Learning Series

The Friends of Eldredge Public Library sponsors a fall and spring learning series each year. It is a program of enlightening and entertaining courses open to the public at a suggested donation of $10 per course.  All net proceeds are used by the Friends of the EPL to support the Library.

Registration is required.   To register online and donate by credit card or Paypal, click here. If you prefer to donate by check and to either mail in or drop off your registration at the library, please click here to get the registration form.  There are no refunds unless the course is cancelled.

Most classes will take place at the Eldredge Public Library except for the Morton Dean (9/13) program and David Bisno (10/10) program which take place at the Chatham Community Center.

For further information contact the committee at learningseries@eldredgelibrary.org or call the library at 508 945 5170


Fall 2023 Learning Series


Battlefield Rescue:  The Lifesaving Medevac Flight
ONE SESSION 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 13   
at Chatham Community Center

Over 50 years ago, Journalist Morton Dean talked his way onto a US Army Medevac mission headed out to rescue wounded American infantrymen from an enemy infested rice paddy in Vietnam.  With video by CBS News cameraman Greg Cooke, Dean's story of that rescue would air on the CBS Evening News anchored by Walter Cronkite. 

Dean will discuss and show his documentary “American Medevac," chronicling the decades-later reunion of that Medevac crew with the men they saved during the harrowing battlefield rescue mission. 

 Morton Dean is an award-winning television and radio anchor, news correspondent, documentary film director and author.  He currently lives in Chatham.

The Heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
ONE SESSION:   10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Monday, September 18

An hour past St Patrick's Day, 1990, two men dressed as Boston cops talked their way into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum looking to investigate a disturbance. For the next 81 minutes, they subdued the two security guards, removed 13 items worth at least $500 million and vanished into the night. None of the items, including paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Flinck, have been seen since. No one has been arrested. Suspects have died violent deaths. Leads have been followed to dead ends.

Bob Ainsworth, the author of DUPED, a semi-factual historical novel based on the theft, will present the story of Isabella Gardner and her creation of the museum, review the theft and the myriad suspects, and trace the likely path of the stolen items.

Women at Sea: Yesterday and Today
TWO SESSIONS    10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  Wednesday, September 20, and Monday September 25

In part one, Barbara Semple, a Chatham resident, will share the story of life as a sea captain's wife aboard a sailing vessel in the late 1800's. Based on the journals of her great aunt, Frances Carleton Brastow who sailed with her husband, Captain Stanley Amesbury on the China trade, Semple shares the adventures of her ancestors' journeys around the world.  Learn about the vessels Brastow and her husband sailed on, what those vessels were like, as well as what life was like on board, as captured in fifteen years of journals, and several books and diaries.

Barbara Semple is a lead educator, volunteer, and popular docent at the Atwood House. She spent her career as a librarian in schools and public libraries. 

In part two, Bill Amaru will explore the growing role of women in the Cape Cod fishing industry.  Bill has been fishing Cape Cod waters for scallops, flounder, and other ground fish for nearly 50 years.  During much of that time, the Cape Cod fishing industry and fishing culture was exclusively male dominated.  Now that is changing.  He has seen fishing change as women found going to sea not only exciting and rewarding but economically fulfilling.  His presentation will include contributions made by women who have gone to sea, as well as those who have gone on to do research on fisheries and work in oceanography.

Bill Amaru earned a degree in music and performed on Cape Cod and in Boston before turning to the sea to become a fisherman.  He writes a fishing column for the Cape Cod Chronicle and lives and writes, when not fishing, in Orleans.

The Future of Local News
ONE SESSION:  10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Thousands of local newspapers have closed recently leaving millions of Americans without a reliable source of local news and depriving communities of a critical tool for exposing wrongdoing and promoting civic engagement. Many of those left have laid off reporters and reduced coverage and circulation. The Cape Cod Chronicle thrives, recently expanding coverage to include Chatham, Harwich, Orleans and Brewster.  How are local news decisions made, what are the challenges of local reporting and how can citizens engage in this effort?  Editor Tim Wood and Executive Editor Alan Pollock will lead a panel discussion and answer questions on this critical topic.

Tim Wood began working at The Cape Cod Chronicle in July 1982 in the production department. He began writing feature stories and eventually became a full-time reporter and was promoted to editor in 1998.

Vietnam War —-What Road to Take?
TWO SESSIONS:  10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Monday, October 2, and Wednesday October 4

In this two-part session author and Vietnam veteran Dave Van Wye will share his extensive historical research into how we got into the Vietnam War, key decisions that drove events and how that affected what soldiers might have known while serving there.

Dave VanWye, a combat veteran of Vietnam, wrote two novels based on his experiences and has spoken at the Eldredge Public Library, the Men's Club, Chatham Marconi and several groups in town and elsewhere. "Vietnam War - What Road to Take' is a new, highly researched presentation focused on the historical context of those years. A graduate of Lehigh University '69 and Penn State '75, he continues to try and put the war in perspective as he considers his participation in the events of that time.

The Allure of Fascism Here and Abroad
TWO SESSIONS:  10:00 a.m. to 12 p.m.  Tuesday, October 10, and Wednesday October 11
at Chatham Community Center 

On Tuesday, October 10, David Bisno will describe how much of the world, including parts of the United States, is freely choosing to embrace illiberal democracy or outright fascism. For most of us, raised in a western democratic republic, this is not what we were led to expect. On the following day October11, he asks: Why the allure? What don't we understand? What questions should we be asking? Have we been looking for through rose-colored glasses, seeing very little and comprehending even less?

David Bisno, M.D. is a retired ophthalmologist with degrees from Harvard, Dartmouth and the Washington University School of Medicine   He is an enthusiastic discussion leader within institutes for lifelong learning across our country and overseas on a myriad of topics for 29 years.


The Music of the Gershwins
THREE SESSIONS:  1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Wednesdays, October 11,18, 25

John Whelan, assisted by Peter Gaines, returns once again to the Library this fall with another terrific course, this time featuring the inimitable music of George and Ira Gershwin. The course will provide a tour through George’s classical music, including among others “Rhapsody in Blue”; it will then turn to some of his show tunes and popular favorites. The tour will conclude by looking at his brother Ira’s subsequent career as a lyricist with some of America’s greatest songwriters. As always, John’s selections are guaranteed to delight.

John Whelan is a retired stockbroker, writes a monthly column for the Cape Cod Chronicle, and is the author of several books, including I am of Cape Cod. Peter Gaines has been entertaining Library fans at the piano for the last three years.


This course has been canceled -  Dante’s Inferno: A Journey Through Hell
TWO SESSIONS:  1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.   Tuesdays, October 17 and 24

Frank Smith takes us on a journey through the nine circles of hell exploring the Inferno of Dante’s Divine Comedy.  He recommends that you read John Ciardi’s masterful translation of the Inferno and bring it with you to the program. 

Francis J. Smith, a Fulbright Scholar and former lecturer in the Classics at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, was the former head of Classics and Modern Languages at Wayland High School and Massachusetts Teacher of the Year in 1985. He was also featured in the PBS television documentary Great Teachers of America.

Irish Pilgrimage: From Mountain Top to Holy Wells
TWO SESSIONS: 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Mondays, October 23 and 30

Thanks to its roots in Celtic mythology, Irish pilgrimage has always been different from its counterparts in continental Europe. In Session One, Janet Cassidy will explain that difference and delve into the stories behind Ireland’s big three: Croagh Patrick, the holy mountain in County Mayo; Lough Derg, the holy island in County Fermanagh; and the Knock shrine in County Mayo. Part Two will explore some of Ireland’s three thousand “holy wells,” places of local pilgrimage and devotion involving age-old ritual. You’ll learn the connections between pre-Christian and Christian mythology, and the symbolism of sacred rocks, sacred trees, and holy fish.

Janet Cassidy has made numerous research trips to Ireland. She is a historian with a MALS in Irish Sacred Landscape from SUNY Empire State College, and an MA in History from Queen’s University, Belfast.

John Singer Sargent: A Charmed Life
TWO SESSIONS: 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.    Mondays, November 6 & 13 

The name John Singer Sargent recalls paintings of society ladies, powerful men of industry and their families- portraits that made him one of the most popular painters of his day. However, he was also an extremely talented watercolorist and muralist, who left his mark both on the continent of Europe and in the United States. His education as the child of expatriates in Italy, his experiences touring in Europe, studying, and painting in Paris and then London and then the English countryside contributed to his great popularity when arriving in Boston and New York. His circle of friends and colleagues included Claude Monet, Henry James, and Isabella Stewart Gardner among others.  His work has stood the test of time and has led scholars to examine more closely both his lifestyle and tastes.

Join Beth Stein as she explores the paintings and world of Sargent. Beth is a retired educator who has developed award winning programs in art education for her students and since retiring to the Cape has entertained her adult audience with a wide array of presentations on modern masters

The Evolution of Opera
FOUR SESSIONS: 10:30 a.m.  to 12:00 p.m. Tuesdays, November 7, 14, 28 & December 5

Joe Marchio will take us on a musical journey exploring the history and richness of opera.  From the Baroque era of Handel and Monteverdi to the Classical era of Mozart and Haydn, to the Romantic era of Verdi and Wagner, to the modern opera of Puccini and others, he will explore the sounds and stories of these great composers.     Once again Joe will make music enjoyable and accessible to all regardless of their musical knowledge.

Joe Marchio currently serves as music director of the Chatham Chorale and pastor of First Congregational Church in Chatham. He has performed as an organist throughout the United States and Europe and has also taught Eldredge Library Learning Series courses for many years in addition to programs at a number of other Cape venues.