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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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


 No. 151                                                                                                                         June 2014


    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. Gretna snowbirds. 

   The trip 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 sea legs.  

   As a 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.  

   So this 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 Mt. Gretna.
   All that used to take a day. Now it takes a week, maybe two, before my wobbly sea legs recover.   

   No, it 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! 

  Just another way of saying it's good to be home. Among good friends and interesting people. 

  Roger Groce 

  P.S. Pay 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 information.

*Parkers, rated in the Charlotte Observer's Best Barbecue Spots.  In North Carolina, you don't run lists like that unless you know barbecue.  



    Usually she's 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 years ago.
   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.   Yes, that's 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, Summe Premiere founder Debbie Clemens (left) last month turned the affair over to her successor, Jaunine Fouché of Timber Hills.
  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 University.
   "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. Jack 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 himself.
  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.   This year, the volunteer firemen took a back seat to other volunteers who decided it was time to give the 

firefighters a rest. 

   That 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.

   The 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 expansion. 

  The addition 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. 
  An idea 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.'"
          The six-week 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 122-year history.

   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 the month.
   Meanwhile, Susan Hostetter will turn over to the Mt. Gretna Fire Company proceeds from the club's weekly Duplicate Bridge sessions, which will continue. Decorating 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 here.

    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 Caledonia,

Less is more for Sheryl Mellor

the 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.



Numbers 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 Reading.  

   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

in 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.

  820 competitors 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 life.
  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's porch sales last month soon after the 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.  

   Do hot 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 treasures.
   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), 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

   Margaret Byford, 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 emulate. 

  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, Jim's obituary appears online.




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,   



Updates for June   













1st Friday Sidewalk

Chalk Contest for all ages


Click here 

for details 



JUNE 1 - mid-month: 

Artist Lou Schellenberg's exhibit of new work (large oils and watercolors) continues at Lynden Gallery, Elizabethtown.

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.

., 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.


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. Reservations: 964-2384.


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.


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. 10 am.


Invasive Invaders. Learn to fight against unwanted plants. Governor Dick Park, 10 am.


Andy Roberts and the Four-Piece Quartet at the Tabernacle, 7 pm  


MONDAY, JUNE 16: 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 anywhere.  



"Bethlehem Steel Mining," the featured topic at Friends of Cornwall Iron Furnace annual dinner at Tony's Mining Company, 6:30 pm. 



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.  



Tenth Anniversary party for the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society at the Timbers, 4 pm. (Reservations by June 10; click here for details.)


Learn map and compass skills. Find treasures in the Governor Dick Park woods. 1:30 pm.  


Brandywine Harp Orchestra, Tabernacle, 7 pm 



Playing 'Possum. Learn about this sometimes misunderstood creature in Governor Dick Park. 6:30 pm  



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.    



New Holland Band, Tabernacle, 7 pm 




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 at   




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