October 5, 2010

Amherst Club

Meeting Notes of October 5, 2010



President Vivienne Carey opened the meeting at 12:50 pm.  Guests were brought by Rachel Mustin, Nancy Brose and Carolyn Holstein.

Announcements were many:

1.    Vivienne asked that in the future, folks with announcements fill out a form with the vital information and give it to the scribe for the day  (Michael Greenebaum knows who that will be.)  She’s hoping that this will give more time for the speakers.

2.    Ruth Miller had a written announcement about Band Day on November 6th at the UMass football game.  Please let her know if you wish to attend by Oct 6th.

3.    Arthur Kinney announced a Renaissance Art talk at the Ren. Center Weds Oct 6th at 4 pm.

4.    Love Notes updates:  Stan & Ellen will be the Masters of Ceremony again.  Tiger Press will help with the printing again.  The Gypsy Wranglers will be at the party.  Yes!  Moving on.

5.    Claude Tellier said that $7000 was raised at the dinner for his Cambodian water projects.

6.    Roger Webb announced that quarterly bills for Club dues will be sent by email now in order to save money on postage.

7.    Larry Siddall recommended the exhibits at the Mt. Holyoke art museum.

8.    Harrison Gregg said that a Club team of 4 noted for their trivia will participate in the Trivia Bee Oct 28th, a fund raiser for the schools. It’s a great evening and we all need to attend & cheer our team to victory!   Our own Susie Lowenstein plays tunes on the piano to heighten the spirit.


Program Chair Phyllis Lehrer introduced the speaker, Onawumi Jean Moss, Club member, retired Amherst College administrator and Master Storyteller for all ages.


Ms. Moss told us a story about “Miss Beaver” from James Michener’s book, Creatures of the Kingdom.  She chose this story because it’s a love story and reminded her of herself – a working woman facing the challenges of life. 


The story begins with Miss Beaver having to leave her family lodge at 2 years old to fend for herself (or be killed!).  She swam upstream, hoping to find three things – food, a home and a man.  She liked the high brow aspen leaves and bark to eat, not the pedestrian cottonwood.

After 4 days of searching, living in the muddy banks and eating cottonwood, a beautiful smell of cestrum came to her from a handsome male beaver.  She was smitten.  However, that handsome male turned out to be taken and she was chased away by a possessive female.


A few days later she met another Very Handsome beaver, preening himself in the sun.  He was attracted to her as well, but soon found another female more attractive than she.  They both turned against her and chased her away.  Oh dear.


Moving on, Miss Beaver found a limestone house with many rooms for herself.  Perfect.

She started alone to build a dam for the lodge, knowing well how to fell a tree and drag it to the dam.  She wanted a partner, but could manage for herself.


One day an older beaver appeared.  He was scarred, had damaged feet and his fur was all matted.  He was not handsome at all, but he brought her aspen leaves, her favorite.  He tried to tell her that her house wasn’t in a good location, it would flood.  They fought and argued, but Miss Beaver held firm.   Mr. Beaver stayed with her, brought food she liked to the lodge and planned the building of their dam.  Miss Beaver did the work.  (Surprised?)


Eventually the beavers mated and had four kits the following spring.  Each spring the house flooded and they had to move out for a while. He fussed, but they stayed together, told stories, complimented each other and built a solid relationship.  They had 8 years of babies.


Mr. Beaver grew aged.  He could not walk well and eventually faded away.


Miss Beaver continued to work with what she had, remained in her own home alone, with occasional visits from her children.    She often sang the song “Everything must change; Nothing stays the same.”


Ms. Moss sang this song for us, which ended the story.

The audience had been spellbound throughout.


Ms. Moss answered a few questions about how she began to tell stories (in church as a child), how she adapts the slant of the story for children, the background information she gathers in order to tell a story, etc.  Some information:  beavers can stay underwater for as much as 9 minutes without air; babies are born on the (male?) beaver’s tail; the aphrodisiac cestrum is produced in a beaver’s cheek, and spread over the body in order to attract a mate.



Respectfully submitted

Carolyn Holstein, scribe for the day