Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Gretna, PA "Not a place, but a spirit."
Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)
March 1, 2014
Waiting for Spring
Er, Harriett. Did you remember to send
last month's check to Met Ed?
Feb. 6 photo of mourning doves on
Lakeview Drive by Ken Narehood
It may be hard for year-rounders to believe, but except on TV, the majority
of readers of The Mt. Gretna Newsletter probably haven't seen
much snow this winter. Therefore, the pictures of a snowed-in Mt.
Gretna are mainly for them.
For all its headaches, snow in Mt. Gretna is a rarity
-- with serious accumulations occurring only in the
Ice story, Feb. 3
of people like Pat Pinsler and her sister
Mary Ellen McCarty, who as youngsters sledded down Pinch Road and right
up to the front door of what is now the pizza parlor.
While they zipped down the hill with no brakes to stop
them, several friends stood watch below to look for the rare
possibility of an occasional car making its way along the snow-covered
cement highway the Army had laid down for its tanks. Often they sledded
at night, under the glow of a single bulb hanging over the corner of
Pinch Road and what is now Rte. 117.
With snow accumulations now approaching an all-time record
this winter (60 inches so far), reminders are probably
unnecessary. So the pictures in this issue will help let
snowbirds in spots like Palm Springs. CA and Bonita Springs, FL see
what they've missed.
Now, what Mt. Gretnans who've endured
this winter are waiting for are genuine signs of spring. Any signs.
Robins, snowdrops, even a snow plow going back into storage at the
borough garage. All who've survived the Winter of '14 anxiously await
the start of a week without the merest possibility of even a single,
solitary wayward snowflake.
So in preparing this issue we thumbed through the stack of
messages readers sent us, looking for morsels that held promise of
brighter days ahead.
Clearing snow Feb. 4 from the pinnacle
of the Tabernacle roof
Peter Jones photo
First came Tim
Flowers' report that his neighbor (Elaine Feather) had recently spotted
a turkey strutting its stuff along Brown Avenue. The Tom first showed
up in the Feathers' driveway in the Chautauqua and later on Mr.
Flower's porch. Then it moved on to Mike and Linda Bell's cottage.
Apparently it was a beauty, and also a survivor this past Thanksgiving.
At any rate, what caught Mr. Flower's fancy was an article in The
Washington Post as he sipped his Sunday morning coffee: a report
about a new coding project (ICD-10). Turns out the government has now
documented 68,000 ways to die, a guide for medical billers. "All
Mt. Gretnans should write these numbers
down," says Mr. Flowers: W61.42 or W6.43 -- "getting struck
or bitten by a turkey" and W53.21 -- "injuries caused by
"Only in Washington, DC," he added.
"Watch out for those turkeys."
Another day brightener were reports of Campmeeting
resident Ed Neidigh, out shoveling and snowblowing at the beginning of February and
chipping solid ice away at the end of the month with a pickax.
Now that may not exactly be the kind of
Midwinter glimpse from Evelyn Koppel,
Mt. Gretna Bird Club, another reminder that
spring's on the way. Most of us don't realize Mt. Gretna is on what
bird enthusiasts regard as a superhighway for migration, a great spot
to catch glimpses of as many varieties of birds as there are in the
our chamber of commerce would want to send out (if we had a
chamber of commerce), but you can bet Mr. Neidigh
got a lot of vigorous exercise last month. In weather like this, you've
got to look for silver linings wherever you can find them.
Another exercise enthusiast making the most of winter was
newcomer Don Kensinger who recently moved
here from Campbelltown. He volunteers to help
older folks with snow removal chores, and Linda Wilson, of Princeton
Avenue, gave him a call. In no time, he cleared their Princeton Avenue
porch and path to the propane tank. His only payment? "Make a
donation to the fire company," he said. It's how he preps for
portage, a hobby for people who like to carry canoes on their backs
from one stream to another.
Probably nobody in Mt. Gretna longs more for signs of
spring than Bill Care's beleaguered borough crew. Their empathetic
secretary Linda Bell says they haven't had a complete weekend off since
Thanksgiving. "If it wasn't fresh snow to plow it was something
else," she says. Most of the snows came at night. So while others
were sleeping, Bill's crew was scooping and plowing. Most of us never
realize just what it takes to keep this small hamlet going year 'round.
Another bright spot on the horizon are those summertime organ
recitals coming up at the Hewitt-McAnney home
alongside the post office.
Feb. 16 on Mt. Gretna Road:
Peter Hewitt always has an all-star lineup. One of his
favorite recitalists this year, Chelsea Barton, recently won the
prestigious Gerald Barnes Award for Excellence in Pipe Organ and will
perform here in July.
Something else to look forward to: Fred Buch's
program showing those newly acquired postcards of the Stoverdale settlement that pulled up stakes near
Hummelstown in 1892 and moved to create what became the Mt. Gretna Campmeeting. They include scenes even the late
historian Jack Bitner probably never saw.
Fred says the program, canceled by bad weather in February, will now
take place at the fire hall Sunday, April 27.
Looking through the stack of what's ahead, one thing is
clear: we don't need much in the way of tangible reminders to convince
us that, even in the midst of a still brutal winter, the world of Mt.
Gretna is one that most of the rest of the world would envy.
Such thoughts make even this winter a bit more tolerable. Every
now and then, it's probably good to remind ourselves of things like
On Valentine's Day 2014, a view that
those who come only in summer will never see: the lake at Mt. Gretna,
frozen at sunset.
Elaine Hartman photo
More than a year later, the reassessment leaves its
Newsletter readers in far-flung corners of
the world probably wondered if Mt. Gretna would survive those 300% to
500% property tax increases levied in 2013, inspired by the first
county-wide reassessment in over 40 years.
The good news is that we're still here, pretty much
unchanged from the way we were, with no major damages that have
yet altered the look, character or appeal of this 122-year-old
Yet one thing's for sure: Those increases came as a shock,
especially to residents who've lived here since the late 1960s and
grown accustomed to stability in their property taxes.
Somehow folks who make Mt. Gretna their full-time residence
either sought to have their official appraisals readjusted -- sometimes
with success, sometimes not -- or simply tightened their belts,
adjusted to what they accepted as the new reality, and found other ways
to cover their substantially higher tax rates.
"I don't know of any permanent home owner who had to sell
because of the reassessment," says Penn Realty's Jessica Kosoff.
But higher taxes have definitely affected some who own seasonal
properties, she says.
rental cottages in prospect?
Some owners of cottages used mainly as summer
rentals chose to keep them but raised rental prices to offset the new
Others who traditionally come only for a few weeks in the
summer but who never rented their cottages to others before may now
consider doing so, says Penn Realty owner Joe Wentzel.
Such decisions could ultimately increase the number of properties
available for summer rentals, which he estimates at currently around 35
throughout Mt. Gretna.
And many who might have once thought about selling their
Mt. Gretna properties that they inherited or purchased years ago but don't use very much anymore could now be tempted to
put them on the market. Whenever they've done so thus far, however, the
new reality that even in Mt. Gretna housing prices aren't what they
used to be lands with a thud. That often causes them to pull back and
wait for improvements in the housing market.
prices now off 18 to 20%
Right now, selling prices are off 18 to 20%
from their 2006-2008 peaks, say realtors. Most think that while the
market is gradually improving, it'll take several years before housing
prices in Mt. Gretna fully recover.
Yet many sellers have been reluctant to accept that fact.
Although realtors generally advise clients to list properties at no
more than five percent over their expected selling price, 16 of the 39
properties that changed hands here last year ultimately sold at levels
that were 10% or more under the original asking price -- sometimes
substantially under. More than half of those 16 sold anywhere from 20%
to 30% -- or even more -- off their original asking prices. In a
few extraordinary instances, prices dropped $100,000 or
Biggest mistake sellers make
Mr. Wentzel says
the market analysis studies he's seen show most owners who consider
putting their homes on the market still cling to the idea their
properties should sell for what they would have brought in 2005.
Unrealistic pricing, he says, is the biggest mistake most owners make
and may unnecessarily prolong the time it will take a property to sell.
Of course, nobody likes to lose money, a fact
well-documented by psychologists who cite loss-aversion among the most
common tendencies we humans possess.
What adds to the complexity of pricing strategies,
however, is that no two cottages are exactly alike, says Mt. Gretna
Realty owner Fred Schaeffer. Moreover, he points out, the motivations
for sellers are as varied as their distinctive 100-year-old
Victorian-era cottages themselves.
Mr. Schaeffer points out that last year's real estate market was,
from a sales standpoint, close to the all-time high as 39 properties
changed hands. That may not sound like a lot, but it is, in fact, in
this 700-home community where many cottages remain in the same family
for several generations and typically only 20 to 30 properties change
ownership each year.
not a factor for most
Yet most realtors are reluctant to attribute
much of 2013's uptick in sales volume to higher property taxes alone.
Most owners who decided to sell last year were stirred by unique
individual circumstances -- deaths, retirement home decisions, job
changes and other personal events.
Most also concur that the outlook for real estate sales in
Mt. Gretna is improving, with reasons for both sellers and buyers to
take a fresh look at the opportunities.
"It's time to get serious," says Brownstone
Realty's Rhoda Long. "Despite the bad weather we've had, plenty of
people are out there looking -- most of them seeking permanent rather
than second homes," she says.
She thinks the biggest impact of the reassessment so far
has been upon owners of vacant lots, who -- unlike cottage owners -- can't offset higher tax burdens with
more choices for buyers
Ms. Long agrees with other realtors who
predict that the range of choices will widen this year. "I'm
telling buyers, if you don't see what you want, just sit tight. More
new properties will soon be coming up in the listings," she says.
Mr. Schaeffer agrees that the choices will increase, but
so too will mortgage rates. There's a penalty for those who wait too
long, he says, citing a recent USA Today article which points
out "each percentage point increase in mortgage rates makes homes
about 10% more expensive." That increases the cost of ownership,
he says, "so the time to buy a home is before those rates go
All in all, the turbulence that preceded the
reassessment's arrival now seems to have passed. And despite lingering
aftereffects, Mt. Gretna has emerged relatively unscathed.
Says veteran realtor Emi Snavely,
considered by many to be the doyenne of Mt. Gretna real estate, "I
am pleased with the continued interest that folks and families have in
our lovely Mt. Gretna homes and life."
Karl Gettle and Barb Kleinfelter are beating
the drums again this year, hoping to enlist everyone in Mt. Gretna in
this year's Grand Illumination over the Fourth of July weekend.
They're part of an American tradition, especially on
patriotic occasions and especially at communities where Campmeeting and Chautauqua traditions run
deep. Martha's Vineyard has the biggest but planners here say
there's no reason why Mt. Gretna's shouldn't be the best.
Mr. Gettle, who helped get the
Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show started nearly 40 years ago
is seeking to make this event another standout
occasion. Ms. Kleinfelter, another talented artist in her own right,
has been lending a hand for the past seven years.
"We're calling on residents to promote the
Grand Illumination theme, "Lights on for Liberty," and
we need residents from all over Mt. Gretna to help light up the area.
We need volunteers to encourage and work with their neighbors to light
up their homes the weekend of July 4-6," she says.
For details, drop them a note by email:
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. They're now forming a
"Light Brigade" and want you to be a part of it. "Help
us make all of Mt. Gretna sparkle with lights this year for our Fourth
of July celebration," she says.
Where's the Mt. Gretna Fire Company's iconic
flamingo? Off on his globe-trotting adventure to raise money for
the firefighters and spread word of the "Best Small Town in
America that Nobody Ever Heard Of."
Last month he was at the world-famous Harbour
Town Golf Links, where
he ran into former Mt. Gretnans Kent and Mary
Jane Fox, who lived for more than 25 years at the corner of Lakeview
Drive and Village Lane (where Ralph and Jackie Zimmerman now make their
While he was at Hilton Head Island, the flamingo missed by
a whisker (er, feather?) Paul and Cheryl Enck, Mt. Gretna summer residents who usually prolong
their stays as late as possible into fall.
At any rate, the flamingo paused under the shadow of the Harbour Town Lighthouse for this picture, helping
promote America's best, but least-known small town. Or so he
While the Foxes were posing for this photo, up came two
visitors they'd never met before who asked, "Is that the Mt.
"Why, yes," replied the startled Mr.
Fox. "How did you know?"
"We read The Mt. Gretna Newsletter,"
said the visitors, who it turns out were vacationing in South Carolina
but make their full-time home in Colonial Park, near Harrisburg.
"We love coming to the Playhouse and Jigger Shop," said Ruth Karabcevschy, a former HR director. She and husband
Val, a retired Tyco executive, are enjoying vacation travels throughout
Maybe the flamingo ought to hitch a ride with them.
(Note: Want to take a flamingo on your next
trip? No two are alike and you can adopt one [they're not for
sale, but a $100 or more fire company donation makes him yours]. At La
next to the miniature golf course. Better hurry, they're going fast.)
relationship stands the test of time for over 70 years, that's news.
Especially on Valentine's Day. That story put Nancy and Earl Besch squarely in the path of Cupid's arrow and
also in a beguiling Feb. 14 love
story by Harrisburg Patriot News columnist Nancy Eshelman.
When did Nancy first know that Earl was the one? Well,
both were school mates in junior high. But the arrow must have struck
with resounding accuracy the day Earl came up to see Nancy in Mt.
Gretna -- from Lancaster, over 20 miles away, on a bicycle. "Now that
was love," said Ms. Besch.
She has been coming to Mt. Gretna since she was an infant
and the couple still come to their cottage
(owned by her grandparents and parents before them) on Harvard Avenue every
The Besches are the
proud parents of former Mt. Gretnan Sue Pera.
Ms. Pera, who operates the
Coffeehouse and Culinary Kitchen with husband Al,
sent us this picture, taken recently in the living room of the Besch's home in Camp Hill where, except for summers
in Mt. Gretna, they've lived for the past 56
Well, it's not cheap, but it's good for
the environment. That's the improvement they're making to the waste
water treatment plant in Mt. Gretna. The project started in January and
should be finished by the end of this month -- despite the snowiest
winter in recent history.
Borough chief Bill Care watches the
project get underway.
Two huge clarifier tanks like the one
pictured here are part of this Chesapeake Bay Initiative project for
which the local authority has arranged a loan of up to $900,000, while
keeping fingers crossed they won't have to use it all.
Crews have been working every day to
finish the project on time, maybe this week or next, so this filtering
system which removes particulate matter from waste water more efficiently
can start to work.
It replaces a natural sand system that had
been in use since 1940 and became increasingly less efficient.
This new process should satisfy strict
requirements the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
now sets down for all municipal water treatment plants throughout the
And yes, while it won't increase waste
treatment capacity for more houses in Mt. Gretna, it will mean higher
bills for most of us, and also a safer, cleaner environment.
The upside of an unexpected downsizing
The day her company announced they
would close the local office where she had worked for more than 20
years turned out to be one of the best days ever for Lakeview Drive
resident Diane Hertzler.
From a studio in Mt. Gretna, she
opened a window on the world and a new career.
That was nearly 19 years ago. She turned down
Verizon's offer to move with them to Pittsburgh, and, instead, followed
up on an idea in a magazine she picked up on her way home from the
With encouragement from her husband Bob, Ms. Hertzler enrolled in a week-long retreat advertised
in Bead&Button magazine, a chance
to learn the ancient art of beading at Black Rock, NC -- sewing
together colorful beads to create bracelets, necklaces and other
articles of jewelry.
For a woman who had grown up as a "Navy brat"
learning from her grandmother how to sew, crochet and knit, who once
dressed up as a "glitterbat" for
Halloween, and who still loves to "dress up in sparkly
things," the bling-bling allure of beading proved irresistible.
A few years later, she was not only attending beading classes,
but also teaching them herself. It has evolved from a creative pastime
into an adventure that has since turned out to be a
nearly full-time pursuit. "It's a
hobby that went amok," her admiring husband explains to their
Crystals by Swarovski, Design by Diane
Today, she stands out as one of the best-known beading
instructors in the country, with how-to articles in beading magazines,
classes from coast-to-coast, and an appointment as an official Swarovski
Ambassador in the U.S., teaching others how to incorporate the
world-famous crystals in her custom beaded jewelry designs.
Although she could make it a full-time occupation, she chooses
instead to pursue beading as a satisfying avocation that "pays for
the gas" as she and Bob (a retired high school science teacher)
explore the country. She teaches everywhere from Allentown to
Albuquerque, instructing others in off-loom bead work -- sewing beads
together with needle and thread by hand, a craft unlikely ever to be
taken over by robots.
Days at Verizon were never like this.
Beading is not only a billion-dollar industry, it's the second-largest hobby in America
according to the Craft and Hobby Association. This spring in Milwaukee,
at the world's largest bead show, Ms. Hertzler
will instruct several of the 900 classes at this 14-day event.
Among her biggest thrills, however, was last year driving into a
small town 2,000 miles away in Arizona, where a welcome sign (inset)
awaited. "Oh, my gosh. That was
exciting," she said.
In addition to allowing the Hertzlers
to see America, beading also serves another purpose: "It's
therapeutic," she says. "I get into a rhythm and love to keep
busy with my hands."
That's one of the benefits she stresses to her students,
mostly women working 9-to-5 in offices as she once did: "I tell
them: Nobody needs to do beading. It's something you do just for
you." At the end of a long day, that may be the greatest
reward of all.
Mt. Gretna School of Art announces 2014 faculty
The snow may not yet be melted but things are
warming up for the second season of the Mt.
Gretna School of Art.
Noble, founder and executive director, has just announced some
of faculty members who will be part of this summer's intensive studies
Art student at the school's first
The school offers students a chance to immerse themselves in
studies involving specialized
aspects of painting often not available through their regular
Among the faculty members who'll be here June 4-July 9,
leading individual classes and presenting lectures open to the pubic
(Wednesdays, 10 am at the Hall of Philosophy) are:
Armstrong (Painting Section), a distinguished instructor and critic
at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art who will be joined by her
husband, Allan Armstrong, the former lawyer turned children's
author. Although the writer will not be part of MGSOA's
programming, Mr. Noble expects that he'll nevertheless add an extra
dimension to this year's experience for the
(Painting Section), a member of the faculty at Pratt Institute and the
Borough of Manhattan Community College who is making a name for himself
as a critic
and writer for artcritical.com and the New York Sun.
(Drawing Section), associate professor of printmaking and life drawing
at the College of William and Mary.
Lombard (Drawing Section), professor of art, Knox College, a
private liberal arts college in Galesburg, IL.
Sid Hostetter on snowshoes after wistful glance at
picnic table; turkey vulture picks a vacant rocker on Pat Allwein's porch; snowbank piles high at the
Playhouse; tree sculpture decidedly unhappy about winter; search crews
looked for worshipers in church parking lot, joked Pastor Mike Remel.
Sunday, March 2:
Winter buffet at the Mt. Gretna Fire Hall: what all Mt. Gretna looks
forward to, especially this winter.
Put a donation of $10 to $100 in the firefighter's boot at the door and
join your friends.
All proceeds go to the Mt. Gretna Fire Company.
8 am to noon.
The Winterites have postponed their March 4
meeting because of anticipated bad weather conditions.
Victor Bojko's account of
his visit last summer to Ukraine will be presented in a special Winterites session May 7 at the firehall.
The group will present a virtual tour of the Philhaven Center for Autism and Developmental
Disabilities at its meeting Tuesday, April 1.
Wednesday, March 5:
Ash Wednesday, Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, 7 pm. Click here for the spring newsletter with
details of all Lenten activities.
Friday, March 7:
First Friday at the Timbers featuring the colorful pen and
ink and watercolor works of this month's guest artist Mt. Gretnan Mary Kopala with acoustic and classic music by
guitarist Jim Hemperly, Bob Licata (vocals,
guitar and bass) and Bart Briody (vocals and harmonica), 6 to 9
Saturday, March 8:
Gretna Theatre invites area residents to a Dessert Social
at the Mt. Gretna Fire Hall, 6 pm to 8 pm, for questions and answers
about hosting an actor or staff
member this summer. Bring a friend for coffee, tea, punch, cookies, chips
and pretzels; learn more from neighbors who've previously served as
hosts. RSVP 964-3322 or email@example.com
Local auditions for this year's Gretna Theatre productions
will be held at the fire hall 10 am to 6 pm. For complete details
go to http://www.gretnatheatre.com/auditions
Wednesday, March 12:
Lenten services begin at area churches, 7 pm. The Mt.
Gretna service is April 9. Other locations include Lebanon area
churches in Quentin, Cornwall, Rexmont
and on Rocherty Road.
Saturday, March 15:
Gretna Music's winter series, Monsters of
the Steinway, continues with pianist Gilles Vontsattel and works by Beethoven, Rzewski and
Ives. Concert starts 7:30 pm at Elizabethtown College. (Pre-concert
lecture by Dr. Douglas Bomberger, Fine and Performing Arts Department chairman,
begins at 6:30.)
March 18, 19, 26, 27 & April 1:
training sessions at
the Philhaven campus, on Butler Road, offered
without charge by the Cornwall Police Department. Class size limited;
attendance must be confirmed with Stephanie Burris, 274-2071 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, March 26:
The Gathering Place, Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, a
fellowship luncheon where all are welcome, at noon.
Sunday, March 30:
Mt. Gretna School of Art Auction at Lancaster Galleries, which will donate all proceeds to
MGSOA. About 25 established artists have offered their works to the
school, now in its second year with good prospects for becoming a permanent
summer institution here. Sunday afternoon, 34 North Water Street,
Lancaster. "I'd love to see some Mt. Gretnans
at this event," says MGSOA's Jay Noble.
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
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 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 (highly recommended): 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, register at www.nixle.com
South Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of primary interest to Mt. Gretnans
in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber
Bridge; online at http://southlondonderry.org/
Newsletter -- Available
online and mailed to residents of the Campmeeting.
Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights residents. Contact
Michelle Shay, email@example.com
Years ago, I came across an essay with the appealing title
"Agog Is a Man's Best Friend." Its message was simple:
Nothing happens until somebody gets excited.
If ever one needs proof, consider that enthusiasm built Mt.
Gretna -- after Robert Coleman discovered a place like none other he'd
Then came the leaders of the Chautauqua
and Campmeeting, each with different ideas
but equal enthusiasm for Mt. Gretna's potential.
The Playhouse grew out of somebody's excitement, John Cilly's perhaps, the builder with a unique notion
for how outdoor theaters ought to be constructed. His enthusiasm
ignited many others in the century that followed, right down to the
late philanthropist Tom Ebright, who
personally guaranteed the loan that rebuilt the playhouse when it
collapsed in 1994.
We in Mt. Gretna may sometimes run short of money, but never of
the things that capture our imagination and give depth and meaning to
We sometimes hear about the shortage of volunteers.
What we lack may really be the know-how to attract volunteer
energies that abound here. Talent? Mt Gretna has talent in spades.
Lack of volunteers? I walked out of the post office one morning
last fall and soon found myself talking with a man who lamented that
few had responded to his call for volunteers, despite widespread
notices sent by mail and posted on bulletin boards.
"What do you need?" I asked. "Five or six more
people, to help at a fund-raiser next weekend," he said.
While we talked, two people walked up and joined our
conversation. Then a few others stopped by. Before either of us knew
it, he had his volunteers, and everything he needed to carry off
a successful fundraiser.
What was different? People spoke to one another, face to
face, explained what they needed and why. Within minutes, paths opened
up and solutions appeared.
Talk all you want about the miracle of Facebook, email and
other social media. Nothing works better than personal contacts,
honest-to-goodness conversations, even if they take place over the
Yes, it's still true that nothing happens until somebody
gets excited. Yet the real magic is when excitement transfers through
personal contact, often as not at the post office or on walks around
town, stopping to chat with people you meet. Winston has taught me that
dog owners have a special advantage in this regard.
I mention this because the Winterites
-- founded 64 years ago largely on the energies and enthusiasms of one
woman, Magi "Peg" Stroh -- need a new leader to replace the
amazingly capable Donna Kaplan, who is giving up her post as president.
It would be a shame to see an organization like that falter,
wither and die. Especially one that adds so much to the lives of so
many on otherwise lonely winter afternoons. It lights a spark and sets
off an embracing glow that engenders human contact, an essential sense
of community. It has done that for more than six decades, and such
needs have never diminished.
When we want something done that's important, we in Mt.
Gretna are particularly well-positioned to rely less on electronic
messaging and more on talking with friends and neighbors. Finding a new
leader for the Winterites may be a good place
Agog is not only a man's best friend,
it's also a woman's, too.
This newsletter is unofficial, simply a retirement pastime that
produces no income but lots of friends around the world. We use a
commercial distribution service, Constant Contact, to send email copies
to about 2,000 people around the world.