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The Leaves of Harvest
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
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
On fall Saturday afternoons, people
like Tom and Carol Mayer 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
Building leaf houses is also a specialty of people like author Elizabeth Wein, left. 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
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
Other pursuits prove equally
satisfying. Nadeen Feinberg, who returns fromPhiladelphia
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 such joy and contentment in this
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.
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.
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 Nov 1 and continues to .
● 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
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
● 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
Cigale (along Route 117) andElizabethtown's Lynden
● 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 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
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,"
*Now known as "Gretna Emporium," the building's
mnemonic, favored by genteel early Mt.Gretnans, was "Come Love, Sit
● 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
"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
● 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
● 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
● 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."
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
 Chautauqua: First leaf pickups will likely begin Nov. 1 and Dec. 1 with
brush pickups scheduled later.
 Timber Hills, Conewago Hills and TimberBridge
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
● Seeking ideas for a festive centerpiece? Nancy Schriver
tells how it's done at the Winterites' catered luncheon Oct.7. Reservations:
● 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 LutheranChurch in Annville, creating a
vacancy at Mt.Gretna's UnitedMethodistChurch.
Candidates for the position (including part-time organists who might like
to share duties on a rotating schedule) should email or call
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
3 Times per day, on
average, that Cornwall
police cars make routine patrols through the streets of Mt.Gretna borough. A separate contract
calls for even more frequent patrols through Mt.GretnaHeights, 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 TimberBridge,
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 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 ,
As for Trick or Treat night, it'll be Thursday Oct. 30, from to
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.
QUESTIONS READERS ASK
 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 CRESAP LEVINGS SMOLEY (1927 - 2008)
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 PennsylvaniaStateUniversity,
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.
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 PennState
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
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
The author of numerous short stories, documentary films, plays and a novel
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.
The Mt. Gretna Newsletter does not accept advertising,
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