2021 Fall Encore Presentations

Encore is a re-presentation of some of the best presentations from the previous semester’s seminars.



September 24, 2021

Shari Lewis: the Brains Behind Lamb Chop
Presenter: Nancy Clune
Seminar:  American Children’s Television 1947-1962

Sonia Phyllis Hurwitz (1933-1998) was an accomplished pianist, juggler, magician, dancer, and writer. But you probably know her best as Shari Lewis, the brains (and voice) behind a fetching sock puppet named Lamb Chop. In this presentation, we’ll look at how she used her pluck and talents to become a popular children’s entertainer beloved by several generations.

October 1, 2021

The Harvey Girls, The Women Who Civilized the West
Time: 10:00-10:50
Presenter: Charles Aulino
Seminar: Railroads and the American People

This is the Story of Fred Harvey, who established a substantial network of restaurants and hotels along the route of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad beginning near the end of the 19th Century.  Inspired by the dearth of quality dining facilities along railroad lines, he recruited young, unmarried women from the East and Mid-West as staff.  This opened new vistas for women who otherwise had limited employment opportunities.  The superb food and service made Harvey’s facilities an overwhelming success.

My Life with Sgarbi
Time: 11:00-11:50
Presenter: Roberta Goldman
Seminar: Writing to Remember

This piece written for “Writing to Remember” seminar discusses how I found and purchased my Sgarbi violin both from my point of view, and from the violin’s point of view. Done with humor and background info on violins in general.

October 8, 2021

Lou Henry Hoover: Outdoorswoman, linguist, architect
Time: 10:00-10:50
Presenter: Chris Waters
Seminar: First Ladies

Lou Henry Hoover was first lady of the US from 1929-1933.  She was gracious in her role during a trying time in our country.  Yet more intriguing are her intelligence, her varied accomplishments and gifts.  She was an engineer and architect and she had an impressive grasp of many languages including Mandarin, Spanish and other Romance languages, and German.

Growing up in Norton
Time: 11:00-11:50
Presenter: Ken Furst
Seminar:Writing to Remember

I am in the process of writing a memoir. This excerpt, “Growing Up in Norton,” covers my early childhood through high school when we lived in Norton, Kansas, and highlights the wonderful experiences I encountered (some positive, some negative, but all good learning experiences). It contrasts this life with our frequent trips to Chicago, Illinois, 800 miles to the east where we had family and spent many weeks each summer. Our family was unique in western Kansas in that my parents were refugees from Nazi Germany, not the usual inhabitants of the region.

October 15, 2021

(Cajun and Creole Food and Culture will be presented on October 22)

Lunch with Soupy Sales
Time: 11:00-11:50
Presenter: Michael Miller
Seminar: American Children’s Television 1947-1962

In the 1950s, the new medium of television was filled with attention-getting, broad entertainment.  Much of it was directed toward children.  One of the creators and kings of children’s entertainment was Soupy Sales.  We will discuss his translation of vaudevillian slap-stick, anything-goes comedy to the small screen for the benefit of children.

October 22, 2021

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Time: 10:00-10:50
Presenters: Paul Cooper and Diane Liebert
Seminar: Science in Film

A presentation and participatory discussion about the 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers in the context of science and politics in the 50’s.   We intend this to be an active conversation centered around participants’ awareness of science as it relates to the themes of the film and the emotions it evokes.

Cajun and Creole Food and Culture
Time: 10:00-10:50
Presenter: Ellen Kosmer
Seminar: Acadian Legacy

We will discuss African, French, and native American influences on the formation of Cajun food and culture.  In particular, we will talk about gumbo as the quintessential dish of the Cajuns.  We will also examine the relations and differences between Cajun and Creole cuisine, and look at a very popular Cajun event, the crawfish boil.

(The Rosetta Mission is cancelled)

October 29, 2021

Time: 10:00-10:50
Presenter: Katy van Geel
Seminar: Food migrations

The subject is coffee: its origins, migration, consumption, growth, processing and production, from farm to your cup. I touch upon fair trade issues and climate change, and then on what you need in order to make coffee at home.

Hidden Figures
Time: 11:00-11:50
Presenter: Sandi Albertson-Shea
Seminar: Science in Film

A look at the role of science in “Hidden Figures”, a film recounting the story of four women of color who contributed to NASA’s space program.

November 5, 2021

Climate Change in the Pioneer Valley
Presenter: Kay Klausewitz
Seminar: Climate Change

What is happening to mitigate and adapt to climate change in the Pioneer Valley and what can we do?  We turn our attention to three salient features of the Pioneer Valley (1) our institutions of higher learning, and (2) the farmlands and forests, and (3) the CT River and its tributaries.  We end with resources and action groups to help you to decide what you (and your family and friends) might choose to do to help.

New York City Railroad Stations
Time: 11:00-11:50
Presenter: Mary Ann Lowen
Seminar: Railroads and the American People

For many years, I’ve been a commuter through the major train stations of New York  City.  I’ll be telling the stories of the rise and fall of Old Penn Station and its current reincarnation as the new Moynihan Train Hall.  I’ll also tell the story of Grand Central Terminal and how it was saved by the historic preservation movement which was inspired by the loss of Old Penn Station.

November 12, 2021

Concepts behind ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’
Presenter: Janet Spaulding
Seminar: Postmodern Novels

Lincoln in the Bardo is a novel by George Saunders about the death of Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie while Lincoln was President.  The novel is set in the White House and the Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown where Willie’s body was temporarily held in a mausoleum until Lincoln’s death.  Lincoln is known to have visited the mausoleum the night of Willie’s funeral.

My presentation provides photographs of Willie, the mausoleum, the cemetery, and excerpts from a George Saunders’ short article about how he made decisions about the content and structure of the novel.  It also provides illustrations and discussion of the Tibet Buddhist Book of the Dead and Egyptian Book of the Dead religious concepts Saunders drew upon in developing his characters, many of whom are ghosts in the cemetery.

Visual Interpretations of America’s Mid-Century Car Culture
Time: 11:00-11:50
Presenter: Tyll van Geel
Seminar: Art and American History

Mid-Century’s car culture encompassed not just outrageous cars but also drive-ins, motels, suburban tracts, gas stations, and more. This presentation visually explores that culture in reliance on vintage photos, paintings by photorealists, and the work of celebrated photographers. It asks the question, “What was the reality of the car culture of the mid 20th century?”

November 19, 2021

The Galilean Moons of Jupiter
Time: 10:00-10:50
Presenter: Jim Scott
Seminar: Solar System

This presentation will deal with the four largest moons of Jupiter, Galileo Galilei who discovered these moons, and the role of this discovery in the history of science.

Animal Navigation and the Senses
Time: 11:00-11:50
Presenter: Gordon Wyse
Seminar: The Sensory World

Navigation in animals: How do animals use sensory information and brain processes to perform oriented behaviors such as migration and homing?  Most animals can find their way home when displaced. Salmon and sea turtles return to their birth sites to reproduce after many years at sea. Birds and butterflies migrate thousands of miles without getting lost. I will discuss these navigational performances and show how they depend on impressive sensory capabilities and spatial analyses in their brains.