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Holiday dinner a community tradition

January 02, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

POND BANK, Pa. - In the hot and humid kitchen, volunteers worked in assembly line fashion, loading Styrofoam plates with giant scoops of homemade mashed potatoes and smothering them with large helpings of pork and sauerkraut.

"What kind of cake do you want, yellow or chocolate?" they asked diners. "Do you want peanut butter icing?"

People packed the Pond Bank Community Center on Wednesday for a taste of the New Year's Day meal.

They waited in a line that snaked halfway around the inside of the community center's small dining room to indulge in what has become an annual tradition in this small community.

"It's certainly a nice serving of food and it's very good," said Ray Schellhase, 77, of Fayetteville, Pa.

Jeanne Secrest of Chambersburg, Pa., said she looks forward to the dinner every year.

"You have your nice dinner and there's no cleanup afterwards," she said.

For Donna Gilbert, 55, of Penn National Estates, it's a day off from cooking and a chance to socialize with neighbors.

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"It's homey. We just really enjoy coming here and meeting various people," she said.

Edith Rotz, 71, of St. Thomas, Pa., said the dinner has grown in popularity since she first attended about five years ago.

Fred Rock, president of the Pond Bank Improvement Association, said about 550 people were served during the afternoon.

Most of the dinner is homemade, down to the applesauce. All can be had for $6 for adults and $3 for children.

The dinner is one of many fund-raisers the association conducts every year to pay the unincorporated town's street light bill and make other community improvements.

Recently, the association was able to spend $19,000 to pave its parking lot, Rock said.

Rock, 80, has been working his whole life to better Pond Bank. He started in 1952 when he persuaded 27 families in the neighborhood to contribute $275 for public water.

"My daddy told me, he said, 'Fred, if this project falls through you've gotta leave this town,' " Rock said.

Rock helped lay the water pipes himself. The system was run by community volunteers until 1986, when it was turned over to Guilford Township with 125 families.

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