Mt. Gretna E-Mail Newsletter

"A Bulletin For Folks Who Love Mount Gretna. . . Wherever They Happen to Live"
Newsletter Home
Join Our Mailing List
Email: The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

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

No. 158                                                                                                           March 1, 2015

Early on a morning in the middle of February, Ken Narehood stood outside on his snow-covered deck along Lakeview Drive and aimed a Sony DSC-H9 at the tiniest of attractions poised on a frosty branch about 15 ft. away.  In his viewfinder was one of the season's youngest bluebirds, a fluff of color and part of a small flock that began showing up a few days before.  Surely amid even the repeated blows of winter, this signals that spring cannot be far off. For photo buffs, Mr. Narehood captured the moment through a 78 mm lens, set at f/4 and 1/160th of a second. A picture perfect result and example of how Mt. Gretna's year 'rounders draw upon their surroundings and talents to make the most of a winter's day.

More on what makes Mt. Gretna special

   After dispatching this newsletter's December issue, I promised on my website I'd be back before the first robin appeared in Mt. Gretna.

  Ken Narehood's bluebird photo arrived a few days ago -- an exquisite reminder that I'd better get busy. This month's issue is a scramble to catch up with where I left off.

   Though it's been a tough winter for Mt. Gretna's year-rounders, the glad tidings of March are that spring lies merely the wisp of a wing away.

   Still, the respite has been welcome. A little time off now and then gives the soul a chance to rest, travel,  read, and catch up on some household duties that get shuttled aside when the newsletter is running at full tilt.
  Yes, even a hobby that's a labor of love takes more time than I sometimes realize. But nothing is more satisfying. Not golf, travel or even a Parker's
barbecue sandwich topped with slaw on our trips through North Carolina. This letter is a way of connecting with friends who share my fondness for Mt. Gretna.

   Some of them I discovered this year down in Sarasota, Fla., where photographer Madelaine Gray has now taken up full-time residence.  She invited all Mt. Gretnans in Florida to a gathering in January.  A surprising number turned up in her new living room.

   Sarasota has a birds-of-a-feather appeal to Mt. Gretnans. It's one of America's leading arts centers.  Several exhibiting artists who were there one weekend in January have also been exhibitors at the Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show. 

   Just like Mt. Gretna in mid-summer, the whole town bustles with concerts, lectures and talented folk, a cultural cornucopia.

   Yet my travels also reinforced another truth:  When Marlin Seiders noted more than a decade ago that Mt. Gretna isn't a place but a spirit, he also helped identify its powerful pull on our heartstrings. To be sure the lure is an amalgam of sparkling assets -- the hills, trees and cottages placed on the hillside with almost a jeweler's delicate touch.  Yet it's also a cluster of kindred spirits, magnetically drawn to this setting.  Take away its inhabitants and their spirited constellation of artistic endeavors and you're left with wooden cottages in a nearly silent forest. The magic of a Mt. Gretna absent its inhabitants suddenly subsides by half.

  Something about Mt. Gretna's people engenders an energy you can feel the moment you touch down here, something that transcends ordinary measurements. It is not merely professional or academic laurels or trappings of high achievement of its inhabitants. Genuinely good people -- our talented neighbors -- radiate a special quality.
   Whether they sing, or sculpt or paint or sew, all who are drawn to Mt. Gretna share the heart and soul of artists. They respond instinctively to its bright beacon. And whether we are gone for a day, a week or a month, it is a glow that says to us all once we return, "Welcome home" as nothing else can.    -- Roger Groce                                                    


   Photographer Jane Mourer stayed out late on a wintery night in mid-February to capture this ethereal glimpse of the Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church steeple.
   Her picture captivated historian Tom Meredith, who sees it as symbolizing "the spirit of the congregation that first met in the Tabernacle for year-round Sunday worship in 1944, led by Lebanon Valley College student Marlin Seiders." 
    The Mt. Gretna worshippers organized first as a United Brethren Community and in 1952 as a United Methodist congregation. Ten years later, they erected the present church with its steeple, standing out in this photograph "white against the cold and icy sky, an enduring beacon in the darkness," says Mr. Meredith.  
   Ms. Mourer used a Panasonic DMC FZ 200 camera with a 27.4 mm lens set at f/2.8 for 1/6 (0.167) of a second. The result was a photograph that also attests to the seemingly relentless grip of the Winter of 2015




Now, an informational hub to encompass all Mt. Gretna communities

  Humans show a remarkable ability to adapt to changing circumstances, even in traditionalist Mt. Gretna. Changes do indeed come slowly here, but maybe at a pace that's just right. Much to the delight of nearly everyone who prefers life in the slow lane.

   Yet for the first time in recent memory, folks from every sector of the community -- all seven of the diverse neighborhoods that make up the distinctive geographic enclave that most outsiders regard as "Mt. Gretna" -- have formed an organization made up of residents from the Campmeeting, Chautauqua, Mt. Gretna Heights, Stoberdale, Timber Hills, Timber Bridge and the tiny 16-home community of Conewago Hill. 
   The idea was sparked by long-time resident Karl Gettle, whose roots go back to the days when inspectors opened refrigerator doors in the Campmeeting to assure nothing untoward was going on inside private cottages.

   From those early days in the 1950s until now, each of Mt. Gretna's neighborhoods kept pretty much independent of each other, for reasons both practical and traditional.

   All that is changing, however.  A recent string of burglaries in mostly vacant homes has sent up a need for closer communications, proving that even ill winds can bring value.

   Mr. Gettle has arranged for designated representatives in each neighborhood to meet once a month and share experiences, ideas and problems needing the wisdom, counsel and collaboration of close neighbors.

   The sessions began last month in the meeting room in back of the Post Office and will continue on fourth Tuesdays of every month, says Mr. Gettle, who formerly helped set up the Mt. Gretna Art Show and was a school superintendent in Baltimore County and then directed the Maryland Center for Career and Technical Studies before retiring to Mt. Gretna 16 years ago.

   Appointed as neighborhood representatives who will serve as contact persons are:

    Rhoda Long (Timber Bridge); Greg Pappariella (Conewago Hill ); Evelyn Koppel (Timber Hills.); Chuck Allwein and Alan Feldman (Chautauqua/Mt. Gretna Borough); Max Hunsicker (Mt. Gretna Heights); and David Lloyd (Campmeeting). Pending appointment of a Stoberdale representative, residents there may contact Mr. Gettle directly (964-2292).

   Residents who need phone numbers or email addresses for their neighborhood contact may contact Evelyn Koppel at 717-964-3412 or

 Tips to Give Your Home a Lived-In Look

*    Have snow shoveled

*    Bring in trash cans

*    Keep lights on timers (which must be re-set after power failures)

*    Ask a neighbor to make occasional checks inside your unoccupied property.

   The idea is not just to deal with the rare break-ins that have suddenly appeared, says Ms. Koppel.  "We'd like to serve as a clearing house for ideas that can boost the enjoyment of Mt. Gretna in every neighborhood.  We want to know about ways to protect our trees and the environment, ideas to curb noise and promote tranquility in this community, and other measures that can enhance everyone's enjoyment of this special place."




Where to look for spring chickens?  

Mt. Gretna's a good place to start

  As he grew into his 90s, legendary Mt. Gretna historian Jack Bitner often surprised people in Timber Hills by showing up on brisk afternoon walks more than a mile from his Chautauqua home.  

  As he approached 89, Pete Light sometimes startled his Conewago Hill neighbors by plowing snow down his driveway on the coldest days of winter, sitting atop his tractor and happily smoking a cigar.    

   And former Mt. Gre Tom Meredith, now 93 and once again quoted in this month's issue, regularly chimes in with contributions to this newsletter with penetrating insights into Mt. Gretna life that few others can match. 

   Such people cast long shadows, an influence that even they themselves may never have realized. 

  Yet they have all helped inspire "Spring Chicken," the latest book of journalist Bill Gifford, who divides his time between Mt. Gretna, New York City and globetrotting assignments for leading magazines. 

   "I'll never forget the time I ran into Jack Bitner, well past 80, on a trail deep in the Governor Dick reservation," he says. 

   Mr. Gifford's interest in the subject of aging and the possibilities that scientists are now discovering to slow down that process was stimulated, in part, by the examples he found in Mt. Gretna. "I have a long list of role models here," he says. 

  "We're obviously a bit of an older community, and it's been inspiring to see such a critical mass of fit, sociable, intellectually-engaged and community-minded older people working together here," says Mr. Gifford. 

   Among those he admires are "people 20 years older than me who still give me a hard time on our bike rides." 

    He described some of the breakthroughs of science in his new book during recent appearances on shows such as Dr. Oz and NPR's Fresh Air

   Published last month, "Spring Chicken" has already jumped to a No. 1 best-seller spot in Amazon's Gerontology Social Sciences category. 

  "You need this book," says "Born to Run" author Christopher McDougall."I grabbed it like a life preserver. It leaves you with the good news that by adopting a few easy-to-understand discoveries, you might just deactivate the time bombs in your fat cells... and follow in the successful aging of a 92-year-old pole vaulter." 

   Another bestselling author, Daniel Coyle, called it "a whip-smart guide to living a longer and healthier life." 

   Mr. Gifford, together with Harper's Bazaar design director Elizabeth Hummer, is now remodeling the Muhlenberg Avenue home once owned by Jack and Jeanine Bitner. He describes the book as "a kind of personal investigation into the science of aging." It raises some "intriguing possibilities" of how to slow the process, he says.  Developments he's uncovered might turn out to be "as significant as penicillin," adds his publisher.  

   Confident he's onto something, Mr. Gifford has more than science to back him up. His grandmother, Doris, is nearly 100. He's determined to get there, too.




   Sarasota's magnetic Mt. Gretna attraction was evident soon after the harsh Winter of 2015 began.
   Even before the snows began piling up at home, a gathering that attracted folks from Mt. Gretna who were spending time in Florida in mid-January drew a small crowd.
  Clockwise from left, seated: Doug Lorenzen, Pam Bishop, Evelyn Koppel, Carol Groce and Marcia Judd. Standing: Lee Ellis and Mary Ann Gray (son-in-law and daughter of Dorothy Gray, seated), Julia Phillips, Bruce Judd, Geri Benseman, Ed and Patsy Landis; Shirley and Terry Miller. Seated, right: Sid Hostetter, Larry Phillips, Roger Groce and Sarasota's newest resident, Madelaine Gray (who will still be a Mt. Gretna Art Show exhibitor this year).

   Jeff and Deborah Hurst are the Mt. Gretna Community Library sparkplugs who energize the fascinating programs that take place there each summer.
   Even as snowflakes swirled around the library last month, the Hursts were out looking for more volunteers to propel this summer's activities.
   Needed are people to read aloud in four children's programs and provide suitable age crafts.  (Expenses for supplies are reimbursed.)  A perfect assignment for anyone who loves to teach children. Contact the Hursts at




 Call Met-Ed after EVERY power failure 


   Met-Ed gives top priority to outages affecting the greatest numbers of people. Your call helps pinpoint the scope of an outage and may help speed repair crews to Mt. Gretna.  

Call even if your neighbors have also reported the outage, says Met Ed.  

   NOTE:  In extreme weather, the Mt. Gretna Fire Company provides emergency shelter during power outages of more than three hours. Bring medications and medical equipment, sleeping bag or blanket, food for yourself and family members, books, games and other materials to help pass the time.  

No facilities available for pets.






Recent Obituary Notices

Earl Donald Besch (1926 - 2015)

   Earl Besch, age 88, died February 1, 2015, at Harrisburg Hospital. in Lancaster, Pa. on September 15, 1926, he was the son of Earl C. and Mary Mowery Besch.

   Earl was a 1944 graduate of J.P. McCaskey High School. He left school in March, 1944, to enlist in the Army Air Force. He was assigned to Gettysburg College and then to further training in active duty. After being discharged in 1946, he completed his education and earned a B.A. degree from Gettysburg College in 1948. While in college, he was an active member of Sigma Chi fraternity, and he also was elected a member of the honorary organization Pi Lambda Sigma.

   Following graduation, Earl moved back to Lancaster and became a purchasing agent with Armstrong Linoleum Company. He later accepted a sales position with Nabisco Company. After many years working in sales with health and beauty products, he formed his own business, Besch and Associates, as a manufacturer's representative, and continued working in this role until his death.

   Earl was predeceased by his parents, and is survived by his high school sweetheart and beloved wife of 66 years, Nancy Adams Besch; a sister, Dorothy Grim, and her husband, William, of Lancaster; a son, Donald Besch and his wife, Ursula, of Dallas, TX; daughters, Kathy Hamilton and her husband, Robert G., of Camp Hill, Susan Pera and her husband, Albert E., of Camp Hill, and Diane Gombocz and her husband, John, of Mechanicsburg; two granddaughters, Katrina Besch Tufaro and her husband, Edward, of Houston, TX, and Kristen Besch Bierschenk and her husband, David, of Bartlesville, OK; two grandsons, Robert B. Hamilton and his wife, Laura, of Camp Hill, and Mark W. Hamilton and his wife, Brandy, of Camp Hill; eight great-grandchildren, Christopher, Maria, Caroline, and Sophia Tufaro, James and Emily Bierschenk, Elle Hamilton, and Grace Hamilton. He is also survived by several nieces, a nephew, and cousins.

   Earl was very active in his church and community. He was an ordained Elder and Deacon at Camp Hill Presbyterian Church and at Market Square Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg. He served as a Republican Committeeman for many years in Camp Hill. He was also a supporter of numerous community projects in Camp Hill. Most recently, he was a supporter of the Plein Air Arts Festival in the Borough of Camp Hill.

Earl and Nancy spent their summers at their cottage in Mt. Gretna. There, Earl was a member of the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, and he served as President of the Board for many years.

   Above all, he treasured time with his family and his many friends. His warmth and his love will always be remembered by all whose lives he touched.

   A celebration of life was held Feb. 14 at Market Square Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg. Myers-Harner Funeral Home in Camp Hill handled the arrangements.

   Earl always had a soft spot in his heart for children in need. Memorial contributions may therefore be made to the Camp Hill Lion Foundation, care of the Earl Besch Memorial Fund, 2627 Chestnut Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011, or to The Joshua Group, 1442 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17103.


Jeanine Bitner (Died Dec. 22, 2014)

   Jeanine Bitner, 94, formerly of Mt. Gretna, passed away Dec. 22, 2014 at Country Meadows of Lancaster. Born in Galesburg, IL, she was the daughter of the late Hubert and Helene Berquist Stephenson. She was the wife of the late John D. "Jack" Bitner, who passed away in 2008.

   Jeanine was a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where she met Jack. They lived in Baltimore, where she was a fifth grade teacher at the Friends School in Baltimore and earned her Master's degree in education from Goucher University.

   Following retirement, they moved to Mount Gretna, where Jeanine was able to spend more time enjoying horseback riding and painting.

   She is survived by a son, Robert, husband of Carol, Elizabethtown; a daughter, Joan, wife of Tom Brown, Lancaster; 3 grandchildren; and a sister Mary Lee Hagelin, CT. She is preceded in death by her husband and a sister Viola.

  A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Marie A. Brubaker (Died Jan. 10, 2015)


   Marie Brubaker, 93, of Lancaster, died Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, at Willow Valley Retirement Communities. She was the widow of John H. Brubaker, Jr., who died in 1995. in Lancaster, she was the daughter of the late Jacob F. Aierstock and Blanche Christ Aierstock.

   She graduated from McCaskey High School, Linden Hall Junior College, Pembroke College of Brown University, and the Rhode Island School of Design.

   A lifelong artist, she exhibited her work at the Marion Art Center, Lancaster Galleries, the Lancaster Library, the Mt. Gretna Art Gallery and other locations. She directed the art department at Conestoga Valley High School in the 1960s. She was instrumental in starting the county's Scholastic Art Awards program and the Mt. Gretna Art Show.

   She was active in a variety of community activities in Lancaster, Bird-in-Hand and Mt. Gretna.

   She is survived by three children: John H. Brubaker III, husband of Christine C. Brubaker, Manor Township; Judith Brubaker Veser, Boca Raton, FL; and Barbara B. DiFrank, wife of Jeffrey M. DiFrank, Manheim Township.

   Eight grandchildren survive: Jennifer V. Besse, wife of Timo Besse, Mt. Gretna; Jonathan B. Veser, husband of Victoria Veser, Phoenixville; Lee C.B. Hicks., wife of Joseph Hicks, Mt. Rainier, MD; J. Nicholas Veser, husband of Dawn Veser, Boca Raton, FL; M. Roger Brubaker, husband of Denise Silfee, Eugene, OR; Julia K. Veser, Lancaster; Katie E. Shickman, wife of Mark Shickman, Manheim Township; and Emily C. Korzon, wife of Andrew Korzon, Manheim Township.

   Six great-grandchildren survive: Ryan N. Veser, Parker J. Veser, Vivian C. Veser, Beatrice L. Hicks, Bennett M Shickman, and Henry E. Shickman.

   She was preceded in death by three sisters and a brother: Beatrice A. Sharrocks, J. Paul Aierstock, Betty A. Moore, and Barbara A. Aierstock.

   A memorial service was held at First United Methodist Church in Lancaster with the Rev. William Lentz, Jr., officiating; interment services were conducted later at the Bird-in-Hand United Methodist Church. Contributions may be made in Marie Brubaker's memory to Hospice and Community Care, PO Box 4125, Lancaster, PA 17604

Al Fishman (1932 - 2015)

   Alvin Fishman, 82, Cornwall, formerly of Mt. Gretna, passed away January 7, 2015 at his residence. He was the husband of Barbara Sterling Fishman. He was born in Vineland, NJ on December 17, 1932, son of the late Harry and Elizabeth "Bess" Freedman Fishman.

  He was raised in Philadelphia and graduated from Temple University and University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School. He was a Korean Conflict Army Veteran. In 1968 he purchased the Palmyra Animal Clinic and loved taking care of pets for over 35 years. He was an accomplished clarinet and sax player, playing with the Chopped Liver Band, Lancaster. He was an avid runner and had participated in several triathlons and a marathon. He was a member of Congregation Beth Israel, Lebanon.

   In addition to his wife he is survived by children, Debbie Gordon, Cleona, Stuart, husband of Robin Fishman, Nemo, SD, Eileen, wife of Jeffrey Freedman, Pittsburgh, 6 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by sister, Pearl Brownstein. A graveside service attended by family and friends was held January 9 at Beth Israel Cemetery, Lebanon with Rabbi Louis Zivic officiating.

Elizabeth S. Flocken (1916 - 2015)
   Betty Flocken was born and grew up in Lebanon, and began coming to Mt. Gretna as a summer resident in 1926, when she was ten years old. Her parents, John A. and Mae L. Berger Saylor, first rented a cottage in the Campmeeting (Pine Breeze on Mills Avenue), but grandfather had just bought a new cottage in the Heights and named it Saylors' Harbor; after two years he sold this cottage to Betty's father, who ran Saylor's Drugstore in Lebanon. Between 1928 and 1990 Betty and her family never missed a single summer on the porch at Saylors' Harbor. In 1991, Betty winterized the cottage and moved in permanently, living there until her death last month at the age of 98.
   Betty was the center of gravity for an extended family that included five generations. She was a social worker for Dauphin County Children and Youth Services for 26 years, and her concern for and delight in children extended to every aspect of her life, including her poetry. She travelled extensively in Europe and across the United States, always in connection with visiting family, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
   Though she loved to travel, she was always glad to come home to her beloved Heights cottage. Family, neighbors, colleagues, and friends of all ages have shared card games, amateur dramatics, writing critiques, birthday cakes, lively conversation and of course the occasional bourbon on her welcoming front porch. 
   Betty was the wife of the late Karl R. Flocken. Betty and Karl had three daughters, Carol, Susan, and Kate. She is lovingly remembered by all her family, now including seven grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, and one great-great. "Gram," as she was known to so many generations, will be dearly missed.

William Lock Harrington (1931 - 2014)

   Bill died peacefully in his sleep after years of living with a severe heart condition. He was a man with a passion for living who fought to stay with his family for as long as he could. He was happiest when surrounded by his children and grandchildren.

   Bill had many talents. A graduate of Harvard and Wharton, he enjoyed classical music and the arts but was a shrewd businessman as well. Having grown up in the Great Depression, it was very important to Bill that his family be financially secure. In 1966, he and Dick Edgerton -- who lived in Mt. Gretna for many years, until his death some time ago -- became partners as Burger King franchisees. They built a thriving business filled with long-time, loyal employees. Bill was grateful when his son Alan took over the business in 2010. Shortly before his death, the business was sold, bringing Bill a great sense of satisfaction knowing his family had the security he desired.  

   Bill and his wife Leane found Mt. Gretna when looking for new locations for restaurants and fell in love with it right away. In 1970 they decided to rent a home in Chautauqua for a month. They soon bought this same house for $10,000 and had great pleasure in attending flea markets and local auctions to furnish it. They raised their three children in this home and Carrie, Alan and Lia still love to visit whenever they can.

   For years, Bill's greatest joy was playing tennis at the Mt. Gretna Tennis Club and going to the lake every afternoon to swim and sit talking with friends under the trees. He loved going out to dinner with the Beach Bums every Sunday night, often at the Hide-A-Way, and also greatly enjoyed dinner at The Timbers.
   Bill never much liked cold weather, and so he opted to spend winters in Florida. Each spring, though, thoughts of Mt. Gretna called him back to his favorite of all places. 

Helen Bowers Hoelbinger (1925 - 2015)

    Helen Bowers Hoelbinger, a longtime resident of the Campmeeting who moved to Elizabethtown about eight years ago, died January 9. She was born January 11, 1925 in Maytown to the late Lau and Florence (Zinn) Tressler. Her official obituary notes that "she had a wonderful life and was first married to Dave Bowers who passed away in 1982. She then married Otto Hoelbinger in 1985; they had a happy life together and he was by her side at the time of her passing." She is survived by a brother and sister-in-law, Earl and Molly Tressler.
   Friends in Mt. Gretna recall she was an excellent  craftsperson who made and sold ceramics at shops in Lancaster. With their Mt. Gretna friends Larry and Sandy Hall, they traveled to shows at Dollywood in Tennessee, at Kempton,  and at the Gratz Fair in Dauphin County.
   Both she and her husband loved Southern Gospel music.
   Funeral services were held January 17th at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Elizabethtown. Memorial contributions may be made in her honor to Parkinson's Disease Foundation, 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, NY 10018.

Franklin R. Straub, Sr. (1935- 2015)

   Franklin R. "Frank" Straub, Sr., 79, passed away unexpectedly at the Hershey Medical Center Jan. 30. He was predeceased in 2013 by his loving wife of over 56 years, Patricia A. (Henning) Straub. Together they had managed the Mt. Gretna Roller Rink where he loved to skate.
   A proud U.S. Army veteran of the Korean Conflict, Mr. Straub worked for Smith Dairy in Palmyra and retired from the Hershey Medical Center where he worked as a security officer for over 17 years. He attended Lebanon Valley Bible Church and is survived by two daughters, two sons, seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and two sisters. He was predeceased by a daughter, Sherry L. Straub. Funeral services were held Feb. 4 in Palmyra with Pastor John B. Hunt officiating.  Burial was at the Campbelltown United Christian Cemetery.



Calendar Updates  

 See also the Mt. Gretna Arts Council calendar online


Sumptuous dinners at the former Hotel Conewago haven't been served for at least 85 years, but these five visitors seemed ready for supper when they arrived last month. A familiar sight to neighbors, they showed up in the Conewago Hill backyard of Val and Eleanor Sarabia, whose home was erected on grounds once occupied by the stately hotel's famed kitchen.                                                                        iPod photo by Val Sarabia  


Sunday, March 1:

Mt. Gretna Fire Company Breakfast, a not-to-be-missed event that everyone looks forward to every year.  Especially this year, as the Winter of 2015 recedes slowly into distant memory.  Is this annual event a harbinger of spring?   

   Yes, perhaps even better even than robins: Out come the eggs and pancakes, sausages and coffee, fruit cups and fixings galore. All inside the warmth of the Fire Hall, amid people you know or want to know. Starting at 8 am and continuing until noon.  


Music by the Fire, a bluegrass jam to warm you up. Gov. Dick Nature Center, 1 to 4 pm.  


Mt. Gretna Pizzeria is open for business following a brief, but welcome, mid-winter vacation for operator Damien Orea and his whole team. Now back in Mt. Gretna from his hometown in Mexico, they have resumed their Tuesday-Sunday wintertime schedule, open for breakfast at 7 am and serving luncheon with Italian specialties until 2 pm Tuesdays-Thursdays. Open 7 am to 8 pm Friday-Sunday. For takeouts: 964-1853.

Timber Lane resident Bernie Yohn captured this photo of a stately Eagle outside his home in January. 

Friday, March 6:

Morning Bird Walk every Friday with Sid Hostetter. Meet at the Chautauqua parking lot, 9 am (followed by lunch, usually at Le Sorelle). Newcomers welcome.

First Friday at the Timbers with this month's displays by the late Susie Afflerbach, a noted local artist. Sales proceeds will be donated to the Lebanon Humane Society and Twisted Whisker Farm Sanctuary by her husband Gregg Afflerbach. Featured also will be the music of Andy Roberts, Scott Galbraith and Bart Briody. Opens 5:30 pm; music 6 to 9 pm. Tel. 964-3601.

Tip: Only regulars seem to know to ask about off-menu items like lima beans, ham and cheese wraps, roast duck or bacon cheeseburgers which are sometimes available but not on the regular menu. "Just ask for it," says chef Rachel. . . kind of like being at home, with the coziest fireside in Mt. Gretna, downstairs.


Mt. Gretna artist Fred Swarr paints to music at Seasons Lancaster's silent auction, 36 West King St., 6 pm. Click here for details.

Saturday, March 7:

Gretna Theatre local auditions Equity Performer and Non-Union auditions, Movement Laboratory, Lebanon, Pa. 10 am to 6 pm.  Click here for details.

Ultralight Backpacking Clinic Bob Ardner shows how to lighten the load on overnight hiking trips. Gov. Dick Nature Center, 1 pm.

Monday, March 9:

Borough Council Meeting, Mt. Gretna Boardroom (at the Post Office), 7 pm.

Supervisors Meeting  West Cornwall Township, Municipal Building, 73 S. Zinns Mill Rd., 7 pm (governs local areas including Mt. Gretna Heights, Campmeeting and Butler and Mine roads).

On a day in late February in the Timber Hills back yard of Sid and Evelyn Hostetter, a hungry pheasant drops by to see what's up. . . or down -- under their newly installed bird feeder.


Tuesday, March 10:

Bethlehem Steel Mining  The first of this year's Friends of Cornwall Iron Furnace lecture series, based on materials assembled by a Cornwall Mine engineer who worked at the site for more than 35 years. Freeman Hall, Cornwall Manor, 7 pm.

Supervisors Meeting  South Londonderry Twp. at the Municipal Building, 20 W. Market St., Campbelltown, 7 pm (governs local areas including 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 discussed (in what's called a "Good and Welfare" session near the meeting's end) are sometimes limited.

Wednesday, March 11:

Chautauqua Board of Managers Meeting, Open to all Chautauqua residents, Mt. Gretna Borough Conference Room, back of the Post Office, 7 pm.

Friday, March 13:

St. Patrick's Day celebration at the Timbers with Irish food specialties and music by "The Bogtrotters" (Andy Roberts, Dale Dourte, Bart Briody and Scott Galbraith)


Saturday, March 14:

Workday for Volunteers Helping to do odd jobs and get ready for another season at Gov. Dick Park, 12 to 3 pm.

Winterreise  Schubert's final completed song cycle at Music at Gretna's winter venue, Elizabethtown College. A pre-concert lecture begins at 6:30pm. The concert, by the Munich Henschel Quartet and American Tenor Theo Lebow, starts at 7:30 pm.

Sunday, March 15:

Fitness Hike Fast-paced four- or five-mile hike at Gov. Dick Park. 9 am.

Summer Calendar Patron Ads are due today for the calendar, the best-read, most-frequently-referred-to pamphlet in Mt. Gretna -- where over 170,000 visitors come every summer for a day, a week or a month or more.

Monday, March 16:

Deadline for Gretna Music Internship 2015 applications.  Click here for details.

Saturday, March 21:

Open House Saturday sponsored by realtors serving the Mt. Gretna area. A good time to explore inside several homes and cottages now on the market.

Narrow Gauge Railroad Walk  Meet at the Gov. Dick Nature Center to carpool to the start of this five-mile-walk if weather conditions and limited group size permit. 12 pm.

Junior Naturalist The first of eight monthly programs begin for a Gov. Dick Park Junior Naturalist patch (must attend at least six programs). $15. 2 pm.

Dinner at the Timbers and Live Entertainment for all in Mt. Gretna (including a cluster of Timber Hills friends and neighbors who were already planning to be here). To make it a grand "goodbye to winter" send-off for the whole town, Mt. Gretnans Ceylon and Karen Leitzel of Leitzel's Jewelry offered to underwrite this event with the appearance of entertainer Erica Lyn Everest and her band. The affair begins at 6 pm; payment required in advance. Call the Timbers, 717-964-3601, or send full payment to the Leitzels at P. O. Box 202, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.  

(Click here for details: Cash bar. Sumptuous dinner buffet ($23 per person) includes roast beef, turkey, breaded veal or ham; seasonal potatoes, three hot vegetables; salad and soup, pasta or potato salad; fruits, bread, dessert bar, coffee, tea and gratuity. Please specify if you'll be seated with the Timber Hills group.

Sunday, March 22:

Winter Weeds Walk  Look for new spring growth and identify seed heads of various plants. Gov. Dick Nature Center, 2 pm.

Wednesday, March 25

The Gathering Place meets today in Fellowship Hall, Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. Freewill offering. Noon. Tip: Here's where you can meet new people and renew old friendships. The gatherings are popular among residents of Cornwall Manor who formerly lived in Mt. Gretna .

Mid-week Lenten Service  for Lebanon County worshipers. Fellowship Hall, Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, 7 pm.

Thursday, March 26

Easter Egg Dye fun at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, 6:30 pm

Saturday, March 28:

Webelos Naturalist Pin workshop  Limited group size, $5 per scout. Gov. Dick Nature Center, 10 am to 1 pm.

Easter Egg Hunt at the Chautauqua Playground 11 am

Sunday, March 29:

Palm Sunday  Services at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, 8:30 and 10 am.

Unplug! Put your gadgets aside and go for a walk through familiar landscape to discover what you've been missing. Gov. Dick Nature Center, 3 pm

Guess who's coming to dinner? Forget the bird seed, says this newcomer to the Hostetters' backyard. Squirrel soup should be on the menu any minute now.


Looking ahead:

Maundy Thursday communion services at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church, April 2 at 7 pm

Good Friday services at Cornwall Manor April 3 at noon with the Rev. Nathaniel Gadsden, former Poet Laureate of the City of Harrisburg.

Easter Sunday Sunrise service at the Campmeeting Tabernacle ( 7 am, with dogs and owners welcome) and 8:30 and 10 am services at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church.

The Colemans and Communities of Mt. Gretna, Cornwall

and Colebrook A special program of the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society with Jim Polczynski. April 12 at the Fire Hall, 2 pm.

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.

Gala Lite! A Gretna Theatre spring fundraiser Sunday, April 26 at The Timbers, 2 pm. Silent auction and heavy hors d'oeuvres. Call 717-964-3322.

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.


              The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

All-Star Award Winner for the past six years. . . with no official status, commercial interests or political ax to grind.   

It produces no income but abundant pleasure and friendships for a retired guy who'd otherwise be underfoot in the kitchen. the many people who proofread, submit photos, edit and prepare this letter for distribution to readers around the world with a fondness for Mt.Gretna, thanks for helping in this venture.
Roger Groce