June 27, 7 pm: Michael Tougias, combo program: “The Finest Hours” and “So Close to Home”

michael-tougiasNY Times bestselling Author Michael Tougias will appear at the Falmouth Museums on the Green on Tuesday, June 27 at 7 pm. . He will give a two part multi-media presentation.  The first part covers his new book So Close To Home: A True Story of an American Family’s Fight for Survival During WWII.  The second part of the program features his bestseller The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue.  The Disney Corporation has made a movie based on the book, starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck.  The program is suitable for all ages.

michael-tougias-2 For The Finest Hours, Tougias will use slides of the storm, the sinking oil tankers, the rescues, the victims, the survivors and the heroes to tell the story of this historic event which took place in February of 1952.  He will describe the harrowing attempts to rescue the seamen, especially focusing on four young Coast Guardsmen who must overcome insurmountable odds to save the lives of 32 crewmen stranded aboard the stern of the Pendleton. Standing between the men and their mission were towering waves that reached 70 feet, blinding snow, and one of the most dangerous shoals in the world, the dreaded Chatham Bar. The waters along the outer arm of Cape Cod are called “the graveyard of the Atlantic” for good reason, yet this rescue defies all odds.

Tougias says, “This event was–and still is– the greatest and most daring sea rescue ever performed by the Coast Guard, and it happened right here off the New England coast.  I felt this episode of heroism and tragedy needed to be told in its entirety because it’s an important piece of overlooked history.

   For So Close To Home, Tougias will also tell the story through a series of slides.  Thismichael-tougias-1 event happened in the Gulf of Mexico in 1942 when a Uboat sank a ship carrying the Downs family.  Tougias describes the family’s incredible fight for survival adrift at sea, but also includes the story of the daring Uboat commander who patrolled the Gulf, even going into the mouth of the Mississippi River. A book signing will follow the program.

            “I enjoy doing these programs,” says Tougias, “because I like to transport the audience into the heart of the storm so that they ask themselves ‘what would I have done.’  I don’t like to do author readings because I think they are boring, but with a slide presentation, the viewer can visually relive the adventure.”

Michael Tougias is the author and coauthor of 24 books including Fatal Forecast: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster and Survival at Sea, which the Los Angeles Times called “breathtaking…a marvelous and terrifying tale.” Tougias’ previous book Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do During the Blizzard of ‘78 received an Editor’s Choice Selection from the American Library Association which selected it as one of the top books of the year.

Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod logoOur June lectures are sponsored by the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod

June 29, 7 pm: Terry Ann Knopf, “The Golden Age of Boston Television”

Golden Age of Boston TelevisionThere are some two hundred TV markets in the country, but only one—Boston, Massachusetts—hosted a Golden Age of local programming. In this lively insider account, Terry Ann Knopf chronicles the development of Boston television, from its origins in the 1970s through its decline in the early 1990s. During TV’s heyday, not only was Boston the nation’s leader in locally produced news, programming, and public affairs, but it also became a model for other local stations around the country. It was a time of award-winning local newscasts, spirited talk shows, thought-provoking specials and documentaries, ambitious public service campaigns, and even originally produced TV films featuring Hollywood stars. Knopf also shows how this programming highlighted aspects of Boston’s own history over two turbulent decades, including the treatment of highly charged issues of race, sex, and gender—and the stations’ failure to challenge the Roman Catholic Church during its infamous sexual abuse scandal.

Laced with personal insights and anecdotes, The Golden Age of Boston Television offers an intimate look at how Boston’s television stations refracted the city’s culture in unique ways, while at the same time setting national standards for television creativity and excellence.

Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod logoOur June lectures are sponsored by the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod

July 7, 2 pm: Gioia Dimock, “Whaling in Massachusetts”

Massachusetts’ Whaling History in Vintage Photographs
whaling in massachusetts
The popular novel Moby-Dick first spurred young and old alike to romanticize the whaling industry. Author Herman Melville wrote his story based on the exploits of the Essex whaleship, and he documented his travels aboard the Acushnet, which departed from a Massachusetts whaling port. In the early 1700s, Massachusetts residents caught whales from the shore before embarking on offshore voyages for several weeks. Later, these trips would extend over many years, bringing home an average of 1,500 barrels of whale oil and thousands of pounds of whalebone in the 1800s. New Bedford and Nantucket were the founding towns for the whaling industry, but little known are the other Massachusetts towns that sent out whalers, built the ships, and outfitted them. Essex, Mattapoisett, and Falmouth were shipbuilding communities; Fairhaven began as a whaling town but quickly took to outfitting whalers; Gloucester made the yellow slickers that were rubbed with sperm whale oil to waterproof them; and Provincetown and Boston were among the many ports that sent out whaling ships.

Our July lectures sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank

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July 12, 7 pm: Paul Staiti, “Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution Through Painters’ Eyes”

of-arms-and-artistsThe images accompanying the founding of the United States–of honored Founders, dramatic battle scenes, and seminal moments–gave visual shape to Revolutionary events and symbolized an entirely new concept of leadership and government. Since then they have endured as indispensable icons, serving as historical documents and timeless reminders of the nation’s unprecedented beginnings.

As Paul Staiti reveals in Of Arms and Artists, the lives of the five great American artists of the Revolutionary period–Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Benjamin West, and Gilbert Stuart–were every bit as eventful as those of the Founders with whom they continually interacted, and their works contributed mightily to America’s founding spirit. Living in a time of breathtaking change, each in his own way came to grips with the history being made by turning to brushes and canvases, the results often eliciting awe and praise, and sometimes scorn. Ever since the passing of the last eyewitnesses to the Revolution, their imagery has connected Americans to 1776, allowing us to interpret and reinterpret the nation’s beginning generation after generation. The collective stories of these five artists open a fresh window on the Revolutionary era, making more human the figures we have long honored as our Founders, and deepening our understanding of the whirlwind out of which the United States emerged.

Our July lectures sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank

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August 9, 4:00 pm: Martha Hall Kelly, “Lilac Girls”

kell_9781101883075_are_all_r1.inddNew York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

Our August lectures are sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank

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August 12, 2 pm: Melinda Ponder, “Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea”

Melinda PonderOn August 12, the birthday of Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929), poet of “America the Beautiful,” biographer Melinda M. Ponder will talk about her new book, Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea.

 It tells the story of this brilliant trail-blazing woman—poet, teacher, community builder, and patriot—who challenged Americans to make their country the best it could become in its values and literature.

Drawing on extensive research in Bates family diaries, letters, and memoirs, this biography brings Katharine to life in her journeys from her childhood in Falmouth, where she felt she had been “rock’d in a clamshell,” to Wellesley College, Boston, Oxford, Spain and Egypt. Although her passion was poetry, Katharine’s three alluring suitors (two men and a woman) pulled her into major reform movements in a changing America. She was a dynamic woman with public triumphs, an anti-war activist poet during America’s tumultuous growth into a world power, who suffered personal heartaches as a single woman faced with choosing between marriage and a career. She refused to let an impoverished childhood in a Cape Cod village or the closed doors of the male-only bastions of the ministry, graduate schools, or the Yankee literary establishment prevent her from creating an inspiring life. This book is for those who love her song and those who root for the unlikely triumph of a complicated women “from sea to shining sea.”

Our August lectures sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank

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August 16, 7 pm: Peter Cozzens, “The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West”

earth-is-weepingWith the end of the Civil War, the nation recommenced its expansion onto traditional Indian tribal lands, setting off a wide-ranging conflict that would last more than three decades. In an exploration of the wars and negotiations that destroyed tribal ways of life even as they made possible the emergence of the modern United States, Peter Cozzens gives us both sides in comprehensive and singularly intimate detail. He illuminates the encroachment experienced by the tribes and the tribal conflicts over whether to fight or make peace, and explores the squalid lives of soldiers posted to the frontier and the ethical quandaries faced by generals who often sympathized with their native enemies.

Our August lectures sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank

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September 6, 7 pm: Leigh Montville, “Sting Like a Bee: Muhammad Ali vs. the United States of America, 1966-1971

Leigh MontvilleWith the death of Muhammad Ali in June, 2016, the media and America in general have remembered a hero, a heavyweight champion, an Olympic gold medalist, an icon, and a man who represents the sheer greatness of America. New York Times bestselling author Leigh Montville goes deeper, with a fascinating chronicle of a story that has been largely untold. Muhammad Ali, in the late 1960s, was young, successful, brash, and hugely admired—but with some reservations. He was bombastic and cocky in a way that captured the imagination of America, but also drew its detractors. He was a bold young African American in an era when few people were as outspoken. He renounced his name—Cassius Clay—as being his ‘slave name,’ and joined the Nation of Islam, renaming himself Muhammad Ali. And finally in 1966, after being drafted, he refused to join the military for religious and conscientious reasons, triggering a fight that was larger than any of his bouts in the ring. What followed was a period of legal battles, of cultural obsession, and in some ways of being the very embodiment of the civil rights movement located in the heart of one man. Muhammad Ali was the tip of the arrow, and Leigh Montville brilliantly assembles all the boxing, the charisma, the cultural and political shifting tides, and ultimately the enormous waft of entertainment that always surrounded Ali. Muhammed Ali vs. the United States of America is an important and incredibly engaging book.

Our September lectures are sponsored by Cape Cod Five Savings

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September 12, 7 pm: William M. Fowler, Jr. , “Steam Titans”

Steam Titans tells the story of a transatlantic fight between 1815 and the American Civil War to wrest control of the globe’s most lucrative trade route. Two shipping magnates—Samuel Cunard and Edward Knight Collins—and two nations wielded the tools of technology, finance, and politics to compete for control of a commercial lifeline that spanned the North Atlantic. The world watched carefully to see which would win. Each competitor sent to sea the fastest, biggest, and most elegant ships in the world, hoping to earn the distinction of being known as “the only way to cross.”

Historian William M. Fowler brings to life the spectacle of this generation-long struggle for supremacy, during which New York rose to take her place among the greatest ports and cities of the world, and recounts the tale of a competition that was the opening act in the drama of economic globalization, still unfolding today.

Sept. 13, 7 pm: Michael McNaught: “Britain’s Calvary: The Battle of the Somme, 1916”

The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was one of the largest battles of the First World War. Fought between July 1 and November 1, 1916 near the Somme River in France, it was also one of the bloodiest military battles in history. On the first day alone, the British suffered more than 57,000 casualties, and by the end of the campaign the Allies and Central Powers would lose more than 1.5 million men.

Battle-of-the-SommeThe Somme campaign in 1916 was the first great offensive of World War I for the British, and it produced a more critical British attitude toward the war. During and after the Somme, the British army started a real improvement in tactics. Also, the French attacked at the Somme and achieved greater advances on July 1 than the British did, with far fewer casualties. But it is the losses that are most remembered. The first day of the Somme offensive, July 1, 1916, resulted in 57,470 British casualties, greater than the total combined British casualties in the Crimean, Boer, and Korean wars. In contrast, the French, with fewer divisions, suffered only around 2,000 casualties. By the time the offensive ended in November, the British had suffered around 420,000 casualties, and the French about 200,000. German casualty numbers are controversial, but may be about 465,000.

Our September lectures are sponsored by Cape Cod Five Savings

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Wednesday, Sept. 20, 7 pm: Glenn Frankel, “High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of An American Classic”

High NoonIt’s one of the most revered movies of Hollywood’s golden era. Starring screen legend Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in her first significant film role, High Noon was shot on a lean budget over just thirty-two days but achieved instant box-office and critical success. It won four Academy Awards in 1953, including a best actor win for Cooper. And it became a cultural touchstone, often cited by politicians as a favorite film, celebrating moral fortitude.

Yet what has been often overlooked is that High Noon was made during the height of the Hollywood blacklist, a time of political inquisition and personal betrayal. In the middle of the film shoot, screenwriter Carl Foreman was forced to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his former membership in the Communist Party. Refusing to name names, he was eventually blacklisted and fled the United States. (His co-authored screenplay for another classic, The Bridge on the River Kwai, went uncredited in 1957.) Examined in light of Foreman’s testimony, High Noon‘s emphasis on courage and loyalty takes on deeper meaning and importance.

In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel tells the story of the making of a great American Western, exploring how Carl Foreman’s concept of High Noon evolved from idea to first draft to final script, taking on allegorical weight. Both the classic film and its turbulent political times emerge newly illuminated

Our September lectures are sponsored by Cape Cod Five

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Thursday, September 28, 7 pm: Fred Morin & John Galluzzo, “A History of Massachusetts Aviation”

Explore the Bay State’s Aviation History

mass-aviationShortly after the Wright brothers took to the air, aviation fever gripped Massachusetts. The biggest names in the industry, including Wilbur Wright, Glenn Curtiss, and Claude Graham-White, among others, flew in for the first major air shows, further exciting the people of the Bay State about the potential of manned flight in the realms of military tactics, the expansion of commerce, and even personal transportation. By the 1920s, Massachusetts had become home to the first Naval Air Reserve Base, in Quincy; one of the first Coast Guard Air Stations, in Gloucester; and the Boston Airfield, which would become the largest international airport in New England. Within a few decades, individuals like Edward Lawrence Logan, Frank Otis, Oscar Westover, and Laurence G. Hanscomb would permanently leave their names on the Massachusetts landscape in connection with the airports and airfields still used today.

Our September lectures are sponsored by Cape Cod Five Savings 

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October 5, 7 pm: William J. Mann, “The War of the Roosevelts: The Ruthless Rise of America’s Greatest Political Family”

war-of-the-rooseveltsThe award-winning author presents a provocative, thoroughly modern revisionist biographical history of one of America’s greatest and most influential families—the Roosevelts—exposing heretofore unknown family secrets and detailing complex family rivalries with his signature cinematic flair.

Drawing on previously hidden historical documents and interviews with the long-silent “illegitimate” branch of the family, William J. Mann paints an elegant, meticulously researched, and groundbreaking group portrait of this legendary family. Mann argues that the Roosevelts’ rise to power and prestige was actually driven by a series of intense personal contest that at times devolved into blood sport. His compelling and eye-opening masterwork is the story of a family at war with itself, of social Darwinism at its most ruthless—in which the strong devoured the weak and repudiated the inconvenient.

Mann focuses on Eleanor Roosevelt, who, he argues, experienced this brutality firsthand, witnessing her Uncle Theodore cruelly destroy her father, Elliott—his brother and bitter rival—for political expediency. Mann presents a fascinating alternate picture of Eleanor, contending that this “worshipful niece” in fact bore a grudge against TR for the rest of her life, and dares to tell the truth about her intimate relationships without obfuscations, explanations, or labels.

Mann also brings into focus Eleanor’s cousins, TR’s children, whose stories propelled the family rivalry but have never before been fully chronicled, as well as her illegitimate half-brother, Elliott Roosevelt Mann, who inherited his family’s ambition and skill without their name and privilege. Growing up in poverty just miles from his wealthy relatives, Elliott Mann embodied the American Dream, rising to middle-class prosperity and enjoying one of the very few happy, long-term marriages in the Roosevelt saga. For the first time, The Wars of the Roosevelts also includes the stories of Elliott’s daughter and grandchildren, and never-before-seen photographs from their archives.

October 7, 2 pm: Noah Isenberg, “We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend and Afterlife of America’s Most Beloved Movie”

CasablancaCasablanca was first released in 1942, just two weeks after the city of Casablanca itself surrendered to American troops led by General Patton. Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in the New York Times as “a picture that makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.” The film won Oscars for best picture, best director, and best screenplay, and would go on to enjoy more revival screenings than any other movie in history. It became so firmly ensconced in the cultural imagination that, as Umberto Eco once said, Casablanca is “not one movie; it is ‘movies.’ ”

We’ll Always Have Casablanca is celebrated film historian Noah Isenberg’s rich account of this most beloved movie’s origins. Through extensive research and interviews with filmmakers, film critics, family members of the cast and crew, and diehard fans, Isenberg reveals the myths and realities behind Casablanca’s production, exploring the transformation of the unproduced stage play into the classic screenplay, the controversial casting decisions, the battles with Production Code censors, and the effect of the war’s progress on the movie’s reception. Isenberg particularly focuses on the central role refugees from Hitler’s Europe played in the production (nearly all of the actors and actresses cast in Casablanca were immigrants).

Finally, Isenberg turns to Casablanca’s long afterlife and the reasons it remains so revered. From the Marx Brothers’ 1946 spoof hit, A Night in Casablanca, to loving parodies in New Yorker cartoons, Saturday Night Live skits, and Simpsons episodes, Isenberg delves into the ways the movie has lodged itself in the American psyche.

Filled with fresh insights into Casablanca’s creation, production, and legacy, We’ll Always Have Casablanca is a magnificent account of what made the movie so popular and why it continues to dazzle audiences seventy-five years after its release.

October 12, 7 pm: Tom Schachtman, “How the French Saved America”

Americans today have a love/hate relationship with France, but author Tom Shachtman shows that without France’s aid during the American Revolution, there might not be a United States of America today. To the rebelling colonies, French assistance made the difference between looming defeat and eventual triumph.

This aid, however, is often downplayed in history’s retelling of the event as we often like to think of our forefathers as achieving independence by themselves. Even before the Declaration of Independence was issued, King Louis XVI and French foreign minister Vergennes were aiding the rebels. After the Declaration, that assistance broadened to include:

 Wages for our troops

 Guns, cannon, and ammunition

 Engineering expertise that enabled victories and prevented defeats

 Diplomatic recognition

 Safe havens for privateers

 Battlefield leadership by veteran officers

 The army and fleet that made possible the Franco-American victory at Yorktown.

Nearly ten percent of those who fought and died for the American cause were French. Those who fought and survived, in addition to the well-known Lafayette and Rochambeau, include François de Fleury, who won a Congressional Medal for valor, Louis Duportail, who founded the Army Corps of Engineers, and Admiral de Grasse, whose sea victory sealed the fate of Yorktown. HOW THE FRENCH SAVED AMERICA captures the outsize characters of our European brothers, their battlefield and diplomatic bonds and clashes with Americans, and the monumental role they played in America’s fight for independence and democracy.

Saturday, October 21, 2 pm: Sean McMeekin, “The Russian Revolution”

Acclaimed historian Sean McMeekin traces the events which ended Romanov rule, ushered the Bolsheviks into power, and introduced Communism to the world. Between 1917 and 1922, Russia underwent a complete and irreversible transformation. Taking advantage of the collapse of the Tsarist regime in the middle of World War I, the Bolsheviks staged a hostile takeover of the Russian Imperial Army, promoting mutinies and mass desertions of men in order to fulfill Lenin’s program of turning the “imperialist war” into civil war. By the time the Bolsheviks had snuffed out the last resistance five years later, over 20 million people had died, and the Russian economy had collapsed so completely that Communism had to be temporarily abandoned. Still, Bolshevik rule was secure, owing to the new regime’s monopoly on force, enabled by illicit arms deals signed with capitalist neighbors such as Germany and Sweden who sought to benefit-politically and economically-from the revolutionary chaos in Russia.

Drawing on scores of previously untapped files from Russian archives and a range of other repositories in Europe, Turkey, and the United States, McMeekin delivers exciting, groundbreaking research about this turbulent era. The first comprehensive history of these momentous events in two decades, The Russian Revolution combines cutting-edge scholarship and a fast-paced narrative to shed new light on one of the most significant turning points of the twentieth century

Nov. 1, 7 pm: James McGrath Morris, “The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made & Lost in War”

Ambulance DriversAfter meeting for the first time on the front lines of World War I, two aspiring writers forge an intense twenty-year friendship and write some of America’s greatest novels, giving voice to a “lost generation” shaken by war.

Eager to find his way in life and words, John Dos Passos first witnessed the horror of trench warfare in France as a volunteer ambulance driver retrieving the dead and seriously wounded from the front line. Later in the war, he briefly met another young writer, Ernest Hemingway, who was just arriving for his service in the ambulance corps. When the war was over, both men knew they had to write about it; they had to give voice to what they felt about war and life.

Their friendship and collaboration developed through the peace of the 1920s and 1930s, as Hemingway’s novels soared to success while Dos Passos penned the greatest antiwar novel of his generation, Three Soldiers. In war, Hemingway found adventure, women, and a cause. Dos Passos saw only oppression and futility. Their different visions eventually turned their private friendship into a bitter public fight, fueled by money, jealousy, and lust.

Rich in evocative detail–from Paris cafes to the Austrian Alps, from the streets of Pamplona to the waters of Key West–The Ambulance Drivers is a biography of a turbulent friendship between two of the century’s greatest writers, and an illustration of how war both inspires and destroys, unites and divides.

Friday, November 10, 2 pm: Leonid Kondratiuk, “Massachusetts Goes to War: The 26th Yankee Division in World War One”

Yankee DivisionThe 26th “Yankee” Division, composed of units from the National Guards of the New England states, was the first full US Army division to arrive in France in 1917. Approximately, 15,000 Massachusetts men served in the 26th making it the largest unit the state sent to the war. Virtually, every town had men serving in the 26th. General Kondratiuk will speak about the Yankee Division’s role in World War I.

November 15, 7 pm: Joseph Williams, “The Sunken Gold: A Story of World War One, Espionage, and the Greatest Treasure Salvage in History”

Laurentic“The Sunken Gold” is the story of how a British ship, HMS Laurentic, laden with forty-four tons of Allied gold bound for the United States, was sunk off the coast of Ireland by Germany and the epic struggle by divers from the British Navy to recover the treasure. The book also describes the underwater spywork conducted by the divers by breaking into sunken U-boats looking for codes, ciphers, and other secret documents. Their mission to recover the gold was highly successful and the divers recovered 99% of the treasure. However, there are still twenty bars of gold left in the wreck, waiting to be discovered.

Special Performance: Anne Barrett as Victoria Yule, December 9, 2 pm

Travel back in time to Christmas 1895 with Victoria Yule as your hostess.

anne-barrettVictoria Yule will welcome you into her parlor, complete with an antique chair, table and props, and share her plans for the upcoming Christmas festivities. Learn the history of many Christmas traditions from stories passed down to her from “Grandmama and Grandpapa”. She’ll read Dickens, display toys and handmade gifts her family will be exchanging around the Christmas tree, and in her clear soprano, sing carols of the season. Travel back in time to Christmas 1895 with this fun, creative and engaging performance.