Tag Archives: Chautauqua

Statutes Of Limitation

I’ve learned over the years that the statute of limitations for the IRS is seven years.

Around here, a misdemeanor is three years, felony six years and homicide, eternal.

At TripAdvisor I wrote a review they would not publish because I knew a person who worked there forty years ago. I am not a murderer or burglar. I am a writer who writes of memories and things I love and would like to protect. I would never say the organization is “going to the dogs” but that’s just because I love dogs. And cats.

TripAdvisor has denied my voice and it has stolen and monetized 80,000 hits on my reviews but they will not print one review because someone told them not to print it. Luckily I’ve my own venue to do so. And people thought Chautauquans were quiet in the off-season. Never. It’s the book store and post office. If you send the Anti-Smart People there, you’ll have to go door to door and investigate traitors, round them up on the tennis courts and lock them in with no food or water or shelter. Tattoo them with numbers.

Then you might remember one moment in Chautauqua’s history. FDR made his “I Hate War” speech, a radio address, from the Miller Cottage. Chautauqua is doing this to Chautauquans simply because they have the money to do it. Just because one has money to do something does not mean it needs to be done. TripAdvisor has been told by Chautauqua not to air my views.

The Chautauquan Daily was overseen by a wonderful lady, Alfreda Irwin, for years. She’s gone now, but I’ve a lovely photo of hers of the creek where I want my ashes strewn. I bought it at a fund-raiser in Bestor Square to benefit Chautauqua and it took me 30 years to frame it. Her daughter called the Daily and they didn’t know her mother’s name. They didn’t know my father’s name. I hope they remember “Shorty,” as he was a pistol and raised a great family. All three Mediallion recipients were special to me, certainly my Dad.

Book me, Dano. I am never allowed to write a review of a non-profit organization a family member worked for 40 years ago and never took a position on demolition of the sacred amphitheater that even the National Trust for Historic Preservation wants kept intact? I asked their statute of limitation. This is not a restaurant or hotel chain, this is a non-profit organization that people care about, pay to visit and want some peace and harmony in their lives. If I’m 80 and knew my father I am not allowed to write a review. Harsh justice in my book. I’d like a court to see this one.

I used to write laws for a living. Scared me to death, writing for 34 million people at age 21. I hope of learning, knowing, arts and learning how to sail. Arts, religion, education, recreation.

Chautauqua would probably love to string up a gallows in Bestor Square. I’ve no hope of ever writing anything about Chautauqua if I ever knew anyone who lived or worked there. I’m nearing sixty so the ranks are thinning but if I had to disclose everyone I worked with when I was 19 years old and that stopped me from writing a review, what is wrong here?

Please say it’s not me. I don’t deserve life in prison or death by hanging in Bestor Plaza at Chautauqua Institution for trying to publish a review asking people to visit and see the Amphitheater and decide for themselves next season.

That’s all I did and now this is my only option. You. Write in to this blog. Just say “Save the Amp.” Forget the red ruby slippers and just say “there’s no place like home” in your heart.

Home is Chautauqua. The Amp is the heart of Chautauqua and they voted to tear it down to make more money. That tears out my heart. Respectfully, Dee



My father received an important award this summer. I spent quite some time trying to get a copy of the newspaper that carried the story the next day. It required several calls and the reporter and some folks were very kind.

My sidekick and I, my framer Kelly, decided to make it old school black and white and metal, like a print shop. I was asked to wait until they were home to send it and then I did.

Then the US Postal Service messed up and it was in a warehouse for weeks and they threatened to send it back to me. More hours on the phone with USPS, finally got up the food chain, got a new tracking number and it arrived this afternoon.

Hello? Hi, it’s Dad. Hi, Dad, how are you doing?


It is black and white and silver, old school newspaper, with five sections, the header, two of the article, one of the award and him speaking, and one of dance. Another artist is going to frame the award. I believe Dad said this was the greatest gift I ever gave to him. It was supposed to arrive on his birthday and that was over a week ago but blame the postal service for never leaving a note for redelivery (it was in the file, I know because USPS said they never left one as they researched it).

Dad, I’m sorry for not wanting to hold your hand as a kid walking down Main Street. I needed to be independent. I cherish all you have meant to me over the years, all you have taught me and the love you have shared.

Who else can get a phone call saying “I Love It!!!” I try, Dad. Dee


My memories are my own, my screen saver is a picture of my father holding me with one hand at 5-6 months of age and me reaching my hands out in a park to pet a strange dog. They don’t call me the dog lady for nothing!

Much of my life has been led by the lessons Dad has taught me.

Last night he received a rare medal for his philanthropic works. I talked with the author of a piece in the local paper about an article he wrote about Dad. He said I had to call the business office in the morning to get a copy.

This is a small community paper whose former editor, now deceased, was a friend of mine. The business office called me back and asked the spelling of the name and said she’d send me today’s paper and call me back with a price. She couldn’t go back a day or look up a story on the medal or my father.

I asked for any paper this week that mentioned my father’s name. I told her he was the President of the organization and received a coveted medal last night. She asked his name again and said she’d have to look it up and get back to me.

Sounds like the Institution I remember! Change is a dangerous thing for old places and people. Not me. I used to go to the flower shop when I was working for the program office to get roses for Dad to give to the opera diva or lead ballerina in a pas de deux. Pay is a wonderful thing. Finally they made the roses thorn-free with water bottles at each stem that I could take off at the last minute that were worthy of placing gently in a diva’s arms after a wonderful performance.

I’ve heard the lectures on sweat, being there is most of the battle, but I recall the stories of honesty and persistence. That’s how I got the roses in those talented arms. That is what I brought to life and business. Dad earned that medal years ago in my eyes. I hope he knows he has a medal for being a role model from me.

That the local newpaper doesn’t know who Dad is, does not surprise me. It’s Bestor Plaza, streets and rooms are named after famed people. Dad just made Chautauqua what it is today. What would my old friend, deceased, Bucky Fuller think of that. Mom hosted his 84th birthday and 62nd wedding anniversary at our home and made him a geodesic dome cake to cut. I’ll bet the news gal has never heard of a geodesic dome or R. Buckminster Fuller. Oh, kids these days….

News, the President’s office is sending me two newspapers so I can frame the articles for Dad.

Cheers! Dee

Seems Like Old Times

I love that movie with Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase and Charles Grodin.

This is about something else. I don’t care about the medal, which is very special, but I approve and applaud it being given to a person who cares so much for Chautauqua. My Dad.

In 1978 an older gentleman came up to me on the street and called me by name. I was new but knew his name so said “good morning, sir,” I was young and very shy. He said “I’m not sir.” I said good morning Mr. F and he said “everyone calls me Shorty.” He was a peach and always spoke his mind. He is in my mind and heart forever.

The former editor of the local daily newspaper is also, I’ve heard from excellent sources, a recipient. She was a mentor to me at that time and when I veer, even though she’s gone now she corrects me, as an editor should.

That Dad joins this small neighborhood of honors is a tribute. Now let’s talk about art. Now that I think about it I hope it’s not a death sentence!

Alfreda Irwin, editor, took a photo of a creek I grew up on, catching crayfish and swimming in the pond. I bought it at an auction to benefit Chautauqua in 1982 and it was dated that year. Two years ago I framed it and it is a focal point in our home. I’ve sent a photo of it to her daughter and am leaving it to her.

Dad started painting at age 80. I’ve three of his works, all beautifully framed by me and my framers, of course. His art is also featured in our home.

Chautauqua sticks. I’ve met so many great people there. At its best it is a coalescence of heart and mind and such wonderful things that can be done. Dee

Big Ideas, Small Spaces

Chautauqua Institution wants to tear town its historic Victorian Amphitheater to build something larger.

This is an over 150 year-old institution. I sang there at age eight in a state choir championship. We came in second with Panis Angelicus. My father was the Institution’s President from 1978-1985.

Now, the Institution has raised prices that keep rural neighbors out, and are trying to make it their own Disney place with only rich people allowed.

FDR made his I Hate War speech at the Miller (one of the founders) cottage. There are many ideas and speeches and concerts that can be in a smaller space and not spend $35 million to gain 300 seats and eviscerate an historic space.

The Chautauqua Amphitheater is on the NY State list of historic places. Look at what was done years ago for the Athaneaum Hotel, the largest wood structure in the USA. It is gorgeous.

Chautauqua is supposed to be about history, but most of all, ideas. We are about to lose both. Uncomfortable seating and structural poles are Chautauqua. So would have been school teachers from Yonkers yelling “Louda” which means louder in English, before they were priced out of their hotels.

Sometimes history and ideas make the grade. This time, it looks like they will lose this battle with spoiled rich people. Unhappily, Dee

Chautauqua Amphitheater

I haven’t seen it in a few years, but in my college years it was a scary adventure. Steps to the choir loft, shaky ladder upstairs, then two boards with no safety net 100 feet off the floor to the rickety sound booth.

Several people were around to change that, including donors, the board and my father, the new president. We sneaked in, college worker kids, to see the new setup, cool sound and light booth with safe access.

Now the story is tearing the entire thing down or renovating it. I’m hearing a lot from both sides and hear it from the side of safety and preservation. It should be a national landmark for the speeches that have been given there.

It is a venue in which I performed at age seven in the State choir competition, we sang Panis Angelicus and came in 2nd, and I’m still in touch with that grade school music teacher, Mrs. P.

I’ve mixed thoughts especially after meeting old friends last week. A week before that I received an e-mail with the old joke “How many Chautauquans does it take to change a light bulb? “Change?”

Yes, change. Many of us have been instruments of change over many years, me included. If one can preserve historic Victorian structures over the years in a pristine manner, fine. If they sag a foot and need an $8 million dollar renovation (many of them)  because of deferred maintenance that’s another issue that must be addressed for safety.

I believe the boards should be saved, in an appropriate manner, and starting with the last standing at Old First Night, first the descendants of Miller and Vincent, the founders and families with multiple generations.

Truth-telling, I’d build a house with it and wouldn’t even care that it was yellow. I walked, jogged or drove by it and caught snippets of a performance or lecture so many times during my work, before cell phone cameras that I never got enough photos of it. It will be remembered and I don’t know the plans but hope its spirit will be kept, and the entirety missed as someone knew 30, 50 or 80 years ago.

No, I don’t know the plans for it, only that what was done in the early 1980’s to shore up the roof by a foot and make it safe (and paint it, as Mark Russell said, echoed by a flautist, trumpeter and tuba artist all playing “Flight of the Bumblebee” in competition for the shortest version, to get the Amp painted.)

Some things change, some stay the same. It is wonderful to see my cornerstones of that venerable institution. In the meantime, ask before you change any light bulbs. Cheers! Three taps. Dee

A New Chautauqua

My father was president of Chautauqua Institution from the late 70’s to early 80’s. When my husband and I toured Boulder, CO last weekend it was a pleasure to see the Colorado Chautauqua.

Chautauqua has a long history of the arts, religion, education and recreation and was created over 150 years ago in western New York. Because a certain genius married the founder’s daughter, Chautauqua had the first outdoor electric lighting courtesy of Thomas Alva Edison.

Driving up to Table Mesa in Boulder, CO we came upon Chautauqua. The parking lots were filled with cars and there were walkers, dog owners, hikers around. We had a very short schedule so drove around a couple of loops and it reminded me of my Chautauqua.

Since then I’ve contacted the Executive Director, Susan Connelly, who kindly responded. I thanked her for keeping the Chautauqua spirit alive and she acknowledges Chautauqua Institution as the “mother ship.” I look forward to meeting her someday.

My parents moved to Chautauqua when I was a freshman in college. I worked summers there and learned a lot about haves and have-nots. Despite the ups and downs of dealing with “talent” it was a very interesting time. My father led Chautauqua for eight years and helped make it into what it is today.

When I was in fourth grade our school choir made it to the State competitionn and it was at the exclusive Chautauqua that we sang Panis Angelicus in the Ampthiteater, and we came in second. For our family to be there for eight years meant something different to each of us kids. I tried to get in as much art and lectures and ballet and symphony time I could.

I used to go back and see the folks that meant the most to me, the department heads, after I moved on. Now they’re all retired and we keep in touch from time to time. Now I’ve seen a Chautauqua that’s new to me, the Colorado Chautauqua. They have a concert hall but it wasn’t open yet when we visited. The Executive Director appreciates CI and I’m sure she looks forward to their upcoming season. We wish both Chautauqua’s well. Cheers, Dee

Old Friends

Twenty years ago an old friend of mine and my dad’s went to see Dad speak at a conference, about Chautauqua. They met afterwards for the first time and we have worked together as consultants. Over the years, I fondly remember our breakfasts at the hotel right down the street from my place. Just us three, and when they went on no-carb diets together without telling me it was very strange to have them order extra eggs, extra bacon and no toast.

Chautauqua brought Pythagoras to us, weeding and putting the lines down on eight clay tennis courts, via a college acquaintance. I don’t remember his name but the old friend above called me this morning about the Chautauqua premiere on PBS. He and his lovely wife will see it this evening. I can’t see it until Wednesday.

I talked to my Dad today, who is doing OK at nearly 80, still working and dealing with age and illness. He had to call me back because he was cooking dinner, spaghetti and meatballs. He puts milk in his meatballs, I’ll have to get the recipe for you, and for me!

Recently my dear husband was putting together a woodworking toolset for our nephew, now eight years old. He looked for items that could be used by a young person and one was from the town I was born in. He sent the piece, an antique, and said if we liked it we should pay for it, and if not send it back. I called him back and it turns out he worked at Chautauqua when I was there. Yes, we kept the item but for him to put it up was just a bit of old-fashioned charm and brotherhood that is Chautauqua.

There are so many stories to tell but I can’t do it all this evening so bid you adieu, Dee

“The Custom at Chautauqua…

is Silence After Chimes.”

Mom has that hanging in her home, and all my siblings today seemed to think that was something I needed.

The chimes ring in the traditional quarterly hour pattern from the signature bell tower. In addition, at certain hours, there were special songs played on the bell tower organ. When I worked there, my head driver (of five) Frank’s sister was the bell-ringer.

Silence would have probably fit the religious/Methodist tradition that started the Institution. The sign shows something that is long past, now that Chautauqua is a rural retreat for the rich. I suppose that by restoring the grounds and program my father had something to do with that, love it or hate it.

Chautauquans have always been good at embracing change then hating it for increasing the value of their investment. There’s no way I’d open up a restaurant or store there. Stopping by on a winter’s day, yes I do that nearly every year since 1985.

But I’ll never be a Chautauquan, because I was only staff. On the culinary front, I worked my first year at Glen Park Cafeteria, which had a cafe line but “boys” to take the old people’s trays to their tables and get tips. We didn’t get tips. I lived in a lovely home on the waterfront and ate every meal there but was charged for room and board regardless and was paid $1.25/hr. Criminal. And that was my college money!

But the next year I elected to work 14/hours a day 7 days a week for less than that just to move up in the world. Things changed.

Care for a Concord Grape?

I’m amazed that no-one has refuted my eating technique yet this is one of the most viewed posts. I haven’t eaten one in over a year and miss them as they’re nearing harvest. The taste is tangy and sweet and makes one crave another. And another….

If you are going to Niagara Falls please take a day-trip to Chautauqua County. There’s so much to see and taste and don’t miss Chautauqua Institution. Even in off-season it’s a place to visit.

This is for you, Rick and Ann!