Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Mt. Gretna, Pa. "Not a place, but a spirit."
Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)
October 1, 2013
Lessons from a less busy world
Fall brings the most vivid reminder,
telling us again, those of us who have made Mt. Gretna our home, just
why it is that we made that choice.
No season slides more easily onto the calendar, is more
beautiful or more graceful in its descent. Days slip silently one upon
the other, each transcending that which preceded it.
A hint of color peeks out from somewhere on the hillside,
then begins its downward march, a blanket for the winter ahead. It is
time not only to watch but also to listen. More than music is astir.
The rich bounty of fall makes it difficult for those who
remain to make sense of the haste of those who seem bent on escapes to
places like Florida, or Arizona or California just as the leaves begin
to turn. To be sure, the leaves will soon be gone. But in the meantime
they are the essential ingredients of a hazy early morning fog
overhanging the lake, the accompaniment to crunching sounds under foot,
the satisfying dollop to flavor a cup of coffee in hand, the symbols of a spirit that renews.
Those who remain have made a pledge to themselves, unknowingly
perhaps, a simple pledge to stand apart from a too-busy world and
recommit to a way of life and living that most others may never know.
But WE know.
We know our neighbors by first names. We know many of their
hopes and joys and fears and triumphs. Their lives are distinct for
they thrive amid a tapestry of artistic instincts and sometimes
idiosyncratic impulses, but, in truth, are not greatly different from
We gather here seeking solace from that too-busy world and are
sometimes surprised to find that is exactly what our predecessors did
as well, even a century earlier. For each generation that has come, Mt.
Gretna bears an enduring gift, a gift of space and time that distance
us from a world that beats to a different tempo.
Diana Sprucebank, whom we have
never met, is a guide at the Nature Center just over the hill. She
leads hikers on paths beneath the Governor Dick Tower. She also
"Everything in nature is at peace or in
tune with the earth," she wrote last
in a newsletter that the park publishes. "As we go to nature, we
pick up the peaceful energy of the plant life all around. Nature will
always embrace you -- you don't necessarily
have to embrace it first."
Ms. Sprucebank is
nibbling around the edges of what may be Mt. Gretna's hidden secret.
Nobody has ever quite put their finger on its essence, but she is
trending close. It is the path Marlin Seiders
pointed out as well. "Mt. Gretna is not a place, but a
It shimmers most vividly when fall comes.
Citing limited emergency access, uncertain environmental impacts that
could affect everything from water supplies to wildlife, and increased
traffic spawned by additional houses, planning commissioners at South
Londonderry Township last month unanimously rejected requests to alter
plans that would bring Conservation zoning to undeveloped open space in
Affected are a 55-acre tract owned by Eastern Enterprises,
Inc. and Soldiers Field, a 6.4-acre parcel owned by Mt. Gretna resident
Patricia Shay and her family.
The commissioners noted that only one of two entryways
into Timber Hills is a two-lane public road. The other is a privately
owned section of Lakeview Drive, with single-lane width and a limited
weight bridge that make it unsuitable for heavy emergency vehicles.
Their 8-0 vote affirming Conservation zoning for the
tracts now goes to the township supervisors. The supervisors will
listen to public comments but not make formal comments themselves or
take actions on the matter at their next meeting (7 pm at the Timbers
Restaurant Wednesday, Oct. 9). Their vote on the proposed zoning
ordinance will come Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 7 pm at the Campbelltown Fire Department. A big turnout
In a statement affirming the planning commission's
decision, Preserve Mt. Gretna president Marla Pitt pointed out that
each new household brings an average of two cars and six or more trips
per day. She warned that low density residential zoning would
substantially increase traffic and bring "irreversible
environmental impacts" that could "permanently alter Mt.
Gretna's unique character." If that is allowed to happen, she
said, "we could become just like every
community overtaken by developers."
Eastern Enterprises, Inc., which has requested Low Density
Residential zoning for approximately 40 of its 55 acres, is expected to
continue its opposition to the Conservation zoning plans.
Harold Becker, a spokesman for the family owners of
Soldiers Field, says they have no plans to build homes on the site but
wish to retain current zoning.
"I was told by an appraiser that if the land goes to
Conservation, its value will be cut in half," he said. "If
the value's going to be cut, then they should do something with the
taxation, which has just doubled."
"It's not that we have plans to build anything,"
said Mr. Becker, "but maybe in 20 years or so Mt. Gretna won't
have an Art Show. If they kept zoning the way it is, we would then have
the opportunity of possibly doing something on that field."
South Londonderry Township officials say that up to
25 single family homes on 1,400 sq. ft. lots could be built on the
field under the existing Low Density Residential zoning. Conservation
zoning would permit up to four homes on the 6.4 acre site.
AHOY there, matey.
Keep your eye on 5-year-old Xen Donten. He's the kid who startled a costumed 5'
2" groundhog named Penny in Nursery School on a snowy day last
February with his piercing question, Sherlock Holmes-style, "Why
does a groundhog wear Crocs?"
This fall, Xen is
the only kid who stands alongside Pennsylvania Avenue in Chautauqua
each morning to wait for the school bus. But that doesn't bother
this guy, who plans to someday be a pirate. (A real pirate,
not the Pittsburgh variety.)
Walks to the bus stop alone with mom (Carol, an architect
in the office next to Mt. Gretna's miniature golf course) are
adventure-filled expeditions. That's when he finds more leaves,
feathers and sometimes bones to add to his collection. His bedroom is
decorated with the skeletons of birds, squirrels and even a few deer
Body language, as this picture suggests, reveals a lot. In
Xen's case, it telegraphs with walk-the-plank
seriousness, "Don't press me too far."
Sure, he graciously accepted nursery school teacher Joanne
Gingrich's inspired spur-of-the-moment explanation, "groundhogs
get cold, just like people," when Penny came in last winter. But
on the first day of school last month, when his teacher asked if he
could count to ten, he replied with Blackbeard-like authority,
"Count to ten? I can count to a hundred." Then, as an
astonished kindergarten teacher stood back to behold something she'd
never before witnessed, he did exactly that. "Arrrrl."
YOU probably missed it in FORBES' Middle East edition last month, but
there was Mt. Gretnan Jane Zellers, one of the dry cleaning industry's most-in-demand
consultants, helping to launch a couture high-end cleaning service for
some of the Middle East's best-dressed women (for whom names like Fendi, Chanel, XSL, Valentino, Armani, Christian,
Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin are
Ms. Zellers, the third generation in a family with a long
tradition in dry cleaning, began by traveling all over the country as a
trainer and consultant. In past years she has also ventured into
England, Australia and New Zealand.
Her assignment in Abu Dhabi last month was her first in
the Middle East, but it's likely she'll return. Clients often wait
years to grab a spot on her crowded schedule. Among testimonials on her
website is this from a
client in Florida: "Whenever someone compliments me on
something that impressed them about our service, I have to say, 'Oh,
yeah. Jane Zellers showed us how to do that.'"
ELIZABETH Wein's latest book
popped up on the New
Sunday Book Review last month. "Rose Under Fire" follows Ms. Wein's highly acclaimed "Code Name
Verity," a New York Times bestseller last year.
A resident of Scotland who is married to a pilot and flies
a plane herself, Ms. Wein -- now with two
children and seven books to her credit -- spent summers in Mt. Gretna
Heights under the nurturing eye of grandmother Betty Flocken, whom she visits every chance she gets
(including last month, when she made a book tour through the U.S. and
SOMETIMES, half the fun of dinner at
the Timbers is making a reservation. Particularly if Josie answers.
Then, you know you're in for a treat.
The doyenne of Mt. Gretna restaurantdom
regales callers with stories and observations that stretch back over
decades, stemming from the days when she and husband John ran the
She's usually at the reservations desk but rarely makes an
appearance in the restaurant. Except on one night of each year -- when
she joins the dinner theatre cast after the summer revue's closing
Then, she ventures downstairs as most of the patrons file
out and only friends, regulars and cast members gather around the bar
for some late-night entertainment of their own.
As the frolicsome gathering gets rolling, Josie grabs a
guitar and joins the band, which includes son Bart, right, and
son-in-law Andy Roberts (the dinner theater's musical director) backing
her up on piano.
First time visitors to the scene are stunned. Displaying a
talent they never knew she had, there is 83-year-old Josie, strumming
along with verve, talent and aplomb. It is a mind-blowing performance,
well-worth staying to see long after the final curtain.
One astonished patron, making his first visit to the fete
last month, told Josie's oldest daughter Kathleen Roberts (known to
everybody as Tap), "Gosh, I didn't know your mother was such a
good guitar player."
"She's an imposter," said Tap. "She plays
the air guitar." Popular entertainer Scott Galbraith stays in the
background and strums along. They've been doing that for years.
MEET Leela Cleary, left.
Next time you call Mt Gretna United Methodist Church on Monday,
Wednesday or Friday mornings, hers is the voice you're likely to hear.
After eight years, Campmeeting
resident Mary Blackburn, right, is retiring as the church secretary. Not that she won't be busy. With elderly in-laws to
care for, helping out at fire company social events and working as a
Lebanon County Christian Ministries volunteer, Ms. Blackburn will
have plenty to do. "It was wonderful having this job when my
children were in school," she says. "I now know so many
people in the community."
Ms. Cleary, an Upstate New Yorker from Elmira, is not only
the new secretary; she's also a new mom. With a benefit few employers
could match, she's allowed to bring her 13-week-old son to work in her
office right outside the pastor's door. Not so on other days, when she
works as an audiologist.
She and husband Sean, with the army at Ft. Indiantown Gap,
moved to a home on nearby Northwood Drive last year.
"This job is perfect for moms," says Ms.
Blackburn. "When my kids were sick I'd just call and say,
'I'll be in tomorrow.'" Proving, of course, that in church
blessings often abound.
To reach Ms. Cleary, call 964-3241 or email
BET you didn't know that one of the Patriot-News'
top central Pennsylvania quarterback picks has ties to Mt. Gretna.
Colin Fry, who passed for 2,224 yards and 22 touchdowns
last season at Manheim Central High School, is the son of Lowell and
Daphne Fry, who own a Chautauqua
cottage on Stevens Avenue.
Colin also rushed for 373 yards and 14 scores last season.
A calendar to keep you in touch with Mt. Gretna
What do artists have in common with
allergies, leather boots, love, jeans, flannel shirts and cast iron
Like fine wine, artists also get better as
they get older. Just as boots, love, allergies and all the others
listed above also improve with age, as Prevention
Magazine set out to prove.
Which leads us to the 2014 Mt. Gretna
calendar, just published by veteran artists Carol Snyder and Betsy Stuzman and surprising newcomer Bill Barlow, whose
main occupation is designing homes and buildings.
Ms. Snyder says the new calendar includes
works by all three -- "realistic renderings, impressionistic
styles and a few artistic photographs" done by Ms. Snyder herself,
Ms. Stutzman (a Mine Road resident who works
at her Campmeeting studio), and Mr. Barlow,
an architect who moved from Lancaster with wife Julia Bucher to the
Chautauqua several years ago.
The calendars, $15 each, can be purchased
directly from the artists and also at a few local stores and shops:
Betsy Stutzman (email@example.com), Bill
Barlow (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Carol Snyder
(email@example.com or tel. 717-304-3753). Limited supplies are
on hand at the Timbers Restaurant, Diana Lynn's Hair Salon, and Le Sorelle Restaurant and Gallery.
Questions Readers Ask
happened to that directional signpost that used to be near the
Chautauqua Information Center? The neat arrows pointing in all
directions added a whimsical touch for Mt. Gretna's first-time
visitors, setting a tone and letting them know they'd come to an
unusual place. Do you know who created it, when it disappeared, and why
it's now gone?
<> Our best authority on such matters, Borough chief Bill Care,
thinks the directional sign was a creation of the
late Dale Grundon, who delighted in all
things original -- especially if they had a slightly quirky, offbeat
aspect. Mr. Grundon thought that everything
that emanated from this unique community ought to have a quixotic
quality, and he usually imparted it to his creations.
No, the sign wasn't entirely accurate, and it was
certainly out of date by the time Mr. Care's crews deemed it
irreparable. The wood had deteriorated over the years, so the pointer
arrows were removed.
Clearly there's a need for someone to replace the sign, if
not the visionary and sometimes willful Mr. Grundon
himself, a lanky figure in a railroader's cap, ambling around the
streets of Mt. Gretna and leaving an indelible mark wherever he went.
The distinctive signpost was one of them.
75 BAGS OF CANDY the Mt. Gretna United
Methodist Church usually gives out every year on trick-or-treat night.
Seventy-five? That's probably news to most residents, who in some Mt.
Gretna neighborhoods rarely catch a glimpse of spooks and skeletons.
Could be it's because the Campmeeting's
narrow streets and imaginatively decorated cottages make fertile
hunting grounds for goblins.
Mike Remel also suggests another reason: For
parents who accompany their children on Halloween night, "the
church makes a good pit stop." Treats are a bonus.
Whether or not they're members of the church, all
100th BIRTHDAY Sept. 1
for Patrick Bowman, front and center in this photo, surrounded by wife
Dorothy, left, and daughter Kathleen Bowman Wyerman, right.
Standing: daughters Ann Bowman Bering and Gail Bowman Lombardo and son
John Bowman. (Another son, Scott, in Oregon, was unable to join the
Pat and Dorothy lived in Mt. Gretna more than
60 years before retiring to Elmcroft Senior
Living in Lebanon.
Pat is the uncle of Campmeeting
resident Larry Bowman, who heads the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce
and sent this happy photo from a birthday party that attracted over 60
family members and friends.
25 YEARS of Sunday service to the Pennsylvania Chautauqua.
It may not be a record but probably comes close. And since it likely
will never be duplicated again, that's cause for a celebration Sunday,
Oct. 6 at the Timbers.
The 1:30 pm luncheon will honor pianist Mary
Ellen Kinch, left, and Chancellor Nancy Besch.
Kathy Snavely (964-2191) is
accepting reservations until Thursday, Oct. 3 at $25 per person,
payable to the Pa. Chautauqua, P O Box 622, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.
Mrs. Kinch, who
organized a bus trip to the New York Chautauqua to celebrate a
Pennsylvania Chautauqua anniversary and helped develop the Cicada
Festival, also co-chaired the Chautauqua Summer Programs for many
together with the late Mary Hoffman, ranks among the longest-serving
chancellors in history. Her responsibilities include everything
from arranging for guest ministers and vocalists as well as
instrumental musicians to preparing the worship services and printing
the bulletins. She is a former county commissioner and current board
member of Gretna Theatre who first came to Mt. Gretna as an infant and
has been a summer resident every year since birth.
chancellors in a distinguished lineage include J. Max Hark, father of
the noted Ladies Home Journal writer Ann Hark, and former National
Education Association president Nathan Schaeffer, Pennsylvania
Secretary of Education for nearly 20 years at the turn of the last
600 GUESTS as the Hernley clan gathered Sept. 14 for the wedding of
"flower lady" Mary Hernley's
grandson Judah Clapper in Penryn.
To be sure, it was a big wedding. And
guess who provided most of the flowers? Bouquets for over 40 tables,
said Mrs. Hernley, who closed her Route 117
stand for the entire weekend to cut the flowers and keep them fresh for
a 10 a.m. Saturday wedding in the church and luncheon under a giant
tent at noon.
Judah is only the third of her 19
grandchildren to get married. . . so far.
Looks like they'll have wedding flower orders for years to come at the Hernley farm in Manheim (deeded to the Hernley ancestors on a sheepskin signed by William
"Chet" Rittle (1930 - 2013)
The name is familiar even though he and
Delores moved from their home at the corner of Lehigh and Lancaster
avenues nearly 20 years ago. Familiar because Chet Rittle
left his mark on people who loved theater, who loved trips to Broadway
in the spring and fall every year, and who loved being in the company
of a man who shared his joy with others.
He had the look and perhaps even the serious demeanor of an accountant, which
was his profession. But his passion was always the theater. Spend
only a few minutes in conversation with him and you knew that.
A founder of the Lebanon Community Theater,
to which he devoted 50 years of his life, theatrical productions were
at the core of his existence. Early morning departures on the bus trips
he organized to Broadway were never a problem for him, nor the dilemmas
of late-arrivals in the parking lot nor the
associated cares and calamities of bus travel and travelers. All were
acceptable means to an end for Chet and Delores, whom everyone calls
Dolly. Both loved New York and were a team.
Their partnership extended to their social
life in Mt. Gretna, where he was among those who helped organize the
first Outdoor Art Show in 1974. From that year forward, they were
always together at the Information Booth, greeting visitors and helping
art show exhibitors and patrons get to where they wanted to go on the
Chautauqua grounds. But always his heart stayed focused on theater.
"He lived for it," says his widow, an artist who set aside
her painting several years ago to help her husband through the final
stages of a nearly 20-year battle with leukemia.
That illness, together with the challenge of
helping their son Eric get to work along icy winter roads, had led to
their decision -- agreed to reluctantly by Dolly -- to finally move to
a home in Lebanon. Even though they had spent 26 years here, she says,
"We were too long in Lebanon and not long enough in Mt.
Chet Rittle died Sept. 3
in a Myerstown nursing home at age 83. A brief obituary appears online.
Updates & Stuff to
Did somebody say parade?
Metropolitan Opera star Blythe
The Winterites launch their 64th season with a $15
luncheon by Chef-on-the-Go Becky Briody and an exhibit of artist Eleanor Sarabia's latest creations. Starts at noon in the
fire hall. Donna Kaplan (964-2174) handles reservations and suggests
bringing two friends. First Tuesday of each month (except January)
through April. All Mt. Gretnans invited, both men and women; $10 annual dues benefit
FRIDAY, OCT. 4:
introduces Reaghan Harvey, an 11-year-old
violinist who began Suzuki studies at age four and has performed twice
at Carnegie Hall. She'll appear at Le Sorelle
Restaurant and art gallery with guest artist Kathy George, a painter
and potter who studied at Kutztown University. They join Le Sorelle resident artists Susan Wentzel,
Randy Snader, Bill Barlow, Carol Snyder,
Carolyn Hartman, Heike Fleming, Barbara James, Barbara Fishman and
Other stops on this last walking tour of the year include displays,
refreshments and gift-buying opportunities at the Gallery at La Cigale (where Hummelstown artist Steven Koons will
A Steven Koons exhibit at La
display plein air
landscapes, with music by Matt Miskie); the
Timbers Restaurant (displaying acrylic and oil paintings by Mt. Gretna
artist Ryan Fretz, with music by Bobby
Licata, Bart Briody, James Hemperly and
Dominic Iacovone); 3SummerArts Studio (with
sculptors Tom and Eli Weaber and guitarist
Scott Galbraith); and Penn Realty (where artist James Arnold will
display his oil and acrylic works), 5 to 9 pm.
honoring Pennsylvania Chautauqua Chancellor Nancy Besch
and Mary Ellen Kinch, pianist, who have
contributed 25 years of service at Sunday worship services in the
Playhouse. At the Timbers, 1:30 pm. See "Numbers," above.
Music on the Porch at Governor Dick Park. Bluegrass and
country-style music, 1-4 pm.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 9:
Londonderry Township Supervisors at The Timbers, 7 pm. (Officials will
consider comments for and against zoning changes around the lake and at
Soldiers Field but do not plan to comment or vote on the matter until
Wednesday, Nov. 6 at a meeting to be held at the Campbelltown
Fire Department at 7 pm.)
Tow (ages 1 to 5): Play, create, observe and explore on the Governor
Dick trails to build a love of the outdoors. 10-11 am.
noon to 5 pm. A popular fire company fundraiser even for non-shooters:
Drawings, prizes, hot dogs plus ham and bean soup with rivels. Rivels? Don't
ask. They'll know you're not from around here.
Gala at the Hotel Hershey. Snazziest social event of the season: champagne,
wine, dinner plus a wines-around-the-world card drawing and live
auction of trips, jewelry and other art leading to a treasure chest
filled with cash. Details online or call 964-3322.
fast pace 4 to 5 mi., at Governor Dick Park. 9 a.m.
and Haydn program with opera superstar Stephanie Blythe and chamber orchestra Les Violons
du Roy; Gretna Music winter series, Elizabethtown College, 7:30 pm.
The Art of
Making Charcoal, Governor Dick Center, 6:30 pm.
Bow Wow Meow
Ball at the Timbers: a benefit dinner with dancing and silent auction
on behalf of the Lebanon County Humane Society. Especially popular
among Mt. Gretnans, who typically make up
half the crowd. $60 per person. Animal
costumes encouraged but not required, says organizer Peggy Seibert
(269-6343). 6 pm cash bar, dinner begins at 7.
Full Moon Hike
at Governor Dick Park, 6 pm. $3 per person.
Halloween Parade in America? Could be, but one of the liveliest. More
fun than you'll find anywhere else. Marchers outnumber spectators by
maybe 10 to 1.
Starts from Jigger Shop at 6:30 pm then down the highway to the fire
company where there's hot dogs, refreshments,
spooks and goblins.
Aggression Defense classes for women 14 to 65 begin at Philhaven. Call or email Stephanie Burris, right,
(717) 274-2071 firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot in these limited-size classes, offered
Instruction in use of the Kubaton and
weapon-enhanced physical skills by Ms. Burris and certified R.A.D.
instructors including Cornwall P.D. officers Candace Miller and Jim
Conklin; 5:30 - 9:30 pm sessions run through Nov. 12.
What to do on
a Saturday or Sunday afternoon if you're a
youngster in Mt. Gretna?
If you're between 11 and 14, head over to the youth game
room at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church for Ga-Ga
(an updated version of dodge ball, inset left), air hockey, pool, darts
or ping pong and maybe someday soon a game of Foos
"It's a neighborhood thing," says Pastor Mike Remel. "You don't have to be a member of the
The church turns on the lights and opens its door off Glossbrenner Avenue from 2 to 4 pm each weekend. As
word spreads, turnouts are growing (eight so far).
"It's a good way to let off steam and take a
break from video games," says the pastor, who likes to join the
Don't Saturday sessions get in the way of his
preparation for the sermon on Sundays?
"No, I usually do that on Thursdays or sometimes on
Fridays, which are supposed to be my day off," he adds with a
FRIDAY, NOV. 1:
Search for Bigfoot, Governor Dick Park hike to the Tower for bonfire,
refreshments and Junior Naturalist awards. Family fun.
$3 per person or $10 per family. Starts from Nature Center, 6 pm.
Mt. Gretna's new year-round calendar appears
online, a service of
the Mt. Gretna Arts Council. Email listings and updates to Jennifer Veser Besse at email@example.com
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. We also
send out bulletins for pets that have been missing for 24 hours or
more. To be sure you're on the local list, just send us a "LOCAL
UPDATES" request in the subject line: 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 reading): Check for updates online at http://gretnamusic.blogspot.com/
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, e-mail request to email@example.com
Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of
primary interest to Mt. Gretnans in Timber
Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge;
online at http://southlondonderry.org/
Available online and mailed to residents of the Campmeeting.
Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights residents. Contact
Michelle Shay, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last month, in the middle of a quiet evening
at home, a text message arrived asking me to alert Mt. Gretna residents
to a dog that had disappeared a few hours earlier.
My heart sinks whenever someone loses a pet,
especially a dog. I'm convinced that dogs are truly messengers from
heaven, sent to give us a glimpse of what's ahead.
So my impulse is to do whatever I can. Yet, I don't
wish to burden newsletter subscribers everywhere with small but
important emergencies that affect only people in Mt. Gretna. So a
bulletin about missing pets must be separated from the worldwide
While I mulled that over, I drove around the
area with a friend and a flashlight. We looked for a half hour or so,
but the missing dog was nowhere to be found. Since it was getting late,
I decided to delay sending out a notice to Mt. Gretna readers.
I don't know what the statistics show, but I
figured most lost dogs probably turn up in 24 hours. That, in fact, is
exactly what happened. The pup was reunited with his family the next
morning and no special bulletin was necessary.
Still, it reminded me of the
importance of pets.
At a gathering a few days
later, a neighbor mentioned she had been to a jury trial where lawyers
were not allowed to ask prospective jurors if they owned a dog.
She wasn't sure why, but it
probably had something to do with characteristics the attorney sought
among those who would hear his case.
I'm not sure what those characteristics were.
I just know that it's rare to find someone who likes dogs who's not
also someone I'd like to have as a friend.
People who like dogs generally like other people.
Not always, but often enough to suit my sense of what constitutes a
Dogs break through social barriers. All
but the most crotchety people usually smile when they see a dog wagging
its tail. Strangers speak up who otherwise wouldn't speak.
Some people think that dogs should not be allowed in
places where people go. But in England, I once encountered two ladies
who brought their puppy into a tea shop and set him up in a chair at
the table. As far as I know, nobody died because he was allowed inside.
Dogs go in and out of pet food stores. In Europe this
summer, I saw dogs in grocery stores. My favorite hardware store keeps
a supply of dog biscuits on hand for the
dogs they welcome in their store.
The biggest problem with dogs, of course, is getting
them to "go" in the rain. Here's my trick: I sometimes take
Winston to a shopping mall with a big canopy overhead. We walk under
the canopy until he gives me The Signal. Then we scamper over to a
distant grassy area and take care of business, including the cleanup
just in case you're wondering.
Some people say they don't want a dog because they travel
But I'll bet not one of them ever saw a sunset, a
mountain, an ocean or a sunrise that comes anywhere close to a cold
nose pressed against their cheek in the morning.
That's why, if you live in the Mt. Gretna area and ask to
be on my Mt. Gretna Updates list, you can expect to get a special
bulletin when a Mt. Gretna pet has been missing for 24 hours.
I'll try not to open the floodgates and overstuff your
This unofficial newsletter uses a commercial distribution service,
Constant Contact, to send email copies to about 2,000 people around the