November 1, 2008
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Mt. Gretna crosses the
threshold into November on its own momentum, like the swans
that routinely swoop down at this time of year and glide
toward their favorite spots on the lake.
town eases comfortably into winter, seemingly impelled by the
latent energies of summer. The Tabernacle is now quiet. Only
echoes remain at the Playhouse. And a sizable slice of the
summertime population is gone.
Yet residual vigor
remains, the pulse of a community engaged: Assessing results
of one season while simultaneously planning the next. And spurred
by the cordial welcoming of good ideas from everyone,
including those who have arrived only recently. Newcomers,
experience shows, often bring invigorating insights, enhancing
century-old aspirations for "scientific and cultural
enlightenment," aims that Mt. Gretna's early founders first
Like those swans, whose underwater efforts
are barely detectable, unseen efforts propel much of Mt.
Gretna's off-season. Along with our report on the devastating
impact of gypsy moths, those less visible efforts are among
the topics we cover in this issue: Collecting ideas for new
summer programs, celebrating the rigors of athletic
competitions, and sustaining those daily interactions with
neighbors who gather for fire company breakfasts, greet
friends at the post office, and join in shared pursuits that
enhance life in this community. Elements all in an
indefinable yet sustaining spirit that is uniquely our own.
|GYPSY MOTH TOLL:
10,000 TREES &
Views from the crest
of Pinch Road, looking westward, will soon take on a stark and
dramatically different look. Starting probably before
Thanksgiving and continuing into January, logging trucks will
remove 10,721 trees from 53 acres of the nearly 3,000-acre
forest known as Pennsylvania Game Land 145 on Mt.Gretna's
About 90% of the trees in that tract
-- oaks that were victims of drought and persistent gypsy moth
attacks -- will disappear.
"Let's not kid anybody. The
aesthetics won't be pretty," says Pennsylvania Game Commission
southeastern regional forester Dave Henry. "The last two years
have not been kind to us in terms of moisture, severely
impacting our trees."
He says it will take a year
before cleared land will see green across the forest floor and
two years before the visual impact begins to dissipate as
blackberry briars and seedlings start taking hold.
Foresters plan to
replace the trees with varieties more resistant to gypsy
moths. Tulip poplars will be the top choice, since they're
least vulnerable to pests. Other varieties will include birch
and maple, with smaller percentages given over to hickory and
black gum. Dave says he'll ask for volunteers to help plant
1,000 oak seedlings as well.
"I don't mean to be
pessimistic," he says, "but nearly every type of tree is
vulnerable to something. And most of the pests attacking them
came in from other countries. That includes the gypsy moth,
which came here in 1869."
Travelers along Pinch
Road may have mistakenly assumed the trees being cut down are
those marked by red paint. In fact, those marked in red are
the only ones that will be left standing. They were chosen
because they are either seed trees, wildlife and songbird
habitats or will attract insects which nesting birds use for
Dave expects other game land areas will also have
to be cleared, including a 10-acre stand of white oaks along
Route 117 between Mt.Gretna and Colebrook. "I don't want to
cut it, but I have no options. It's dying," he says.
"Unfortunately, our worst fears are being realized."
In a competitive bid for the timber in Game Land
145, Weaber, Inc., Mt. Wilson Road, topped seven other
companies with an offer of $160,175. During hunting season, no
logging operations will be permitted on
On the east side of
Pinch Road, Governor Dick Park officials haven't yet decided
what they'll do about gypsy moth damage. Foresters have
started inventorying affected trees, marking with blue paint
those they believe may need to be removed. The park's board
meets Nov. 20 in a 7 p.m. public session to consider their
OTHER NEWS THIS MONTH
? Two of Mt. Gretna's favorite food
fests unfold at the fire hall this month. Starting with
the 8 a.m.-to-noon buffet breakfast this Sunday (Nov. 2)
-- all you can eat for a donation you stuff in a firefighter's
boot upon entering the door -- and continuing Saturday Nov. 8
with the 6th annual soup cook-off, a two-hour tasting treat
that starts at noon. Your $10 donation at the cook-off also
goes to our firefighters. Along with soups of tantalizing
variety, you'll also enjoy conversations with friends and the
music of Scott Galbraith.
? For the deer herd in Governor Dick
Park, another season of safety. After mulling over deer
population estimates, county officials decided against opening
the 1,105-acre tract to late-season archers this year. Density
studies last spring found 9.75 deer per square mile.
"Still too many for a mature forest with no
regeneration of desirable trees," said Chuck Allwein, a park
board member and former biology teacher. Yet he also
acknowledged the unanticipated role of a growing coyote
population in keeping the deer herd in check.
expects some type of "maintenance hunting" may be needed in
Hills' origins and early role in Mt. Gretna's history
will be the subject of a special program next summer.
Researchers are now digging into events that helped shape the
region -- including Conewago Hill and Timber Bridge.
Historical society president Fred Buch encourages all with
special insights into the area's founding, family histories
and growth to email or give him a call (800)
broke all records for Gretna Theater. The annual gala
at Hotel Hershey climbed to new fund-raising peaks, says
associate artistic director Renee Krizan. She reports the
Theater also locked in plans to sell holiday gift certificates
at Lebanon farmers' market again this year.
? When's Santa coming to the
firehall? Mark the date: Saturday, Dec. 13, 11:30 a.m.- 2
And rest assured: it's the real Santa. No substitutes.
No actors. No look-alikes. (Although some have noted a
remarkable resemblance to Mt. Gretna Mayor Joe Shay.)
Youngsters will find favors, sandwiches, soup and hot
chocolate awaiting. Volunteer bakers: please bring Christmas
cookies in early. If you'd like to help, email
jitters on Wall Street send beatific vibes down
Columbia Avenue? That's a question we posed last week to Pam
Willeman, out for a Sunday stroll along the lake. Pam's an
R.N. who's been teaching yoga for the past 10 years, ever
since she and husband Mike moved to Columbia Avenue in
She suspects there may be some link between
the diving Dow and yoga's soaring popularity. And Pam
says business is now thriving at her New Day Yoga
studio in Lebanon where she emphasizes the "gentle,
restorative aspects of yoga."
she'll add a special Sunday afternoon class. It's one that
should be ideal for people trying yoga for the first time, Pam
says. Locally, she's held weekday classes for the past several
summers at the Heights Community Building. She promises that
they'll resume next spring. In the meantime, to inquire
about the sessions starting Jan. 4 or her classes next summer,
telephone Pam at 964-0401.
? Answering the Call: The Proud, the
Few, the Buzzard Busters. Count on it. Mt.
Gretna's turkey vultures will return this year.
They've been zooming into town for more than a quarter
century. But their numbers are down - way down - thanks to
volunteers who've been faithfully shooing them to roosting
spots elsewhere for nearly a decade.
But the job's not
finished. They need more volunteers to finish what the USDA
calls "the most successful vulture relocation campaign in
Pennsylvania." Like to enlist in campaign? Email
coordinator Max Hunsicker.
? Teaming up for the Adventure Sprint
Race in Downingtown last month, Mt. Gretnans Bill Gifford and
Alisa Pitt took
first place in the two-person co-ed division, besting even 21
of 24 all-male teams. Their winning effort (13th out of 95
teams overall) took three hours and 30 minutes of running,
canoeing, mountain biking and orienteering their way through
the course, raising funds for the American Cancer
In a final leg, the co-ed teams had to carry each
other across a field. "That was a sight," says Alisa's
mother, Marla. "Alisa, all five feet of her, carrying Bill,
41, on her back."
They're hoping to persuade 60-something
Glenn Acker to soon join them in a three-member master's team
(a category with combined ages totaling 120 or
Although Bill says his philosophy is "the faster you
go, the sooner it's over and you suffer less," the race veered
a bit from his usual daily pursuits as a writer.
Alisa, who finds that mountain bike trails elsewhere don't
match Mt.Gretna's for difficulty, it was just another day in
the park. In September, the third-year Towson University
environmental studies major finished fifth in her age group at
the Charlottesville, Va. "Bad to the Bone" 13.5-mile endurance
run. Earlier this year, she and a Towson teammate won the U.S.
Adventure Racing Association's national collegiate
Vistas, Fresh Touches in a Calendar for the New
Finding fresh perspectives in
a place she loves is never a problem for former Campmeeting
artist Carol Snyder. For more than 20 years, panels of art
show judges, ever-changing in their makeup, consistently
choose her works from among the nearly 600 artists who apply
for entry each year.
This year, she's enjoying
success with a new venture, a 2009 calendar that's proven so
popular that she's already begun working on another edition
"I thought it might be hard to come up with
new perspectives for old buildings," she says. But with
seasonal touches and varying approaches to familiar subjects,
she's created distinctive views for a calendar that's now
attracting buyers across the country. "I'm hearing from people
in places like Colorado and California," she says. "They want
a little bit of Mt. Gretna without having to buy an original
Most of the calendar scenes are entirely
new. Her favorite is the watercolor for November, created
along Conewago Creek just where it feeds into the
lake, with reflected leaves and limbs shimmering across the
water and, in the distance, faint glimpses of canoes and the
lake's red-roofed buildings.
For Carol, who spent over
30 years as an art teacher, Mt. Gretna remains "a unique gem."
Her calendar ($20) and note card ($15) scenes capture a pulse
she felt during the 10 years that she and her husband lived
here: "All those wonderful activities in the summer. But come
fall, it's serene. And then with winter comes a beautiful
solitude. Yet when spring arrives, everything wakes up again."
Between painting for next year's calendar, doing
privately commissioned work, and spending time at Mt. Gretna's
gallery or with her grandchildren, Carol is taking 2009
calendar orders personally from her studio in nearby Spring
Hill Acres: (717) 304-3753 or email her
Another honor for Chris
Kaag, 31, founder of the Mt. Gretna Triathlon, which
has raised more than $115,000 in the past five years to find a
cure for neuromuscular diseases like that which crippled Chris
himself a decade ago. He'll receive the Central Pennsylvania
Sports Hall of Fame courageous athlete award Nov. 10.
? Governor Dick Park
stays open to outdoor enthusiasts all winter long, even
after the Nature Center closes for the season Nov. 22. A
program, "Charcoaling on the Mountain," highlights the park's
annual November Nocturne Friday, Nov. 7, with guides, hot
chocolate, group singing and views of a five-county area that,
even after dusk, remain visible from the 66-ft. tower. Call
964-3808 to reserve a spot.
? Also remaining open throughout the
winter (Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m.) will be the Mt. Gretna Area
Historical Society, next door to the Playhouse. They'll
also open 2 to 4 p.m. for the Thanksgiving holidays, Nov.
The thoroughly renovated cottage displays early
manuscript drawings of the Tabernacle, the Chautauqua's
original minute book and the only known lithograph of Camp
Siegfried, site of the Pennsylvania National Guard's 1895
The building also includes a rocking chair from
the Conewago Hotel, tableware used at the Chautauqua Inn, and
what fascinates youngsters most -- a detailed model of a
Campmeeting cottage, circa 1927, complete with electric
lights, a one-inch fly swatter and miniature copies of The Saturday Evening
Different spellings that local newspapers use, seemingly at
random, when quoting Mt. Gretna's fire chief. Depending on the
paper, the day and the event, they quote "Bob Daud," "Bob
Dowd," "Bob Daub" or "Bob Doud."
Bob, a humble guy with a
knack for fixing computers,
simply shrugs it off and gets on with the job of saving lives
and property. But, for the record, the name's
10% Discount now offered to seniors
breakfasting Tuesday and Friday mornings at Mt. Gretna's
pizzeria. Owner Damien Orea says that in terms of
business-boosting strategies, the breakfast menu he added last
February is his "best yet."
Completing their second full
year, Damien and his team are determined to succeed even if it
takes 17-hour days to do it. Pepperoni pizzas are still his
customers' favorite. One recent order for 25 pizzas topped all
records at the shop. During the winter, they're also hoping to
lure more customers with Tuesday-through-Thursday specials on
plain pizzas ($8.50 medium, $9.00 large).
Pizzeria (964-1853) is open every day but Monday, starting at
30 Races that
33-year-old Scott Gray has
won since he first ventured into triathlons, mountain bike
races, and running eight years ago. Scott moved to Dogwood
Lane, just off Mine Road, last year. Two weeks ago, he
returned from Hawaii where he finished his second Ironman
triathlon (a 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike race and 26-mile
Scott placed 1,125th among 1,736 of the competitors,
all among the world's top-conditioned athletes. NBC will air
the event Dec. 13. He also won the Lancaster Conestoga Trail
Run competition in September.
His proudest moment to date?
Finishing first in the Mt. Gretna triathlon three years ago.
When he's not competing, he works as a traveling
nurse-covering a region from Harrisburg to Coatesville.
Nursing skills prove handy. After a racing accident two
months ago, he sutured the two-inch gash in his own leg.
10th Annual art studio tour
this weekend (Nov. 1-2), with Mt. Gretna artists Eva Bender
and Lou Schellenberg at Elizabethtown's Lynden Gallery; Shelby
Applegate, Madelaine Gray, Mary Kopala, Elizabeth Stutman,
Fred Swarr and David Adams. The studio of the late Lester W.
Miller will also be open, exhibiting jewelry he designed from
natural domestic and exotic hardwoods. Artists
exhibiting at La Cigale include
Susan Afflerbach, Monica Baebler, Barb Fishman, Bob
Terwilliger and Garrett Va Hoesen
17th Annual Lighting of the Mt. Gretna
Christmas Tree, with carols, hot mulled cider and other
refreshments Dec. 6 at Cedarn Point, at the intersections of
Pinch Road, Princeton Avenue and Route 117, from 5:30 to 7:30
38,000 Meals delivered to Hurricane Ike
victims in 19 days by Conewago Hill resident Val Sarabia, one
of about 20,000 Red Cross workers -- many, like Val,
volunteering for the third time.
Amount raised so far by the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society
in its $400,000 campaign to help pay for the society's newly
acquired headquarters along Pennsylvania Avenue. Yes, the
economic climate is difficult, says campaign coordinator Susan
Wood. "But we're encouraged." The first $63,100 came from
board members themselves. "We want people to know that we're
not done," she says. "More funds are still needed."
Author Elizabeth Wein,
who grew up at the Mt. Gretna Heights home of Betty Flocken,
her grandmother, told an online
interviewer recently that when she gets stumped, she
sometimes retreats to a coffee shop in Scotland, where she now
We wondered how Elizabeth, now with five published
novels to her credit, tackles writer's block when she returns
here. "As a teenager, I did a great deal of work at my
grandmother's long dining room table," she says, "a project
set up at one end, and the other clear for meals,"
At home in Scotland, Elizabeth, the author of historical
fiction for young adults, sometimes withdraws to
her kitchen late at night. "It makes me feel like I'm back in
high school, doing homework," she says.
She and her
husband recently added a 'summer house' -- "the best home
improvement we have ever made" -- to their garden in Perth.
"It's a kind of magic writing machine. I get SO much work done out there.
But I think it is because it feels like I am sitting on the
porch in Mt. Gretna."
Elizabeth's blog, which often
chronicles fondness for her grandmother and life in Mt.
Gretna, offers illuminating glimpses into the spirited life of
a writer, private pilot, wife, mother-of-two and international
Hurst, Campmeeting president and one of the world's top
authorities on chocolate, turned up in an Australian newspaper
report last month citing his discovery that Aztec society
elites drank cocoa ("whisked, frothed and flavoured with hot
chili peppers") 3,500 years ago. Jeff, a Hershey Foods
scientist, examined ancient pottery using high-performance
liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry equipment.
? Mt. Gretna's Hide-a-Way
restaurant held its grand reopening in October, four months
after fire swept through the main kitchen and closed the
dining room. The kitchen has now resumed normal
police department launches self defense training for
women and children in non-martial arts
programs that emphasize awareness, prevention and avoiding
risks. Officer Candace Miller and secretary Stephanie Burris
teach the programs; they hope to soon offer one for seniors as
well. For details, drop a note to Stephanie.
READERS ASK |
 I'm new to the Mt Gretna community,
but am very interested in teaching a summer program next year.
Can you tell me whom I should
<> Mt. Gretna's summer
programs sparkle with imagination, energy and enthusiasm --
largely because of people with a seemingly unstoppable flow of
good ideas. To see how yours might fit, contact Kathy
Snavely 964-2191; Jack Anderson 964-1975, or Peggy
O'Neil 964-3333, who coordinate the Chautauqua summer
In the Heights, Dick
Steinhauer, 964-2362, handles rentals of the Community
Building. And Pat Allwein, 964-2352, directs the Campmeeting's
Heritage Festival. Others coordinating Mt. Gretna
activities-from the library to summer playground
activities--were listed in our May 1 2008 issue.
 A few
months ago, the Mt.Gretna Newsletter gave an Internet link for the
emergency response siren in Mt.Gretna. Soon after I had
bookmarked the link, however, my hard drive burned up.
Could you repeat that link in an upcoming
<> The link
(http://lebanonema.org/pager/html/monitor.html) reports on
fire and ambulance calls throughout LebanonCounty. To see the
specific emergency our volunteer firefighters are handling,
look for "Station 38."
 We are coming to stay in Mt.Gretna
for Thanksgiving and are looking for a place to have
Thanksgiving Dinner. Do you know of anything in the area that
is serving dinner that day?
Mt. Gretna, only the Timbers plans a
Thanksgiving day dinner. It'll be served buffet style at
two seatings, 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (Cost: $17.50;
Other nearby spots serving
Thanksgiving dinners include the Quentin Tavern (buffet only,
11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Reservations recommended: 272-4700).
Private clubs open on Thanksgiving include both Quentin Riding
Club and Lebanon Country Club. The Riding Club this year will
open its buffet to the public (11 a.m. - 3 p.m.) Reservations:
Ann Briody-Boltz (1928-2008)
For 23 years she lived on Brown Avenue, laughing
and sparking laughter in others, painting, and sharing a love
of theater and comedy with her late brother, Timbers Dinner
Theater founder John Briody.
Briody-Boltz had studied at LebanonValleyCollege, then
took a degree at Lebanon Business College and later taught
business at a local high school. She also worked at the
Lebanon Steel Foundry and, for a time, at ABC News in New York
She is best-remembered here for her "amazing porch
dinners in the summertime," says Kathleen "Tap" Briody
Roberts, a niece who recalls that her aunt had "the best iced
tea always available." She was also an excellent cook, "a
talent she would share with us at the Timbers," says Tap.
The first Democratic female member of the Lebanon City
School Board, she helped organize John F. Kennedy's campaign
stop in the city. She moved to Lebanon 23 years ago, and it
was there, at her Willow Street apartment, that she died Oct.
Survivors include two sons and grandsons, a sister,
four nieces (Susan, Becky, Rachel and Tap) and three nephews
(John, David and Bart).
? Penn State Harrisburg plans a
memorial service Friday, Nov. 14 honoring the life and
career of Mt.Gretna resident Eton Churchill, teacher,
playwright and founder of the school's communications program.
The service begins at 2 p.m. in the Morrison Gallery of the Penn State Harrisburg