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Mount Gretna E-Mail Newsletter No. 28 July 17, 2003

In Mount Gretna, is July busier than August? Or does it somehow just seem that way this year? So much is going on nowadays days that our flagging reporters are struggling just to keep up with it all. Photographer Dale Grundon, however, has captured it with kaleidoscopic summer scenes at

Herewith, the highlights of a busy, very busy, month:


[] What’s the latest on getting cell phones in Mount Gretna? Nothing definite, nothing imminent, but some interesting stirrings nonetheless. Campmeeting supervisor Merv Lenz says that several weeks ago, TowerLink America, an Oklahoma firm, asked about using that blue, 55 ft. water tower along Pinch Road as a cell phone antenna site. TowerLink acts as an agent for municipalities seeking to rent antenna space atop their water towers. “Rather than building new towers,” says TowerLink’s Shanon Laird, “we’re urging the cellular companies to use the ones that are already there. Water towers are usually in the highest locations, so why not put cell phone antennas on them?” He adds, however, that communications companies are attracted to high-traffic areas. “So it’s slow going, especially in places like Mount Gretna that have small populations and difficult topography.”
Although TowerLink is not actively negotiating with anyone for space atop the Campmeeting’s 60-year-old tower, an intern on assignment for Verizon was here last week, scouting possible sites. He asked specifically about the Campmeeting’s water tower. But a Verizon official said yesterday that getting cell service here is likely to be a long, slow process and “nothing is on tap for 2003.”
Meanwhile, readers continue to ask “why not use those 400- and 1,000-ft. towers atop Television Hill?” As we reported in our very first issue more than two years ago, ”An engineer at WLYH-TV says that's unlikely. Aside from worries about interfering with the panoply of communications gear already renting space on the towers, engineers are concerned about the wind resistance that any new equipment might add.”
So the quest for cell phone service continues. Perhaps a bit more hopeful now than before. But still with big hurdles to jump. We’ll keep you posted.

[] What’s up with Gretna Music? A search is underway to find a successor to Doug Blackstone, one of the best guys you’ll ever meet. Doug (who for the past five years has been coping with that arduous 120-mile daily commute from Baltimore), has accepted an offer to lead Baltimore’s Choral Arts Society, starting in September. So Gretna Music has begun the process of seeking a new executive director. “Although we wish that Doug could stay with us, he leaves with our sincere good wishes and profound gratitude for a job exceptionally well done,” said Gretna Music founder Dr. Carl Ellenberger.

[] When will the Mount Gretna Design Center open? No opening date yet, says owner John Mitchell, rushing between appointments. Probably sometime next month, when it will serve as headquarters for LaCigale, the distributor of French Provincial tablecloths and other imported fabrics. You can see colorful examples online at, or covering the outdoor tables at LaSorelle Porch & Pantry Cafe, as well as in the Cicada Festival’s distinctive new banners . Earlier this spring, John told us he hoped to have the building completed and open for shops, galleries, offices and perhaps a coffee shop in time for the Art Show.

[] What were those workers doing recently along the crest of Pinch Road? Laying electrical lines for the new Governor Dick Nature Center. A Lebanon firm, Woodland Contractors Inc., won the $272,000 bid, and construction on the 2,200-sq.-ft log-cabin-style building, expected to take about six months, should finally get underway in September. Board member Tom Harland, a Mount Gretna Heights resident, says the Center has all the funds it needs to complete the building.

[] When will they reopen the Pinch Road bridge to Rte. 72? Prior to the Art Show if not before, says Rapho Township manager Nancy Halliwell. The bridge is now finished, but before it’s ready to use, township officials want to widen and repave the roadway from Rte. 72 to Cider Press Road. Nancy hopes to have the Pinch Road project wrapped up in the next three weeks. She also says that the Colebrook Road detour near Mastersonville ( where they’re installing two lanes over what was formerly a one-lane bridge) will be done by the time school starts.

[] What’s new at the art show this year? Well, by golly, readers of Harrisburg Magazine just voted Mount Gretna’s Art Show as winner of the Readers’ Choice Award. As announced in the August issue, our show received over 40 percent of the votes cast for art shows in Central Pennsylvania. A feather in the cap of director Linda Bell and all the many volunteers who’ve been making the magical event happen since Bruce Johnson, Reed Dixon and several others got things started 29 years ago. Linda says the free art show tickets for area residents will go out in the mail early next month.
Speaking of Bruce, he’ll be here at this year’s show Aug. 16-17, displaying his art and autographing his new book, “It’s A Fine Line,” one of the most delightful works we’ve come across this summer.

[] Which homes are on the house tour this year? A splendid lineup of 11 homes, cottages and gardens described at the website Gracious homeowners who help make the tour possible each year not only benefit Gretna Music, which receives the proceeds, but also the entire community—by attracting many people who later buy property here—adding a rich assortment of talents, ideas and resources in the process. Just how many current residents first discovered Mount Gretna on the tour or during the Art Show? Nobody knows exactly. But almost everyone knows a dozen or more, and we suspect they’re some of the ablest among us.

AND IN OTHER NEWS (45 words or less)

[] Joe and Reenie Macsisak have a solid hit on their hands with those new “University of Mount Gretna Alumni” sweatshirts. Somebody asked Chautauquan Elmer Seiger where, exactly, the University is located. Not missing a beat, Elmer replied, “On the other side of Snitz Creek.”

[] Artist Les Miller, just back from an art show at the Outer Banks, lamented selling only one of 32 shell jewelry pieces he'd created especially for that show. "Just proves," said fellow artisan Dale Grundon, "you can't sell sea shells by the sea shore."

[] Kathy Snavely has a friend looking to buy a three-bedroom home here for around $160,000. Know of something? Drop Kathy a note to She’ll pass it along.

[] Attorney Matt Royer, who recently became a Mount Gretna resident, says the Conewago Creek association will focus on fresh water mollusk protective measures at its July 26 meeting. For details, see or call 717-964-1320. The creek’s headwaters run through Mount Gretna’s gamelands.

[] Lebanon native Lowell Lanshe (, who enjoyed Mount Gretna as a youngster, wonders if anyone has a cottage to rent next month. “I moved away 30 years ago,” he says, “and would like to return for a week this August.”

[] Campmeeting residents invite ALL Mount Gretnans to a community picnic July 26 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Hot dogs, baked beans, desserts, games and visits with friends are main ingredients. Food donations and volunteer helpers welcome. Everyone’s invited, says organizer Martha Brod (964-2018), e-mail

[] Bob and Jane Swartz offer antique Gretna Playhouse posters from the 1930s in “near mint” condition. Some feature “The Gretna Players” and A. E. Scott, the theater’s first director (1928-1940). Call 566-0967 or 964-1153. E-mail:

[] Lanie Allen, the employee relations manager whose search for a Mount Gretna home we mentioned last April, found a temporary residence in the Campmeeting. But she still wants to buy a permanent home by next spring, ideally a fixer-upper around $125,000. She’s at

[] Muhlenberg Avenue resident Dick Smith says a 90-ft. Hemlock near his cottage had 130 annual rings before woolly adelgids killed it last spring. So, although horticulturalists suspect most Mount Gretna Hemlocks were planted, that one got started even before Pennsylvania’s Chautauqua was founded.

[] Cycling for a good cause, Linda Bell and Kay Care rode 102 miles last Saturday and another 75 on Sunday, helping raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Sidekick Ellen Holsopple, sidelined by a broken ankle, hopes to rejoin the spirited cyclists soon.

[] The Cicada Festival presents “Greed,” a film still relevant to today and starring Zasu Pitts, at Chautauqua’s Community Building July 23 starting at 7:00 p.m. It’s part of Cicada’s popular Family Film Festival.

[] Cicada’s all-star line up begins Aug. 4 with an 80-man chorus and continues with The Eaken Piano Trio, the Navy Band’s rock ensemble, sing-along artist Jim Rule, and the spectacular Philadelphia Organ Quartet (Aug. 12). Tickets and information: 964-2046 or

[] Leaving Mount Gretna to begin a “new adventure” as permanent residents of Hilton Head, S.C., Kent and Mary Jane Fox will depart July 28. They’ve lived here 30 years and take with them the good wishes of friends throughout the community.

[] Returning to Mount Gretna completes a circle of fond memories that began in infancy for Princeton Avenue’s Linda Wilson. As a child, she fed Campmeeting squirrels and chipmunks with her aunt and uncle, grandparents of Donna Wingate, who owns a cottage on Harvard Avenue.

[] Quoits enthusiasts are reviving a 1930s-era Mount Gretna tradition. Players are pitching quoits (flat rings of iron) in the Campmeeting’s newly refurbished quoits beds under roof along Rte. 117. Scott Bly and Merv Lenz, citing a Quoits Association that once flourished here, report growing enthusiasm.

[] The Tabernacle received a surprise donation recently. Someone in Frackville, Pa., moving to a new home, decided they couldn’t take their Allen organ along. So they donated it to the Tabernacle. “It’s not a church organ”, says Merv Lenz, “but we’re happy to get it.”

[] Former Mount Gretnan Harry Shucker, helping daughter Cherington move from Carnegie-Mellon to prepare for her Luce Fellowship assignment in China, plans a brief visit here next month. “No trip to Pennsylvania,” says the Furman University official, “would be complete without stopping at the Jigger Shop.”

[] The peripatetic Evelyn Duncan, traveling in her new motorhome, has traversed the U.S.A. since leaving Mount Gretna last January. She’s returned here briefly before heading for Germany to visit a former exchange student. Afterwards, she’ll “follow the fall” down the Atlantic coast to Florida.

[] Proud mom Debbie Clemens reports that daughter Caitlin Groff has just earned degrees in Biological Sciences and Spanish at Vanderbilt University.


9 Families living in Mount Gretna year round when Kent Fox moved here as a fifth-grader. Kent and wife Mary Jane, as mentioned above, are moving to Hilton Head, S.C.

50 Years of marriage for Barb and Al Fishman, who celebrate their anniversary Aug. 11. The well-known Mount Gretna artist and her husband, a retired veterinarian and talented musician, enjoy ushering at the Playhouse, exchanging ideas with other artists, and say they “feel like we’re on vacation all year ‘round.”

66,000 Gallons of water in the Campmeeting tank that communications planners are eyeing as a possible cell phone antenna perch. (Officials say that if they ever did affix an antenna there, they’d probably attach it with epoxy, not bolts or welding.) Although a Verizon spokesman said yesterday that they’re taking a close look at all their options here, nothing is likely to happen anytime soon.

3 Stained glass classes this summer taught by Dale Grundon. At first, they planned on only one class of eight students. Surging demand, however, forced the addition of a second class this month. Now there’s a third session (scheduled Aug. 20) with room for one more student. Like to join? Call Kathy Edrman, 964-3462.

60 Years of marriage celebrated by Ruth and Stanley Paul, who own the cottage at 222 Brown Ave. where sisters, brothers, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren streamed in from across the country last weekend to honor the couple.

ARLO A. SHAY (1932-2003)
“When I was young, I admired clever people. As I grew old, I came to admire kind people,” wrote the well-known author Harold Kushner. Arlo A. Shay, who passed away last month at the age of 70, was, to those who knew him best, a kind person.
He lived on Valley Road during the summer and in Florida during the winter. But perhaps his most visible legacy endured here all year long—the meticulously kept Timber Hills Apartments that have afforded many Mount Gretnans the opportunity to remain close to a community they love.
Even more than that, perhaps, is the help he extended to people seeking to buy a home. Following the funeral at Mount Gretna’s United Methodist Church June 21, notes of gratitude poured in to Arlo’s widow Pat. They were from people who, without Arlo’s help as a member of the executive board of Steitz Savings and Loan, would otherwise have been unable to buy their homes. Said one, summing up the feelings of many, “He took a chance on us.”
A 1950 graduate of Lebanon High School, he was a self-employed building contractor and an Air Force veteran of the Korean War. He was also a member of Elizabethtown Masonic Lodge F&AM, the Quentin Riding Club, and a lifetime member of both the Mount Gretna fire company and Elstonville Sportsmens Association. He had been a trustee of Linden Hall Girls School and a NASCAR official.
At the July 4th celebration, the Rehrersburg Keystone Band played its final patriotic tune this year in tribute to Arlo Shay, a kind person.


Mount Gretna resident Terry Miller, a contractor, golfer and friend, isn’t normally in attendance at those classical music concerts on Sunday nights at the Playhouse. But a few years ago, he dropped by to hear a small orchestra. Watching the musicians perform, he admired their professionalism, and noted the expressions on their faces. That made an indelible impression on Terry, someone with an eye for skill and precision: “Imagine,” he said, “what would happen if everybody approached their jobs with that level of intensity.”

We recalled that recently when someone else, in an entirely different setting, was talking about the folks who run Mount Gretna’s post office. “We’re so lucky to have people like Steve and Cathy,” they said, adding, “They go out of their way to be helpful.”

Informed of the remark, Steve brushed it off. “Oh, that’s not unusual for people in small towns to say about their local post office,” he demurred, tossing the complement aside with typical modesty. The truth is, however, that Steve Strickler and Cathy Dugdale approach their jobs earnestly, giving their best each and every day, just like those musicians. And that led us to reflect that the same might be said of so many others here: The officers who patrol our neighborhoods. The volunteer firemen who protect our lives and property. The crews who keep our streets and pathways neat. The people, both in and outside Mount Gretna, who make sure that essential services like water and electricity continue to flow.

From our perspective, all are people who care, all are people with commitment and dedication, and all are people who make a difference in our lives. Day in and day out, they give their best, making their own special kind of music.

And when people give their best, audiences ought to stand up and applaud. That’s what we’re doing here.

With kindest regards,

Roger Groce, 213 Stevens Avenue