Category Archives: BOLLI Members

BOLLI Members

Get to know other BOLLI members and their interests. Here, we regularly post not only profiles of BOLLI members but also provide a forum for members’ art work and writing!

For a list of members who have been profiled or whose art work and/or writing has been showcased on this portion of the blog, click here.

WALKABOUT by Quinn Rosefsky

At our most recent Writers Guild session, we shared our work with a “conspiracy theory” prompt in which we challenged ourselves to stretch our imaginations into the “fantastic” and write with authority.  As autumn creeps upon us, this piece of fiction by Quinn Rosefsky took many of us right back to summer camp…  We thoroughly enjoyed it and are sure you will too.

Quinn says that:  “Walkabout” started as a chapter in a book I call: Camp Arawakee .The manuscript was on a shelf in my closet for over twenty-five years. At one time, the book had enough strength to entice an agent to take interest. However, no publishers ever bothered to take a nibble. That was disheartening. More recently, I summoned the courage to take a fresh look. After all, in the past several years, I have somehow managed to write and re-write many times, what on paper looks like a mere 200,000 words. That changes a person. Let me tell you! So, what we now have in “Walkabout” is the fresh, 2017 version of the sentiments which first came to life so long ago. I’d be interested to know if anyone can come up with an ending to the “story within a story.” Having said that, you should probably read the story before reading this brief essay

 

WALKABOUT 

By Quinn Rosefsky

Where was Louis? The boys in Turtle Cabin waited in the fading light for their counselor to return from chatting with the pretty dark-haired nurse in the infirmary. Charlie, Teddy and Sean made up a contest. Who could jump the farthest from the edge of the lean-to onto the ground? A few feet away, Pete and Michael began arguing about whose turn it was to sweep the floor the next morning. As the first stars began to appear, Louis strode into view.

“Story!” the boys said, one after another.

The boys and Louis, dangling their legs, huddled on the edge of the lean-to.

“It was as hot as an oven the day I saw my first opal,” Louis said, dumping a bag of strange pebbles into his palm. “I’d been behind the wheel of my truck for hours and the flies were driving me crazy. I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. That’s when I drove the truck off the road into a ditch. There was no way I could get the wheels free. I sat down under the only gum tree around to rest.

“Just as I closed my eyes, something flashed at my feet. I bent over. There it was lying on top of the ground, the most fiery opal I’d ever seen.”

Louis paused to adjust the bush hat he always wore, even in the shower.

“What’s an opal?” Charlie said.

“It’s a jewel almost as precious as a diamond but still worth a lot of money.”

“Let him get on with the story,” Pete said, elbowing Charlie.

“Anyhow, just then, an Aborigine, his eyes so bright they looked like they were on fire, walked out of the bush and came straight towards me. He was wearing dusty blue jeans and no shirt.”

“What’s an Aborigine?” Ronnie said.

“They’re our native Australians, the ones who were there when Europeans first began to settle the continent. Same as your American Indians were here first.”

“Are there a lot of them?” Sean asked.

“Not any more. They’ve had a rough time.”

“Are they dangerous?”

“Not at all. They never were and never will be. They’re the ones who protect life in all its forms. That’s why the bush has been unspoiled for thousands of years.

“This particular Aborigine, who said his name was Jack, was on what’s called a walkabout. He’d been living alone in the bush for over a year, learning what he was to do with his life.

“As soon as Jack came to within a few yards, he stood still. He didn’t move for five minutes, not a muscle. It was as if he’d turned into a statue.

“Then Jack moved. First he pointed to my opal and then he took it from my hand and turned it over and over. Then he said: ‘Follow me.’

“We walked along an invisible track in the bush for about an hour. Finally, Jack stopped and pointed to the ground. I was completely mystified. Opals, dozens of them, were everywhere. I ran about like a man possessed. I was rich!

“Then I remembered my car was still stuck in the ditch an hour away from where I was. But what good would it do me to have all those opals if I never got out of the bush? I looked around to thank Jack, but he was gone. I was alone with no truck, no water and the hot sun beating down on me.”

“What happened next?” Charlie asked.

“You’ll have to wait until tomorrow,” Louis said.

“It’s not fair,” Pete said stomping his feet.

“That’s enough, Pete,” Louis said, wagging his finger. “I’ll give you guys fifteen minutes to get ready for bed and then it’s lights out.”

“How can I fall asleep not knowing if you survived?” Sean asked.

“Tomorrow.”

BOLLI Member & SGL Quinn Rosefsky

Quinn is a familiar face at BOLLI where he takes courses, teaches courses, serves on the Study Group Support Committee, participates in the New Yorker Fiction Group, the Writers Guild, and more!

 

WHAT’S ON MY MIND? LOST & FOUND by Steve Goldfinger

Our Writers’ Guild prompt for this week was this “Keep Calm and Look in Lost & Found” image.  As always, some chose to use the prompt while others did not.  We all thoroughly enjoyed Steve Goldfinger’s approach, and  we felt that many BOLLI members might be able to relate!  

LOST & FOUND

By Steve Goldfinger

For a moment, my wandering brain lost the prompt, but now I remember.  Ah, yes.  “Lost and Found.”

Well, it’s easy to lose things.  Car keys, cell phones, shopping lists, hearing aids.  Names of people whose faces are imprinted in my skull, faces of people whose names are as secure in my mind as swallows in cliff dwellings.

I cannot find the treasured score card that documented the best round of golf I ever played.  I was 21 year old, knew I would never have so low a score again, and promised I would keep it to show my grandchildren.  But where is it now?  Hiding somewhere in my attic or moldering at the bottom of some forsaken garbage dump?

When I lost my virginity, I knew I had also found something.  But when I lost my wallet yesterday, the only thing I found was an empty back pocket.  My only consolation was that my credit card was not longer in it.  Once again, the piece of plastic was undoubtedly sitting next to the cash register of the last restaurant I ate at.  Again, I neglected to retrieve it after I signed the check.  Damn it.  I want it back.  Now, what was the name of that restaurant?

After driving to the MFA to see the new exhibit that so excited me when I read the review in The Globe, I forgot which one it was.  When a large sign reminded me and told me where it was, I had to ask a guard to direct me to the stairway I had marched to directly so many times in the past.  It was a great exhibit…fine paintings and etchings by…oh, shit!

And what have I found?

Perhaps a new internal tempo that allows me to drive more slowly, aware as I am that, in front of me, the lane seems to have narrowed, and too many dents and scrapes have appeared on my car.

Or the magic of the remote, being able to put a ball game on a 40 minute delay so I can then zip through the commercials to get to the action.

Or the ability to justify my lifestyle–couch potato, bacon and eggs, steaks, morning croissants, and evening ice cream–by “Hey, I’m 82 and just back from Alaska where I survived a strenuous hike.  Good genes.  Thanks, Mom and Dad.”

Or how easy it has been to depart from the world of medicine.  A satisfying six decades, but in the end, too many directives separating me from patients, too many memory lapses, too many teaching moments falling short of my expectations, threatening my pride.

Or my ability to respond to writing prompts in perhaps a better way than I have responded to social ones over the years.

Writers Guild member, Steve Goldfinger

Since joining BOLLI nearly two years ago, Steve has been exploring new ventures.  He has been active in both the Writers Guild and CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre).  

Interested in joining either one yourself? During the fall term, the Guild will meet on Wednesday mornings from 9:45-11.  And CAST will meet on Fridays from 12:30-2.  All are welcome!

NEW FEATURE: BOLLI VOLUNTEERS!

Recently, we’ve been thinking about the wide range of volunteerism in which BOLLI members engage and would like to highlight them in this venue.  Are you involved in a program that you find particularly rewarding, especially one that would benefit from additional volunteers? Share your volunteer experience with us!  Here’s Lydia to start us off–

THINKING ABOUT VOLUNTEERING SOME TIME AND ENERGY?

Two Suggestions from Lydia Bogar

The storm warnings came across the bottom of the TV screen before the 5:00 news. I checked the radar on my computer and went back to washing the kitchen floor.

Within minutes, my old memory stem woke up as I put the mop on the porch. Tomorrow would be the anniversary of the Springfield/Brimfield tornado.  The video of that tornado as it crossed Memorial Bridge in Springfield remains as vivid today as it was then…

That old memory stem also brings back the first responders from across the state, and, most especially, the contributions made by two groups of volunteers:  first, SKYWARN, severe weather spotters, all trained volunteers connected to the National Weather Service in Taunton (www.weather.gov/box/skywarn) and second, the Worcester area CISM team (www.centralmasscism.org).

My first SKYWARN training was in October of 1999 when I was a disaster services volunteer with the Worcester Chapter of the American Red Cross. It was a very interesting training–especially good for campers and boaters.  Glenn Field from NWS Taunton gave us a lot of information about clouds, reading radar, and thermal convections. As a civilian, retired from the Red Cross, I have continued SKYWARN training and strongly recommend it to the BOLLI community. You can contact Rob Macedo at rmacedo@rcn.com to schedule SKYWARN training for any community group with a membership of 15 or more. It is very much worth three hours of your time.

I’ve also spent 16 years training and volunteering in CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management), a peer support network for first responders. There are 15 teams in Massachusetts, covering all police, fire, and EMS personnel from North Adams to Provincetown.  Our teams consist of trained peers as well as fire department, clergy, and mental health professionals.  It is an amazing global system that includes volunteers who served in New York in the fall of 2001, Boston after the Marathon bombing, southern Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, and the western part of Massachusetts after the tornado in 2006. If you are a retired mental health professional or retired member of the clergy who is interested in volunteering, please contact me at Toehead8@verizon.net, and I will refer you to the Team Leader in your residential area.

BOLLI Matters Co-Editor, Lydia Bogar

Former English teacher and health care professional Lydia Bogar provides BOLLI Matters with a wealth of material on a variety of subjects including her own regular feature “Lines from Lydia.”  

 

 

YOU HEARD US!

YOU HEARD US!

There’s something wonderful about opening up the BOLLI Matters “dashboard” to find the Comments box full of flags!   Your comments are so welcome, and we can’t thank you enough.  We just hope you’ll keep them coming–every one takes us another step toward our blog becoming a truly interactive vehicle…BOLLI’s voice!

 

MEET MEMBER BEVERLY BERNSON: A RARE FIND!

MEET MEMBER BEVERLY BERNSON:  A RARE FIND!

by Sue Wurster

BOLLI Member Bev Bernson

 

“I guess I’ve always collected art,” Bev says about her favorite pastime.  After studying at Colby Sawyer Jr. College,  Vesper George School of Art, and then Mass College of Art, she became a graphic artist.  She then worked at Beth Israel Hospital and the now defunct Newton Times.  Her work included quite an array of creative art projects in Newton, and she was a founder of the New Art Center.  All along the way, she was exposed to art,  artists, and dealers, curating shows and buying works.

In the early 1960’s, Bev started Any Old Thing, an antique business she undertook with her long time friend Lorraine Altschuler.  “We were friends since junior high,” she says.   “We did not have a shop but, rather, traveled around New England and New York City, renting space at antique shows and, at times, other shops,” she says.  “It was a wonderful life.”  Sadly, after 29 years in the business, Lorraine passed away, and Beverly carried on alone.  In all, Any Old Thing lasted 45 years.

Now, Beverly’s home in Newton houses her extensive and extremely varied collection, all placed with care for maximum enjoyment.  A few years ago,  Bert Yarborough, an artist and professor at Colby Sawyer where Bev is on the President’s Council, saw her collection and was intrigued.  When the college decided, then, to build a new art center, he asked if she would be interested in having works from her collection be the opening show in the gallery.  “I was flattered and eager to get it underway,” she says.  “I had loaned works to other shows in the past—but never something like this.”  The show, entitled Inner Visions, features work by self-taught and mainstream artists.  At the moment, Yarborough is working on the catalogue for the show which will open on October 13 and will run until early December. “Very exciting!”  Some of the pieces to be mounted in that exhibit include…

CABALLERO by Martin Ramirez (1895-1963) –considered one of the most accomplished self-taught artists of the 20th Century.
Bird woodcut by Milton Avery (1885-1965), American modernist and abstract expressionist artist who influenced Rothko and others.
Ceramic Plate by Todd McKie, contemporary fine artist who says he tries to make the “most beautiful, mysterious, most colorful, funniest and truest” work he can. “Once in a while, I succeed.”
WOMAN by Bill Traylor (1853-1949) who was born into slavery and began to draw in 1939 to record his recollections and observations. Between 1939 and 1942, this self-taught modern artist created nearly 1,500 works.

 

Beverly is also involved in Gateway Arts, a workshop for adults with disabilities, where she sits on the advisory board and helps with fundraising.  “The artists’ lives are changed profoundly—socially as well as artistically—and the interaction is a joy for all,” she enthuses.  “We have a store on Harvard Street in Brookline Village where the artists sell their work.   It is a truly wonderful place which gives the artists an opportunity to earn money for their work and a reason to be deeply proud of what they do.”

When it comes to pride, Bev is quick to point to her family—husband (Bob), 2 sons (Peter and Teddy), 1 daughter (Julie), 2 daughters-in-law, 2 granddaughters, 1 grandson…and another grandson on the way.

As if work and family were not enough to keep Bev busy, she has also devoted a good deal of time and energy to tennis, playing regularly since her 20s.  In her 40s, she started playing team tennis (doubles only) and kept at it until she was 70.  “I still play, all year long, two to three times a week at the same club—the names keep changing.  Now it’s Boston Sports Club in Newton.  We play outdoors in the summer.”

After retiring from team tennis eleven years ago, Bev started taking courses at BOLLI.  She has taken two courses each semester and has attended several of the winter and summer lecture series as well.  In addition, she is now the art editor for the 2018 volume of The BOLLI Journal.

“BOLLI is an amazing place,” Bev says.  “The people who give their time organizing activities, teaching courses, giving programs, and doing all the behind-the-scenes work that makes it all happen are truly wonderful and greatly appreciated.   BOLLI is a gift to all of Brandeis’ surrounding communities.”

But, of course, it takes interested and committed members like Bev to keep it an amazing place!

BOLL Matters editor Sue Wurster

There’s nothing I like more than getting to know the people around me even better!  I hope you’ll leave a comment for Beverly in the box below.  It means a lot to each of our profiled members to hear from others.   (And I’d love to hear from you about YOU!)

 

 

 

 

 

MEET MEMBER LOIS BIENER: A PERFECT BLEND OF SCIENCE AND ART

                    MEET MEMBER LOIS BIENER:  A PERFECT BLEND                  OF SCIENCE AND ART

BOLLI Member Lois Down Under with Kangaroo!

 

When Lois Biener decided that it was time to cut her work schedule to half-time, she began to feel a bit nervous about how she would fill her days when the time comes to retire fully.  Having heard about BOLLI from her neighbors Sally Fleschner and Don Kendall, she decided to explore the offerings at 60 Turner Street for herself.

So, in the spring of 2015, Lois enrolled in Naomi Schmidt’s five-week science fiction course and was quickly hooked.  “It was a group of such interesting, vital people,” she said, “including former teachers, lawyers, doctors, and not just one but two physicists!”

Lois’ work has included teaching social psychology for a number of years, but she has also spent a good deal of her professional life doing social science research.  In the Survey Research Center at U. Mass. Boston, she has focused, in particular, on tobacco-related issues.  Her interest in tobacco control interventions as well as electronic cigarettes keeps her involved in the research.

Outside her scientific work life, Lois has focused on developing her artistic side.  She sings with the Commonwealth Chorale (along with BOLLI members Bob Keller and Phil Radoff).  But perhaps her most challenging artistic venture has been her dive into pottery.

Lois has been taking pottery classes at Mudflat Pottery School in Somerville for some time now.  After five “beginner wheel classes,” she says she’s still developing her basic skills.  “One of my classmates has been at it for twelve years now,” she reports.  “It’s a little daunting.”  Recently, though, she finally had a pottery breakthrough and can now successfully throw a bowl or a cylinder.  Now, she is focused on hand building as well.

Some of Lois’ “Beginner” Pottery

 

In addition to doing course work at BOLLI, singing, and throwing pots, Lois relishes the time she spends with her 37-year-old daughter and 3-year-old grandson Noah, who is now talking.  She and her husband have also begun to travel more extensively.  They visit England fairly often, and, this past year, took a trip to Costa Rica.  They are now planning to go to Portugal this winter.

So, Lois has found BOLLI to be a terrific experience.  Highlights, she reports, have been the science fiction course; the cotton course, “which was an eye-opening, great introduction to global capitalism and the place of slavery in that story;” as well as the course on the plays of Tony Kushner.  She also enjoyed judging junior high school students in their Boston Debate League contest at Brandeis during her first year at BOLLI.  “How about a BOLLI team?” she asks.

Clearly, BOLLI has helped ease any tension she may have had about retirement!

BOLL Matters editor Sue Wurster

There’s nothing I like more than getting to know the people around me even better!  I hope you’ll leave a comment for Lois in the box below.  It means a lot to each of our profiled members to hear from others.   (And I’d love to hear from you about YOU!)

THE BOLLI JOURNAL 2018: We’re Now Closed

OUR DEADLINE HAS NOW PASSED

The BOLLI Journal deadline for submissions for our 2018 volume has now passed.  We have received a wonderful array of almost 200 pieces of both literary and artistic material from nearly 50 BOLLI members.

Over the course of the summer, our outside jurors and committee members will be reviewing all submissions with an eye toward making final selections in  September.   We anticipate that, in some cases, our selections might be “provisional.”  In those instances, submitters will be asked to consider making some suggested revisions, resubmitting their work, then, by mid-November.

Thank you, submitters, for your contributions!  We are looking forward to producing yet another fine volume of The Journal  showcasing the creative efforts of our BOLLI membership.

 

 

 

 

MEET “PEOPLE-WARE PERSON” SANDY SHERIZEN

SANDY SHERIZEN:  “PEOPLE-WARE PERSON”

When asked what led him to join BOLLI, Sandy Sherizen replied, “Two words:  Charlie Raskin.”  Sandy went on to say that, “After hearing Charlie praise BOLLI for about five years, I finally told him that I didn’t really want to take any more courses.  Of course, that didn’t stop Charlie.  Instead, he started talking about how BOLLI has so much more to offer.  He also said that, as we get older, it is often difficult to make new and satisfying friendships.  “BOLLI fills that need as well,” he said.  That did it.

Since joining five years ago, Sandy has found getting to know his fellow BOLLI members to be completely engaging.  “I absolutely love the participants,” he says.  “There are so many different backgrounds, perspectives, and levels of joy among this group.”  He goes on to point out that “Finding such a great source of ‘people-ware’ is inspiring—and sadly missing from so much of our culture today.”  How true.

Sandy says that both taking and teaching courses has been especially satisfying for him, adding that, “I also like Lunch & Learn.”  He goes on to say that “I had neglected music, art and non-fiction in my life and now have the opportunity to take courses in these areas with talented and knowledgeable SGL’s.”  For many years, Sandy taught courses in sociology and criminology at the university level, and he has now taught four different topics at BOLLI.  In addition, he plans to start a new one in the fall.  “I used to tell undergraduate students in my classes that, if they didn’t ask me questions, I’d ask them.  There is no need to say that to BOLLI members!”

A highlight of Sandy’s BOLLI experience to date was participating in the Sages & Seekers program this past fall.  In this program, run by Margie Nesson and Brandeis professor Sarah Lamb, Sandy was paired up with “this really nice and bright undergraduate named Jessica” and was somewhat surprised to find that “I felt very comfortable sharing my life experiences with her—we had trouble stopping when the sessions were over.”  Jessica invited Sandy to several campus plays in which she had parts; he met her parents and sister; and, with her boyfriend, she  attended a service at Sandy’s synagogue.  “She’s now in Amsterdam but will return later in the summer—I can’t wait to hear her stories about Holland and about what she plans on doing next in her life.”

When asked about his “extra-curricular” activities, Sandy is quick to say that “I read a lot and am trying to somewhat limit my New York Times addiction.  Since I love politics, I hate today’s politics.  I am active in my synagogue and am currently working with a number of congregants on immigration assistance.  I used to teach ESL in Framingham and have wonderful memories of meeting people from around the world.  Finally, in my ‘spare time,’ I am a community member of an IRB (an ethics and confidentiality medical research review committee) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.”

A strong bent for social action seems to be in Sandy’s DNA.  He worked in civil rights in Chicago in the 1960’s before teaching sociology at the University of Illinois and then coming to Boston University in 1976 to teach criminology.  He then spent over 30 years working on cyber-security and privacy issues as a consultant, seminar speaker, and writer.”

“I am divorced,” Sandy says, “and I have a son in San Francisco.  We have a wonderful and full relationship.  He inspires me and offers me life lessons.  We are cheerleaders for each other, and, after we talk or chat online, I smile.”

After talking to Sandy, I smile too.

BOLL Matters editor and “Meet Our Members” feature writer, Sue Wurster

There’s nothing I like more than getting to know the people around me even better!  I hope you’ll leave a comment for Sandy in the box below.  It means a lot to each of our profiled members to hear from others.   And I’d love to hear from you about YOU!

 

LINES FROM LYDIA: THE BLACK CHAIRS

THE BLACK CHAIRS

Thomas Shields “Seventy-Two Legs”

The black chairs. How many pieces of wood? Do we need to count them or assess the number of joints?

The first time I saw them was in 2007 on my first visit to the Springfield Museums with Brady, my then three-year-old grandson. After a light-hearted morning at the Seuss Sculpture Garden, we focused on the chairs.  Musical chairs.  As I noted the cluster of kids in the room, focused on the plethora of paintings on those five beige walls, the long unemployed teacher in me thought of the chairs as being in a classroom.  That would explain why they were painted black–to hide the fingerprints of children who could have cared less about the art.

Subsequent visits, alone or with the boys, caused me to pause and rethink the blackness of those eighteen chairs. Were they clustered to separate naughty children from those who were quiet and studious? Then, in a throwback to my college years when I had my first friend of color,  Were they merely guilty of being black?   My friend Cookie, a tall and lanky girl from New Jersey, would understand this fleeting rear window view of the 60’s that has brought us to our current political racial divisions.  She is a middle school principal now, keeping peace as retirement and freedom beckon.  God keep her safe in Trenton.

I take a moment to count the chairs again. Still 18. I count the chair legs, some have the standard four while others feature a whimsical three.  Like many of my generation, unable to stand alone, they need conjoined seats.  What are the demographics of conjoined seats?Race – black and non-black ?  Age –  over 30 or under 65?   Gender –   women,  married or single, or men?  Religion – spiritual or agnostic?

Would a carpenter consider these conjoined seats as needing to be dovetailed? I move from chair to chair, testing the stability of each seat and trying on the personality of the person sitting on it.

There is one pair with four conjoined seats and nine legs. Immediately, I think of Bob and Christine, a couple since our freshman year at Worcester State College. The first and maybe the only couple that will celebrate a golden anniversary this year. Their arms and legs alternately stronger, physically or metaphysically, with each dip in the roller coaster of life. Christine lost the use of her left arm following a violent assault by a middle school student some thirty years ago. Her medications are industrial strength. Her surgeries continue on an almost annual basis. Until recently, it had become difficult to visit them because of my discomfort with the compromises that they both make on a daily basis. However, since the deaths of my daughter and mother, I have learned the art–and the value–of compromises in my life.  I will visit them in Florida soon.

I rise again from my seat on the floor and read the signage on the wall. Seventy-Two Legs by Thomas Shields. Meant to seat eight to ten people. How curious to be viewing this work and reading this card when I had mentioned the black chairs to a classmate just two hours ago. Thomas Shields views the world as flat, he says, and that may have been my own opinion eight years ago. Now, I call him a liar.

Having photographed and pondered these chairs, I am now in a different place. Hopefully more mature, and–dare I say–smarter.

I don’t own any black chairs. My six dining chairs have blue denim seat covers. My two desk chairs are Ethan Allen maple, and my Daddy’s antique desk chair is a swivel on casters.

A final glance at the Shields chairs brings a new reality. Non-confirming seats and legs, and yet all of the seat backs are separate. Eighteen seat backs for eighteen souls with separate perspectives, distinct lifestyles, and individual personalities.

Such a minor detail and yet such major truth.

To see more of Thomas Shields “used wood” art installations: go to http://penland.org/programs/resident%20artists/shields.html or click on the image of his “Seventy-Two Legs” above)             

Frequent BOLLI blogger, Lydia Bogar

Lydia, our resident Renaissance woman, shares her unique views and experiences with BOLLI members in this regular BOLLI Matters feature.  Lydia also serves as co-facilitator of the BOLLI Matters crew.

MEET MEMBER CAROLINE SCHWIRIAN:  HARDLY A STILL LIFE!

CAROLINE SCHWIRIAN–HARDLY A STILL LIFE!

Caroline Schwirian at Back-to-School Brunch

Caroline and her husband Larry met in architecture school and still maintain a firm together.  They joined BOLLI in the fall of 2015 because, Caroline says, “Larry and I tend to focus too much on work.  I realized we needed an outlet that we could both enjoy.  After some research, we decided on BOLLI where we could have both a learning and social experience.”

Since joining BOLLI, both have enjoyed the wide range of classes the program provides, “giving each of us opportunities to learn things that we hadn’t had time to study over the years.”  In addition to the courses, though, Caroline says she has especially enjoyed the summer/winter lecture series on history and music.  She has also joined the Membership Committee and assisted in organizing this spring’s Back-to-School Brunch.

Outside BOLLI, Caroline has a variety of “extra-curricular” interests that keep her busy.  “I have always loved plants and flowers,” she says.  “I never had much time while working, but after retirement, I took a cue from the book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and decided to start a small vegetable garden.  It’s difficult to battle the rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels, but I am persistent.”

“One thing that led me to architecture was my love of drawing,” Caroline muses.  “Unfortunately, after you reach a certain stage, you don’t get to use those skills that much in an office.  Last summer, I took the drawing course offered by BOLLI, and it helped me get back into sketching.  In her recent course on 18th and 19th Century French Painting, Suzanne Art encouraged us to try our hands at still life.” On Suzanne’s cue, Caroline went, quite literally, back to the drawing board and created the following piece of work.

Caroline’s Recent Still Life

Perhaps her most encompassing interest, though, has been the Schwirian house and the preservation of the Auburndale Local History District.  “Our home has been a labor of love for 42 years,” she said.  “It was kind of run-down when we bought it, so we have a lot of ‘sweat equity’ in it.”  She goes on to say that a small part of the house dates from 1810 when it was the gatehouse for a long-gone estate. Most of it dates from 1849, when it was one of the first houses in Auburndale, a Newton village.  The house was designed by architect Charles Edward Parker who also designed the United Parish Church of Auburndale (1857) located nearby.  United Parish is one of the few remaining wooden Romanesque churches in the area and is noted as a Newton landmark as well as being on the National Historic Register.  The composer Horatio Parker was born in the house in 1863.  Parker, who wrote primarily church music, went on to be the Dean of the School Music at Yale where he taught Charles Ives.

“Many of the homes in our area date from the 1840’s to the early 1900’s,” Caroline says.  “Many in our neighborhood feel that we are only the temporary stewards of these houses. When a number of our neighbors realized that the character of the area was changing, a concerted effort was begun to protect the houses and their history by creating a local historic district.”  Caroline co-chaired the Historic District Committee for the Lasell Neighborhood Association, and, following state guidelines, she, with others, researched the history and styles of many homes in the area and then presented the findings to the City of Newton.  “Of course, politics were involved, so it took five years of work,” she says.  “But the Auburndale Local Historic District finally became law in 2005.”   Her interest in preservation has influenced her work and led her to move on to another office that focused on preservation projects.  In private practice, renovations and/or home additions are designed to be compatible with the original structures.

Caroline, was born in Cleveland and attended Western Reserve’s School of Architecture (now Case Western Reserve University).  She was one of only two women in her Freshman class of thirty plus classmates and was one of only twelve to graduate five years later—this during a time when only 1% of all licenses architects in the U.S. were women.

In the fall, Caroline and Larry will be sharing their love of architecture when they will serve as BOLLI SGLs.  Their five-week course will focus on learning to look at architecture.  “When we can, we enjoy traveling to see the art, the architecture, and the culture of other places,” she says.  “My favorite journeys, though, are the ones that take me to see my grandchildren in Ohio and DC.”

BOLL Matters editor and “Meet Our Members” feature writer, Sue Wurster

There’s nothing I like more than getting to know the people around me even better!  I hope you’ll leave a comment for Caroline in the box below.  It means a lot to each of our profiled members!  And I’d love to hear from you about you!