conversations in her home amid the vast clock collection that had been her husband's passion. With a fastidious devotion to winding, cleaning and polishing the clocks daily, Ms. Beittel kept them going. Tick-tocks and chimes every quarter hour punctuated conversations inside her Second Street cottage, says Ann Raezer, another close friend. Her cottage was also a virtual crystal museum, filled with crystal pieces of all shapes and sizes, a part of Ms. Beittel's beloved collection.   
   In addition to her service on the Campmeeting Association board of managers, she was regarded as one of the most spirited volunteers at both Music at Gretna and Gretna Theatre in her later, but still energized, years. She also served on the board of the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church where services will be held Tuesday, April 2 at 11 am.
   Her official obituary appears

EDNA M. BARNES (1916-2013)

    In Mt. Gretna, she was often called in a single phrase uttered with utmost respect, "one of the Barnes sisters." She and sister Jeanette owned the immaculately kept Mills Avenue that figured prominently in the minds of their Campmeeting neighbors and also in a 2009 Summer Calendar cover painting by Mt. Gretna artist Eva Bender. When Jeanette died two years ago, it ended a lifetime of shared experiences. They had lived together for 89 years in Elizabethtown, where they were born. Both were teachers. Both loved music. And both loved summers in Mt. Gretna.
    At a celebration last year in honor of Edna's 96th birthday, her first without Jeanette, Mt. Gretnans turned out in abundance. Photographer Madelaine Gray remembered delivering freshly baked blueberry muffins on summer afternoons, then staying for afternoon tea and sprightly conversations. Judy and Victor Bojko were there, too, along with Mary Kopala, Barbara Hofsommer, Barbara Mark, Fred Buch, David Bronstein and Rupert Bullard. All with memories of a woman who was a second grade teacher for 40 years, who played viola in the Lancaster, Harrisburg and Hershey symphonies for 55 years and, having been a member of the All-America Chorus, once sang at the World's Fair in Brussels. She was also a member of the Gretna Theatre Board of Directors.
   Edna Barnes, after a full and gracious life well-lived, died March 8, 2013. Her official obituary appears

DONALD S. FOWLER (1925 - 2013)

  He was a true Mt. Gretna original. Born in a cottage at the corner of Fourth and Otterbein in 1925, he carried into his eighties memories that few if any could claim. He played on three different miniature golf courses that were here in the thirties, clamored over brush near Colebrook when he was five to see a plane that had just crashed, and h his family eke through The Great Depression by selling shell casings from the pistol range to a scrap dealer.
   Don Fowler recorded those memories in a paper for the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society. It's a document that conveys the sounds, tastes and boyhood pleasures of growing up here --- including the red hot cast-iron stove in their cottage "and pulling our dog's tail until he snapped at me."
    He chronicled things he had seen. Days spent at the Ice House, as ice was harvested with hand saws, floated on a conveyor ramp, then slid into its final spot in the ice house "with sawdust scattered to keep the cakes from sticking together."   
   He recalled sounds. The clink of quoits and 'ching, ching' of a score register at the Mt. Gretna Quoit Club. The 'chuff-chuff' of eastbound freight trains, and "Mrs. Knoderer's weekly winding of all her clocks." She lighted her basement with a still-working Edison carbon filament lamp, he noted, the kind with "a tip on the end through which air had been removed from the bulb."  
   "Turn out the light when you leave," he recalls the elder Gene Otto would say as Don and his friends in "The Gang" lingered by the juke box when Otto was closing down the refreshment stand window.
     Following service in the Army Air Corps in World War II, he had lived in New Mexico, Colorado and Maine. Yet after Louise, his wife of 65 years, died last year, Don Fowler chose to live his final days in Mt. Gretna. He left Feb. 5, 2013.
    Turn out the light.
    His official obituary appears




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Governor Dick Center begins new season: Wednesdays - Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm and 1 to 5 pm Sundays.



Sign of spring! Volunteers -- rakes and gloves in hand -- turn out at the tennis club to spruce up the courts, 9 am.


Fitness hike, Governor Dick Park, 9 am. Bluegrass music, 1 to 4 pm.





Cornwall Iron Furnace lecture series with novice archeologist Daniel Snyder on his nine-year research project at the 18th Century site of Elizabeth Furnace. Cornwall Manor, Freeman Hall, 7 pm.    


SUNDAY APRIL 14: in a Bottle return at Mt. Gretna Fire Company with refreshments and door prize drawings, 2 to 4 pm.   


WEDNESDAY, April 17:

Scams, frauds and identity theft: Dave Shallcross, PA Office of Attorney General, in a program sponsored by Cornwall Police Dept., Cornwall UM Church, 6:30 pm



Junior Naturalists badge program for children 5 and up. 7 pm 



Earth Day hike at Governor Dick Park to Dinosaur Rock at 9 am. Also an exploration of Governor Dick's forest and review of the park's current logging program at noon.



Webelos Scouts Naturalists badge program, 10 am 



Wildflower and Bird ID Walk. (Call 964-3808 or email to register.) Governor Dick Environmental Center, 2 pm.


Don't forget:

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





Other newsletters of interest:

Mt. Gretna Updates -- Issued as warranted to alert 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 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. Contact Michelle Shay, 



   There's something redemptive about getting rid of things. A story in this month's issue reports on community-wide porch sales.  

   I sometimes envy my daughter, who lives in New York City. Her apartment is so small that she has to decide what she'll get rid of before she buys anything else.

   Maybe all of us ought to live that way.

   The upcoming porch and yard sales prompted a thought. Maybe we all ought to just pull together the things we've learned in the past year.

   We could toss our best ideas into a big jar that everybody in Mt. Gretna could draw from. We have smart people around here, and what they've discovered might help us.  

    Much of what I've learned in the past few years may not be new, practical or wise. But here are the ideas I'd put on the stack of useful things I've discovered recently:  

  •    Breakfasts out are the best meals of the day. They cost less and you have time to work off the calories.
  •    If you decide to cut down on caffeine to sleep better at night, do it gradually, not all at once.  
  •    Jot down things the minute you think of them, especially if you're over 65.  
  •     When you have to write almost anything with more than three sentences, draw a mindmap. It's like priming the pump for your brain. Then write down quickly what you want to write about without ever revising as you go. Writing and revising are different things.  
  •    Carry a flashlight like the Surefire Fury. Its high beam makes it handy for finding pills you drop on the floor. It's also a good safety device.  
  •    Naps when you feel sleepy, even at 11 o'clock in the morning, are the best thing about retirement. 
  •    This one will get me in trouble, but women on "short" shopping trips can be like ping pong balls, darting first here and then there and then somewhere else. Whenever your wife asks you to drive her "to pick up something at the store," bring along a book.  
  •    I'm not buying another TV until they come with a remote simple enough for an overnight guest to use right off the bat, without a manual.    
  •    If you have to concentrate on something while other people are making noise, a pair of shooter's ear muffs, which cost around $20, are a great investment. Totally soundproof.
  •    Long johns are mankind's greatest invention. I will always be grateful to birdwatcher Sid Hostetter for that advice. You can join him on Friday mornings around nine o'clock on the Chautauqua parking lot if you'd like to see birds you've probably never even noticed.    
  •    If you have an Emergency Heat setting on your thermostat, turn it OFF except for genuine emergencies. Otherwise, your electric bill will skyrocket, just like mine did this winter.
  •   Spring-loaded clamps to hold things in place are another good invention. I bought a set of 16 different sizes for $7.99  in a store where Carol suddenly decided we needed to shop. It was a place I'd  never have found on my own. I haven't stopped finding new ways to use them.   


           Roger Groce


P.S. What I normally do in this space is remind readers that this is an unofficial newsletter, simply a retirement pastime that keeps me out of the kitchen. I try to publish it once a month. This summer I may have to skip the June and July issues while we take a vacation. Kathy Snavely's "This Week in Mt. Gretna" is a good way to keep up with what's happening all summer long. The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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