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.

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!

CELEBRATING ONE OF OUR OWN! ARTIST SUZANNE HODES

Congratulations to Suzanne on the publication of her book!

Suzanne says that “the memoir is about the ups and downs of the creative process, its challenges and joys, its successes and failures.  It also includes over 100 color images in color of my paintings, prints and drawings.”

Suzanne was the subject of one of our first BOLLI Matters member profiles.  Just type her name into the blog’s “search box” to bring it up so that you can read more about her and her work.  In addition, she has a beautiful website you can access in order to see many of her paintings.  Go to:  suzannehodes.com  (or just click on the picture above).

The book is available at Blurb.com (less expensive) and at Amazon.

Congratulations, Suzanne–from all of us at BOLLI!

MEET MEMBER ANDY THURNAUER–AND AMERICA’S FAVORITE PASTIME

ANDY THURNAUER–AND AMERICAN’S FAVORITE PASTIME

My dad knew nothing about baseball. He was born in Nürnberg, Germany where boys played soccer. Dad dropped out of high school during the Depression and came to America for work. Mom was also from Nürnberg, but she emigrated later, to escape Hitler. Coming from the same hometown and sharing some mutual friends, my folks met in New York City. They married, and after my dad returned from World War II, my sister and I were born.

As immigrants, my folks were grateful to the United States for giving them second chances in life, and they tried hard to be good Americans.  Even though German was their first language, they spoke English at home. Also, Dad tried to take an interest in America’s favorite pastime–baseball.

We lived in a suburb of New York City which, during the post-war era, was absolutely mad for baseball. So Dad took us to Yankee Stadium and to the Polo Grounds even though he didn’t understand what was happening on the field. He even bought a baseball glove so he could play catch with me. He was terrible at it, but he did it anyway.

My neighborhood was bursting with Baby Boomers who rooted passionately for the Dodgers, the Giants, or the Yankees.  The Yankees were my team, and Mickey Mantle was my hero. From around the age of six, my friends and I gathered in the local park and played ball every chance we could.

When I was ten, I joined Little League and, in a couple of years, was the starting shortstop for Cutler’s Pharmacy.  At thirteen, my friends and I switched to softball, and that became our passion. I played intramural softball through junior and senior high school as well as during my four years at Brandeis.  After graduating from college, I played in leagues for the next forty years–as an infielder and a pitcher. I played for the Harvard Coop in Cambridge and then for the Boston Children’s Museum.  But my main team was Silva Brothers Construction in the Reading Men’s Softball League.

Tom Silva, the contractor on “This Old House,” sponsored our team of Reading neighbors. For seventeen years, during my forties and fifties, I was the Silva Brothers’ third baseman. Sometimes we came in last place, sometimes in first, and usually, somewhere in between. But win or lose, we had a great time playing ball and hanging out together.

As I grew older, my knees got worse and worse. I could still get down to field a ground ball, but it became harder and harder to stand up again to make the throw to first base. Eventually, I stopped playing in a competitive league. I joined the ADD Inc team in the rather casual Boston Architectural B-League. I was the team’s pitcher, manager, and sports reporter until I hung up my cleats for good at age 60. I had entered the Teaneck Little League in 1958 and retired from the Architectural League in 2008, fifty years later.

I still get together with a few of my Silva Brother buddies on Sunday mornings. Sometimes it’s just for coffee. However, when the weather is good, we head down to the local park afterwards. We don’t play softball anymore, but when the nets are up, we stagger around the tennis court for an hour or two, playing a doubles match for what we call “the championship of the world.”

    *      *      *      *

BOLLI Member Andy Thurnauer

I spent most of my working career as a bookseller, for many years owning my own bookstore. After closing the store, I went to work as an archivist for an architecture firm. I retired from that job at the end of August, 2008. Two weeks later, I began taking classes at BOLLI. My first class was “Why Sing Plays?” led by Art Finstein which included a study of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” My daughter had once played “Little Red” in Sondheim’s musical, so for me, Art’s class was a perfect introduction to BOLLI.

At BOLLI, I’ve been on lots of committees and task forces and such. My favorite BOLLI activities (outside of taking classes and attending lectures) have included working on The Banner and participating in the Sages & Seekers program. 

SUBMIT YOUR WORK TO THE 2018 BOLLI JOURNAL!

THE BOLLI JOURNAL

2016 VOLUME

Click here or on  image above to view contents of the 2016 Volume

The BOLLI Journal, our bi-annual art and literary magazine, offers a glimpse into the creative lives of the many writers and visual artists in our midst.

At BOLLI, we have an opportunity to invent and reinvent ourselves through our scholarly and creative pursuits.  Our writing, photography, and art courses, as well as our less formal groups, encourage members to develop and refine their expressive spirits and skills. The BOLLI Journal provides a showcase for a variety of these efforts, illustrating who we are, how our history and imagination have shaped our identities, and how we craft our lives now.

The BOLLI Journal seeks original writing and visual art from all members.

SUBMISSION PROCESS

BOLLI members may submit up to FOUR pieces of writing and/or art work (total) for consideration for publication in the 2018 volume.

WHAT TO SEND

WRITING

Any BOLLI member may submit original unpublished fiction and/or nonfiction prose, poetry, or playwriting.  Please double space and number each page of your work, but do not write your name on your manuscript/s. Include a word count below the title of each piece being submitted.   (2000 word limit.)

VISUAL ART

Any BOLLI member may submit original unpublished, high resolution digital photography. Professionally photographed, high resolution images of original drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, and/or crafts may be submitted.

HOW TO SEND IT

Work should be submitted via email although hard copy may be left with Matt Medeiros for     scanning and sending via email.  (No particular computer program is preferred for either writing or photographs.)  The email subject line should read “Journal Submission,” and material should be provided as attachments. In the text of your email, provide your name, home address, telephone number, and return email address. Send to the editor at:   Bollijournal@gmail.com.

Your submission will be acknowledged within a week of its receipt. If you do not receive such acknowledgment, contact editor Maxine Weintraub:  maxinebernice@comcast.net.

WHAT  HAPPENS NEXT

All material will be reviewed as “blind” submissions by The Journal committee:  Editor Maxine Weintraub, Marjorie Arons-Barron, Beverly Bernson, Betsy Campbell, Jane Kays, Joan Kleinman, Marjorie Roemer, Larry Schwirian, and Sue Wurster.  Other selected  jurors are also part of the process.  While suggestions might be made for improvement and resubmission of material, submissions will not be edited without permission.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS:  JUNE 17, 2017

2014 VOLUME

Click here or on image above to view contents of 2014 Volume

 

MEET MEMBER MARTHA BERARDINO: STITCHING IN TIME

MARTHA BERARDINO:  STITCHING IN TIME

In June of 2014, Martha saw an advertisement for BOLLI’s “Scholar for a Day” in the Newton Tab.  Having recently retired, she was intrigued with the idea of taking classes and signed up for the program.  When she arrived, she found herself in a current events class that she did not think she would enjoy, “but I was so impressed with the SGL who gave us a map and spoke so knowledgeably about ISIS that I even talked during the session.”  She says the Lunch & Learn program that day was also excellent, and, consequently, she signed up for the 2014 fall term.

“Since then, I have enjoyed all the classes I have taken–with only one exception.  And since I have taken 17 courses so far, that strikes me as a great ‘batting’ average. I enjoy listening to the SGLs and my fellow classmates—everyone has so much to offer on the many subjects.  I have been especially impressed with the great selection of speakers at Lunch & Learn, and I also love the seminars during the winter and summer terms.”

In addition to her course load at BOLLI, Martha has become a “part-time” member of the Photo Club, attending some of the group’s meetings as well as their outings which she has found particularly fun to do.  She has also been taking part in the Book Group.  “The books chosen have broadened my reading selections, and the discussions are very interesting,” she says.

One of Martha’s interests outside BOLLI is doing cross-stitch samplers, a tradition in which, for centuries, stitchers have created pieces to demonstrate their skills and commemorate significant events.  “In 1976, I wanted to make something for my first child,” she says.  “I first tried crewel and then needlepoint but then realized that I liked counted cross-stitch the best.  It takes concentration, but I also find it relaxing.”  She has enjoyed making birth samplers for the babies in her life which she says some receive shortly after birth while others come along later.  “I just recently finished a birth sampler for my great niece who lives in Pennsylvania—she’ll be four in April!  And now, I am working on one for my honorary great-niece who arrived twelve days early on March 5th.”

Martha majored in chemistry in college, and after she graduated as an analytical chemist, she worked in three different arenas.  After two years in the chemistry lab at Mass General, she spent eighteen years in a Boston City Hospital research lab which then moved to Beth Israel Hospital.  Her last job was a twenty-two year stint at Biogen, the well-known biotech company.  “Working in biotech is fascinating and very rewarding,” she says. With a note of pride, she adds that “during my time at Biogen, we had seven drugs approved by the FDA.”

Martha is married to Bob, a retired high school guidance director, and the couple have two children.  Son Michael is working on his Ph.D. in public policy at UMass Boston where he concentrates on English language learners.  Daughter Jennifer, who works as a corporate recruiter, is married to Watertown Chef Mike Fucci who was recently the winner on an episode of Cuttroat Kitchen on the Food Network!

Apparently, Martha Berardino’s friends have dubbed her their “Culture Meister” because of her talent for organizing trips to drama, dance, and music performances.  At the moment, she recommends the play Topdog/Underdog at the Huntington Theatre, the Matisse exhibit at the MFA, and Charlotte’s Web at Wheelock Family Theatre.  “Right now, I am planning a five-day trip to the Berkshires in July which will include performances at Tanglewood, Williamstown Theatre, and Jacob’s Pillow as well as art museums and, of course, good eating at area restaurants.”

Martha certainly samples it all!

 

 

 

 

 

WOMEN WARRIORS by Liz David

WOMEN WARRIORS

by Liz David

The soil of the feminine soul runs rich and deep,

Watered by undercurrents invisible to those dwelling only on the surface,

Women who face the challenge of the softening of their soul soil,

Who allow themselves to become vulnerable,

Who invite the surface streams down into their depths,

Who expose their roots to the fructifying moisture from above              and below.

They are the warriors of today – the catalysts of transformation.

They risk death of psyche, body, and soul

in order to experience fully the transforming powers present

in the domains of their deepest fears.

They emerge as does the phoenix —

Motivated, activated, determined to find the courage to create their lives,

To choose to live as individuals committed to self-awareness,

Self-centered women, centered in themselves,

Committed to voicing and acting upon their ideals in the world–

A world that does not ask for change, to be turned inside out,

A world that silently and loudly cries for nurturance, for                              sustenance,

A world that cries for those beings with the strength of heart                 and the will

to carry out the tasks of transformation.

They are the Women Warriors.

MEET MEMBER MARTY KAFKA (and All That Jazz)

MEET MEMBER MARTY KAFKA (and All That Jazz)

BOLLI Member and contemporary jazz pianist Marty Kafka “at play”

Last spring, Marty Kafka took a five-week “trial membership” course at BOLLI, found it to be very interesting, liked the people in the class, and decided to dive right into a full membership this past September.  “I feel like I’m back in college,” he says, “but without the grades.”

Marty appreciates BOLLI’s community spirit of cooperative learning and says he is benefitting from the broad knowledge base of our members.  “We help each other, and I am developing friendships associated with the courses and activities.”

An amateur digital photographer, Marty soon joined the Photo Club, particularly enjoying the group’s trips to the de Cordova Museum and Walden Pond.  He’s also taken part in as many current events sessions as he’s been able to attend.

Prior to his retirement a year ago, Marty worked as a psychiatrist and still supervises psychiatric residents.  As a clinician-researcher for over thirty years, he developed a specialty interest in sexual behavior disorders.  He was awarded a Distinguished Life Fellowship by the American Psychiatric Association and was selected to collaborate on the revision and publication of the 5th Edition of the APA Diagnostic Manual.

While Marty enjoys a variety of interests, he is passionate about jazz piano and loves playing contemporary jazz.   He says, as he was growing up, there was always music in his family.

“My father played the piano, the trumpet, the violin, and the ukulele. Before and after WWII (and before I was born), he spent summers as a small band leader, playing at various Catskill Mountain resorts.  That, in fact, was how he met my mother.  So, when I was six, Dad encouraged me to try the piano.  I took to it naturally.  He would accompany me on the violin for simple classical pieces and on the trumpet for popular music.  Mom was our appreciative audience.  When my younger brother Ken started playing the accordion and then the guitar, we were a trio—with our own built-in audience.

“I think I gravitated away from classical music toward jazz when I started listening to the music of Ray Charles during my teenage years.  Listening to Charles as well as Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, I learned the blues scales and chords and gradually evolved my own style.  My favorite contemporary jazz pianists were all classically trained—Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Stefano Bollani, and Gonzalo Rubalcava.

“For, me, music is meditative.  That is one of the great things about improvisational music—your mind must remain in the moment and cannot wander.  You try to hear something in your mind and then play what you hear.  It’s a lifelong challenge to improve what you create internally and then work to be able to produce it accurately.”

Last summer, Marty played in a quintet that performed at an outdoor festival in Salem, but he says that his favorite place to play is in his living room.  Currently, he enjoys playing at home with a saxophonist and a bass player–and he’d love to hear from BOLLI members who might also be interested in playing contemporary jazz!”

Finally, Marty says that “I have been blessed with my wonderful wife of 32 years, Karen, as well as two loving ‘children’ who are now both accomplished young adults. Although I am not a religious person, I am deeply grateful, every day, for having led such a fortunate life.”

To hear some of Marty’s music, here are audio cuts with the saxophone player.  Just click on the little triangle on the left end of the bar to enjoy the music!

And, PLEASE–be sure to register your “applause” in the box below!

BOLL Matters editor Sue Wurster

There’s nothing I love more than talking to people and finding out about their interests, ideas, backgrounds, families, plans, and more which makes it such a complete pleasure to focus on “Meeting Our Members” here on our BOLLI Matters blog.  Be sure to send your ideas to:  susanlwurster@gmail. com

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Writing Inspiration: Try Creative Nonfiction!

So, what is Creative Nonfiction?  The simplest, clearest, and probably most “apt” answer is this:  true stories, well told.     Recently, Steve Goldfinger shared a piece about Henry and Claire Booth Luce, and now, Lydia Bogar provides her thoughts about her local childhood library and the woman for whom it was renamed.

A FAVORITE HAUNT AND THE OLD LADY IN THE PAINTING

by Lydia Bogar

The Greendale Branch, Worcester Public Library

Even as her vision failed, my maternal grandmother always had her Bible, The Morning Telegram, or The Evening Gazette) in hand.  As she grew older and needed both a magnifying glass and a bright lamp to help her, she continued to read, every day, until her death at the age of 94.  She passed her love of reading on to me, and it wasn’t long before the library became a favorite haunt.

The Greendale Branch of the Worcester Public Library was built in 1913 with a grant from Andrew Carnegie.  The children’s section of the library was on the left, divided from the adult books by an enormous, heavy, oak desk where you showed your card to the librarian and were then able to borrow books to read at home.

I started with the Little Golden books and got hooked.  Years later, I decided to turn a sharp right inside the front door and, over the course of that summer, read everything in the fiction section.  That was when I met Mary, Queen of Scots and Ernest Hemingway.  Eventually, I would drive my mother’s car there to “study” with friends.   In my family, women passed on not only our love of reading but books as well. I have been hooked on mysteries since an elderly aunt left me her collection of Perry Mason paperbacks in 1968.  My mother helped me to grow by passing on The Power of Positive Thinking, Silent Spring, and The Quiet American.

In the library, there was an enormous marble fireplace along the back wall.  A portrait of Frances Perkins, for whom the library was renamed in 1944, rested above it.  When I was a child, I had no idea who Frances Perkins was.  To me, she was just an old lady in an old painting.

Frances Perkins

Eventually, though, I learned just who this remarkable woman was.  Born and educated in Worcester, she started learning Greek from her father as a child, took classes in physics and chemistry at Mount Holyoke College as a young woman, and worked with poor, undereducated women in Illinois as an adult.  After her graduation, Frances devoted herself to mentoring working women, black and white, especially those in factories who were trying to support their families on miniscule paychecks.  She later earned a Masters Degree at Columbia University, writing her thesis on malnutrition among public school children. It is difficult to imagine how many glass ceilings she shattered just in her own educational efforts.

In 1911, when Perkins was in New York, she witnessed dozens of factory workers leap to their deaths in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire—a turning point in her life.  From that point on, she dedicated her life to seeing labor conditions improve for workers.  She worked with a legislative committee after the disaster and became a consultant to Governor Al Smith.  Eventually, her lobbying efforts caught the attention of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who appointed her to serve as his Secretary of Labor, the first woman to serve in a U.S. Government Cabinet position.  Serving in that position for over 12 years, she championed such causes as the Civilian Conservation Corps, Federal Emergency Relief, Fair Labor Standards, and Social Security.

Years before Rosa Parks or Gloria Steinem made their marks on our culture, Frances Perkins said:

                                  “I promise to use what brains I have                                         to meet problems with intelligence and courage.”

Quite a resume for a woman from Worcester whose portrait still inspires young visitors to the Greendale Branch of the Worcester Public Library.

 

Frequent BOLLI blogger, Lydia Bogar

Lydia has become a frequent BOLLI Matters contributor, even creating her own monthly feature, “Lines from Lydia.”

 

 

THE BOLLI JOURNAL: Need Inspiration? An Idea? Some Confidence? Consider This…

HOW ABOUT  HISTORICAL FICTION?

                    An Interview with Larry Schwirian by Sue Wurster                     (and Larry’s short selection, OH, WHAT A PARTY!)

Recently, Journal committee member Larry Schwirian provided the participants in our BOLLI Writers Guild with a piece of historical fiction that he had written in response to the prompt, “The Best Party EVER.”  We thoroughly enjoyed the piece and spent some time talking about this fact that this has been a somewhat under-represented genre in our BOLLI Journal.

SUE:  So, Larry, have you written a lot of historical fiction?

LARRY:  No, but I do read a great deal of historical fiction.  For me, it’s a much more enjoyable way of learning about the past than just reading textbook history.

SUE:  What sparked your imagination and led you to do this particular piece?

LARRY:  Well, the prompt for the week was about a great party, so I googled “Great Parties in History” and discovered that the Great London Beer Flood took place toward the end of the War of 1812.  I thought about what it might be like to be almost drowned in beer and created a character to get swept up in it.  Then, I wanted to related it, somehow, to the war.

SUE:  Has writing always been an interest?  Have you been published or thought about submitting your work for publication?

LARRY:  I have attempted to write poetry, on and off again, over the past 25 years  My first attempt was a poem I wrote for my father’s 80th birthday.  I have also tried, on a couple of occasions, to write children’s stories using alliteration (with a preponderance of “P” words), but I’ve never tried to get anything published because I never thought anything I wrote was worthy of publication.

SUE:  Do you have a favorite form or genre?

LARRY:  I am somewhat of a history buff and have read the biographies of many of the founding fathers.  I also enjoy architectural history and have been involved on a local level with historical preservation.

SUE:  You’ve been active in the Writers Guild and have taken some BOLLI writing courses as well, haven’t you?  How have they helped you with your writing?

LARRY:  The discipline of writing every week is certainly helpful to making improvements.  Also, the critiques from others in the Writers Guild have taught me to be a more vigorous editor of my own writing  I also thought that, as someone who has tried to trace my ancestry,  it would be a great idea to improve my writing skills so that, someday, one of my descendants might know not just my name but also something about how I thought.   Plus, meeting every week with the same small group of people and listening to their stories or their poetry is a great way to get to know people and make new friends.

SUE:  And that led you to joining the Journal committee?

LARRY:  Maxine asked me if I was interested, so I thought about it for a while and then accepted.  I didn’t know I was going to be the only male!

Here’s Larry’s story…

OH WHAT A PARTY

It looked like it was going to be another bright sunny day on the morning of Monday October 17, 1814 on Tottenham Court Road in the parish of St. Giles in London. Alfie Appleton, a young working class laborer, was just starting his trek to the docks for another physically arduous day loading munitions onto warships headed for America; those uppity colonials ought to know better than to start a war with the heralded British Navy. To some extent his sympathies were with the Americans as they were decided underdogs in this war and had legitimate grievances with the arrogance and imperiousness of the British Crown and Parliament. Alfie had his own issues with the British aristocracy and propertied class as those of his social standing had virtually no say in the proceedings of the British government and were generally considered with contempt and loathing by those higher in social class.

It was a time when London’s population was growing rapidly due to the beginnings of the industrial revolution and men-of-means were investing heavily in new business opportunities. Industrial processes had led to a rapid rise in beer production and one new “Beer Baron” by the name of Sir Henry Meux had recently completed a large new brewing vat that was 60 feet in diameter and 20 feet tall. This vat, like smaller ones nearby, was constructed much like large wooden beer barrels with steel hoops to keep it from collapsing.  Upon completion Henry invited 200 guests to dine with him inside the vat and subsequently had it filled with porter liquor.

Except for the sunny skies it was a day much like any other workday. Alfie would labor six days a week from sunup to sundown on the docks with only minimal time for lunch or “loo” breaks. Suddenly, and without warning, he was knocked off his feet by a surging wave of colorful liquid. It caught him completely by surprise as he found himself with many others swept haphazardly toward buildings and other fixed objects. After what seemed like hours but was probably only a few minutes he was able to right himself in this growing pond of what he now realized was actually “beer.” After the initial shock wore off he decided, with others around him, to take advantage of this wondrous opportunity to partake of “free alcohol.” Soon, other blokes and even women folk were pouring out of adjacent buildings to enjoy this “gift from heaven.” As other nearby parishes learned of this blessed event even more people poured into the area. By the time the liquid had nearly dissipated the entire parish was intoxicated.

In the end the equivalent of over 100,200 kegs of beer (1,470,000 liters) were released with the collapse of the new vat as well as several of the nearby smaller vats. At least seven people were drowned (ah but what better way to go) and many rescue attempts to help the injured were thwarted by the chaos created by thousands of people swarming to the area. When the injured did manage to make it to the hospital “reeking of beer” hospital employees and even patients fled to join the melee. The reason this event wasn’t recorded in the annals of history as a “disaster” is because a British court ruled that the beer flood was an “act of God.” Alfie, however, preferred to believe that the incident was an act of sabotage by an American spy and that the American victory at New Orleans, by Andrew Jackson, in January of 1815 was, at least in part, due to the British fleet being delayed by THE GREAT LONDON BEER FLOOD. 

Larry Schwirian

Note:   While “The Great London Beer Flood” was a real event, it had nothing to do with the delaying of the British Fleet on its way to New Orleans. Alfie is, of course, a fictional character but the rest of the story is true…at least according to Wikopedia. A little more than a century later, in January of 1915, Boston suffered “The Great Molasses Flood” in the North End. This time the vat was 90 feet in diameter and 50 feet high, and twenty-one people died. The incident was declared a “disaster” and in a class-action lawsuit against the subsequent owner of The Purity Distilling Company, more than $600,000 in damages were awarded.  

 

MEET MEMBER STEVE GOLDFINGER: BEST FRIENDS FOR LIFE

MEET MEMBER STEVE GOLDFINGER:  BEST FRIENDS FOR LIFE
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Steve Goldfinger enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a doctor and professor of medicine at MGH and Harvard Medical School.  His wife, a modern dancer and educational administrator, died ten years ago.  His four sons inherited both of their parents’ genes and have varied careers–Hollywood script writer, radiologist, psychotherapist, and business executive–coupled with creative musical talents they display in their respective bands and bluegrass group.  He has nine grandchildren.   In addition to writing, Steve’s interests include classical music and theatre.  He was also an ardent golfer “before skill deserted me.”
 
Steve joined BOLLI in 2016 and says that he has found it to be “a huge resource in my retirement which has fulfilled my desire to return to the humanities in my later years.”  The fine and varied program has also brought new friends.
As a member of  the Writers Guild,  Steve has treated the group to everything from poetry to memoir, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. This piece, an example of the latter, was written in response to the prompt:  “Best Friends Forever.” 

BEST FRIENDS FOR LIFE

by Steve Goldfinger

He was born in China in 1898, the son of Presbyterian missionary parents.  He died 69 years later, leaving behind an estate worth a hundred million dollars.  Along the way, he was voted the most brilliant member of his Yale graduating class.  An ardent anti-communist, he urged Kennedy to attack Cuba, even saying to him, “If you don’t, I’ll be like Hearst,” meaning he’d use his magazines to push him to it.  He was a strong proponent (and rare user) of LSD.  His physical awkwardness, lack of humor, and discomfort with any conversation that was not strictly factual was starkly at odds with his glamorous wife’s social poise, wit, and fertile imagination.

Henry Luce embarked on a career in journalism, and before he bought Life magazine in 1936, he and a partner had already taken on both Time and Fortune.  His yen to own Life was based purely on its name and how well it would couple with that of Time.  His wife Clare saw a grand opportunity to found an entirely new media genre: photojournalism.  Before they purchased it, Life magazine had been a declining vehicle for the kid of light-hearted, sophisticated, clean humor that it’s readers had outgrown.  Under the Luces, its new mission statement opened with “To see life, to see the world…”  How it succeeded!

Within four months, Life’s circulation rose from 380,000 to over a million, and it eventually exceeded eight million.  It became the most popular magazine of its time.  Renowned photographers captured riveting images for the eyes of the nation: the D-Day landings, aerial views of the remains of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, faces of the Nazis at the Nuremberg tribunal, and, most famous of all, the iconic kiss the sailor planted on that nurse in Times Square to celebrate the end of World War II.  And as more print invaded the magazine in the form of essays and memoirs, viewers became readers.  Life’s continued popularity brought great acclaim and great profits for more than three decades before it began its gradual fade in the 1970s.  Issues became less frequent and staggered to total cessation in 2000.  Rising costs were one reason.  Television was undoubtedly another.

In contrast to Henry’s somewhat colorless persona, Clare Boothe Luce led a stunning public life.  She was an early feminist, an actress, a successful  playwright, and then a war reporter, journalist, politician, congresswoman, and ambassador.  Attending opening night of one of her plays were Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann.  Among the quips attributed to her are, “No good deed goes unpunished” and “Widowhood is a fringe benefit of marriage.”  While ambassador to Italy, she was poisoned with arsenic.  Initially suspected to be Russian espionage retaliation for her outspoken anti-communism, the cause was eventually found to be arsenate in the paint flaking off her bedroom ceiling.  “Broadway’s New Faces, 1952” famously portrayed her illness at Toothloose in Rome.  Clare Boothe Luce died in 1987.  By the end of her life, she had become a fervent supporter of Barry Goldwater and a Nixon appointee to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Arguably the most influential and envied power couple of their time, Henry and Clare Boothe Luce made numerous friends for life.  They were also the best friends for  ,