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After a soggy start
Mt.Gretna Soars into Summer. . . Sorta Peering from
under her purple rain cap on another of those seemingly endless rainy days in June, Marian Brubaker scanned the dreary skies and uttered
her economic commentary on the business scene: "When it rains," she
said, "Mt.Gretna sorta
Marian, a preacher's daughter who's been married to the same man for nearly
60 years, knows what she's talking about. She's been selling flowers, snap
peas and spring onions alongside Route 117 for more than three decades. And
when she adds that perspicacious "sorta," she allows for the
possibility of unexplained economic twists and turns that those savvy Wall
Street analysts never heard of.
For the business
scene here, like most things in Mt.Gretna, is different
from other places. True, the recession's a fact and those repeated June
downpours (including the one yesterday) dampened ice cream sales and
disrupted long, lazy days at the lake.
But the Playhouse set opening week records, defying recessionary gloom and
igniting surprising momentum to give what at first seemed an uncertain season
a welcome lift.
At Mt.Gretna's popular Hideaway,
Jason Brandt says recent sales came within a whisker of matching all-time
highs for a single month set last year.
At Gretna Emporium, that well-stocked shop of imaginative gifts and toys, Stacey Pennington is "more than happy"
with results thus far. Sales were "fantastic" over the
Memorial Day weekend, she says.
And Mary Hernley, now in her 44th year as Mt. Gretna's weekend flower lady,
is keeping up a brisk pace again this year, supplying customers like Lynee
Porter, who on a recent Saturday morning was out buying flowers for yet
another memorable wedding at her historic 175-year-old Cornwall
street, business has never been better at Mt.Gretna's
Pizzeria, which discovered when they added typical American breakfasts to
their Italian-style lunches and dinners that business suddenly took a magical
turn. Simultaneously igniting sales, traffic and community buzz, they quickly
made the pizzeria one of the most popular breakfast spots around.
And everybody, including Jigger Shop
grand doyenne Charlotte Allwein, is tipping their hat to Gretna Theater's
producing artistic director Larry Frenock for what might just turn out to be
the most successful season ever.
"He's appealing to people with money to spend and the time to spend
it," says Charlotte, who knows a thing or two about what it takes to run
a successful enterprise.
Adds Stacey Pennington, "People this year are skipping the big Disney
World vacation and sticking closer to home. That's a plus for Mt.Gretna."
Although June's frequent downpours didn't help her business any, Stacey is
nevertheless "pleasantly surprised" to be holding her own as the
summer continues. "In this economy," she says, "flat is the
So will June's
generally cooler, wetter pattern persist right through summer? It's a
possibility, says MillersvilleUniversity
meteorologist Eric Horst. This summer has so far been almost a carbon copy of
2004, he says, with fewer days in the 90s and lower daily temperature
averages. A change, to be sure, but not enough to cause anyone to jump to
business trends, therefore, remains as tricky as ever. All the more reason,
we suppose, to stick with the experts. . . the folks
around here who know their onions.
A New Country Market With
Inspirations from Provence
With a reputation as one of the "best
places" to find French Provenšal tablecloths (not to mention fine art
photography from the lavender fields of Provence by Madelaine Gray),
Mt. Gretna just added yet another French-inspired offering.
Opening last weekend was The French Country Market, a
cornucopia of fresh organic produce and grass-fed meats from local farms,
alongside Mt.Gretna's La Cigale Design
Center on Route 117.
The market is an inspiration of photographer, writer and Temple Avenue resident Juanita Forbes,
who calls the open air emporium (Saturdays only, to )
"a non-profit venture in the French country tradition."
Offering organic, grass-fed meats (beef, pork, veal and chicken), locally
made cheeses, eggs from free range chickens, artisan breads, and fresh
produce, the market also has a wide selection of chutneys, vinaigrettes and
preserves from Tait Farm Foods, a family-owned organic
produce farm near State
In Other News
The season's cool, rainy start probably helped clobber the gypsy moths. The insects suffered a high
mortality rate this spring, says LebanonCounty conservation
manager Chuck Wertz. Cool, moist days gave rise to a natural virus and fungus
that killed the caterpillars, which are cyclical and already on the downhill
side of their current cycle.
"They'll be back," says Mr. Wertz, "but probably not in full
strength for a number of years." In the meantime, he thinks that protecting
trees with burlap soaked in Eradicoat (R) is a "viable means of
protection" for people concerned about the trees around their homes.
So what led to the gypsy moths' apparent demise: weather conditions or more
effective aerial sprays this spring? No one's really sure. "Either
way," says state forester Scott Spitzer, "it looks like next spring
we won't need a spraying program like we've had in the past several
Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church welcomes its
new minister, the Rev. Michael S. Remel, who will preach his first sermon in
the Tabernacle July 5. A reception open to the entire community follows.
One of 100 ministers profiled in the book "Answering the Call," he formerly
served at two small churches in southern LancasterCounty,
including GeorgetownUnitedMethodistChurch. It was there
that he conducted funeral services in October 2006 for a neighbor, Charles
Carl Roberts, the gunman forgiven by the Amish community for his role in the Nickel Mines school shootings. The minister
called for "less violence, less hatred, less evil in the world" and
expressed hope that "the world would learn from the lesson of forgiveness."
A graduate of EastStroudsburgUniversity,
where he majored in history, "Pastor Mike," expects to complete his
Master of Divinity studies at Palmer Seminary, near Philadelphia, next year.
Mountain music on the streets ofMt.Gretna every Monday? That's the idea, says Dale Dourte, who
launches gatherings for community musicians in front of John Mitchell's La
Cigale Design Center Mondays from
The aim isn't to give a concert, says Dale, but to encourage all acoustic
musicians, even beginners, to come out and play. Anyone who wants to just sit
and listen is also welcome. "Sometimes it's great, and sometimes it's
not," Dale says. "It's simply a gathering place for people who want
to play, including musicians from all over, not just Mt.Gretna."
For details, click
So far, it's been mostly bluegrass, and John Mitchell hopes the sessions
might turn into something like the famed Floyd, Va.
jamborees, which have grown so popular that bands now line the streets. The new "thank you for not
smoking" signs on the Chautauqua grounds this season "aren't because we had a big problem,"
says Chautauqua president Peggy O'Neil. Rather, she hopes to "encourage
the respectful feelings that we feel have always been there."
Chatuauqua's 17-member board passed the anti-smoking resolution unanimously
last year. Coming up July 12, another big
community-wide breakfast at the fire company. It's
all you can eat for a donation that you stuff in the firefighter's boot at
the door. (Donations typically run about $20, thanks to the generosity of
Mt.Gretnans who value their skilled firefighters.
Yet volunteers say there's nothing quite like the thrill of sometimes finding
a $100 or $50 bill stuffed inside.) Readers wishing to help reduce the
firefighters' current $300,000 debt with contributions in the memory of loved
ones may click here to send
contributions online to Mt. Gretna Fire Company, or by regular
mail to P.O. Box 177,
Mt. Gretna, PA17064.
Best way to spend Tuesday mornings? Could be it's
the weekly book reviews at Chautauqua's Hall of Philosophy, starting at Coming this month:
July 7 : Peter Ackroyd"s "Thames:
A Biography," reviewed by Lebanon Valley College English professor Kevin
July 14: David Porter's "On the Divide: The Many Lives of Willa
Cather," reviewed by LVC English professor Gabriel Scala.
July 21: "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: The Untold Story," reviewed
by Mt.Gretna resident and former LVC history
professor Howard Applegate.
July 28: Allen Guelzo's "Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined
America," reviewed by LVC history professor Jim Broussard. Coming in August:
"Thurston Clarke's The Last Campaign:
Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America," Aug. 4.
"Democracy Inc: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted
Totalitarianism" by Sheldon Wolin, Aug. 11. Donna Leon's
"The Girl of His Dreams,"Aug. 18. Andrew Bacevick's
"The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism," reviewed
by Mt.Gretna columnist and former LVC
economics professor Paul Heise Aug. 25.
Young artists, musicians and
entertainers 15 and under who'd like to launch their
careers at the Mt. Gretna Children's Art Show next month will want to
talk now with coordinator Faith Mumma (tel. 964-2212).
A traditional part of the annual Mt.Gretna Outdoor Art Show, the children's
exhibits will go on display Saturday morning Aug. 15, to , at the Chautauqua Playground.
An elementary school art teacher, Faith is heading the show for the first
time this year. "I'd like this to be as kid-friendly and kid-run as
possible," she says. "I want to encourage young musicians and
performers to come and be involved." For complete exhibition details,
call or send an e-mail request to her: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What'll youngsters do this summer? Plenty if they head for Governor Dick Park. Among this month's
highlights: a Teddy Bear Hike for girls on the 11th, a bog turtle adventure
on the 12th, and a single day camp for third to sixth graders on the 17th.
For adults, there's an illustrated lecture on the surprising world of
mushrooms on the 18th. For details, click here.
One youngster who's never at a loss
for something to do: Ryan Brunkhurst of TimberBridge,
at 16 one of the nation's youngest church organists and choir directors.
He'll open the summer recital series at Annville's St. Mark Lutheran Church,
July 5 at
That Police Community E-Mail Alert
Network swung into action last month, notifying
local residents of an abrupt Rail Trail encounter near Cornwall. A man judged to be in his 30s and
wearing only his birthday suit called out to a woman hiker approaching the Whiteman Road
overpass. He then quickly vanished, presumably on a bicycle.
Such advisories are exactly why Cornwall
police established the network. If you'd like to receive their bulletins
(infrequent, but often fascinating), send an e-mail request. Handy
reference for minimizing a
common summertime hazard in and around Mt.Gretna:
Tips to avoid ticks and Lyme disease.
Balmer, who organized
the Arts Council's gala summer premiers for five straight years, now focuses
her talents on Zumba, a dance exercise class based on Latin hip hop and
international music. "It's a blast," says Janice, a
former competitor in Disney World's annual half-marathons who says she's lost
50 pounds through consistent workouts over the past 12 years.
Recently certified as a Zumba instructor, she's offering classes at Mt.Gretna's
fire hall Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Wednesday mornings."Zumba is
fun, effective and suitable for all ages. You don't even have to know how to
dance," says Janice. Details: phone 717-507-9349 or drop
her a note.
burrowing under the hostas
in your garden? Patriot-News gardening columnist George Weigel answers
a Mt.Gretnan's question and suggests that the
culprits may be pine voles. He offers several
solutions, including cats, "preferably with big
Woomer, the former
chaplain at LebanonValleyCollege,
returns to the Tabernacle July 12 for an old-fashioned gospel hymn sing, a
highlight of this year's Bible Festival. Other favorites
this month (all starting at )
include the Men in Harmony chorus July 5, Broadway singer Marie Barlow Martin
July 19, a 200-voice Choir July 26 and a gospel quartet July 29.
fund-raising tribute to Alice McKeone, devoted fire company volunteer who died in January, is
underway, started by Alice's granddaughter Lisa Johnson.
Proceeds of the SKIP campaign,
named after Alice's
9-year-old son who was killed in 1966 by an automobile while crossing Route
117 to see his mother, benefit youngsters who can't afford to participate in
sports activities. Numbers
discovering a book that unlocked the secrets of tennis,
self-taught instructor John Condrack is still teaching the game to
youngsters. He just finished the second of two clinics at the Mt.Gretna
courts this summer, attracting about 24 youngsters ages 7 to 14. Tennis
summer program coordinator Sandy Moritz says they'll probably schedule
clinics again next year, "since we had no difficulty filing up the spots
15 (Maybe more)
Ferraris rolling into town Aug. 9 in what Gretna Music president and
Penn-Jersey Ferrari Club member Paul Merluzzi hopes may become an annual
fundraiser for the highly regarded music festival.
On display at Mt. Gretna Inn around will be a top-of-line performance Ferrari plus a 308GTS, the
model Tom Selleck made famous in his "Magnum PI" TV series.
Afterward, everyone will head for Gretna Music's comic opera, La Serva Padrona, at the Playhouse. 60Athletes in
training here July 25, all in purple and green outfits that signify
membership in Central Pennsylvania's TNT
(Team in Training), a worldwide sports endurance training program. The local chapter will be helping to finally top
the $1 billion mark this year in funds raised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma
Society over the past two decades. Mt.Gretna is a 2009 training site for the
TNT athletes, who'll run, cycle and hike in events across the country as they
seek to raise $2,000 to $3,900 each. Chief among them will be Tom Garret,
from nearby Lawn, himself a leukemia survivor. "The chemo used on me was
developed in part by funding from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, so this
is kind of cool," he says.
abstract oil painter Maria Isabel Rufino will travel to exhibit in the 2009
Mt. Gretna Art Show (voted "best art/craft show" by readers of Central PA
magazine last month). A resident of Merlo, Argentina,
she's one of more than 250 artists chosen by judges in juried competition
last April. Sightings
Couple strolling past the Playhouse on final night of Gretna Theater's "1959 Dance Party"
opener last month, hearing "Oh, Donna" from behind the drawn
curtains, and suddenly inspired to begin dancing all by themselves, under a
streetlight in the middle of an otherwise vacant Harvard Avenue.
Startled breakfast patrons, approaching the pizza shop one morning and hearing the unfamiliar
sound of "cockle-doodle-do."
A rooster? In downtown Mt.Gretna?
It was enough to cause some folks to re-check their hearing aids. Others just
scratched their heads. "Did I hear a rooster?" asked former school
superintendent Ed Phillips, psychologist John Spychalski, attorney John
Feather and others who sometimes show up for breakfast on a Saturday morning.
Sure enough, "Doodle" was out foraging and lustily crowing along Route 117. He's been there since March,
when, the story goes, a fellow in a pickup loaded with "hot
chickens" drove into town, anxious to make a quick sale. (Just why
anybody would choose Mt.Gretna as a spot to
unload chickens isn't clear. But facts never stand in the way of spinning a
good yarn, especially on Saturday mornings at the pizzeria's breakfasts.)
In any case, a few birds must have escaped, including Doodle, also called
"Rosie's Rooster" and several names we can't print here -- given by
residents who would prefer to sleep with their windows open these days.
That's now impossible. Doodle begins his serenades around
What fate awaits? Probably a long, illustrious and
vocal life. Thus far he has outsmarted would-be captors, including teams from
the SPCA and fire company volunteers. His ability to leap onto tree limbs,
just out of reach, is remarkable, we're told.
True, it's not exactly like Old MacDonald's farm. But around the breakfast
table, Doodle is often the topic du jour.
Mt. Gretna artist Eleanor Sarabia's nephew, 14-year-old Joey Mann of Mechanicsburg, beaming ear-to-ear
after the historical society pulled his Jigger sundae-winning ticket from the
hat in a two-hour scavenger hunt last month (through Timber Hills, Conewago
Hill and Timber Bridge, where Mt. Gretna's history began.) Cousin Josh Mann
didn't win anything but nevertheless also ended up on the society's broad Pennsylvania Avenue
porch with a smile, a sundae and something to talk about when they got home.
Mt. Gretnans Ceylon and Karen Leitzel, who'll bring another Big Band fest to the lake Aug. 22 (click here to request details), bumping into Campmeeting
neighbor Madelaine Gray at Shelter Cove Marina in Hilton Head, SC, where
Madelaine was exhibiting her photographs,
740 miles from home.
Waxing philosophical while munching a hot dog at Thatcher Bornman's Big Junk Day
celebration, Jessica Kosoff, eyeing discards that neighbors hauled away from
the curbside: "I guess it's true," she said. "One man's junk
is still another man's junk."
Questions Readers Ask
 Did I miss it? Where can I buy a 2009 Mt.Gretna
<> The new design, featuring Eleanor
Sarabia's sketch of the 1902 Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle
building (now Gretna Emporium) is on sale there now ($10) and also at Collins
Grocery in Colebrook, Gretna Computer Consulting, the Hideaway, Penn Realty
and the Playhouse snackbar. Proceeds benefit the Mt.Gretna
I once visited Chautauqua,
Pa., which I thought was near Allentown. It was an
area where Indians with the same tribal name lived for hundreds of
years. I have since seen Chautauqua,
NY and find that it is similar
to your area and philosophies. Can you clear up the origin of the name,
<> Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society president Fred Buch says there
indeed was another Pennsylvania Chautauqua at one time north of Allentown.
"It was a yearly tent city in a field. A Tabernacle was the largest
tent, with other tents supporting various needs," says Fred, who once
saw postcard photographs of the site on e-Bay. "There was no mention of
the exact location, nor any indication that it was held in the same spot each
As for the Chautauqua name, Betsy Loyd, a Ph.D candidate in American Studies
at the University
of Iowa who is basing
her doctoral dissertation on America's
permanent chautauquas, says the Chautauqua Movement got its name from the first, and best-known, chautauqua, on LakeChautauqua
in New York.
"The lake name is an Indian term generally understood to refer to the
shape of the lake -- loosely translated as either a bag tied in the middle or
two moccasins tied together," she says. Betsy will be in Mt.Gretna
this month, doing research at the historical society headquarters as part of
her docotral studies.
Ann White, whose affection for Mt.Gretna
reverberated years after she and her husband moved to Florida, died May 22 in Naples.
An advertising executive who started White, Good & Company
advertising at her kitchen table in a cottage along Pinch Road, she operated it for a time
in the former Caretaker's Lodge before relocating to Chestnut Street in Lebanon. As
the company grew, with offices in Westport, Conn., Bethesda, Md. and New York
City, so did her enthusiasm for life, her reputation for quality, and her
love for all that she touched.
Ann lent her special charm, energy and talents to Mt.Gretna's
theater, borough council and the homes that she cherished, including one
overlooking the lake, which she and husband Bob Good built soon after their
marriage in 1984.
"We both missed Mt.Gretna," Bob wrote
recently. "One of her last wishes, as she fought ALS (Lou Gehrig's
Disease) during these past ten years, was to return just once more to
relive again the happiest moments of her life. It was not to
be, but I feel sure that her thoughts were there -- and that her heart
and spirit were there as a model for her many friends to cherish."