September 30, 2014

Discuss Books at Chester Library in October

Chester Book Discussion Oct 2014

When the kids go back to school, pick up your books and join in the free Mark Johnston Book Discussion Series at Chester Public Library. This fall, Marsha Bansavage, an educator who has taught Contemporary Literature among other English courses, will be leading the discussion series.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown will be discussed on Wednesdays, Oct. 8 and 15, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Sometimes described as “Chariots of Fire with oars,” The Boys in the Boat tells the tale of the 1936 U.S. men’s Olympic rowing team—“nine working class boys who stormed the rowing world, transformed the sport, and galvanized the attention of millions of Americans.  Against the grim backdrop of the Great Depression, they reaffirmed the American notion that merit, in the end, outweighs birthright. They reminded the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together. And they provided hope that in the titanic struggle that lay just ahead, the ruthless might of the Nazis would not prevail over American grit, determination, and optimism.”  A New York Times bestseller, Boys in the Boat won the 2014 Indies Choice Award for nonfiction.

Dear Life, a book of 14 short stories by the award-winning Alice Munro, will be the topic of a lunchtime discussion on Tuesday, Oct. 21, from noon to 1 p.m. Alice Munro “creates tales that have the scope and amplitude of novels: whole lives are condensed into a handful of pages, the progress of love is charted over the years as passion gives way to restlessness or deeper commitment or something more ambiguous.”  Dear Life contains 14 such stories, including four pieces that are, as the author describes them “not quite stories.”   Rather, she says they are “the first and last — and the closest — things I have to say about my own life”… snapshots of childhood in a small Canadian town and perfect for sampling during lunch.  You bring a brown bag; the Friends of the Library will provide beverages and dessert.

Books in multiple formats are available at Chester Library while ebooks of both titles are available through Overdrive.   Please register in advance either at the library or by calling the library at 860-526-0018.

Chester Artists’ Raffle to Benefit Chester Library Programs – Oct. 6

Chester is a town of many talented individuals, three of whom have donated their works to the Friends of the Chester Public Library for a fundraising raffle, culminating on Oct. 6.

Basketmaker Sosse Baker created “Noonday Sun,” a storage basket in a Cherokee pattern, 20 inches high and 16 inches wide, in dyed and natural rattan. Sosse, the co-owner of Chester Gallery in Chester Center, has been a renowned basketmaker for several decades.

“Noonday Sun” basket by Sosse Baker

“Noonday Sun” basket by Sosse Baker

Quilter Sally Murray has designed and crafted “Hearthside,” which she describes as big enough to be a “usable blanket or enough for a small crowd on the couch in front of the fire.” It is 55 by 62 inches. This is the second time Sally has created a quilt to help Chester Library raise funds. Her quilt for the 2013 library raffle was highly coveted by hundreds of people.

“Hearthside” quilt by Sally Murray

“Hearthside” quilt by Sally Murray

Photographer Al Malpa, a national prize-winning photojournalist, has donated his matted and framed photo “Lupine at Sunrise,” taken of a wild lupine in a Connecticut field. He owns the Al Malpa Photography Gallery in Chester Center.

“Lupine at Sunrise” photo by Al Malpa

“Lupine at Sunrise” photo by Al Malpa

Tickets are priced at $3.00 each and 1000 tickets are being sold. The three items are on display at the Chester Library. All proceeds from the raffle will directly benefit the Friends of the Library’s programs and purchases for the library. The Friends fund DVD and CD purchases and a Netflix membership; passes to area museums and attractions; professionally facilitated Spring and Fall book discussion series; materials for children’s story and craft hours; and the summer reading program.

The raffle drawing will be at a reception hosted by the Friends on Monday, Oct. 6 at 6:00 p.m. at the library. Winners need not be present to win.

Chester Museum at The Mill Tells Chester’s Story – Weekends

The Chester Museum at The Mill has been owned by the Chester Historical Society since 2000. It was first opened as a museum in 2010. Located on a waterfall on the Pattaconk Brook near the center of town, the mill site was once used to produce anchors, wagon springs, and augers. Photo by Katherine Hilliar

The Chester Museum at The Mill has been owned by the Chester Historical Society since 2000. It was first opened as a museum in 2010. Located on a waterfall on the Pattaconk Brook near the center of town, the mill site was once used to produce anchors, wagon springs, and augers. Photo by Katherine Hilliar

The Chester Museum at The Mill opens for its fourth year on Saturday, May 31. Owned and operated by the Chester Historical Society, the museum is located on the historic 1850s Griswold Mill site, overlooking a waterfall and the Pattaconk Brook near the center of town.

On the first floor is the exhibit, “Over the River and Through the Woods – Early Transportation in Chester,” telling the stories of the beginning of the town’s roads and highways, as well as the train, the trolley, the ferry, and the steamboat. The exhibit, which opened in 2013 thanks to partial funding by the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, has been expanded this year to include early bicycles and features a 54-inch Columbia Allbright “ordinary” on loan from the Connecticut Historical Society. New photographs and artifacts of trains, including “Old 97” from the movie, “It Happened to Jane,” have also been included this year.

The Columbia Allbright “ordinary” or high-wheeler bicycle, owned by the CT Historical Society, was made in Hartford in the late 19th century. At 54 inches tall, it sparks one’s imagination about how anyone could get on it to ride through the town. It can be seen at the Chester Museum at The Mill through the summer.

The Columbia Allbright “ordinary” or high-wheeler bicycle, owned by the CT Historical Society, was made in Hartford in the late 19th century. At 54 inches tall, it sparks one’s imagination about how anyone could get on it to ride through the town. It can be seen at the Chester Museum at The Mill through the summer.

On the second floor of the museum (reachable by elevator as well as stairs) is the permanent award-winning exhibit, “Streams of Change: Life & Industry along the Pattaconk.” Together, the two exhibits tell the story of the life, development and growth of Chester.

The Chester Museum at The Mill is open to the public on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through the end of October. It is air-conditioned as well as handicapped accessible. Admission is free. More information at www.ChesterHistoricalSociety.org.

 

Chester Library Hosts Spring Book Discussions

“Views from the South:  Looking Forward, Looking Backward”  will be the subject of this spring’s Mark Johnson Book Discussion Series at Chester Public Library, once again led by Charlotte Rea. Dates for the discussions are Wednesdays, April 30 and May 7, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Former Head of School at the Williams School, Rea’s academic background is in English and theater. She explains her choice of these books for this year’s discussion series. “Thomas Wolfe, writing in the 1920s, Eudora Welty, writing in the ‘40s, and Flannery O’Connor, writing in the ‘50s, all portray a vision of life in rural, small-town South as seen from the inside—inside the family, the friendships, and the community.  Strong nets of family and friends and expectations surround the characters with comfort, love, suspicion, jealousy and exclusivity—as well as a sense of superiority for the civility and civilization that is consciously cultivated in the South.” 

How does this strong sense of connectedness interact with Southern warmth and pride to create a world in which outsiders are viewed with suspicion?  Within this tight world, the characters in these stories yearn for the wider world, for more learning, for greater adventures.  The abundant work ethic and risk-taking behaviors shape the characters’ worlds just as their orthodox views of human behavior control their actions.  How does this tension between yearning for stability and comfort war with the drive to experience the outside world?  What role does the strong sense of the past play as characters shape their own and the region’s futures? 

The rhythmic, rich language of the three authors becomes a way of life and brings great rewards for the reader.

On Wednesday, April 30, discussion will center on Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel, in which the protagonist seeks to shape his identity in contrast to and in harmony with his family and Southern community.

On Wednesday, May 7, the group will look at the view from two famous women novelists, Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty, who in their short stories, “Good Country People” and “Why I Live at the P.O.,” imagine the inner world and outer actions of bright, adventuresome, misfit women living circumscribed lives.

Books on paper and on CD are available at the library. EBook versions of both titles can be downloaded from Overdrive. Please call the library at 860-528-0018 to register. Registration is required for these free discussion programs, which are sponsored by the Friends of Chester Public Library.

 

New Chester Historical Society Unearthed Challenge…

What might you create with these rusted Es for the Chester Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge on March 22?   (Photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard).

What might you create with these rusted Es for the Chester Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge on March 22? (Photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard).

The Chester Historical Society has come up with another fun challenge linking Chester history and art.  This spring, those accepting the 2014 Unearthed Challenge issued by the Historical Society will be working with flat, rusted iron pieces found buried in an early Chester Center property – one of the oldest houses in Chester.

These rusty pieces measure 1 ¼ by 2 inches and look like the capital letter E. We do not know their origin, but they’re a great example of what one might find by digging in their own backyard!

As with the Bishop and Watrous Bone Art Challenge and the Bates Square Roots Challenge offered by the Chester Historical Society in past years, the Unearthed Challenge is for area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelry designers, and all others with a creative mind.

Anyone who wants to take the challenge can stop in at the Chester Gallery on Main Street in the center of Chester to pick up their rusty pieces and pay their entrance fee of $30, which includes two tickets to the event. The finished works will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge Reception on Saturday, March 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

For more information, call Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery at 860-526-9822.

Chester Historical Society Presents Program on Chester’s Cooks, Food Sales and Kitchens

Chester Center had a good many food stores, including the A&P and Checkers Store, as well as several meat markets and even a fish market.

Chester Center had a good many food stores, including the A&P and Checkers Store, as well as several meat markets and even a fish market.

Chester is famed for its plentiful restaurants. From pizza and vegan to Italian and French, there’s no shortage of food being professionally prepared and savored in Chester today.

There was no shortage of food in the old days either – but it certainly was different!

Squirrel and rabbits. Polenta. Ravioli. Eels and river shad. Home-grown vegetables. Weekly Sunday dinner for the entire family at Grandmother’s. Friday night food sales in front of the bank, and side-by-side supermarkets and meat markets “downstreet.”

Hunting filled an important need for food, especially during the Depression. Shown here are four Chester men who were known for their hunting skills:  Fred Walden, Layton Kelsey, Curt Bishop and Eddie Carlson.

Hunting filled an important need for food, especially during the Depression. Shown here are four Chester men who were known for their hunting skills: Fred Walden, Layton Kelsey, Curt Bishop and Eddie Carlson.

The Chester Historical Society invites you to “Stories from Chester’s Kitchens,” a program featuring tales of Chester’s cooks, food sales and kitchens shared by longtime Chester residents. The program will be Sunday, March 2 at 4:00 p.m. in the Chester Meeting House.

Food sales and townwide banquets hold special memories for many old Chester residents. We’ll be sharing stories at the Historical Society’s Crackerbarrel Program on Sunday, March 2.

Food sales and townwide banquets hold special memories for many old Chester residents. We’ll be sharing stories at the Historical Society’s Crackerbarrel Program on Sunday, March 2.

The program will revolve around the popular crackerbarrel format that has been successful for so many Historical Society programs. Audience participation is encouraged – we want to hear everyone’s memories of Chester’s cooks and kitchens. We’re also planning to show historical photos to whet your appetite for storytelling. This will be a great program for all ages, so children are invited too.

The program is free. Refreshments will feature some tastes of Chester’s past. More information at Facebook.com/chestercthistoricalsociety.

New Chester Pewter Ornament for 2013

Chester Ornament 2013Chester has a new pewter ornament for 2013. It was created by Peter Good, of Cummings & Good in Chester, and features his tractor seat design from the 2013 Chester Carnivale. The ornaments are being sold at stores throughout Chester Center for $15 each. Profits will benefit Chester Merchants activities such as the 2014 Chester Carnivale.

Chester Historical Society Reprints Classic Children’s Book, Ferryboat

Ferryboat Cover photo

Front cover of the book Ferryboat, reprinted by Chester Historical Society

This spring, as the State of Connecticut debated raising the fares for the historic Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, the Chester Historical Society focused on the history of the ferry as it opened its new transportation exhibit, “Over the River and Through the Woods.” After all, the ferry has been an integral part of Chester history since it began in the 1700s.

And now the Historical Society has reprinted the children’s book, Ferryboat, written about that historic ferry by Betsy Maestro and illustrated by Giulio Maestro and originally published by HarperCollins in 1986.

Ferryboat went out of print several years ago, but the Maestros have permitted the Chester Historical Society to reprint 1000 copies of the book.

“We couldn’t be happier to be bringing this wonderful and colorful book to a whole new generation of readers and their families,” said Society president Skip Hubbard.  “Over the years we have had some requests, so I expect there will be plenty of interest. It’s a pleasure to read it with a child and it makes a great gift.’’

Ferryboat inside photo

The Maestros, who lived for many years in Old Lyme, where they raised their son and daughter, said, “We created the book because we loved the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry and enjoyed riding on it with our children when they were small. The children in the book are loosely based on our own son and daughter. Over the years, it was fun to share the book with other children at schools all over the United States as an example of something unique and scenic near our home in Connecticut.”

The Maestros now live in Arizona, “not far from the red rocks of Sedona,” where they continue to write and illustrate children’s books.

Ferryboat, chosen by Yankee Magazine in 2000 for its list of Classic New England Children’s Books, has also been referenced in Southwest Airlines’ Travel Guide, where the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is described as “a popular means of crossing the river during the summer months. It’s more than a tourist attraction – it’s an educational outing for children and adults into the workings of a modern-day ferry.” (Connecticut DOT, take note!)

Publishers Weekly wrote about Ferryboat, “Their words and pictures are so completely involving that it’s almost like being on the real thing. The author carefully explains the workings of the ferry and takes readers from shore to shore, lovingly describing the sights and sounds of the ride….The double-page spreads, with a deep blue river and lush tree-lined shores, are colorful and appealing.”  School Library Journal called the book “a charming treat,” adding,” How the ferry operates (it never needs to turn around since the front is the same as the back!) is sure to fascinate young armchair mariners.”

The book is available for purchase at the Chester Museum at the Mill in Chester, open weekends 10-4, and also at Century 21 Heritage Real Estate office in Chester. Ferryboat can also be found at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme; Gillette Castle in East Haddam; and the Connecticut River Museum and the Valley Railroad in Essex. It is priced around $12.

New Chester Brochure to be Available this Fall

The Chester Brochure  is being updated and printed this summer by the Chester Merchants.

The Chester Brochure is being updated and printed this summer by the Chester Merchants.

Since 2005, the Chester Merchants have published the Chester Brochure, a guide to the storefront and home-based businesses and artisans of Chester. The 4×8-inch, full-color, 32-page brochure also includes maps, directions, municipal information, and a calendar of annual Chester events.

Fifty-thousand copies of the brochure are printed and distributed in tourist outlets throughout the state, area hotels and inns, and local shops and town hall. This summer the Merchants are compiling their third edition, which will be designed by Cummings & Good and printed and distributed in the fall.

Michele Procko, of Ceramica, says, “The Chester Brochure has attracted a great deal of attention from merchants and chambers of commerce in other towns and states. They comment on its quality of the design and useful content, noting that they’d like to produce something like it themselves.”

Procko continues, “I always have the Chester Brochure in the store and people constantly pick it up as they explore the rest of the town. It helps them find what’s just around the corner or down the road.”

Leslie Strauss, of Century 21 Heritage Company, says, “Very often newcomers to the area are in need of a quick guide for professional services like doctors, lawyers, engineers and accountants. We always send the Chester Brochure out with our relocation packets.”

Sosse Baker, of Chester Gallery, adds, “I use my own copy as a Chester directory – it’s my go-to resource for information of phone numbers and hours for all the other businesses.”

Ads in the brochure cost $200 or $400, depending on size. The deadline for ad submission and payment is July 15. For more information, email chestermerchants@gmail.com or call Leslie Strauss at 860-526-1200.

Local Library Directors Celebrate World Book Night at the Adams Shopping Center

world book night

Susan Rooney (right), the new Deep River Library Director, and Linda Fox, the Chester Library Director, represented their respective libraries at the Adams Shopping Center on April 23 as part of World Book Night. They gave away free copies of The Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.

World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person.Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light readers and non-readers. Not only is World Book Night about giving books. It’s also about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways—through the sharing of stories.

Veterans Annual Corned Beef Dinner – Mar. 10

Veterans and members of Essex Veterans Memorial Hall in Centerbrook are holding their annual Corned Beef Dinner on Sunday, March 10.

From noon to 6 p.m. , a corned beef dinner complete with potatoes, cabbage, carrots, Irish soda bread and dessert will be served. Adults pay $10 at the door; children pay $5. Anyone who prefers take-out, may request it.

Proceeds from the dinner support our veterans and those currently serving our country. Recently, Ivoryton resident Hunter Sanford was deployed, so the members of the Veterans Memorial Hall will be sending him packages from home.

If more information is needed, call 860-767-8892.

Bag of Bones – Chester Historical Society Invitation to Artists

What might you create from this “bag of bones” for the Chester Historical Society’s Bone Art Challenge this winter? Dating back to the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works in Chester in the 1930s and ‘40s, these “bones” were intended to be handles for flatware and crochet hooks (photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard)

What might you create from this “bag of bones” for the Chester Historical Society’s Bone Art Challenge this winter? Dating back to the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works in Chester in the 1930s and ‘40s, these “bones” were intended to be handles for flatware and crochet hooks (photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard)

The Chester Historical Society has come up with another fun challenge linking Chester history and art.  This spring, those accepting the 2013 Bone Art Challenge issued by the Historical Society will be working with a “bag of bones” from the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works. The “bones” were likely to have been handles for flatware or crochet hooks made in the 1930s and ‘40s at the Bishop and Watrous factory on Maple Street in Chester.

As with the Brooks for Hooks Challenge and the Bates Square Roots Challenge offered by the Chester Historical Society in past years, the Bishop and Watrous Bone Art Challenge is for area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelry designers, and all others with a creative mind.

Anyone who wants to take the challenge can stop in at the Chester Gallery on Main Street in the center of Chester to fill a bag with up to 25 bones to create a piece of “Bone Art” for an entrance fee of $25, which includes a ticket to the event. The finished works will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Bone Arts Champagne Reception on Saturday, March 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meetinghouse.

For more information, call Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery at 860-526-9822.

Collomore Opera Concert in Chester Featuring Timothy McDevitt Oct 7

Baritone Timothy McDevitt will perform at Chester Meetinghouse on Oct 7

The 39th season of the Collomore Music Series in the historic Chester Meetinghouse opens on Sunday, Oct. 7 with baritone Timothy McDevitt, who has recently gained recognition winning the Metropolitan Opera’s New York District Competition and as a finalist in the Paris Opera’s Atelier Lyrique Competition.

With a 2011 master’s degree from the Juilliard School, McDevitt’s Chester concert is this year’s Barbara and Edmund Delaney Young Artist Concert. His active recital schedule also includes recent New York appearances at Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie (Weill) Recital Hall.

Tickets for the 5:00 p.m. concert are $21. For students from elementary through graduate school, a ticket is $5. If you’re interested in attending all four concerts of the 39th Collomore season, a subscription is just $63 or $15 for students (that’s four concerts for the price of three). All ticket-holders are invited to stay for a reception after the concert to meet McDevitt. Ticket info: (860) 526-5162 or www.collomoreconcerts.org. The Chester Meetinghouse is located on Goose Hill Road in Chester. Check the website for information on all four concerts in the 39th season.

Chester Library Book Discussion Group Popular with Students

On two evenings in August, several dozen Valley Regional students gathered at the Chester Library to discuss one of the books on their school’s required summer reading list with Chester resident Sally Murray. Shown above are a few of the attendees, left to right, David Ramage, Megan Winslow, Morgan Winslow, Kenna Campbell and Ben Bourez.

A pizza supper followed the book discussion at the library for Valley Regional students. Shown here is Anastasia Cusack-Mercedes of Chester

By attending the discussion, students received a certificate from the library to turn in to the school.

Sally Murray led the high school book discussion evenings at the library

Chester Museum at The Mill Views the Civil War from the Home Front

Hannah Watkins, a college student and poet from Chester, recorded three letters written in 1862 by Nancie Ayers, her 20-year-old great-great-great-great-aunt, to her brother, a Civil War soldier. The letters can be heard on SoundSticks at the new exhibit at the Chester Museum at The Mill. (Photo courtesy of Keith Dauer).

After spending the 2011 season viewing the Civil War through correspondence primarily from soldiers at the front to their families and friends back home, the Chester Historical Society is now balancing what was happening at the front with what was happening at home.

Through correspondence, town records, church records and artifacts, a picture of Chester in 1862 emerges in the Chester Museum at The Mill’s new seasonal exhibit, “Beyond the Battlefield.” Featured in the exhibit are letters between a brother and sister, correspondence from a Union surgeon to his wife advising her on gardening necessities at home, records of the local Congregational Church (now the United Church), and the tools and implements used in Chester’s homes and shops. The result is a picture of life at the home front while the Civil War raged in other areas of the country.

The exhibit was chaired by Keith Dauer and Sandra Senior-Dauer. The Dauers, retired history teachers and Chester residents, say that their interest in the Civil War has been growing since they were in college. Keith went to college in Virginia, where he was taught about the “War of Northern Aggression” by a professor who called President Lincoln a “hairy baboon.”

One of the most poignant aspects of the exhibit,  the Dauers say, are the letters between Willis and Nancie Ayers, a brother who saw action in Northern Virginia and was captured by Confederate forces at Chancellorsville in 1863 and his sister who was living in Chester. Portions of her letters have been recorded for the exhibit by Hannah Watkins, the great-great-great-grandniece of Nancie Ayers. Nancie’s words come to life on SoundSticks in the exhibit.

The exhibit also contains Silliman inkwells, which were produced in Chester and carried by hundreds of Union soldiers, so they could write home to their families. Also of interest at the Museum this year is a new Chester history treasure hunt for children and their families.

The exhibit is open to the public for the 2012 season along with the award-winning permanent exhibit, “Streams of Change: Life & Industry along the Pattaconk.” Regular weekend hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October. Admission is free. The museum is located at 9 West Main Street (Rte. 148) in Chester (exit 6 off Rte. 9).

Chester Historical Society is partnering with five other societies (Middletown, Haddam, East Haddam, Deep River and Old Saybrook) in a two-year joint promotion of the six museums and historical homes titled “Get Lost in Heritage.” Visitors to the sites can enter a drawing for overnight stays at two area inns and receive free “Get Lost” wrist bracelets. Info: www.ctriverheritage.org or 860-526-5765.

Iva Bittova, Vocalist, Violinist, Avant-garde Performer at Chester Meetinghouse April 22


Moravian-born Iva Bittova, vocalist, violinist, avant-garde performer, will be the featured musician at the third concert of the 38th season of the Robbie Collomore Concert Series at the Chester Meetinghouse on Sunday, April 22 at 5 p.m.

Iva Bittova is renowned for giving unique performances that draw upon her training in drama, classical violin and singing. Influenced by jazz, rock, Czechoslovakian folk music and classical violin training, Bittova creates vocal and violin sounds than have always been described as thrilling and impossible to categorize. As expected from an actress featured in a Czech film nominated for an Academy Award in 2004, her performances have a dramatic cohesion that is spellbinding. She will be accompanied by George Mraz, jazz bassist and alto saxophonist.

The Collomore Concert Series bring high-caliber, visiting musicians to Chester four times a year. Each performance is followed by a simple reception to mingle with and meet other music lovers and the performer. Tickets are $21 for adults and $5 for students. For information and tickets, call 860-526-5162 or visit www.collomoreconcerts.org. Iva Bittova’s performance is sponsored by First Niagara Bank.

Greek Tragedies will Come Alive at Chester Library

With so many new books being published every day, why would anyone want to read books written in Greece almost 2500 years ago?

Just ask Charlotte Rea, who will be leading a series of three evening discussions on three Greek tragedies in April at the Chester Public Library. Rea, the former Head of School at the Williams School in New London, has an academic background in English and theater, including Greek drama.

“They are a good read,” she says firmly. “They are great stories that capture human purpose, drive, action, guilt and knowledge at its most elemental, intense, and ennobling.”

Rea draws a parallel between life in Greece 2500 years ago and our American society today. “The tragedies were written during a time of Athenian prosperity and stability, during the best periods of a working democracy (as they defined it – adult free males only).  In the background, though, was the memory of recent wars and the mounting tensions with neighboring city-states, such as Sparta. Prosperity and stability in a time of tension, doubt, worry and cultural divides – sound familiar?”

The three plays, by Sophocles and Euripedes, are “Oedipus Rex,” “Antigone,” and “The Trojan Women.” In “Oedipus,” the Greeks asked how we find the truth and what choices do we make in our journey to see and to understand. “Antigone” raises the question of the individual’s right to act on a personal belief system when respect for civic stability requires cooperation. “The Trojan Women” makes clear the timeless, seemingly inevitable consequences of war for the survivors. The discussions will begin Wednesday, April 11, with “Oedipus Rex”; move on to “Antigone” on April 18; and end on April 25, with “The Trojan Women.”

“The plays have lasted as ‘classics’ for almost 2500 years – why?” Rea asks. “What do they teach us about the human condition and quest for meaning? In a period of quick changes and rapid alterations in communication, landscape, and attitudes, which human values have endured through the centuries? Which have not?”

Rea notes that the plays are easy to read and short, requiring an hour or so to read (though the former schoolteacher admits to encouraging a second reading).

Registration is required for these programs, which are brought to you by the Friends of Chester Public Library. Call the library at 860-526-0018, or visit the library website at www.chesterct.org/library.php to register. All discussions will be at Chester Public Library from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Books will be available for loan at Chester Library. Those interested in ebooks may want to check out the texts available through Project Gutenberg.

Chester Historical Society Presents Free Program about Chester “Characters”

Shirley Miceli started working in Collins Pharmacy on Main Street (which she later bought and renamed Chester Pharmacy) during her college summers. She remembers the early years of being a pharmacist when many prescriptions (capsules, ointments, suppositories, liquids) were compounded - made by hand, right there in the store. She ran the pharmacy just short of 40 years, closing it in 1989. This photo is from the 1960s. Shirley still remembers when she was held up at knifepoint inside the pharmacy, but the robber got away. Later a TV crew reenacted the burglary on a crime show to see if the man could be identified by any eyewitnesses. (Photo courtesy of Rob Miceli)

What makes Chester the town it is? Many residents would say it’s the people who live or have lived and worked there.

On Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26, at the Chester Meeting House, the Chester Historical Society will present another in its series of programs about the colorful “characters” who have called Chester home for their family and their business.

As Historical Society president Skip Hubbard says, “As much as we often think of buildings and artifacts as history, it’s really about people – what they did, what they experienced, how they adapted and how they succeeded. That’s why we like to offer the ‘Chester Characters’ programs, as an opportunity to hear the stories of the people.”

Robbie's was a Chester Village institution for many years. From the Kate Silliman Scrapbook: "Robbie Collomore, born in Chester and a graduate of Chester High School,

A couple of “characters” who are still living will share how their Chester businesses got started along with interesting stories that happened to them.  Other “characters” will be described by family members or in some cases by their close friends or employees. This winter’s “Characters of Chester” will feature: Harry Archambault, the founder of Archambault Insurance Agency; Shirley Miceli, the pharmacist and owner of Chester Pharmacy; Robbie Collomore, the owner of Robbie’s store; John Dengler, owner of Dengler’s Service Station; Jim Grote, Chester Hose Co. chief and fire marshal; and John Zanardi, the original proprietor of John Zanardi Oil Co., Inc.

Come learn the history of what made Chester such a special place to live and work. As with all Chester Historical Society programs, audience participation is encouraged. We welcome your own stories of these Chester “characters.”

The program will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

 

 

 

photo caption: