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Mt. Gretna E-Mail Newsletter No. 34, Mar. 18, 2004


As snow piled up outside cottage windows on Tuesday, Mount Gretna’s year-rounders—who only the day before had glimpsed bluebirds and blue skies—huddled by their firesides and wondered: Might the elusive spring of 2004 once again slip out of sight? Intermittent snows yesterday, reappearing yet this morning, gave little comfort. Goodness knows, everybody—and we do mean everybody—yearns to connect to a new season.

Connecting—whether through people, planning committees or community pipelines—characterizes Mount Gretna this winter. Perhaps most winters, in fact. Winterites, stalwart survivors all, share a special bond.

Heights residents moved to begin work on a pipeline linking their new water supply with the borough’s. They’ll use money from two building lots sold to fund the project (and pay for a well dug two years ago, when one they’d used for 80 years suddenly collapsed.) The pipeline will provide a backup in case of future emergencies. Public works superintendent Bill Care and supervisor Merv Lentz have talked about someday forging a similar link between the borough and Campmeeting water sources.

Across Route 117, the tiny Timber Service Water Company (made up of 16 homeowners and the Timbers Restaurant) reviewed plans to replace its main water conduit: a three-inch wrought iron pipe left over from days of the army's pre-World War I Army encampment. And in Mount Gretna borough, workmen began the final phases of a 20-year project to link the community’s fire hydrants.

Laying both plans and pipelines, year-‘rounders also looked at other items on their long-range agendas. Study teams began exploring an array of possibilities—including maybe carving out a basement under the Community building to provide public restrooms and possibly space for a museum. Others are delving into whether it might be better to erect a separate building elsewhere. Though only in their formative stages, with budgetary rigors yet to be sorted out, the planning seemed propelled by two positive forces: Goodwill and a sense that, working together, Mount Gretnans can help spur this assembly of talent-rich neighborhoods into a robust second century.

Along the Governor Dick hillside, workmen began adding finishing touches to the new 2,200 sq.-ft. log cabin Nature Center, expected to open in late May. Volunteers in the 1,100-acre park have nearly completed posting signs identifying primary and secondary trails, helping guide hikers back to where they started.

And at the base of the hill, along Route 117, workmen were finishing the new Mount Gretna Design Center, where internationally noted cyclist Bill Gentile hopes to open his emporium for bicycle sales and repairs, coffee and healthy snacks, as well as UPS services, perhaps by the middle of April. Once established, his shop may link Mount Gretna to serious cyclists around the world. As his website suggests, his is a North American distribution point for imported European bikes that can sell for $6,000 or more, including an exclusive line of bicycles he has patented and will manufacture in Lancaster. He plans cooperative promotions with local bed and breakfasts, attracting customers from around the country who wish to come in for a weekend, try out a few bikes and get fitted with one tailored to their individual needs. Local restaurants also plan to add extra bike racks, locks and other provisions for serious cycling enthusiasts, he says.

Meanwhile, Gentile pledges to do all he can to assure protections for the environment as Mount Gretna attracts growing numbers of cyclists. “I live here, and I love these lands,” he says. “We’re trying to do everything we can. We go to the best trail-building schools. We gather the best scientific data we can find. And we’re promoting a lifestyle in tune with today’s emphasis on health, family recreation, wise use of the outdoors, and less dependence on fossil fuels.”

Mount Gretna’s pipelines to the future? Promising connections. Shared destinies. And ideas, energy, enthusiasm, and a quest to excel.


It rarely occurs to most of her customers. But the flowers Mary Hernley sells alongside Route 117 each summer weekend not only brighten their cottages. They also bring smiles to people in Indonesia, Africa, Romania, Guatemala and India.

That’s because much of the money she earns goes to support missionaries, widows and orphans in faraway spots around the globe. “The Bible says about looking after widows and orphans,” says Mary, who doesn’t mind if people know her age: It’s 68. She’s been selling flowers in Mount Gretna nearly half her life.

It is a life extending far beyond the boundaries of a 150-acre farm that she and her husband Peter own just north of Manheim in Lancaster County. Enrolled last year in a preservation trust (“We sort of hated to see it get built into buildings,” says Mary), the farm has been in the Hernley family for more than two centuries. Hanging along one wall is a sheepskin deed signed in script by Thomas and Richard Penn, sons of William. Nearby, on radiators throughout the house, containers filled with seeds—germinating the first of this year’s flower crop.

“I order seeds from seven different catalogs,” says Mary. Each year she tries a few different varieties. (Pink calla lilies are among those making their debut this spring.) When seeds—“some as fine as dust”—start sprouting, she moves them to windowsills, then to a greenhouse. “Warm days and cool nights make for a stalky, sturdy and healthy plant,” she says. “In a house, when it’s warm all the time, they get more leggy and fragile.” Like people, plants need a mix of trials and tenderness to grow up strong.

“If enough things are blooming,” she hopes to return to her Mount Gretna stand by Good Friday. “Otherwise, it might be the next week.” After interrupting her flower sales occasionally to attend church conferences during a few weekends in April and May, Mary plans to resume regular Friday-Saturday hours starting the last weekend in June.

All those hours of tending, cutting and selling flowers. How many missionaries around the globe does she support? “Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t add them up. Two or three in India. And Africa. Some widows in Romania. The needs are everywhere. I just found out about a group helping orphans in Guatemala. We keep our ears open, see what’s happening, and what little part we can do to help.”

The Hernleys just returned from a five-week trip in January to Indonesia, where their son-in-law works as a missionary pilot. “I got to go with him in his Cessna. We flew over mountains and valleys and into remote areas without roads. Then suddenly a grass strip appeared, one of about 50 he flies to carrying medical supplies and maybe seven people, if they’re small.”

Meanwhile, who’s tending the farm? Granddaughters from Maine, whose parents also serve in the ministry. “They took care of our 14 lambs while we were gone. When two of the lambs had triplets and the mothers didn’t have enough milk, our granddaughters bottle-fed them. They did a good job.”

Doing good work, nurturing and supporting. It’s a Hernley credo. “Some mornings we get up and have aches and pains. But when you just keep at it,” she says, “those pains go away.” And replacing them? Rewards.

“I enjoy so much what I’m doing, sharing it with the needs of other people. When you see the letters, see your efforts helping in their lives, and see how they in turn help others, it’s rewarding. It just keeps the whole ball rolling.”


Have half an hour to spare on one--just one, mind you--Saturday morning each month?

Then join “Second Saturdays,” the roll-up-your-sleeves corps of gardeners, weeders and sprucer-uppers who’ll tackle gardening chores at 11:00 a.m. during the second Saturdays of May, June, July, August and September.

Sponsored by Mount Gretna’s Garden Club, these once-a-month outings encourage volunteers of all ages—even those without green thumb credentials—to report for duty at the island just in front of the Playhouse. “We have 50 hanging baskets this year for the post office, information center, community building and other locations,” says Sue Loehr. “We’ll need people to help with the hangings, do a little weeding, watering, and maybe some raking. We’ll be done before noon.”

The benefits for Second Saturday volunteers? “People tell me they appreciate our work, but that’s not why I do it,” she says. “I do it because it’s a joy. When I’m digging, it clears out the cobwebs. Plus, it keeps me down to a not-so-trim size14, always a battle.”

To join the Second Saturdays gathering in May, plan to show up at 11:00 a.m. If you can’t come but still would like to help, perhaps at another time or date, Sue encourages you to call her at her shop, Accent On Beauty, 273-6674, or at home, 964-2225. This year’s Second Saturday dates: May 8, June 12, July 10, Aug. 14 and Sept. 11.

Sue says longtime volunteers Betty Miller and Peg Smith devote loving care to the area around the Playhouse. She hopes more volunteers can add similar sparkle to other public buildings in town.

IN BRIEF (45 words or less)

[] This month’s cavalcade at depicts everything from snow geese to this week’s snow storms—and those colorful new afghans, with scenes from Mount Gretna’s past and present, that buyers are snapping up in the fire company’s latest fundraiser.

[] Planners promise food, wine and auction items in abundance at the May 29 spring gala, marking the season’s official start. Janice Balmer (, 964-3142) needs volunteers, dessert-makers and other helpers. Everyone’s invited, throughout Mount Gretna’s neighborhoods. Proceeds help fund the Summer Events calendar.

[] Mount Gretna’s Dave Stone convinced Wyeth Labs to donate an aging John Deere Gator, and fire company volunteers restored it for wilderness area rescues. Awaiting a final coat of green paint, the 35-mph six-wheeled vehicle can sprint uphill to remote sites—no trailer-hauling needed.

[] Guitarist Paul Galbraith performs works by Bach this Sunday as part of Gretna Music’s winter concert series at Elizabethtown College. Playing a unique eight-string guitar, which he holds in an upright position, the artist will also perform works by Ravel and Debussy. For tickets, 361-1508.

[] Leaf pickups begin in Mount Gretna Heights and Stoberdale Mar. 22-Apr. 5. Street-sweeping follows Apr. 9. Mount Gretna borough expects its leaf collections to start May 3, with another pickup beginning June 1. The borough plans brush pickups starting Apr. 26 and June 7.

[] Garden club president Sue Loehr tips her hat to Lebanon’s Blue Heron Greenhouse, providing many of the plants visitors will see this summer. “Those fellows have been wonderful to our community, so gracious with their time and products. We can be thankful for them.”

[] Tuning up for the first of this year’s matches: contestants in the fire company’s block shoot—thundering off to a noon start May 1. With prizes, hot dogs, and (we hope) the ham and bean soup that made Alice McKeone famous!

[] The Campmeeting’s eighth annual Heritage Festival starts June 19 with a Tabernacle performance by Pastimes, a doo-wop group—followed by consecutive Saturday freewill offering concerts at 7:00 p.m. through July 17, featuring country music, bluegrass and Big Band sounds from the 1930s and ‘40s.

[] Former Mount Gretnan Evelyn Duncan discovered why cowboys wear hats. “They’re much more handsome with their hats on,” she writes from the Texas Hill Country. The motorhome maven just attended a Tall Tales competition and walked across the Rio Grande without getting her knees wet.

[] Organizers hope to recapture the magic of Mount Gretna’s 1940s-era with a Big Band concert under a tent at Lake Conewago Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Dance, listen, or bring a chair and enjoy the music while sitting out under the stars. Details: 964-1829.

[] Entries began rushing in this week, just ahead of the Mount Gretna Art Show’s Apr. 1 deadline. Exhibitors compete for about 285 spaces, down a bit from previous years. Changes in street layouts have reduced slightly the number of spots available for displays.

[] Cornwall Borough police secretary Shirley Trimmer, returning yesterday from Switzerland, quickly shifted from skiing to thoughts of Christmas gifts for the area’s neediest families. She’s already collecting items for a yard sale this summer and will gladly pick up your donations. Call 274-2071.

[] Nicole Roberts and her dad Andy encourage musicians to join them in a band that’ll help lead this year’s Halloween Parade—one of Nicole’s all-time favorite Mount Gretna events. To join them, Scott Galbraith and Peggy Seibert, call 964-2029.

[] Gretna Music kicks off its summer season June 11-12 with the New Black Eagle jazz band. For tickets, call 361-1508.

[] Yankee Magazine has good things to say about turkey vultures. Affectionately calling them “TVs,” an article in the March 2004 issue says New Englanders—just getting acquainted—“are totally thrilled.” Mount Gretnans probably felt the same way—25 years (and 25,000 droppings) ago.

[] Workers prepare a new lift for handicapped patrons at Le Sorelle Porch & Pantry Café. Meanwhile, those popular Friday and Saturday Italian night dinners continue (reservations please, 964-3771), with a special “Think Spring” dinner planned Apr. 23. The restaurant ( will close for Easter Sunday.

[] A reader asks why Route 117’s westbound speed limit drops outside Mount Gretna from 45 to 30 mph without warning. Answer: A reduced speed advisory (required when limits drop 10 mph or more) IS properly posted, but officers acknowledge it may be easy to miss.

[] NBC Nightly News featured the marriage of Philadelphia attorneys and Mount Gretna residents Jon D’Agostino and partner Darrell Young Mar. 5 at San Francisco’s City Hall. Friends and family, many from Mount Gretna and Palmyra, joined the ceremony. See

[] Voluntary simplicity courses begin here this summer. Sponsored by Mount Gretnan John Christman with materials from Northwest Earth Institute (, the nine-week course encourages “living more with less, environmental consciousness, community-building and ways to simplify overly busy lives.” Details:, 964-3041.

[] Frequent art show volunteer Diana Lynn, who’s also helped prepare actors for their appearances at the Playhouse, will donate proceeds at her Colebrook hair salon April 14 to Lebanon’s Humane League. Call 964-2062 for details and appointments.

[] Former Mount Gretnan Jack Schropp opens his new book “Unbeatable: Recreate Your Life as Extraordinary Using the Secrets of a Navy SEAL” citing how, at age 16 in Lake Conewago, he thought “getting a job swimming all the time would be the perfect life.”

[] Named as a potential 17th congressional district delegate to this year’s GOP convention: Towson University sophomore Andrew Miller, son of Mount Gretna Heights’ Rod and Kim Miller. The 2002 Cedar Crest grad holds a double major in Towson’s honors programs for economics and political science.

[] Mike and Joan Sherman of Linglestown seek a Mount Gretna cottage or a lot where they could build one. They hope to return to Mount Gretna, where 25 years ago they lived as newlyweds. Contact them at

[] Mount Gretna tennis tournament champion Andy Folmer now offers specialty coffees and teas, fresh breads, pastries, sandwiches and other edibles at his Pansy Hill Coffee Company, on Route 72 north of Lebanon: (


“I was amazed at how your body would cooperate and gave it a chance and put it to work.” – Frequent Mount Gretna visitor Garnett “Kiki” Beckman, 96, who at age 65 began climbing the Grand Canyon. She finished her 18th canyon trek five years ago. The mother of Conewago Hills’ Laura Feather—never without her bright pink lipstick and blue eye shadow—now outpaces puffing 70-year-olds in her Phoenix SilversSneakers fitness class, according to an “Arizona Republic” article.


4 Judges from Lancaster County who, on April 17, will select the roughly 280 exhibitors in this year’s Mount Gretna Art Show. All are new. (By tradition—and to help keep a fresh perspective—the show never uses the same judge twice.) One’s a jeweler. Two are painters. The fourth specializes in graphic arts.

20 Fire calls needing responses from Mount Gretna’s volunteer fire department in January and February. That’s an improvement from last year, when during the first two months firefighters responded to 27 calls.

200 (Or so) Volunteers it takes to run the Mount Gretna Art Show. “I’ve never counted them all,” says show organizer Linda Bell. The happy throng—some doing an odd job here or there, others working the whole weekend—will assemble to do it all again this year, Aug. 21-22.

100,000,000 Times more powerful than humans is the ability of dogs to sniff scents. Bloodhounds rank first, of course. That fact, combined with his sagging jowls, drooping ears, and soulful expression—may help explain why Cletus, perhaps the most famous dog in Mount Gretna before he died last week at the age of 10, was a favorite of young and old alike.


We began this issue talking about connections. We explored the growing interdependence of Mount Gretna’s neighborhoods—and the diverse energies, talents, and goodwill of their residents. And we looked at the difference that people like flower lady Mary Hernley can make in the world.

Does anyone wonder why we enjoy writing this newsletter?

Our thanks to all who contribute news, ideas, and inspirations. Please continue your gracious practice of forwarding copies to those who share our fondness for Mount Gretna . . . wherever in the world they happen to live.

With kindest regards,

Roger Groce, 213 Stevens Avenue

P.S. A reminder: thanks to the folks at Mount Gretna Inn, previous issues of this newsletter appear on the web at

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A Special Note to Our Website Readers: Before preparing each newsletter, we usually dispatch a special alert to our e-mail address list inviting everyone to send ideas for topics of interest and upcoming events. We attempt to make that alert as informative as the newsletter itself. Here is the “Call for Articles” that preceded this issue:

Sent: Friday, March 12, 2004 9:43 AM
Subject: Send Your News: It’s Soon Time for Another Mt Gretna E-Mail Newsletter

In winter-weary Mount Gretna, the search for spring dominates. Amid occasional lingering snowflakes, everyone who has endured the long winter here understandably yearns for spring's official start. But it is Mother Nature who rules, not the U. S. Naval Observatory’s official equinox calendar. And her trumpet rarely if ever gives an indistinct sound.

Snowdrops already abound at Linda and Mike Bell sighted not only robins but also red-winged blackbirds and a few bluebirds. Across the lake, in a rollicking rite of spring, deer last week frolicked along the edges of Laura and Joe Feather’s property. Overhead a few buzzards circled, not in great numbers, but with a determination suggesting that in this year’s roust-and-relocate battle, they haven’t yet tossed in the towel. Former Mount Gretnan Randy Reed, now living in Wilmington, NC, reports that five “familiar-looking Turkey Vultures with Yankee accents” suddenly showed up in a tree outside his home. Writes Randy, “Tell Max I’m sending ‘em back just as soon as I can chop down that damned tree.”

The signs, taken together, yield distinct evidence that Nature soon intends to lift the curtain on a bountiful spring, ushering in a season of arts-filled events that Mount Gretnans have planned for months. We'll report what they've been working on in our next newsletter. More events are shaping up this season than ever. Looking at everything that must cram inside the pages of this year's Arts Council Summer Calendar of Events, it's clear: residents and visitors will have to make choices almost every night. When the summer's in swing, you’ll have to decide which among two or more events you’ll want to attend. Getting all that together, preparing for a new season, is what we’ll report on in our next issue.

So send your news, notes and ruminations to We’ll fold them all into another issue of our electronic newsletter, whose purpose is to help keep everyone abreast of events here. . . and who love Mount Gretna, wherever in the world they happen to be.

With kindest regards,

Roger Groce, 213 Stevens Avenue

P. S. A reminder that, thanks to Keith and Robin Volker's Mount Gretna Inn, back issues of Mount Gretna's e-mail newsletter appear on the web at