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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 139                                                                                                          May 2013

Oh, what a grand party this is!

      In Mt. Gretna, where having a good time just seems to come naturally, somewhere it must have been written that no one ever really needs an excuse to throw a party. 
      Undoubtedly, that helped launch the annual Summer Premiere 23 years ago.

 A time for fun Mt. Gretna style as season begins.

   The 2013 edition comes up Saturday, May 25 with an auction that includes a painting selected as this year's cover illustration for the Mt. Gretna Calendar of Events, the most-used, best-read and most-essential reference work in all of Mt. Gretna each summer.

    Begun as a gathering for the local press, the first gala in 1990 disappointed organizers because so few media types turned out.  

    "No, not much of a press conference but lots of local people came and had a good time," says founder and co-organizer Debbie Clemens.

   That gave her an idea. "Why not forget about press conferences and throw a party so everybody can get together with people they haven't seen in a while?" she thought.     

   Now one of Mt. Gretna's signature social events, the premiere starts at 4 pm on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. With wine and hors d'oeuvres, silent and live auctions, music and animated chatter, the gathering attracts flocks of returning snowbirds and year 'rounders.    

   Just about everybody who enjoys Mt. Gretna gives high priority to this once-a-year chance to gather at the Hall of Philosophy, talk, eat and take something home -- usually something created by a local artist or an exhibitor from the previous year's Mt. Gretna art show.  

   The most sought-after item likely to prompt spirited bidding this year?

"Gretna Snow" this year's highlight at the Premiere auction, displayed by artist Lou Schellenberg and Jessica Kosoff, co-chair of the gala season opener. Tom Mayer photo

   An original oil painting by Mt. Gretna artist Lou Schellenberg, probably one of the area's best-known exhibitors whose works appear in galleries across the country.
   Her "Gretna Snow,"  chosen as this year's Calendar cover, will likely command the rapt attention of bidders not only because of its exquisite textures, shapes, colors and contrasts but perhaps also because this year's summer calendar becomes the first to display a winter scene.  

   "We chose it because Mt. Gretna is delightful in all seasons," says Kerry Royer, a member of the Mt. Gretna Arts Council which sponsors the Summer Premiere and underwrites the annual calendar of events.  

   Auction proceeds cover the $12,000 expense of printing the calendar's 10,000 copies, distributed without charge (and usually found at local stores and restaurants including Le Sorelle, the Jigger Shop, Timbers, Hideaway and Tony's Mining Company as well as at Collins Grocery in Colebrook and the Mt. Gretna Emporium gift shop).

   Ms. Schellenberg, who has been teaching and creating art for most of her life, did the painting in her Mt. Gretna studio, looking out from a window. "The snow simplifies the shapes and contrast of the cottages against the texture and patterns of the trees," she says. "I hope it captures the peacefulness."     

   In Mt. Gretna, where nearly half the population manages to get away for at least part of the winter, Ms. Schellenberg remains unique. She stays at home during the coldest months and escapes during the summer, when the crowds come to Mt. Gretna and she goes north to paint landscapes, often in Nova Scotia. She currently displays her works at Lynden Gallery, Pennsylvania Arts Experience, Harbor Square Gallery and opens another exhibit this month the Pennsylvania Arts Experience Orientation Center and Gallery in York.


   Also attracting the attention of bidders will be the plein aire oil on linen (inset, left) by Annie  Strickler, whose works appear in local galleries and have twice been chosen for the highly competitive Pennsylvania Art of the State juried show.  

   Featuring a Princeton Avenue cottage once owned by Joyce Ebright and her late husband Tom, the Mt. Gretna philanthropist and community leader, the painting appears in this year's advertising for the Aug. 17-18 Art Show. 

   "Plein aire paintings must be done quickly, maybe in three or four hours," says Ms. Strickler, a Lancaster County artist who's never missed a Mt. Gretna art show, but so far has come only as a visitor. "I usually keep the paintings I like and have never really had enough paintings to do a show," she says. A former graphic designer and now a grandmother, she hopes to have more time to build her portfolio once she retires. "Then maybe I'll apply to the Mt. Gretna Art Show," she says. 

    This painting, she said, required extra effort, about 20 hours, because of its intended use in print advertisements, billboards and on post cards, not to mention the prominent position it will occupy in this year's auction lineup.


The particulars: Time: 4 pm, May 25. Place: Hall of Philosophy. Cost: $20.




The Mt. Gretna Newsletter's

Annual Listing of 

Opportunities for Volunteers 

and other ways to invest your time, talent and resources that will make a difference:

    Here's our list of some of the things you can do to help this summer. Yet many potential helpers, perhaps, never were asked to volunteer.   Have a talent, a service or crackerjack idea that others will appreciate. . . a role where your unique skills might help?
   THIS is your invitation. Jump right in. Lend a hand. Make a difference.
   It'll make you'll
feel good.
   Although nobody has the statistics to prove that, people who give their time and talents 
do tend to smile more, we've noticed.       
   Mt. Gretna needs the help of everyone... and we mean EVERYONE... from Timber Bridge to Mt. Gretna Heights. All 1,507 of us (unofficial pop. estimate, 2013).

   This annual listing, by no means official and perhaps incomplete, should serve to remind us all that like communities everywhere, Mt. Gretna
needs people willing to roll up their sleeves.
   If you have a need for volunteers, send a note to include in next year's listings. The address is

Art Show

Linda Bell, director: 964-3270 or; Art Show coordinators of volunteers: Saturday admission gates: Sam Bonacci 964-3111. Sunday admission gates: Joe Shay, 964-2209; Office staff: Doug Leiby, 272-8871. Kids' Art Show: Stacey Pennington, Exhibitor traffic: Barney Myer, 964-2384. Soldier's Field and Philhaven area parking: Bob Dowd, 964-1106. Booth sitters: Stacey Margut, 964-3366. "As always, booth sitters are needed more than any other area," says Ms. Bell.


Bible Festival

Dave Pierce, 964-2301 ( Or Bruce Gettle 813-5319


Bird Club:

Sid Hostetter and Evelyn Koppel, 964-3412 or The group meets Fridays at 9:00 a.m., at the Chautauqua parking lot, weather permitting. Two-hour walk to observe flora and fauna, often followed by a late breakfast. Not a volunteer opportunity, but an interesting and enjoyable way to spend Friday mornings and meet 

others. "Bring binoculars if you have them," adds Ms. Koppel. 


Buzzard Busters: (Active November -March) Hunsicker,, leads a band of stalwarts  ("the few, the proud, the Buzzard Busters"). He needs volunteers to safely encourage the migrating turkey vultures to choose roosts other than the trees of Mt. Gretna. Volunteers try to minimize noise, using aerial explosives only when necessary and at dusk (before vultures settle for the night).


Campmeeting Playground:
Rachel Schmalhofer, 606-9845. Volunteers needed to help with projects including the annual carnival Saturday, June 15, from 12 pm to 2 pm. "We can use volunteers at any time, whenever they can help," she says.


Chautauqua Summer Programs:

Kathy Snavely, 964-2191 or, says, "We're happy to welcome volunteers who'll serve as hosts and hostesses for our programs, welcoming guests and serving refreshments (which are provided).

Program highlights are included in the Summer Calendar, compiled by the Arts Council and funded by the Summer Premiere (see article above).  

Cicada Festival
Rhoda Long coordinates usher assignments, 304-0248 or


Concession Stand at Playhouse:
Gary Shrawder, 272-2284 or, needs added help this year for all performances of Gretna Theatre, Gretna Music and Cicada Festival.


It takes a small army to make the grounds dazzle with color throughout the Campmeeting, Chautauqua and Mt. Gretna Heights. Who are they? Lots of folks, all with a passion for gardening, their communities and sharing that love with others.

In the Campmeeting, Deborah Hurst ( coordinates volunteer gardening activities. Barnhart and Jane Zellers tend the Butterfly Garden at First Street and Markwood Avenue. "We're always looking for people to help us plant the garden in Heritage Park," says Ms. Zellers. "Call me at 717-507-4607 to coordinate the time."
The Garden at Bell Avenue, at one of the entrances to the Campmeeting, warrants "something attractive to
greet people as they enter our haven," says Madelaine Gray, a professional photographer who exhibits throughout the U.S. She would appreciate suggestions to keep cars from driving over the garden's corners where day lilies planted last year were crushed. "I'd like for this to be a garden that says 'welcome' and 'welcome home,'" she says. If you can help with designing, planting and caring for the garden, email her at or call 964-3118.

Around the Playhouse, Betty Miller faithfully attends to the gardens. As her long-time friend and neighbor Peg Smith notes, "Betty has been doing this for years. John and I are sorry we aren't able to be helping her. Working around the playhouse grounds is both a pleasure and very rewarding," says Ms. Smith. Tending to plants around the post office are Borough staffers Bill Care and Linda Bell. Shirley Miller nurtures flower boxes at the Information Center. Carol Morgan maintains the Fairy Garden  between the Jigger Shop and Playhouse.
In Mt. Gretna Heights, volunteers interested in gardening projects may contact the Heights Community Association or newsletter editor Michelle Shay, 


Grand Illumination Nights: (July 3-4 and Aug. 17) 

    Karl Gettle, 964-2292,, and Barb Kleinfelter, 576-8096,, organize this community-wide celebration of the nation's birthday. Over two nights this year lights and specially-crafted decorations will illuminate Mt. Gretna from Timber Hills, Timber Bridge, Conewago Hill to Mt. Gretna Heights, Stoberdale, the Chautauqua and the Campmeeting.

   Grand illuminations date back more than a century in Chautauquas and Campmeeting associations throughout America. Some of the largest take place in Martha's Vineyard and Williamsburg, Va.
   The Mt. Gretna celebration, begun several years ago, is one of the few in America that replace Fourth of July fireworks with a quiet but meaningful Independence Day Grand Illumination.  

   Another celebration takes place in the Campmeeting Saturday,  Aug. 17 when The Illumination of the Grove will recreate a tradition begun in the 1950s. Youngsters finishing their summers at church camp strolled through the Campmeeting under the glow of porch lights, singing newly learned hymns. This quiet and respectful observance always takes place on Art Show Saturday, starting at 9 pm.


Gretna Theatre:

Would you like to host an actor or actress in your home this summer? The next Bernadette Peters or Charlton Heston may come to your home. You don't have to feed, transport or entertain them, says coordinator Renee Krizan. She simply needs homes with private bedrooms and access to the kitchen for two to ten weeks.

"We lost the gift of our Cornwall Manor apartments, which in prior years housed 24 guests," she says. "Without them, we now need help from  the community more than ever."
The Playhouse also needs ushers this season. They could also use a hand from volunteers with talents in carpentry, painting and sewing to work alongside professionals.
Pinch Road resident Chic Rhoads heads the effort to find new housing together with Dr. David Bronstein and Col. George Resh.
Ms. Krizan invites inquiries at 964-3322 or


Governor Dick Environmental Center:
Audrey Wells, 964-3808 or, says opportunities are available throughout the year, including duties such as light cleaning, office sitting, leading a program in your area of expertise, plus trail, garden and lawn care.


Heritage Festival:

Pat and Mike Allwein, 964-2352. Concerts that include patriotic music, bluegrass and swing, country and hits from the '40s through the '80s. Admission is by donation.



Deborah Hurst,

Mt. Gretna 10th Annual Got The Nerve? Triathlon: (May 18)

Help celebrate this year's 10th annual race. Volunteers needed Friday, May 17 from 9 am - 4 pm to help with pre-race set-ups and Saturday from 6:30 am -12 pm for the race itself. Visit to sign up.


Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society: Pinsler, 964-3858 or,  

coordinates volunteer activities and welcomes people who can assist with museum maintenance, work in the library/research room Saturdays 10 am to noon and help with other work including service as museum docents on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The Society also operates a book store, where you'll find copies of Jack Bitner's Mt. Gretna: A Coleman Legacy, the Mt. Gretna Postcard Book, pamphlets on the Mt. Gretna Prison and Narrow Gauge Railroad and copies of the Military at Mt. Gretna DVD by Jim Seltzer and Jack Bitner. (Open May 25 from 8 am to noon.) 

Fred Buch is chairman of the Society: 717-466-6433, email:  


Mt. Gretna Fire Company:

Joe Shay, 964-1106 or, and Karen Lynch, 964-3505 or, say there's a special need this year for fire police volunteers. Also needed are "one or two people can help maintain our garden during the growing season. Watering, weeding, filling bird feeders. All it takes is an hour or two a week except when it's really hot and dry when it'll need extra watering." Of course, volunteer firefighters are always welcome to join.


Mt. Gretna Tour of Homes:

Suzanne Stewart, 361-15, needs volunteers to help greet visitors, distribute maps and answer questions in morning or afternoon shifts on Saturday, Aug. 3, from 10 am to 5 pm.
The tour, on The New York Times recommended
list, is coordinated by Emi Snavely,, and ranks as a signature fundraising event for Music at Gretna, one of the nation's premiere music festivals.
Homes chosen for the tour now receive a plaque honoring their selection and participation in the tour.

Organ Recitals:
Rhoda Long, 304-0248 or, coordinates refreshments at these recitals, held at the Hewitt-McAnney residence on Princeton Avenue. Contributions appreciated.


Summer Premiere: (May 25)
Jessica Kosoff, and Debbie Clemens, 304-3915


Mike Dissinger, 949-2367, schedules trail clean-up days; John ( posts e-mail bulletins for other volunteer tasks -- including public relations, fundraising, trail development, and helping maintain the LVRT Website. Also needed are volunteers to staff the Root Beer Barrel in Cornwall on weekends May through October. Lebanon Valley Rails-to-Trails meets first Wednesdays of the month, Cornwall Borough Hall, 7 p.m.


Visitors' Information Center:
Kathy Snavely, 964-2191 or, announces new Visitor Center hours this year: Wednesday-Sunday, 12 to 8 pm (staffed by summer intern). Volunteers are needed Mondays and Tuesdays for two- to three-hour shifts. Busiest hours (when most questions are asked) are from 12 to 2:30 pm, says Kathy. Prospective volunteers may also check with the intern for opportunities to serve.


Winterites: (October - April)
Donna Kaplan, 964-2174, coordinates this group which meets at the Mt. Gretna fire hall on the first Tuesday of each month.* The Winterites season begins with a catered luncheon at noon in October and continues into April, usually with guest speakers. The only other noon meeting is a potluck holiday luncheon in December. All other sessions begin at 1 pm and include desserts but no luncheon. Annual dues are $10; both men and women are invited.

The Winterites also sponsor Duplicate Bridge games at 10 am ("promptly," emphasize coordinators) in the fire hall on alternate Mondays and Thursdays. Volunteers provide snacks, set up tables and make coffee at 9 am (and help with the 2 pm cleanups). Bridge players pay $3 each for the game that day; proceeds go to the fire company. 


Except January, typically the snowiest month. 


Spanning three centuries, a family's ties to

the Mt. Gretna Campmeeting pay off

   More than a hundred years elapsed since the Rev. Joseph R. Meredith, born in 1840, stood with eight of his colleagues in the early days of the 20th Century near a site that would become the Tabernacle to establish a Campmeeting grove in Mt. Gretna.
   This month, 14 years after the 21st Century began, his great-grandson Tom Meredith, age 92, will see his progenitor's dream recognized in ceremonies to commemorate the Campmeeting's official listing on the National Register of Historic Places. 
   Although neither Meredith nor his great-grandfather would

Tom Meredith, 92, credits his team

likely want to claim credit for their accomplishments, the combined efforts of those associated with their work will receive recognition at an assembly under the conical roof of the 114-year-old Tabernacle Sunday, May 26 at 7 pm.  

   Gathered will be hundreds of Mt. Gretna residents, federal, state and local officials and others drawn by a six-year odyssey to catalog all of the 255 cottages, buildings, hand-operated water pumps and other structures cited in the historic district nomination. 

   Although the Campmeeting was first in Mt. Gretna to achieve such status, volunteers including Meredith himself are now working on a similar nomination for the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, which, like the Campmeeting, was founded in 1892. 

   Meredith, who lived 28 years in Mt. Gretna and recently moved to Honey Brook in Chester County to be closer to a daughter, credits a team that helped  him complete the lengthy application. They include photographer Madelaine Gray, Timber Hills residents Ted and Esther Mefferd as well as Campmeeting property owners Jim and Linda Campbell, Chris and George Resh, and friends of the project Nancy Brooks and Aniko Gayhart.

Co-founder J. R. Meredith

   Together they drew maps, wrote narratives, assembled inventories, took pictures and worked to gain approvals of the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission in Harrisburg and the National Park Service in Washington, DC. The final application included 26 pages and original photos, descriptions of 255 buildings, six maps and eight National Park Service forms.  

   Expected to attend the May 26th ceremony are Pennsylvania Congressman Jim Gerlach, state representative Mauree Gingrich, Lebanon County Commissioner JoEllen Litz, Lebanon Chamber of Commerce president and Campmeeting resident Larry Bowman, Fred Buch of the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society and April Frantz, a preservation specialist with the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission who will present the registration certificate to Campmeeting president Bruce Gettle. 

   In an interview last month Ms. Frantz noted that the Mt. Gretna Campmeeting evolved along a different path than other Pennsylvania campmeetings. Rather than simply a place for outdoor worship services in the summer,  Mt. Gretna became a year-round residential community, with more winterized buildings and improvements than elsewhere.

   Ms. Frantz says that while the application was underway, her site visits to Mt. Gretna were "always good days on my calender."  A Berks County native, "I just love coming to Mt. Gretna," she says. She remembers times as a child at the Jigger Shop with her parents. 

   Ms. Frantz says the National Historic Register listing is an honorary designation, "intended to be something of a planning tool. It does not restrict private property owners from doing what they want to with private money or local ordinances." It does, however, bring attention to nearby projects, such as highway construction projects funded by federal or state agencies. She recommends a National Park Service website as a definitive reference for answers to questions about the listing. .

   SURROUNDED by six of her 35 students, Campmeeting resident Nan McKay has been working with them since February to get ready for the 6th annual open house at the Horticultural Center which she heads at Milton Hershey School.
   This opportunity to visit and tour the center also includes a plant sale of  annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetable starts, succulents and even houseplants.
   The open house runs from 8 am to noon Saturday, May 11 and after school from 3 to 5 pm the following week. "Take advantage of this chance to visit and bring your family and friends," says Ms. McKay, a native of Canada who moved to Mt. Gretna in 2009.
   At the school's "Pot a Plant" stations, students will teach visitors how to plant seeds and perhaps give them a cutting to carry home, says Ms. McKay, a photographer whose photos sometimes appear in this newsletter. She's a familiar sight here, often walking in Mt. Gretna with the 13-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback she named Autumn that died unexpectedly right after this photograph was taken. She had faithfully accompanied Ms. McKay to school every day and was beloved by the students.
   This year's open house will also include soap and lotion recipes from the MHS Goat Club and student-guided tours of the Teaching House, where students studying floral design can create arrangements while you wait. (They're the same students, by the way, who make floral arrangements that decorate the tables at Mt. Gretna's Le Sorelle porch and pantry cafe.) Their
website explains how to order plants and floral designs at other times during the year.

   WHEN it came time to whip up enthusiasm for their third annual yard sale last month, folks in Timber Hills turned to 1-1/2 year old Max, who is "some kind of terrier mix," says Evelyn Koppel.
   She and husband Sid Hostetter discovered Max last year at the
Humane Society. Police found him wandering the streets of Lebanon, living on sticks and leaves.
   That turned out to be Max's lucky day. Nobody's kinder to animals than the caring couple who moved here five years ago and quickly founded the Mt. Gretna Bird Club.   Ms. Koppel wouldn't say whether the idea to wrap Max in a hot dog 

costume was hers or Sid's, but the eye-catching attire boosted sales for a fire company fundraiser they combined with their yard sale on Valley Road.
   "The hot dogs were gone by 10 am," she says. Max, meanwhile, has reportedly signed an agent to negotiate his future bookings.
   ABOUT 600 bargain hunters are expected again this month when the Chautauqua-Campmeeting porch sales begin at 8 am Saturday, May 25. With heavenly hot dogs, devilish drinks and divine desserts on sale at the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church parking lot, the porch sales on both sides of Pinch Road will continue until 2 pm.
   Campmeeting residents can list porch locations on maps by contacting
Dave Hartman. Chautauqua residents call a recording line, 964-1830. Map listing deadlines for both are May 18.   Chautauqua residents with unwanted items still on hand? Remember, Big Junk Day comes up Monday, June 17. It's not a sale and Mt. Gretna Borough chief Bill Care calls it "THE GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD EXCHANGE."
   Among the unwanted stoves, refrigerators and outdoor grills will be Thatcher Bornman's hot dog jamboree on Lancaster Avenue.  
   He fires up his grill every year to roast fr_e hot dogs for all who drop by Sunday night around 6. Maybe Max will make it, too.
   You won't find it listed on the calendar, but if you've never had the experience, it's one not to miss.        Inset, left: Thatcher himself.    CORNWALL POLICE Department will soon switch to a new system for local crime alerts, missing person notices, traffic advisories and bulletins including Santa visits, National Night Out, trick-or-treat nights and other community programs.
   The new service, Nixle, allows local police departments to send emergency notices to residents via phone, email and the Web.   
 Nixle allows residents to specify how they wish to be notified.  
   The current email notification service, iContact, will be phased out over the next few months. Existing iContact subscribers must register on the Nixle website ( to continue receiving Cornwall Police Department notices. Information cannot be transferred from iContact. Questions? Call 274-2071 or email  


      FOLLOWING a meeting with South Londonderry Township manager Tom Ernharth and community development consultant Harry Roth who explained details of conservation district zoning to Eastern Enterprises president Dr. Gene Otto last month, the company dropped a request to change the zoning of lands surrounding Mt. Gretna Lake and Beach from conservation to residential.  

   Ernharth says conservation zoning is an attempt to work cooperatively with land owners willing to preserve environmentally sensitive areas. In exchange for protecting valuable natural resources, landowners may develop other areas of their properties.  

   Under current zoning, Eastern Enterprises is permitted to develop approximately half of the 55 acres it owns within South Londonderry Township. That would mean, says Earnharth, a maximum of 16 possible homes provided all restrictions, including those for flood plains and wetlands, were met. Such limits often reduce the number of lots that will be ultimately available, say builders, land planners and municipal officials. 

    Ernharth says Dr. Otto felt a responsibility to request rezoning after discovering what he thought was a mistake made a decade ago. "He told us the lake itself is generating enough revenues to allow the next two generations of his family-owned business to continue running it and he would drop the residential zoning request," Ernharth said. Preserve Mt. Gretna, a conservation group, applauded that decision.     

    Meanwhile, West Cornwall Township supervisors last month approved Eastern Enterprises' scaled-down plan to divide 90 acres along Route 117 and Butler and Old Mine roads into ten lots under the existing Residential Forest zoning. That could mean 10 single-family dwellings might be built on the tract, the Lebanon Daily News reported. In 2011, the newspaper said, up to 220 homes had been proposed.  

   The 90-acre tract includes the site of Mt. Gretna's oldest structure, the Farmers Encampment Building, erected in 1890. The building later became a dance hall and movie theater, according to Jack Bitner's Mt. Gretna: A Coleman Legacy and for perhaps the past 70 years has housed a popular roller rink. Eastern Enterprises plans to sell the land. According to a quote the newspaper attributed to Lancaster attorney Gene Otto, "If there are people in the community who really feel they would like to preserve it as it is, we will sell it to them." 




Get ready, here they come. . . hungry bikers headed for breakfast buffet at tiny Lawn, Pa.

   Not many of us could handle 2,000 guests for breakfast with the aplomb of a Martha Stewart baking a dozen turkeys for her usual Thanksgiving Day dinners. But count on folks in the village of Lawn (pop. 200 and Mt. Gretna's close neighbor) to pull off their supersized Sunday buffets five times each summer, calmly and with Martha-like poise, even though all are volunteers in this fundraiser that's become the focal point of an entire community.

Quiet, secluded Rte. 117 is a favorite byway for cyclists headed to Lawn's Sunday buffet

   Get ready for motorcycles streaming through Mt. Gretna on Route 117 every third Sunday from May to September. And if the sounds of rumbling Harleys bother you, consider that hundreds of dollar bills drop into a huge coffer that over the last five of a nine-year run has averaged more than $30,000 annually for  Lawn ambulance and firefighting crews who often respond to life-saving calls from Mt. Gretna. There's also a crew standing by for people to donate to the Central PA Blood Bank before they eat breakfast.


  In addition to motorcycles, the hearty buffet lures hikers from along the rail-trail, recreational bicyclists and even people on horseback from Maryland and Delaware says Ladies Auxiliary president Carol Stoffel, a former elementary school teacher who's lived in Lawn for over 25 years. Her husband, also a retired teacher, was last year named minister of the village's only church, located just a hundred yards from the fire company parking lot.


   "Yes, the motorcycles are noisy but we must keep our church doors and windows open in the summer," says Ms. Stoffel. It's all for a good cause. As attendance started to decline at the fire company's annual carnivals about 10 years ago, somebody had to come up with another fundraising idea. Former fire chief Matt Beare, with a full-time job in commercial construction, came up with breakfast buffets. He arrives at 3 am on "breakfast Sundays" to be sure everything's ready when the doors open at 7.   


   About 45 volunteers run the four-hour buffet: line servers, dishwashers, tray cleaners, cooks, parking lot attendants for both cars and motorcycles, and people to run cash registers at three serving lines.   


   Juvenile offenders in community service programs arrive on Saturdays to set up chairs and tables under a tent and in the pavilion. "They're wonderful," says Ms. Stoffel. "They do everything we ask. In working with them for two years, we've never had a problem."


   Work begins fully a week before every Sunday buffet. First, Charlie Koons comes in to cook 450 pounds of bacon from Monday through Wednesday. On Thursday morning the Ladies Auxiliary shows up to crack 2,160 eggs (that's 180 dozen). Several others arrive that evening to cook 640 pounds of potatoes that will wind up on Sunday as home fries. There are plenty of choices, says Ms. Stoffel, but the only eggs they serve are scrambled. "We once tried made-to-order omelets," she says, "but that slowed down the pancake line."

At the Lawn Fire Co. parking lot, a testament to the lure of breakfast on a Sunday morning.


   On Fridays others prepare 30 pounds of sausage gravy in huge kettles and slice 200 pounds of ham. Next come 16 cantaloupes, 10 watermelons, and 16 honeydew melons to cut up and add to the canned fruit. There's also baked oatmeal and pastries to make along with muffins that Koons's wife Debbie, who's also in charge of advertising, bakes on Saturday mornings.  


   The first breakfast in 2004 attracted only a few hundred patrons. As popularity grew, the fire company took out a $75,000 loan to upgrade the kitchen in 2007. The next year, thanks to what must have been a hugely successful advertising campaign, attendance soared over 50% to peak levels that since 2008 have averaged 6,200 customers a year. "We haven't yet paid off the kitchen loan, but we're down to about $10,000," says Ms. Stoffel. About half of what they take in is profit, which helps pay the loan and cover facility bills.


   Yes, they like the fully equipped kitchen with walk-in freezer and refrigerator, four grills, warming and convection ovens, an exhaust system and new sink, and they know how to use them. But the appliance they're proudest of is an automated dishwasher that cleans and dries dishes in 90 seconds. That helps them keep up with customers who sometimes enter at the rate of 400 to 500 per hour. "We just love that," says Ms. Stoffel.



When the talk is about books. . .

    You'll find lively discussions this summer on Tuesday mornings at 10 in the Hall of Philosophy when the Lebanon Valley College book reviews resume, Monday nights (mostly) at the library (where there's even a wine and chocolate tasting on one occasion), and again at the Hall of Philosophy Friday mornings at 10 when the popular Writers Series resumes in July.

     All of these sessions are fr_e. But that doesn't mean they and other summer programs don't cost a lot to make them available to Mt. Gretna summer audiences. Contributions are encouraged at all such gatherings.

    Meanwhile, here's the lineup for people interested in books, writers and writing:       


At the Mt. Gretna Library: The 2013 lineup, all at 7 pm: 

June 3: The Presidents Series: The Killing of Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly.
June 10:
The Phantom of the Forest by Ann Hark (one of Mt. Gretna's most celebrated writers). 

June 12: Selected Writings of Max Hark, a Chautauqua founder and father of Ann Hark 

June 17: Chocolate as Medicine, a new book by Phil Wilson and Mt. Gretna resident Jeff Hurst, a senior staff scientist at The Hershey Company.

June 19: Wine & Chocolate Tasting; by reservation, please: 964-3481. 

June 24: Island of Vice by Richard Zacks

July 1: From D. H. Lawrence to E. L. James, "Fifty Shades of Grey: Is there anything new?"


At the Writers Series: (Hall of Philosophy) Fridays at 10 am 

July 12: Bill Ecenbarger, former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter (and onetime Mt. Gretna resident), author of Cash For Kids, about a notorious PA judicial scandal, and Walkin' the Line, about his travels along the Mason-Dixon Line.

July 19: Jon Schuppe, Pulitzer-winning journalist and author of A Chance To Win, the inspiring story of a paralyzed former drug dealer turned Little League coach in the poor neighborhoods of Newark, NJ.

July 26: David Howard, author of Lost Rights, about the bizarre journey of one of the 14 original copies of the Bill of Rights, stolen during the Civil War and recovered 138 years later in an FBI sting operation.

August 2: Brendan I. Koerner, author of The Skies Belong to Us, the tale of two lovers whose airliner-hijacking exploits mesmerized the nation during the 1970s. 


At the Tuesday Morning Book Reviews:  Hall of Philosophy. Coffee and cookies at 9:45 am. Reviews begin at 10.
June 11
: The Fish Can Sing by Halldor Laxness (Mark Mecham, Professor of Music)

June 18Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith (Paul Heise, Professor Emeritus of Economics, newspaper columnist and Mt. Gretna resident)    

June 25: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks,(Christopher Dolan, Associate Professor of Political Science)   

July 2: To be announced. (a review by Kevin Pry, Associate Professor of English)   

July 9: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker (Philip Benesch, Associate Professor of Political Science)   

July 16Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Jim Broussard, Professor of History)  

July 23:The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean. (Stacy Goodman, Professor of Biology)    

July 30:The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert Edsel. (Barbara McNulty, director of the Suzanne Arnold Gallery)    

August 6Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt. (Jeffrey Robbins, Professor of Religion and Philosophy)

August 13: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn (Diane Johnson, Associate Professor of Political Science)

Did you know that Mt. Gretna now has a bookstore?
   It's open for business around the Christmas holidays and opens again May 25, 8 am to noon, at the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society next to the Playhouse on Pennsylvania Avenue.
   Jack Bitner's Mt. Gretna: A Coleman Legacy, freshly reprinted, joins the Mt. Gretna Postcard Book, historical pamphlets on the Mt. Gretna Prison (that was never built), and the Military at Mt. Gretna, a DVD by Jim Seltzer and Jack Bitner.



If you thought the cicadas' deafening roar wouldn't return for another 17 years. . . 

    Yes, they were loud and memorable when they came to Mt. Gretna nine years ago.
     But if you thought the deafening roar of cicadas that arrived en masse back in 2004 wouldn't be heard here for another 17 years, don't be too sure.

   Mt. Gretna resident Jim Seltzer, who lives along Mine Road, sends us interesting things from time to time. Recently he cited reports that suggest the noisy little bugs could return this year.
   Not the ones with that fearsome name "Brood X," but maybe a species nearly as loud.
Periodical Cicadas (Brood II) could emerge in certain areas of the Northeast this spring, including Pennsylvania and possibly even Mt. Gretna.
usually don't bite, but they're noisy.  At least the males are. Their synchronized buzzing attracts females and wards off predators, which are mainly birds. Their masses are sufficiently large to ensure that even if most are eaten, enough survive long enough to mate and perpetuate the species. 
   Seltzer sent us a number of references. If you're curious about cicadas, they're worth a look: First, a Brood II Magicicada
map for 2013; University of Rhode Island Greenshare factsheets; a video with sound recording "M. septendecim calling;" Do they cause damage? Finally, are cicadas a snack food? Thanks to Dr. Seltzer, everything you need to know is here.


 With lots of faith but little money, the Tabernacle again recreates its annual miracle 


   The enduring Mt. Gretna Bible Festival, one of Mt. Gretna's sturdiest traditions, marks its 121st year in 2013. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of devoted followers will from time to time this summer make the pilgrimage to Mt. Gretna, usually on Sundays, from communities throughout Central Pennsylvania and neighboring states.    

   With typically 20 diverse programs offered for all ages in the 12 weeks from June to August, the organizers have assured that there will be something to appeal to almost everyone. As for those who make it happen with no income other than contributions from friends and a free will offering at each program, chalk it up to an annual miracle, regularly occurring and benefiting all.     


Our Top 10 Picks for 2013 

Sunday, June 23 - Silver, Wood & Ivory: Cindy Wittenberg and Tracy Dietrich.

Sunday, June 30 - New Holland Band in its annual patriotic and spiritual performance in Mt. Gretna.

Sunday, July 14 - Hymn Sing With Darrell Woomer and the story of a hymn; Rod Shearer embroiders the tune "with more notes than it should be possible to play," we're told.

Sunday, July 21 - Leonard Sweet, prolific writer, historian and futurist finally here after years of waiting for a spot to open on his schedule.  

Sunday, July 28 - Massed Choir Concert: visiting composer Lloyd Larson conducts music written for Mt. Gretna including a new work commissioned for this occasion. 

Saturday, August 3 - Handbell Festival

Sunday, August 4 - "Campmeeting Sunday" with Rev. Joe DiPaolo 

Wednesday, August 14 Tony Campolo, one of the Tabernacle's most inspiring speakers.

Sunday, August 18 - Susquehanna Chorale, directed by Linda Tedford.

Sunday, August 25 - QuintEssentially Brass brings the season to a close.


Others to put on your list of "musts:" Andy Roberts June 16; Dave Stahl July 21; Brothers in Grace July 24; Mennonite Children's Choir Aug. 11; and Men in Harmony July 7. See website for details.




John W. Hambright (1932-2013)

    John Hambright's middle name, Wolf, came from his mother's side of the family and it sometimes came in handy. "It gave me a lot of collateral in the elementary school pecking order," he once told a friend.  
   Pulling rank or boasting, however, was never his style. He was a graduate of Yale but most of his friends in Mt. Gretna may never have know that. Interested in others, he

John Hambright 

rarely talked about himself. An Army veteran of the Korean War, he advanced to the rank of First Sergeant. "Rare for a two-year hitch," says his friend and Mt. Gretna Borough Council president Chuck Allwein.  
    He was a Lancaster businessman in the 60s and 70s, when Groff and Wolf's, his family's men's store on West King Street, figured among familiar retailer names of that era such as Hager's, Garvins and Watt & Shand.  
    He was married 55 years to Betsy Eckert, a Lebanon girl he had met at the lake in Mt. Gretna and to whom he devoted his entire life, including her final ten years as an Alzheimers patient in a Lebanon nursing home.  They had two children, Stu, who died in 2002 at age 47 and Lynn, his daughter with whom he organized an annual corn roast in Mt. Gretna for their family and friends.
   Friends included those he had met at Yale and others he came to know in business and as neighbors. He attended the weddings of their children and many of their funerals. After Lynn learned that her father was going on hospice, she called his last living friend from Yale, who decided to fly with his wife from Texas and surprise him. Lynn's second call, to tell him her father died, came as they were about to board the plane for Philadelphia.   
   He spent his final 20 years in Mt. Gretna, in a cottage on Lafayette Avenue which he cheerfully called "the ghetto." Shirley and Terry Miller were close neighbors. Ms. Miller called him every Sunday during the winter when they were in Florida, as much to be cheered up as to hear the news Hambright-style, which always left her with a smile.   

  As a councilman, he was diligent in his review of budgets and monthly financial reports, says Allwein. Never loquacious, he was a man whose gentle voice conveyed quiet thoughts worthy of careful consideration. A smile usually accompanied them.
   "He stayed interested in my children forever," says Barb Acker, who once ran the Porch and Pantry cafe in the days when it was called "Barb's Buns."  Her favorite photograph is one of him seated in the center of a canoe on the lake, in a beach chair, with Lynn paddling in back and a friend up front. Favorite memories include mornings when he came to her caf? for sticky buns. "He loved to have fun and see others having fun, too," she says.

With a rare, indefinable and inexhaustible gift, he always managed to leave people he encountered feeling happy.

  Stephanie Bost, Ms. Acker's successor at the cafe now known as Le Sorelle, also delighted in his visits. "He'd greet us every morning when he came in. He was like everyone's grandfather. . . gentle, kind, and he genuinely cared."   
   In later years, Dale Grundon came to be perhaps his closest friend in Mt. Gretna. They often shared breakfasts of coffee, sticky buns and the comics page of the Harrisburg Patriot. Sometimes likened to "the Odd Couple," they were familiar sights at fire company dinners, church breakfasts and pot-pie suppers. They awarded their coveted Five-Fork Ratings to the best ones. Grundon, a Mt. Gretna legend in his own right, was satisfied with eggs any way, scrambled or sunny side up. "Not John," Grundon complained. "He orders Eggs Benedict."
   "You need to pick up some class," counseled Allwein, their mutual friend.    
   Grundon's unexpected death in the summer of 2011 came while Hambright was away. Confronted with the sad news when he returned, Hambright said, "Now isn't that just like Dale, to up and die on me while I was on vacation."
   Several months before he died in his home on April 3 at age 82, Hambright had scheduled an appointment with his barber, Diana Lynn Orley.  "It was always a good day when I knew John was coming in," she says. He had become dependent on a portable oxygen tank and while cutting his hair she accidentally knocked the hose from its tank. Making the most of an opportunity, Hambright screamed, "Help, help, I can't breathe." Ms. Orley, so distraught she missed altogether the irrepressible twinkle in his eye, said "All I could think is, he came in for a haircut and he's going to leave in an ambulance." The story quickly became one of Hambright's favorites.
   "Every memory of John Hambright coming into Le Sorelle brings a smile to my face," says Ms. Bost.  "I'd like to know what made him always so cheerful, what was his secret?" adds Ms. Orley.
    The best that can be said of a man, perhaps, is that he was always fair. John Hambright, businessman, councilman, father, husband and friend, merits an even higher accolade: Eminently fair, he cared about others and he left them feeling happier than they were before he came. An official obituary appears

Julie Ann Shearer (1967 - 2013)

    Friends say she had the rare gift of lighting up a room when she entered. "She had more brightness than a million light bulbs," wrote the author of her obituary following her death April 9 at age 46 in Lebanon Good Samaritan Hospital.   

   Beloved by her only child, Jennifer Paige Shearer, and husband Timothy Wolshire, Julie Shearer was also held in high regard by her many friends. They included her Timber Hills neighbors, particularly those in the area of Village Lane where she and CW4 Wolshire, a Blackhawk helicopter pilot at Fort Indiantown Gap, made their home, as well as colleagues at Johnson & Johnson, where she was an executive secretary.       

  Born in Lancaster, she was the daughter of Lewis and Bobbi (Vecero) Kauffman of Mountville. She had three sisters and a brother, all of whom now live in Columbia, Lancaster County.    

   Memorial contributions in her name are being received by Water Street Ministries in Lancaster. Her official obituary appears online.
John E. Loehr, Jr. (1940 - 2013)

    John Loehr Jr., 72, who had lived on Brown Avenue since the early 1980s and once as chairman of the Mt. Gretna Authority, died April 28 at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon. He and his wife Susan, who organized and energized the Mt. Gretna Garden Club to transform the Chautauqua grounds into a veritable flower garden each spring, had two daughters and five grandchildren. Another daughter, Debbie, preceded her father in death.

   The Loehrs, who also helped make the Mt. Gretna Art Show fun for children by organizing a sprightly and imaginative Kid's Art Show, moved from Mt. Gretna to Lebanon several years ago. A native of Yonkers, NY and a graduate of St. Lawrence University, he was also a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Lebanon.  

   Services will be held May 1 at Thompson Funeral Home in Lebanon. An official obituary appears online.



& Stuff to
Post on
the Fridge


Lou Schellenberg exhibit May 3-June 4

Pat Hottenstein wall hangings exhibit
May 3-25


Lou Schellenberg exhibit opens at
Marketview Arts Center in York, Pa., 5:30-9pm, continuing thru June 4. Sponsored by Pennsylvania Arts Trial Experience. She'll speak at the center May 18 at 11 am.

Pat and Dan Hottenstein open a new month-long exhibit at
Lebanon Picture Frame & Fine Art with a reception from 5 to 8 pm. Pat specializes in textiles, Dan in paintings. Pursuing artistic endeavors  in retirement, both credit the "endless inspiration of Mt. Gretna."


"Blooms and More" plant sale by the Cornwall Manor Society with pastries, coffee, hot dogs and apple dumplings, 8 am - 1 pm.   


Block Shoot at Mt. Gretna Fire Company. You don't have to pull a trigger to win: Door prize drawings every half hour, plus ham & bean soup, hot dogs, and unusual prizes including a rock waterfall with fire and char-broil multi-purpose cooker. Noon to 4 pm.


Preserve Mt. Gretna, a group formed "to preserve the land, integrity and historic character of Mt. Gretna," holds a public meeting to update residents on activities in the community and surrounding townships in a public meeting at the fire hall, 2 pm.

Open House and Plant Sale at Milton Hershey Horticultural Center, 8 am to noon. See "Sightings" (above).

SUNDAY, May 12 :

Mothers' Day dinner Italian style at Le Sorell. Reservations required with your pre-order of entrees: Scaloppine Di Vitello pan fried veal scallopine with white wine mushroom sauce. Petti Di Pollo alla Bolognese baked chicken breast with prosciutto and cheese.  Cozze alla Marinara mussels with homemade marinara and crusty bread, plus appetizers, soup or pasta and dessert. Call 717-269-3876 or email


West Cornwall Twp. supervisors meet, 73 S. Zinns Mill Rd. 7 pm


South Londonderry Twp.supervisors meet, Lawn Fire Hall, 7 pm.

Cornwall Iron Furnace
lecture "A Soldier's Life." Uniformed re-enactor Irwin Snavely tells what it was like to be a soldier in the American Revolution. Cornwall Manor Freeman Hall, 7:30 pm.


10th annual Mt. Gretna Got the Nerve Triathlon, 1,000 athletes compete to benefit people with disabilities. 8am - noon. 



Porch sales, Campmeeting and Chautauqua, 8 am - 2 pm

Bookstore open, Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society, 8 am - noon.

23d Annual Summer Premiere (see "Oh, what a party," this issue). Wine, hors d'oeuvres and art auction. Hall of Philosophy, at 4 pm. 

A special Campmeeting program to celebrate Register of Historic Places listing with presentation ceremony, music and remarks. See story above.
7 pm at the Tabernacle.

Plaques (inset) available for Campmeeting property owners. Contact Debby Erb,

Here's a question:

   Who among Mt. Gretna's favorite "celebrities" will be the greatest attraction for a "Dignitary Dump" at the fire department's upcoming fundraiser?
    Planners casting about for candidates for the Saturday, July 20 event want to hear from you. Who would you most like to dunk?
        Volunteer Karen Lynch says this affair will revive the Rotary Club's Mt. Gretna Days of old, when kids' games, a dunking booth, hamburgers, hotdogs, French fries and drinks carried the day.
        "We want to make it a true community event," says Ms. Lynch. Groups and organizations throughout the community can sponsor a booth, a game, or events such as bake sales to raise funds and have fun. They can also keep revenues they earn, she says. "We just ask them to promote the day so everyone benefits from a larger crowd."
          Sign up for a booth by June 1. This spectacular, which the firefighters hope will grow in the years ahead, replaces July's breakfast buffet. If the right dunkees show up, nobody will miss the breakfast.

Don't forget:

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





Other newsletters of interest:

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

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

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

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

Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society Newsletter -- Online at 

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

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

Cornwall Police Department E-Mail Bulletins -- issued as warranted to update residents on events of community interest, including crime alerts. To add your name to the mailing list, click on If you have questions, send an email to Police Chief Bruce Harris

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,   



              The Mt. Gre

                                        LIFE AT A ROCKING CHAIR PACE 

   There's something about living in Mt. Gretna that year 'rounders probably never notice. If you're a snowbird, however, the difference jumps right out at you.

   People in other places always seem in a hurry. Even while they're on vacation, people from big cities hurry to relax. They hurtle south down the Interstates, often like race drivers at Indianapolis. Once they get to where they're going, they rush to the beach, to the early bird dinner specials or to the  shopping malls which, no one seems to notice, are almost indistinguishable from the ones they left behind in New Jersey.

   Here in Mt. Gretna, life unfolds at a slower pace. People live to the metronome beat of a reliable grandfather's clock. Not too fast, not too slow.
   Mt. Gretna people are usually patient, too. If you hear someone blow an automobile horn, you know they're not from around here. Honking a horn just isn't our style. 

   Before she retired to live closer to her young grandson, Cathy Dugdale, the former postmistress, noticed that when she temporarily filled in at another post office somewhere in Lebanon County, people seemed annoyed if she casually asked about their grandchildren or how their day was going.
   Impatient people don't have to really say anything. You can spot them ten feet away. They give off an aura.   

   Mt. Gretna, on the other hand, has a calming effect on people.
   The workmen who repaved Route 117 a few years ago noticed that while traffic was stopped as they laid down the asphalt, people relaxed. Under a canopy of trees, they enjoyed those unexpected moments of undisturbed silence.
   As the crews finished their job and packed up to leave four or five months later, one of them said, "Nobody flipped us the bird."
   They'd never seen anything like it.    
   Something about a slower pace of living instinctively appeals to most of us. Reenie Macsisak says T-shirts embroidered with rocking chair designs always sold

Ann's cottage on a hill.

best in her gift shop. 
   I wonder what would happen if the whole world slowed down to a rocking chair pace. Would we really be any worse off? 

   Maybe as they mull those regional development plans, they ought to think about these things.  

   A good preface might be a few lines from Just a Cottage of a Hill by Ann Hark, who lived in Philadelphia in the '20s and '30s and wrote for the Ladies Home Journal.
   When she wasn't in the city, she retreated to her cottage (inset) overlooking the lake, at the westernmost edge of the Chautauqua.
   She was said to have been a woman ahead of her time, yet her poem seems timeless:   

Not for me the hiving city

Not for me the pulsing shore

But a little woodland corner

This I ask and nothing more.

   People need a place like Mt. Gretna to come to.    

      Roger Groce 


P.S. I'll be away for a few weeks so there won't be an issue of this newsletter in June and July. Please use this opportunity to discover Kathy Snavely's This Week in Mt. Gretna, which tells what's going on at the Playhouse, the Hall of Philosophy, the Tabernacle and elsewhere, available without cost. Just write: and ask her to include your email address on the mailing list.


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