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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 153                                                                                                       August 1, 2014

From the moment it landed in her viewfinder, photographer Jane Mourer may have felt only that she had captured yet another essential of this almost-perfect Mt. Gretna summer. Yet others found in this exquisite photo a reminder: That which is worth going after demands focus, persistence and a conviction that it is truly worth the effort --- and the risk. The story continues....

The view from Mt. Gretna

    It may be one of the head-scratchingest puzzles Mt. Gretna has faced. Yet, in a community where nearly everbody's an artist of one sort or another, the question is whether to create a residence for students hoping to become accomplished artists. 
   From that straightforward proposition flows a stream of balanced concerns, all focused on what's best for Mt. Gretna, a place where change has evolved slowly, even grudgingly, over the past century. Many feel that quality, in and of itself, strengthens its hold in a world where too much may be changing too fast.
   What lies before the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, one of a handful of surviving Chautauquas in America, is a tantalizing offer: A dollar-for-dollar match towards a large share of the amount needed to convert a cottage that has lain vacant for nearly two years into a residence and artist work space for the Mt. Gretna School of Art. The 501(c)3 not-for-profit institution, now in its second successful year, is modeled after one at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State. 
   At both the New York and Pennsylvania Chautauquas, the schools operate for only six or seven weeks each summer. The school in New York gets so many applicants each year it can only accept about half of them. It has encouraged some students it cannot accept to consider the concentrated studies now available at the Pennsylvania Chautauqua. Both schools draw faculty, instructors and critics from some of the world's leading art academies.
   In Mt. Gretna, nearly everyone seems to favor having an art school take root and grow on the grounds of the historic Chautauqua. Yet some eye warily an exception to the deed that would allow students to live in a cottage that has undergone substantial changes over recent years.
   That cottage bears only faint resemblance to the way it looked in the 1940s (inset, right), when Scott Zellers' grandparents lived there. Later it came to be the home of John Wentzler and his family, including daughter Rosemary Milgate, who, like Scott, still lives in Mt. Gretna. Her late father was instrumental in founding the Mt. Gretna Art Show 40 year ago.
   Successive remodelings (inset, left) have done little to heighten its appeal. At an auction held two years ago, few bidders reportedly raised their hands. In Mt. Gretna, nothing is sadder than a cottage that nobody wants.
   Yet along comes the Mt. Gretna School of Art with plans to bring the vacant building up to code specifications for use as a residence hall for eight art students and two supervisors in the summer and a rental property for one family in the winter, likely the family of a college professor or another professional. All under the watchful eye of a "use committee" made up of school officials and representatives of the Chautauqua Board of Managers.
   The aim would be to make sure its occupants adhere to the standards and quiet traditions of Chautauqua residential life. All this is fine with the School's officials, who include board members Lou Schellenberg and Jennifer Veser Besse, themselves college faculty members and Mt. Gretnans of long standing.
   What remains a sticking point are concerns that a second exception to a deed restriction in Mt. Gretna Borough (the first was for a museum in a former Chautauqua cottage now owned by the Historical Society) may invite unwanted subsequent intrusions. In a setting where deed restrictions rather than zoning ordinances apply, the danger is real according to some. Chautauqua president John Feather says that although the Board of Managers is unanimous in its support of the art school, "the question is whether to approve a housing facility for students. That proposal is what tests the deed restrictions."
   Buffering such concerns, say others, is a provision that would dissolve this deed waiver if the property changes hands. Thus it would be impossible for the art school's residence hall to morph into a hotel, inn or other commercial venture without approval of the Chautauqua. When a new buyer takes ownership, the deed would revert to its original restraints.
   Amid such mixed signals, caution is warranted. Those with lingering doubts are right to raise questions. Good intentions for any new endeavor, art schools included, can often go awry.
   What all might find reassuring, however, are the school's planned use of resident assistants to enforce housing rules, its commitment to continue payment of Chautauqua Association fees, and a recent addition to its board of Elizabeth Hummer, a Chautauqua resident who is now restoring the nearby historic Muhlenberg Avenue home formerly owned by the late Mt. Gretna historian Jack Bitner and his wife.
   As a 501(c)3, the school would normally not be expected to pay property taxes. Yet, since its planned winter-season rentals could affect that tax-exempt status, the art school's officials included a provision for tax payments in their initial budget while the matter is resolved. Director Jay Noble says they found it "prudent to include taxes in the preliminary budget" to underscore the viability of their plan.
   In response to a question from this newsletter, a spokesman for the foundation offering the funding match said they have been "thrilled by the school's progress to date and they are delighted supporters in a dollar-for-dollar match program of up to $135,000 of funds raised to acquire and repair the building."
   The statement made clear, however that the foundation would "only deliver such funds if and when the board and the rest of the community of supporters are willing themselves to dig deeply enough into their pockets to fund the other half."
  Thus the question of whether Chautauqua stockholders will vote to allow an exception to the deed remains unanswered. In such periods, the lessons of history and business experience are often useful.
  In cities where non-profit art schools have been successfully launched, their uplifting effect has been striking. Lancaster and York, Pa. are two local examples of revival and restoration sparked by resident art schools. So is Savannah, Ga., where the Savannah  College of Art and Design ignited a transformation of abandoned townhouses into the region's most eagerly sought properties.
  "No decision is right or wrong when you make it," said Jim Binns, a friend of the arts who also became president of the Armstrong Cork Company. "You have to make it right."
   The deciders will make their choice at a delayed stockholders meeting this month. If their concerns are eased and supporters dig deeply enough into their pockets to shoulder their share of the funding requirement, the path toward a goal that everyone seems to want may brighten and good things could follow: Among them, a youthful spark injected into the life of an aging demographic, world-renowned art teachers discovering Mt. Gretna as a place to teach, learn and help young artists grow, and a giant boost for not only a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in the U.S. but also on the list of healthy and vibrant Chautauquas in America still confident of their future.



The annual tour of homes

For Mt. Gretna's visitors this month, an
intriguing lineup of homes, cottages and history

   One of the most looked-forward-to events in Mt. Gretna, it's now in its 30th year with a lineup of homes that includes some that have seldom been open to the public.
   Held on the first Saturday in August every year, few events are more popular among visitors from throughout Central Pennsylvania.
    As a key fundraiser for Music at Gretna, the annual tour of homes welcomes patrons to selected Mt. Gretna homes, gardens and historic buildings with a cordial invitation to explore them at their own pace.
   This year's tour will be held from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday, Aug. 2.
   Tickets ($20 in advance, $25 day-of) are available at all Stauffers of Kissel Hill Markets , Brownstone Real Estate, Gretna Emporium, Leitzel's Jewelry, Allen Theatre, online at or by calling Gretna Music at 361-1508.
   Condensed previews of homes and gardens on this year's tour appear below. For complete details,
click here.

The Hahnemanian an authentic glimpse of what the first Mt. Gretnans saw more than a century ago? This cottage looks almost exactly the way it did in 1892. The siding is distinctively "Gretna Green," popular in the days when Lois Hopkins' grandfather, a doctor, had it built 115 years ago. It has remained in the family since then. No cottage in Mt. Gretna has been owned by the same family for as long -- a distinction that "The Hahnemanian" is likely to keep.

Before and After

   Imagination is what it takes to appreciate this house built 1900 and mercifully never 'improved' to the point of destroying its original soul. Owners Bob and Tammy Travitz have it in abundance. Within days of their purchase in early July they hired carpenters, designers, and furnishers, canvassed antique malls and the annual "large item" pickups, and thought of ways to make this old house livable and comfortable but still original.
   Naming it "While We're at It," they planned to add bathrooms, new kitchen appliances, and an outdoor shower while keeping most of the colorful "oil cloth" on the floors, ancient panel doors, diamond dormer windows, hooks on walls, head-level bead-board partitions between bedrooms, and several old cabinets. If they haven't finished before this year's visitors arrive, they hope they'll return next year to see the results.

Keystone Cottage    Nestled off of Brown Avenue on a large wooded lot is a private treasure with clapboard siding, cheery red trim, and bright wraparound porch. 
   Built in 1911, it boasts a brownstone path leading to a brownstone terrace.  The entire interior is wood panel.    
   Likely, the cottage name derives from the massive keystone that centers the fireplace arch.  The downstairs contains a living room, dining room, kitchen, pantry, and lavatory.
  The second floor is comprised of three bedrooms, the coveted sun room, and a full bath.  This is a truly authentic Mt. Gretna cottage.

Veni, Vidi, Vixi

   Following difficult move from California, Palmyra native Chris Hanna scoured Mt. Gretna for a diamond in the rough. "I was just drawn to this house somehow, so I had the carpets pulled up to reveal chestnut floors, a wonderful porch, and irreplaceable wooden walls. I was smitten."
   After a long renovation through the brutal winter, it was clear that "this was a gem just waiting for someone to restore it to a well-loved place...which it now truly is," she says. The home was made for entertaining with a large deck to the side, a spacious kitchen, and a porch complete with lights and the requisite paper lanterns.

Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society

   Workers lifted this cottage 12 feet into the air a decade ago and carved out space for a basement archive and fireproof cement vault. 
   If it now looks like simply another cottage in Mt. Gretna, those who restored it will consider their labors a success. Among its most important roles is helping modern-day owners who plan to restore their cottages. The museum also houses audio and video histories -- recorded in the voices of Mt. Gretnans who helped shape the area's history.

Wonder in the Woods in 1950, this cottage abuts an enchanted pond in Mt. Gretna Heights.  Its outdoor space rivals the indoor with an impressive collection of antique horses and a sunny addition at the converted sun porch.
   As visitors roam through the flourishing outdoor space, they encounter hostas, each gradually larger with every turn until they reach the lush green backyard.  Taking a few steps more, they find themselves in the midst of a meticulously arranged teddy bear garden, looked over by a large mama bear.  The owners have built a wonder in the woods.

Mt. Gretna Heights Community Building
It is the central hub of Mt. Gretna Heights, a neighborhood built in the 1920s and 1930s that has become a haven for artists, writers, musicians and others. For over 70 years, this cozy building has been the setting for weddings and receptions, birthday and retirement parties, classes in watercolor painting and cooking with herbs, book reviews, flower arranging, dance instruction as well as wellness, yoga and tai chi.
   It is also a place where neighbors gather for social occasions and meetings. Beneath the vaulted ceiling is a huge fireplace, built with stones taken from the five-story Conewago Hotel following its demolition in 1940.

English Country Cottage

   In a well-hidden enclave of Mt. Gretna, there is an English Cottage with sweeping gardens, a fountain, charming window boxing spilling over with flowers and plants, and a delightfully layered interior.  In keeping with its English cottage theme, the upper floor is authentically and exquisitely appointed.  Arched windows and doors lead visitors through rooms filled with heirlooms and art.  A honey-colored bead board and black granite kitchen leads onto a deck overlooking the woods and expansive lawn.  The downstairs, however, is all Mt. Gretna with Flat Rock tables and chairs, and an enormous fireplace of local stacked stone.  It is a space simply created for Mt. Gretna entertaining.

Serenity House its name suggests, the home exudes an undeniable serenity and calm. After a greeting conveyed by its sweet pink porch, this Campmeeting Cottage transports visitors into another era. It is meticulously archived in 1940 to 1950s furnishings and fittings. 
   Upon entering, guests find themselves in a tidy sitting room before entering a spectacularly scaled kitchen. Spacious and quite warm,  it as if one might have stepped into the past, yet while retaining a slightly modern sensibility.  Each item in this large kitchen has been painstakingly collected over the years. It is an impressive assembly of period pieces in a worthy setting.

Chautauqua Hall of Philosophy

   This is the heart of a community that strives to live up to its mission: "Advancement of literary, scientific, intellectual, physical, and social welfare and the promotion of cultural and religious activities, recreation and entertainment." Plans for the building began in 1908.  Its exterior, inspired by classic Greek architecture, has remained unchanged since it was erected, although minor interior alterations have been made.
   Tour visitors will find snacks, baked goods, drinks and light lunch items available from 11 am until 2 pm.

The Anne Hark Cottage

It's hard not to feel the spirit of Anne Hark, a Ladies Home Jo writer of the flapper era, as one strolls down the stairs to her beloved Mt. Gretna get-away.
    A verdant walk leads to a view of Lake Conewago. The cottage is just what one would expect, filled with books, a completely reconstructed fireplace, a darling loft, and kitchen, all lovingly restored. The porch was made for reading and musing.  There is a coziness, peace, and flow to this little place that belies the spunk of Ms. Hark, known for her forward thinking and fearlessness.  This is a rare historic cottage.

JB's Old House

   Built in 1974, this home was featured in Better Homes and Gardens, and it is obvious why.  Not your typical Mt. Gretna cottage, it exudes a slightly more contemporary gracious living style.  The kitchen is warm and graceful with cherry cabinets, Brazilian cherry floors, and luxurious granite counter tops. 
   On the second floor is a bright, sunny office and art loft with a view of the gorgeous outdoor space.  This property is very private although it is on a street with many other homes.
  One of the best features is the view from the dining room of the mossy woods and gardens...magical.


   "One of the best porches in Mt. Gretna because you visit without intruding." says owner Bob Wilson.
   Adorned with lights, paper lanterns, and Adirondack furniture, it would be hard to argue.  The friendly, expansive porch has hosted 44 guests.  Skylights usher in those precious moments of light. 
   From the street, brownstone stairs lead to a brownstone wall and backyard garden. Carefully tended by Linda Wilson, it showcases the best of the flora and fauna that this shady region can nurture.

Emi's Garden

   It is a coooperative effort: Emi Snavely brings home trees and plants, retired horticulturalist Don Snively then plants, rearranges and prunes them, and husband Carl Ellenberger has added a tree grown from the rare chestnuts he discovered during daily walks to the post office.
  "I didn't know what to do with the bog" behind the garage, says Ms. Snavely. But her years of real estate experience have honed a fine instinct for seeing possibilities.   
   That's also true for Carl, a retired physician who turned small gatherings of fellow musicians 39 years ago into what became
Music at Gretna.
    Among the plants she has chosen are colorful outsized astilbes (that now dominate), hostas, a "butterfly bush," a curly willow tree and ornamental pine.
   Also abounding are rhododendrons and azaleas, which turned up on their own. Says Ms. Snavely, "Whatever comes in from the forest that's natural, I leave alone."

Proceeds from ticket sales benefit Music at Gretna, one of America's premiere music festivals.



A 40-year-old tradition that thrives on art,  families, food and a trim style of management.

   Newspaper reporters who routinely ask art show director Linda Bell, "What's new this year?" probably ought to take a different tack this year, on the occasion of the show's 40th anniversary.

  A better question might be, "What accounts for the show's enduring success?"

  Her answer would include a string of decisions ushered in almost imperceptibly over the years: Rotate the judges panels each year to encourage fresh tastes and perspectives. Make the food as good as the art. Add attractions to encourage attendance by young families and their children. 

     As the show enters its fourth decade, the focus on youth has received top priority.  

    "Look around at the art show. The vendors. The exhibitors. We're all getting older," says Ms. Bell. "Who is going to step into our shoes?"  

   Her emphasis on young visitors in 2014 will be most evident at the Chautauqua Playground, where the Children's Art Show typically took place on a Saturday. This year, under the direction of Gretna Emporium owner Stacy Pennington, it is expanding to also include Sunday, with loads of things for children to do. Youngsters will also be performers as musicians and coordinators of crafts and games; (Ms. Pennington [717-813-5935] says she needs more musicians). Also lined up is a 15-year-old juggler who will appear both at the playground and as a street performer throughout the art show grounds.

   For youngsters, there will also be a Playhouse presentation by Gretna Theatre (included in the gate admission fee) with Clifford the Big Red Dog of storybook fame leading the audience to the playground for a reading of the Clifford storybook.

   The lineup at the show's popular food court this year includes a specialist in Mediterranean foods from the Urban Olive in Lancaster.

Deft touches for 16,000 guests... especially young families and their children.

   Also will be expanded breakfast and lunchtime buffets. For years the art show breakfast was a fundraiser for the former Mt. Gretna Men's Club (whose members recently voted to change its name to

the Mt. Gretna Tennis Club); they also opted to discontinue their art show breakfast. Ms. Bell, knowing that show visitors typically expect to find breakfast available at the Hall of Philosophy, asked Chef-on-the-Go Becky Briody if she might be interested. "Yes," said Ms. Briody, one of Mt. Gretna's busiest caterers. Her team will be serving breakfast and lunch buffets from 7 am into late afternoon. 

  Despite the hurly-burly of art show preparations, Ms. Bell (inset) unfailingly carries out her duties as art show director with the calm, deft touch of a gracious hostess preparing a candlelit dinner for six.

   Unfazed by the prospect of having perhaps 16,000 guests come through the admission gates, she has so far this year held only four meetings to prepare for the giant event: Emergency management, Traffic Control, and Admissions, with a rare fourth session to orient those who will be taking over Booth Sitting assignments for their first time (see story below).

   Now in her 18th year as show director, she runs things with an assured confidence that good people, even if they're volunteers, do not need to be micromanaged.

    "They have the intelligence, skills, and knowledge to handle things on their own. Nobody wants to volunteer to do a job and then be told how to do it," she says.

   As the famed consultant Peter Drucker once observed, "Much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work." Ms. Bell's management style is one that many probably wish bosses everywhere would adopt.



    Where actors were concerned, legendary Mt. Gretna Theatre director Charles Coghlan was a demanding taskmaster. Once, even as a spectator, he stopped play in the middle of its Philadelphia performance to shout from the audience, "I cannot hear you. The acoustics in this theater are perfect. Will you please proJECT."
   No wonder actors from Hollywood and New York wanted to come for a Mt. Gretna Straw Hat summer experience during the years from 1945 to 1958, says his stepson Jack Graham (inset, right) who recounted "The Coghlan Years" at the Chautauqua Summer Programs series last month. Such tales revived memories for friends like Dr. David Bronstein (inset, left), a key theater supporter and fund-raiser inspired by Coghlan's energizing example.
   Coghlan produced 385 plays in his lifetime, 225 of them at Mt. Gretna, where he seldom repeated the same plays (except Tillie, a Mennonite Maid) and kept the cast busy all season, practicing next week's play in the morning and performing the current week's play at night.
  "He felt the play had to stand on its own. It was not necessary to get celebrities to gain an audience if you get good productions," says Mr. Graham. Coghlan lived by that standard. Not even Charlton Heston was known when Coghlan hired him. That not-always-happy Mt. Gretna experience, Heston grudgingly admitted later, helped him grow as an actor. 
   Several readers asked about those multi-colored markings that mysteriously appeared last month on the roadways in and around Mt. Gretna. They're part of the 2014 Chocolate Tour, says organizer Gavin Robertson, who heads the PennState Hershey Medical Center's Melanoma C

   Cyclists will be riding Saturday, Aug. 9 along routes that lead to the Pennsylvania chocolate centers of Hershey, Elizabethtown and Lititz. 

   Mt. Gretna is a part of the circuit for those who signed up for rides that extend up Pinch Road and over the mountain into Lancaster County.
   This is the fourth such event in recent years, and Dr. Robertson expects we'll see about 400 cyclists making their way down Route 117 starting around 8:30 am. They'll be riding, not racing, however, so the pace should be leisurely.  The four different colors designate four different circuits, laid out in 25-, 50-, 75- or 100-mile routes.
   It's a ride for a cause," he says. Funds go to melanoma research.
   The cyclists can make rest stops in many of the towns they'll pass through. Hosts in local communities can add treats their area is best known for.  In the case of Mt. Gretna it will be sticky buns, served at the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church.
   "Yours is a beautiful community and we're lucky to be able to include it in our tour," says Dr. Robertson, a professor of pharmacology, pathology, dermatology, and surgery. The PennState Hershey Center treats melanoma, a leading cause of death.

   Sightings Dept.: Mt. Gretna Nursery School coordinator Joanne Gingrich (wife of Mt. Gretna's assistant postmaster Bob Gingrich) was scurrying about town last week, posting help wanted notices.  Now open at her bustling little school located inside the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church is a position for a nursery school teacher and aide. Ms. Gingrich is eager to fill the position and invites those interested to contact her (964-2218).



 A trumpeter who's traveled the world pinpoints the differences that live music. . . and Mt. Gretna make 

   Ask 100 Mt. Gretnans where is Cabin Point and you'll be lucky to find two who know how to get there.
    As a litmus test for dyed-in-the-wool Mt. Gretnans, it may be one of the best.
   Therefore the last person you'd expect to know the answer would be a virtuoso trumpeter who has made eight European concert tours with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.
   He will appear at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse this month with Gretna Music's Russian Festival Chamber Orchestra.
Eric Schweingruber grew up in Cabin Point, the son of Jerry and Judy Uhler Schweingruber who still live there. He also rode the school bus to Cedar Crest High with friends like Jigger Shop owner Drew Allwein and took his first trumpet lesson from his uncle, Rodney Miller, the former Timbers Dinner Theatre music director and one of the most beloved music teachers in Lebanon before his unexpected death several years ago.

A link to Mt.Gretna and his audience.

He also gained an appreciation of music from his grandfather, Bill Uhler, the noted Mt. Gretna Heights photographer who rescued a theater organ, learned to play it, then accompanied the silent movies he showed to his neighbors.
   Although a stellar professional career has taken him far from Cabin Point, Mr. Schweingruber (who also directs the Temple University department of instrumental studies) has never lost his feel for Mt. Gretna or the "undeniable" link between musicians and their audiences.
    "Live music will always have a place in our lives," he says. "It speaks directly to the human spirit. It's part of our human expression, a part of our soul."
     He believes that anyone who has experienced live music knows "there is a tactile difference. You can feel energy in the music that is different from hearing a recording."
   He compares recorded vs. live music to the difference that which one experiences with works of art. "You can appreciate an awful lot of a painting by seeing a great reproduction in a magazine, but there is a sense of being there live with the painting and seeing the depth of the technique. When you hear a piece of music live, there are always things you're going to hear and sense that you cannot experience with a recording."
    Mr. Schweingruber also detects subtle but important interactions not only among performers but also with members of the audience. "There's an energy and inspiration from the audience," he says.
   Does that make musicians perform better in the presence of an audience? "I think a lot of them would say they go about it a little differently," he says.
   "In a smaller audience, you can almost imagine connecting with individuals a little bit more than when you are in a really large venue. The performers are not going to take their eyes off their colleagues, but that does not mean they are closed to the energy in the room. It's a very subtle thing.
   "Music at Gretna has that venue," he says. "It has a unique atmosphere, an extension of Mt. Gretna that is relaxed, off the beaten path and pleasantly civil.
   "It may be oversimplifying it," he adds, "but it is almost a calm gentleness. Yet it still has a very positive energy to it." His world travels with the Philadelphia Orchestra have  given him an appreciation for Mt. Gretna's unique charm.
    He will appear with the Russian Festival Chamber Orchestra, Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse.  A pre-concert talk begins at 6:30 pm. The concert, including performances of works by Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky, begins at 7:30.  Tickets are available



   Nobody knows how or when Cabin Point got its name, but the intersection where Butler and Mine roads converge north of Mt. Gretna is where John E. Wengert, president of Wengert's Dairy, pounded a directional sign into the ground about 35 years ago. The sign said "Welcome to Cabin Point." 
   Mr. Wengert affixed directional arrows pointing to nearby destinations but they proved so popular people kept taking them home as souvenirs. Ultimately, all that remained was a post with a "Cabin Point" sign at the top.
   Shortly after Mr. Wengert died at age 79 in February 2013, his widow, Marie Bowman Wengert, received an unexpected note in the mail from a nearby resident who said they had always loved the sign and wanted to restore it, complete with directional arrows, in her husband's memory.
   So far, says his son John B. Wengert, founder of the universally admired Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails, nobody has touched the new directional arrows.
   He says his dad loved the point and had no plans for developing its surrounding land, which lies on a hillside beneath the 1,000-ft. WLYH tower atop Television Hill.
   "My parents were interested in seeing Cabin Point remain pristine and unspoiled," he said. "That is still true today." 



A peek into a secret formula of the
Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show

    Among the reasons some 285 artists itch to get back to the Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show every year is the "down home" touch its warmly appreciated Booth Sitting service provides.
      Not every art show in America has folks who offer to stand by for a few minutes while the exhibiting artist takes a break. One artist who came from Connecticut several years ago said she'd rarely seen anything like it. "We usually have to fend for ourselves," she said. "So it's nice to have someone come by and offer to sit at our stand while we take a short break."
    The booth sitter tradition started 31 years ago, says former chairman Karl Gettle. When professional vendors took over the food service stations, he asked members of the Ladies Auxiliary to switch from spaghetti dinners and selling hot dogs to clearing tables and booth sitting instead.
   In exchange, the ladies earned money for the Playground, their favorite project.

Renee Krizan shares a booth break bonus with artist Fred Swarr (file photo by Earl Lennington). 


     Barb Kleinfelter now coordinates the two-hour Booth Sitting assignments and invites volunteers to sign up by leaving their name and number at 964-5119.
   Sitters don't have to make sales or handle money. They simply roam through an assigned area and offer to provide brief breaks for rest or refreshments while the two-day show is in progress.
     Home-spun touches are appreciated, says Stacey Margut, who's handled the assignment before. Although it's not required, she once dashed off to her nearby cottage and returned with ham and green beans fresh from a steaming crock pot. (She uses an old-fashioned recipe, one from her Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook that calls for ham hocks, potatoes and fresh green beans simmered overnight.) "They couldn't stop talking about that, and I made lifetime friends," she says.
   Such flourishes aren't expected, but they're nevertheless part of the lore. Former booth sitters John and Peg Smith struck up a relationship with artist Peg Winters that has lasted for years. When they celebrated their 50th anniversary a few years ago, Ms. Winters gave them a picture she had painted of their cottage.  Other booth sitters regularly invite artists who have become good friends over to their porch for dinner, says Mr. Gettle.
   One young lady who spends summers in the Campmeeting volunteered for a booth-sitting assignment a few years ago and was also smitten. "After getting a taste of it, she said, 'call me anytime' and now volunteers for both days of the show. She hopes to be part of the Emerging Artists show someday," says Ms. Margut.
    Booth sitters have become a part of what's unique about the Mt. Gretna Art Show, says Ms. Kleinfelter. "Through their helpful offers, they form links to friendships that artists say they're unlikely to experience elsewhere. A distinctly Mt. Gretna touch," she says.
   Note: If you would like to join the Booth Sitter volunteers for a two-hour shift this year, leave your name and phone number at 964-5119. Sitters receive complimentary tickets.  



    Dr. Carl Ellenberger, founder of Music at Gretna, writes a lively blog that's on our highly recommended list. tribute he wrote nearly two years ago to the late Ted Kramers, a former Mt. Gretna Heights neighbor, brought an unexpected phone call last month from Alex Ross, The New Yorker music critic who is to the world of music what Hall of Fame writer Roger Angell is to the world of baseball.

   Mr. Ross was following up on a reader's question about a time in the closing days of World War II when an American soldier knocked at the door of composer Richard Strauss in an Alpine resort in Bavaria and ordered him to vacate his home. The Army wanted to use it as a temporary headquarters for the 103rd Infantry Division.

   That soldier was acting on orders from none other than Major Ted Kramers.

   The renowned composer invited the soldiers into his home for a serving of food and later played excerpts from "Rosenkavalier" at the piano. 

   Major Kramers, appreciative of the hospitality and "a broadly cultured individual" in the words of Dr. Ellenberger, nevertheless insisted that the order be carried out. The Strauss family left their home, but only temporarily. A few hours later, Major Kramer's unit was ordered to push ahead to another site.

   As the New Yorker critic writes, "Strauss may not have entirely succeeded in charming the Americans into letting him keep his house; rather, he was saved by the rapid movement of the 103rd."   

   "An Edification Vacation," says The New York Times, in its
lively description last month of summer programs at The Chautauqua Institution in New York. Founded in 1874, it was "an experiment in enlightened vacation learning" says the Times. It gave rise through the mid-1920s to over 200 Chautauqua communities throughout the United States. Only 17 survive, including, of course, the Pennsylvania Chautauqua in Mt. Gretna.


    For people who like words, nothing's better than A Word A Day, written by Anu Garg.  His online posts about the meanings, origins and subtle shadings of words are a daily tonic for the brain.

   Read in over 200 countries, Anu's website came to mind last month when the theme was toponyms (words derived from names of places) and a featured word was "Gretna Green"  which means a "A place where couples elope to get married."

   Our thanks to Music at Gretna board member, composer and classical guitarist Allen Krantz, who spotted this entry at his Philadelphia home and alerted friends here. 



From 75 feet aloft, he popped the

A bad day in a tree tops the best day in an office.

question and she said. . .   

   He's not the only tree trimmer around, but he's one of Mt. Gretna's favorites.
   About 70% of Bryan Weaver's regular customers at
Climb High Tree Service are located in Mt. Gretna, loved as much for its trees as for its culture, ice cream and sticky buns.
    If you're in the business of trimming trees, Mt. Gretna is a good place to be. Better, in fact, than any job indoors, which Mr. Weaver simply hates.
    Outdoors is also, he found, a good place to propose marriage.     
  Readers may remember he did just that two years ago 75 feet aloft in a tree.
  He had invited Julie Noll, a 28-year-old elementary school teacher he had met on

A ring and a question up in a tree. to join him on a weekend climbing expedition to the top

of a tall Eastern Pine near the Rail-Trail spur into Mt. Gretna.
   Tucked in its branches were a sign and a ring, with two smaller signs attached: "Yes" or "No." Guess which one Julie chose?

Two years later, Bryan and his CFO

  They were married a few months later.
    She now teaches middle and high school science at New Covenant Christian School in the winter. But in the summer, Julie helps Bryan run the business and keeps the books.
   "Bryan calls me his CFO," she says. "But he means Chief Female Objector."
   Yet if she objects to anything, it's usually out of concern for her husband's safety. She sometimes accompanies him to job sites, where climbing and cutting down trees is one of the riskiest jobs around. Although Bryan (like Julie, a Penn State grad) has been doing it 16 years, from the ground she keeps a watchful eye.
   "Are you alright?" she called out from below last month. As he cut off a huge branch and it fell to the ground, the trunk with Bryan attached swung wildly in the air. "Yeah," he reassured her from 60 feet up, his chain saw swaying from the back of his belt.
   "I declared that I would never marry a man who was self-employed like my father," she says. "Too many late nights and busy weekends. Your time is never your own.
   "So what did I do? I married a self-employed man," she says with a smile.








Thomas H. Honeychurch (1933-2014) 

   Close friends of Tom Honeychurch will remember him for his pioneering work as an early computer analyst in accounting applications, his role as a devoted husband and father, his service to his church, and his enjoyment of friends in the communities where he lived.

2011 photo

But to readers of this newsletter, he may best be remembered as the man who, in his retirement years, often walked the streets of Mt. Gretna with his wife Joanne and Bo, a former show dog that became perhaps the most faithful English Springer Spaniel any owner ever knew.
  Tom could neither explain nor begin to understand what made Bo want to carry a glove wherever he went. When he lost it for a brief time, however, Bo felt bereft of joy. That was all Tom needed to know.
   He and Joanne set about to find one just like it, which they did shortly before they moved from Timber Hills to their retirement home at Cornwall Manor.
  In addition to his wife, he is survived by children including Ginger Goudie, Karen Markey and Scott Honeychurch; four grandchildren and two great grandchildren and a sister Charlotte Skinner. 
  Services will be held at 10 am Saturday, Aug. 2 at Porterfield-Scheid Funeral Home in Lebanon. Memorial remembrances may be made to the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church or the Cornwall Manor Endowment Fund. An official obituary appears


Harold G. Engle, Jr. 1930-2014    Harold Engle, a retired Navy veteran of the Korean War who served as a chemist for more than 39 years at Hershey Foods, died last month at his family vacation home in the Campmeeting.
   He was a 1951 graduate of Lebanon Valley College and was preceded in death by his wife, Doris Hovis Engle. They had two children. A complete obituary appears


Elva J. Miller 1934-2014 

   Ellie Miller, who was born in the nearby community of Lawn and loved spending summers with her husband and family in Mt. Gretna, died last month the Penn State Hershey Cancer Center. She had lived most of her adult life in Madison, NJ with her husband of 58 years, James M. Miller. 

   She was a member of the Mt. Gretna Historical Society, and a memorial service in her honor will be held at the Hall of Philosophy on the afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 30. 

  A graduate of Hershey High School and an alumna of Elizabethtown College, she had been an executive in the banking industry. Her family also includes two sons, five grandchildren, one great-grandson and two sisters. She was predeceased by an infant daughter and a younger brother, according to her official obituary, which appears online





(Things that changed

since calendars were published, "don't miss" suggestions from our 

readers, and a few things that happened

to catch our eye.  

See also calendars listed below,)     
















































































































































Photos: Top right, The Reader by Carl Ellenberger; Center,

The Skater by Jane Mourer. Bottom right,   

Campmeeting Memorial

Garden by Jane Mourer 




Scenes from a Mt. Gretna Summer

Friday Aug. 1:

First Friday at art galleries, studios and  restaurants throughout Mt. Gretna. The walking tour begins around 5 pm and continues into the evening. Music, refreshments and "meet-the-artist" opportunities abound: local potter Ryan Fretz and mixed media artist Jandi Goshert at Penn Realty; visiting artists Robert Heilman and Steve Wetzel join resident artists at The Gallery at La Cigale. At the Timbers, new jewelry designs by Ruth Loose and Kate Dolan with Robert Heilman's new oil paintings and music by pianist Andy Roberts with vocalist Nicole Roberts.

"The Bacteria Within Us," a lecture by Dr. Carol Heilman, Hall of Philosophy, 7:30 pm

Applause, the Timbers 2014 Musical Revue continues its run through Aug.30.

Little Shop of Horrors continues Aug. 1 and 2 at the Playhouse, 7:30 pm (and 2 pm Saturday)

The Reader


Saturday, Aug. 2   

Mt. Gretna Tour of Homes, 10 am to 5 pm (Coffee available at Visitor Center from 9 am; homemade "Grab 'n Go' sandwiches on sale at the Hall of Philosophy, from 11 am.)

Handbell Festival, Tabernacle, 7 pm

Sunday, Aug. 3

The Wister Quartet (unofficial 'house quartet' of the Philadelphia Orchestra) continues Music at Gretna's summer salute to the music of Russia, a theme chosen by audiences in a poll last year. Music by Rachmanivov, Glazunov, Arensky and Paisiello (court composer to Catherine the Great). Playhouse, 7:30 pm

Monday, Aug. 4 - 12

The Cicada Festival. At deadline, the only show for which tickets were still available was the George Gee Swing Orchestra, Thursday, Aug. 7 at the Playhouse, 8 pm.

Wednesdays, Aug. 6 & 13

Wet'n'Wacky Wednesdays for kindergartners thru 6th grade. Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, 6:30-8 pm

Friday, Aug. 8
(small plates) to pair with beer tasting at Le Sorelle Porch and Pantry. Reserve by Aug. 5. Call 717-269-3876 or email:

The Capitol Steps at the Playhouse, 7:30 pm (check online for ticket availability)


CANCELLED: "History of the Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show" This program will be rescheduled in 2015.

Saturday, Aug. 9

The Writers Series, author Carl Hoffman talks about his book "Savage Harvest," Michael Rockefeller's tragic quest for primitive art. Hall of Philosophy, 10:30 am

High Tea and fashion accessories talk, Hall of Philosophy, 4 pm

Sunday, Aug. 10

Whisper Walk, a trek through Governor Dick Park to awaken your senses; for adults and children over 10.  2 pm.

Jazz session at the Timbers with Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz, 3:30 pm.

Tim Zimmerman and the King's Brass at the Tabernacle. (Special note: Local coordinator Ben Wiley needs overnight housing Aug. 10 for this group of eight men and one woman now on a national tour; email Concert begins at 7 pm.

Russian Festival Chamber Orchestra, Playhouse, 7:30 pm.

The Skater


Monday - Thursday, Aug. 11-14

RadKIDS camp for youngsters 7 to 10 offers safety education and physical resistance options to escape violence and build  self-esteem. Sponsored by Cornwall Police Dept. Call instructor Stephanie Burris, 274-2071 or email

Wednesday, Aug, 13

The Rise of the Superbugs, Dr. Jonathan Steckbeck, Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Hall of Philosophy, 7:30 pm

Saturday, Aug. 16-17

The Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show opens 9 am both days.

Explore! A habitat walk to identify the furred, feathered and scaled residents of Governor Dick Park. Saturday, 3 pm.

Cottage Illumination  A leisurely walk through the Campmeeting, now on the National Register of Historic Places, Saturday, 9 pm

The Susquehanna Chorale, Tabernacle, Sunday, 7 pm

Tuesday, Aug. 19

Art Show Volunteers Picnic, Hall of Philosophy, 6 pm

Thursday, Aug. 21-24

Always... Patsy Cline begins at the Playhouse,7:30 pm with 2 pm matinees Thursday and Sunday

Eton Churchill Memorial play reading series for Friday, Aug. 22 has been moved to the fire hall at 7:30 pm. Maureen Grape's play "Beyond Hot Chocolate" debuts at the Hall of Philosophy, Tuesday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 pm.

Hike to the Cardinal Flowers, led by Sid Hostetter and Evelyn Koppel, begins at Post Office, Saturday, Aug. 23, 10 am

Sunday, Aug. 24

The Art of Charcoaling. Collier Rick Brouse shows how charcoal was made for the Cornwall Furnace. Governor Dick Park,1:30 pm.

Friends of Ann Hark annual gathering. Topic will

Campmeeting Memorial Garden

be Ann's father, Max Hark, first Chancellor of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua. Tabernacle, 2 pm.

Friday, Aug. 29

Postcard Memorabilia Jim Paul,  Hall of Philosophy, 7:30 pm.

Saturday, Aug. 30

Closing night, a favorite for locals at the Timbers as "Applause" winds up its season-long run.

Sunday, Aug. 31

Momenta String Quartet a Gretna Music concert, Playhouse 8 pm


 ForFor additional information, see the Mt. Gretna Arts Council's calendars in both print (summer) and  online (year-round) versions. 

Also available by email is This Week in Mt. Gretna





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,   


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