Hummingbirds, debutantes at Six & Twenty

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Members of the Six and Twenty Club met at the First Christian Church on September 10 with the program presented by Mrs. Patti Cook.

The book that Mrs. Cook selected for the year was “A Summer of Hummingbirds” by Christopher Benfey, Mellon Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. The book is structured as an historical nonfiction, and concentrates on the summer of 1882 in Amherst, Mass. following the Civil War.

The book focuses on a few members of the intellectual society that comes from the Northeastern part of the United States who shared a passion for their infatuation with Hummingbirds.

We learned some interesting new things about Emily Dickinson (who wrote about hummingbirds), Henry Ward Beecher (the abolitionist preacher), his sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe (the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”), Martin Johnson Heade (artist/painter of hummingbirds), and Thomas Wentworth Higginson (a writer on hummingbirds).

The book gives an overview of each of these amazing people and what made them important in their own time. The hummingbird is used as a metaphor for the post war era’s spirit and as a means of showing the shared interest of those who spent the ‘Summer’ of 1882 together.

Mrs. Cook then moved into the second part of her program by sharing information from a historical and non-fiction book, “The Season of Debutantes”, by author and writer Kristen Richardson from Brooklyn, N.Y. These young ladies go through a “Season” of social occasions moving quickly (much like a Hummingbird) in preparation for their annual Debutante Ball where they are

formally introduced into society. We discussed the history of Debutantes dating back to the days of English court presentations to the present.

This author sent a lovely email message of recognition to the Six and Twenty members for our 123 years of being together, and encouraged us to continue reading our way through the pandemic!

A lively discussion took place among the members as we recalled ‘Summers’ and ‘Seasons’ from our former lives such as High School Proms, Cotillions, and the annual May Queen Event.

Mrs. Bobbi Jo Schlaegel, Hostess for the meeting, served beautifully decorated cupcakes for the members to take home and enjoy after the meeting.

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