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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter
No. 72 June 7, 2007
Ready or not, Mt. Gretna’s Summer Season isn't simply on the way, it’s here!
Springing to life with opera that dazzled an enthusiastic audience last weekend, it switches to jazz tomorrow night—with Roaring ‘20s singer Barbara Rosene opening at the Timbers at 8, followed by two free concerts Saturday. The Canal Street Hot 6 open at the Jigger Shop (at 2 p.m.) and Lancaster’s Dixieland Express follow at the Hall of Philosophy at 4 p.m. All of which leads up to the New Black Eagles’ 32d Playhouse appearance Saturday night. (And, yes, those popular Eagles will be back at the Playhouse Sunday for the annual jazz worship service, starting at 11 a.m.)
Can the summer season really be flowing this fast, this soon? Yes, almost like freshly uncorked champagne. All the planning, scheduling, and preparations are done. The curtain is up. The 2007 season is clearly underway.
Even though it’s still two months away, tickets are disappearing fast for the Cicada performances (Billy Joel and Elton John tributes, Big Bands and vintage rock and rollers). Two of the season’s musical blockbusters are also zooming to sellout status: Midori—a virtuoso violinist with few peers—comes to the Playhouse July 22. Aisle seats, center seats and seats close to the stage already are scarce, say officials. Another hot ticket in town is blues and jazz singer and guitarist Leon Redbone, whose Aug. 10 concert is a virtual SRO certainty.
Meanwhile, Gretna Theater is getting ready to offer more than just plays and musicals. Special events nights are in the offing—including a genealogy “talk back” during the run of “Irving Berlin: Made in America” (June 28-July 7) and “a good old-fashioned homecoming” during “Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming” (Aug. 23-31). Some readers told us they’d “already seen ‘Smoke on the Mountain’ several times.” Not this one, they haven’t—it’s a brand-new production premiering this year. (Also on tap this season are: “Mack the Knife: The Life and Music of Bobby Darin” (June 21-23); Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys” July 12-20 and “Fiddler on the Roof” July 26-Aug. 4.)
And if you think that’s all that’s going on, thumb through the Arts Council's 80-page "Summer calendar of Events, just out (and online at It’s crammed with more things to do than Mt. Gretnans will have time to do them. Spectacular performances are lined up this year at the Tabernacle—where a 200-voice choir, a former Broadway singer now with an “unmistakable commitment” to Christian music, and the popular new Lancaster Brass Band are headliners this year.
Add to that the burgeoning lineup of play readings, book reviews, craft workshops, yoga lessons, and discussions on everything from the history of immigrant migrations to explorations into the marvels of nanotechnology. Not to mention, of course, the Aug. 18-19 Art Show, nature studies and recreational events that started with a bang Memorial Day weekend in that 15-mile, 600-competitor national triathlon sweeping through Mt. Gretna's lake, roads and hills. The cork has popped and the flow now seems unstoppable.
Next month, Mt. Gretna’s increasingly renown organ recital series begins—featuring four top students from one of the world’s premier musical institutions, the Juilliard School. Just one more jewel in a kaleidoscope of offerings unfolding right before our very eyes.
And all you have to do is walk down the street and take your pick. Can it really be happening in a town (pop. 1,500 or so) this small?
Want to stir things up? Try misprinting (as we did last month) the date for Big Junk Day in this newsletter. Even though we were writing from a perch 740 miles away, our switchboard lit up.
Big Junk Day, our readers rushed to tell us, is Monday June 18. We got the “Monday” part OK, but somehow gremlins mysteriously rearranged the date to “June 19th” just as this newsletter soared off into cyberspace. Our apologies. But at least we got immediate feedback: Folks do read this bulletin—carefully.
Meanwhile, get ready for the Big Event.
It all starts, of course, the weekend before as Chautauquans begin setting out their uncollectables, beckoning free pickups by passersby anytime between Saturday June 16 and the following Monday morning when borough crews arrive to begin picking up anything still remaining. Usually, that’s not much.
For newcomers, Big Junk Day—which takes place only in Chautauqua—is the time when people discard unwanted stoves, refrigerators, carpets and other items too bulky for pickup in the regular weekly collections.
The not-so-secret story, however, is that over the years neighbors have come to look on this weekend in June with a ‘one-man’s-junk-is-another-man’s-treasure’ sense of adventure. So by the time borough crews arrive to haul stuff away, little remains. Ergo, “Big Junk Day’s” actual date becomes a nonevent. All the excitement takes place in the 48 hours before.
Topping the special treats, of course, is Thatcher Bornman’s impromptu streetside celebration in front of his home at 108 Lancaster Avenue. Around 6 p.m. on Sunday (“Big Junk Eve”), he starts serving hot dogs free to anyone who happens to come by—junk-seekers mostly, plus neighbors who simply like to share in the happy celebration with Thatch and his many friends, some of whom he's meeting for the first time. The hot dogs are roasted in a discarded grill Thatch himself found a few years ago, and neighbors sometimes bring their own assortment of chips, soft drinks and other party fare to the event.
Yes, it happens every year—madcap merriment that only could happen in Mt. Gretna.
[] How did Mt. Gretna artist Fred Swarr create “Paint That Tune” artwork live to music with 200 people at the Summer Premiere looking over his shoulder? It’s all there—‘performance painting” sweeping through the audience and stirring spirited bidding—in a photographic panorama at
[] What surely is the best breakfast bargain in town repeats next month at the fire company’s 8 a.m. to Noon buffet, Sunday July 1. The pay-what-you-want fundraiser offers eggs, pancakes, sausage, potatoes, coffee, and juice for a donation you stuff in a firefighter’s boot as you enter the door. (Somebody once put a $100 bill in the boot, but most donations fall in the $10 to $20 range.)
It’s friendship, however, not food or even fundraising that makes the day meaningful. “We have a wonderful community, and their support is overwhelming,” says coordinator Karen Lynch. “The breakfasts are just a way for them to show their support.”
The first customer (“usually Dale Grundon,” says Karen) shows up promptly at 8. Most others arrive between 8:30 and 10 a.m. But there’s plenty to eat regardless of when you arrive—now that organizers have gotten the hang of just how much food to order. Karen says she over-ordered syrup—by the gallons—at the first breakfast but ran out of potatoes midway through the morning. Hideaway owner Jason Brandt came to the rescue, quickly peeling and slicing tons of potatoes from the restaurant’s supply to serve hungry fire company patrons.
[] Mt. Gretna’s Andy Roberts Quartet opens this year’s Summer at the Tabernacle series June 24, one of 16 Mt. Gretna Bible Festival programs in the lineup—all starting at 7:30 p.m.
Others include (on July 15) former Broadway singer Marie Barlow Martin, who now lives in Elizabethtown after giving up a Broadway career to concentrate on Christian music (“her commitment to what she is singing is unmistakable,” says volunteer Don Zechman).
Also: On July 22, the Brandywine Celtic Harp Orchestra (16 harps playing onstage at the same time), and the first appearance here (July 29) of the Lancaster British Brass Band, playing to packed audiences since their start just two years ago. On Aug. 1, the nationally known Christian motivational speaker Tony Campolo. That’s followed Aug. 5 by a 200-voice Massed Choir directed by the noted composer and pianist Joseph Martin—plus other favorites, including (Aug. 19) the famed Susquehanna Chorale and (Aug. 26) The Lancaster Brass.
Organizers say Massed Choir rehearsals are already underway, “with 200 voices registered to sing and local rehearsals preparing for the event.” These and other festival offerings appear at
[] Where do folks from out of town find artwork created in, or inspired by, Mt. Gretna? At an Arts Council website soon to be premiered to a worldwide audience.
If you’d like to be part of the new “Art From Mt. Gretna” online gallery, send your name, address, phone number and other contact information (including a few photos of your work) to coordinator Jess Kosoff (
[] The New York Times reports on Mt. Gretna’s House Tour in an article “For the Curious, It’s Open House Season” by Shelly Freierman. The Mt. Gretna event (Aug. 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) is listed among some 70 house tours nationally, and it’s one of only two cited for Pennsylvania:
[] For a glimpse of what Mt. Gretna was like a century ago, check out the Historical Society’s new website at Scenes depict a Mt. Gretna that many will recognize but few will scarcely have seen. Early photos of the lake, store, Chautauqua grounds, Campmeeting and Conewago Hill affirm the area’s enduring appeal, generation after generation. Lancaster Avenue resident Shawn Harbaugh says the society plans even more summer cybertreats, including an interactive map with background on locations of historic significance. He invites comments at
[] PennDOT expects to award its Rte. 117 resurfacing contract this month. But work on the $2 million project isn’t likely to begin until after Mt. Gretna’s busy summer season is over—or maybe even next spring. Officials promise to avoid traffic tie-ups here during peak months.
[] This Week in Mt. Gretna—a day-by-day summary of just about everything that’s going on in Mt. Gretna during the summer—offers an online edition. It’s free, sent weekly to your computer. Just ask to have your e-mail address placed on the mailing list:
[] Gretna Music needs volunteers to host artists in their homes Aug. 3-5. Hosts needn’t provide meals other than breakfasts and won’t be responsible for artists’ transportation. Details: Carl Kane,, telephone 717-361-1508.
[] “Pizza-Munching Mondays” help our firefighters. Mt. Gretna Pizzaria (964-1853) will donate a dollar to the Mt. Gretna Fire Dept. every time you order a pizza on Monday—and Tuesday, too, for that matter. The goal: boost sales on the slowest days of the week while lending a hand to our firefighters. Just be sure to say, when you order a pizza on Mondays or Tuesdays, “Donate my dollar to the fire department.”
[] Cingular cell phone user Jim Erdman has finally given up and switched to Verizon, which has a powerful signal here. Cingular “tried valliently” but couldn’t provide reliable service for calls from his Temple Avenue home to the playground, post office and the lake—places where his family loves spending time. “Gee,” marvels Jim, “Now I’ll be able to talk on my cell phone to the Real Power at home and discuss what I should, or should not, buy at the art show,” he says.
[] With local service usually limited to Verizon or Sprint (both with antennas perched atop Verizon’s Mine Road tower), other Mt. Gretnans needing to use a cell phone only occasionally are switching to the increasingly popular Jitterbug phones. They don’t take pictures or connect to the Internet, but Jitterbugs ( work anywhere in the U.S. where there’s a cellular signal of any type, cost $15 a month for 30 minutes of calls, and never incur roaming charges. People who don’t place or receive a lot of calls but need an emergency phone find them handy—especially in places like Mt. Gretna. In fact, we have two ourselves.
[] No Kindermusik summer camp this year. “Not enough folks registered by the May 18 deadline. Maybe next year,” said program sponsors.
[] Information Center volunteers will happily pass along news about your nonprofit activities in Mt. Gretna to visitors. Send details to center coordinator Jessica Kossoff,
[] “Gems of Juilliard”—this year’s July organ recital series at the Hewitt-McAnney residence, One Princeton Ave.—showcases four of the famed music school’s top organ students: Isabelle Demers, Mitchell Crawford, James Wetzel and Daniel Sullivan on Thursday evenings starting July 5. Seating is limited to about 100. Reservations: 964-1830, ext. 3.
[] Who gave the Playhouse a spiffy new look for spring? (See Scott McLeod’s inspired annual gift (last year, it was the post office) is what he calls “my part to serve the community.”
[] Do you have friends coming this weekend but want to enjoy your cottage without shopping, cooking or cleaning dishes? You’re just the customer Nicole Copeland is looking for.
Nicole spent summers growing up in Mt. Gretna. She now has a business bringing prepared foods using “fresh seasonal ingredients supporting sustainable agriculture” to Mt. Gretna doorsteps each Friday afternoon.
“It doesn’t have to be a fabulous order,” she says. A typical customer might call for a few crab cakes, panzanella salad and maybe some gazpacho. “The idea is to enjoy my food, serve it, and have fun,” says Nicole, who’s been eager to put her business plan into action ever since returning to the area from Washington, D.C., where she ran cooking classes for Williams-Sonoma. She’s not up to wedding-scale catering, just small ‘gourmet deli’-type deliveries of items that friends say she’s famous for—chicken cutlets, crab cakes, fresh salads and pastas. She hopes to post a website menu soon. Meanwhile, if you’d like to give her a try, call 717-756-6791, or e-mail
[] Joe Feather is normally a patient guy, but when the cement truck didn’t arrive so he could finish the latest of wife Laura’s home improvement projects at their Conewago Hill residence last month, he called the company.
“They already delivered your order," said a clerk. "Not here, they didn’t," said Joe, who spent much of his Air Force career as a civil engineering unit commander and knows a thing or two about building projects, cement, and on-time deliveries.
Minutes later, the company called back. A work crew at the lake, also expecting a cement delivery that day, had assumed the truck was for them. They waived the driver over and unloaded Joe’s cement at their project. Before everything got straightened out, the tale was taking on proportions of yet another Mt. Gretna legend: America’s First Cement Truck Hijacking.
Yoga in Mt. Gretna Heights' Community Building sometimes is "magical,” says instructor Pam Willeman.
“Opening doors and windows, letting nature in with the smell of the woods and beautiful songs of birds—it’s almost like practicing outside,” she says.
Pam also has a yoga studio in Lebanon, and this is her fourth year of offering classes in Mt. Gretna. Yet the wonder and magic here never seem to ebb.
She recalls once telling students in Lebanon how lovely it is to practice in Mt. Gretna, especially during a rainstorm: “The rain on the roof,´she said, “the smell of rain, feeling moisture in the air. . . .” when one student suddenly began to laugh.
“She had come to Mt. Gretna for her first yoga lesson, and suddenly it began to rain,” says Pam. “Although she had always been taught never to open doors and windows during a storm, there I was, having a ball, with all the windows and doors wide open. She was scared at first, but the calmness in my voice, the guidance to stay present and calm, helped her overcome a fear of storms,” says Pam. “How cool is that?”
A yoga instructor for the past nine years, Pam also runs the New Day Studio in Lebanon. Her classes here are Mondays, 6 to 7:15 p.m. and Wednesdays, 8 to 9:15 a.m. for all levels. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a mat ($10 per class). Details: 717-964-3193.
50 Dance students now taking lessons each week at Danstation in the La Cigale Design Center on Rte. 117. Owner-instructor Becky Smith is beginning summer classes for all ages and likes the new surroundings here for a school she launched four years ago in Lebanon. “Mt. Gretna has given us a new start. It’s quiet and peaceful, and since dance has been a missing art form here, we fit right in,” she says. For information about lessons for either children or adults: (717-964-3630 or 507-4356).
115th Anniversary of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, commemorated by Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll, here last month at a private chamber music recital given at the home of Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney. She presented a proclamation citing the Chautauqua’s natural surroundings—“some of the most beautiful in all of Pennsylvania”—and its mission in promoting the arts, religion, culture and recreation.
$1,000 Award winners in the Arts Council’s 2007 Scholarship Program were four students from Annville-Cleona, Cornwall-Lebanon, Northern Lebanon and ELCO high schools (see The scholarships are available to Lebanon County students pursuing creative writing, theater, music or arts studies. Next year’s deadline: May 1, 2008.
Less than 2000 (out of about 3,500) tickets still left for Cicada’s August concerts, which will likely again be sellouts. Ten percent of this year’s seats, in fact, were sold via the Internet even before the box office opened June 1.
On tap are vintage rock and rollers Phil Dirt and the Dozers (Aug. 7), Hershey Big Band's Radio Show (Aug. 8), Lee Alverson's tribute to Billy Joel and Elton John (Aug. 9), Bill Haley's Comets (Aug. 13), and "Shades of Blue," a popular mid-Atlantic Big Band. All tickets are $8. Mail orders (with SASE) to Cicada Festival, P.O. Box 637, Mt. Gretna, Pa. 17064, or phone 717-964-2046 (Visa or MasterCard accepted). See
$7,800 The cost last winter to shovel snow from the roof of the 108-year-old Mt. Gretna Tabernacle. Campmeeting supervisor Merv Lentz keeps a keen eye on snow buildups, calling in shoveling crews when necessary. In a shin-straining ordeal that takes hours, they scrape snow from the co nical roof in a circular, top-down pattern to keep the weight evenly distributed. Closest call was in 1994, when 89 inches of snow piled up on the roof, causing the building’s 23 supporting chestnut posts to creak, its rafters to sway. Merv acted just in time. His crews saved the Tabernacle from collapsing—a fate met by similar structures, including the century-old Mt. Gretna Playhouse. Bible Festival officials now collect donations earmarked “Tabernacle Roof,” to assure money for snow removal and set aside funds for a day when the roof must be replaced.
[] Gretna Theater’s “talk back” following the June 29 performance of “Made in America: Irving Berlin” will invite audience members to share in the fun, mystery and rewards of genealogical explorations. Retired Lebanon Valley College history department chairman (and Mt. Gretna resident) Dr. Howard Applegate will join “Roots and Branches” newspaper columnist James Beidler and producing artistic director Larry Frenock, who has traced his family’s history to the 1600s, in a post-performance discussion.
The theme seems apt. “Made in America” blossomed into a Broadway production after six actors discovered that each came from immigrant families with intriguing stories. Two of those actors, plus the show’s director, will be in the Mt. Gretna production. “It’s exciting. All the stories are true family histories with music from one of America's best-known immigrants,” says the theater’s Renee Krizan.
[] Chautauqua's Wednesday evening film festival this summer runs under the theme, "Great Lovers of the Silver Screen." It opens July 11 with Clark Gable and Carole Lombard and winds up Aug.1 with Kermit and Miss Piggy. "Nobody can accuse us of not having a sense of humor," says Peggy O'Neil.
[] Youngsters “curious about everything” will enjoy Governor Dick Park’s summer Saturday Discovery Series. Saturday’s (June 9) session, “Birds and Bugs,” will help children age six to 10 identify six birds by song, measure their wingspan and focus on vital relationships between birds and bugs, says coordinator Audrey Manspeaker.
At the first session last month, she led children on the “Un-Nature Trail,” hiding 17 items—everything from turtle shells to plastic spoons and rubber bands. “Their job was to find them all. On our first walk along the trail, after they had found only one item, we discussed camouflage and how to ‘think backwards while walking forward.’ Some of the items they could discover only by turning around to look (also a good trick to prevent getting lost),” says Audrey, weaving a mix of forest lore, mystery and magic.
All programs in the 10 a.m.-11 a.m. series are free. Children must be with an adult to help with supervision. Details: (717) 964-3808 or e-mail:
[] Mt. Gretna’s summer programs now appear in the online version of the Arts Council’s 2007 Summer Calendar of Events and in the weekly bulletin, This Week in Mt. Gretna.
Among the cornucopia of treasures awaiting: Dr. Donald Kraybill reflects on “The Amish: How Forgiveness Redeemed a Tragedy” Aug. 3; author Bill Gifford discusses his new book, “Ledyard: In Search of the First American Explorer” Aug. 24; Dr. John Scala’s talk on “U.S. Climate Change” is scheduled June 20; and Space Telescope Science Institute senior astronomer Dr. Nolan Walborn discusses “Life Cycles of Massive Stars” June 22.
Also of special interest: “Memories of the Pennsylvania National Guard Encampment at Mt. Gretna” June 29 and a repeat of last year’s popular class, “It’s Easy to be Cheesy” Aug. 6 and 13. Most programs take place at the Hall of Philosophy. For details, see the Summer Calendar ( or This Week in Mt. Gretna, now available free to e-mail subscribers sending a request to
[] Gretna Theater’s Young Audience series begins June 30 with the musical travelogue “Small World” as youngsters learn words in different languages and discover where their family came from.
Others in the Saturday series include “A Green Show” to help “clean up our world” (July 7); “The Doctor Is In” where storybook characters find happy endings after visiting the doctor (July 14); and “Rainy Day Stories” or what to do when you’re bored (July 28).
The “Gretna Gala Idol Competition” (Aug. 4) will feature 20 talented finalists age 10 to 16, four of whom will move to final competition at Gretna Theater’s annual gala in October with a mainstage role for the winner next season. All shows begin at 11 a.m. and are $5 (or 5 for $20, with $3 “lapseat” tickets for children under 3). Details: Tel. 964-3627.
[] Like to lead others? Governor Dick Nature Center needs someone to direct its volunteer committee. If you have the skills to encourage, energize and motivate, call the Center: 964-3808.
[] What’s happening at the Heights Community building? Besides yoga (see “Finding Calm at Center of a Storm,” above), drawing and painting classes, Tai Chi, plus an assortment of birthday parties, wedding receptions and private parties. Ellen Nicholas gives art instruction from 10 a.m. to noon on Fridays. Charles Harris ( teaches Tai Chi Ch’uan (a Chinese exercise for health and self-defense) Wednesday evenings. Building manager Dick Steinhauer (964-2362) schedules rentals.
[] They’ll need your help in running the Playhouse concession stand again this year. Organizers still have some open dates for volunteers who’d like to help out—and get a free seat to shows while raising money for the groups that bring music, plays and other artistic performances to Mt. Gretna. Call 717-361-1508 to sign up.
[] Chautauqua’s final brush collection of the summer starts June 11. Pickups are over for this season in the Heights, but Campmeeting residents can set out leaves or brush for collection at anytime, says supervisor Merv Lentz. No leaf or brush collections are available elsewhere in the Mt. Gretna community.
[] Shirley Trimmer, the snow-skiing Florida native who spent several years as Cornwall police department’s secretary, now lives in Arizona. She enjoys working part time with seniors, gets to and from work in a golf cart, and has been doing some hiking in the desert. The change of scene couldn’t be more dramatic, but Shirley loves it: “So far I’ve only seen a few rabbits out there, but I’m hoping to see a Gila Monster one of these days.”
[] Larry Bowman, named as new president of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, owns a vacation cottage here and plans to make Mt. Gretna his permanent home. A Lebanon Valley College grad, he formerly ran a regional chamber in Chester County. “My wife has fallen in love with Mt. Gretna,” he told the Lebanon Daily News this week.
[] Butterflies—their haunts and habitats—is Fred Habecker’s topic June 15 at Governor Dick Nature Center. He’ll describe plants needed for food supplies and the woods, wetlands and gardens where butterflies abound in a talk at 7 p.m. Native Ferns of Lebanon County take the spotlight June 30 when Richard Light and Tom Powers delve into ferns, patterns and locations of spores, and other identification clues. The program starts at 10 a.m. and, if time allows, they’ll take visitors on a short expedition to look for ferns in the forest. The center is located off Pinch Road, between Rte. 72 and Rte. 117.
[] An essay contest challenges youngsters 16 and under to share funny, sad or exciting 250-word true stories about their family’s immigrant experiences. It’s part of this summer's “Made in America” and “Small World” productions. The top three winners will get free tickets and hear their stories read out loud during Gretna Theater's June 30 performance. E-mail entries, marked “Essay Contest Submission from Your Name” in the subject line, to by midnight, June 25, 2007.
<> When they’re redoing a street like Muhlenberg Avenue (where they installed water and storm drainage lines, new streetlights and sandstone curbing), why don’t they just bury the power lines at the same time?
[] Seems like a good idea, but “the cost would be tremendous,” says Borough chief Bill Care. “Although Met Ed didn’t charge us anything to move their electrical poles back a bit, burying power lines, installing transformers, setting up electrical boxes like the ones you see in developments with underground utilities and running individual lines to each home would be costly. So costly, in fact, we didn’t even ask. They’d look at us funny.”
<> All that news in the last Mt. Gretna Newsletter, but not one word about those babies at LeSorelle Café. What’s cookin’?
[] Those much-anticipated arrivals did indeed figure in the news. Sister chefs Tiffany and Stephanie (LeSorelle means “sisters” in Italian) are the mainstays at Mt. Gretna’s popular café. The babies have arrived, and their moms are sharing kitchen duties as the restaurant shifts to its summer schedule. And the babies? Tiffany’s—Olivia Ann Winters, arrived March 14, weighing 8 lbs., 6 oz. Stepahnie’s—Jackson Asher Bost, landed 38 days later on April 21, weighing 7 lbs., 7 oz. For the restaurant’s exact hours and other events, see
<> Can I still get tickets to that Big Band Beach Party at the lake?
[] Yes, but it’s best not to tarry. Orders are filling up fast for Ceylon and Karen Leitzel’s popular end-of-summer event (7:30-10:30 p.m. Aug. 25) featuring the “After Hours” Big Band. One request even came from China (actually, friends visiting a couple who enjoyed the event last year). Others included a group celebrating their 50th class reunion and a couple who met at the beach party two years ago and just got engaged. All a part of the Big Band magic, says Ceylon, Mt. Gretna’s master promoter who, when he’s not busy running the Pennsylvania Jewelry Association or heading Mt. Gretna’s Cicada Festival, runs a thriving jewelry store in Myerstown. Beach party tickets are $18, and proceeds benefit Mt. Gretna area community programs. Call 717-964-1829 or 866-4274. Or mail orders to Mt. Gretna Big Band, P.O. Box 202, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064-0202.
<> I lived on Muhlenberg Avenue in the early ‘90s and would love to have a copy of last year’s Art Show poster (which shows Jack Bitner’s house and a view looking down the street). If anyone has a copy they would be willing to sell, I would love to hear from them—Mary Gottfried (
[] We hope someone may be able to help with this request from Mary, who left here in 1992 and moved to Elizabethtown, where both she and her husband work at the college. (He’s a teacher. She’s helped manage the bookstore for over 24 years.)
“I miss Mt. Gretna. We still have friends there and return almost daily in the summer to walk our basset hound Murray. So we keep in touch with what’s happening,” she says. Planning to retire soon, they have spoken about returning to Mt. Gretna as residents someday.
Nell Pontz, the scandalous Mt. Gretna “bather” who exposed her bare forearms to a photographer a century ago, was probably smiling again last month. Her great-great-great nephew, T. J. Jordan, finished Mt. Gretna’s May 26 triathlon with a time of 1:19:32 to win—for the second year in a row—the Clydesdale Division (for 40- to 50-year-olds). “The race is a great way to see and appreciate the beauty of Mt. Gretna,” said Jordan, a Lancaster banker.
The triathlon is a nationally ranked event (, attracting 600 athletes from around the country who swim, run and cycle the 15-mile circuit. In the process, they helped raise this year $30,000 for research into a disease that cripples the human nervous system.
More Mt. Gretnans than ever competed in this, the fourth annual “Got The Nerve?” triathlon. They included Becky Davis, Brad Ditzler, Chris O’Brien, Robert and Sandy Moritz, Dan Chirico, Brian Spangler, Adam Harlan, Marla Pitt, John Weaver, Pat Allwein and Alisa Pitt.
Fastest time (1:06:06) was turned in by Chris Ganter of Doylestown, competing in the 25-to-29-year-old division. Oldest racer was Richard McCullough of Lititz, the only competitor in the 70-and-older group. He finished with a time of 2:07:26, which, for many of us, is less time than it takes to get out of bed and finish a second cup of coffee most mornings.
Kindest regards,
Roger Groce
P.S. Last month’s article on Mt. Gretna’s “lonely streets” prompted some inspired reactions from readers. Concerning our reference to Dixon Street, which “never got built” in the Campmeeting, we heard from several residents who actually live on Dixon Street. Our investigative reporters are looking into the matter. We also heard from a reader who points out that Cornell Street, in Chautauqua, is another thoroughfare that never got off the drawing board.
Speaking of Chautauqua, where we noted that “all the streets are named after schools with losing football teams,” one Lehigh alum who got a graduate degree at Bucknell before earning his M.D. at Jefferson Medical College, wrote: “I take exception! Lehigh has been the Patriot League Champion for several years. Bucknell? Now there’s a losing football team.”
Ah, the joys of publishing a newsletter in an uber sophisticated small town—where the readers are a lot smarter than the writer.

Our thanks to all who nudge and needle us from time to time. Thanks also to those who help share this newsletter with others, dispatching it to distant points around the globe and to friends across the street. Also, thanks to our friends at Gretna Computing, you can also find copies of this newsletter (and back issues) online at