The Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Mt. Gretna, PA "Not a place, but a spirit."
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
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 years 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
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,
intriguing lineup of homes, cottages and history
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
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,
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 gretnamusic.org
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.
Want 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.
Imagination is what it takes to appreciate this house built before 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.
Nestled off of Brown Avenue on a large wooded lot is a private treasure
with clapboard siding, cheery red trim, and bright wraparound
Built in 1911, it boasts a brownstone path leading to a
brownstone terrace. The entire interior is wood
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
Following a 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
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
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
in the Woods
Built 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.
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.
well-hidden enclave of Mt. Gretna, there is an English Country 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.
As 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.
Hall of Philosophy
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.
Anne Hark Cottage
It's hard not to
feel the spirit of Anne Hark, a Ladies Home Journal
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
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 can 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
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
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."
from ticket sales benefit Music at Gretna, one of America's premiere
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
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
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 a 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
"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 Center.
Cyclists will be riding Saturday, Aug. 9 along routes that lead to the
Pennsylvania chocolate centers of Hershey, Elizabethtown and
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
It's a ride for a cause," he says. Funds go to
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
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.
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
"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
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 online.
THE LEGEND OF CABIN POINT
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
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
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
A peek into a
secret formula of the
Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show
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.
shares a booth break bonus with artist Fred Swarr (file photo by Earl
Barb Kleinfelter now coordinates the two-hour Booth Sitting assignments
and invites volunteers to sign up by leaving their name and number at
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.
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
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.
soldier was acting on orders from none other than Major
renowned composer invited the soldiers into his home for a serving of
food and later played excerpts from "Rosenkavalier" at the
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.
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.
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
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."
thanks to Music at Gretna board member, composer and classical
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. . .
not the only tree trimmer around, but he's one of Mt. Gretna's
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
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.
Match.com 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?
later, Bryan and his CFO
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
"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.
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 online.
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 online.
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 at 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.
were published, "don't miss" suggestions from our
readers, and a
few things that happened
to catch our
See also calendars listed below,)
Photos: Top right, The Reader by Carl
The Skater by
Jane Mourer. Bottom right,
Garden by Jane
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
Little Shop of
Aug. 1 and 2 at the Playhouse, 7:30 pm (and 2 pm Saturday)
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
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
plates) to pair with beer tasting at Le Sorelle Porch and Pantry.
Reserve by Aug. 5. Call 717-269-3876 or email: email@example.com.
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 Ben@BenWiley.com.) Concert begins at 7
Chamber Orchestra, Playhouse,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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
gathering. Topic will
Campmeeting Memorial Garden
be Ann's father, Max Hark, first Chancellor of the Pennsylvania
Chautauqua. Tabernacle, 2 pm.
Friday, Aug. 29
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
Quartet a Gretna
Music concert, Playhouse 8 pm
For 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.
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
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
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.
Park Newsletter -- Online and by e-mail. See
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/.
Londonderry Township Newsletter -- of primary interest to Mt. Gretnans in Timber Hills,
Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge; online at http://southlondonderry.org/
Newsletter -- Available online and mailed to residents of the
Heights Newsletter -- e-mailed to Heights residents. Contact Michelle
The Mt. Gretna Newsletter
Constant Contact All-Star Award Winner 2010, 2011,
2012 & 2013