SCENIC BYWAY: A FORUM FOR BRINGING OUT THE BEST
It’s hard to remember a time when folks planning a highway invited so many others to share their ideas.
Maybe there’s a possibility that too many cooks will spoil the soup, but those leading the effort must think it’s a risk worth taking. They seem to know good ideas sometimes spring from surprising sources, that people closest to the site have perspectives that even experts sometimes miss, and that plans work best when they have the support of the people.
That’s why they’re inviting everyone with a stake in the idea of possibly converting Rte. 117 into a Scenic Byway to contribute to a bountiful stream of ideas now flowing their way. Specifically, they’re hoping for a good turnout at a meeting they’ll hold next month.
Just what a Scenic Byway might mean to Mt. Gretna and other municipalities along its 5.2-mile route (Cornwall to Colebrook) will be explored at a public meeting July 12. The idea, simply, is to get everybody's ideas. That includes not merely government officials but everyone -- environmentalists, preservationists, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.
Planners stress that they’re not recommending a Scenic Byway if the people who live along its route don’t want it. “We work for you,” says planner Tom Kotay, with a refreshing perspective that wins friends instantly. “We’ll do what you want.”
Exactly what is a Scenic Byway? A highway noted for one or more distinctive qualities. Those can be scenic, cultural, historic, natural, recreational or archeological—or sometimes several such qualities combined. Pennsylvania has 14 scenic byways presently. Ours would be the first in this region. See http://www.byways.org/browse/states/PA/
Among other advantages, Scenic Byway status could open the door to federal funding, or at least to state funds reserved for scenic roadways. The funds aren’t necessarily restricted to asphalt. They can also pay for other amenities—landscaping, wild flowers, historical signs, even paving materials with a natural appearance.
Those favoring the idea say it would make the roadway safer, with wider berms like those along Colebrook Road leading toward Lebanon. They point out that Rte. 117 has become a favorite path for bicyclists and joggers. Those who question its value wonder whether it might also increase traffic, bringing unwelcome noise in an otherwise tranquil setting and worsening summertime parking problems. But everybody agrees on one point: Whatever happens, the trees must be protected.
Such deliberations will likely flourish. . . in a forum designed to elicit the best ideas from everywhere. . . Wednesday, July 12 at 7 p.m. in the Governor Dick Nature Center, off Pinch Road, just over the crest of the mountain.
MT. GRETNA’S RITE OF SPRING
Big Junk Day is coming next Monday, June 19. Officially, they call it “large item collection” day. But throughout Chautauqua’s narrow streets and byways it’s a weekend-long celebration.
Starting Saturday morning and continuing through Sunday night, residents deposit discarded treasures: Old barbecue grills, exercise cycles that haven’t seen a drop of sweat in a decade, and Nordic Traks that have become Swiss chalets for spiders.
Over the weekend, they’ll find their way to the curb. And hours, sometimes minutes, later, entrepreneurial-minded scavengers with an eye for hidden values will scoop them up. That perfect Budweiser lampshade for a subterranean bar. Paint-splattered end tables that maidens wielding magic wands will soon transform into paragons for front porches. And huge rugs that, like flying carpets, will vanish before real pickup crews come by for the leavings on Monday.
Topping it off on Sunday night? Thatcher Bornman’s grand celebration. Thatch hauls out a grill he discovered at this annual rite of spring several years ago, loads it up with charcoal, and roasts hot dogs for all who happen to pass by 108 Lancaster Ave. Some of the folks he knows, many he doesn’t. Some have been stopping by his place ever since Thatcher spawned the notion, in 1999, that junk days ought to be fun. There’s nothing special about his party. Nobody has to bring anything or pay anything. But many share extra packs of hot dogs, buns or whatever leftovers happen to be lurking in their pantries. A spontaneous community celebration with neither rhyme nor reason. . . but somehow fitting for the season. It only could happen in Mt. Gretna. And it happens every year.
 A Lebanon Daily News article http://www.ldnews.com/fastsearchresults/ci_3897301 describes plans for a Mt. Gretna museum, possibly at a vacant cottage along Pennsylvania Avenue next to the Playhouse. Historical society members will learn more about the project at their annual meeting tonight (June 13) at the Tabernacle, starting at 7:30 p.m.
 Artistic director Will Stutts stars in Gretna Productions’ season opener “Moonlight and Magnolias,” opening tonight through June 24. Based on calamities that nearly scuttled “Gone With the Wind,” the comedy also stars Lebanon’s Kate Ramsey and actors from New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Tickets: 964-3627.
 Cicada tickets may be as scarce this August as those 17-year Cicadas, which disappeared back into the ground two years ago. Volunteers report a huge surge of orders as the box office http://mtgretna.com/cicada/ opened this month. Nearly sold out: Hershey Symphony, Beach Boys tribute, and the Mud Flaps. And the first concert is still two months away.
 Jim Erdman’s persistent pleas for Cingular cell phone service finally got the company’s attention at its Tulsa, Okla. headquarters. A service rep told Jim that Mt. Gretna’s now on a “pilot” program to see how much business they’re losing. “If they don’t do something by November,” he says, “they’ll lose my business too.”
 Mt. Gretnan Jim Seltzer led the effort to restore that monument along Timber Road honoring soldiers in the 16th Pennsylvania Infantry mobilized at Mt. Gretna for the Spanish-American War. See “Around the Town” http://www.MtGretna-PA.com. Historical society volunteers will dedicate the new monument at a July 1 ceremony at 10 a.m.
 Evelyn Duncan returns next month after solo motorhome travels around the country since 2003. She’ll leave her RV here, however. After recovering from knee surgery, the peripatetic winner of Gretna Theater’s 2002 Outstanding Volunteer award now will winter in her new two-bedroom home near Orlando.
 Gretna Music precedes its June 18 concert with a 3 p.m. film, “Jagged Harmonies,” at Annville’s Allen Theater. The film dramatizes Bach’s encounter with Frederick the Great, inspiring “A Musical Offering,” featured in the evening’s all-Bach concert.
 Monday nights at the Playhouse begin June 19 ($20, 8 p.m.) with “J’Ai Deux Amours. . . A Journey with Josephine Baker,” written and acted by award-winning African American actress Kimberly Q, who once worked with Gretna Productions’ managing director Larry Frenock. “She’s mesmerizing,” says Larry.
 Parking restrictions in Mt. Gretna borough continue through Sept. 15. Last year, Cornwall police issued 80 parking tickets from May 15-Sept. 15, up 150 percent from 32 tickets in 2004. Cars parked along Princeton, Harvard and Columbia avenues must have residential parking permits.
 Tai Chi classes (the Chinese system of physical exercises emphasizing self-defense and meditation) begin at the Heights Community Building June 21. Charlie Harris will lead the 6:30 p.m. sessions. Cost: $10 per class; registration required. Details 964-3016.
 Heights residents gather for their annual meeting Saturday (June 17) at 10 a.m. They’ll return for a potluck supper at 5 p.m. at the Heights Community Building. Thoroughly remodeled a few years ago, the building is a popular spot for meetings, classes, reunions and wedding receptions; Richard Steinhauer (964-2362) handles bookings.
 Who gave the post office a spiffy new look for spring? Scott “the pressure washing guy” McLeod. His inspired gift -- one he hopes to repeat annually -- was simply doing “my part to serve the community,” he says. Scott’s new service, www.thepressurewashingguy.com, is soaring.
 Summer Arts Calendar cover artist Shelby Applegate, whose flower gardens dazzle with creative touches, offers free Cleome (spider flowers), which sometimes grow three- or four-feet tall. She also enjoys sharing her Black-Eyed Susans and Bachelor’s Buttons. Call 964-2342.
 Vacation Bible School begins July 10 for youngsters four to 12. Call the church office, 9:30 a.m. to noon, 964-3241. The sessions (Mondays, 6:30 to 8 p.m.) continue through July 31.
 Children's Theater at the Playhouse starts July 1 with “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Steve Courtney’s band arrives July 8, and “Geist, the Visual Comedian” is here July 15. All performances ($5) begin at 11 a.m.
 Historian Jack Bitner’s talks on Mt. Gretna’s narrow gauge railroad and other memories are now on DVDs. Sales ($29.95 for the 2-DVD set) benefit the historical society. Details: Dick Smith, 964-3225 or e-mail email@example.com.
 Governor Dick Park’s latest newsletter describes two new volunteer butterfly gardens, interpretive trails, and exhibits showcasing park memorabilia. Add your name to the growing subscriber list (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). Also visit www.parkatgovernordic.org.
 Timbers Dinner Theater musical director Andy Roberts, one of the area’s most popular musical talents, brings his annual jazz worship service to the Tabernacle June 25 (7:30 p.m.). His Four Piece Quartet’s CDs include “Sunday Standards” and a Christmas album, “On This Day.”
7 Artists now sharing rotating duties in the art gallery at Le Sorrelle Café, answering questions from visitors—many discovering Mt. Gretna for the first time. “They’re often from places like Baltimore and Philadelphia. They want to know all about the different types of art as well as the subjects depicted,” says Lake View Drive artist Barb Fishman. “They’re also fascinated by our ‘blossoming artists’ exhibit, a program to introduce new and emerging area artists." Local artists are at the gallery from 3 to 5 p.m. during June Saturdays and Sundays, and Wednesdays through Sundays July through August (except during Art Show weekend), continuing through Sep. 3.
9 Years the Mt. Gretna Car Show has been running, now one of the most popular minishows in Central Pennsylvania. Next Saturday’s (June 17) event will attract about 100 exhibitors, all raising money for the fire company, which benefits from food sales and exhibitors’ fees. But there’s no charge for spectators who simply want to see unique autos in the Central Penn AAA-sponsored show. Starting at 2 p.m., the event precedes the Heritage Festival’s 7 p.m. summer kickoff with The Pastimes, a popular doo-wop group, at the Tabernacle.
Fire company volunteers offering food and refreshments will be on hand. And there’ll be opportunity to pick up this year’s commemorative coffee mug, another Eleanor Sarabia design depicting the former Conewago Hotel. Also available at the show will be other fire company offerings, including cookbooks with such popular recipes as Overnight Eggs, a Scott Zellers’ favorite. Says Scott, “Every time I try something new, it’s a delight.” Others have equally high praise. When the cookbook was temporarily out of print a few years ago, one restaurant owner wrote us pleading for a source – anywhere – of the book containing Mt. Gretnans’ prized recipes.
Fire company mugs—plus cookbooks, decorative crocks, and wall-hangings with postcard scenes from Mt. Gretna’s past—also are available at “Remember When” gift shop. Gift shop owners Joe and Reenie Macsisak also have tickets for the Elisabeth Von Trapp concert at the Tabernacle July 15 as well as 2006 Art Show posters.
Besides the gift shop, mugs are also available at Collins Grocery in Colebrook, the Hide-a-Way, Gretna Computers, Penn Real Estate, and the fire company itself. (Now that’s what we call market penetration.) Mug sales chief Scott says he’s just discovered a limited supply of 2001-2003 mugs and has moved them to Remember When gift shop.
10 Programs in this year’s Tuesday book review series at Chautauqua’s community building. The series opens June 20 with Lebanon Valley College professor Jeffrey Robbins’ review of Jim Wallis’ “God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.” Timber Hills resident and retired LVC History Department chairman Howard Applegate is next: he’ll discuss Patricia O’Toole’s “When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House” June 27. The event gets started around 9:45 a.m. with coffee, cookies and conversation before the reviews begin at 10. Over recent years they've become one of the most popular offerings in Chautauqua’s summer series.
11 States plus the District of Columbia represented at that “Got the Nerve” minitriathlon Memorial Day Weekend. Competitors traveling the farthest distance came from Everett, Washington. Most of the nearly 620 swim/run/bike competitors were from Pennsylvania, including five Mt. Gretnans. Other states in the lineup: Florida, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Kentucky, Connecticut, and Maine.
The event raised well over $30,000 for the Myelin Project, a research group probing the mysteries of nerve disorders like that which crippled 29-year-old race organizer Chris Kaag himself eight years ago.
The race is growing in terms of national recognition, spectators and fund-raising power. The first one two years ago raised $16,400. Last year’s event brought in $17,677. When all returns are totaled, this year’s proceeds may eclipse them both. Chris estimates that some 1,000 spectators watched this year’s race from vantage points along the 14.8-mile route. See http://www.corpsfitness.net/gotthenerve.html
71 Percent increase in revenues at the Cornwall police yard sale last weekend as items donated to raise money for needy families at Christmas brought $1,120. The funds will help buy toys, food and fuel for area residents needing help. “We couldn’t have done it without help from everyone, including those generous Mt. Gretnans,” says coordinator Shirley Trimmer.
73 Percent growth in budget of Lancaster’s symphony orchestra in the past four years, to $1.3 million. What’s that got to do with Mt. Gretna? Symphony fund-raisers find donors receptive to the notion that “an active arts community attracts businesses, which draw talented executives and employees whose incomes boost a community’s economy and quality of life.” (Sunday News, June 11, 2006). A point worth noting, especially by arts groups here that attract quality audiences from throughout Central Pennsylvania but depend on widespread support from employers with a stake in hiring the best.
80 Cars expected for Bridge of Hope’s fundraising road rally benefiting homeless mothers. The rally starts Saturday (June 17), leaving from the Chautauqua Drive parking lot shortly after 9 a.m. and follows a route through scenic, less-traveled roads. Last-minute registrants welcome. Details: http://www.bridgeofhopelebanon.org/events.asp
RUNNIN’ OF THE GRUNDONS, NOW ONLINE
See the Great Poobah getting gored. See attorneys lining up along Chautauqua Drive to handle on-the-spot-claims. See first-time visitors to Mt. Gretna seeking a summer rental, then witnessing the scene and abruptly switching to another vacation spot this year. It’s all a part of the madness at http://www.mtgretna-pa.com/MAX.html
What’s the “Runnin’ of the Grundons?” If you have to ask, you’re not from around here. So skip to the questions section, just ahead.
QUESTIONS READERS ASK
 Mt. Gretna Lake appears to be filling up with sediment. Others I’ve spoken to say the lake used to be bigger and deeper – extending to about the Jigger Shop. I also noticed there was some dredging about a year ago on the east end, but that sediment was piled up in the middle, creating an island and making the lake smaller. Do you know of any plans to dredge the lake to restore it to its original size and depth? I have to believe the sediment is rich soil that a farmer would appreciate.
<> There’s little doubt the lake today is smaller than it was in those historical photos from the early 1900s. Yet no one we spoke to recalls it reaching as far as the Jigger Shop. In fact, says Jack Bitner, “the lake never extended quite as far as the footbridge. The deepest spot in the lake was 11 feet about 20 years ago, and I imagine it is still nine- or 10-feet deep.”
Officials say there are “no active plans to dredge the lake.” What appears to be “an island” created by work done there last year is a “fire dam,” built when borough crews cleaned out the area surrounding a pipe leading to a lakeside hydrant. Called a “dry hydrant," it was purchased with art show funds in the mid-1980s as backup protection for Mt. Gretna residential areas lacking connections to municipal waterlines. Officials hope the dam will retard sediment buildups around the hydrant pipe, especially during heavy rainstorms. Topsoil? Borough chief Bill Care said he’d hoped to find it. Alas, what they found were only minerals lacking in both nutrients and commercial value. Adds Bill, “dredging is costly. Even though we did most of the work ourselves, last year’s cleanup project cost several thousand dollars.”
 Where can I find a map of the trails numbered 1-14 at the Governor Dick recreation area?
<> The Nature Center at Governor Dick Park (officially the Clarence Schock Memorial Park) has trail maps. There’s also a park map online at http://www.parkatgovernordick.org/images/map.gif. Other area maps are available through the state game commission (although no specific trails are shown). Gameland 145, closest to Mt. Gretna, appears on the Web at http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/pgc/game/maps/zoom_maps.asp?sgl=145&rgn=Southeast&submit.x=15&submit.y=145. The Lebanon Valley rail-trail also hopes to soon post maps at its website, http://www.lvrailtrail.com/calendar.asp.
 I’ve been fascinated by the well on the path back to the rail-trail. I was curious about its purpose and what it looked like. Now, it’s just a simple circle of beautifully worked stones. Is anything being done to restore it?
<> Historian Jack Bitner says Robert Coleman’s park crew built the well in 1888, and “it stood by the main path from the park to the railroad station.” A spring behind the brickyard, several hundred yards away, fed a water spout in the middle of the fountain. Its purpose? Purely decorative, says Jack. “Coleman did everything he could to make his park attractive, with no thought of profit. That’s also why he built the lake. He was one of the wealthiest men in the country.” The well is on privately owned land and as far as we know no one is planning to restore it.
 As a recent first-time visitor to Mt Gretna, I was wondering if there is a website or newsletter where I can get information on how and when the community was founded and when the camp meetings and Chautauqua events started (and ended).
<> A good start might be Jack Bitner’s Mt. Gretna: A Coleman Legacy, now out of print, but a few copies are available direct from the author himself. (Call 964-3058 or write: P. O. Box 301, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064. Cost: $20.) Or, if you're walking by 24 Muhlenberg Ave. and he happens to be home, Jack will likely welcome you onto his porch for an enjoyable chat and memorable insights into Mt. Gretna's heritage.
Another suggestion: check the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society’s website http://mtgretna.com/historicalsociety/ for details of programs occurring throughout the year.
Finally, let there be no doubt: The Campmeeting and Chautauqua programs are alive and well. Both now have cultural and scientific endeavors that rival anything imagined when they started more than a century ago. You’ll find most of them listed in the Arts Council’s summer calendar (see http://mtgretna.com/artscouncil/cal.html). And an online weekly e-mail bulletin, This Week in Mt. Gretna, is available from email@example.com.
You can also add your name to the summer calendar mailing list. (Send $1.40 to Mt. Gretna Arts Council, P.O. Box 513, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064). Copies are available free while supplies last at Collins Grocery, Remember When gift shop, the Hideaway, Timbers Dinner Theater, Jigger Shop, the Mt. Gretna Information Center, Mt. Gretna Borough office, Penn Realty, Yale Electric, Lebanon Tourist Bureau, and about 60 other locations throughout the area.
 At the recent triathlon, private security guards posted to direct traffic blocked Conewago Hill residents from their homes for more than two hours. One woman security guard threatened to call a policeman to arrest me when I insisted on returning to my home. She was loud and more than a little confrontational. I don’t think this reflects well on those of us who live here.
<> Triathlon organizer Chris Kaag, who directs the entire charity event from a wheelchair, was saddened to hear of that experience. He was not aware the entrance off Rte. 117 to Lake View Drive had been blocked by construction and promises to make sure there's no recurrence next year.
Nevertheless, the incident serves to remind everyone responsible for hiring security guards: Courtesy and respect are central to Mt. Gretna's heritage. Those who don't understand that must be re-trained. . . or replaced.
 Can I buy House Tour tickets in advance? If so, where and how?
<> Yes, advance tickets for the tour—one of the most popular in Central Pennsylvania—are available at a discount by calling Music at Gretna (717) 361-1508 up to 72 hours before the Saturday, Aug. 5 event. Advance tickets will also be on sale at retail stores and offices (locations usually announced in mid-July). Details: http://mtgretna.com/music/Special1.asp
 Is it just my imagination, or are the squirrels fatter and more numerous this year?
<> Like many of us, the squirrels probably put on a little extra weight over the winter. That’s because, says the Pennsylvania State Game Commission, “we had an excellent mast crop (the nuts of forest trees accumulated on the ground) and a mild winter. These two factors may have contributed to what you’re seeing in increased squirrel populations in Mt. Gretna.”
 Ann Hark, my favorite author, has been mentioned in several past issues of The Mt. Gretna Newsletter. Could you please pass my contact information along? It would be fun to communicate with others who like her. Thank you. Ron Eckels, Baltimore, Md. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
<> Ann Hark, whose father was the Pennsylvania Chautauqua’s first chancellor, owned a cottage overlooking the lake in the 1920s and wrote several books as well as articles for “The Ladies Home Journal.” Her best-known work is “Hex Marks the Spot.” Another book, “Phantom of the Forest” is a children’s mystery that unfolds in and around the former Conewago Hotel.
Local Ann Hark authorities include Cindy Kercher, owner of Ann’s former cottage, Mt. Gretnan Tom Meredith and Bloomsburg University professor Dr. Mary Alice Wheeler. Ann Hark is also remembered for her poem, “Just A Cottage on a Hill,” (“Not for me the hiving city/Not for me the pulsing shore/But a little woodland corner—/This I ask and nothing more. . . .”) now a favorite of many Mt. Gretnans.
 Editor’s note: Last month we reported a giant tree that had fallen along the rail-trail near the Timbers Dinner Theater was probably a beech, one of those listed in the 1985 pamphlet “Big Trees in Lebanon County.” Turns out it wasn’t, say two readers who investigated. They took leaf samples and determined that it was a Chestnut Oak. When they hiked the trail in February it was still standing. But when they returned in March, the giant oak, having grown to a thickness of about six or seven feet over nearly 300 winters, had been felled by lightning.
Largest tree ever to come down in this area? No. Historian Jack Bitner’s detailed notebooks cite a time in 1888 when huge crowds (larger than for a barn-raising) turned out near Colebrook to watch four workmen swinging axes and chopping down a “mammoth ‘swamp white oak’ measuring eight feet across.” Jack’s notes say it took two wagons and 24 horses to haul away the 40-ft. tree.
WHERE THEY ARE NOW . . . .Jim Plummer, who appeared here in the 1960s, is Radio Pennsylvania Network’s morning news anchor (heard on WITF-FM). In true summer stock fashion, Jim rehearsed for next week’s play in the morning while performing the current week’s play at night. He recalls working in the Playhouse’s 1961 production of “Make A Million” with Leonard Frey. A frequent Johnny Carson “Tonight Show” guest, Frey also played in the movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” opposite the Israeli actor (“If I Were A Rich Man”) Topol.
THE ICONS OF MT. GRETNA
A recent breakfast conversation about the “Icons of Mt. Gretna” brought a basketful of nominations, most of whom (like “Oprah,” “Cher” and “Tiger”) are instantly recognized by a single name. Or occasionally by two names spoken as one--“JohnHambright, “JoeShay,” “LindaBell” or “MaryHoffman.” A few Mt. Gretna icons are known more formally. “Mrs. Hernley,” for example, the beloved flower lady who’s been showing up here on spring and summer weekends for nearly four decades, or “Dr. [Tom] Clemens,” who directs the Arts Council.
Over the next few days, other names poured in from Mt. Gretna Newsletter readers: “Grace” [Garrett], who recently retired at age 91-1/2 as the hostess at Le Sorelle. “Dale” [Grundon] profiled in the current issue of “Susquehanna Style” magazine http://www.MtGretna-PA.com. “Tap” [Roberts], who directs operations at the Timbers Dinner Theater. “Nicole” [Roberts], the youngest icon, who, at age 12, energizes the Halloween parade where another icon, Big Junk Day Impresario “Thatcher” [Bornman], makes his annual appearance as SuperPumpkin.
Then there’s “Bill.” Of course, Mt. Gretna has several “Bills,” but only one merits no-last-name-needed status. Bill Care, borough superintendent and man-in-charge-of-darned-near-everything, is, understandably, one of the best-known guys in town.
Others nominated to the icon roster? More than two dozen, a testimony to our community’s high-voltage volunteers. Undoubtedly several icons have been missed in this first roundup. But we'll catch up with them in future editions. Meanwhile, here are the others also named by readers here and around the world:
“Barney” Myer -- willing to help out anyone, anywhere, anytime there’s a need; “Glin” Atkinson -- the designer whose touches add sparkle to festive occasions; “Jack” Bitner -- author, lecturer and historian; “Reenie” Macsisak – the doyenne of Remember When gift shop; “Merv” Lentz -- who keeps things humming in the Campmeeting; “Max” Hunsicker-- writer, director and creator of Mt. Gretna Heights' pink flamingos; “Peter” Hewitt – the British-born inspiration behind Mt. Gretna’s organ recital series; “Carl” Ellenberger-- father of Music at Gretna; “Chuck” Allwein-- borough council president and former biology teacher who began running the Jigger Shop as a part-time venture, transforming it into a Central Pennsylvania landmark; and “Emi” Snavely, coordinator of the annual tour of homes and cottages.
Also, “Howard” Applegate, retired chairman of Lebanon Valley College’s history department and director of the popular summer book reviews; “Elmer” Seiger, familiar figure whose walks with “Schatzie” are integral to Mt. Gretna daily life; “Nancy” Besch -- who has spent every summer here since childhood and serves as chancellor of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua; “Ceylon” Leitzel--who introduced season finale Big Band concerts at the lake; “Will” Stutts--Gretna Theater’s creative director; “Scott” Zellers, one of the fire company’s best fund-raisers ever; “Barb” Acker-- former owner of “Barb’s Buns” (Porch n’Pantry café); and “Eleanor” Sarabia, whose Mt. Gretna scenes now appear on everything from coffee mugs and prints to exacting replicas of architectural treasures.
Other names our readers suggested: historical society leader Fred Buch, “This Week in Mt. Gretna’s” Kathy Snavely, Chautauqua and Campmeeting presidents Peggy O’Neal and Jeff Hurst, and historian Tom Meredith.
Several readers suggested that we might want to add the names of those who have passed on in recent years: John Briody, who once led Gretna Theater and later founded the Timbers Dinner Theater; Tom Ebright, who single-handedly guaranteed the rebirth and revival of the Playhouse when it collapsed under tons of snow in 1994; Hoagy Hogentogler, the former mayor who led those memorable parasol-pumping parades around the playhouse during Sunday jazz worship services, Johnny Wentzler, whose inspiration for summer concerts sparked the idea for Carl Ellenberger’s world-class Music at Gretna festival; Nancy Bressi, one of Mt. Gretna’s most enthusiastic volunteers and unforgettable characters; and retired Naval Chaplain Marlin Seiders, who called Mt. Gretna “not a place, but a spirit.” Many, many more to add to this list. We’ll look forward to additional contributions from our readers in coming weeks. (Incidentally, if you’d like to drop a congratulatory note on yet another retirement to one of our oldest icons, the address is Grace Garrett, P.O. Box 43, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064.)
With reporting assistance from Bruce “McMoose” Baxter, 14
P.S. Our continuing thanks to the dozens of people who provide the news that goes into these monthly reports. They kindly respond to our often obscure questions, provide arcane details that round out our reports, and gently nudge us when we veer off track. It’s part of the fun of a community newsletter, propelled by lots of truly creative people in a town that’s a source of enduring wonderment.
Thanks, too, to the many readers who forward this bulletin to friends and family around the world. And to the folks at Gretna Computers, who not only keep our computing capabilities in first-class shape but also maintain a website so Newsletter readers can find back issues at http://www.mtgretna.com/news.