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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. 96                                                                                                                                       July 1, 2009

(Note to our online readers: Color photos, hyperlinks to referenced articles and other features are available in the e-mailed 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 an aging editor who enjoys keeping in touch with the world. . . and, especially, with Mt. Gretnans near and far.  To add your name to the subscriber list, send your request to: mtgretnanews@gmail.com)

 

After a soggy start

Mt. Gretna Soars into Summer. . . Sorta

Peering from under her purple rain cap on another of those seemingly endless rainOn the far side of Route 117, Doodle rules the roosty 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 dies."
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 imaginati
Flower sales amid the raindropsve 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 Inn.

Across the 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 new up."

So will June's generally cooler, wetter pattern persist right through summer? It's a possibility, says Millersville University 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 hasty conclusions.

Divining 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.

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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
Organic vegetables at French Country Marketweekend 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, 8 a.m. to noon) "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 College, Pa.

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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 Lebanon County 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 years."

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 Lancaster County, including Georgetown United Methodist Church. 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 East Stroudsburg University, 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 of  Mt. 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 6 to 9 p.m.
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 here.
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 ChautauquaOn the far side of Route 117, Doodle rules the roost 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, PA 17064.


Best way to spend Tuesday mornings?
Could be it's the weekly book reviews at Chautauqua's Hall of Philosophy, starting at 9:45 a.m.
Coming this month:
July 7 : Peter Ackroyd"s "Thames: A Biography," reviewed by Lebanon Valley College English professor Kevin Pry.
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, 10 a.m. to noon, 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: faithandbrad@comcast.net.

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 Timber Bridge, 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 7 p.m.

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.

Janice 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.
 

Something 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 claws." 

 
Darrell Woomer, the former chaplain at Lebanon Valley College, 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 7 p.m.) 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.

A 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

35  Years after 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 this summer."

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 5 p.m. 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. 

60  Athletes 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. 

      
5,258  Miles that 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 a
On the far side of Route 117, Doodle rules the roostnd 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 3 a.m.
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 coffee mug?

<> 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 fire company.

[] 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, please?
 
<> 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 year."
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 Lake Chautauqua 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.

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ANN S. WHITE (1941-2009)
 
 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."