SuperPumpkin, dancing with super soup-maker Alice McKeone
Friday, October 31, 2008
At the Halloween Ball following the parade, and answering that favorite kids'
question: "Hey, SuperPumpkin, do you have a
WHO is SuperPumpkin? Only Alice, with a twinkle in her eye, knows for
(Dale Grundon photo)
Pizzeria owner Damien Orea
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Shortly after lunch, pausing to feed the fish in a stream behind his shop:
another sign that Damien, who often goes out of his way to help all creatures
great and small, has a heart even bigger than those giant pizzas and tasty
breakfasts he serves every day, Tuesday-Sunday (Tel. 964-1853).
Why we go
to the P.O.
Thursday, November 6,
Near-70 temperatures (less than 12 days before the season's first snow)
brought Deborah Clemens to the post office in shorts and a Bluebird Café tee
shirt from Nashville's
renown venue for beginning jazz guitarists.
Gretna Theater's Renee Krizan, looking as if she'd just stepped from the
pages of Vogue in an open lacework shawl, also stopped by on her way to
Which reminded us, once again, that folks who don't
go to the post office every day miss out on one of the best parts of living
in Mt. Gretna.
JAWS in LakeConewago
Sometime during the night of Saturday, November 8
Dark, ominous and menacing,
they cropped up in the chilly waters of Lake Conewago
Soon after their arrival, reports ricocheted around town: A Spielberg sequel
in the works? Underwater demolition terrorists? A Patriot News
reporter surmised Max Hunsicker, progenitor of the
pink flamingo phenomenon, had a hand in it. Not true, says Max.
A week or so later, the fins disappeared as mysteriously as they came. Most
folks seemed content to let the legend grow, sort of like a Mt. Gretna
version of the Loch Ness monster. After all, in a small town where not much
happens in November, there's nothing like an unsolved mystery every hundred
years or so to heighten the allure.
volunteer Evelyn Duncan, clowning around
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Near Orlando, Fla., where this 2002 Coghlan
Award-winning volunteer puts on a clown suit to entertain at nursing homes,
schools and other gatherings. Evelyn also recently added a prison ministry to
her schedule. The former Timber Hills resident invites Mt.
Gretnans to drop her a note and visit when
they're in the area.
Ellis, picking up litter that others left behind
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The Village Lane resident, who grew up in Tennessee, walking along Timber
Road as the season's first flurries swirled on a blustery afternoon, doing
what she's done for years. "Does anyone ever stop to say 'thanks'?"
we asked. "Yes, and sometimes they even start carrying litter bags of
their own," she said. "That's the best thank-you ever."
Shay, performing a wedding during the Big 10 Championship game
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Mayor Joe, who's also vice-president of the fire company, officiated at the
ceremony on Saturday after putting out a house fire on Thursday, fixing balky
computers at his shop on Friday and handling assorted other emergencies
during the rest of the week.
What happens if a siren sounds just as he's getting to the part about
"Do you take this woman. . .?" In nearly 50 weddings, it
hasn't happened yet, says Joe. But, even during the ceremony, his pager is
never far away
mayor and fire chief David Long, struggling to keep a secret
Monday, November 24, 2008
Kibitzing with other old timers at the post office, but saying not a word
about turning 80 on Dec. 7. That, however, was before daughter Debby Erb began whispering that his Mr. Gretna pals, plus
fellow members of the Lawn Ambulance crew, will positively delight in
discovering yet another reason to needle their good friend on Pearl Harbor
Email your sightings of
the interesting, the zany & the delightful to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Audiences, in fact, liked the new Playhouse lineup
So how did split seasons work out at the Playhouse this summer, starting in
June with plays and musicals then winding up in August with a month of
classical music and jazz concerts?
Surprisingly well, say organizers.
To be sure, some grumbles accompanied the readjusted schedules, especially
for many who'd grown accustomed over the past 30 years to chamber music
concerts every Sunday night. Yet those seeking out premiere musical
experiences soon showed a remarkable adaptability, says Gretna Music
executive director Michael Murray: "One gentleman told me he was
skeptical at first, but as August continued, he found he was enjoying the new
concept and the more intense experience that it offered."
To be sure, paid attendance was down for both Gretna Theater and Gretna
Music. But Michael and Gretna Theater colleague Larry Frenock
attribute that to the economy, soaring gas prices and audience-grabbing
television specials that included the Olympics and national political
As the season drew to a close, both groups reported that they had largely
held their own -- a testament to imaginative programming, savvy management
and focused fund-raising efforts that are getting special emphasis these
days. Both groups felt that the split-season concept proved workable,
minimizing operating costs by reducing the need for weekly stage set-ups and
take-downs to accommodate shifts between theatrical performances and
The Cicada Festival, unaffected by schedule changes and presenting its concerts
at the usual time in early August, continued to fill the Playhouse, thanks to
enthusiastic volunteers, $8 ticket prices and a blend of family fare that's
proven popular over the past 14 years.
Gretna Theater expects to join in offering online ticketing sales in 2009.
Gretna Music, which launched online ordering this year, says it simplified
ticket processing for patrons, saved time and labor for staffers and may have
helped spur advance sales for concerts and the annual house tour.
For Gretna Theater, the biggest challenge remains getting summer audiences
accustomed to placing Mt.
Gretna on their June
itinerary. Next year, the theater will schedule six rather than five shows,
with the musicals "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and
"Hello, Dolly" slated for two-week runs. Four other shows will
change every week, following a tradition first begun in the 1940s by
legendary Mt. Gretna producer Charles Coghlan.
IN OTHER NEWS THIS
● Gretna Emporium owner Stacey Pennington's 8- and 5-year old
sons pitched in to help restore Christmas after Grench-like
thieves broke into a Lebanon Toys for Tots center last month, stealing
presents intended for underprivileged youngsters. A Lebanon Daily News article reported that Conner and Cole
Pennington organized a hot dog and bake sale outside their mother's Resource Island store in Cleona.
● The Mt. Gretna Arts Council's Summer Calendar, surely the most
thumbed-through bulletin in town, always features fascinating cover artwork.
The 2009 edition will carry Eva Bender's rendering of a favorite Campmeeting site, the Barnes sisters' cottage on Mills Avenue.
It's not Eva's first calendar cover however. Her artwork was among the first
● Where you'll find Mt.Gretnans this week?
Helping out at the Lebanon Valley Rail-Trail holiday gala Dec. 7 at the
Woman's Club of Lebanon, 5 - 8 p.m. Artist Shelby Applegate joins fellow Mt. Gretnans Jeff Norton, a LVRT board member, and chef-on-the-go Becky Briody in
the event whose proceeds support the trail.
The rail trail traverses Mt.Gretna with a Timber Road spur
that attracts thousands of hikers, runners and bikers year 'round.
● Organic produce? Four Mt. Gretna families are hoping 11 others
will join them in ordering 22 weeks of fresh food deliveries (May to
September) from a Lancaster farm. Orders received by Dec. 31 earn a $50
discount, says Susan Wood. If 15 families sign up, the farm will make
deliveries to Mt.
● What's to love about turkey vultures? An illuminating article in the current issue of Audubon Magazine
tells why they're a key link in the food chain and how they're adapting to
our changing landscapes.
Presents you can buy
without leaving town
Yes, you can still pick up Mt.
Gretna fire company
coffee mugs at Gretna Computers, the Hideaway and Collins Grocery. Gretna Theater has gift certificates on sale at the
office. Gretna Music ticket packages are also available online.
Then there's a smorgasbord of Mt.
Gretna artists' works
on display at Le Sorelle Porch and Pantry
Café. What many people don't know: Affixed to the back of each painting in
the gallery is an envelope pre-addressed to the artist. Purchase the artwork
by simply dropping your payment in the mail.
One such item: Photographer Glen Acker's Mt. Gretna
postage stamp, a tribute to what at this time of year is the most famous bird
You'll find other artwork inspired by Mt. Gretna
displayed online at the Arts Council's new website.
Also available: Gift certificates at area restaurants, table art at La Cigale, the latest CDs from Timbers' musical director Andy Roberts, Mt. Gretna
calendars from Carol
Snyder, or Yoga lessons from Pam Willeman.
HONORS: Mt.Gretna voters, casting their ballots last month, found
treats galore at their assigned voting booths.
Most bountiful display: Mt.Gretna borough's
assortment of candies and cookies, fruits and pastries -- assembled by poll
workers Jim and Shirley Corbett and Kathy and Jim Erdman.
Best-tasting angel food cake: Baked by Quentin volunteer Pat Whitman,
one of a dozen treats lining the hall for workers and voters (including those
from Mt.GretnaHeights and Campmeeting).
Most enterprising: Those imaginative bake sale ladies of Lawn, where
people like Patsy Kline guided voters from Timber Hills, TimberBridge
and Conewago Hill. After casting their ballots,
voters exited past a tempting array of cakes,
pies and cookies that raised money for the Lawn firefighters and ambulance
BRINGING OUT THE BEST: If "Mumbo Gumbo"
and "Conewago Beet" sound strange, that's
because you probably missed last month's gastronomical feast, the 6th annual Mt.Gretna soup cook-off.
Savoring 16 different soups along with Scott Galbraith's music, attendees
contributed over $800, all of it going to the fire company.
Top local winners were Pat (Big Chief) and Dan (Sioux Chef) Hottenstein of Timber Hills, first-year contestants
taking third place honors with "New Mexican Green Chili Chicken."
(If you'd like the recipe, drop an email request to Dan.)
Eleanor Sarabia and nephew Joey Mann won "Best
Presentation" and "Most Unusual" awards for her lip-smacking
"Conewago Beet" soup.
Other Mt. Gretnans in a tasty lineup that made
picking "bests" nearly impossible were Gretna Theater's Renee
Krizan, Cicada volunteer Laura Feather, summer resident Mimi Swayze and Campmeeting culinary wizard Elaine Baum (a five-time
winner at this event).
This year's top honors went to Lancaster Countians
Mike Heller and Donna Speckman's "Shrab Bisque" (a secret recipe which also took first
place at Hershey's recent soup contest) and Annville resident Linda Argueda's "Five-Onion Soup" (with crispy
shallots and fresh chives), which placed second.
BLOGOSPHERE: A grandmother's perspective on Mt. Gretna, after spending summers here at
the Brown Avenue cottage of her aunt (Peggy Gebhardt),
then moving to California and, years later, returning with her husband to the
Now living in Havre de Grace, Md., Pam Campbell (whose cousin Martha Gebhardt owns the cottage today) hopes to visit Mt. Gretna
more often: "It is a peaceful place to be," she writes.
Questions Readers Ask
 Ever since I found a discharged shotgun shell when walking my dog along
the rail trail in back of Timber Hills, I've started wearing an orange
hunter's vest. Is there a sign posted at the trailheads warning hikers and
bikers that they're in areas next to state gamelands?
<> Rail-trail organizer John Wenger says Lebanon Valley Rail Trail
rules prohibit the discharging of firearms from or across the rail-trail.
"However, during hunting season, it's probably a good idea for anyone
using the trail to wear orange due to the close proximity of state gamelands," he says.
As for posting a sign at the trailheads to warn hikers and bikers that
they'll be close to hunters, John thought that was a good idea. In fact,
shortly after receiving this question, he promptly asked the Pennsylvania
Game Commission for help in posting placards at the trail entrances. The
warning signs are now up.
5 Number of homes that Chris and Emily England have
bought in Mt. Gretna over the past dozen years. They
took possession of their latest acquisition, the former Bitner
home on Muhlenberg Avenue,
just before Thanksgiving and expect to enjoy Christmas there with their four
For Emily, it is the fulfillment of a lifetime dream. "She's been coming
to Mt. Gretna each summer since she was
five," says Chris. "As she would walk by the home with her mother
and sister, she'd say, 'Someday I'm going to live there.'"
Although the Englands have
previously lived on Yale, Harvard and Lebanon avenues and for a brief
time on Timber Road,
he expects that this move will be permanent. "Emily tells me they'll
have to carry her out of this one in a box," says her husband, who
operates a direct marketing business from home.
Chris says any modifications to the Muhlenberg Avenue structure will be
"restorations rather than renovations," preserving both the
exterior colors and period look of this 1903 landmark, which was the first
home (as opposed to a cottage) built in Mt. Gretna. Major work will involve
updating the kitchen and bathroom, "in a way that's in keeping with the
period," and adding a wine cellar below. Chris says he'll use the large
area in the attic as his home office.
Will the Englands continue to
alternate between homes in Connecticut
"I don't think so," says Chris. "We'll be spending the vast
majority of our time right here in Mt.
Gretna. All our friends
are here, and it's just too friendly to leave."
1,600 Trees estimated to have been killed in Governor Dick Park by gypsy
moths, the park's board heard last month. They voted to remove the trees and
use timbering revenues to help restore the forest.
Others, including members of the board's environmental education committee,
believe that some trees which appear dead might survive or, in any case,
would provide wildlife nutrients and habitats, the Harrisburg Patriot News reported.
They also fear that timbering operations would open the forest to invasive
species, a Lancaster
Sunday News article noted.
A final decision on whether to timber 67 acres of the 1,105-acre park is up
to the Clarence Shock Foundation board and Lebanon County's