The Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Gretna, PA "Not a place, but a spirit."
Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)
Sea legs after a stormy winter
Walking down Timber Road one morning last week, it struck me that Mt.
Gretna has in its midst two members of the Central Pennsylvania Sports
Hall of Fame. They didn't earn their laurels as golfers, but they live
within a par 5 of each other.
John Davis, who retired as the beloved swim coach at Cedar
Crest High School, was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year and lives
on Lakeview Drive. He joined a distinguished panel that includes Norbie Danz, a legendary
football coach in both Lebanon and Lancaster, who lives up the street.
Taken as a pair, John and Norbie are another reminder of how many interesting and talented
achievers you run into during a morning's walk around Mt. Gretna.
I suppose other towns of 1,500 people have as many, but
offhand I can't think of any.
John and wife Connie now make regular trips south each
winter, to their home in Florida as part of the growing flock of Mt.
gets harder every year, he told me last week. Harder in the sense that
this former athlete -- who still gets out and runs every day (with Connie
keeping up the pace close behind him) -- is like me.
He finds the adjustment from one locale to another gets
tougher with each advancing year. Returning to home port becomes
something akin to how a sailor must feel when he struggles to regain his
non-athlete, I found John's dilemma reassuring.
Something like that also happens to newsletter writers who
split their winters between Mt. Gretna and South Carolina.
Farmers say that it takes half a year to get back to normal production
once they move a dairy herd from one farm to another.
Production sags for newsletter writers, too. Or at least for this
newsletter writer. Getting back into the swing of things takes longer
than it used to.
issue is what you might call the "dairy herd" edition. Not as
much to read about this month, but just about all I could squeeze in
after packing up our 2006 Odyssey van in South Carolina, adding another
740 miles to the 129,000 already on the odometer with yet another trip up
I-95 (including the mandatory North Carolina barbecue stop at Parkers*,
Exit 119, near Wilson), then unpacking and getting settled once again in
All that used to take a day. Now it takes a week, maybe two,
before my wobbly sea legs recover.
doesn't get any easier. But that's just a fact, not a complaint. Goodness
knows, if I didn't have a newsletter to write,
I'd probably be out playing golf, watching Jeopardy or planting
onions. Perish those thoughts, every single one of them!
way of saying it's good to be home. Among good friends and interesting
attention to those little
underlined words (hyperlinks) in this issue. When
I didn't have time to write down everything, I linked to websites, fact
sheets and emailed items that will give you a fuller story than I had
time to write. Use your mouse to click on them if you want more
*Parkers, rated in the Charlotte Observer's Best
Barbecue Spots. In North Carolina, you don't run lists
like that unless you know barbecue.
behind a lens rather than in front of a microphone.
But it was all in a day's work for photographer
Madelaine Gray last
month as she fielded listeners' questions on WITF-FM's
weekday morning "Smart Talk" program.
One of the
nation's top photographers with her own website, a bundle of awards, and a
following of avid collectors eager to acquire the latest photographs
she brings back from Provence and elsewhere in Europe, she has become one of Mt.
Gretna's best-known residents since moving here from Maryland nearly 12
Although she expects to continue as an exhibitor at the
Mt. Gretna Annual Outdoor Art Show (where her sales usually top any other
show in the country), her time here will soon be limited.
She plans to follow her heart and move to a new home in
Sarasota, Fla. She says it will give her more time for kayaking, one of
her favorite pursuits, and also open opportunities for new art work.
She plans to continue printing her photographs on canvas and experiment
a bit with acrylic paints through classes at the Ringling Borthers School of Art and Design.
"Who knows," she says, "at 74, I may become
another Grandma Moses."
It's a good thing packages arriving at the Mt. Gretna Post
Office aren't this big.
Postmaster Steve Strickler and wife LuAnn,
just back from South Africa. "Best vacation ever," says
Steve, who has traveled on hunting expeditions throughout the Western
U.S. Their 11-day trip to Africa cost about the same as one last year
to Idaho, he says, but was a lot more fun.
For this adventure, they followed advice from a friend and
teacher who had been there before and returned with a sackful of guidebooks.
In addition to this 27-year-old fellow (age
70 in elephant years), they spotted rhinos, hippos, giraffes, impalas,
baboons, monkeys, zebras and wildebeests. They never felt unsafe in
their upscale, comfortable cottage, but a cobra skin showed up near
their compound one morning when 40-degree mornings should have made
snake sightings rare. The Stricklers soon
became part of their compound's host family, sharing both breakfast and
dinners with the owners and their children. "It wasn't on my
bucket list, but I'd go back again," says Steve.
Mt. Gretna's signature social event of the
year now has a new leader. After nearly 25 years at the helm,
Summer Premiere founder Debbie
Clemens (left) last month turned the affair over to her successor, Jaunine Fouché of Timber
A science teacher at Milton Hershey School who moved to Timber
Lane with her husband Doug and daughter Hannah in 2010, Ms. Fouché earned her doctorate last year at Liberty
"I'm honored to organize the Premiere. So much good
comes out of it," she says. She credits both the artists for their
donations and Arts Council members and spouses for their commitments to
make it a success.
This year's Premiere raised about $9,000 for the Mt.
Gretna Arts Council, which provides scholarships and publishes the most
frequently consulted reference booklet in Mt. Gretna. The Council's
Summer Calendar chronicles some 350 programs, crafts classes, lectures
and other events that take place here every year.
His face is
familiar even if he doesn't live here. Yet.
Hubley, something of a local
celebrity in South Central Pennsylvania, plans to soon build a new home
here for himself, wife Tina and their two daughters along Birch Avenue
in the Heights.
One reason the Hubleys like the
area is their new lot backs up against the state game lands, filled
with all the sorts of critters that Jack loves -- sometimes with six or
eight legs, or sometimes none.
Another reason is that Jack married the sister of Mt. Gretna Heights icon Max Huntsinger,
creator of the now-famous flamingo that has become something of a celebrity
Jack produces WGAL-TV's "Wild Moment" vignettes on the
Friday 5:30 pm newscast, does a traveling lecture series called Wild
Neighbors, and also runs Hershey Entertainment & Resorts' The
Falconry Experience (where you slip on a falconer's glove and call a
hawk to your fist), a six-days-a-week event in the summer.
Usually it's the volunteer firefighters themselves who pitch in to
produce the fire company's pancake and sausage fundraising buffet
breakfast each spring.
year, the volunteer firemen took a back seat to other volunteers who
decided it was time to give the
was the idea (from left) Joe Feather, Tom Schaeffer and Dave Eckert had
in mind when they offered to take over pancake-flipping chores at the
fire hall last month.
event raised nearly $1,100 to help nudge the fire company's coffers
closer to the top when they can pay all the bills on their $400,000
provides extra room for bigger trucks needed to both fight fires and
meet the latest standards required under state and federal guidelines.
Only a few
more flips like this and the firefighters will be debt-free.
first introduced over a century ago by the founders of the Pennsylvania
Chautauqua may soon return to Mt. Gretna.
With support from benefactors who have pledged matching funds, a
full roster of students from across the country to fill spaces
available for studies here this summer, and a blue-ribbon faculty and
guest instructors from some of the nation's top art schools, the
non-profit Mt. Gretna School of Art is ready to launch its second
summer of painting and drawing immersion studies this month.
If the school realizes its goal to establish a permanent
location here, it won't be the first residence study program in Mt.
Gretna. Dormitories for men and women students were first offered in
1892. Terrace Hall and Woodcliff, each with 20 rooms, were part of the
original Chautauqua layout.
Chautauqua president John Feather says all members of the
Board of Managers favor the idea of a school. The only thorny issue is
how to get around deed restrictions on a proposed cottage along Pinch
Road which has been vacant for over a year. "Some residents say we
don't want to grant a waiver because that leads down a slippery
slope," he says. "Others say 'don't worry about it. This is
too important to pass up.'"
program today enjoys the enthusiastic support of the New York
Chautauqua's School of Art director Don Kimes
as well as local backers who include board members Jennifer Veser Besse, an adjunct
instructor of classics at Elizabethtown College, and noted Mt. Gretna
artist Lou Schellenberg.
It has also been endorsed by professors at art schools
where the rigorous intensive studies offered here are unavailable as
part of their regular studies.
The Mt. Gretna School of Art has filled all of its
openings this summer with 17 full-time and four part-time students.
In its first two years, the school has operated out of
sites such as La Cigale Gallery and private
cottages as well as the Hall of Philosophy through a cooperative
arrangement with the Pennsylvania Chautauqua. The Mt. Gretna School of
Art lecture series is offered to local residents without charge.
Workshops in the fine arts are also available to the public.
Final decisions will be made by the Chautauqua
stockholders at their July 18 meeting. If the decision is to press
ahead and the school lives up to its full potential, supporters believe
it would rank among the most significant developments in Mt. Gretna's
A winter without Winterites?
The 64-year-old organization conducted what could be its final meeting in
a session last month that attracted a near-record 48 persons to the
fire hall. But, fingers crossed, that's not the final chapter.
There's still hope that someone will keep it going next
season. A resolution
passed May 6 put the organization "on hold" until new
leaders step forward.
It's a hopeful sign. No group has made otherwise dreary
winter days brighter than the Winterites,
which invited everybody in and around Mt. Gretna to the fire hall for
refreshments, socialization and interesting talks on first Tuesdays of
Meanwhile, Susan Hostetter will
turn over to the Mt. Gretna Fire Company proceeds from the club's
weekly Duplicate Bridge sessions, which will continue.
ideas for the Fourth. Looking for ideas to decorate your home
for Mt. Gretna's Grand Illumination this Fourth of July? Artist
Barb Kleinfelter has some timely suggestions to make it easier. Click
Best thing about paradise. When the price of
a meal for two at McDonalds tops $35, you learn to live with less, says
Sheryl Mellor, who grew up in Mt. Gretna and is now comfortably
ensconced on an island big enough to appear on world maps but also
among the costliest places on earth to live.
For over 20 years she's been a translator in New
Less is more
for Sheryl Mellor
Pacific island where she lives with Venn, her husband of 37 years, and
most of their family, which now includes four children and eight
grandchildren. A ninth is on the way and all the others have already
had the Mt. Gretna experience.
She also owns the six-bedroom Maple Avenue cottage once
used as a summer retreat by the Lancaster Watt & Shand families and then as a year-round home by her
parents, Evelyn and Jack Yocklovich. "If
one said black the other said white, but they remained married 64
years," she says. They died in 2012, just nine days apart.
Ms. Mellor was back in Mt. Gretna last month to
"catch up with the Uhler, Blackburn and
Briody kids" and also do a little shopping for ordinary things
like clothing that are extraordinarily expensive or downright
unattainable in New Caledonia -- including a two-sided latch for the
gate to her garden fence.
"I love walking down the aisles at Dutch-Way or Weis
to look at all the things I know that I could afford but really don't
need," she says. "The idea that I could buy it if I wanted to
is enough for me."
Learning to live with less: as an elixir for runaway
consumerism, stratospheric prices rather than sunny beaches may be why
they call it an island paradise.
Day back on the job after funding ran out for her position on the Mt.
Gretna Borough Crew three years ago.
"It's great to be back," says Lindsey Kresge,
26, who put the time off to good use, learning skills with her dad in
the construction business, getting additional training that now comes
in handy for municipal services work, and experience with a hospital in
Outdoor work is what Lindsey loves best. That includes driving the snow
plow in winter, tending plants and shrubs in summer and helping fellow
staffers Joey Wise and Scott Cooling whenever she can.
In the meantime, she and her fiancee
are building a home
nearby Rexmont, where she grew up.
Our photographer caught up with her early in the morning for the
first assignment last month. "I'm so appreciative, so grateful to
be back in Mt. Gretna," she says.
in Mt. Gretna "Got the Nerve" triathlon at
the lake last month.
Now in its 11th year, the annual
race raises funds to "remove obstacles for people
physically disabled and change attitudes by redefining what is
possible." It runs under the banner of IM ABLE, a foundation
started by Chris Kaag, a marine stricken at
age 21 by a crippling nerve disease that put him in a wheelchair for
The triathlon, which this year attracted competitors from Oregon
and 17 other states, begins with a 500-yard swim at the lake, then
moves to a 16-mile bicycle race on hillside routes around Mt. Gretna
and concludes with a 5-kilometer run through state game lands.
7:36 AM Who says you can't
sell hot dogs early in the morning? Bray Brunkhurst
and Bobby Mac McCullough (inset, left) sold the first of over
320 hot dogs for Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church at the Campmeeting's
porch sales last month soon after the sun came up.
Sid Hostetter (inset, right)
and Evelyn Koppel, sold the first frankfurter
in their Valley Road driveway at 8:20 am at the Timber Hills yard sale
a week later and raised $85 for the Mt. Gretna Fire Company.
dogs and porch sales go together? The combination attracted buyers on
both sides of Rte. 117 as that familiar advice "If you don't need
it, it's no bargain" succumbed to the lure of undiscovered
If you missed out on this year's sales, don't fret. Big Junk Day
comes up again this month in the Chautauqua, where impulse items
purchased only a few weeks before may be out on the curb for pickup.
Curbside windfalls that scavengers discover this month will likely
reappear as featured attractions at next year's porch sales. It's why
borough manager Bill Care calls Mt. Gretna's Large Item Collection
Pickup "The Great Community Exchange."
Memorial Day, 2014 at Soldiers
Field. Trees stand at attention in background, a transcendent
reminder of those who served.
Evelyn Koppel photo
Michael Snow Jones 1953-2014.
Former Mt. Gretnan Michael Snow Jones, a creator of
imaginative furniture designs
(inset), world adventurer, story-teller
and good friend to many here has died. He was the son of Elias
"Ki" Jones, who died here three years ago, and Jean Snow
Jones, who died in 2000.
According to a Web
posting by his sister, Meredith Frost, he died in Thailand earlier this
year of an apparent heart attack. She reports that he had lived for
many years with injuries from kayaking and multiple motorcycle and auto
accidents as well as cardiomyopathy, contracted from a virus he
acquired in Australia around 2003. A tribute to his life and
work, which includes a YouTube video that captures better than words
the essence of his spirit, appears online.
Margaret H. Byford 1928 - 2014
who grew up in Mt. Gretna and known to her friends as "Peg,"
was the daughter of Lt. Col. William L. Hicks Sr., the last commander
of the Mt. Gretna Army National Guard until it moved to Ft. Indiantown
Gap in 1936.
Her obituary, published online, recalls
that she was known for her "zest for life, quick wit, sense of
humor, wisdom and compassion," signs all of a life well lived.
Survivors include a daughter, Robin May, who lives in the Campmeeting.
James E. Ellis, Jr. 1944 - 2014
Jim Ellis, who had
lived with his family in the Village Lane neighborhood of Timber Hills
for more than three decades, died May 23 at his home following a long
illness. Regarded as a good neighbor and friend always willing to help,
he left a legacy of service that most in Mt. Gretna strive to
In so doing, they, like
Jim, add immeasurably to the fund of goodwill that characterizes a
community and its citizens. In a moving tribute written by his devoted
wife Sarah, herself an example of community service with few equals,
obituary appears online.
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 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 http://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/
Available online and mailed to residents of the Campmeeting.
Mt. Gretna Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights residents. Contact
Michelle Shay, firstname.lastname@example.org
Updates for June
1st Friday Sidewalk
Chalk Contest for all ages
JUNE 1 - mid-month:
Artist Lou Schellenberg's exhibit of new work (large
oils and watercolors) continues at Lynden Gallery,
SUNDAY, JUNE 1:Fitness Hike. Governor Dick Park. 8 am.
Bluegrass and Appalachian-style Music on the Porch with jam leader Patsy
Kline. Bring an instrument or sing along. Governor
Dick Park, 1 - 4 pm on first Sundays through September.
FRIDAYS, JUNE 6 - 27:
"God Speaks to Us Through . . ." an ecumenical series at the Tabernacle.
Preachers from four different churches share their views on how God
speaks through "Nature," "Adversity and Suffering,"
"the Sacraments" and "His Word."
Services each Friday start at 7 pm.
FRIDAY JUNE 6:
First Friday. Art walk throughout Mt. Gretna with music,
wine and cheese and artwork on
display at studios, galleries, restaurants, shops and offices in a
place where nearly everybody is an artist in fact or in spirit. Click here for a
locator map. Generally from 6 to 8 pm, with dinners until 9 pm at the
Timbers and Hideaway. Click here for descriptions of the art
and artists in tonight's art walk.
Neighborhood Pot Luck Picnic (bring a dish to share) at
the Hall of Philosophy to officially open the Chautauqua Summer, 6:30
pm. Speaker at 7:30 pm will be Harvard honors graduate Dr. Bonnie Snyder, author
of The New College Realty.
SUNDAY, JUNE 8:
Fundraiser at the Hall of Philosophy for a 13-year-old Cedar
Crest student facing a rare surgery, with Jigger Shop sundaes, music
and a silent auction organized by Le Sorelle
Cafe's Cari Eberly, 3 pm.
FRIDAY, JUNE 13:
Writers' Series opens with Jason Fagone,
author of Ingenious A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring,
and the Race to Revive America at the Hall of Philosophy, 7:30 pm.
Click here for other details, straight from
series creator Bill Gifford.
Toddlers in Tow. A short walk in the Governor Dick woods for
ages 1 to 5 to learn about the forest and its residents. No strollers.
SATURDAY, JUNE 14:
Invasive Invaders. Learn to fight against unwanted plants.
Governor Dick Park, 10 am.
SUNDAY, JUNE 15:
Andy Roberts and the Four-Piece Quartet at the
Tabernacle, 7 pm
MONDAY, JUNE 16:
Big Junk Day.
Officially it's on Monday, but everybody knows the fun starts on
Friday. It's the Great Scavenger Hunt. Chautauqua folks set large item
discards by the curb over the weekend. When pickup crews arrive on
Monday, there's scarcely anything left.
Don't forget to stop by Thatcher Bornman's
place, 108 Lancaster Ave. around 6 pm on Sunday.
Now in its 10th year, it's Thatch's idea of a blowout hot dog party
with all the trimmings, offered fr*ee to all scavengers. Like nothing you've ever seen
TUESDAY, JUNE 17:
"Bethlehem Steel Mining," the featured topic
at Friends of Cornwall Iron Furnace annual
dinner at Tony's Mining Company, 6:30 pm.
SATURDAY, JUNE 21:
Dog Day of Summer. Make an imprint of Rover's paw, then go on the Sniff Trail at Governor Dick Park.
Bring a can or bag of dog food tor the Humane Society. 8 am - 1 pm.
SUNDAY, JUNE 22:
Tenth Anniversary party for the Mt. Gretna Area
Historical Society at the Timbers, 4 pm. (Reservations by June 10; click here for
Learn map and compass skills. Find treasures in the
Governor Dick Park woods. 1:30 pm.
Brandywine Harp Orchestra, Tabernacle, 7 pm
FRIDAY, JUNE 27:
Playing 'Possum. Learn about this sometimes misunderstood
creature in Governor Dick Park. 6:30 pm
SATURDAY, JUNE 28:
Mt. Gretna Day at the firehall,
just like in years gone by. Dunking booth dips for the Mayor, Mt.
Gretna's Postmaster, and other notables. Fun for all, with hot dogs and
hamburgers, games and prizes.
SUNDAY, JUNE 29:
New Holland Band, Tabernacle, 7 pm
AND KEEP IN MIND:
TUESDAY, JULY 1:
The Canadian Brass makes their Playhouse debut in a Music at Gretna concert likely to be the season's
top sellout. 7:30 pm.
Stuff we couldn't cram into this month's
calendar but "don't miss" items for July: CLICK HERE.
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