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

No. 157                                                                                                         December 1, 2014

Welcome, winter

Photographer Jane Mourer, recording the grandeur of Mt. Gretna's first measurable snowfall of the season, was captivated as she came upon this scene in Governor Dick Park. "White, white, everywhere white," she reported. "The ground, the trees, the sky. I've never seen anything like it." Not the big storm some had predicted, yet an exquisite reminder of what lies ahead.






Monday, Dec. 1 - Dec. 14:

Silent Auction continues at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church to benefit area charities and an Ebola relief mission in West Africa. Tip: Call the church office to set a time you would like to stop during the day, or come Sunday mornings at the 8:30 am or 10 am services. On display are handmade items, gift baskets and cards and other donated items. Tel. 964-3241.

Wednesday, Dec. 3:

The Gathering Place combines its November-December meetings today in Fellowship Hall, Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. Freewill offering. Noon. Tip: Here's where you can meet new people and can build new relationships. The gatherings are popular among residents from Cornwall Manor, many of whom formerly lived in Mt. Gretna .

Tri-County Conewago Creek Association meeting. This group ( monitors the creek watershed, which has its headwaters near Mt. Gretna. They are currently working with residents who live close to the proposed natural gas pipeline, likely to be discussed tonight. Meets at Conewago Township Building, 3279 Old Hershey Rd., Elizabethtown. 7 pm.

Thursday, Dec. 4:

Mt. Gretna School of Art fundraising event as Lancaster Galleries ( opens its holiday season show, "A Prelude Invitational" with an artists' reception and wassail, 4-8:30 pm. A portion of proceeds go to Mt. Gretna Art School alumni. The exhibit continues to Jan. 3

Friday, Dec. 5:

Morning Bird Walk every Friday with Sid Hostetter. Meet at Chautauqua parking lot, 9 to 11 am (followed by lunch, usually at Le Sorelle). Newcomers welcome. Tip: Likely sightings this month: Pileated woodpeckers, pine siskins, yellow bellied sapsuckers and maybe a Woodcock. What you can see and learn in a single morning is amazing.

Breakfasts at Le Sorelle served all winter long on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 8 am to 1 pm, lunches, too. Tip: The lines are shortest on Fridays. Across the street at the Pizzeria are grilled stickies, baked oatmeal, eggs and bacon and hotcakes, Tuesdays-Sundays . . . in probably the only pizza shop in America that also serves breakfasts.

First Friday continues at the Timbers all winter long. This month, pianist Colin Mekeel joins John Gingerich on acoustic bass in musical accompaniment for dinner and displays by Mt. Gretna realistic and impressionistic water colorist Carol Snyder and life-size and miniature wooden bird carver Gerry Boltz.

Tip: Only regulars seem to know to ask occasionally about lima beans, ham and cheese wraps, roast duck or bacon cheeseburgers which are sometimes available but not on the regular menu. "If we have it in the fridge, we'll make it," says chef Rachel. Just like being at home, with the coziest fireside in Mt. Gretna (downstairs).

Open House at The Gallery at La Cigale  adds to the fun of First Friday. Flutist Mary Zehring provides musical entertainment as visitors stroll through the gallery, chat with exhibiting artists and enjoy freshly baked treats from Hershey's German Delights and seasonal refreshments including Gluhwein (a German/Austrian winter holiday treat known to many as an after-ski drink). Seasonal artwork also available. 5 pm to 8 pm.

Candlelight White Christmas Dessert Buffet at Le live jazz and holiday music, silver and white decorations with candles. Homemade desserts include cranberry cinnamon tarts, white chocolate rice pudding, coconut cranberry trifle, white Christmas cake plus a dozen others. House beverages or BYOB. Reserve by Dec. 2: Tel 717-269-3876 or $20. Starts 7 pm.

Former Mt. Gretna artist Eva Bender opens an exhibit in Lebanon that runs through Christmas Eve. "I'm open to accidents and surprises," she says of her abstract works. "I enjoy the lack of control involved in working this way." Joining artists Nancy Croll Sell and Sarah Hitz-Arnold, Ms. Bender will be at a reception Dec. 5 from 5 to 8 pm at Lebanon Picture Frame and Fine Art Gallery, 45, S. 8th St.


Saturday, Dec. 6:

Annual House Tour to benefit Cornwall Iron Furnace, 10 am to 4. Tickets $15 in advance, $20 day of tour. 717-272-9711.

Operation Fill-a-Cruiser arrives at Mt. Gretna Fire Hall. The South Londonderry Police Dept. seeks unwrapped Chirstmas gifts and non-perishable food items for area children and families in need. For details, click here.

Santa Breakfast at Sacred Heart Church in Cornwall, sponsored by the Cornwall Police Dept., has now been filled. No additional spaces are available, according to a website announcement.

Community Christmas Tree Lighting and Carol Singing open 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.
Rhoda Long for suggestions of what to bring. 
Note: The 12-ft. tree at the intersection of Pinch Road, Princeton Avenue and Rte. 117 is the generous and timely gift this year to the Mt. Gretna community by the Cicada Music Festival, with decorations provided by a group of volunteers led by Chuck and Rhoda Long, Stacy Margut and Cliff Batz (who transported the tree to its site).

Sunday, Dec. 7:

Christmas Music by the fire, Gov. Dick Nature Center, 1 pm.

Monday, Dec. 8:

Borough Council Meeting, Mt. Gretna Boardroom (at post office), 7 pm. The Council will be adopting the 2015 budget.

Supervisors Meeting  West Cornwall Twp, Municipal Building, 73 S. Zinns Mill Rd., 7 pm (matters affecting Mt. Gretnans in the Heights, Campmeeting and in the areas of Butler and Mine Roads).  Tip: Supervisors ask those participating in municipal meetings to "raise their hand when they want to speak, state their name and where they live and act in a respectful manner. Those who do that will be acknowledged," says township secretary Deborah Doll.
Tuesday, Dec. 9:

Mt. Gretna Walking Group begins its walks around town (weather permitting). A half-hour of walking, talking and then breakfast for all who want to join in. Meets at the Rail-Trail entrance on Timber Road every Tuesday at 8:30 am. See story below, this issue.

Supervisors Meeting  South Londonderry Twp., Municipal Building, 20 W. Market St., Campbelltown, 7 pm (matters affecting Mt. Gretnans in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge). Tip: Be prepared to speak early and briefly on topics of concern. Supervisors ask residents to submit topics in advance for discussion at a "Public Input" session when the meeting begins. Afterward, opportunities for comments while other matters are being discussed (in what is called a "Good and Welfare" session near the meeting's end) are sometimes limited.

Thursday, Dec. 11:

Sunoco Pipeline  West Cornwall Twp. will hold a Zoning Hearing in the Quentin Fire Hall at 7 pm on the proposed Sunoco Logistics Cornwall Pumping Station with an enclosed vapor combustion system. Among groups urging attendance at this session is Preserve Mt. Gretna, which offers for area residents an update and detailed statement of concerns (click here) on the proposed Sunoco Mariner East Pipeline project.

Saturday, Dec. 13:

Christmas Scavenger Hike. Be the first to find all items on the trail and win a prize. $2. Gov. Dick Nature Center, 1:30 pm.

Santa Comes to Mt. Gretna  . . .  at Le Sorelle Cafe for breakfast 9 to 11 am and the Mt. Gretna Fire Hall for lunch 11:30 am to 1 pm.  Tip: Come before 9 am to get a seat at Le Sorelle's breakfast  which, for $5.25, includes a photo and cookie from Santa.

   At the Fire Hall, Santa arrives on a fire engine at 11:45 am. While kids wait their turn to talk with Santa, videos will be shown. Lunch at the Fire Hall includes donated gifts children can buy (most priced at 50 cents) for friends and family. "It's amazing to see how much thought they put into the gifts they buy,  the cutest thing ever," says fire company volunteer  Karen Lynch.

Tuesday, Dec. 16:

Mt. Gretna Walking Group (whoever shows up at the Rail Trail entrance on Timber Road) for a half-hour walk around town. . . followed by breakfast for all who want to join in. 8:30 am every Tuesday, weather permitting. See story below, this issue.

Thursday, Dec. 18:

Winter Stoltzfus An annual celebration based on a narration of Chet Williamson's "Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas" by Tom Baum, "the Belsnickel of Mt. Gretna," with mischievous elfin aide Max Hunsicker, surrounded by friends, fans and family. Early reservations for this popular event are highly recommended. Tip: Timbers' dinners reach their peak for this occasion, with succulent prime rib and trimmings, plus standard menu choices. Complete with exuberant cheerleaders (Join the cheer: "Robisonia, Robisonia, Robisonia High! Baum's Bologna, Baum's Bologna, Aye, Yigh, Yigh!") and more to start the season as only Mt. Gretna can. At the Timbers Restaurant. Dinner begins around 6:30 pm. Reservations: 964-3601.

Friday, Dec. 19:

Open House at Gretna Theatre's new offices above the La Cigale Gallery (next to the miniature golf course). Come see the added space available for expanded operations in 2015 in a season that promises to be better than ever. Gift certificates for next year's performances will be on sale, 4 pm to 6 pm. (Phone number and mailing address remain unchanged.)

Sunday, Dec. 21:

Sunday School Children's Program at today's 10 o'clock service at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. The children will perform in a play written by a member of the congregation.

Tuesday, Dec. 23:

Mt. Gretna Walking Group (whoever shows up at the Rail Trail entrance on Timber Road) for a half-hour walk around town. . . followed by breakfast for all who want to join in. 8:30 am every Tuesday, weather permitting. See story below, this issue.

Wednesday, Dec. 24:

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, open to the entire community. A Family Worship Service at 7 pm is a favorite of parents with small children. The 11 pm service is also well-attended. Tip: Arrive early to assure a good parking space.

Tuesday, Dec. 30:

Mt. Gretna Walking Group (at the Rail Trail entrance on Timber Road) for a half-hour walk around town, followed by breakfast for all who want to join in; 8:30 am Tuesdays, weather permitting. See story below, this issue.

Wednesday, Dec. 31:

New Year's Eve at the Timbers. Starting upstairs at 6 pm, a holiday buffet and music party featuring the Roberts Group during dinner with "Galbraith, Briody and Friends" entertaining afterwards until 1 am. Separate from the music, a limited menu service will be available on the lower level from 5 pm to 8 pm. Holiday specials and decorations throughout the restaurant in the spirit of the season.

Thursday, Jan. 1:

New Year's Day Hike and 'Kraut.  After a hike on the new year's chilly first day, warm up by the fire with hotdogs and sauerkraut.  $3. Gov. Dick Nature Center, 11 am.

Looking ahead:

Conewago Creek Association meets Jan. 7 at Conewago Twp. Building, 7 pm (see also listing for Dec. 3, above).

Sock Hop  Music, dancing and fun at the Mt. Gretna Fire Hall, Saturday, Jan. 24. Sponsored by Cicada Festival, firefighters benefit; 7 pm. Fever Hike by the light of the moon, Saturday, Feb. 7. Gov. Dick Park; $3, starts 6 pm. (Jane Mourer photo)


This Bud's For You  Master arborist Jon Schach shows how to identify trees in mid-winter, Saturday, Feb. 28. Gov. Dick Nature Center, 1:30 p.m.

Inner Harbor Bus Trip  A Fire Company fundraiser coming up Saturday, April 18. Leaves Mt. Gretna at 8 am and Inner Harbor at 6 pm for the return home. Tickets ($40) now on sale by fire crew members. Call 717-964-3511.

Special "looking ahead" reminder for Mt. Gretnans in Florida this Photographer Madelaine Gray hosts a "Mt. Gretnans in Sarasota" party at her new home in Sarasota, Fla.  Saturday, January 17.  Drop her a note if you expect to be in the area. You can also reach her at 717-304-8323.

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

Tuesdays at 8:30 am 

A weekly half hour of walking, talking . . . then breakfast!.  
   Fitness experts say nothing's better than walking.
   Unless, of course, it's walking  somewhere and talking while enjoying the company of others, as Geoffrey Chaucer proved in the Canterbury Tales. So along comes a modern-day variation on Chaucer's idea from Kathy Wall:  A Mt. Gretna walking group that meets every Tuesday at 8:30 am at the entrance to the trail head on Timber Road, just up the street from the pizzeria (where a breakfast will follow if you like).
   To take part, you don't have to be young or old, or even up for long walks. "It will be very informal, just a group of whoever shows up," says Kathy.
   The idea is to walk with others at a specific time and place every Tuesday, "but only if the weather is decent."
    She plans to kick off the first walk, weather permitting, Tuesday, Dec. 9. It will last for about a half hour, she says. Longer or shorter walks may come later, depending on the group's preferences. Breakfast, of course, is optional for those who care to join in.
       "As the group grows, it's possible we may split up into those who want to walk more slowly or quickly, or for a longer time. At this point, we just want to get started."
   Have questions or suggestions? Kathy's open to ideas. Drop her a note at or call her at 964-3803. Or just show up at the Timber Road trail head entrance on Tuesdays.




   Aiding in the campaign to restore the American chestnut tree to its former glory, Tom and Elaine Bau were spotted recently by a photographer from the Journal of the American Chestnut Foundation.
   At a foundation event near their vacation home not far from Raystown Lake, they picked up some experimental seedlings to plant in the forest surrounding their Huntington County retreat and their cottage in the Campmeeting.
   American chestnuts once dominated America's forests, including those surrounding Mt. Gretna. Tom is a principal of DBC Ag Products, which specializes in proprietary natural formulas to promote animal health worldwide. DBC traces it's origins to Baum's Bologna, a firm started by his great-grandfather. Elaine, a former nurse, is a noted Mt. Gretna cook and three-time soup cook-off winner.
   Chestnut trees were wiped out by a nationwide blight during the first few decades of the last century. The disease killed an estimated three billion trees. Researchers are attempting to develop a species that will survive in today's environment. Elizabeth Wein, left, grew up in Mt. Gretna Heights and now lives in Scotland.  She regularly flies back to see grandmother Betty Flocken, who guided her through life following her mother's fatal automobile accident when Elizabeth was 14.
    Following college, she married an Englishman who shared his love of flying, a pursuit that not only led to her getting a private pilot's license but also helped shape her career as a writer of young adult novels.
   Beginning first with Arthurian legends, she has recently switched to books about young girls caught up in flying missions during World War II. Back last month to see her grandmother, she stopped in for a buffet breakfast at the fire company. Her latest ventures have included book reviews. One
just appeared in The New York Times' review of audio books, a genre perfect for nonfiction, she says. 
   "The human voice lends life to words on a page," says Ms. Wein. "The tonal subtleties of a skilled narrator can captivate listeners with a commitment that readers of the written word must bring to a text on their own."

    Another reader with strong ties to Mt. Gretna also made it onto the pages of The New York Times last month.
    Kendra Feather, right, is the owner of 
The Roosevelt, one of three award-winning restaurants she operates in Richmond, Va. Restaurateur of the Year in that city last year, she also runs a popular bakery. And if that wasn't enough, she's also a new mom --perhaps the achievement that most delights her Conewago Hill parents, Joe and Laura Feather.
    The Roosevelt, said the Times in its Travel section, offers cuisine in a "Sunday supper after church" style (soft-shell crabs and Surry sausage, for instance) in a way that echoes her chef Lee Gregory's Lowcountry heritage. 





Gifts galore, all with a common heritage. . .

    This year's selection of gift ideas share a common theme: All trace their heritage and inspiration to Mt. Gretna. They are the recommendations of readers, guaranteed to become lasting favorites of those who delight in all things Gretna.
   It's an eclectic mix. Some are familiar. Some offbeat. Others perennial favorites.
   Some are pictured, others are not. Take, for example, one reader's suggestion to commission a painting by a Mt. Gretna artist of your gift recipient's home, cottage or favorite local scene. Gift certificates and commissions for 2015 are offered by
Fred Swarr.
   Someone else suggested re-gifting mementos the late historian Jack Bitner used to share freely: railroad spikes from the early days of Mt. Gretna's narrow gauge railroad. For Jack, the pleasure was in the giving, and he shared those artifacts widely as a means of spreading enthusiasm for Mt. Gretna's heritage.
   There was also another suggestion we liked: Ask Mt. Gretna's coffee and tea experts, Mim Enck and Walter Progner of the Heights, to suggest a holiday package from their emporium, the
East Indies Coffee and Tea Company.
   Gretna Theatre's Krizan suggested George M posters from the 1960s. Only 10 are left, she says. They'll be at Gretna Theatre's new offices on the second floor of the La Cigale Gallery. (Be sure to stop in during their Open House, 4 to 6 pm, Friday, Dec. 19.)
   Doubly appreciated by both performing arts organizations and recipients are tickets to music and dramatic performances at the Playhouse. Both
Gretna Music and Gretna Theatre have Gift Certificates this year.
   The Historical Society's best-known offering may be Jack Bitner's Mt. Gretna: A Coleman Legacy. But they also have other treasures for those who love Mt. Gretna: MTG decals, pamphlets, other books and DVDs. Making someone an official member of the Society is also a unique gift idea. Check in at their newly refurbished website and
online store.
   The Campmeeting also offers a new historical work of note: Listed!, the story of its recent ascent to a place on the National Register of Hist Places. Contact Debby Erb at the Campmeeting office. Listed! is also available through the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society.
   For the young adults on your list, two spellbinding new novels by former Mt. Gretna Heights resident
Elizabeth Wein are New York Times best-sellers.
   Th who know Mt. Gretna may recognize some of the settings even if the names have been changed in Rose Under Fire.  Elizabeth's other book, Code Name Verity, is also superb. Both recount the harrowing tales of young women in secret flying missions and their capture during World War II.
   Another book that those who love Mt Gretna will treasure is It's A Fine Line, published in 2003 by Art Show co-founder
Bruce Johnson. Copies are still available on Amazon. With over 100 drawings, it contains the classic "Tailgating," unbelievably detailed depiction of what happens in the rollicking hours at the stadium before a Penn State football game   
  No, there's not yet a cookbook of winning recipes from the famous Mt. Gretna Soup Cook-offs in years gone by, but "Vittles, Virtues and Vultures" is the latest Mt. Gretna Fire Company Cookbook. It's always a favorite. Anyone in the Fire Company can obtain a copy for you. The cost is $10. 
  If you know a Cicada Festival fan, you can probably find T-Shirt in their size for $15 (plus $5 S&H, any quantity). Leave a message at 717-964-2046; they'll call you with sizes available and order details.
      You can make a
donation in someone's name to the Mt. Gretna School of Art's capital campaign. Matching funds will boost your donation dollar.
  You can also pick up gift certificates at the
Timbers, Tony's Mining Company, The Hideaway, Le Sorelle and the Mt. Gretna Pizzeria. Or discover Mt. Gretna original paintings, photographs and prints at the Gallery at La Cigale or the community gallery at Le Sorelle Porch and Pantry.
  Something for everyone? Not quite, but darned close. If you can't find it, just drop us a note to We'll help you have it in time for Christmas.


From the Arts Council, scholarship awards for 2015   

    Two  more scholarships for Lebanon County students have been authorized for next year, boosting the total amount that the Mt. Gretna Arts Council has awarded in scholarships over the past few years to approximately $35,000.
   Available next year will be the Dale Grundon Scholarship for $1,000 for a Lebanon County high school graduate attending a post secondary school for photography studies. Another for $500 to $1,500 will be made to a local student in theater, painting, music or creative writing studies.
Click here for details.

What it wuz, wuz a Soup Cook-Off.

    There's something Andy Griffith-like about November in Mt. Gretna, something that echoes the 1950s.
    Summer people who escape to Sarasota, Santa Fe or Palm Springs needn't worry or wonder about what people here do when there's a nip in the air, a first snowflake appears or suddenly comes a plunging thermometer-inspired impulse to pull out the long-johns. Those are the very ingredients that spark down-home music, steaming crock pots, and hearty appetites on a mid-November day.
   That also explains why the annual soup contest is each winter season's opening rite: Time to have fun and be with friends. Something that emanates from the kitchens of the area's best cooks, giving added dimension to the term "good taste."

Award winners Steven Vandevander (3d), Jen Fetter and Scott Smith (1st), Nick and Diedre Sweet (presentation) and Bob Hertzler (unique).
Center: Judy Weimer (2d).

   By all accounts, this year's soupfest was the biggest on record.  Nearly 170 people jammed into the fire hall for an event that produced revenues of over $2,100 for the fire company this year and some $10,000 since it began.
   Elephant juice anyone? How about a sip of Blueberry Thyme?
   Or some Roasted Red Pepper or Bobby B's Crab-o-licious, dipped from a hot kettle?
  The names were as exotic as the concoctions, whipped up by chefs whose smiles give them away.
  No, they're not overly serious in this event, advertised as the "10th annual" for the past three years.  What's uppermost in mind is not medals but meals that make good times even better. Jeanie Bachand was there again. She comes dressed for the occasion every year. Sometimes in a Hansel and Gretel outfit from Bavaria (if she's cooking up a German soup) but this year in a sombrero and cape, fetching accompaniments to her Cuban black bean and olive soup.
   Newcomer Chris Hannah, who last year breezed in from California to renovate a cottage in the Chautauqua, offered a white chili soup, alongside friend Lynn Davies who came with a taste-tempting blend of ginger carrot soup.
   Joining them were Dean Mease with his own recipe for white chili, Paula Richard's tortellini, Sharon Warfel and her gingered carrot with coconut soup, Amanda Pennypacker and Evelyn Koppel with the elephant juice, Bobby Bernier with crab-o-licious, Tammy Travitz with Caldo Verde, and Luann Wampler's roasted red pepper soup.
   First-place winner Scott Smith's petite sweet lobster "Langostino Love" may have benefited from his long experience. He's been around since the early days of Mt. Gretna's chili cook-off, which traces back to the late 1990s.
Click here for Scott's recipe.
   All of this to the accompaniment of music by the hastily assembled "Mt. Gretna Soup Slurpers" with genuine "sophisticated hillbilly" straight from the heartland of America.
   They, too, came for the fun of it. charge to the firefighters,. They were just there to fill in for guitarist Scott Galbraith, who suddenly got called away. "It's something they wanted to do for the fire company," says organizer Thatcher Bornman.
    The room was packed, the voting intense, and the palates generally delighted.
   Nobody left unfilled or disappointed.
   It's how those who remain in Mt. Gretna make the most of a crisp, chilly day in November.

Winners' photo courtesy of Robert Travitz






The Mt. Gretna Doggy Social Register (Vol. II).

    This, by golly, is a continuing series. It began last month. Nothing we've done in the past dozen years has been so popular. Or so much fun. Here are some more poochologies to add to our Register.

   When our regular editions resume in a few months, we'll add more. Please keep us in mind and send photos (of you and your dog). Tight head shots, please. Our space is limited, so close-ups are mandatory.

   They just recently bought a cottage on Columbia Avenue, but Pat and Joe Harris may know more about Mt. Gretna than people who have lived here for years. Over the past quarter century, they've spent summer vacations at 20 different cottages in the Heights, Campmeeting and Chautauqua.
     Not only do they love Mt. Gretna, but they can also offer good advice on how to pick rescues.
    "Look for one that speaks to you. Pick one that makes a connection with you," says Joe.
   He and Pat started coming here in the early '80s when he began teaching English at Elizabethtown College. Over the past 30 years, he has also taught at the University of Pittsburgh and at Duke University in North Carolina.
   Two years ago, his move to the University of Delaware brought them closer to their dream of someday owning a cottage where they could bring their two dogs.
    Rocky, 8, a black and tan Shepherd mix, joined the Harris family at the age of 6 months -

            Rocky and Lois        Pat Harris photo

- timid, scared and likely abused -- "but nowadays a sweet and gentle boy," says Joe.
9, a "somewhat goofy-looking" white Basset mix he says, came later when a former owner was no longer able to care for her. "You can sense her charm from the photograph," adds Joe, now the university's Director of Composition.
    He says the dogs filled a spot in their hearts after their two daughters left home. (One teaches creative writing at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh; the other teaches high school in Durham, NC.)

   While Pat teaches English as a second language, Rocky and Lois spend a lot of time together at home alone. They have now become inseparable, says Joe. "One won't go to the vet without the other."

     Just two hours from their Delaware home, Mt. Gretna is the Harrises' favorite spot to relax. "It's good to be in a place where people may not yet know me, but they already know my dogs' names," he says.  


    Carrot, 8, is just one of three "fur kids" in the household of Maria and Rob Rambo, who discovered Mt. Gretna through a friend they have known for 25 years.  
   When their friend moved to nearby Spring Hill Acres, the Rambos began making regular visits back to Pennsylvania from their home in Ashburn, Va. They soon fell in love with Mt. Gretna.  

   After renting different cottages for several summers, they finally succeeded in buying one six years ago. Their Princeton Avenue cottage, once owned by the late Nancy Bressi, has now be


come their favorite weekend getaway.
   Since they have no other children, the dogs occupy a prime spot in their lives. Carrot shares their 2-1/2-hour commutes with Max, her 9-year-old dog sibling, and Jack, 13, an apricot-colored cockapoo.  All three are rescues. Carrot, in fact, was discovered at a kill shelter inTennessee. She is now receiving chemo treatments following two surgeries for cancer.
   "We've had rescues even before we were married," says Maria. Husband Rob is an engineer at Lockheed Martin. They hope to retire in a few years.

   In the meantime, Maria, who once worked at a dog treat bakery and doggy Day Care center, hopes to decorate their cottage with pictures of the Dogs of Mt. Gretna.
   Maybe the Mt. Gretna Doggy Social Register came along just in time.
   You might say that Addie, a seven-year-old poodle that divides her time between Mt. Gretna and Sarasota, Fla., missed her calling to AKC stardom not by a whisker but rather a toe.


    A single white toe on one of her forepaws convinced her champion breeder in Georgia to reluctantly send Addie, an undersized miniature poodle of highly unusual red coloring, to an anxious Julia Phillips, waiting at the Cargo Hold section of Sarasota Airport in Florida.
   "I call it my angel's imperfection," says Julia, a realtor and interior decorator who spends with husband Larry part of the year in Florida but as much time as they possibly can at their home in Timber Bridge.   
     Although Julia had seen her picture, she met her new pet for the first time after Addie's first plane ride.  "There she was, 1-1/2 pounds of fluff in a kitty crate" she says.
    She quickly showed an ability to entertain herself, wrestling toys from towels Julia dries her off with when she's wet, then sends them bouncing across the floor to give chase. 
    Julia's convinced that Addie has a clear Pennsylvania preference. "When we return to Florida and get near Sarasota, she begins looking out the window, almost to say, "Ho hmm.  We're back."
   But on the return trip to Mt. Gretna, alone in the back seat, Addie races from window to window when the car turns onto Pinch Road. "By the time we get to the pizza shop, she's crying for joy and so excited. She's saying, 'We're home.'"

Bailey and Beau

     Mandy and Brad Yeingst of Timber Hills met on a blind date Feb. 20, 1982. Brad's sure about the  exact date because, as a devoted fan of stock car racing, he'd just come back from his first race at the Daytona 500.
   He's just as passionate about fire engines. He is, in fact, a key member of the Mt. Gretna firefighting team, which claims almost as much of his time as his business as a commercial printer.
   More than 30 years later, after raising two sons and a daughter, they now have three grandchildren, a 10-year-old sheltie named Jigger, and their newest passion, two Cavalier King Charles puppies.
  They were out walking near the Timbers last month when our photographer caught up with them and Bailey, a 1-1/2 -year old female, and Beau, a male that will celebrate his first birthday this month. If all goes well, the Yeingsts hope to soon have additional puppies for sale.
   Might they keep one from the first litter for themselves? It's possible, says Mandy. "I don't know what the limit is, but I'd like to have at least one more, maybe two. They're one of the best things that ever happened in our lives."

   John and Marianne Spychalski (pronounced spy-HALL-ski) love Standard


   Porter, 7, shown here dominating the couch alongside Marianne, is their third.
   "They're smart, obedient (most of the time) and good watchdogs," she says.
   They're also adaptable. Porter has been a suburbanite, a farm dog and a denizen of Mt. Gretna for the past several years. He arrived at the age of 6 months on the recommendation of a New Jersey breeder who also specializes in rescues.
   For Marianne, a former laboratory technician who now

sometimes works at an Artisan's Gallery along Lancaster's popular Gallery Row, a certain orderliness about Porter appeals to her.
   His stuffed animal toys are not stuffed animals at all but rather "possessions." Each has its place upstairs or downstairs, but he sometimes has trouble deciding which belongs where. . .  and when.
  Such indecisiveness, however, has a cure. Porter came to just the right home. 
  His master, owner and chief counselor is John, a practicing psychologist for the past 35 years.  


  As this series proves, many Mt. Gretnans adopt dogs. Meet Roscoe, the 10-year-old


Pug that adopted Chef-on-the-Go Becky Briody.

   Becky wasn't looking for a dog and didn't really have time for one as  Mt. Gretna's busiest caterer. But when Roscoe's former owners both died within days of each another two years ago, a Facebook call for help went out from the other side of the world.   

   Sheryl Mellor, a former Mt. Gretnan who is now a translator on the Pacific island of New Caledonia, needed someone to care for the pug her parents had rescued from almost certain death in a Lancaster County puppy mill.
   Although Becky had no idea of how she would do it, she told Sheryl (a friend with whom she had grown up in the Heights) that Roscoe could come to live with her. That's how this handsome pug has been saved twice so far. Who says only cats have nine lives?


   From the day he was born ten years ago, this Yorkshire Terrier named Maxie seemed

destined to someday wind up in Mt. Gretna.

   Leeshaun Musick, who lives in Bellefonte, Pa., with her husband Kevin and their son,  had been searching throughout Pennsylvania for another Terrier like the one that had been their pet for the past 16 years.

   The day after their dog died on Christmas Day, Maxie was born -- in the same Bellefonte neighborhood where the Musicks themselves lived.


    As for the chances that Maxie would someday come to Mt. Gretna, three generations of Leeshaun's family had grown up spending their summers here. Her parents had their first swimming date at the lake. And after the Musick's daughter was born, she spent summers here, as well, and had her first date in Mt. Gretna. Now 26 and married, "she has a beautiful child," says her mother.

   During the summer, Mt. Gretna is where Leeshaun and Kevin spend most of their time. Their son William, 16, volunteers at Gretna Theatre and has also become a member of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Jazz Band, thanks to the guidance and support of Timbers Dinner Theatre manager Tap Roberts. 
   Meanwhile, Kevin finds their 6th Street cottage convenient to Harrisburg Airport for his frequent trips as a fund-raising executive for Pennsylvania State University.

   As for Maxie's fate, things couldn't have turned out better. He has three Yorkshire Terrier friends in the Campmeeting. And the treatment he receives, especially from Leeshaun is, well, kingly.
  "He sits with us on my lap, and I feed him off the table. I do everything wrong, and he's spoiled. That's what he loves," she says. Ever wonder why they call it "a dog's life"

   Golden retrievers always fetch ducks, pheasants and other small game. Maybe the morning newspaper, too.
   So when Barbara Maley found Simon, she was determined he'd


Jane Mourer photo

do just that. Yet the training manual warned that while fetching newspapers is possible, it's tough to teach.
   That was all Barbara, a teacher by profession, needed to hear.
   She was used to impossible feats. After returning from the Mt. Gretna Tour of Homes year after year and yearning to buy a cottage, her husband, a busy Lancaster orthopedic surgeon, finally said, "Oh, for heaven's sakes, go ahead."
   That was all Barbara needed. Six months after she bought their Chautauqua cottage, he finally stopped by to see it.
   It wasn't the White Elephant he expected.
   Barbara had done an excellent job of not only finding the cottage but also getting it ready for summer. Moreover, Dr. Maley found several projects to keep busy, including the addition of a second bathroom.
   "He's talented and can do anything. Before you knew it, he was doing things that I wanted done, but it did not need much. He loves being in Mt. Gretna and sometimes stops doing things and naps on the porch. For a workaholic, that's progress!"
  When she applied the same determination to Simon, miracles happened.  She started to teach him to fetch the newspaper exactly as the manual instructed.  Dr. Maley tried, too, but soon stopped. "I give up, Barbara," he said. "Simon never will learn to bring in the newspaper."
   Barbara persisted. "I kept trying, and one day, it clicked. He started to do it, and it's been such fun."  Now, she's onto her next project, training him to become a therapy dog with children.
   Meanwhile, Simon loves coming up for his 3- to 4-mile walks in Mt. Gretna, where Barbara first came as a Lancaster County teenager. "I'm an old-fashioned girl -- I like kicking back in time. This was the place for me. And everybody here is wonderful."
   Our reporter asked if robots and Amazon delivery drones might someday replace Golden Retrievers. Her instant reply: "Do you think they could wag their tails, almost talk and smile as if to say, 'Look at me, look at me. Look at what I've done for you'"?







John H. Stoudt (1915 - 2014)    John Stoudt, who had served as president of the Mt. Gretna Heights Community Association and was a charter member of the Mt. Gretna Rotary Club, died last month at age 99 in Cornwall Manor. He was the husband of the late Margaret "Peg" Stoudt and had been a member and former treasurer of the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church as well as a volunteer with the Mt. Gretna Fire Company. A complete obituary appears online.






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

commercial interests, or political ax to grind.  

It produces no income but much pleasure and many friendships. Roger Groce