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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 148                                                                                                                                           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

Jane Mourer photo

memories 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 squirrels."
   "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 Northeastern U.S.

photo 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: "Summer's coming" 

    Carol Light photo

   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 that.

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 sting

   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 Victorian community. 
   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.

   More 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 taxes.
   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.

   Selling 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 more.   

   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.

   Reassessment 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 increased rents.

  Coming: 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 up."
    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 a 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: or 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 home).
   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 thought.
   While the Foxes were posing for this photo, up came two visitors they'd never met before who asked, "Is that the Mt. Gretna flamingo?"
    "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 the USA.
    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 Cigale Gallery next to the miniature golf course. Better hurry, they're going fast.) When a 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 summer.
     The Besches are the proud parents of former Mt. Gretnan Sue Pera.
   Ms. Pera, who operates the popular
Cornerstone 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 state.  

   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 grocery store.  
   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 bewildered accountant.

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
Jay Noble, founder and executive director, has just announced some of faculty members who will be part of this summer's intensive studies program.

Art student at the school's first season

Jane Mourer photo

  The school offers students a chance to immerse themselves in studies involving
specialized aspects of painting often not available through their regular classes. 
   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:
Martha 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 students.
Xico Greenwald (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 and the New York Sun.
Brian Kreydatus (Drawing Section), associate professor of printmaking and life drawing at the College of William and Mary.
Lynette Lombard (Drawing Section), professor of art, Knox College, a private liberal arts college in Galesburg, IL.













 Photos, from top:

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 pm.

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

   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

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:
   Rape defense 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

Wednesday, March 26:
   The Gathering Place, Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, a fellowship luncheon where all are welcome, at noon.

Sunday, March 30: 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.


Don't forget:

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




Other newsletters of interest:

Mt. Gretna Updates -- Issued as warranted to alert local residents to such 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

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 

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 FOUNDER Carl Ellenberger's blog (highly recommended): Check for updates online at
Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society Newsletter -- Online at 

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

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

Cornwall Police Department E-Mail Bulletins -- issued as warranted to update residents on events of community interest, including crime alerts. To add your name to the mailing list, register at  

South Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of primary interest to Mt. Gretnans in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge; online at 

Campmeeting Newsletter -- Available online and mailed to residents of the Campmeeting.

Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights residents. Contact Michelle Shay,   



  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 ever seen.
  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 our lives.
  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 phone.
   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 to start.
  Agog is not only a man's best friend, it's also a woman's, too.

   Roger Groce

 P.S. 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.



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