President Benjamin Harrison reviewed troops at the Pennsylvania National Guard Encampment in Mount Gretna, Lebanon County, in the summer of 1890. He arrived by way of the old Cornwall & Lebanon Railroad, now the Lebanon Valley rail-trail.
Charlton Heston spent the summer of 1948 on the stage of the old Gretna playhouse. The 24-year-old actor entertained theatergoers but annoyed his landlord at 102 Brown Ave. by dressing casually and eating peanut butter straight from a jar.
Other well-known people have made their way through Mount Gretna. Some have decided to buy or build cottages there. Writer Chris Sholly profiles one of these personages, Sarah Tyson Rorer, in the winter edition of Mount Gretna Chronicles, the bi-annual newsletter of the Mount Gretna Area Historical Society.
Rorer (1849-1937) has been called “America’s first dietician.” The Bucks County native wrote more than a dozen cookbooks and gave cooking demonstrations across the country, including in the Chautauqua community of Mount Gretna. Her emphasis on diet and the chemistry of food was revolutionary.
Rorer held culinary classes in Sarah Tyson Rorer Hall from 1897 to 1908. Then that building was demolished to make way for the Hall of Philosophy, which stands next to the Jigger Shop at 212 Gettysburg Ave.
In 1898, Rorer built her own cottage, which she named “Dragonfly.” A woman of strong opinions, as pioneers in any field often are, she disliked the design of most Mount Gretna cottages.
“I do hope the time will come when architects will wake up and get some new ideas,” she said. “These cottages are simply monstrosities.”
A neighbor, annoyed by this comment, responded, “Yet, Mrs. Rorer’s cottage is absolutely the ugliest on the grounds.”
When one of Rorer’s former culinary students, Emily Colling, came to Mount Gretna to lecture on “domestic economy and kitchen work,” Rorer attended the lecture and refused to shake Colling’s hand. Then she criticized her talk.
“Miss Colling, I am pained to hear you make the statement that milk boils at 205 degrees,” she said. “It is quite absurd. You should know better.” Colling was taken aback as Rorer stalked out of the room.
“Such a thing, unheard of in the very decorous community, was sure food for gossip, and it flew from cottage to cottage,” reported the Philadelphia Times. “Every other instructor in the camp took sides with Miss Colling, and as Mrs. Rorer has many personal friends there it looked as if there would surely be a tumult. But the worst was yet to come.”
You can read about “the worst” in the newsletter. Google “Mount Gretna Newsletter Archives.”
Herb and Miiko Horikawa, of Honey Brook, Chester County, lived in separate Japanese American internment camps during World War II. They read the Jan. 22 Scribbler item about Lancaster residents who lived in internment camps and responded.
After U.S. officials evicted Herb and his family from their San Francisco home, the Horikawas spent 1½ years at Camp Poston in Arizona. Miiko’s family, which lived in Sacramento, was incarcerated for three years at camps in Jerome, Arkansas, and Gila, Arizona.
Sponsored by a Quaker family friend, Herb’s family relocated to Philadelphia. Miiko’s family and approximately 2,500 other people who had been imprisoned at Camp Jerome relocated to Seabrook, New Jersey.
The Horikawas will present a program on their internment at 1 p.m. March 9 at the Tel Hai Retirement Community in Honey Brook.
Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at email@example.com.