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"A Bulletin For Folks Who Love Mount Gretna. . . Wherever They Happen to Live"
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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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No. 88          November 1, 2008

(Note to our online readers: Color photos, hyperlinks to referenced articles and other features are available in the emailed edition of this newsletter, distributed without charge. Our readers' email addresses are never shared with anyone, for any purpose. The Mt. Gretna Newsletter has no political or commercial aims; its only goal is to inform, entertain and occasionally amuse its readers and aging editor [who otherwise would cause trouble in the kitchen].  For a copy, send your request to

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.

The whole 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. AnAssured momentum as winter nearsd 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 envisioned.

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.
(Dale Grundon photo)

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 southern border.

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 food.

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 Saturdays.

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 decision.

? 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.

Chuck expects some type of "maintenance hunting" may be needed in future years.

? Timber 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) 242-3901.

? October 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 p.m.
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 Karen Lynch.

? Do 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 Chautauqua.
She suspects there may be some link between the diving Dow and yoga's soaring popularity.  For Pam: Yoga allows a reconnection with oneselfAnd Pam says business is now thriving at her New Day Yoga studio in Lebanon where she emphasizes the "gentle, restorative aspects of yoga."
This winter, 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, email or 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 Society.
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 more).
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.
For 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 championship.

Favorite Vistas, Fresh Touches in a Calendar for the New Year
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 for 2010.

"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 painting." .

Most of the calendar scenes are entirely new. Her favorite is the watercolor for November, created along Conewago Creek just where it feedsCarol Snyder's Personal Favorite in 2009 Calendar 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 at
? 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. 28-30.
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 encampment.
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 Post.


4  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 "Dowd."
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).
Mt. Gretna Pizzeria (964-1853) is open every day but Monday, starting at 7 a.m.
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 run.)
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 p.m.
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.
$100,100 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 lives.
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 withA writer's retreat in Scotland reminds her of Mt. Gretnadraws 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 traveler.

? Jeffrey 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 hours.

? Cornwall's 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.
[] 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 contact?
<> 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 series.
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 newsletter?
<> The link ( 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?
<> In 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; reservations: 964-3601).
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: 273-1151.
Julia May 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.
Julia 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 City.
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. 11.
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 Library