Attendees of the Carnegie Public Library of Washington’s Adult Summer Reading Program ended the session with the long-awaited “closing tea.” This was the 13th year of the program. The theme of this summer’s program was “American Journeys”. Attendees had the opportunity in June and July to immerse themselves in the fascinating history, art, culture and spectacular landscapes that make America such a great destination. The summer trip took participants from the splendor of Newport Rhode Island’s Golden Age “cottages” to the Navajo hogans and glaciers of Alaska. There were 103 registered participants of which 76% fulfilled the requirements to attend the tea. These requirements were to read a selection of books and participate in at least five of the 16 qualifying programs.
One of the books selected for this summer was “Tip of the Iceberg” by Mark Adams. In 1899, railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman organized a most unusual summer trip to the Alaskan wilderness. He converted a steamship into a luxury “floating university” and invited some of America’s best and brightest scientists and writers to join him. In the 2000s, the author traced the extraordinary expedition that put Alaska on the map. Armed with Dramamine, a sleeping bag and an industrial-grade mosquito net, Adams travels from town to town on Alaskan state ferries, showing why more than a hundred years after Harriman left , the lessons learned in 1899 still relate to Alaska’s current struggles to adapt. to the pressures of a changing climate and world.
Another selected book was “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles. Spanning just 10 days and told from multiple points of view, the book tells the story of 18-year-old Emmett Watson, who has just been released from juvenile detention, and his 8-year-old brother, Billy, who plan to drive the Lincoln Highway to San Francisco to find their mother who left them. However, two guys (Duchess and Woolly) escaped from detention and followed Emmett home. They hope to convince Emmet to help them travel to New York to take over Woolly’s trust fund. When Emmett refuses, Duchess “borrows” Emmett’s car and Emmett is forced to follow Duchess and Woolly to retrieve it.
The third book selection was “Code Talker” by Chester Nez and Judith Avila. Nez was one of the original WWII Navajo code speakers and here is his story. Forced into boarding school and punished for speaking his native language, Nez rose above discrimination. Nez helped write the communication code that no one, note even other Navajos, could crack. The contributions of the Navajo Marines helped win the war against the Japanese.
Guest speakers included author Judith Avila; train Buffalo Trace Trail and Indiana’s Historic Pathways experts Steve Patterson and Glenda Ferguson. Special programs from Rick Chambon, Adult Education Coordinator, included ‘Alaska: The Inside Passage Cruise’, ‘Historic Newport and Cape Cod’ and a sharing of ‘Unforgettable Journeys’. There were also several DVD presentations and book discussions.
Upon entering, attendees were greeted with decorations representing regions of the United States that were covered during the summer, with a focus on Alaska and its indigenous peoples, including glaciers and totem poles. “Wooden” lodge posts, draped in wisteria, framed large murals of scenes from Alaska and Newport, Rhode Island. A large Kodiak bear dominated one corner of the room. A two-foot chocolate bald eagle surveyed the room from another corner. The eagle was created by Jeff Gumbel and was covered in individually handcrafted chocolate feathers.
The tables combine rustic and elegance. They were covered in white linens and Native American-designed pads in shades of orange, black, and tan. Wood-style placemats held porcelain plates, cups, and saucers with intricately folded cloth napkins, again of Native American design. In the center were white roses on a wooden trivet surrounded by individual vases containing a white rose. The individual roses were keepsakes for each participant. The chairs were adorned with white fabric coverings highlighted by a gold sash tied with a Native American print ribbon.
After welcoming everyone, Chambon introduced Phillip Hammond, a student at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Hammond has performed as a soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony, New World Youth Symphony, and Bloomington Symphony. He has toured Argentina and Chile as a member of the acclaimed group Violin Virtuosi. He is also a recipient of the Presidential Herbert Scholarship and the Indiana Young Talen Scholarship. Hammond entertained those in attendance with violent selections ranging from Bach to Paganini. He then provided background music for classical and contemporary selections during refreshments time.
After the “Chef” musical performance, Jeff Gumbel presented an extensive and delicious array of savory and sweet refreshments. He was assisted in the service by Alice Zwilling, Angie Tomlin and Azeria Ackerman. Delicious entrees consisted of plain, raisin and blueberry-lemon scones served with jam, Devonshire clotted cream and lavender honey. The tea sandwiches were coronation chicken (a cold chicken salad with curry cream sauce, so named because it was created in 1953 for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation banquet), salad with eggs, ham and Swiss salad and fig cream.
The large selection of sweets consisted of slices of candied orange covered in chocolate, marzipan covered in chocolate, chocolate spoons filled with mint cream, lemon/lavender shortbread, meringues filled with cranberries, fresh fruit pies, espresso mousse topped with a chocolate coated coffee bean, chilled strawberry soup, banana/macadamia/white chocolate and dark chocolate cherry financiers, baklava, flower cake elderberry topped with an edible butterfly, banana chocolate cake, gingerbread cookies and limoncello cake with lemon cream and topped with a lemon candy. In addition to the above, the ever popular brandy ginger snaps, poppy seed cake topped with fresh raspberries, raspberry mousse, carrot cake with artisan chocolate carrot filling, and decadent flourless chocolate cake have been served. On the serving table, porcelain teacups were stacked.
The tea tables were set with an extensive assortment of specialty teas imported from Taylors of Harrogate in Yorkshire, England. Taylors has been supplying tea since the 1800s and is supplier to HRH The Prince of Wales. To sweeten the tea was a pitcher of homemade orange syrup.
Several door prizes were handed out at the end of the tea, including a Princess Cruises Alaska book bag, an Alaska coaster set, an Alaskan handcrafted chilled hummingbird mug, a Taylors of Harrogate variety tea set , Alaska and Seattle themed bookmarks and gift certificates. the market at the Etiennes farm and the Ace restaurant.
Chambon acknowledged and thanked the sponsors of the adult summer reading program. These were the German American Bank, the Thompson Insurance Agency, the Beta Zeta Chapter of Tri Kappa, and Friends of the Library. Chambon thanked the participants and encouraged them to pursue lifelong learning to keep their brains engaged.
The programs for the autumn season are ‘What RU Reading’ on August 15 and October 24. There will be a Q&A on September 13 with author Mark Adams, author of “Tip of the Iceberg.” There will be two programs on bees, September 16 (a DVD, “My garden of a thousand bees”) and October 4, All about bees and beekeeping. Additionally, the popular Coffee & Chats will take place August 5 and 19, September 2, 16 and 30 at 10 a.m. All are welcome to join this fun and diverse group. Any community member interested in a program should contact Rick Chambon at the library, 812-254-4586, or drop by the main office for more information.