Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Mt. Gretna, Pa. "Not a place, but a spirit."
Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)
Hi-tech in a
AT THE MT. GRETNA SCHOOL OF ART this summer, guest speakers kept their promise to appear
even if a temporary illness set them back. From her offices in Texas,
noted artist, author and lecturer Amber Scoon
addressed students at the Hall of Philosophy via Skype. She planned to
jet to Pennsylvania the next day for her critique of the work done by 21
students who enrolled for the school's first year. MGSOA is already
planning its 2014 season.
Ms. Scoon joined 23 other
luminaries from the art world (including lecturers from Harvard, Yale and
Princeton) in getting Mt. Gretna's six-week intensive studies program
underway. The Chautauqua Institution in New York encouraged applicants
unable to fill one of 40 spots in its arts studies program to switch to
Evelyn Koppel, among many local residents who hosted
students at dinners in their homes, says "the students were
wonderful, and the art school is one of the best things to happen in Mt
Gretna this summer." MGSOA is already planning its 2014
Just ahead: Mt. Gretna's most festive weekend
of the year
. AFTER people move to Mt. Gretna, it doesn't take them
long to discover there's an extra holiday on the calendar.
Count on it: the most festive time of the whole
year rolls around every third weekend in August, when it's time for the
Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show.
It'll repeat this month for the 39th consecutive year, on
Saturday and Sunday Aug. 17-18.
Rising up on the tree-shaded grounds of the Chautauqua will
be tents that seem to mushroom from out of nowhere.
everyday experience at shopping malls or on QVC: a chance to buy art
from those who created it.
Actually, they come from about 28 states, arriving mostly on
Friday afternoon to serve as the display booths for 260
Artists, jewelers, potters, sculptors and weavers scramble
to set up their wares before the show opens on Saturday. Selected by a
panel of judges from the world of craftsmen, artists, designers and
educators, they're among the best at what they do anywhere in the country.
To keep things fresh, show director Linda Bell chooses
different judges every year. This year's panel, who
made their selections in April, include a fine arts furniture craftsman,
an art teacher, a former technical illustrator who is now a university
humanities instructor and a former fabrics artist -- all with ties to the
Mt. Gretna community where residents share a common bond: wide-ranging
interests in all things relating to the arts. Regardless of their
profession, almost everybody seems to play an instrument, paint pictures,
write stories, cultivate flowers, build dollhouses or maybe even shape
wrought-iron designs in a blacksmith shop they set up in their backyard.
Across the highway are artists who didn't go through the
rigorous judging process but choose to exhibit in what's known as a
Summer Crafts Market. The market has no official ties to the juried show,
but it nevertheless attracts many talented and imaginative exhibitors
eager to pay $275 to $325 for a spot on the grounds of a former baseball
On both sides of the highway artists can usually count on a
big crowd. Last year's juried show under the shade of century-old trees
of the Chautauqua attracted 16,731 visitors, some 36% more than in 2011.
In terms of attendance, it was the fourth-biggest ever.
In revenues, however, it topped all records, with $109,898
for distribution to the Mt. Gretna Fire Company, Lawn Ambulance service,
local municipalities and cultural and arts organizations including Gretna
Music, Gretna Theatre, Cicada Festival and the Mt. Gretna Arts Council.
Several of the arts recipients -- Gretna Theatre and Gretna
Music particularly -- will find those funds especially welcome this year.
Unusually hot, wet days as the summer began discouraged attendance at the
open air Playhouse. For Gretna Theatre, dwindling crowds seemed to
threaten its very survival, particularly with the double blow of a sharp
increase for office rent (amid property tax hikes that sometimes soared
300 to 500 percent) and a sudden, unexpected loss of actor housing at
Cornwall Manor. "A perfect storm," said producing artistic
director Larry Frenock in a letter to
supporters -- a wallop that added over $100,000 to the theatre's
Gretna Music, hoping for a big turnout for this month's
annual House Tour -- normally its single-biggest fundraiser of the year
-- also has struggled with sparse audiences. One exception: Sarah Chang,
who filled all but 110 seats in the 700-seat Playhouse July 3. Her
sizable concert fee was largely underwritten by long-time Mt. Gretna
resident Nancy Hatz, who had also subsidized
Midori's record-setting appearance at a concert here in 2007.
Such turnouts suggest that angels who can help attract big
names to Mt. Gretna may be a galvanizing force for both Gretna Theatre
and Gretna Music in the future.
Although organizers of the art show rarely emphasize a need
to increase the size of crowds and revenues, the show has nevertheless
weathered rocky economic times.
One reason is its dedicated corps of volunteers. "About
200 of them," says Ms. Bell. "They come out of the woodwork and
do a good job. I don't want to question that too closely for fear it may
go away. But I do worry that we're all getting older, and I don't have a
good answer for where tomorrow's volunteers and exhibiting artists will
"Make the food at the show as special as the art.".
Even without the answer, however, one clue to the show's
sustainability may lie in a philosophy that transcends ever-increasing
crowds and profits.
Ms. Bell, who has held her post as its unpaid director for
at least 17 years, says the larger purpose has always been to introduce
artists to a wider audience, display fresh perspectives on art that can
become an integral part of people's homes, give those who buy art a
chance to speak directly with those who created it, and experience a
gourmet food court filled by vendors who produce "food that is as
special as the art."
Yet the show's success from one year to the next also rests
on a fair amount of luck. Ever present dangers include torrential
downpours, severe windstorms that can fell limbs and flatten tents, and
scorching temperatures that often convince many to stay put in their
Although it has never happened, a sudden decision to cancel
the entire two-day show because of weather emergencies is an integral
part of Ms. Bell's contingency planning.
Outdoor shows elsewhere have been decimated by
tornadoes and violent storms, forcing refunds of exhibitor fees and
wiping out a fresh infusion of gate receipts. She keeps $64,000 in
reserve to guard against such calamities.
Another focus that insures the show's continued popularity are events designed especially for children.
This year's attractions, offered at no added cost in
the $10 admission price, include a special Gretna Theatre children's
show, "Talk, the Musical" at the Playhouse, 11 am and 2 pm
Saturday and noon and 2 pm Sunday.
Added children's delights are a balloon artist to create
fanciful balloons, Dejango (Uncle Sam's
insatiably curious monkey), face painting at the Chautauqua playground,
and children helping other youngsters create crafts.
Young performers will also provide musical
entertainment. The "Emerging Artists" booth often includes
youngsters as well.
With no presents to buy, entertaining limited to "Mt.
Gretna casual" and porches filled with friends in rocking chairs,
the annual art show is, next to Christmas itself, not only a favored
holiday but also Mt. Gretna's idea of the perfect way to top off a
In Mt. Gretna, a dog's life isn't always so easy
EVEN if you're a dog with a cozy apartment
near Manhattan, when you get to Mt. Gretna, the great outdoors is
sometimes just too much to resist.
After having been rescued from an abusive home in West
Virginia and adopted 18 months ago into the waiting arms of Bill and
Whitney Ackerman, seven-year-old Gigi probably thought life had taken a
But a few weeks ago, after the couple bought a
cottage in Mt. Gretna where they planned to relax on weekends, Gigi
wandered off on an adventure of her own.
Lost for eight days, Gigi, a Chihuahua
terrier mix, triggered one of Mt. Gretna's biggest dog
At first, neighbors suggested she had
headed into the state
Lost in the
woods for eight days, Gigi, an adopted Chihuahua terrier mix, sparked
one of Mt. Gretna's biggest dog hunts ever.
gamelands. Others saw her
roaming through the center of Mt. Gretna.
But after a few days, Gigi was nowhere to be seen.
That set off a flurry of bulletin board
posters, door-to-door flyers, professional
tracking dogs, recorded telephone
messages to area vets, groomers and friends of animals, and eventually
even an animal communicator.
"I was skeptical about the
communicator," admits Whitney. But her mother, who had learned
from her dog's groomer about a woman in York, Pa. known for her ability
to find lost pets, asked, "What have you got to lose?"
Almost a week after Gigi had wandered
out the front door of their cottage, the
telepathic communicator assured the couple that their little pet was
"I can't tell you exactly where she is,
but she's surviving on cat food near a yellow house with a chain link
fence out back," said the communicator.
Meanwhile, Bill and Whitney, heartbroken,
returned to their jobs in New York City. "I found it hard to
concentrate at work," says Whitney, who handles AIG's online
"The people at Castaway
Critters, where we had adopted her, cautioned us not to be
surprised. If we found Gigi after she'd been gone so long, she would
probably be a little distant toward us," said Whitney.
The following weekend, they returned to their
cottage and resumed the search. They followed a trail through Governor
Dick Park that had been picked up by the tracking dogs.
Then they got a telephone call.
A woman who lives near the
Pennsylvania Turnpike, just off Pinch Road, had received one of the
door-to-door flyers circulated by Whitney's parents and a recorded
phone call (one of 750 the couple had contracted for) from the online
alerting service LostMyDoggy.com.
She called to say a dog that looked like Gigi had been in
her back yard.
On Saturday, Bill set a Havahart
trap outside the woman's home -- a yellow house maybe two miles from
the Ackerman's Yale Avenue cottage and about 300 yards from where the
tracking dogs had lost Gigi's scent in Governor Dick forest. A 9-ft.
chain link fence kept deer out of the property. And in the backyard
were dishes the woman used to provide food and water for her cats.
The couple continued their search, on foot
and by car near the yellow house. But by Sunday afternoon, there had
been no further sightings.
Finally, when it came time to return once
again to New York with heavy hearts but without Gigi, the Ackermans packed up to leave. They decided to stop
once more at the yellow house off Pinch Road.
Food they had left in the trap on Saturday remained
untouched, and there was no sign of Gigi.
"We were literally going to leave and
the next thing we knew, we heard from the other side of the driveway a
little yip and what sounded like the metal and plastic tags on her
collar," said Whitney.
"We looked up, and on the other side of
that deer fence Gigi appeared. I went over to her slowly, because we
had been told she might be detached and try to run away.
"But her reaction was the complete opposite.
She was trying so hard to get herself through that deer fence. The
openings were big enough that she could get her head through, but not
her whole body.
"I ran up to the fence, petted her, and
she let me grab her collar.
"Bill went back to find her leash so we
could make sure she didn't run away," said Whitney.
Her father, who is pushing 60 but still plays
basketball a couple of times a week, climbed up, jumped over the tall
fence and was able to pick up Gigi on the other side.
"By holding her paws closer to her body, we were able
to get her through one of the openings," she said.
After eight anguished days, said Whitney
afterward, clutching her pet, "it was almost a Hollywood
As a youngster, Bill had often visited Mt.
Gretna with his parents. Whitney's parents attended the art show. He
grew up in Hummelstown, she in York County.
But they didn't meet until they were students at
Oxford University in England about six years ago. They were married in
2009 but have no children yet.
So Gigi, now safely back home in Brooklyn Heights
and Mt. Gretna, makes it a happy threesome.
MAYOR Joe Shay climbed out of the
dunking tank to dry off and make room for Victoria Funck,
a sometimes bartender at the Hideaway (who also happens to be married
to restaurant owner Alan Funck). Part of the
fun of a revived Mt. Gretna Days, like those the Rotary Club used to sponsor.
Hot dogs and hamburgers, craft exhibits and
take-your-chance games aplenty. But the most popular attraction was the
dunking booth where local people -- including Mt. Gretna's postmaster,
pastor, patrolman and even the pizzeria's major-domo -- took turns
taunting their friends to pay $1 for three balls to hit the bull's eye
and send them down with a splash.
They wound up wet, but the
firefighter's fund drive got a boost, edging ever closer to its $400,000 goal to pay for a new addition
to the fire hall, firemen's gear and a bigger fire engine.
As part of the fun last month, Marianne
Spychalski and Elizabeth Laur
(inset, right), introduced "Vittles, Virtues and
Vultures," the fire company's new cookbook with 300 recipes --
"everything from appetizers to entrees."
A cover design by artist Eleanor Sarabia
harkens back to the Sarah Tyson Rorer Hall of Cookery (forerunner of
the Hall of Philosophy) named for the Ladies' Home Journal's
science editor who led cooking classes in the Chautauqua.
Proceeds of each $12 sale go into the fire company
coffers. For gift-minded purchasers buying 10 copies or more, quantity
discounts are offered. For details, email theMtGretnaCookbookInfo@gmail.com.
"I'M DIANE from Lancaster,
The only local
in the Timbers' 2013 cast, audiences love Diane Huber (center).
Pennnsylvania." When the Timbers
Dinner Theatre cast introduce themselves -- from places like Minnesota,
Michigan and Upstate New York -- "the audience cheers and screams
when I say where I'm from," says Lancaster native Diane Huber
(center), who's just completed theatrical studies at Pace University.
She's starred locally at Ephrata Playhouse and has also
appeared at the Fulton and Dutch Apple theaters.
Along with hundreds of others, Diane spent a full
day in New York City this spring waiting to audition for a part in the
Timbers' summer lineup. "I love being here, and the warm,
enthusiastic audiences make me feel I'm back
home. It's a fun show," she says.
Lebanon Daily News writer Bill Warner
The show runs Wednesdays through Saturdays (with a Wednesday matinee)
until closing night (popular among locals who often join the cast on
stage) Saturday, Aug. 31.
HOORAY! Just as promised, West Cornwall
Township came through last month with a cedar fence to shield the sewer
pumping station from public view along heavily-traveled Route 117, a
main artery not only for Mt. Gretnans but
also 160,000 summer visitors.
With the fence completed, now comes a drive to add
finishing touches of shrubbery. Like to lend a hand? Send your donation
(not tax-deductible but doubly appreciated, say organizers) to Preserve
Mt. Gretna, PO Box 285, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064. Need further details?
Drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
REVIVING a tradition made memorable by the late Mt. Gretna
mayor Ralph "Hogie" Hogentogler, Jennifer Veser Besse (left), a college professor who grew up here
and now lives with her husband in Timber Hills, led the parasol-pumping
parade around the Playhouse during this year's
Jazz Worship Service with the New Black Eagles jazz band.
Lancaster newspaper's popular Scribbler columnist, Jack
Brubaker, who happens to be Jennifer's uncle, was in the parade, too.
"She remembered joining the march as a young girl with Hogentogler and her grandfather and other Mt. Gretnans," wrote the Scribbler, who thinks the New Orleans
tradition "transfers well to Mt. Gretna."
As the band "saluted the revival of the tradition, it
was a bittersweet day for those of us who marched where Hotentogler" and others -- including John H.
Brubaker, Jr. (Jack's father and Jennifer's grandfather, who lived with
his wife Marie on Stevens Avenue in the Chautauqua) -- had marched
years earlier. "He would have enjoyed the revival of the marching
saints on July 7, 2013," said the Scribbler.
PULITZER-PRIZE-winning journalist Bill Ecenbarger, who lived on Brown Avenue in the 1970s,
returned last month as a guest speaker in Bill Gifford's popular Friday
morning Writers' Series.
His latest book, Cash for
Kids: Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.6 Million Kickback
has received high praise from Boston Globe and New York
What still amazes Ecenbarger:
how so many local officials could have ignored shocking practices for
so long. What sort of practices? Shackling
youngsters in for-profit detention homes for offenses as minor as
defacing a stop sign with a magic marker, for
Corrupt Luzerne County judges now serving time in prison
often accepted bribe money in their own chambers. The abuses came to
light only after someone reported to the IRS that compared to their
salaries the judges' lifestyles were outsized. What unfolded, starting
in 2007, was a $2.6 million kickback scheme. "Moral
laryngitis," Ecenbarger calls it, one of
the "worst crimes in Pennsylvania history."
Ecenbarger now lives in Hershey but says he and his
wife sometimes mull over the possibility of moving back to Mt. Gretna some day.
The 10 am Writer's Series continues through Friday, Aug. 2
with Brendan I. Koerner discussing "The
Skies Belong to Us," a tale of two young lovers whose skyjacker
exploits in the 1970s gripped the nation.
"HALF of my advertising is wasted, and I'd cut it
out tomorrow if I knew which half it
Near the Mt. Gretna exit on Rte. 72, an experiment with
was," the legendary Philadelphia retailer John Wanamaker
That may explain the Jigger Shop's first
foray into billboard advertising this year.
"We just thought we'd try something
different," says co-owner Drew Allwein.
"We can never be sure which radio station our
customers listen to, which magazines they read, or which newspapers
they subscribe to. But most drive every day, so we thought we'd give
billboards a try," says Allwein, whose
family has operated the award-winning Jigger Shop for nearly half a
Consistently voted the "best" ice cream
shop in Central Pennsylvania, the shop also typically receives highest
ratings by Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture inspectors. Its
"alumni" roster, made up of generally top-performing college
grads, includes former bus boys and ice cream servers who now hold
distinguished posts in business, education and the arts.
No wonder a spot at the Jigger Shop, where the Allweins run a tight ship with high standards,
annually ranks among the most coveted of summer jobs.
Other newsletters of interest:
Mt. Gretna Updates -- Issued infrequently to alert local residents to local
emergencies, temporary road closings, utility repairs, shelter advisories during adverse weather and other
matters affecting only those living in Mt. Gretna. Send an e-mail
request, with "LOCAL UPDATES" in subject line, to RogerTGroce@live.com.
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 email@example.com
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 http://gretnamusic.org/ FOUNDER Carl Ellenberger's blog (worth
Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society Newsletter -- Online at http://www.mtgretnahistory.org/newsletter.php
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
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 www.nixle.com. Questions: email Police Chief Bruce Harris.
Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of
primary interest to Mt. Gretnans in Timber
Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge;
online at http://southlondonderry.org/
Available online and mailed to residents.
Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights residents. Contact
Michelle Shay, firstname.lastname@example.org
preview of this month's Tour of Homes
OF ALL Mt. Gretna Newsletter issues, August's is typically the
one most likely to be forwarded by readers to their
That's probably because it previews one of Central
Pennsylvania's most popular house tours.
The 29th annual tour of homes -- in what the
press release calls "a little town that seems more relaxing and
enjoyable than the grind of daily life" -- runs 10 am to 5 pm
Saturday, Aug. 3.
reach out the upstairs window and touch your neighbor's cottage in this
traditional Campmeeting home. Built in
1892, at the start of the United Brethren "campmeetings"
and the founding of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, this is one of the
first Mt. Gretna sites. The original deed names "William
Butts and two ladies" as the builders.
Owners Kevin and Leeshaun Musick
like to trace the cottage's architectural evolution by following clues
left by piecemeal woodwork of the original Philadelphia beadboard and later board and battan
construction that likely occurred in the early 1900s. Peering out
the upstairs windows gives a view of the home's Victorian gingerbread
woodwork and neighboring paths, trees and cottages.
Chinese lanterns cluster together on the wrap-around front
porch of this home owned by Ted Martin and Dwayne Heckert.
A 1907 photo of the cottage showed similar lanterns illuminating the
summer evening, so they collected paper lights on their visits to Hong
Kong, Asia and Martha's Vineyard. The front porch's paint design
mirrors those they discovered among the Vineyard's Campmeeting
After purchasing "Uneeda
Rest" from a church in 2004, Ted and Dwayne spent nearly three
years restoring the cottage. Once a porch, the kitchen had
multiple layers of linoleum. Samples saved from each layer now
decorate the downstairs bathroom walls. Beneath the final layer
was a 1937 newspaper. Ted framed the headlines which now hang in
the kitchen. That Depression-era newspaper inspired décor
elsewhere, and they later discovered 1930s kitchen appliances on worldwide
eBay but located in nearby Lebanon.
As You Wish
Tucked into a Campmeeting
walking path, "As You Wish" refers to the movie "The
Princess Bride" and was a 35th wedding anniversary gift from Dale Kreider to his wife, Cheryl, in 2011. In two
short years, the couple removed much of what was modern in the cottage
including light fixtures, countertops and appliances and replaced it
all with vintage or antique finds from Craigslist, eBay and thrift
stores. They even found a 1920's era refrigerator and stove.
Likewise, they have preserved all of the original woodwork and doors on
the interior of the cottage with an aim to "get it back to its
original intention," said Cheryl.
The Krieders, who live in
Hershey, say that this cottage is "13 miles and 100 years"
from their home.
One Fine Landing
Bob and Tammy Travitz sit
on their wraparound porch of this cottage dating back to 1905 to enjoy
the peaceful view.
Relaxing on the porch is a well-earned treat. They
spent nearly every weekend since 2011 restoring this five-bedroom
cottage. After salvaging everything possible, they went to work
winterizing and shoring up the sun porch and the upstairs.
Bedroom beams reinforcing the roof came from a
Lebanon lumber company. Doors are refinished originals or salvaged from
Habitat for Humanity. Wavy glass windows and Philadelphia beadboard are original. The Travitzes installed the tray ceiling above the cast
iron bed -- also a relic of the home. One room boasts tiled
porcelain floors to resist the inevitable dampness that comes with a
cottage in the woods.
The Innkeepers' Cottage
Seeking a retreat not far from their Ephrata home
and business, innkeepers David and Bonnie Harvey discovered this
cottage two years ago. Built in 1896 on a double lot, it now has a
renovated dining room, kitchen with raised ceilings, new wiring, a door
frame and new flooring in the upstairs bathroom -- all done by David, a
retired engineer. The Harveys call it the
"new house," since their full-time residence was built a
A special accent piece the couple acquired at an antique
shop is a stained glass window in the bathroom. They searched for two
years to find a window that was the perfect size. The stained glass
theme carries throughout the home, with a special custom-made stained
glass front window, crafted in 2007 by the late Dale Grundon, a legendary Mt. Gretna stained glass
Woods in the Woods
In early 2000, David and Susan Wood began
revitalizing this property on the L-shaped footprint of a 1960s era
home. This provided endless opportunities for creating a new
contemporary home with bamboo floors, plentiful windows and skylights,
an open floor plan, a spacious outdoor pool (recently converted to salt
water), and a glass block shower in the master bath. Mt. Gretna
resident John Balmer designed and built the
home. Interior decorator Glin Atkinson, also
of Mt. Gretna, suggested attractive color schemes. A prominent feature
is the built-in shelving that showcases David's collection of clocks
and watches. During the summer, the saltwater pool, with poolside
hammocks, is a favorite spot. Surrounding the pool are hostas -- so many hostas
that the Woods suggest with a smile that the home might have been named
"Hosta la Vista."
Renovations demand a delicate balance, with an imperative to keep the
best of what's already there.
That was the challenge of retired environmental geologist Doug Lorenzen and Pam Bishop, a former environmental
attorney, after they bought this 1904 home
five years ago. Bay windows that admit generous quantities
of light into the master bedroom were a preservation
"must." Beadboard ceilings made of
authentic American chestnut -- a Mt. Gretna staple --were another
priority. Then came new French doors with side
lights in the living room, touches that accentuate a solid bamboo
floor. Doug, also a home improvement contractor, did most of the work
himself, everything from extending the home by seven feet to replacing
wiring and plumbing. New granite floors accent the kitchen, and a deck
out back overlooks neighboring Mt. Gretna Heights.
Also on tour are the Hall of Philosophy, several
gardens and the home of the Mt. Gretna Historical Society. Although not
generally known, the Hall of Philosophy was the original site of the
Sarah Tyson Rorer Hall of Cookery, named for a Ladies' Home Journal
domestic science editor who published 54 books on cooking and nutrition
and was known as "the nation's cooking teacher." Ms. Rorer
will be portrayed during the tour by Mt. Gretnan
Kathy Snavely. Campmeeting
resident Linda Campbell will appear as Ms. Rorer's contemporary, author
Ann Hark, also a Ladies' Home Journal writer, who once owned a
cottage overlooking the lake.
The Hall of Philosophy will be among 12 tour stops, open
as a Grab 'N Go café from 9:30 until 1:30, selling coffee, snacks and
light lunch items.
Tickets ($20 in advance, $25 day of the tour) are
available through Gretna Music (717-361-1508), online at www.gretnamusic.org and through tour sponsor
Brownstone Real Estate and als0 in: Lancaster County: All Stauffers markets; Lynden Gallery, Elizabethtown;
and Yale Electric Supply in Lancaster; Dauphin County:
Yale Electric Supply, Harrisburg; Brownstone Real Estate, Hershey; and Stauffers Garden Centers in Hummelstown and Linglestown. Cumberland County: Stauffers Garden Center, Mechanicsburg. Lebanon
County: Leitzel's Jewelry, Myerstown;
Yale Electric Supply and Brownstone Real Estate, Lebanon (Quentin);
Allen Theatre, Annville; and Gretna Emporium, Mt. Gretna and Stauffers Garden Center in Lebanon. Berks County:
Progress Electric Supply, Wyomissing.
Dorothy Kamm Whitman
(1928 - 2013)
WHEN she moved to Gettysburg six
years ago to be closer to her son and daughter-in-law, she had been a
Mt. Gretnan for 23 years. She and her
husband, the late Aaron Whitman of Rexmont,
moved to Valley Road in Timber Hills in 1984 when she retired as an elementary
After high school she had begun studies at
Elizabethtown College in 1946 and then took time off in 1949 to get
married. She subsequently enrolled at Lebanon Valley College, where in
1958 she earned her teaching degree. She taught in Chester County as
well as in Cleona, Sunbury and Palmyra and also served as a roving
teacher of gifted students in Schuylkill County during the 1970s and
An avid bridge player and bird watcher,
Dorothy Whitman became a Winterite, a member
of Mt. Gretna's second Red Hat Society and a volunteer tutor to those
studying for their American citizenship exams. She was also admired by
neighbors for her kitchen specialties, including meatloaf, spring peas
and a sumptuous strawberry shortcake.
An obituary writer notes that as a lifelong
Democrat, her proudest moment came in 2008 when, at age 80, she cast
her vote for Barack Obama from a hospital bed.
Edward L. Philips (1937-2013)
concerning his achievements both as a scholar and educator, including
his later accomplishments as the superintendent of what would become a
pace-setting school district in Lebanon County,
Ed Philips' legacy was largely unknown to many of his close neighbors
in Mt. Gretna.
After a distinguished career in education, he retired to
Mt. Gretna and was welcomed as a regular around the often spirited
breakfast table conversations at the pizzeria on Saturday mornings,
appreciated for his work as the fire company's financial mentor and
admired for his contributions to other organizations of which he was a
part. In every instance, he imparted a friendly touch, a guiding hand
and somehow managed to strengthen the
foundations of every one of them, leaving them better than
before he came.
On most Saturdays, after breakfast
with friends, he dashed off to the golf course where, having taken up
the game late in life when retirement finally permitted him to do so,
his proudest achievement was winning the 2012 Senior Golf Handicap
championship at the age of 75. He repeated that accomplishment this
year, assuring that his name as a champion would appear in gold
lettering on the Lebanon Country Club board of champions not once but
twice. His broad smile as he reflected on that achievement left no
doubt that, coming as it did in his final days,
it ranked among his most satisfying accomplishments. But it was only a
smile, never a boast.
As friends commented afterward, it
was therefore fitting that on the last day of his life he found his way
out to the first tee on a sun-streaked Saturday morning. He suddenly
collapsed and died in the company of friends and on the grounds that he
loved, where he had once been the club president. Leadership was a role
that came naturally to him, naturally but quietly. He led by example,
always with an empathetic understanding of others and an optimistic
outlook that engendered goodwill among everyone whose lives he touched.
He once shared advice he had received
from a Lebanon businessman who had been on the committee that selected
him for the post of superintendent of the Cornwall-Lebanon School
District, a position he held 14 years. "When you're out in the
community, at the grocery store or in church, you will be among many people, most of whom you may
not recognize" he counseled Ed. "But they will know
who you are."
Dr. Philips (as he was known to
teachers, parents and his professional colleagues) never forgot that
advice. With the bearing of a gentleman who bore his responsibilities
with dignity and modesty, he left the legacy of a good example. An
official obituary appears online.
Rhoda S. Gibble (1924 -
ONLY a few years ago, and indeed for
many years, no day was truly complete without the reassuring glimpse of
an elderly but seemingly omnipresent figure making her customary walks
through the streets of Mt. Gretna. Always in motion-- her Campmeeting cottage was named "Never Inn"
-- the familiar presence brought with her a quiet, calming aura, a
virtual certainty that no matter how turbulent the stock market or how
unnerving the clash of global events, the world nevertheless was
unfolding exactly as it should.
She made regular trips into Lebanon to pick up Shuey's Pretzels, into Lititz for Wilbur
chocolates, and usually on Tuesdays to Roots Country Market in Manheim
where she always found special treats to bring back to her friends.
Other days she was off to the Manheim Auto Auction where, in her
retirement years, she drove the chase car until age 86.
Although known to everyone, it was likely that among those
who knew her best was a young girl who shared something special: a
birthday. Every year, Alisa Pitt and Rhoda looked forward to the date
together. Older woman and youthful, energetic girl who would one day
realize her dream to become a professional equestrian trainer, they
cherished that annual celebration. It bound them together and carried
Alisa from childhood into adulthood and Rhoda serenely into old age.
"She came into our family when Alisa was 8 months old," says
Marla Pitt. "She became like a grandmother."
Embedded in the fabric of Mt. Gretna life and rooted in
the memories of those whose lives she touched, Rhoda Gibble died May 26 at age 89. Her official obituary
Robert G. Parr
(1927 - 2013)
"WE ARE fast losing our
leaders," remarked a man who figures among Mt. Getna's
leading citizens and holds vivid memories about the community's early
days. Despite daily demands that still require him to lift boxes, clear
brush and tackle thorny mechanical problems that can arise at the
century-old Jigger Shop, Chuck Allwein paused
recently to reflect wistfully on the steady toll of passing years and
ascending age. He ticked them off one by one: former mayor Dave Long, former water authority president John Loehr,
councilmen Dale Grundon and John Hambright. . . "Where will our future leaders come from," he wondered aloud
upon learning of Bob Parr's death.
Bob Parr, perhaps little known to all
but a few people who now live here, left vivid memories among those who
worked alongside him on the borough council, at the water authority
(which now serves all three communities south of Route 117), in the
Pennsylvania Chautauqua and other places that called for his talents,
business experience and intellect.
He and his wife of nearly half
a century, Barbara, had lived in the home overlooking the lake that is
now the residence of La Cigale owners Nancy
and John Mitchell. The Parrs enjoyed it for
many years before they reluctantly returned to Lebanon. Three decades
later, his contributions to the community they loved remain manifest.
An official obituary appears
Samuel F. "Pete" Light, Jr. (1923 -
IT IS HARD to imagine a time when, if
the lights suddenly went out because of yet another Mt. Gretna power
failure, nobody much noticed. Yet when they were youngsters, Pete Light
and his sister (Patricia Light Attwood), accustomed to winters when
snow piled up higher than the windowsills of their parents' tiny
Chautauqua cottage, took it in stride.
In a world where lighting and warmth depended not on
electrical power but on families gathered around kerosene lanterns and
wood-burning stoves -- with only two street lights in town (one
opposite the post office, another at the tennis courts) -- it was just
another adventuresome day growing up in Mt. Gretna.
When Pete died last month in his 89th year, he
and Pat (who died five years earlier) had piled high a rich trove of
Mt. Gretna memories. They lived here perhaps more years than anyone.
A graduate of Lebanon High School during World
War II, he served in the Naval Reserve as an undergraduate at Bucknell University and was later called to active
duty. Afterwards, he studied dentistry at the University of
Pennsylvania and was again called to active duty in the Korean War,
when he served stateside as a Marine officer.
He practiced dentistry in Lebanon until
1986, when he retired and began to devote
nearly all his time to nature. Deer, turkey buzzards and other
wildlife surrounded the log home he and Gloria had built atop Conewago Hill, overlooking a site once occupied by
the 125-room Conewago Hotel (which Pete had
helped his father demolish in 1940, nearly a decade after it had closed
for the last time).
In retirement, feeding deer became his passion. "They
were here before we were," he would say. During the winters, he
fed them hundreds of corn cobs, brought in on huge flatbed trucks.
After Gloria died, except for faithful, almost daily visits by his son,
his days were spent mostly in solitary pursuits.
Throughout his life, however, he had been active in half a
dozen Masonic organizations. He was also president of the Lions Club, a
trustee of the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, active with the Mt.
Gretna Volunteer Fire Company, and for 27 years a trustee of the
Lebanon County Vo-Tech authority.
Devoted to Gloria, who shared his love of
their hillside home, he followed a weekly
ritual after her death in 2007 and placed flowers on her grave every
Friday. Afterward, as he had for 40 years, he would stop by the
Hideaway for dinner and a single draft beer with his chums.
Because he was accustomed to power failures,
it never seemed to bother him even in modern times when the lights
flickered and then lapsed into total darkness. Something about this
always busy man in his late 80s, steering a small snowplow, a cigar
clenched tightly between his teeth on blustery winter days, reminded
neighbors that for Dr. Pete Light, the lights would never really go
out. An official obituary appears online.
to post on
TENNIS anyone? Hurry and you can catch the
finals at the annual Mt. Gretna Men's Club Tournament, winding up this
weekend. Food, friends and some of the area's top players. "I'm
excited. We have our largest draw in years with 46 singles players and
20 doubles teams," says tournament organizer Mike Rohrbach. The completion began July 27 and runs
through Friday, Aug. 2 (with rain date and tournament extension finals
possible Aug. 3 and 4) at the Mt. Gretna Men's Club along Route 117,
opposite the lake.
FRIDAY AUG. 2:
First Friday Art Walk, 5 to 9 pm. Artists throughout Mt. Gretna display
their works at The Gallery at La Cigale, Penn
Realty, Hickey Architects, Le Sorelle
Porch 'n Pantry, the Timbers Restaurant, and 3Summer Arts Studio.
The La Cigale Studio wine and
music reception kicks off an 11-artists' exhibit that runs the entire
month, with photography, wildlife oil paintings, pen & ink
sketches, pottery, stoneware clay, acrylic on wood, watermedia
and acrylic on canvas.
The Timbers Trio, with vocalist Nicole Roberts, performs
at The Timbers Restaurant 5:30-7:45 pm, with portrait art and jewels on
SATURDAY, AUG. 3:
The Wizard of Oz, final matinee and evening performance at the Playouse, 2 and 7:30 pm.
"Slow Down! You're Going Too Fast!" Video
presentation by Fred Habegger shows snow
geese, butterflies, woodpeckers, and snow falls in slow motion. 1
pm at the Gov. Dick Nature Center atop Pinch Road.
Handbell Festival at the Tabernacle, 7 pm.
SUNDAY, AUG. 4:
Anna Polonsky & Friends -- "Not to
be missed," say Gretna Music insiders. 7:30 pm
Music on the Porch. Bluegrass and old country music jam. 1-4 pm
at the Nature Center.
Pennsylvania Flute Choir, at the Tabernacle, 7 pm.
FRIDAY, AUG. 9:
Damsels and Dragons. An illustrated talk on the life cycle, flight
capabilities and role of dragonflies in ecology. 6:30 p.m. at the
Chautauqua Birthday Party, Hall of Philosophy, 7:30 pm
The Capitol Steps, at the Playhouse. A special Gretna Music
presentation, 7:30 pm
SATURDAY, AUG. 10:
Beekeeper Matt Libhart shares facts about
honeybees and their life cycle. 10:30 am at the Nature Center.
SUNDAY, AUG. 11
Fitness Hike, a fast-paced 6- to 8-mile hike,
starting 8 am at the Nature Center.
Mennonite Children's Choir, at the Tabernacle, 7 pm.
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, AUG. 17-18:
Campmeeting Illumination Saturday, 9 pm
Susquehanna Chorale, Sunday at the Tabernacle 7 pm
Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show, 9 am to 6 pm Saturday, til
5 pm Sunday:
10:00 - 11:30 MOCKING BIRD Acoustic Duo, classic
& contemporary pop/folk
12:00 - 1:30 COPPER SKY Acoustic Duo
2:00 - 3:30 JETT PRESCOTT Singer/songwriter,
piano, acoustic guitar, vocals: retro influences with an Indie twist
4:00 - 5:30 THE REESE PROJECT Classical, jazz,
Irish/Celtic & original with flutes, cello, piano and drums
12:00 - 1:30 CARMITCHELL SISTERS Acoustic Duo,
Classic, contemporary & original pop/folk
2:00 - 3:30 NEW WORLD PARADE (with Andy Roberts)
Original jazz/pop, classic and standard jazz/pop
SATURDAY, AUG. 24:
The Dale Grundon
Memorial Hike to the Cardinal Flowers, led by Sid Hostetter;
starts from the Post Office, 10 am.
SUNDAY, AUG. 25:
Sunrise Hike, 6 miles, starting at the Nature Center at 6:30 am.
(Register by Aug. 23).
QuintEssentially Brass at the Tabernacle, 7
MONDAY, AUG. 26:
Low Maintenance Fall Perennial Gardening, Hall of Philosophy, 7:30 pm
Check the Arts Council calendar:
Mt. Gretna's new online calendar,
at http://artscouncil.mtgretna.com/home/calendar-2, is a
service of the Mt. Gretna Arts Council.
Email listings and updates to Jennifer Veser Besse at email@example.com
AS MOST readers probably have learned
since it started in 2001, this community newsletter is merely a
retirement hobby -- like golf, woodworking, or model airplanes might be
for others. It has no attachment to any particular group or organization
nor any political or commercial ax to grind
(although I do have a special spot in my heart for the volunteer
fire department and for people who contribute to the artistic
It produces no income but provides immense personal
satisfaction, mainly because it keeps me in touch with interesting,
talented and thoughtful people, many of whom have come to be good
friends. And as I get older, I am convinced: nothing is more
important than friends.
I don't try to cover everything. For
one thing, that would exhaust me. For another, some topics are better
left to daily newspapers, with greater skills and
Generally speaking, I try to cover things that people have
not already read. Yet since the majority of my readers live outside Mt.
Gretna, I sometimes summarize reports of local newspapers. I also
depend on my readers to tell me about things that happen to present and
former Mt. Gretnans, including obituary
In preparing each issue, I sometimes
imagine a reader sitting there early in the morning with a cup of
coffee in hand, not wishing to be jarred by yet another sensational
report about some calamity somewhere in the world. Nor is my imaginary
reader looking to be preached to.
I like the example set by the late Philadelphia Phillies
broadcaster Harry Kalas, who felt listeners
invited him into their homes.
I also think sometimes about Regis Philbin,
the television legend who was asked why people watched his show.
"They tell me it makes them feel good," he
Nothing wrong with that for a small community
newsletter, I think. Bad news isn't my cup of tea. I leave that to
I strive to get this newsletter out
on the first day of each month unless I'm traveling, ailing or
attending to personal duties that sometimes must take a higher
It is impossible to adequately thank
the many people who help me gather the news, take the photos, then
edit, fact-check and proofread this letter. They include people with
special skills and in-depth knowledge of Mt. Gretna who live both here
as well as in New York City, Camp Hill, Pa. and St. Paul, Minn.
Regardless of where they live, all are
invaluable in the production of this newsletter.
I send this letter by e-mail to
anyone who asks, without charge and with no expectation of anything
other than a gentle nudge when I err. It is not available by U.S. mail,
although many readers kindly print copies and mail them to friends and
relatives who don't have computers.
If you have difficulty reading
or printing the letter, please click on the online version -- http://mtgretna.com/news -- which
appears through the courtesy of friends at Gretna Computers.
The online archive, I'm told,
sometimes proves helpful to people who plan to move here. I'm happy to
help them discover more about this community, which the late Marlin Seiders once called, "not a place, but a
With best wishes for health and
addresses on The Mt. Gretna Newsletter
mailing list are not sold, rented,
traded or intentionally shared with anyone, ever. Therefore I cannot
respond favorably to readers who sometimes ask me for the address of