General Meetings

Place:  Temple Israel, Westport
10:45 am Coffee and Conversation
11:30 am Meeting and Speaker

We must enter through the doors from the upper parking lot. There are a limited number of parking spaces in the upper lot; please leave them for those who have difficulty walking. Others please park in the lower lot and walk to the upper entrance. 

February 10 David Mark Brown: Johnny Reb and Billy Yank in the Spanish-American War

Historian David Mark Brown will show a slide presentation telling the story of “Johnny Reb” and “Billy Yank” in the Spanish-American War. He has given this talk to audiences including the Harvard Club History Section, the Civil War Society, Hunter College, and Y’s Men. By the late 1890s, America was recovering from a nasty  Presidential election and was divided by race, religion, ethnicity, and wealth.  It was also in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Sound familiar?  The American Frontier and Wild West were declared over and done with, yet the US showed little interest in foreign affairs. Its army, reduced to just 28,000 soldiers, was only one-twentieth the size of France’s or Germany’s, and the Navy was one-sixth the size of Britain’s and half the size of Spain’s. Civil War “reconciliation” had failed in the minds of many up North, most white Southerners, and blacks everywhere in America. What we needed was a “splendid little war” to once again awaken and unite America – and that war needed 125,000 enthusiastic volunteers.

Brown, born in Tennessee, received a double degree in Product Design and Textiles from North Carolina State University.  He parlayed his initial job in New York City’s garment district into an adventurous life in Germany, Italy, London, and Madrid, working for many of the world’s famous sports clothing brands, before returning to the US and turning to the study of a turbulent period in our nation’s history that seems so timely today.

Our young, eager, naive Spanish-American War volunteers would encounter junior officers who’d begun their careers battling Native Americans in America’s West after the end of the Civil War. The isolation of frontier garrisons and its small unit operations had accustomed junior officers to act on their own initiative. Thousands of young, white volunteers would encounter seasoned African-American “Buffalo Soldiers” and would be inspired and led by Civil War veterans, ancient warriors who were well trained to await orders and follow them. They were heroic – but at times comic and forgetful – leaders who nevertheless still remembered the costly charges that they had participated in against a well-entrenched enemy.  Brown’s cast for this enthralling presentation includes a President, a newspaper publisher, a Cuban rebel, and a troupe of iconic generals!

February 24 Alex Giannini: The Westport Library – A Look Ahead

Alex Giannini, the Manager of Programs and Events at the Westport Library, will give a special sneak peek at a number of new and exciting events for 2020 – some of which have not yet been announced to the general public! He will talk about several extremely interesting upcoming projects for the Library’s new Forum space and will give us a look behind the curtain at what the MakerSpace has in store for the community. This will undoubtedly be an interesting and fun-filled meeting for our Y’s Women!