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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

                 No. 156                                                                                       November 1, 2014                     


A question unanswered.

  "Whose woods these are I think I know," said the poet. But even Mt. Gretnans of long standing rarely had glimpsed anything like it. From across Route 117 opposite 1st Street in the Campmeeting emerged a scene that revealed precisely why the highway that makes its gently rolling way through Mt. Gretna was a top contender a few years ago as a Scenic Byway in  Pennsylvania. Though the idea received a cool reception from residents wary of greater influxes of tourists, the honor was duly noted.
  The delightful vista that cropped up along the roadway last month was the product of an almost perfect spring and summer, followed by a bounty of unexpected beauty. There to capture it was photographer and professional storyteller Jane Mourer, a Campmeeting resident with an eye for the unusual.
   A fall season more colorful than anyone could have expected? After a winter like the winter past, who could have hoped for, much less predicted, a palette like this?
   "The rains came just at the right time," says Mary Hernley, who ranks as Mt. Gretna's leading expert on how to grow beautiful things. Her laboratory comes with the highest of credentials. Her flower farm just to the south of Mt. Gretna was deeded to her family on a sheepskin signed by none other than William Penn himself. For more than half a century, Mary and her husband Peter have tended the farm that supplies her flower stand along Mt. Gretna's main thoroughfare.  
   More than a stand, it becomes a center of culture, conversations and weekend commerce from early spring until sometimes into November,  just so long as her flowers are ripe for cutting or for dried arrangements that will last all winter long.
   "I'll be back next year," she says, adding  a quiet "Lord willing" that passes almost unnoticed. Now the great-grandmother of five, one of whom she says is "already in Heaven," she, like Robert Frost, still has miles to go before she sleeps. Only three of her 19 grandchildren are married. She intends to keep cultivating flowers until all their weddings are done.
     The crowds gathering around her stand have diminished somewhat in recent weeks, but the summer has been a good one for flower sales. Regulars like architect Carol Hickey (inset, left) help keep Mary, a study in perpetual motion as she heads toward 80 next July, constantly busy.
    For many of those, like Carol, who remain in Mt. Gretna all year, autumn is often the most meaningful season.
   The days become suddenly quiet as the colors reach toward their most vivid peaks, their tone and textures by waves more beautiful in the days leading up to November.
   The escape of those who, as if by habit, rush to distant places leaves those left behind puzzled: "What's the hurry? Where are you  going to that is better than where you were?"  Such questions remain unanswered. Yet many find that as they get older, the less inclined they are to trade places with anyone, anywhere.
These pictures hint at why.
    Ssshhh. That is our secret.
    Sometimes we discover steps that lead to a home. Sometimes to a place of solitude amid nature. But always to somewhere a human heart has been, and the glow of a human spirit. It doesn't matter how many times you've walked through its streets. A stroll through Mt. Gretna always yields bountiful rewards. may think they know every inch of it. But turn the corner and they are surprised once again. A scene never noticed suddenly comes into view. A perspective that never before appeared. A window. A porch railing. A staircase.
   Time seems suspended. You know you are in a special place. further along and the scene changes.
   Also the feeling that comes as you walk past the homes and cottages of different neighborhoods.
   Each with its special treasures, part of a complex puzzle. Pieces that seem to fit together. Timeless and precious. A treasure reserved for those lucky enough to discover, understand and accord it its value.   -- Roger Groce

Mt. Gretna from the other side of the lake in mid-October: a view that guests at the Conewago might have seen a century ago from its third floor. Trees have since grown up over the spot where tennis courts once were, and by this time of year the 125-room hotel would have closed for the season. Even today, however, the view makes clear why they chose this site in 1909 for a grand hotel with "uniformed servants and chefs from New York," ballroom dancing and rooms available for $1.25 a night. When the Army moved to Ft. Indiantown Gap in the 1930s, the hotel was closed permanently and torn down a few years later. Yet what remains is another perspective, another vantage point from which to appreciate Mt. Gretna.
   The folks running the Mt. Gretna School of Art will need your help next summer.
   Most critical among their needs is housing for students. Ideally, they'd like to hear from people with cottages available during the six-week period from mid-June until the end of July. The idea would be to offer cottages at no charge to the 501(C)(3) school in exchange for tax credits.
  The school functions best when students share both housing and non-classroom experiences with fellow students under the same roof.
   Next best would be individual rooms in nearby private homes. (Meals would not necessarily have to be provided since the school will be scheduling group meals on most occasions.)
   Board member Jennifer Veser Besse, who grew up in Mt. Gretna, is helping coordinate the housing project.
   "At first I thought that it might be neat to have students live with families in the community," she says. "But now that I have seen the students interacting, I know that their living together allows them to live, breathe, eat, and dream art."
   She's working in close coordination with executive director Jay Noble (email Details are available online at

    Can't remember a time when there've been so many For Sale signs in Mt. Gretna? There's a reason, say realtors.
   While a surplus favors buyers and can stimulate sales, it tends to depress prices for those selling their homes.
   Realtor Joe Wentzel says that although peaks and valleys are a normal part of his business, "this is the longest valley I can remember."
  True, in part it's the lingering aftershock of that countywide reassessment three years ago, the first in 42 years. The readjustment sent taxes soaring 300 to 600% for many Mt. Gretna properties.
 Yet an even more important cause for the uptick in the number of homes for sale may be the reluctance among home sellers to adjust to the realities of today's real estate marketplace in Mt. Gretna.
    Realtor Fred Schaeffer notes there has been a rush in recent weeks among sellers to reduce their prices. "But it's too late," he says. Mt. Gretna's prime selling season is in spring.
   So far this year, only 24 houses have sold. Last year, in a bumper crop of homes sold that surprised even the experts, 38 homes changed hands. 
Mr. Schaeffer expects this year's total sales will probably wind up at 28 to 29 homes -- about on a par with the norms of six out of the last seven years.
   The lesson is a familiar one. In times when it is a buyer's market, sellers who hesitate will probably have to wait until next year. Adjusting to marketplace realities, whether in Mt. Gretna or on Wall Street, is probably the hardest lesson we humans have to learn.     Bill Gifford has an idea. "I saw you walking Winston along Rte. 117 recently, and it occurred to me that there should be a safe, pedestrian walkway along that side of the lake. Many people walk or jog around the lake as their daily exercise, and that section is downright dangerous."  
    It wouldn't be hard to clear a path along Chautauqua land on the south shore, he thinks. "The difficult part would be that short section where there's a guardrail," says the globe-trotting adventure writer who divides his time between Mt. Gretna and New York City.
   The answer would be some sort of bridge or boardwalk, just the other side of the guardrail."  It's an idea worth pursuing.

  It just co be the best news of the month, maybe the year for chocoholics. Dr. Jeff Hurst, who lives in the Campmeeting and has racked up a lifetime's worth of honors as a scientist at The Hershey Company, has just finished a study with his scientific colleagues that could prove helpful to Alzheimer's patients. 
   Naturally, he's not making any such claims for the study. He thoughtfully says any statements that "eating dark chocolate may ward off the onset of Alzheimer's" would have to come from a physician.
   From a biochemist's perspective, he cautiously allows only that "our paper presents some intriguing results from a natural source that in my opinion might be worthy of further study."
   All we can say is that we're rooting for the chocolate experts. Their hopeful study appears in the latest
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
   It's been two decades, maybe longer, since the last competition at the Mt. Gretna beds (inset right), set up nearly a century ago.
   Now there's a good chance quoits will be making a comeback.

   Larry Bowman, center, recently retired head of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce and a Mt. Gretnan with deep roots in the Campmeeting, is spearheading the drive to re-establish quoits as a Mt. Gretna sports tradition, like shuffleboard.
   With the help of friends like Fred Swarr, left, and Ed Neidigh, right, Mr. Bowman hopes to launch a new season of quoits here next spring.    The refurbished clay quoit beds are ready and so is a new sign, created by craftsman Dave Fake and Mr. Swarr, a recently retired corporate design director who now devotes much of his time to painting at his Campmeeting studio.  
  The new sign should help clear up a widely-held mistaken impression: No, the historic site was always a quoit bed -- never a bus stop.

   It caught even organ recital impresario Peter Hewitt by surprise. There in his mailbox last month was a copy of The American Guild of Organists magazine for November with an ad for "Bachstock: 30 Days of Peace and Music on WQXR" (105.9 fm) in New York City.
   The marathon will this month present the complete solo organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by 20 of Julliard's accomplished organists.
   "The interesting part for Walter McAnney and me was that, of the 20 artists, eight had performed here," at the July recital series they host in their home opposite the Mt. Gretna post office. "Not bad for a small hamlet in central Pennsylvania," says Peter.
   Nan McKay, a Campmeeting resident and instructional advisor at the Milton Hershey's Horticultural Center, needs your help. Each year her students decorate mugs for the holidays, filling them with live greens, beeswax candles, brightly-colored trinkets and repurposed materials to make special mugs for Christmas. Though the specific need is for mugs with a holiday theme, there's a larger purpose behind "The Mug Project."
   Her students, some of whom don't have a home to go to at, need meaningful activity shared with fellow students able to offer kind words, advice and encouragement during a period joyous for some but sad for others. 
   If you have mugs or other decorative items to contribute, drop her an emailed note
( or call 717-520-2250, ext. 2250. Click the inset right for a video on The Mug Project.  (Yes, sharp-eyed readers, she's Sasha's owner; see story below.)  and Jane Zellers (inset) accompanying Honor Air veterans from Knoxville, TN last month on a visit to WWII, Korea and Vietnam memorials honoring Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine veterans.
    The vets are flown to Washington, DC for the day, amid water cannon firings and police escorts upon their arrival at Reagan National Airport. Visits included a motorcade to Arlington National Cemetery.
   When they reached their service memorial,  said Jane, "if they were able to get out of their wheelchairs to have their picture taken, believe me, they did."




Mt. Gretna Dog Social Register: Vol. 1 (A continuing series)

The Dogs of Mt. Gretna 

    So just how does it happen that we decided to launch an occasional series devoted to "the Dogs of Mt Gretna -- and the people who think they own them?"
    The idea came from our readers, including Bobby Mac McCullough who promised we'd "soon have owners eating dog biscuits right out of our hand." He's probably right. Most of us are, after all, known by the dogs we walk with down the street.
  So this seems as good a way as any to fulfill our mission to help people get to know their neighbors, which fits hand-in-glove with one reason we started writing this letter in the first place.  
  Thus begins, with fingers crossed, the first installment of Mt. Gretna's Doggy Social Register. We hope to have more installments from time to time.
   Our chronicle begins with Geri Benseman, who divides her time

Sophie and Beau

between a cottage in the Campmeeting and a home in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Both are favorite haunts of Goldendoodle Sophie, 6, and Beau, 8, a Golden Retriever, both "loving, gentle, smart and non-barking creatures" that always are up for play dates, she says.
   Sadie, 10, is Mt. Gretna mayor Joe Shay's


fourth rescue collie. All have had wonderful temperaments, he says. The park opposite his Pennsylvania Avenue cottage is her favorite spot -- that and the carpeted floor alongside his workbench at Gretna Computers.
   Mt. Gretna Heights residents David and Susan Wood just discovered their third Shetland Sheepdog at a rescue agency in Carlisle. Shawnee,


 4, like the others, is "beautiful, smart and just the right size," says David, a retired CFO. "They're a herding breed," he says. "Sometimes they herd people and other dogs, but they're very protective of children."


   Former AT&T executive, Congressional candidate and author Lois Herr who now serves on the Mt. Gretna Borough Council, says she picked out Moonlight, 4, on a friend's Facebook page that was "filled with dogs." When she arrived at their home in Chester County, "she picked me out, too," says Lois. Moonlight's relatives are mostly agility champions. A Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, her favorite haunts are the creek along Rte. 117 and the couch on Lancaster Avenue. She loves playing with other dogs but "has a mind of her own." So don't look for her at the Halloween parade. The costumes scare her, says her owner.


  Timber Hills residents Jennifer and Timo Besse discovered Earl, 12, at a Florida rescue shelter when he was just 4 months old. He's a Florida Bobtail Cur, used in herding cattle. "He didn't jump and bark like the other dogs, but he promptly fell asleep on Timo's lap," says Jennifer. "We liked how calm he was. He acted like an old man when he was a puppy and still acts like one now that he is. But he takes in the world carefully and doesn't miss much."
  Jennifer says that when Earl watches sunsets, "I think he composes poetry in his doggy head."
  Char Dissinger and husband Todd,


whose children had grown up and left the farm they formerly owned in nearby Manheim, have just moved to the Chautauqua with Otto, an 11-year-old Jack Russell. "He's a thinking dog and likes to have control of the situation, especially when I go for a walk," says Char, a yoga instructor. Todd works for the Bon-Ton department stores. They finally moved to Mt. Gretna after many years of visiting here, drawn especially by the Jigger Shop and Art Show.


Peggy McGuire and Hazel, 9, spend much of their time at Peggy's Campmeeting cottage where she maintains a home office. But they like walking on the Rail Trail or behind the Roller Rink. An Italiano Spinoni, Hazel "will do almost anything for a treat," says Peggy, who teaches writing at the Lebanon campus of Harrisburg Area Community College. "She also loves play dates but is a little jealous if I pet another dog."
  The rambunctious Max, 3, is a "Heinz


dog," according to Sid Hostetter who says his "best trick is making you fall in love with him." He and wife Evelyn live on Valley Road in Timber Hills and discovered Max at the Lebanon Humane Society. "There he was, a street dog in Lebanon for a long time, just stuck in a cage next to giant pit bulls. Little Max, a Rastafarian dog, a felon, brought in by the police. Not housebroken but a cute little guy. How could you turn him down?" asks Evelyn.

Henry and May May

Nobody loves rescues more than Sarah Minnich, who lives along Princeton Avenue in the Chautauqua. She has four of them, in fact. Henry, maybe 8, is mostly chow chow and May May, perhaps 6, is a fun-loving pit bull. Her favorite trick is grabbing the vines that hang from trees along the Rail Trail. She swings briefly on the vines then puts herself in a hula hoop spin, twirling in mid-air. Sarah, who works at odd jobs including dog-sitting, has a cell phone video to prove it. You can reach her for assignments at her cell (717-304-5393). Ask her to


show you the video of May May 's Tarzan act.
   Campmeeting resident Nan McKay loves Rhodesian Ridgebacks, a breed she dreamed about as a teenager in Canada when she wasn't allowed to have pets. So she was forced to read about them in a magazine.
   "Ridgebacks like Sasha, 6, became my fantasy dog," she says. Now a horticulture adviser at Milton Hershey School's Greenhouse complex, Nan says Sasha, a ridgeback rescue, loves other dogs but her busy schedule doesn't allow much time for socialization. Maybe Sasha's listing  in the Mt. Gretna Dog Social Register will help fix that.

     Want to include your dog in an upcoming edition? Send us a photo of you and your dog (close-up head shots, please, to fit in our tiny format) along with your name and best times and phone numbers to reach you.

   Include your dog's name, age, breed, favorite tricks and haunts, what attracted you to the breed and anything else you think people might be surprised to learn. Email with subject line: Here's My Dog.




Five school buses, nearly 200 students and 40 faculty members in Mt. Gretna on a rainy weekday morning in mid-October?

In anybody's book, that's a sighting. So Barb Kleinfelter, looking out her front door, called The Mt. Gretna Newsletter to see what it was all about.
    Actually, it's an annual tradition at Linden Hall School that dates back nearly a century to the days when students in horse-drawn wagons came up to gather chestnuts.
    "Gretna Day" at the 268-year-old school for girls in Lititz is a best-kept secret "and we know how to keep it," says a school official. even the teachers know until the night before, but they can't breathe a word. Then, next morning, comes the big announcement: "No school today. It's Gretna Day."
   Everybody drops what they're doing, changes clothes and boards a bus to Mt. Gretna for an early lunch at the Tennis Club pavilion and barbeque pit, a whirl on the merry-go-ground, then it's off to the Mt. Gretna Roller Rink for an of skating, singing and traditions created by generations of students at the nation's oldest girls school.
   A day off from the classroom at an institution like Linden Hall? What do parents who are paying the anual tuition ($49,500 for 7-day boarding students) think? 

   "School is so much more than class time, tests and homework," says assistant head of school for academic affairs Beth Teske, a graduate of Wellesley making her first visit to Mt. Gretna.
   "School is also community, learning to be with each other in celebration and learning how to be happy together and build those communities. We step outside the classroom to learn all the other aspects of life," she says, "whether it is through art, athletics or a day like Gretna Day."
   Ms. Teske, who grew up near Princeton, returned to the northeast last July after serving 20 years at Saint Stephen's Episcopal School in Bradenton, FL, where she was academic dean. "I have to say, this time of year was one of the reasons I came back to this part of the world. This weather, this cold, this foggy overcast and beautiful atmosphere, this rain and crisp, clear air. I just love the autumn."
   Every now and then, even on a rainy day, it's good to hear from others what makes our part of the world special.    Summertime audiences will feel cooling breezes at the Playhouse next summer.  Three giant "Big Ass" fans were installed there last month. Engineers say they'll do a better, quieter job of cooling temperatures than the eight conventional fans they replaced. Such fans are said to have replicated "tropical breezes" at venues such as Washington, DC's Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center.
   The fans were funded by a $20,000 grant from the Mt. Gretna Community Trust to Preserve the Arts.
   If  the song "Time to Say Goodbye" came to mind last month, it may have been evoked by the final turn of a key to the door of an apartment on Valley Road.
   For years, that apartment had been the tranquil retreat of a woman who, as a youngster, had spent happy summers at the Campmeeting. She had grown up in a cottage her grandfather built in 1936, the year she was born. Ever since then, even after the family cottage was sold, she cherished the apartment, drawn there by friends and happy memories.
   She had swum across the lake at age four, proving to her parents that they needn't worry when she was in the water alone.  She sometimes  swam alongside a neighbor who headed Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation. Often she accompanied him as they circled the lake's entire perimeter.
   For Sally Stauffer Bures, Mt. Gretna has been a lifelong touchstone. Her rewarding life includes many years of service at the only job outside the home that she ever held. And only 11 years ago did she finally retire as director of the Lancaster Parish Resource Center.
   Yes, she intends to stay in touch with Mt. Gretna. It is, after all, only a short hop from her permanent home in Lancaster. And she has many friends here. Dave and Darlene Eckert, Ann Andrews, Pat Hershock, and Nancy Besch among many others. She also has a son Ray and daughter-in-law Leslie, who live along nearby Butler Road.
   "I may be leaving physically but I could never leave emotionally," she wrote in a note to us last month. Never is there a doubt: Those touched by Mt. Gretna never truly leave. , a woman's touch. Soon after they elected Sandy Moritz as the first woman president in the 111-year history of the Mt. Gretna Men's Club, its name changed to the Mt. Gretna Tennis Club. Other changes have quickly followed.
    As the tennis season neared its end this fall, work was already underway to spiff up the surroundings.
   With help from Borough staffers Lindsey Kresge, Joey Wise and Scott Cooling, the renovations got underway to rebuild the entrance onto the lower court, remove some concrete slabs and add red stones and new steps to the courts.
   Men may have founded Mt. Gretna. But it is the women who have enhanced its joys.

    Near the tennis courts along Chautauqua land bordering the lake and also alongside a stretch of the Conewago Creek, Mt. Gretna volunteers Vicki and Don Kensinger and Joan and Mike Sherman were out again last month planting trees as part of the Penn State Greening the Lower Susquehanna project. Their group added 30 more trees and shrubs along riparian areas to help wildlife and promote water quality and species diversity. Mr. Sherman promises they'll be at it again next year.


    It was the biggest in history. The longest procession of spooks, goblins and witches anyone can ever remember. It tied up traffic along Rte. 117 for maybe all of about ten ghoul-infested minutes. Yet when it was over it still held proudly onto its title as "smallest Halloween parade in America." 
    To be sure the numbers were greater. Maybe twice as many marchers as last year. And the crowds of spectators? At least a dozen more people than a year ago. Some even showed up with lawn chairs, a signal they hadn't been here before.
   But still the parade participants outnumbered the spectators this year by a margin of maybe 20 to 1. That's a significant upgrade from the usual 10:1 ratio.
    Undoubtedly the number of young families in Mt. Gretna is growing. But that alone couldn't account for the numbers. Maybe grandmoms and granddads had something to do with it. Aunts and uncles, too. They may just be influencing their young relatives to consider the virtues of small towns, at least on Halloween. Giant parades aren't for everybody. It's sometimes good to be a big frog in a small pond.
   They came from all over and marched to the fire hall, all of them fittingly dressed for the occasion. And all of them having a splendid time.
   It happens every Halloween in Mt. Gretna. As only Mt. Gretna can do it.




Leesa Troy Crnogorac

   At her funeral service in Harrisburg last month, several persons with ties to Mt. Gretna were asked to speak. Among them was Gretna Theatre's Renee Krizan, who recalled that Leesa, as she was known, became Gretna Theatre's Leading Lady of the 1966 season. Soon afterward, she met her husband and decided never to leave Central Pennsylvania, even though she had appeared on Broadway in the original company of Camelot. "She came to Mt. Gretna and never left," said Ms. Krizan.   During her summer of performances here, rehearsing next week's play during the day and performing another each night, she played starring or supporting roles in Boing, Boing; Catch Me If You Can; Bye, Bye Birdie; South Pacific; The Impossible Years and Any Wednesday.
   A few years later, she consented to judge the Gretna Gala Idol Competition and, recalled Ms. Krizan, "she was the perfect judge, offering words of encouragement to the teens, all with the same aspirations she had once had."
   Ms. Krizan also recalls telling Leesa that she wanted to be like her when she grew up. "I think I said that only a few years ago," she recalls. "She merely laughed and replied, 'You should reach higher.'"
   In online tributes, Mt. Gretnans Susan and David Wood commented that "she was a vibrant, generous and lovely person." Former Gretna Music executive director Douglas Blackstone remembered her as a grand, classy lady, right up there with our best and most memorable contributors and audience members." Her complete obituary appears


Carl Oliver Stroud (1928 - 2014) 

  Carl Stroud, a native of Philadelphia, had spent his formative years in Mt. Gretna, according to an obituary last month in a Pensacola, FL newspaper. During his years of service with the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer, he served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Mr. Stroud later retired from the Pensacola Naval Air Station.  His complete obituary appears  




(Things that

since calendars

were published,

things that caught

our eye and   

"don't miss" suggestions  

from readers.) 



See also calendars listed below.  


































An unexpected path

















Fall harvest
















Saturday, Nov. 1:


Art Studio Tour (both Saturday and Sunday) features nine Mt. Gretna artis at La Cigale Gallery and the private studios of Barb and Glenn Acker, Betsy Stutzman (inset) and Fred Swarr. Resident artists of the gallery will set up demonstrations of their work through the weekend and display their latest works. Light refreshments will be served.

Former Mt. Gretnans Barb Fishman and Gerry Boltz will also be on the two-day tour.


November Nocturne "Heads or Tails" hike. A tossed coin determines which way you'll go, with a Scavenger Hunt from 2 to 6 pm. Hot dogs, desserts and drinks available until prize drawing at 7 pm followed by a hike to the tower.


Sunday, Nov. 2:

Fire Company Buffet Breakfast  In the French sense of the word, it is a gourmand's* delight where the suggested donation is $11 a person, but m patrons drop $20, $50 and even $100 bills into the fireman's boot at the entrance. For this is, after all, a fundraiser.  


 What you get is more than scrambled eggs, sausages and bacon.

Or more than baked oatmeal, fruit cups and beverages. The best part is the people, like neighbors Pat and Mike Allwein (inset) and fire company volunteer Laura Feather (above) dishing out the potatoes, chipped beef and other delectables, from 8 am to noon at the Mt. Gretna Fire Hall.
*Gourmand: one with refined tastes in food.  


Art Studio Tour continues. (See above.)


Music on the Porch. Bluegrass a specialty. 1 to 4 pm at Gov. Dick Park Nature Center off Pinch Road.


Tuesday, Nov. 4:

Election Day. Polls open 7 am to 8 pm at Mt. Gretna Borough (for Chautauqua residents), Lawn Fire Co. (for Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge residents) and Quentin Fire Co. (for Heights, Campmeeting and others in West Cornwall Township).

Tip: Best after-voting selection of raisin, apple, pumpkin and raspberry pies; chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies; and cheesecake? The Lawn Fire Co., with ham-and-bean, vegetable beef and chicken corn soups in take-home paks. Spaghetti sauce, too, and hot dogs with sauerkraut.


Stroll through their kitchen after casting your vote. "You don't have to buy anything, but there's plenty to look at," says Carol Stoffel, a perennial Art Show volunteer with husband Bill, who adds,"Get there early if you want a whole pumpkin pie."


Friday, Nov. 7:

Morning Bird Walk every Friday with Sid Hostetter, meets at Chautauqua parking lot 9 to 11 am (followed by lunch, usually at Le Sorelle.)


Breakfasts at Le Sorelle Served all winter long, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; lunches, too. 8 am to 1 pm.

Tip: The lines are shortest on Fridays; breakfasts also across the street, at the only pizzeria with pancakes, eggs any way, bacon and baked oatmeal.


First Friday Yes, it continues into late fall and winter, at least at The Timbers where legendary Harrisburg jazz pianist (formally, the Mr. Ronnie Waters Trio) appears as musical backdrop for the works of landscape artist Ben Wilson and Kate Dolan's card and jewelry designs, displayed in the downstairs dining area. Count on a cheery fire, friends, and conversation with everything from burgers and curly fries to salmon and Italian specialties.

Tip: Not on the menu but available on request: Wiener Schnitzel and steaks seared Pittsburgh Rare by Chef Rachel.


Saturday, Nov. 8:

Mosaic Nature Crafts

at Gov. Dick Park, 10:30 am     


Vendor Open House and bake sale. Vendors to include The Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple, Thirty-One, Orgami Owl and Mt. Gretna photographer Jane Mourer. At the Mt. Gretna Fire Company, which benefits from proceeds. 11 am til 2 pm. season reminder from Lizzy, Bill Gifford's redbone coonhound mix who turns 14 this Thanksgiving: 

  "Even if you don't exactly look like a tiny deer, wrapping yourself in orange is still a good idea from now until Christmas," says Bill.  


Sunday, Nov. 9:

Silent Auction begins at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church and runs all month, say organizers Melissa Warner and Sandy Hall. The idea is to raise money for charities during the Christmas season. Pastor Mike Remel invites everyone to stop by any morning from now 'til the end of November to place their bids.  

(Tip: Look for handmade items, gift baskets and cards, and other items collected from Nov. 2 and added as they arrive. Come often to see what's new.)


Jazz concert Music at Gretna at Elizabethtown College: the Charnee Wade Quartet. 3 pm 


Fitness Hike, Gov. Dick Park, 9 am.


Monday, Nov. 10:

Leaf Pickups begin in Chautauqua (brush pickups follow in December, on the 1st and 15th). Campmeeting residents may set their leaves out at any time. In the Heights, leaf collection (already underway) will continue until Dec. 1. No leaf pickups yet available for residents in Timber Hills, Timber Bridge and Conewago Hills, the outlying sectors of South Londonderry Township. (Tip: Maybe a discussion topic for the Supervisors? See below.)


Borough Council Meeting, Mt. Gretna Boardroom, 7 pm


Wednesday, Nov. 12:

Supervisors Meeting of South Londonderry Twp. at the Timbers, 7 pm (for the second of two monthly sessions held annually in Mt. Gretna)


Friday, Nov. 14:

Toddlers in Tow  Nature walk and crafts for children ages 2 to 5, Gov. Dick Park, 10 am


Saturday, Nov. 15

Bouldering Competition 4th annual at Gov. Dick Park, 8 am. Rain date Nov. 22.


Soup Cook-off at the Fire Hall. Officially, it's the 10th annual, but they've been saying that for the last three years. The official slogan is "Challenge Your Pallet and Cast Your Ballot," but our imaginative readers this year sent suggestions of their own: "Give Yourself a Thrill As You Slurp Down The Swill." "Grab a Cup, Get Your Spoon, Vote for the Soup that Makes You Swoon" and
"Sip S Soup and Give Us the Scoop."

  "We've come a long way," says organizer Thatcher Bornman, who recalls that a Road Kill Chili was one of the entrees at the first cook-off. Last year's winner was Choco-Mocha Latte. With a $10 admission, the event has to date raised over $8,000 for the Mt. Gretna Fire Company ($1,200 last year alone). Tip: Get there early. Sample all the soups. Meet your friends. And cast your ballot for the top three soups. Noon to 2 pm.


Wednesday, Nov. 19:

The Gathering Place, normally held on third Wednesdays, has been POSTPONED this month. The date will shift to the first Wednesday in December, combining the November-December gatherings on Dec. 3 in Fellowship Hall at MGUMC at noon. 



Thursday, Nov. 20:

Monthly Board Meeting of Gov. Dick Park, Nature Center, 7:15 pm


Friday, Nov. 21:

ExtraGive stretches your donations to Gretna Music during this one-day-only event. Last year, it added $4,610 to Gretna Music's treasure chest through a special Organizational Endowment fund. Click here for details.  


Saturday, Nov. 22:

Pumpkin and minced pie sales at Lawn Fire Company. Also potato filling plus soups and spaghetti sauce (see the entry for Nov. 4, above).


Sunday, Nov. 23:

Suzy Afflerbach photo, Fall 2011 

Thanksgiving Breakfast at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. Note, "It's a breakfast, not dinner," says Pastor Mike Remel. Begins at 9:30 in Fellowship Hall.




Looking ahead:

The Gathering Place combines its November-December meetings on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at noon in Fellowship Hall of Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. A free will offering is taken.


Dessert Buffet at Le Sorelle Friday, Dec. 5. Reservations required (717-269-3876).


Annual House Tour to benefit Cornwall Iron Furnace, Saturday, Dec. 6, 10 am to 4 pm. Tickets $15 in advance, $20 day of tour. 717-272-9711. Tree Lighting and carol singing, Saturday, Dec. 6. An open house at the Princeton Avenue residence of Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney (opposite the post office). Mr. McAnney, organist, will be joined by pianist Thelma Strauss. All are invited to attend and bring food to share, 5:30 - 7:30 pm. Please email Rhoda Long for suggestions of what to bring.


Santa Breakfasts at Sacred Heart Church in Cornwall Dec. 6; he'll also be at Le Sorelle for breakfast and the Mt. Gretna Fire Hall for lunch Dec. 13.


Christmas Music by the fire, Gov. Dick Nature Center, Sunday, Dec. 7, 1 pm to 4 pm. 


Special "looking ahead" reminder for Mt. Gretnans in Florida this winter. Photographer Madelaine Gray will throw a "Mt. Gretnans in Sarasota" party at her new home in Sarasota, Fla. on a Saturday evening, January 17. Drop her a note if you expect to be in the area. You can also reach her at 717-304-8323. Please pass this on to your friends who like Madelaine or Mt. Gretna or all the good memories wrapped up in that happy combination.


For additional information, see the Mt. Gretna Arts Council's calendars in both print (summer) and online ( versions. Also available by email during the summer is This Week in Mt. Gretna.

Nobody knows exactly where they came from or how they happened to choose Mt. Gretna as their landing zone. But wild turkeys have descended on us in force this year and last. . .  a surprise to residents who've lived here for 30 years and never seen them before. Just how many there are is unknown. But residents north of the lake have counted as many as 24 at a time. They're showing up along Timber and Valley roads and atop Conewago Hill. Maybe after all those years as the featured attraction for Thanksgiving, they're taking advantage of residential zoning laws and strutting past the very grounds where their ancestors once wound up on dinner plates.                                                                                                 Bill Shoals photo



              The Mt. Gretna Newsletter All-Star Award Winner but with no official status, 

commercial interests or political ax to grind.  

Just a pastime for a retired guy.