St. Albans Lecture Series

Spring 2016

All lectures will be on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and will be held at the St. Albans Historical Museum, third floor, corner of Church and Bishop Streets in St. Albans. The site is handicap accessible with parking behind the museum.

Wolf Peaches, Poisoned Peas, and Madame Pompadour’s Underwear: The Surprising History of Common Garden Vegetables

Presenter: Becky Rupp
February 03, 2016

Common garden vegetables aren’t as common as you might expect – all have fascinating origins and complex and quirky histories. Come find out why a lot of people don’t like beets, how a 17th century pirate came to name the bell pepper, how carrots won the Trojan War (and deceived the Nazis) and how George Washington was nearly done in by a plate of poisoned peas.

Whiskey on the Lake: Prohibition in the Champlain Valley

Presenter: Professor Scott McLaughlin
February 10, 2016

Rather than risk being caught along the roads that crisscrossed the United States-Canadian border in New York and Vermont, many professional smugglers and others avoided lawmen altogether by using the open waters of Lake Champlain. Learn how these outlaws smuggled alcohol into the United States from Canada and how the U.S. Customs officers tried their best to stop the seemingly never-ending flow of booze between 1920 and 1933.

Crop Circles: Signs of Contact?

Presenter: Professor Fred Fengler
February 17, 2016

Are we alone in the universe? One group of scientists believes that evidence may be found through radio astronomy and searches for other planets in our galaxy. Another group of scientists believes they are much closer and are already contacting us through UFO sightings and crop circle messages. For this presentation I will discuss, along with a slide show, the visit my wife and I made to England to see the crop circles up close in 2004, as well as what researchers have to say about their origin and meaning.

Adventures in Mime & Space

Presenter: Rob Mermin
February 24, 2016

Rob Mermin, founder of Vermont’s own Circus Smirkus, and student of the legendary French mime Marcel Marceau and his teacher, Etienne Decroux, presents his memories of training with the masters. Rob explores the metaphors of mime technique and shows rare film clips of Marceau and Decorum, bringing to life the essence of what Marceau called the ‘the silent language of the world’.

Cuba Today

Presenter: Cathi Cody-Hudson and John Newton
March 02, 2016

In January of this year, Cathi Cody-Hudson and John Newton joined an OLLI group of 21 members for an 8 day trip to the island of Cuba, organized by the Cuban American Friendship Society. They will be talking about their experience going to a place that has been described as time travel to the past, back to the 50’s and 60’s, at a point in time when changes are about to happen as Cuba and US relations begin to improve. Cuba is on the edge of significant change, and Cathi and John give their impressions of life in Cuba today plus they have plenty of pictures to show.

Foodscaping: Growing an Edible Landscape in Your Yard

Presenter: Mr. Charlie Nardozzi
March 09, 2016

Everyone wants to grow more of their own food but don’t want to sacrifice their yards’ beauty. Foodscaping is a technique that uses garden design, proper plant selection and organic gardening techniques to achieve both goals. I’ll talk about the right plants for the right places, best places to substitute edibles for ornamentals in the yard and how to care for them.

Alfred Hitchcock and the Art of Suspense

Presenter: Mr. Rick Winston
March 16, 2016

Alfred Hitchcock’s career spanned forty years and many film eras. There will be twelve film clips, including such favorites as REBECCA, NOTORIOUS, and REAR WINDOW, with a discussion of the evolution of Hitchcock’s craft, an exploration of his favorite themes and motifs (innocence and guilt, ordinary people in extraordinary situations, thrilling climaxes in public places, inanimate objects which take on great significance), and his work with collaborators (such as actor James Stewart, composer Bernard Herrmann, and art director Saul Bass).

The Many Meanings of Maple

Presenter: Professor Michael Lange
March 23, 2016

This presentation examines the many meanings of maple sugaring. Maple is enormously important to Vermont’s economy, ecology, and heritage. Champlain College professor Michael Lange will discuss sugaring ethnographically, based on over five years of research among sugarmakers all over the state, to learn from them what sugaring really means to Vermont. Rather than discussing the practical aspects of sugaring, such as how to tap a tree or how an evaporator works, his talk focuses on how and why maple has become so important to Vermont’s identity, and how and why it helps us shape who we are as Vermonters.

Vermont Songs Old and New with Marty Morrissey and Robert Resnik

Presenter: Marty Morrissey and Robert Resnick
March 30, 2016

Marty Morrissey and Robert Resnik have been playing many different styles of music together for more than 30 years, including Celtic music with the Highland Weavers and swing music with the Tin Pan Valentinos. They have recorded 2 critically acclaimed CDs of music about Vermont and Lake Champlain and have become specialists in the history and folklore of Vermont music. Between them, Marty and Robert play more than 30 different musical instruments!

Fire in the Hills: 19th Century Cider Moonshine in Orange County

Presenter: Mr. Brennan Gauthier
April 06, 2016

The recent boom in Vermont cider production is not something new to the residents of this state. Gauthier will talk about his research on a group of 1880s cider moonshiners in Orange County and will delve into the history, material culture and sites of hard cider production in the state, highlighting a group of particularly notorious moonshiners from the towns of Strafford, Thetford and Vershire.

Recovery and Preservation of Artifacts – Metal Detecting

Presenter: William and Cheryl Donlon
April 13, 2016

Bill and his wife Cheryl have been metal detecting and researching for 5 years. Bill will be sharing his experiences in finding some of the most interesting artifacts that would have been lost forever. He will also go over the process to locate items and their preservation by electrolysis.

Birdsong Tune Up

Presenter: Mrs. Bridget Butler
April 20,2016

The landscape is full of bird song wherever you go, whether downtown or high up in the mountain peaks. Join us for a spring tune up as we learn to train our ears to the differences in birdsong. We’ll break down song using phonetics, descriptions and drawings. Find out how to increase your ability to identify birds by sound with some simple steps to build your repertoire. This is a lively program full of gorgeous bird song and useful tips which will have you tuned in to the world around you like never before.

Membership Information

Payment of membership dues entitles subscribers to attend all sessions of the current semester. Lectures are also open to non-members for a fee of $5 per lecture. Semester membership fees are $40 per individual, or $70 per couple.

To download the membership form click here.

Send membership form and dues to:

UVM OLLI Registration Office
322 South Prospect Street
Burlington, VT 05401

Make checks payable to The University of Vermont.

Become a member today!

Membership in St. Albans OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) entitles members to attend programs in all the OLLI organizations established in seven locations throughout Vermont. Simply present your membership card during the corresponding semester.

Spring 2016 Steering Committee

Bryant Reynolds, John Newton, Helen Newton, Gerard Sparacino, Rita Sparacino


For a complete listing of all programs, see our listing in a pdf format.

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