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Mt. Gretna E-Mail Newsletter No. 44 February 7, 2005


Mt. Gretna’s lake is still frozen. Mt. Gretna’s spirit is not.

This weekend’s welcome warming temperatures served to remind us all: Spring’s coming, and Mt. Gretna (though still lightly covered under a blanket of snow)* will be ready!

Everybody’s busy. Verizon’s Jack Thomas says everything’s on track for the start of cellular service next month. Damian and Mariano Acquino, pushing hard, hope to get the nod from Harrisburg on their new pizza parlor. Beaver expert Mark Weiss is figuring out what to do about those newcomers at the lake. And forester Barry Rose is preparing for a public meeting sometime next month, perhaps April, about what it’ll take to rein in the deer and rev up the forest once again at Governor Dick Park.

Energy abounds. Susan Wood, propelled by a seemingly inexhaustible energy supply of her own, marvels at those bikers making their way past her house and up Governor Dick’s snow-covered hills. And our volunteer buzzard-chasers continue to win praise from people here and around the country. The USDA’s Jason Suckow says four years ago Mt. Gretna had the largest known vulture roost in Pennsylvania. The original flock of over 600 now is down to 50 or so dazed, discouraged, but determined birds. He credits “strong community involvement, an integrated (mostly nonlethal) approach with lights, lasers and sound --- plus persistence. The community was more persistent than the birds,” he says. But he cautions we’ll need to stay focused. “Vultures are long-lived. They began coming here in the 1960s. They remember their winter roosts from seven or eight years ago. And if nothing bothers them, they’ll be back.”

John Wingert, a persistent sort himself whose tenacity helped produce one of the finest rail-to-trail conversions ( in the country, says the spur that will lead hikers and bikers into the center of town is nearing reality. Bids go out this spring. Work on the grant-funded $115,000 project should begin shortly afterwards. John reports that community businesses donated $9,500 for a kiosk, with maps and information for thousands of outdoor enthusiasts passing through --- and many now discovering --- Mt. Gretna.

*(For a glimpse of Mt. Gretna’s wintertime beauty, see


Coming soon to a computer near you? GretnaCam, newest fund-raising project for Mt. Gretna’s enterprising fire company, is on the horizon. Private donors will contribute the camera, Gretna Computing will donate the technical expertise, and commercial businesses will sponsor the link.

Perched over the Pinch Road-Route 117 intersection, the camera will give snowbirds, former residents and Mt. Gretna aficionados around the world a peek into weather conditions, art show crowds, and year ‘round life here. Proceeds from monthly commercial sponsorships (available to realtors, banks, restaurants and others who'd like to reach a worldwide audience of people curious about life in Mt. Gretna) will go to our fire company.

Like to be a GretnaCam sponsor and give a hand to our firefighters? Contact Joe Shay, Gretna Computing, 964-1106, e-mail:


Historical society program chairman George Resh announces this year's sparkling schedule. On tap: “Victorian Games,” a Jun. 22 program for children (adults invited, too!) with Chris Resh at the playground. Jack Bitner talks about Mt. Gretna’s Narrow Gauge Railroad Jun. 24 and the next day offers a narrated walk along the rail bed.

Also, Tom Meredith speaks about Campmeeting History at the Tabernacle Jul. 16. Jack Graham discusses “Gretna Theater’s Coghlan Years” Jul. 29. And a special gathering of Chautauqua Inn employees will recall their experiences and favorite memories Aug. 12. George says there’ll also be a talk at Cornwall Manor’s Freeman Hall sometime this summer on the history of Cornwall. Except for sites mentioned, all take place at the Hall of Philosophy. Details to be posted at:

IN BRIEF (45 words or less)

[] “The Buried Treasure of Mt. Gretna” author Charlotte Valentine will speak at the Library, probably in July. As book sales grow, she says “word is spreading about Mt. Gretna being a magical place.” “Remember When” gift shop owner Reenie Macsisak has copies: 964-2231,

[] Eva Bender and Lou Schellenberg are among nine regional artists whose works appear in Lynden Gallery’s “Go Figure” exhibit of classic nudes. Following a jazz, chocolate and champagne reception Feb. 11, 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., the Elizabethtown exhibition continues through Mar. 6. Details:

[] Mt. Gretna and Quentin fire companies are pooling their manpower for emergency calls. Chief Ben Sutcliffe says the units routinely help each other out, especially in midday or late at night when volunteer resources can be stretched. “We’re thrilled. It’s working great,” says Ben.

[] Summer Events Calendar coordinator Deborah Hurst says Mar. 7 is the deadline for 2005’s edition (or Mar. 1 “if you’d like to review your information.”)

[] Summer Premiere organizers need volunteers for the May 28 gala. Willing to make desserts (caterers prepare other food), help with cleanup or similar chores at the Arts Council’s perennially stunning fundraiser? E-mail or call 964-3142. Preview auction artwork at

[] Deb Vollmar (964-1871) says dramatic benefits she’s seen from Lymphatic Drain’age therapy over 20 years as an operating room nurse led her to begin offering sessions to others. Gentle skin stretches help prevent illness, detoxify, and relieve swelling, fatigue, sinus problems and allergies, she says.

[] Eleanor Sarabia’s “Heights Community Building” sketch will appear on the fire company’s 2005 coffee mug, part of a collector’s series that includes Mt. Gretna’s store, Library and Information Center. Joe Shay (964-1106) recently discovered a handful of (now scarce) mugs from 2002, 2003 and 2004.

[] Sue Loehr is looking for playground supervisors for this summer. (It’s a paid position.) Interested? Know someone who might be? Give Sue a call: 964-2225.

[] Mt. Gretna’s the starting point Apr. 30 for what fundraisers believe will be a rousing road rally. It’ll benefit Bridge of Hope, a group helping homeless mothers and children with housing, jobs and church-sponsored mentors. See:

[] Chautauqua’s Tuesday morning book review series resumes Jun. 28 with veteran reviewers Kevin Pry, Scott Schweigert, John Heffner, Kerrie Laguna, Diane Iglesias, Gary Grieve-Carlson, Jean-Paul Benowitz, and Howard Applegate. Joining the 2005 lineup: Jeff Robbins (from last summer’s religion series) and Arthur Ford.

[] Lebanon Valley’s rail-trail has just published (thanks to UGI-donated printing) trail maps. Need a supply to share? Call John Wengert: 867-2101.

[] Rail-trail fundraisers this year will sponsor a yard sale, golf tournament, oldies dance at Mt. Gretna’s Roller Rink, and wagon rides. Details on the trail’s website: Proceeds go toward trail maintenance.

[] Readers seeking insight into inspirations that help shape Lou Schellenberg’s works can link to a Jan. 30 Lebanon Daily News profile, “Mt. Gretna Artist Finds Beauty in Simplicity” on the Web. Her advice to students: “Become a better observer.”,1413,139%257E10139%257E2682561,00.html?search=filter

[] Cornwall police chief Bruce Harris says the Metric Century Celebration Bicycle Ride (open to the public, all riders invited!) will travel through Mt. Gretna May 1, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Pennsylvania State Police. Details:

[] May 28 Triathlon organizer Chris Kaag says race details appear at Proceeds benefit research into neurodegenerative disorders, which crippled Chris himself seven years ago, at age 21. He likes Lombardi’s quote: "It’s not whether you get knocked down, but whether you get back up."

[] A sweetheart dinner for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Irish Night Mar. 12, and “Think Spring” dinner Apr. 9 top the lineup posted at Dinner reservations required. Le Sorelle Porch & Pantry reopens Feb. 11 for breakfast and lunch, Fri.-Sun. from 8:00 a.m. 964-3771.

[] Gretna Music ( will offer a summer arts management internship starting in May. The position includes a $2,500 stipend. Carl Kane (717) 361-1508) has details.

[] Gretna Theater’s 2005 season lineup, now posted on the Web: “Greater Tuna” Jun. 14-25, “Stand By Your Man” Jun. 28-Jul. 9; “Dracula” Jul. 12-23; “Side By Side By Sondheim” Jul. 25-Aug. 6; and “Little Shop of Horrors” Aug. 23-Sep. 3. Details:

[] Sandy Roman (, 964-1133) could use a hand or two at those organ concerts this summer. She needs volunteers and donations of everything from fruit, cheese and crackers to cocktail napkins.

[] Linda Bell invites your suggestions for art show judges. She selects new judges each year to keep the show fresh. Linda also reports that last year’s food vendors will all return. “We want the food to be as good as the art,” she says.

[] Fire chief Ben Sutcliffe, (717) 867-1003, would like to share ideas with someone experienced in running Bingo games. Mt. Gretna’s fire department hopes to sponsor the games jointly with Quentin’s fire company.


[] How should my son or daughter go about applying for a summer job at the Jigger Shop? What are the qualifications? Best times to apply? How does one send in an application?"

<> Many parents and grandparents say working at the Jigger Shop is a summer education second to none! Here's advice from the Jigger Shop owners on how to apply: “All applicants can receive a Jigger Shop employment application by calling Drew or Linda Allwein, 964-3704 during winter months or 964-9686 in the summer. To be considered, students must be at least 14 years old (the minimum legal age to work in most Pennsylvania businesses). We send applications promptly following requests, and hire for each upcoming season around Easter of every year. Approximately 60 students are hired annually to maintain adequate staffing, and accommodate the busy social calendars of our employees.”

[] Might one of your readers know of the late artist and art teacher Harry M. Book of Millersville, Pa.? His landscapes today are enjoyed by many, especially former students and their families. Prior to his death in 1971, shows of his work were held annually at the Mt. Gretna (perhaps Chautauqua?) Inn.

<> We’re not familiar with Harry Book, but suspect others may be. We ask anyone with a memory to share, anything that might touch on the artist’s visits here, to drop us a note. We’ll pass it along to this Penn State researcher (who plans an article on the artist’s life, work and influences). He would especially like to hear from anyone who may have had a Book painting hanging in their home for more than a generation.


0 Cars likely to be traveling Route 117 when Pat Pinsler and friends sledded down Pinch Road in the 1930s and 1940s. “We had every hill in Mt. Gretna to enjoy. Those dips at the Campmeeting crossroads were great. But Pinch was the ultimate. We always posted someone to look out for cars, but there were almost none. I have great memories of those winter nights, also ice-skating on the lake with fires built on the ice to warm us when we got cold. Wonderful ‘good old days,’" she writes.

3 Mt. Gretnans in this year’s 18-member Leadership Lebanon Valley class: Elizabeth Bernal-Cleaver, Judy Cassel, and Susan Wood. Now in its 18th year, Leadership Lebanon brings together people for educational, justice, health and human services, heritage, rural, urban, business, and government discussions. (Also in the class: GPU’s Dan Logar, who keeps a close eye on Mt. Gretna’s electrical service reliability. Dan succeeded Jim Bates, who retired Dec. 1.)

5 Dollars returned to Lancaster Avenue’s Ben Withers, a newcomer so impressed with Mt. Gretna’s services that he donated the fin to help ease a budget shortfall and urged others to do the same. The borough’s solicitor, however, said municipalities can’t accept donations, so they sent the money back. But it WAS a nice thought, one that made the local news.

7 Mt. Gretna firefighters that now have signed up for eight weeks of certified scuba training starting next month. Also scheduled: water and ice rescue classes at the Susquehanna River and wildland firefighting at Haldeman State Park. Amazing, the devotion, determination and commitment our firefighting volunteers exhibit. . . without fail, year 'round.

18 Artworks by Shelby Applegate now displayed online at and featured until Apr. 4 at Lebanon’s award-winning Trattoria Fratelli restaurant. (Also emerging from Shelby’s bustling 203 Valley Rd. studio: a 64” x 44” wall hanging, recently selected for a show at Susquehanna Art Museum’s Doshi Gallery.)

24 Power outages in Mt. Gretna last year. That’s three fewer than the 27 recorded in 2003, says GPU’s Dan Logar, and “not everyone in Mt Gretna experienced all 24.” Intervals without electrical power lasted an average of 110 minutes in 2004, a nifty improvement over the 154 minutes averaged in 2003.

30 Years Gretna Music’s been in business. The series kicks off its anniversary season Jun. 10 with Whistlin' Dixie (featuring Eli Newberger’s Jazz All-Stars), the New Black Eagle Jazz Band Jun. 11 and a morning jazz worship service Jun. 12 followed that evening by the Claremont Trio in the first of this summer season’s Classical Sundays. Details, including flexible ticket packages and pricing: (717) 361-1508, or

32 Wilbur Wright’s age in 1899 when, observing birds “wheel, swoop and climb on wings six feet across,” the Dayton bicycle maker noticed a little piloting trick he’d mirror in his new flying machine. What kind of birds? Turkey buzzards, says U.S. News & World Report. Oh, the things you’d never know without this newsletter.

60 Years or more have passed, but Pat Wood Edris (daughter of former Mt. Gretna mayor Stuart Wood) still remembers the cow bell her mother rang from the back porch of their West Yale Avenue cottage. It signaled that Pat and her brother Bill, swimming at the lake, were late for dinner.

150 Hours that artist Eleanor Sarabia has spent so far, preparing an exquisitely detailed, one-inch-scale replica of Mt. Gretna’s original post office (now the Information Center). She hopes it’ll fetch a fitting price at the Arts Council’s May 28 Summer Premiere benefit auction.

500 Dollars being awarded in each of four new Arts Council scholarships (in literature, theater, visual arts and music). Deadline Apr. 14:

200,000 Gallons of water lost in December when a cold snap froze pipes at several Mt. Gretna cottages. Borough superintendent Bill Care and fire chief Ben Sutcliffe urge absentee owners to pass along emergency phone numbers and e-mail addresses; also to have someone regularly checking their vacant homes and cottages.


The Most Secret and Benevolent Lodge of the Loyal Order of the Grundonmobile Society continues to plan for the annual "Grundonmobile Day" ceremony, to be held Saturday, Feb. 26, rain or shine (unless it rains too hard, in which case we'll postpone).

In other Grundonmobile Society news, a recent audit found the treasury of the Society to be dangerously low. The auditors noted numerous expenditures for "medicine" produced by the Michelob Brewing Company. An investigation is underway. To replenish the treasury, the society's officers organized a fundraising venture. You probably saw the signs that blanketed the community announcing the Grundonmobile Society bus trip to New York City, which included tickets to the Broadway musical "Wicked." The saturation advertising effort paid off when the trip was sold out in less than a minute! In hindsight, the officers feel their decision to use the Grundonmobile in lieu of a bus may have contributed to the disappointing profit margin, as its capacity of one passenger severely limited the number of people who could make the trip.

Future bus excursions to Branson, Mo., Las Vegas, and Cancun have been placed on hold, although the annual springtime pilgrimage to Colebrook remains on the calendar.

(Ed. Note: Readers will recall that for the aforementioned ceremony, Dale Grundon will “bring the Grundonmobile out of its winter den and park it beneath one of Mt. Gretna's towering pines. If the Grundonmobile passes the day without being bombarded by a Vulture, winter will be officially over, and spring shall commence forthwith. However, if the Grundonmobile is pooped upon, there will be six more weeks of winter.” More to come, we trust, from our favorite correspondent, Max Hunsicker.)


Thanks to all who thoughtfully cite their former e-mail addresses when notifying us of new ones. To keep the list confidential, we avoid commercial mail list services and do it all ourselves. So when you tell us which outdated address to delete, it helps us sort through the growing stacks of e-mail addresses sent in by folks around the world.

Thanks, too, to all those who answer our questions, send us their suggestions, and cheerfully pass along copies of this bulletin to friends and neighbors --- especially those lacking links to the Internet. We’re continually amazed to discover how many people regularly share Mt. Gretna news with three, four or more others. . . increasing our circulation to levels we never imagined when we began this pleasurable pastime four years ago.

Kindest regards,

Roger Groce, 213 Stevens Ave.


{::} Tuesdays are Mt. Gretna Fire Company Night at Farmer’s Hope Inn along Route 72, just north of the turnpike. Tell them you’re a Mt. Gretnan; owners Tim and Terri Brown donate 10 percent of your bill to our firefighters. Tel. (717) 664-4673 or 273-4500.

{::} Need someone to check your cottage while you're away? Bob Sims of “Your Watchful Eye” donates 10 percent of his monthly fees from new clients to Mt. Gretna's Arts Council. Tel. (717) 665-7348 or 575-2375. E-mail:

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A Special Note to Our Website Readers: Before preparing each newsletter, we often 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, January 28, 2005 2:11 PM
Subject: Coming up, another Mt. Gretna Newsletter (Pls. Forward)

Snowplows clearing roadways late into the night. Layers of ice building up on Lake Conewago. Vans skidding sideways down Pinch Road. All immutable testimony, lest doubts linger: Mt. Gretna’s winter has officially begun.

So, amid temperatures that dropped overnight to near zero, we’re stoking the furnace and shoveling in heartwarming stories (or any others we can scare up), preparing for another issue of the Mt. Gretna Electronic Gazette. Our hope is to enlighten, however slightly, readers both here and around the globe.

Please send your news, notes and nostrums to We’ll enfold them in what we hope will be a cogent community summary, helping keep everyone up to date on what’s unfolding here.

Meanwhile, some brief items of interest:

First, the store. Damian and Mariano Aquino say they’re now back to pursuing their original goal. They’re determined to open a pizza shop, offering a full range of Italian specialties and a few grocery items. They’d like to pattern it after Hershey’s popular Ponessa’s Pizza, where they now work. So they have an architect busy preparing the drawings that Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry requires for approvals. Once they get an official OK, Damian and his dad are eager to move ahead.

Next, the cell phone tower. We hope to have word next week on exactly when Verizon Wireless will begin its service here. Officials said earlier they’d planned to activate that new Mine Road tower in February, or by March at the latest. Once that happens, many Mt. Gretnans will likely begin disconnecting their corded phones and switching to cellular, like the majority of Pennsylvanians.

We’ll also have word on those beavers who’ve been busy at Lake Conewago, the Mt. Gretna buzzard-busting campaign’s estimable (and growing) reputation among other communities with bird density problems of their own, plans for that Rail-Trail extension into the center of town, and an upcoming public review of strategies for coping with overpopulated deer and undernourished forests at Governor Dick Park.

Also these reminders:

[] Mt. Gretna’s United Methodist Church holds a SouperBowl lunch Feb. 7 following the 10:00 a.m. service. (Bring a can of soup for the food bank, join the fellowship for bread, homemade soup and dessert.)

[] Also on the church’s jam-packed calendar is a Feb. 12 Valentine’s candlelight dinner (hosted by youthful members and featuring Chicken Cordon Bleu; adults $12, children $5. Reservations by Feb. 7, please, 964-1851.) Also: services for Ash Wednesday Feb. 9 and Lenten observances Feb 16, both at 7:00 p.m.

[] Gretna Music’s jazz improv at Elizabethtown College’s Leffler Center Feb. 5 presents the piano/bass duo of Mark Kramer and Eddie Gomez at 7:30 p.m. Drawing on inspirations of Mozart, Debussy, Vivaldi and others, the performers promise to “demystify improv’s secret techniques and mindsets.” Details: (717) 361-1508.

[] The Arts Council’s freshly updated website has details about the May 28th Summer Premiere (with previews of artworks that will be auctioned) and a new scholarship program. See:

More news waits in the wings --- bursting with a wintertime energy, imagination and enthusiasm that only Mt. Gretnans can muster. Please add your inspirations, questions and suggestions to the cheerful array.. . now, while they're fresh in mind.

Kindest regards,

Roger Groce

P.S. Thanks for continuing to send this newsletter along to friends and relatives who share our interest in, and affection for, Mt. Gretna. A surprising number of folks print copies for others. Our favorite is the reader who receives this letter in Arizona, then prints a copy and mails it to her computerless colleague in the Campmeeting. Marvels of an electronic age, exceeded only by the favors of friends.

You’ll also find back issues of this letter posted on the Internet, thanks to the Mt. Gretna Inn’s Keith and Robin Volker, at