"A Bulletin For Folks Who Love Mount Gretna. . . Wherever They Happen to Live"
The Mt. Gretna
No. 76 November 15, 2007
WHAT'S NICE ABOUT NOVEMBER
Mid-November is a reassuring time in Mt. Gretna. While elsewhere in the world
people are rocked by mega-issues such as global warming or global recession,
Mt. Gretnans are simply putting their rockers away. Clearing front porches
and preparing for winter is a principle concern in November, a time when not
much happens and when most people here already know what's going to happen
What they can count on is that leaves which turned golden in October will
become brown in November and finally release their grip. Waiting to scoop
them up will be people like Scott Cooling, Joey Wise and newcomer Lindsay
Kresge, the diminutive redhead who joined the boro crew in August and is proving
she can handle any task that comes her way. Others in the leaf-collecting
business at this time of year include the Campmeeting's venerable Merv Lentz
and West Cornwall Township's George Dundore, a familiar figure in Mt. Gretna
Heights. Across the highway—in areas that were "Mt. Gretna"
seven years before the Chautauqua was founded—residents of Timber Hills,
Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge find ways to dispose of leaves themselves.
And all Mt. Gretnans, regardless of where they reside, can count on the inevitable
return of turkey vultures—birds that have been making their annual appearance
here for at least the last quarter century. But their numbers are down these
days—way down. That's because a dedicated corps of volunteers emerges
every evening at dusk to shoo them away, part of a coordinated relocation
campaign that's one of the most effective in the state. (If you'd like to
join them, let us know. We'll pass your name on to coordinator Max Hunsicker,
who can always use extra helping hands.)
What Mt. Gretnans won't count on seeing this year is another special deer
hunt at Governor Dick Park. The deer population also is down (See "Numbers,"
this issue). That, at least, is what a study showed last April. But we'd advise
motorists hereabouts to be wary nevertheless. It could just be our imagination,
but we've seen more deer along Mt. Gretna roads than ever this year.
Among news topics that do stimulate talk nowadays are those looming tax increases.
Boro residents may be facing a 23-percent hike in local taxes. Other municipalities
are coping with similar budgetary woes, most traceable to an unexpected shortfall
in earned income tax revenues.
At the request of Pennsylvania's Chautauqua, boro officials have begun moving
ahead with paperwork that could someday establish an official historic district.
Secretary Linda Bell says the idea would be to preserve the area's architectural
heritage—not "turn Mt. Gretna into a Williamsburg" with such
things as strict controls on paint colors, buildings uses or remodeling.
Other talked-about-topics include what will become of Mt. Gretna's former
gift shop (officially, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle building).
Nothing's definite yet, but Chautauqua officials have been encouraged by the
interest prospective renters are showing. They hope to have an announcement
soon and a new business there next spring.
Meanwhile, the Rte. 117 repaving project is back on track. PennDOT chose an
Ephrata-based firm, Burkholder Paving Division of Martin Limestone Corp.,
to do the work. Burkholder's Dave Powers told us they hope to start in early
to mid-February and finish by Sept. 4 next year. No repaving will take place
in the boro between Memorial Day and Labor Day. So during the busiest days
of summer, Burkholder's crews will be tackling portions of the roadway outside
Mt. Gretna's "downtown." Dave, who often enjoys visiting Mt. Gretna,
says he appreciates the area's natural beauty and our concern for preserving
trees and wildlife. He pledges minimal disruption as the $2 million project
proceeds along Rte. 117, from Colebrook to the Rte. 72 overpass near Cornwall.
What else occupies the time, thoughts and attentions of people in Mt. Gretna
these days? Nothing startling. Nothing surprising. And nothing sufficiently
stirring to make the news any place else on earth. That, of course, is exactly
the way we like it.
IN MT. GRETNA, IT'S CHRISTMAS WHEN. . .
This year's tree lighting and carol singing open house will take place on
Saturday, Dec. 1. It's an event that's brought special pleasures to Peter
Hewitt and organist Walter McAnney for the past 15 years. At precisely 5:30
p.m., the outdoor tree will light up at the tip of Cedarn Point (where Pinch
Road, Rte. 117 and Princeton Avenue come together). Carols, conversations,
and servings of hot mulled cider with finger food favorites will continue
until 7:30 p.m. ("We've discovered," says Peter, "that guests
sometimes have other parties to attend.")
On the program this year (besides carols with Walter and protégé
Ryan Brunkhurst, Mt. Gretna's youngest organist) will be two guest singers:
soprano Emily Drobnock, a school friend of Ryan, and Robert McCullough, Ryan's
next door neighbor in Timber Hills.
Everyone's welcome, and reservations aren't required.
Even if you can't make it to the lighting ceremony, you'll nevertheless be
able to enjoy the added holiday sparkle at Cedarn Point. "Many people
have told us that they find the Christmas lights on the point to be a cheerful
sight," says Peter. "For them, and for us, it means that Christmas
is just around the corner."
STUFF YOU WON'T READ ANYPLACE ELSE
 Summer program planners are already busy, working on offerings that will
top even last year's bountiful schedule. If you have a suggestion, they'd
like to hear it. (Drop a note to Kathy Snavely, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jack
Chautauqua president Peggy O'Neil reports that several new crafts classes
are already set, and a field trip to Baltimore's aquarium is a possibility.
"We know there's a lot on our schedule, and not everybody will be able
to do everything," she says. "We just want to offer enough variety
so there's something for everybody."
 Joy Hild, a reader in Hampstead, Md., discovered the Mt. Gretna Newsletter
on the Web a few weeks ago and quickly summoned up early memories and names
that others may also remember: Nancy and Walter Myers, former caretakers in
the Campmeeting; Eleanor Long, who recently passed away at the age of 102;
and Lotta Lustnauer and her sister Ethel Ensor. "We used to sit on the
porch of my parents' cottage and listen to services at the Tabernacle,"
says Joy, whose fondest Mt. Gretna memories still are those afternoons at
the Jigger Shop. "I'm so glad I found the Website," she says. "What
a nice way to bring back special memories of a special place."
 Linda Bell—who drives snowplows, computes payrolls, and organizes
things for half a dozen Mt. Gretna groups including the borough, the water
authority and the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, and—oh, yes, also directs
Mt. Gretna's art show with a skill rarely found among Fortune 500 CEOs—is
an excellent rider. Nonetheless, she says that her horse "chucked me
on the ground a few weeks ago."
Linda has been thrown before and isn't about to be discouraged. She knows
exactly what's wrong: that darned 27-year-old mare, which she's owned for
nearly 20 years, simply "has a couple of loose bolts in her head."
Linda got right back on and continued the ride unfazed.
Amid duties here, frequent weekend cycling trips of 100 miles or more, and
interior design courses at night in Lancaster, she's preparing for a trip
abroad next September. She and a friend will travel the Irish countryside—on
 This year's top award at the Nov. 10 soup cook-off went to a professional
chef making his first appearance here as a contestant. Brad Bower traveled
from Camp Hill to unveil his secret, Mushroom Hill, a runaway favorite in
the balloting. Second-place honors went to the crab bisque prepared by Mt.
Gretna's Elaine Baum, who has entered the contest in four of the past five
years and has won more medals than anybody. Sharon Warfel of Lebanon's roasted
carrot and ginger soup placed third. Former first-place winner Chris Koslosky
of Lebanontook "most unusual" honors with a creation she calls "Jungle
Soup." And Lititz resident Terri Conville won the "best presentation"
award. The event attracted 16 contestants. Organizer Thatcher Bornman says
it brought over $700 in proceeds to the fire company.
 Gretna Theatre has a part-time opening for someone to handle administrative
tasks in a new development and fund-raising staff position. The position will
require two to two-and-a-half days per week and involves developing and refining
donor lists, preparing special mailings to prospective donors, coordinating
the work of board members and others in organizing new sources of commercial
and institutional sponsors, preparing thank-you letters and similar activities.
Submit inquiries to Larry Frenock, Producing Director, Gretna Theatre, P.O.
Box 578, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064. Tel. 717-964-3322. E-mail: email@example.com
18.3 The average number of deer per square mile in Governor Dick Park, according
to studies conducted last spring. That's below the 21-deer-per-square-mile
recommendation of Pennsylvania's Game Commission, so there'll be no special
hunt in the park this year. Also showing up in the study, however, was one
spot where the herd's numbers are unusually high—37 deer per square
mile. That's a site next to a hunting club, the Sportsmen's Association and
a residential area. Officials say deer are attracted there because they're
being fed. They'll do more studies next year.
45 Percent of Mt. Gretna borough cottage-owners who live here full-time. That
puts a burden on the budget, since only full-time residents pay earned income
tax, which the borough depends on for half of its annual income. That, plus
an unexpected shortfall in EIT revenues, will likely mean a 23 percent increase
in taxes next year. Other Lebanon County municipalities face similar budget
225 Trees planted this year around the Governor Dick Nature Center. Coordinator
Janie Gockley says they're part of a long-term stewardship plan and all are
native to the area: Dogwoods and redbuds to add springtime beauty, plus black
cherry, oak and silver maples. Also some sugar maples that could be tapped
for honest-to-goodness sugar mapling sometime in the future.
2,300 Square-foot addition now going up at the Mt. Gretna fire hall. The $265,000
project will add three new bays, providing more room for the firefighters'
existing equipment, which includes a $170,000 fast attack engine purchased
in 2003, a rescue truck and an 1,800-gallon tanker. The fire company now runs
on the services of 21 volunteers who typically respond to an estimated 130
to 140 calls per year. Officials expect to finish construction sometime in
February. See photos: http://www.MtGretna-PA.com
STUFF THAT'S GOOD TO KNOW
 Santa arrives at the Mt. Gretna fire hall promptly at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 8.
He'll be there for two hours, and all are welcome. Youngsters of all ages
will find plenty of food, favors and hot chocolate. (Volunteer bakers: please
bring your cookies in early that morning.)
 If you're buying a fresh Christmas tree this year, there'll be plenty of
places to dispose of it after the holidays, even though the tree disposal
area at Governor Dick Park has now been permanently closed.
Campmeeting and Chautauqua residents can set their trees along the curb for
pickup. Heights residents can take theirs to a special mulching area behind
the West Cornwall Township building, 73 S. Zinns Mill Rd. until Feb. 1. Residents
elsewhere in Mt. Gretna may drop off their trees at the Greater Lebanon Refuse
Authority, 1610 Russell Road, north of Annville. The services are free, but
officials ask everyone to please remove bags, lights, tinsel and other decorations
which can clog grinding machines.
 Mt. Gretna's Winterites have a potluck luncheon coming up at the fire hall
Dec. 4. The holiday festivities begin at noon and all in the Mt. Gretna area
are invited. The group meets on first Tuesday of the month (except January)
October through April.
 Gretna Music's season continues at Elizabethtown College's Leffler Performance
Center this weekend with violinist Adele Anthony, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Coming
next: Canadian Brass on Dec. 6.
(This week's concert is a "Bring a Friend for Bach and Save Night,"
offering 50 percent off the regular price of up to two tickets for friends
if you present a pre-purchased ticket at the box office.) The popular music
festival also offers gift certificates in any amount for all Gretna Music
events, regardless of performance dates. Details: (717) 361-1508.
 "The Oaks at Gretna," that new real estate development along
Mine Road, is alive and well, even though the small signs that first announced
it several months ago are now mostly gone. "We put them up mainly for
the art show crowd," says Coldwell Banker's Tom Gates. Plans are to build
perhaps four custom homes, with maybe a few more later. Gates expects them
to be in the $300,000 to $400,000 range with $700,000 a possibility. He says
nobody has yet signed up, but there is interest in the lots, which range from
two-and-a-half to four acres. Gates says that in real estate, the "Gretna
name" holds a certain cachet.
QUESTIONS READERS ASK
 What is the Chautauqua salute? I have a book of plays copyrighted in 1911
and direct an after-school Drama Club at Riverview Elementary School in Marietta.
We are doing a Christmas play from the book that calls for the Chautauqua
Salute at the ending. It mentions a scarf or cloth, but I'm not sure how to
teach the children to do it. Can you help?
<> We checked with Mt. Gretna historian Jack Bitner. To the best of
his knowledge, the "Chautauqua salute" has never been done at Mt.
According to a Chautauqua, N.Y. website (http://exhibit.chautauqua-inst.org/traditions.html),
however, the tradition of audiences silently waving a white handkerchief began
in 1877 to substitute for applause for a performer who was deaf. The Chautauqua
Salute came to stand for the highest tribute a Chautauqua audience could give.
It is used sparingly today and given only at the invitation of the president
of the institution or some other presiding officer.
Another version of the salute, The Drooping of the Lililes, is more solemn.
Raising a white handkerchief aloft began as a memorial tribute for the late
Lewis Miller at an opening night ceremony following his death. It has continued
 What are those green boxes we see along Pinch Road, at the entrance to
Gov. Dick Park and then periodically all the way down to the Nature Center?
<> They're electrical transformers, which supply underground utility
service to the Nature Center. "We had the option of continuing the overhead
power lines from the monument to the building," says Ray Bender, a Gov.
Dick Park board member. "But that would have meant cutting a 50-foot-right-of-way
for the poles. It cost more money to go underground, but we thought it was
worth it. The green boxes house Met Ed's transformers which are required every
so many feet until they get to the Nature Center."
 I understand that Mt. Gretna has increasing numbers of a plant that's sometimes
called "Tree of Heaven" or "stinking sumac." Is it a problem,
and if so, what can we do about it?
<> Horticulturalist and Mt. Gretna area resident Ginger Pryor, who serves
on the county's extension bureau staff, says the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus
altissima) has been a problem in Pennsylvania since the late 1800s. It has
a strong offensive odor. "I can't tell you the extent the problem of
Ailanthus in Mt. Gretna," she says, "but I have noticed them on
some cleared areas including North Hills Drive, Laurelwood and on areas of
"Ailanthus is an ecological threat because of its invasiveness. It usually
grows in dense stands that displace native plants and produces chemicals that
kill or prevent the growth of other plants.
"Elimination begins with diligence, because of its abundant seed production,
high seed germination rate and vigorous vegetative reproduction. Targeting
large female trees will help reduce spread by seed. Young seedlings may be
pulled or dug up, preferably when soil is moist. Take care to remove the entire
plant, including all roots and fragments as these will almost certainly re-grow,"
she says. Ginger may be reached at Lebanon's PSU Cooperative Extension, (717)
ARTHUR F. RUDY (1914-2007)
He was, in every sense, a gentleman's gentleman. Unerringly polite, exactingly
precise in both manner and speech, and uncommonly respectful of the rights
and opinions of others. He also was fond—profoundly so—of Mt.
Art Rudy, who died Sept. 14, 2007, was a summer resident with a year-round
affection for his Mt. Gretna neighbors. The cottage he and wife Erma enjoyed
on Muhlenberg Avenue reflected the man himself—always neat, suitably
modest, always welcoming.
When he wasn't in Mt. Gretna, he was usually in Landisville—almost an
institution there, in fact. He taught a Landisville Sunday school class for
over 60 years. He spent 38 years with Armstrong—Armstrong Cork Company
when he joined right out of college (Franklin and Marshall, then University
of Pennsylvania, where he received a master's degree), and later Armstrong
World Industries when he retired as manager of production and control of the
company's advertising department.
Besides his wife, he is survived by a son and daughter, five grandchildren,
eight great-grandchildren and a brother.
Art Rudy: A good friend, a good neighbor, and a good example.
M'M! M'M! GOOD! WOODPECKER SOUP, ANYONE?
He arrived, fittingly enough, on Columbus Day, showing up at the cottage of
Barney and Cindy Myer along Yale Avenue. Although he didn't exactly come with
suitcase in hand, the visiting woodpecker nevertheless made clear his intention
to stay for the winter.
By late afternoon, after laboring throughout the day on their cedar-siding,
he had pecked "a perfectly round hole just above the garage door,"
says Cindy. "I kept scooping up acorns and throwing them at him, but
he wouldn't give up." The next day, she found traces of yellow insulation
below the newly formed hole—unmistakable signs that he was making the
Mounting a counteroffensive, Barney stood outside the garage while Cindy pounded
on a dining room wall, opposite the spot where they suspected the visitor
was outfitting his new apartment. "At first, he'd stick his little head
through the hole, looking slightly annoyed," she says. "But he got
bored with it all and soon didn't bother to peek out anymore."
Barney stepped up the campaign, positioning a fake owl right in front of the
hole. But the bird never blinked. Later, he tried using one of those "yellowish-orange
balloons with lots of eyes on it." That failed, too. The bird never even
altered his flight path around what Barney had hoped would be a terror-evoking
obstacle. Instead, Cindy swears she could see traces of a faint smile starting
to form across that woodpecker's well-hammered beak.
Last week, after threatening to serve Woodpecker soup at the fire company's
cook-off, Barney nailed a pie plate near the hole and declared victory. The
bird, he announced, was gone: Not a peck. Not a pip. Not a peep.
Cindy, however, isn't so sure. She thinks the bird's still there, but he's
now become a proper Mt. Gretna woodpecker—that is, quietly res-PECKt-able.
Besides that, he's smart, says Cindy, sounding almost like a proud mom. "After
all, it took Columbus how many months to discover the New World? He found
it in a day."
P.S. Our thanks to all who contribute to this newsletter, either with ideas
for topics, suggestions and corrections, or answers to our frequent and often
arcane questions. Thanks also to our proofreaders, several in number, who
hastily drop whatever they're doing to scan our early drafts and search for
errors lurking in the darndest places. And our continuing appreciation for
the many readers who forward this newsletter to others around the world, extending
our circulation far and wide to people who share a fondness for all things
having to do with Mt. Gretna.
Remember, too: Thanks to the folks at Gretna Computing, whose technical wizardry
and personal attentiveness never cease to amaze us, you can always find back
issues on the Web at http://mtgretna.com/news. (That's handy when you accidentally
hit "delete" before everyone in your household has had a chance
to read the latest Mt Gretna Newsletter.)