Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Mt. Gretna, Pa. "Not a place, but a spirit."
Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)
The Mt. Gretna School of Art:
As summer approaches, a vision
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
Jay Noble, 36, its upbeat and visionary founder, reports that
nearly every one of the 50 or
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.
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
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
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.
This 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
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
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
Need more information: Check their
website (http://www.cicadafestival.com/) or Facebook
page. Then wait for the mail order forms to arrive in your mailbox.
A night to honor the First
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
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), wrapping 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
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
a network of reciprocal agreements
that make maximum use of equipment and manpower.
some by residents unable to be there, put this appreciation night in
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
cast 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:
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
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.
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
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
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
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: email@example.com
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
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.
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
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
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
Tax law advantage could push
"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.
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)
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
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 spent 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
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'
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
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
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"
$2,200 Fundraiser (so far) for the Campmeeting
Association. The 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Her official obituary appears online.
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 cottage 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
Edna Barnes, after a full and gracious life well-lived,
died March 8, 2013. Her official obituary appears online.
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 helped 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 online.
Updates & Stuff to
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3:
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.
SUNDAY, APRIL 7:
TUESDAY, APRIL 9:
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:
Dimes in a
Bottle return at Mt. Gretna Fire Company with refreshments and door
prize drawings, 2 to 4 pm.
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.
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
newsletters of interest:
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
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
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
Music bulletins -- E-mailed updates on concert
events, schedule changes and other news. See "Join Our Mailing
List" at http://gretnamusic.org/
Gretna Area Historical Society Newsletter --
Online at http://www.mtgretnahistory.org/newsletter.php
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.
Dick Park Newsletter -- Online and by e-mail.
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 email@example.com
Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of primary interest to
Mt. Gretnans in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge; online
Newsletter -- Available online
and mailed to residents.
Gretna Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights
residents. Contact Michelle Shay, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Constant Contact All Star Award Winner 2010, 2011, 2012