In Other News
No, Mt.Gretna's post office is not among
the 3,120 postal stations and branches throughout the U.S. being considered
for possible shutdown.
In fact, according to the U.S. Postal Service's Central Pennsylvania
spokesman Ray Daiutolo,"There are currently no plans to close stand
alone post offices."
As a "stand alone" post office,Mt.Gretna's probably ranks pretty
well. Unlike others in neighboring communities, its revenues are said to
more than cover its operating costs.
Yet concerns remain over the U.S. Postal Service's longer term future. Mail
volume throughout the country dropped from 212 billion pieces in 2007 to
203 billion last year. Some estimates suggest that it will decline by
another 20 to 23 billion pieces this year.
Among this weekend's top events:
Mt. Gretna's annual house tour (see homes and cottages open for viewing)
Saturday, Aug. 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
That's followed by "The Illumination of the Cottages," echoing a
tradition from Mt. Gretna's youth summer camp era. Beginning at 7 p.m. with
a program at the Historical Society, the Mt. Gretna Library's self-guided
8:30 p.m. walking tour then winds through the Campmeeting, where everyone
is asked to light up their porches.
The New Black Eagle Jazz Band
appears at the Playhouse Saturday at 8 p.m., and at Sunday's 11 a.m. Jazz
Developers of the proposed water
park, with 590 homes and a hotel near Miner's Village in Cornwall, released their current plans online
last month. The proposal includes a map showing layouts of roads, homes and
other structures on a 570-acre tract to be called "The Preserve at
Historic Cornwall Village." Construction could begin within three
Mt.Gretna: The Movie.
"Some kind of movie set?" asked reporter Bill Bowden as he
traversed the streets of Mt.Gretna last month. In a York Daily
Record article, Bowden wrote, "The
cottages are too close, the streets too narrow for two cars, sometimes even
for one. . . and there's no sound of lawn mowers, car engines or kids
playing." The Record's website includes a brief video and
interview with Bill Care and Linda Bell."
"Summer in the Slow Lane at
Mt. Gretna," an article in the July-August issue of Pennsylvania
Magazine, appears online, through courtesy of the publisher, at: http://www.mtgretna.com/news/files/MountGretna%20ONE.pdf,
Facing Challenges, Gretna Music Launches its Season
"We will weather this," said Gretna Music executive director
Michael Murray. But he leaves no doubt that the 2009 season and next year's
as well may be the toughest ever for this 34-year-old music series.
Advance ticket sales are down. "People are reining in their
discretionary spending, and concerts fall in that category," he says.
"We're not panicking, but it's clear that we have to plug the funding
gaps, especially when ripple effects of the '08 stock market crash hit
endowment funds next year." One likely victim: the Pennsylvania Council
on the Arts. "Unless something unexpected happens," he says,
Gretna Music will have to trim its offerings in 2010.
"We've got our strategic plan in place and our costs under
control," says Michael, now in his sixth year here. Reflecting
sluggish conditions that have dampened the arts nationally, many artists
cut their fees dramatically this spring. Others switched from guaranteed
rates to profit-sharing arrangements. "So our up-front risk is
down," he says.
Still, the challenge over the coming year will be to strengthen sources of
supplemental funding, "stabilize what we have, perpetuate our mission
and not get hung up over the number of concerts we're presenting over the
short term," he says.
"I don't mind saying that we have to work hard to make this go. It
doesn't happen by itself," says Michael. "We'll need the help of
everyone who has a stake in Mt. Gretna as a center for the performing
Gretna Music will offer 23 concerts between now and Sept. 6.
Top attractions are expected to be The New Black Eagles jazz band, making
their 32nd appearance here this weekend; folk artist Eileen Ivers Aug. 18; classical
pianist Garrick Ohlsson Aug. 19; a Saturday matinee Aug. 22 with the
Duquesne Tamburitzans, followed that evening by pop and folk musician Leon
Redbone; the Phil Giordano Jazz Orchestra Aug. 29; and folk artist Leo
Kottke Sep. 3. The series concludes with the Audubon Quartet, which has
appeared here every year since 1976.
are meticulous pen and ink sketches? Think again. They're
photographs, done by Dave Adams an astronomer by training who is now an
administrator at City University in New York. He
and his wife, the artist Mary Kopala, live in Bucks County and in Mt.
Gretna. Seven years ago, they bought a Campmeeting cottage as a weekend
and summer retreat from their work in Manhattan, where Mary is a
psychologist and CUNY professor.
The technique Dave uses is called High Dynamic Range photography, which
works best on subjects with unusually bright and dark scenes. "I
didn't invent HDR," says Dave, but he uses it to take several
photographs of a scene, then combines those separate images into one using
special digital software. With software adjustments, he can create
photographs that either look "fairly traditional or take on a
'painterly' character." He believes the HDR technique helps him
capture what he describes as "the magical atmosphere of Mt.
Mt. Gretna Art Show:
Success where Committee Meetings
When 280 artists from 27 states unfurl their tents and talents before some
15,000 visitors expected to flock to the 35th annual Mt.Gretna outdoor art
show this month, it will once again provide a satisfying glow for people
who don't like committee meetings. Indeed, the Mt. Gretna show annually
affirms the manifest wisdom -- often lacking in modern life --
of simply letting good people do their own thing.
Show organizer Linda Bell has an army of 250 volunteers to make sure the
art show, with its roughly $200,000
budget, runs smoothly. But she rarely calls a meeting of her 18 committee
chairmen. In fact, she's had only three meetings so far this year and
doesn't expect she'll need another.
"We have good people, and they're excellent at what they do," she
says. "The last thing I want to do is micromanage." Segmented
assignments are key to her efficient style. "People controlling
parking don't need to know what the booth sitters will be doing," she
says, "so why tie them all up in the same meeting?"
However well-managed, this year's show nevertheless is likely to be
affected by the economy. But Linda's not especially worried. And
Sunshine Artist magazine editor Cameron Meier says the recession may
have reduced sales at the nation's outdoor art shows this year, but he
doesn't think it has had much of an impact on attendance. Linda says, in
fact, that many artists she's talked to are having a pretty good year so
And, in any event, she doesn't emphasize setting attendance records every
year. "That's not the purpose of our show," she says.
"Bigger is not necessarily better. We're promoting the arts. We
want to expose people to good art, to get them to appreciate that having a
piece of original art is so much more important and enriching in their
lives than buying a mass-produced copy of something from Wal-Mart."
Meier thinks outdoor shows still have a strong future. "But it takes a
bit more work than it used to in order to succeed, both for the artist and
the promoter. The industry has to work harder to show the public why it's
important and rewarding to be able to purchase original art from the person
who created it," he says.
Good turnouts, of course, do have an impact on the community. Gate
receipts help fund art show contributions to the fire company as well as to
projects throughout the community
-- in Mt. Gretna Heights, the Campmeeting and Mt. Gretna Borough. Art show
funds also go to groups such as Gretna Music, Gretna Theater, the Cicada
Festival, the Tabernacle Association, Heritage Festival and others. They
also have helped pay for an emergency generator for the community-wide
water system, a fire hydrant at the lake and vulture relocation efforts.
And show organizers are constantly on the lookout for new needs that will
benefit everyone in Mt. Gretna. "If someone has a good idea for using
art show proceeds, we're all ears," says Linda.
Typically, art show expenses eat up about $130,000 of the $200,000 that the
show takes in -- not just from admission fees but also from food vendors
and exhibiting artists. What's left helps pay for the following year's
up-front expenses, including advertising, and also provides a cushion in
case of emergencies. (At one Midwest art show a few years ago, for example,
a tornado destroyed the show site and artists' deposits had to be
Although the art show doesn't issue a formal financial report publicly,
Linda invites anyone who is interested to stop by her office and examine the
books. They're stacked up against the others she maintains in her role as
secretary to Mt. Gretna Borough, the Pennsylvania Chautauqua and the Mt.
Gretna Water Authority.
Do all those responsibilities add up to too many meetings? Not if Linda can
help it. "I know that everybody hates meetings because we're all so
busy we don't have time for them."
At her previous job with Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, Linda says
"we'd have meetings to decide when we were going to have a meeting. By
the time you were done having meetings, you didn't have time to do your
Following her distinctive management style, those days are now over for
Linda. With minimal meetings and letting people do their thing, she makes
it all look easy. Washington, D.C., General Motors and most of the other
Fortune 500s could probably learn a thing or two.
ALSO IN THE NEWS THIS MONTH:
The 2009 Mt. Gretna Christmas ornament is
finally here, says Gretna Emporium owner Stacey Pennington. This year's version: a
hand-painted glass ball.
But the big seller this summer? Red-white-and-blue furniture and
"Welcome to the Porch" furniture, which arrived three weeks ago.
"We can't keep it in stock," says Stacey.
This summer's best entertainment bargain? It could just be that $25 buffet and show combo at the Timbers Dinner Theater.
After dinner, it's "Sing Happy," the Timbers' 2009 musical revue
-- created by "A Chorus Line" choreographer Dave Thome, Universal
Orlando Resorts veteran Sharon Bruce Miller and Timbers music director Andy
The dinner show runs Tuesdays-Saturdays through Sept. 5, with matinees on
Wednesdays and some Saturdays. For reservations, telephone 964-3601.
"Music Under the Stars"
organizer Ceylon Leitzel says ticket sales for this sixth annual fundraiser
are running ahead of last year. One group of 30 has already reserved
tables, joining romantic couples who plan to relive their Mt. Gretna
memories to sounds of the Hershey Big Band, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at the
lake Aug. 22.
Bring your own picnic basket and non-alcoholic beverages, suggests Ceylon.
Light snacks and wine tasting from Twin Brook, a local winery, will also be
Over the past five years, proceeds from this annual event have benefited
the Mt. Gretna fire company, Heritage Festival, the Campmeeting's Bible
Festival, Mt. Gretna's United Methodist Church, a choral group and Lawn
Advance tickets, $18 each with SASE to P.O. Box 202, Mt. Gretna, Pa. 17064.
Tickets at the door: $20. For details: call 717-866-4274 or 964-1829;
Louise Coyle, a Chautauqua resident who
earlier this year petitioned Mt. Gretna's borough council for tighter
restraints on ambient noise, has launched a forum "for talking about local concerns and
joys." Readers can also contact her via e-mail.
3 Finches spotted along Route 117 by Nancy Mitchell,
just back from Watkins Glen, NY. where she and husband John again displayed
their French Provencal
So how could she be sure
they were finches? Easy. Nancy knows birds, ever since joining a Mt. Gretna
Bird Club outing last winter. Then she added, a bit hesitantly, "I guess
they were finches. They were yellow with little black wings. Maybe I'll ask
Evelyn Koppel to be sure."
Evelyn and husband Sid Hostetter are the club's ornithological authorities,
welcoming newcomers at Governor Dick Park every Friday morning at 9, when
they often take short field trips. For details,email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 Programs in six days mark the Bible Festival's "core week" as August begins.
Starting with the New Black Eagles jazz worship service at the Playhouse
Aug. 2, the series continues at the Tabernacle that evening with noted
author Leonard Sweet, naturalist Jack Hubley Aug. 7 and a five-choir
handbell festival Aug. 8. The series concludes with the Lancaster Brass
Qunitet Aug. 23.
Ft. hoagie, one of about eight or nine that Damien Orea and his dad Elidio
(right) make each year at Mt. Gretna's Pizzeria. Loaded with
meats, cheeses and assorted vegetables, the ginormous (yes, that's officially a word
nowadays) sandwich is perfect for hearty appetites at birthday and
graduation parties. The $45 specialty feeds about 15, says waitress Rose
Bair. Since there's no bag or box big enough, how do customers carry it
home? "Usually, they come in a van," she says.
So how's business as the restaurant heads toward its third anniversary next
month? Breakfasts are great, but luncheon and dinner orders are down a bit
from their first-year highs, says Damien. Maybe it's the recession, maybe
it's typical of restaurants after initial curiosity subsides.
But what's up is their enthusiasm. The best thing about running a business
in Mt. Gretna? By far, says Damien, "It's the people. They're great
They tell us that opening this place is one of the best things that ever
Thinking of placing an order? Damien, Elidio and Rose are waiting for your
6 Weddings at the
Tabernacle this year -- an all-time record, says Merv Lentz, who thinks the
growing number of marriages in the 110-year-old auditorium may have
something to do with its improved lighting and sound systems.
Maybe, but perhaps it's just that Mt.Gretna, like Gretna Green in Scotland,
is simply becoming a more popular spot for marriages, spurring couples into
Typical may be Campmeeting resident, entrepreneur and Lebanon Valley
College alum Brad Kleinfelter, who obviously doesn't hesitate once he makes
up his mind. Brad popped the question to Allison Topper on July 4th.
They're getting married this month, on Art Show Saturday.
90 People, maybe more,
expected at Mt. Gretna's community picnic at the Hall of Philosophy Sept.
5. Everybody's invited -- from Timber Bridge to Stoberdale, the Heights and
everywhere in between.
Call 964-1830 to tell them what covered dish you'll be bringing (salad,
entrée or dessert).
Coordinator Barney Myer always prepares a three-pound meatloaf, his
favorite. "Usually, there's only one crumb left," he says.
But suppose everybody decides to bring dessert? "In six years,
it's never happened," says Barney. "If it did, I guess we'd all
just eat dessert. But somehow it always balances out."
Really? A covered dish picnic where everybody brings their favorites, with
salads, desserts and entrees arriving in just the right proportions?
"Oh, once in a while somebody asks what they should bring," he
says. "So I look at my list, call them back and tell 'em what we're
So, if not Divine Intervention, maybe there is a little Barney
intervention? "Well, maybe, but not much," he says. The affair
starts at 4 p.m.; folks are usually eating by 4:30.
on investment in two Mt. Gretna coffee mugs, which recently sold for $70
each to round out collections that date to 2001. Originally priced at $8,
the mugs are now $10 but still rank alongside cookbooks as the Mt. Gretna
fire company's most popular fundraisers ever.
Gretna Emporium expects to sell 168 mugs
this summer -- a record for a single location, says fire company volunteer
Scott Zellers. Other spots where the 2009 edition can be found include Penn Realty, Gretna Computers, the
Playhouse snack bar, the Hideaway, Collins Grocery and, of
course, the fire hall.
expected at Cornwall police department's National Night Out festival Aug. 4
-- with hamburgers and hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, pizza, Hershey's
Kissmobile, Army Blackhawk and state police helicopters, Bobby Gerhart and
Kyle Martel racecars, karate demonstrations and more. No wonder it's the
biggest celebration of its type in Lebanon County.
"Last year's event was the biggest we've ever had," says chief
Bruce Harris. What he likes best about the whole celebration? "It's a
chance for neighbors in Mt. Gretna, Cornwall and West Cornwall Township to
get together, meet one another and people from 50 local agencies who
provide their services," he says. It starts at 5 p.m. along Alden
Street between Route 419 and Burd Coleman Road.
It was an affair all-too-brief.
Doodle, Mt. Gretna's lonesome bachelor, had an evanescent fling with Dolly,
who showed up -- seemingly out of nowhere last month --
then vanished as mysteriously as she had appeared.
But it was love at first sight. And an egg-- an honest-to-goodness egg --
materialized within days.
Just where she came from and where she went remains a mystery, now
enshrined in Mt. Gretna's ever-growing store of legends.
Some say she left with a group of boys -- carried off to a farm everybody
hopes. Everybody, that is, except Doodle, who preferred her company around
the pizza shop and under the steps leading up to Gretna Theater's
headquarters, where he was building a nest.
Dolly's abrupt adieu so touched the hearts of Rose Bair's pizza shop breakfast
patrons last week that they erected "Rosie's Roost," hoping that
an upscale perch might lure her back. But so far, no luck. She hasn't
During Dolly's time in town, however, Doodle had suddenly switched from
crowing to cooing. That brought forth not only an egg but also a blissful
respite to neighbors who, for the first time since March when Doodle
himself arrived, found they could again sleep though the night with their
windows open. But no more.
After Dolly's departure, starting around 3:15 a.m., the melancholy crowing
resumed. The egg vanished. And a Mt. Gretna summer romance -- like dozens,
maybe hundreds, before it -- dissolved into yet another bittersweet memory.
The year's best question so
far, asked at Mt. Gretna's Information Center: Volunteer Connie Yeagley was
at the Center along Carnegie Avenue when a gentleman approached recently.
Looking a bit puzzled, he stopped, scratched his head and asked, "Is this
That ranks with two other all-time favorites: "Do people really
live in these cottages?" And, "We were just out for a Sunday
drive and thought we'd stop. What the hell is going on here?"
First Timbers Dinner Theater star
Kay Mitchell (right), shopping at Mt. Gretna's French Country Market
on a Saturday morning.
"Before I got the call, I'd never heard of Mt. Gretna. I couldn't even find it on a
map," she says. That was in 1976, when friends and Broadway
choreographers Tom Miller and Sharon Bruce put together the Timbers' first
show for the late John Briody. (Bart, his son, recalled last week that Kay
is still the best singer ever to appear on the Timbers' stage.)
She's been coming back to Mt. Gretna ever since, "as often as I
can" -- this summer for a five-week stay.
She returned last month to her native Mississippi, where she grew up on a
cotton plantation. "I'm a bona fide Southern Belle who happens
to love the Northeast," she says. Her career has taken her throughout
the country, including five years in New York, where her operatic
career blossomed. Now Kay Arcuragi, she still gives vocal lessons, both in
Madison, Miss. where she lives, and during her summer stays in Mt. Gretna,
where she spends time with old friends including Joan Buck.
GAZELLE WARE KAMP
Gazelle Ware Kamp, who lived on Village Lane in Timber Hills during the
last 12 years of her life, died last week at the age of 97. A former
Winterite and the mother of artist Pearl Parsells, she had been a Realtor
in Springfield, Pa. An enthusiastic bridge player who taught the game to
many others in Mt. Gretna, Zelle, as she was known, took up painting later
in life and was known as someone "who brought civility, manners and
graciousness into the lives of all she touched." Friends recall that
if a conversation turned to physical ailments, Zelle simply referred to it
as "another organ recital."
Born on the same day that the Titanic sank, she was nevertheless unafraid
of ocean travel. As a young girl in the 1930s, she sailed by freighter to
the Mediterranean with her cousin, the well-known occasional Mt.Gretna
visitor Garnett "Kiki" Beckman, now 102 and living in Phoenix,
Ariz., the mother of Conewago Hill resident Laura Feather.
For years afterward, the cousins shared stories of their adventures,
including rescue efforts after a photographers' plane crashed while
attempting to follow the Queen Mary on its maiden voyage. As their
freighter continued on to New York, "the ship's captain put a body in
the freezer, and his crew donated clothes to the survivors. My mom still
has the newspaper stories," says Laura.
Questions Readers Ask
 I've noticed a beautiful, tall purple flower blooming along the
roadsides and around the lake in Mt. Gretna. Does anybody know what it is?
Karrie Hontz does. She's a Penn
State Master Gardener who divides her time between Skippack, in
Montgomery County, and Mt. Gretna, where she and husband Ron bought a
Campmeeting cottage three years ago.
"Please don't consider pulling one out and planting it in your
garden," she says. "This plant, commonly called 'Purple Loosestrife,' is one of the
most invasive exotic plant species in Pennsylvania. It spreads
rapidly via its prolific seed production. One plant can generate more than
two million seeds in a season, spread by birds, wind and human
Karrie says the plant invades wetlands, squeezes out native species and is
hard to eradicate. It has now been given "the dubious distinction of a
'noxious weed' -- the 'worst of the worst' in horticultural terms."
She advises readers to remove and destroy it wherever possible and to keep
alert for other invasive plants that appear on Penn State's website.
Karrie has lots of horticultural tips and is happy to share them with
anyone who asks. She's easy to spot. "Everyone knows us as 'the Collie
people,' since we're out walking all the time," she says.