Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Gretna, Pa. "Not a place, but a spirit." Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)
December 1, 2013
You know it's Christmas
when . . .
The annual Christmas tree lighting and carol singing.
It is the start of a season that begins in the heart
of Mt. Gretna, at a home where organ recitals reverberate
in July, where friends often gather for good cheer and
morning coffee throughout the year, and where, on Saturday,
Dec. 7, the joys of the holiday season will truly begin.
It is the home of Peter Hewitt and organist
Walter McAnney, along Princeton Avenue opposite the post office.
An occasion like no other, it is where
young and old assemble from every sector of Mt. Gretna,
and all are indeed welcome. A tradition that ignites
a spirit that now has become the quintessential ingredient
of a Mt. Gretna Christmas.
The evening begins at 5:30 with the lighting
of a tree at the point where three of Mt. Gretna's main
roads come together. And it continues until all have
sung old carols, made new friends and sampled a wealth
of assorted treats of the season that they and their
neighbors have brought. It engenders a
friendly warmth that endures into the New Year.
Hot mulled cider? Yes, of course. And the
rest is up to us.
By tradition, everyone brings a dish of finger
food to share. Anyone stuck for an idea of what to bring
simply contacts Rhoda Long, whose suggestions
can always help make this occasion one of the year's
As for what else awaits in December, please
refer to the Calendar at the end of this letter.
Christmas through the eyes of an artist
Editor's Note: Although regarded as one of "Mt. Gretna's
best," the artist Eva Bender remains largely unseen, and maybe
even unknown to many newcomers.
One reason, of course, is that this Swedish native no longer lives
here. But she's not far away. And her paintings will be part of Mt.
One glimpses her occasionally by the lake, alongside her easel with
brushes and paints. One sees her sometimes with friends at dinner,
where she blends into gatherings almost unnoticed. And one gets occasional
chances to see her works on display, at local galleries where the
emphasis is on excellence. For that is where she belongs.
What most may not realize, however, is that Eva Bender is also a writer. She once told us that writing opens the eyes
of an artist to "different ways of seeing." But this may be
the first chance most will have had to glimpse her work.
She was reticent about sharing this holiday essay, originally
written in 2011. "It doesn't translate well," she feared. Eva
writes a column for Västerbottens-Kuriren, a newspaper in Umeå, Sweden. At our behest, she translated it for
this holiday issue, modifying it only slightly for a few passages she
felt may have been "too personal." It speaks to what she
terms "the constant pull between our longing for 'everything' and
a reality that leaves us feeling vaguely dissatisfied, knowing that we
can't have it."
Peace and Quiet
Christmas ought to be longer, more intense, home
made yet perfect. It should rest on the old recipes but be
adjusted to new traditions and cultures. Even if it isn't deeply
spiritual, it should at least be "good" and inclusive, have
space for everyone, including Muslim boy friends,
single aunts and vegans.
It should be much simpler and cheaper than the Christmas
celebrations from our childhood -- but still have the same deep
content: devotion, magic, slow and patient preparations, beauty.
Although we often buy the cookie dough ready mixed, we long for our
grandmothers' gingerbread cookies; flour in the air, mountains of
seasonings, rivers of dark syrup.
We have simplified the production until it often has
become thin and flat. The curtains don't part for Fanny's and
Alexander's food and candle orgy from Ingmar Bergman's movie.
But the child within always longs to wake up to a
celebration of a
Eva at 10 in Sweden at Christmas
size and scope that is possible only with
the aid of a large support staff or at least one stay-at-home parent
plus older relatives with hand-written recipes for cognac wreaths and
We will fail, and we know it already in November. So it's
imperative to insulate ourselves from commercial exaggerations and
wholly unrealistic expectations, as much as it's possible. To figure
out what is most important and subtract till there is very little left.
Besides time with family and friends, it is pretty clear
to me what I need. Macaroni
An Eva Bender watercolor from November
ornaments painted with gold paint, absolutely.
Quiet and beauty. A friend was saved by a trip to Middlecreek.
"It saved me. It was bitingly cold, empty and quiet.
The sky is large out there. I heard a few geese, that was all. Everything was clean and sharp. Nothing was
irritating, nothing was dirty, nothing was unnecessary. I thought this
is all I need. Peace and quiet."
We live in a world so full of images and noise that quiet
and emptiness almost feels painful. Sometimes it seems everything has
been chewed to bits and soiled. The Swiss philosopher Max Picard once
said that nothing has changed man's nature as much as the loss of
Our lives often feel like instant replay; there are fewer and fewer intense moments,
spaces between the everyday routines. To really be present in relation
to something could go missing from our lives in the future, warns ESI
Design's Ed Schlossberg. "You think you miss nothing, but you
probably miss everything".
Those I talk to don't want more for Christmas. Everybody
wants less, some almost nothing at all. Maybe I could wish us all a
warm wave of love, a saffron bun, a night walk in sharp and clean
winter air. A few moments without Internet, texting, Twitter and the
constant chatter on Facebook.
I wish us all an intense Christmas!
Sunoco Logistics says it may construct a new gas pipeline that could
affect areas of the 1,100-acre Governor Dick Park near Mt. Gretna.
Outlining a two-phase project with Lebanon County Commissioners
Nov. 23, Sunoco Logistics' Donald Zoladkiewicz
says the company plans to retrofit an existing pipeline through the
county in the next six to eight months and may add a new one alongside
it within its existing right-of-way.
That raised environmental concerns among some, including
commissioner Jo Ellen Litz who quickly
circulated a videotape of the hearing
Ms. Litz says a map presented at the
meeting (but not shown in the video) indicated that the pipeline route
runs through both Governor Dick Park and Middle Creek Wildlife Refuge.
"If the right-of-way through Governor Dick and Middle
Creek is less than 50 feet, I see potential to destroy sensitive
habitat and I would oppose this route," she said.
Ms. Litz has called for a task force
of municipalities, property owners and conservation groups to meet with
a Sunoco Logistics representative Dec. 4 or 5.
South Londonderry Township last month approved a new
zoning ordinance that had been under consideration and occasionally
arduous debate for more than three years.
During two final sessions held in November, the supervisors invited
public comments at a special meeting Nov. 6 and then cast votes at
their regularly scheduled session six days later.
Only one supervisor, newest member Doug Cheney, voted
against the new ordinance. [At the Nov. 6 special meeting he had
suggested that the new ordinance did not go far enough in protecting
areas south of Rte. 322 (which includes Mt. Gretna) and that "environmental and nostalgic" assets
there could be in jeopardy. He also felt that the ordinance's
requirements for permits, engineering studies and other construction
requisites would prove unnecessarily costly for residents.]
their 2-to-1 vote was a statement that the Zoning Commission would
periodically "review and if necessary revise" the ordinance
to ensure it "continued to serve the interests of everyone in the
Otto, a local pediatrician who heads family-owned Eastern Enterprises,
said after the vote he would continue to press for zoning changes. The
company's 55-acre tract surrounds the lake and was designated as a
Conservation zone 11 years ago. Last summer, for the first time,
Eastern Enterprises unexpectedly petitioned for a change from
Conservation to Low Density Residential zoning, which would open the
possibility for multifamily housing such as townhouses and apartments.
At its Sept. 17 meeting, the township Planning Commission
unanimously rejected that request 8-0. Among other concerns, they cited
a lack of fire hydrants, increased traffic congestion, the uncertain
impact to water and other environmental resources, and limited access
for emergency vehicles along only a single public road into the
communities of Timber Hills and Conewago Hill
where 162 homes are already located.
Among the contested elections locally last month were two of special interest to Mt. Gretnans.
Campmeeting resident David
Lloyd, who heads Ephrata Area Rehab Services, nearly unseated 30-year
incumbent Russell Gibble, an independent
contractor, in the West Cornwall Supervisors race. With a four-vote
margin in the 486 ballots cast, Mr. Gibble
squeaked through to another term with 50.41 percent of the vote.
In the first contested race in memory for a two-year seat
on Mt. Gretna's Borough Council, author and former congressional
candidate Lois Herr won 64 percent of the 89 votes cast, unseating
incumbent Angela Shea, an accountant, who had been appointed to fill
the post vacated in January this year by John Hambright,
who died in April.
Emergency Reporting: Now, both of the police departments
serving Mt. Gretna broadcast instant crime alerts and reports of
missing persons, traffic advisories and police-sponsored community
events via the system known as Nixle.
Unlike a former emergency notice network that delivered
messages strictly by email (which most people check only periodically),
Nixle also sends instantaneous text messages
to cell phones.
Both Cornwall and South Londonderry Township police departments
provide this service without cost. All that's needed is to go to http://www.nixle.com/
and set up your account.
The system allows you to add as many areas as you like. That
means you can receive bulletins from both Cornwall and South
Londonderry police departments (as well as any agency using the Nixel system).
good-bye after nearly three decades, John and Susanne Balmer left last month for their new home in
Highlands Ranch, Colo. to be closer to one of their children
and a climate that Susanne hopes will be more suitable for her
They leave behind a treasure chest of memories. John is
the builder who remodeled the fire hall, rebuilt the Hideaway after a
fire, and transformed dozens of homes and cottages into stellar
examples of Mt Gretna living at its best.
Susanne, a wife, mother and friend to neighbors throughout
Mt. Gretna, is also a gifted landscaper who turned ordinary gardens
into outdoor galleries, especially around their home, pond and
waterfall on Batdorf Avenue.
"A home is just a frame with walls and a roof," she
wrote in a parting entry on Facebook. "It's what happens inside that matters."
What has mattered most, she said, are the "joys of
life events -- weddings and graduations, the arrival of grandchildren,
dinners with friends and the companionship of wonderful neighbors. We
are privileged to have been a part of it."
about Lance Armstrong by Bill Gifford, moderator of the Chautauqua
Summer Programs' Friday morning Writers' Series, has been chosen for
the anthology, "Best American Sportswriting 2013
His story, "It's Not About the Lab
for Outside magazine's February 2012
issue delved into financial operations of Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation and found "a mix of fine
ideas, millions of dollars aimed at 'awareness'" and practically
nothing for scientific research. The article ran seven months before
the United States Anti-Doping Agency banned Armstrong from competitive
cycling for life. The honor was especially appreciated, said Mr.
Gifford, since it came from guest editor J. R. Moehringer,
one of his favorite writers. He is currently at work on another Outside
article on big-wave surfing.
Speaking of writers, the commendations continue for former
Mt. Gretna Heights resident Elizabeth Wein. Her newest book, "Rose Under Fire,"
has just been added to The
New York Times' Notable Children's Books of
list. An earlier book, "Code Name
Verity," was also chosen for that honor last year.
Like the highly praised "Verity," says the Times, "Rose Under Fire" is
another World War II adventure novel. "Rose, 18, an American
transport pilot and aspiring poet, struggles to survive in a women's
concentration camp after her plane is grounded in Germany," said The
Remember our story last month about Gordon Keeney's remarkable
19-year-old truck, the one with over 300,000 miles?
Well, a few
weeks after we wrapped up the story, Mr. Keeney's hopes for getting maybe
500,000 miles out of that truck wrapped up as well.
way home to Mt. Gretna one night, he had an encounter with a deer, one
of about 1 million car accidents with deer each year. Most occur in
November, says State Farm Insurance.
Unfortunately, it was the end of the line for the deer and
for Mr. Keeney's beloved 1994 Toyota Hi/Lux.
He promptly found another used truck to replace it, however.
"Practically new," he said with a smile, "it's only got
"Ever since we built our new 1,600-sq.-ft. addition to house
bigger fire engines," says Mt. Gretna Fire Company
president Joe Shay, "we've wanted to put a lighted star atop the
cupola at Christmas."
This year, they did.
Thanks to the gifts of time, materials and talents of
people like Tom and Eli Weaber of the Lebanon
metal fabricating firm of Miles T. Weaber
& Son and a crew of volunteers not given to acrophobia who climbed
onto the roof early on the
morning following Thanksgiving, a star to symbolize the spirit of the
season -- designed by Mt. Gretna Heights resident Max Hunsicker -- was lofted into place.
From its perch atop the cupola, which Mt. Gretna architect
Roland Nissley and builder John Balmer added to both shelter the siren and amplify
Mt. Gretna's turn-of-the-century architectural heritage, the fire
company's star will now, and for years to come, glow with its seasonal
A little green bench and a story she had to write
Most visitors who come to the Chautauqua playground will likely
overlook a small bench that recently was added near the other,
grown-up-sized benches already there.
The latest one was finished only after Labor Day
when the summer season was over. It bears an inscription: "All
children of the world will be welcome at this seat of rest."
Amid other benches all in tan, no one
told the bench maker Eliza's favorite color was green.
Most readers of the latest books will also likely overlook a slender,
22-page privately published volume called "Footprints and Wings (A
Happening in Mt. Gretna)."
But the bench and the book are related, like most of the
people in this story.
"I'm no author," says Mary Jane Haines,
who came to Mt. Gretna nine years ago and shares a home with her friend
Aunt Jann near the Timbers.
Now 78, she is known to friends as "Aunt Emy." Eliza Kate, at nearly 6 years old and
the great-granddaughter of Ms. Haines' sister, is the "girl of
poem" described in a book she has written. It is her first book,
written out of love rather than any expectation of fame or profit.
At $25 a copy, the selling price is exactly the price Ms.
Haines paid to have this limited-edition volume published. It is worth
it, she feels, even though so far she has sold only 19 copies of the
first 25 she had to order. Never mind. The book holds a value she deems
It is the story of a little girl who did not live in Mt.
Gretna. She had struggled to come into the world. Yet after she
survived two open heart operations in infancy, she came to Mt. Gretna
often ... to visit Aunt Emy and Aunt Jann, to romp in the playground, to play-act on the
pavilion stage, to delight in ice cream treats at the Jigger Shop, and
to find treasures like the bright green stone the size of a dime that
she discovered one day in the Fairy Garden.
"I'm no author," says Mary
Jane Haines (aka Aunt Emy), but it was a
story she had to write
The stone was a
treasure that would mysteriously disappear, but only temporarily. It
suddenly turned up one day, as if by some magic.
It is a treasure that Ms. Haines now keeps. A small green
stone, the same color as a bench specially created for Eliza, the only one
like it in a park filled with benches in tan, made of natural wood.
Curiously, no one had told the bench builder at Conestoga Precast to
fashion this tiny bench in Eliza's favorite color. As with most things
in this true story turned into a tale for children, it just happened
In a world hardened to senseless tragedies,
"Footprints and Wings" may light a path for anyone who has
ever lost anything dear to them, such as compassionate eyes and a
gentle, welcoming spirit.
It is a story of Mt. Gretna, too, illustrated by
Andrew Boutcher, Ms. Haines' brother-in-law
who lived in the
Campmeeting for 15 years before he and wife Delly moved to Arizona.
Others also have helped locally. Writer Tom Meredith gave
her advice about the intricacies of publishing, neighbors Doug and Dawn
Olt helped with pictures, and realtor Emi Snavely counseled on other steps along the way.
Mary Jane Haines doesn't have a computer but
corresponds mainly by notes written in her own hand. She may also be
reached in the afternoons by telephone, 717-964-1349. Her address is PO
Box 204, Mt. Gretna PA 17064.
Readers who buy this book should not expect to find perfectly polished
prose. Like a pie that comes not from a supermarket but out of your
grandmother's oven, edges around the crust may be a little uneven, but
the result is an output of love. Nor will they find that every question
has been answered. Sometimes there are no answers. The unsettling
details of what happened Ms. Haines shares mostly in private conversations
at appropriate moments, and in gentle words chosen with thoughtful
compassion. Writing this book has eased an arduous journey.
In large, extended families, losses sometimes pile quickly one
upon another in old age, losses that can be neither explained nor
In Aunt Emy's expansive circle,
seven funerals were held last year. Two more than anyone would have
As competition heats up, the annual Mt. Gretna Soup
Cook-Off takes a decidedly sophisticated turn
Restaurateurs know a secret: Give a soup an exotic name and you're
This year's winners at Mt. Gretna's 10th annual soup
contest came not only with intriguing names
but also exotic ingredients -- not to mention soup by the crock-ful -- in a quest to win the votes of some 200
patrons who were also the judges.
At $10 a ticket to
enter, taste and vote, the affair proved more than just flavorful and
fun. It also proved effective as just one more way those clever
firefighters devise each year to stuff greenbacks into the fire
company's coffers as they close in on a $400,000 fundraising goal
that's now within sight.
"Best ever," says attorney
Equally evident: As the event has grown in popularity, so has its increasingly sophisticated array of tastes,
talents and tantalizing ingredients.
"This was the most imaginative, creative collection
of soups ever," declared Chautauqua president John Feather.
"You can quote me on that," he added, soup spoon in mouth but
with the skilled assurance of a lawyer not given to foot-in-mouth
Others said the annual affair now edges ever closer to
gourmet status, with "restaurant quality" offerings that
contestants clearly labor in their kitchens to produce, sometimes days
before the cook-off begins.
Just because it's good doesn't guarantee a prize, however.
Among the clear favorites that narrowly escaped a prize was Bonnie
Anderson's Italian Sausage soup.
vote-getters in a contest overflowing with out-of-the-ordinary soups
were (top, from left) Bob Hertzler, Pam Travitz, Nick Sweet and (bottom) Jeanie Bachand and Deidre Sweet.
It proved so
popular, in fact, that Ms. Anderson had to dispatch her husband back to
their cottage for refills, since many patrons/judges returned for
seconds, some even for thirds.
"A hearty soup, the kind you'd find coming out of a country
kitchen rather than a restaurant," said one impressed voter.
This year's winner was a unique chowder creation by Chautauquans Nick and Deidre Sweet. Their carefully
lettered sign, "New England Chowder,"
had been crossed out by pen and replaced with "NEW ORLEANS chowder."
"I don't know what they added, but it was chock full
of clams and potatoes and certainly had
a kick to it," said Marianne Spychalski,
herself a cook of renown, especially to her appreciative neighbors on
Second place went to Tammy Travitz,
who came with not one crock pot of ingredients but two -- the first
filled with a white bean soup, the other steaming with black beans. To
serve each patron this unique pureed blend she called "Black and
White Soup," Ms. Travitz scooped out a
little from each pot into the sampling cup, then added toppings like
sour cream and cilantro seasoning.
Third place went to Bob Hertzler, who
also collected a second ribbon for the "Most Unusual" entry.
He chose the alluring name, "Choco Moca
Latte," a dark chocolate blend topped with malted espresso cream.
Jeanie Bachand, making her fifth
appearance in the competition, won "Best Presentation"
honors. She came dressed in traditional costume aptly befitting her
entry, "German Christmas Soup."
Others who participated in this year's affair, which
natural-born organizer Thatcher Bornman (he
cooks free hot dogs on Big Junk day, marches as SuperPumpkin
in the Halloween parade and has even been known to dress as Santa
paddling a canoe in the lake on Christmas Day) proclaims the annual
chance to "please your palate and cast your ballot," were:
Cheryl Boyd with "Autumn Delight," Betsy Noullet with "New England Clam Chowder,"
the trio of Bobby Bernieri, Lesley Schmidt
and Melanie Fleischmann with "Garlick
Delight," Linda Wilson with "Pumpkin Corn Chowder," Pat Allwein, Tara Klick and
son Noah with "Mushroom Beef," Tam Donnachie
with "Beef Vegetable," Paula Richard with "Chicken
Tortilla," Deb Vollmar and Katie Ersoz with "Curried Pumkin
Bisque," and the Mt. Gretna Fire Company's self-described
"girls from Station 38" who combined to create none other
than "Station 38 Cashew Chili."
When the contest was over and the patrons had cast their
votes, the cooks -- indubitably among
Mt. Gretna's finest -- collected their wares and headed home, many
undoubtedly mulling over recipes they'll try next year.
Call Met-Ed if
you lose electrical power
Met-Ed gives top priority to outages
affecting the greatest numbers of people. Your call helps pinpoint
outages and may also speed repairs in Mt. Gretna. Phone even if
neighbors have also called, say Met-Ed officials.
extreme weather conditions, the Mt. Gretna Fire Company provides
emergency shelter during power outages lasting more than three hours.
Bring medications and medical equipment; a sleeping bag or blanket and
pillows; food for yourself and family members; books, games and other
materials to help pass the time; and, if the stay is likely to be for
several days, a change of clothes. Sorry, no facilities are available
The ubiquitous Mt. Gretna flamingo's off on adventures
around the world
Whether you're a few thousand or even a few hundred miles from home,
you know to expect quizzical looks and furrowed brows when people ask
where you're from.
"Mt. Gretna? Where's that?"
Most of us reply, "It's near
Hershey." People nod when they hear that, even though all they
really know about are Hershey bars and Kisses.
flamingo and photograph him in spots around the world to put Mt.
Gretna on the map ... and raise funds for the fire company.
although Mt. Gretna sometimes shows up on those lists of America's best
places to live, it's probably also on the list of America's least-known
Now comes the "Adopt a Flamingo" campaign
to send Mt. Gretna's iconic flamingo out into the world, introduce and
bring back pictures of him in world-famous settings.
Adopt a Flamingo? They come in all sizes and
guises. Some dressed as firemen, some as bartenders, some as musicians,
others as artists, some as actors, some
To no one's surprise, this offbeat idea comes from Mt. Gretna's Max Hunsicker (left), who devised the flamingo icon
more than 20 years ago in what was supposed to be an April Fool's joke.
Instead, the idea took on a momentum all its own. Suddenly pink
flamingos started turning up everywhere -- on lampposts, street signs
and in yard
musicians, firemen, and pizza specialists. The flamingo comes in
various guises and sizes.
Mr. Hunsicker, a retired teacher
and drama coach, has donated individually handcrafted flamingo replicas
to the fire company, which quickly launched a campaign to send the
winsome bird around the world with anyone who donates $100 or more to
the Mt. Gretna Fire Company (earmarked "Secret Flamingo
Who'll come up with the zaniest, most interesting places and situations
for the Mt. Gretna Flamingo? Someone who finds a spot on the pyramids
perhaps, or atop the Eiffel Tower? Anything,
anywhere is fair game in this contest -- even poses with celebrities.
Top entries will appear as they come in to the Mt.
And the winners? Well, they could qualify for big
prizes, says Mr. Hunsicker. An all-expense
paid trip to Rexmont, he says, or maybe a
tour of the Mt. Gretna Wastewater Treatment facility. The real prize,
of course, is having fun in this competition for the wildest, most
outlandish entries that Mt. Gretnans can
How to get your flamingo?
John Mitchell, who runs La Cigale
next to the miniature golf course, has a dozen or so on display.
(Although not technically for sale, the flamingos are token of appreciation for a contribution of $100 or
more to the fire company.)
Mr. Mitchell plans to take one to France in January, maybe
for a picture alongside the Seine or perhaps somewhere in
"It's an ongoing project, a chance to take the Mt. Gretna spirit
around the world," he adds. He also expects to take a flamingo on
his next trip North Carolina, where he's an expert in finding good
"I know how to spot 'em,"
he says. "If it looks like the kind of place you'd never want to
go in -- that's the place to go in."
With a flamingo tucked under his arm, the
redoubtable Mr. Mitchell no doubt will make the occasion
Questions Readers Ask
<> Here on
the "other side of Mt. Gretna," we've seen an increase in
speeders, especially along Timber Road.
Some drivers seem totally unaware that this road is
also used by people walking dogs or with their children, or sometimes
by those walking alongside disabled people as they travel in motorized
Older people may feel threatened. They sometimes can't
hear traffic approaching from behind, and most are unable to react
quickly. I'm afraid somebody is going to be hit or killed.
Timber Road seems to be the hotspot.
Some of us have talked about jotting down the license
numbers of repeat offenders. We've talked with the South Londonderry
Township police, but I know they have a big area to patrol, and we're
only a small part of it. Any suggestions?
 We checked with South Londonderry Twp. police chief William Reigle. Although his major problems lie in the Campbelltown area, he assures us that Mt. Gretna's
concerns are just as important.
"We want people to call about any problems they're
having, so we know specifically where to concentrate our efforts,"
South Londonderry officers made speed checks on Timber
Road this past summer and cited three drivers in two hours.
He assures us they "will spend more time in the
Although manpower requirements make speed details not
always possible, just the sight of police cars often causes habitual
speeders to slow down, he says.
Traffic complaints and accidents in South Londonderry Twp.
have "dropped considerably" in the last 12 months, says Chief
As for collecting license numbers, he suggests a different
"Vehicle descriptions (make and color) and time of
day they typically drive along Timber Road would be more helpful,"
Those yard signs urging drivers to slow down? They usually
don't work, he adds. "What gets the best results," he says,
"is increased enforcement."
Elmira H. Leibig (1922-2014).
handful of youngsters have actually grown up in Mt. Gretna from infancy
into their teenage years. Elmira Leibig was
From the age of about six months, she and her family lived in a log
cabin across from the mansion that today is known as The Mt. Gretna
Their life included deliveries from a meat truck and bread
from the baker, brought to their door at 7
cents a loaf. Trips to a grocery store in Lebanon occurred only once a
How and why did she come here? Her father, Morris S.
Greiner, was the telegraph operator at the Mt. Gretna Railroad Station.
The railroads continued operating, but only until she was about seven.
Then her father switched jobs. To keep his family in Mt. Gretna, he
took a post with the Army's motor pool in Colebrook.
many called her "Elmira," however. To her friends she was
known as Kitty. She enjoyed ice skating at the lake with people like
Mary Ellen McCarty. Both were among the 10 or 12 youngsters who went to
the elementary school in Quentin on a military bus, specially provided
for those who lived here during encampment days. She also skated at the
roller rink where her younger brother Morris worked as the "skate
boy." The Mt. Gretna Roller Rink remains one of the few businesses
in America still operating today almost in the same way it did when
Kitty and her teenage friends skated there.
Following graduation from Cornwall High School in 1940, she attended a
business school and then went to work for a Lebanon accountant. She
married Charles Leibig, Jr. in 1943. He was
her high school sweetheart. They had four children.
She was active in church life, music and playing golf and
had "an infectious cheerfulness" with a positive effect on
everyone whose life she touched, noted the writer of her obituary, which
. An original Mt. Gretnan. They are increasingly rare.
Cottages in Mt.
Gretna tend to linger in the hands of the same family, often for generations.
Elam H. Risser had owned
his Campmeeting cottage for more than 30
years when he finally passed it on to his daughter Lena and her husband
William Mitchell -- after their marriage in 1950 and Bill's graduation
a year earlier from the University of Pennsylvania.
Located at the corner of Mills Avenue and 2nd Street
in the Campmeeting, the cottage was aptly
named "Linger Long." Like her father before her, lingering at
the cottage for many summers in Mt. Gretna is exactly what Lena and
Bill Mitchell did.
When they weren't at the cottage, the Mitchells
lived in Lancaster County, where they had two daughters and he was a
licensed Professional Engineer.
Bill also found time for work with the church. He served
with the Penn-Mar Mission Society, the Lancaster County Council of
Churches and on groups and committees with the Lititz Moravian
Congregation, where services will be held on Monday, Dec. 23.
Although Lena had passed earlier, Bill celebrated
his 90th birthday last month, just 12 days before he died.
But the Mitchells had made sure that one matter had been
taken care of before they left. They turned the cottage over to
daughter Susan Duehr, thus assuring that,
even now, after 93 years, "Linger Long" continues to remain
in the family.
An official obituary appears online
Last rose at
entrance to Markwood Avenue in the Campmeeting bids adieu to summer and to those who
Nov. 8, 2013
Candlelight services Christmas Eve
Christmas Music by the Fire at Gov.
Dick Nature Center. "Sounds of the season and singing to
favorite holiday tunes," says Center director Audrey Wells. 1- 4
Tuesday, December 3, 2013:
Winterites Holiday Covered Dish Luncheon, Mt.
Gretna Fire Hall. Bring a main dish, salad, side dish, vegetable or
Men as well as women invited to bring a friend or two. Begins at noon.
Details: Victor and Judy Bojko, 964-3646.
(Note: Winterites meetings resume February 4
with "Tour Inside the Box," a program on Philhaven
Hospital. No meeting in January.)
Wednesday, Dec. 4:
The Gathering Place, a monthly fellowship luncheon at Mt. Gretna United
Methodist Church, 12 pm. Everyone invited, freewill offering. (Note:
these luncheons resume on their regular Fourth Wednesday schedule Jan.
Friday, Dec. 6:
First Friday at the Timbers
, 5 to 8 pm,
with pianist Collin Mekeel and acoustic bass
musician John Gingrich.
Mt. Gretna artists Carol Snyder and Gerry Boltz
(art show tent neighbors for over 20 years) will again display their
works side by side; Ms. Snyder with six new paintings, 2014 Calendars
and matted and unmatted Mt. Gretna prints;
Mr. Boltz with life-sized and miniature
carvings of birds, all found in Mt. Gretna.
White Christmas Dessert Buffet. Among the
temptations: Chocolate Kahlua Snowballs, Egg Nog
Mousse puddings, Holiday Fig cakes and Chocolate Ginger cookies with
hot and cold beverages, plus live jazz and holiday music. $18 per
person. BYOB encouraged. Seating at 7 pm. Reservations, please, by Dec.
Saturday, Dec. 7:
Gifts for history buffs? On sale at the Mt. Gretna Area Historical
for Christmas shoppers today 11-1.
Annual House Tour
to benefit Cornwall Iron Furnace, Tickets $15 advance, $20
day of tour. 10 am-4 pm. Tel.717-272-9711
Community Christmas Tree Lighting and Carol Singing at the Princeton
Avenue home of Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney,
directly opposite the post office.
Pianist Thelma Strauss will join Mr. McAnney,
organist. Hot mulled cider. No admission charge. For suggestions of a
holiday treat to bring, please contact
Rhoda Long. 5:30-7:30
Sunday, Dec. 8:
"Chalk Talk," an 11:30 luncheon followed by live
sketches/light show presentation at 1 pm by artist Elva Hurst. $15,
adults, $8 children. Benefits the needy this holiday season; $6 for the
talk only. Details: email@example.com or call 717-569-7593.
Saturday, Dec. 14:
Santa Arrives (11:45 am) in Mt. Gretna at the fire hall, where there'll
be food, movies and a Santa Shop so youngsters can buy small gifts.
(11:30 - 1 pm).
"The Art of Christmas in Mt. Gretna" at La Cigale
artwork of 11 permanent exhibitors
artist Glenn Acker
Violinist Morgan Hackett
, a Suzuki Strings of Lebanon student from age 4-1/2,
performs traditional Christmas music, Bach sonatas, Irish and Gypsy
music. Seasonal refreshments, 11-5.
Christmas Scavenger Hike at Gov. Dick Park. First person to find all
the hidden items wins a prize. Cost: $1. Starts1:30 pm.
Thursday Dec. 19:
Winter Stoltzfus at the Timbers. Nobody delights in narrating the Amish
Christmas Story more than the celebrated "Belsnickel
of Mt. Gretna," Tom Baum, and his mischievous elfin aide, Max Hunsicker.
Surrounded by friends, fans and family, they create a
memorable evening on a night when reservations are strongly recommended
and prime rib is the specialty. Tel.964-3601. Starts at 6:30 pm.
Saturday, Dec. 21:
Breakfast with Santa at Le Sorelle.
Photos with Santa, choices of Snowman-shaped pancakes, "White
Christmas" French Toast and other children's delights. $5.75;
9 - 11 am; no reservations, so come early.
Sunday, Dec. 22:
Children's program, Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church during the
10 am service.
Tuesday, Dec. 24:
Christmas Candlelight Services, Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church.
Carols and readings to warm the heart and inspire the soul, promises
Pastor MikeRemel. Services at 7 and 11 pm.
Thursday, Jan. 2:
Rte. 117 west of Timber Bridge to Colebrook closes for bridge
reconstruction. If the weather remains favorable, the road should
reopen in mid-February. Local motorists can use alternate route to
Colebrook along Butler and Mine roads. Trucks and through traffic will
be detoured along Rte. 322 and Mt. Wilson Road.
Mt. Gretna's new year-round calendar appears
, a service of
the Mt. Gretna Arts Council.
Email listings and updates to Jennifer Veser Besse at firstname.lastname@example.org
newsletters of interest:
Updates -- Issued as
warranted to alert local residents to such conditions as temporary road
closings, utility repairs, shelter advisories for adverse weather, lost
pets and other matters affecting residents of the seven neighborhoods
served by the Mt. Gretna post office. Send an e-mail request, with
"LOCAL UPDATES" in subject line, to RogerTGroce@live.com.
This Week in Mt.
Gretna -- Issued during
the summer; 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
(highly recommended): Check for updates online at http://gretnamusic.blogspot.com/
Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society Newsletter -- Online
t. 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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, email@example.com
Send Me a Plumber with a
Banjo in his Trunk
Here in Mt. Gretna, we not only like having artists around,
but we also often find them amazingly gifted
in things having nothing to do with art.
Whenever I want to have something built, fixed, or
properly maintained, I like to call in somebody who thinks creatively.
What that means is whenever I can, I call for a carpenter, electrician
or plumber who also plays an instrument, paints pictures or bends iron
There are plenty of people like that in Mt. Gretna.
Something here attracts them.
Creative people have a different way of seeing. That gives
them an edge when it comes to designing, fixing or replacing things --
or just straightening out the things I've already made into a mess.
One of the unexpected benefits of writing a community
newsletter is that it puts me in touch with with
creative people that I'd otherwise maybe never have met.
Last month, for example, after Gordon Keeney's 19-year old
Toyota utility truck passed the 300,000-mile mark, I ran a brief item
about that remarkable example of modern automotive endurance.
While gathering the details for that story, I discovered
that Gordy is not just a builder, carpenter and craftsman who loves people and dogs like Winston, but also a
talented drummer. He's played for bands that opened at concerts for
entertainers like Jefferson Airplane, The Temptations and Gladys Knight
and the Pips. He continues to play at the Hotel Hershey's Iberian
Lounge. It's a part of who he is.
A lot of people in Mt. Gretna have creative talents that
most us don't know about.
Not just musicians but also writers, painters, stained
glass artisans, weavers and jewelry makers, photographers, potters and
even hobbyist blacksmiths -- all living in Mt. Gretna and making it a
more interesting place for us all.
Their contributions add to a diverse mosaic, one that stokes a spirit
perhaps unrecognized among those who know only that Mt. Gretna is
unlike any place they've ever experienced.
differences are palpable.
How many small villages like this (pop. 1500) can open the
doors to five different art galleries on a summer First Friday, each
filled with the works of accomplished artists who actually live there?
In how many places can you walk out your front door,
stroll down the street and see musicians who'll likely perform in
Carnegie Hall next week, or actors who'll soon be on Broadway?
There's a reason Mt. Gretna is different. The presence of
artists who are attracted here has helped make it so -- artists drawn
by an aura almost mystical in its unexplained essence.
It is not a stretch to say that where artists congregate,
You don't need government studies to prove that.
Gallery Row, located on a once-declining part of Lancaster, came alive
after the Pennsylvania School of Art opened its doors a few blocks
In Lititz, a photographer and a landscape artist showed retail shop
owners what their buildings could become simply by adding with a few
artistic touches. Art shows and galleries followed. Over the next few
years, the town embarked on a path of
The art focal point of the entire South shifted when the Savannah
College of Art and Design transformed and reclaimed one of America's
most beautiful cities.
When artists take up residence and pursue their crafts, good things
happen and everybody benefits. In ways that do more than simply
increase the resale value of homes and cottages.
In truth, something happens that goes straight to the core of our
quality of living, the resonance of our lives. Something
One of the best things to happen in Mt. Gretna this year was the new Mt. Gretna School of Art
What soon followed was an unprecedented
cavalcade of teachers and professors who came here for the first time
from the nation's top art schools, including several who have taught at
Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
the students. From colleges and universities throughout the United
States. Only 20 were needed to launch the program in 2013, and they
came -- 20 who included some that benefited from financial aid donated
by people who understood the value of the arts in shaping a life and
improving a world.
They came for intensive studies,
delving more deeply into artistic specialties not available in many
college and university programs. Studies taught by faculty members who
came here to teach, to guide, to critique and to share.
It is a program patterned after one
pioneered by the Chautauqua Institution in New York. Every year its
director, Don Kimes, has far more applicants
than his institution can accept. He guided five of them to Mt. Gretna
this year. And he serves as a principal mentor for the founder of Mt.
Gretna's School of Art, Jay Noble, himself a graduate of the Chautauqua
Now there's talk of establishing a
permanent headquarters for the Mt. Gretna School of Art, a former
cottage perhaps where this six-week summer program can flourish and
maybe be used for other purposes when the summer studies are over.
The idea has backers determined to make
this dream a reality with matching funds.
We who live here will have a chance
to help the Mt. Gretna School of Art put down permanent roots.
If that happens, the rising
tide of artistic talent will likely continue, lifting all boats in the
process -- including Gretna Theatre, Gretna Music and the Cicada
Festival as well as the Summer Program
series and programs in the Campmeeting
Not all of us are artists, but we who
live here have our lives made better by those who add a creative
sparkle to our lives. Whether we realize it or not, everyone who loves
coming to Mt. Gretna -- for a day, a week or a lifetime -- has an
artist's soul and an artist's heart.
And we know, we surely do know,
that we are in a place where we belong.
P.S. It is in this space that I usually remind
readers that this newsletter is an entirely unofficial venture -- a
pastime not much different from hobbies such as woodworking or golf
that others enjoy -- with neither profits nor political aims in mind. I
do this simply because I want to keep active as I slide ever deeper
into my seventies and, hopefully, do something useful as long as my
energies and abilities, both with finite limits, permit.
I also want to thank the many people
who volunteer to help write, fact-check, and proofread this newsletter
and to wish one and all a joyous holiday and bountiful New Year.