Familiar Faces – Meet Denny Miller
By Jennifer Hetrick
Gilbertsville resident Denny Miller is regularly fashioning his backyard to be serene and cheerfully comforting, an invigorating perk after a long day at work.
In late 2007, Miller spent several months building a water feature, as a small pond, behind his house.
With wide-stretching windows in the back of his home, he had planned to have the waterfall work two ways—appreciating it outside and also while sitting, looking at it and listening to it from the cozy perch of his dining room while eating breakfast or supper.
“I wanted a waterfall, but it’s a flat property, so I had to build it up,” Miller said. “That’s mainly what I wanted—the waterfall effect for the sound.”
The plants tucked around the small masses of rocks and flowing water are always ongoing and multiplying, as his wife Gladys adds new flowers throughout each season.
The rocks situating the waterfall are largely from a dilapidated barn on Route 73 and the land at his second home in Potter County.
Miller said he didn’t like the suggested styles of ponds he found in books and designed his own instead, using references where he needed help in understanding the construction of it.
Last year, Miller had two frogs who hopped their way to his pond, naming them George and Petunia.
Miller made sure to say hi to the frogs each time he went outside, as startling them without a greeting always meant they’d jump into the water with a fast splash.
But with a quick hello, they’d stay in place, sunning themselves on the rocks.
Miller laughed about an instance in which he said hello to George, asking him how he was doing, with the frog offering his comical side.
“He looked at me, and as soon as I said that, he turned around and showed me his hiney,” Miller chuckled, adding that it did seem like the frog’s sudden move was on purpose.
“I have fallen asleep many times sitting in front of that pond, with the sound of the water coming down,” Miller said, expressing just how calming the atmosphere of the small extension of manicured landscaping is.
Miller and Gladys don’t travel often, which leads them to reaping a lot of appreciation out of enriching the view of their yard, enjoying the feel of it.
Also set in a circular bed in Miller’s backyard is Victorian garden, equipped with the quintessential street lamppost and all, along with a birch tree, benches, and pots of flowers bursting with brightly colored petals to provoke a smile in anyone who sees them.
To the left of the Victorian garden is a heart-shaped rose garden Miller inspiringly made several years ago.
The roses bloom in white, yellow, red, and a multi-hued tone Miller characterizes as the color of the sunset.
“The animals like to live in there, but yet you beautify it,” he said.
Miller expects the decorative fencerow to be 50 or 60 ft. long once he’s finished adorning it.
When he’s not soaking in the tranquility of his yard space, Miller is working on a 1940 Willys Coupe he hopes to soon have painted in electric silver and blood maroon, built from scratch.
Since the age of 19, Miller has ordered his stromboli the same and loves it best from Penny’s Pizza in Limerick.
Each time he phones for food, it’s always a large stromboli, extra meat, extra cheese, and sweet peppers. The staff knows it’s Miller on the line each time he calls.
So if you see Denny Miller basking in the charismatic air of his backyard or munching away at a Stromboli, say hello to another Familiar Face.
( also published in the print edition
of the boyertown area times, with less photographs)
And to spice up the details of Denny Miller's ultimately amusing stories beyond George the frog showing him his backside following a friendly salutation, here are some other tales of the entertaining way of his backyard in its location so close to nature's wiles, next to Fellowship Farm.
Miller affectionately, laced with a half-giggle, titles his wife Gladys as The Skunk Whisperer. A few years ago, she began putting leftover hamburger or bacon grease, from dinner, outside on the back lawn for the wild animals to eat.
She'd soak up the grease with bread, leaving it in a skillet for the night. By morning, it would be empty.
Gladys decided to bang her wooden spoon at the side of the pan. This reinforced the skunks into coming over to search for the grease bread she'd set out, after she walked back into the house.
Miller said this was Gladys calling the skunks in.
As family and friends found this humorous and a bit unbelievable, at parties, they'd all cheer Gladys on, asking her to call in those skunks. She did, and at least five skunks were quickly making their footsteps toward the pan of grease bread.
Everyone found this quite amusing, but the flaw in the system of it soon surfaced. The skunks hung around the patio in the yard and wouldn't leave, after gobbling up the grease bread. This resulted in the guests being afraid to depart for fear of being sprayed by the skunks.
After that, Gladys put her Skunk Whisperer tendencies to rest.
In another episode of a backyard blitz, Miller and Gladys noticed a cock bird walk out of the woods, meeting up with a groundhog that had formerly been cozilyhunched under their shed.
The bird and groundhog were suddenly battling, boxing, wings flapping, little paws of fists in the air.
Miller said he wished he'd had a video camera to record the unheard of scene, as he is certain it would have won a prize on America's Funniest Home Videos, if they'd been able to tape and submit it.
Eventually, the groundhog zipped away and hid back under the shed again. Miller said the bird strutted down their fencerow in pride after winning the battle.
And they'd watched this unusual sight all from the windows of their home.
A final whacky story to finish off these crazy anecdotes is one that involves a possibly senile wild turkey.
Wild turkeys sometimes come out of the woods and peruse people's yards in New Hanover Township.
One day, Gladys eyed up a wild turkey outside of their home. She thought she'd give it some bread crumbs to nibble on, but when she approached it, the turkey turned around and started galloping toward her at full-speed.
She ran screaming, back inside the house, and the turkey followed her to the screen door. After that, Gladys knew not to feed this particular wild turkey.
Later, they would sometimes see him standing in the middle of the road, and once they even saw him laying on the yellow line, which led them to believe he might just be a senile wild turkey, especially after his attempted attack on Gladys.
Needless to say, Miller's yard seems to be far from an ordinary one, with the spectacles witnessed just feet away from it.