The Chautauqua Institution
is a non-profit education center and summer resort for adults & youth located on 750 acres in Chautauqua, New York, 17 miles northwest of Jamestown in the southwestern part of New York State. The following is excerpt from a report by Anne Sinnott Moore about the mini- reunion held there July 14-10, 2018
Nine Class members (Jane Kentnor Dean, Cecily Parke Sesler, Cynthia Stephens, Ethel Larrabee, Maya McGrath Pearcy, Ellie Zurn Hutt, Mike Reese Horn, Maggie Daniel Russell, Anne Sinnott Moore)** two husbands and a friend met in upstate New York on Chautauqua Lake with a few members of the class of 1955 for a memorable mini reunion. They have high hopes that this will be the “first of many!”
Most stayed at the Athenaeum, an historic Victorian hotel, with a large wrap around porch complete with rocking chairs, surrounded by magnificent scenery and expansive gardens. Nearby, the village square offered a plethora of small specialty shops, restaurants and daily entertainment. Swimming and kayaking were available at lakeside…along with lovely walks.
The daily morning ecumenical was led by Fr. Greg Boyle S.J, guest chaplain and founder of Homeboy Industries in LA, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. We all wept or cried as he described experiences with his “Homeys.”
The week’s theme was “Russia and the West, ” with an extensive course offering of lectures and “small courses” on this topic each morning in a huge covered amphitheater, and each mid afternoon in the Hall of Philosophy. Lecturers were of the highest qualifications such as: Professors from Georgetown University (Russia and Its Soul), The New School, the Brookings Institute; authors Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow), Victoria Lomasko, and Marcia Gessen (The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia); Rabbi Burton L. Vosotzky; Senator Chris Coons; Wm. Burns, Pres. of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Discussion groups, seminars and informal gatherings on the main or related topics were held at additional areas around the campus throughout the day. Purchase of a “Gate Pass” covered admission to all main and many smaller events, including evening programs.
Evenings were heavily scheduled, with outstanding entertainment in the newly refurbished Amphitheater. “Opera Highlights” was provided by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and the Chautauqua Opera Young Artists. Together with the Music School Festival Orchestra, the latter provided a magnificent performance of the “Leningrad” Symphony by Shostakovich.
The celebrated modern dance company, Pilobolus, treated us to two stunning evening performances and one informal daytime session for children in the village square, and “Straight No Chaser,” a talented men’s a cappella group, sang to a standing-room only crowd one evening.
But this was more than a purely intellectual experience. Jane Kentnor Dean, our organizer and “shepherdess-in chief” arranged a wine and cheese opening reception, a party at the local cottage of one of the week’s presenters (Cryptic Crosswords), and a get–together with the ’55 attendees. While there were numerous opportunities to go out and about on our own, we ‘56 ers tended to spend most of our time together, enjoying re-acquaintance and comparing notes about our various course choices.
Those who attended agreed that the week was an outstanding intellectual experience as well as a great opportunity to re-connect with classmates and friends from the class of ’55. Maya and Anne are planning our participation for next summer and will be sending information to classmates throughout the fall and winter, including travel suggestions. It will be held on Week 8 of the Chautauqua season, Aug. 10-16, 2019, with the theme of “Shifting Global Power.” Mark your calendar NOW! We cannot predict what the coming year will bring in regard to shifting global power, but we hope the prospect of a ’56 mini and this fascinating topic will bring as many of you as possible to Chautauqua.
** see photos in Photo album of Mini Reunions