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Mt. Gretna E-Mail Newsletter No. 43 January 6, 2005

Mt. Gretna E-Mail Newsletter

"A Bulletin For Folks Who Love Mount Gretna. . . Wherever They Happen to Live"
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Email: The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

No. 87                                                                                                                                   October 1, 2008

(Note to our online readers: Photos, hyperlinks to referenced articles and other features are available in the emailed edition of this newsletter, distributed without charge. For a copy, send your request to


The Leaves of Harvest

For those who remain, secret pleasures of a special season

The Labor Day crowds had barely scattered when Joey Wise, a borough staffer whose broad smile brightens any path he travels, called out to us from across Carnegie Avenue the next morning, "We've got our town back!"
In the sudden serenity of Chautauqua's vacant parking lot -- which only hours before had churned with cars, people, pets and baby strollers -- Joey's sentiment resonated across an entire community.  
True, nobody loves summer more than Mt. Gretnans. But when the crowds dissolve, those who remain delight in their shared secret:  In Mt. Gretna, fall is the best season of all.
Even for people like super-endurance athlete Robin Smith, who crossed the U.S.A. this summer in a
seven-day bike race, nothing beats sitting on the porch with husband Shawn and "watching the empty streets."

Rosemary Milgate, the former English teacher who's spent most of her life here, says fall is "not a 'doing' thing but a 'sensual' experience." She loves to "hear the leaves falling, smell the first whiffs of wood smoke, see the trees decked out in their splashy fall wardrobes, and feel the crisp tang in the air while walking to the post office." Rosemary believes that she may be the only person who's drawn to shorter days, which bring "the sparkle of candles and lights in the windows."
On fall Saturday afternoons, people like Tom and Carol MReflected beauty at Lake Conewagoayer pack a lunch and head down to the lake where, amid changing leaves with reflected beauty doubly amplified from their vista along the southern bank, they sometimes listen to Penn State games on a portable radio.
Julia Bucher, who moved to town only this year, has already discovered the joys of "paddling in a canoe without a cell phone." We suspect it is a welcome respite from her duties both as a college professor and one of the American Cancer Society's leading authorities on caregiving.                    
Photographer Madelaine Gray, as much at home amid the lavender fields of Provence as the sandstone pathways of Mt. Gretna, often strolls down to the lake with husband Rupert Bullard to glimpse the morning mist. After she puts away her camera, afternoons often find her in their Campmeeting cottage, baking "anything with pumpkin" and preparing for dinner guests with table decorations fashioned from autumn leaves.

And pausing after a busy summer of responsibilities as Chautauqua's first female president, Peggy O'Neil likes nothing better in the fall than curling up alongside her fireplace and reading -- "for three, maybe four hours straight."
It is also a time when adults plunge into childhood pleasures -- building leaf houses or strolling through freshly raked leaves along the streets. "Don't tell anyone it's me shuffling through their newly raked piles, listening to the sounds of fall," says Deb Volmer, a nurse who lives on Lancaster Avenue.
Cheryl Burke, who delights in the joys of choral singing here, says you just can't live in Mt. Gretna without making "the biggest pile of leaves ever and jumping into them with your grandkids."
Building leaf houses is also a specialty of people like author Elizabeth Wein,
In the fall, nothing beats a Mt. Gretna leafhouseleft. Having grown up in the Heights with her grandmother Betty Flocken, she regularly returns from her home in Scotland to recapture the enchantments of childhood with children of her own. She sent this photo from a fall 2000 adventure here with daughter Sara and her aunt Susan Whitaker (Betty's daughter), right.
And while Deborah Clemens savors falling asleep to the sounds of cicadas, daughter Jessica Kosoff rejoices in a fall reverie that young mothers everywhere will immediately grasp:  "I can put away the sand buckets, beach towels, inner tubes and lake passes, and then take a deep breath," she says.
Renee Krizan, who helps keep Gretna Theater humming year-round, makes fall her time to join friends at the Timbers, the Hideaway and Le Sorelle Cafe.
Fall's pleasures also lure many to the rail-trail. Reenie and Joe Macsisak often take the trail's short-cut from their Valley Road apartment to breakfast at the pizza shop, watching overhead for rippling waves of Canadian geese.
And just back from her vacation in Ireland, art show director Linda Bell finds horseback riding along the trail these days simply delightful:  "Cool temperatures and no bugs," she says.
"No bugs" also appeals to realtor Fred Schaeffer. An active outdoorsman who tackled Mt. Rainier two years ago, he enjoys "roaming the game lands and climbing up to Governor Dick without sweating."
Barb Fishman, the artist who moved from Mt. Gretna this summer, scampers back nearly every fall day to the tennis courts where she can also view the lake -- a scene she beheld for nearly 40 years from her studio along Lakeside Drive.    
Other pursuits prove equally satisfying. Nadeen Feinberg, who returns  from Philadelphia frequently with husband Gil to their Harvard Avenue cottage, enjoys "going for a bike ride on the leaf-covered path, cooking an exotic winter squash dish for friends, walking through the Campmeeting after dark to see the lights, and reading a book by my own fireplace while drinking hot cider with cinnamon."
Ted Martin, who retreats to his Campmeeting cottage, "Uneeda Rest," whenever his official state government duties in Harrisburg allow, also delves into "the thickest book I can find under the thickest wool blanket I can pull out of my cedar chest." Or, he says, "making soup from scratch." Which is better? Making soup, says Ted, "but only by a nose."
Peter Hewitt finds fall afternoons a perfect time for planning such things as next summer's organ recitals, Thanksgiving dinner with his family, and the upcoming 17th annual Mt. Gretna Christmas tree lighting (with carols and hot mulled cider on the first Saturday in December).
And Emily Wallace, whose cottage at the corner of Brown and Lehigh avenues tops her list of favorite spots in the summer, also finds fall yet another stanza in "the rhythm of days that continue to give us s
In Chautauqua Park, the leaves of harvestuch joy and contentment in this special place."        
Joy and contentment. Such notions seem miles distant from the swirl of presidential politics and monetary maelstroms that dominate the news nowadays. But they may just nudge up against memories like those Elizabeth Wein captured in a poem recalling her childhood days in Mt. Gretna.

Summer People

The leaves of harvest leapt across the roof
but we were in the cottage for three months
after the other summer folk had gone.
The little shops were shut, the creek ran ice,
the colored lamps were down, but we stayed on.
The dark of dawn still slept upon the roof
on cold October mornings when I shook
my brother out of bed, and we would spill
shivering down the stairs, skipping the step
whose tread was missing, whose bare boards were chill.
The frost of autumn swept across the roof;
we stood above the hot air register
crowding each other for its roaring jet
of warmth as we got dressed; we left the house
before the sun, returned when it had set.
The smoke of evening crept across the roof;
in the thin house we tumbled on the floor
before the fire. The jack‑o'‑lanterns' gleams
were bright; the flames and cider and our songs
were sweet. But when we slept, in all our dreams
the rain of summer wept upon the roof.

-- Elizabeth Wein


                                                      Lake and park photos: Dale Grundon


In other news . . .

How come the skinniest guy in town always is first in line at the fire company's breakfasts?  Only
Dale Grundon himself can unravel that mystery.  
The next gastro-fest -- with everything from pancakes, eggs, potatoes and sausage to pastries, coffee and juice (just stuff your donation in a fireman's boot as you enter) -- starts at 8 a.m. Nov 1 and continues to noon.
 ● Century-old pipelines in the Campmeeting, Chautauqua and Timber Hills are being replaced.
South Londonderry's Tom Ernharth says that sometime in the next three years, they'll start digging up Timber Road pipes first laid by army engineers during encampment days.
In Chautauqua, a three-year project to replace waste water lines along Brown, Lebanon and Lancaster avenues continues this fall. 
And in the Campmeeting, Ben Wiley notes that construction crews installing a new water line recently found ashes under the macadam. He suspects they came from the pot-bellied stoves of people like his great-grandmother, who dumped their ash bins into the ruts of First Street, which, even in 1948, was still unpaved.
A Bill Gifford Slate dispatch chronicles the Mt. Gretnan's dip into Amish Country politics: "I Went to a Sarah Palin Rally, But All I Got was a Lousy Handshake from John McCain." Another article, "The Battle for the Soul of Cycling," (though not available online) appears in the October issue of Men's Journal.
What goes on inside an artist's studio? Find out on the annual tri-county tour of art studios Nov. 1-2.
Almost a third of the artists are Mt. Gretnans -- some displaying their art where they actually work, others with exhibits at La Cigale (along Route 117)  and Elizabethtown's Lynden Gallery.
Calling all cooks: Mt. Gretna fire company's 6th annual soup cook-off comes up Nov. 8. Organizer Thatcher Bornman, now lining up contestants, offers 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards for the best-tasting soups, "best presentation" honors and "most unusual," all to the accompaniment of Scott Galbraith's music. Send Thatch an email to register.
  Mt.Gretna celebrates the International Year of the Organ next month with Daryl Hollinger's "Mt. Gretna Suite," performed at the 1 Princeton Ave. home of Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney, who've made Mt. Gretna a favored venue for organists. The recital begins at 2 p.m. Nov. 1. Reservations: 964-3856.  
Scratching his head while wearing his Water Authority hat last week, Bill Care wondered how to encourage everyone to switch to non-phosphorous, environmentally friendly "green" household cleansers.  Avoiding phosphorous products would save money at Mt. Gretna's water treatment plant, he says.

Have an idea Bill can use: Bulletins? Flyers? A 'green' cleansers display at the community kiosk? Drop him a note, or call 964-3231.

  At Gretna Theater, what happens in the off-season is often as vital as what happens onstage, since ticket sales cover only about 40% of operating costs. That's why so many Mt. Gretna artists lend their talents to the theater's annual gala.
Among auction highlights at the Hershey Hotel affair Oct. 11: Eleanor Sarabia's exacting scale model of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle* building, accurate down to tiny wired electrical boxes and its curious 12-1/2 columns. Having worked on it since April, Eleanor hopes it'll bring more than $3,100, topping that winning bid for the post office replica she created for the Arts Council's auction in 2005.
This year's Coghlan Award honoree, Karen Pagano, a nurse, is an ardent Gretna Theater supporter and former Campmeeting cottage-owner who, in her early 20s, came to know legendary producer Charles Coghlan and his wife Margaret. "I've always had a love affair with Mt. Gretna," she says.
*Now known as "Gretna Emporium," the building's mnemonic, favored by genteel early Mt.Gretnans, was "Come Love, Sit Close."
Need funding for community projects?  Art show director Linda Bell says her team just added a new donation for the Tabernacle's Heritage Festival. Others sharing in art show proceeds (nearly $48,000 so far this year) include the Cicada Festival, Gretna Theater and Gretna Music as well as Mt. Gretna borough, Mt. Gretna Heights and the Campmeeting.  The list also includes the Tabernacle Association and Mt. Gretna's fire company.
Linda invites inquiries year-round and keeps the books open for anyone who's curious about how art show funds are distributed. She'd especially like to hear about community needs in the Timber Hills area.
Eva Bender, who holds the record for the most consecutive art show appearances, sold her Bell Avenue cottage recently, then sent us a clarifying note:
"Many of my Mt.Gretna friends are confused: am I staying or leaving for Sweden for good," she wrote.
The noted artist "with serious roots in Mt. Gretna" intends to remain for awhile with friend and pottery artisan Floss Russell, then travel to Sweden to spend Christmas with her 91-year-old mother -- "baking saffron bread and gingerbread cookies."
Planning to return next spring, she hopes to find a rental where she can keep her favorite artwork, table cloths and grandparents' china. "So I will stay, and I will leave," she sums up, in a style distinctively Eva's own.
Mt. Gretna manager Bill Care, whose passions are "my family, my job and cycling," is already looking forward to next September's Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont. He finished the final leg of this multi-day event last month with a 75-mile race that began at the base of a nine-mile uphill climb. At 59, Bill was the oldest competitor in the "50+" category. Next year, he'll qualify in the "60+" division. 
Will Bill ever retire from demanding sports, maybe switch to something milder, like croquet? "Not unless there's a really competitive category," he says, "the kind you play with padding."
Whatever happened to rakes? Parade Magazine readers last year voted leaf blowers one of the ten most unwanted inventions. 
Armed with a decibel meter and thought-provoking statistics, a local resident
showed up at a borough council meeting last month pointing out that Mt. Gretna's contemplative serenity, which drew many here in the first place, is threatened, the Lebanon Daily News reported.
Leaf collections may be delayed a bit this year because, even by late September, Mt. Gretna's trees had scarcely begun to turn. That's a good sign, says horticulturalist Ginger Pryor. "There's no drought this year, and trees are healthier."  
[] Mt. Gretna Heights and Stoberdale pickups (leaves only, no brush) usually begin around mid-October and continue through November.
[] Campmeeting residents may set their leaves out for pickup at anytime. Merv Lentz &  Co. collects them continuously.
[] Chautauqua: First leaf pickups will likely begin Nov. 1 and Dec. 1 with brush pickups scheduled later.  
[] Timber Hills, Conewago Hills and Timber Bridge residents have no pickups. Township manager Tom Ernharth hopes regulators next year will approve plans for a composting facility. "But it's likely to be only for drop-offs, not collections," he says.
A newly commissioned oil painting of LakeConewago will benefit Habitat for Humanity in the Lebanon Realtors Association's 10th annual auction Oct. 10.  Penn Realty is displaying the work, to be offered for bid at the Hebron Fire Company on East Walnut Street.   

Seeking ideas for a festive centerpiece? Nancy Schriver tells how it's done at the Winterites' catered noon luncheon Oct.7. Reservations: 964-2174.

Ryan Brunkhurst, who, at 14, became one of the nation's youngest church organist and choir directors, continues the upward climb in his promising career. Now 15, he has accepted a position at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Annville, creating a vacancy at Mt. Gretna's United Methodist Church. Candidates for the position (including part-time organists who might like to share duties on a rotating schedule) should email or call 964-3241. 
2nd    Call to help flood victims answered by Conewago Hill resident Val Sarabia, who, hours after Hurricane Ike hit, left for Texas. Val was also a Red Cross volunteer after Hurricane Katrina -- delivering meals, water and supplies to people "who'd all but given up hope."
3    Times per day, on average, that Cornwall police cars make routine patrols through the streets of Mt. Gretna borough. A separate contract with West Cornwall Township calls for even more frequent patrols through Mt. Gretna Heights, Stoberdale and the Campmeeting. In the first eight months of this year, Cornwall police also responded to 133 calls throughout the Mt. Gretna area, including Governor Dick Park and along Pinch Road and Route 117. 
In Timber Hills, Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge, the South Londonderry police department's patrols are less frequent. That's due in part to a rise in criminal activity in the township. As of Sept. 23, police had responded to 2,042 calls this year throughout the 24-square-mile municipality. Although South Londonderry's population has grown over 30% since 2000, the number of police officers has remained unchanged.
14 Years ago, even as an infant, Nicole Roberts was at her first Mt. Gretna Halloween parade. She hasn't missed one since. Nicole will be leading the band Friday, Oct. 31 in the 7 p.m. procession, where marchers outnumber spectators four-to-one.  They'll head to the fire hall for a cakewalk, grilled hot dogs, music and fun. (Have baked goods to donate? Drop them off after 6 p.m., please.)

As for Trick or Treat night, it'll be Thursday Oct. 30, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

150  Roasted hot dogs, 19 trays piled high with meat delicacies, three turkeys plus Alice's ham and bean soup (steaming with rivels as only Dot Frymyer can make 'em) await everyone at the fire hall this Saturday (Oct. 4) for the fall block shoot, noon to 5 p.m., benefiting the fire company.

[] What do you know about the efforts to remove canoes from the south bank of the lake? A sign asked that they be removed by Sept. 5, but it looks like less than 10 % have been moved. I learned unofficially that the plan was to clean up and expand the canoe docking area so they could be returned at a later date. Do you know anything about this plan?

<> Your information is essentially correct. Officials posted a sign last March saying that all canoes must be moved by September. They plan to clean, organize and seed the canoe area so it'll be easier to maintain. Several weeks after the September deadline passed, 26 abandoned canoes remained, all destined for a trip to the Water Authority's storage building. If no one claims them by next summer, they'll likely be sold -- following a long-standing practice to deal with that sad, but recurring problem: Canoes (a symbol of romance) that nobody loves.
Sara Smoley, whose meticulously kept home at the entrance to Conewago Hill was widely admired throughout the nearly 50 years that she lived in Mt.Gretna, died Sept. 4 at a Lebanon nursing home. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, where she met her husband Earl M. Smoley, a World War II pilot who retired as an Armstrong Cork Company chemist, she had enjoyed swimming and was regarded as a skilled horsewoman. Following her husband's death in 1996, she continued to live here, pursuing her passions for antiques and keeping her home and surrounding grounds immaculate.
ETON F. CHURCHILL, Sr. (1944-2008)
Eton Churchill died Sept. 10 in the town of his birth, Camden, Maine. A Campmeeting resident who also spent summers in Maine and Nova Scotia, he was a Penn State professor who "shared his passion for the arts, love of language and literature" with his students, his children and the communities where he lived. As one of those communities, Mt Gretna was for nearly a decade the setting where his annual play-readings often had a transforming effect on both audiences and the playwright himself.  
"Play readings are not for everybody," he once told us, "but those who like to get engaged in thoughtful views of the human condition will probably enjoy them." For Eton, they were a chance to gain direct feedback on works in progress, some of which went on to off-Broadway productions. Theater, he said, is a communal experience. "Whether you're among 30,000 people sitting in a Greek amphitheater or 50 or 60 people in Mt. Gretna's Hall of Philosophy -- experiencing something together and then talking about it has a lot of value."
Adding value was Eton's legacy. As a Camden newspaper obituary noted, he shared "the power of storytelling, his compassion for humanity and his deep devotion to nature  . . . . He led his life as an example and gave to his children roots and wings."
The author of numerous short stories, documentary films, plays and a novel "Mind How the Sun Goes," Eton is survived by his wife, Lou Schellenberg, the painter and Elizabethtown College professor of art, as well as by three children and a granddaughter.





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