April 4th, 2016

Amelia Earhart: Pioneer of Flight

Amelia Earhart biography      Amelia Earthart biography      adult2          adult3

There has always been a bit of a mystery around Amelia, due to the fact that she disappeared along with her navigator during an attempt to become the first woman to fly around the world. There are many theories about their fate, but Amelia is foremost remembered for her courage and groundbreaking achievements, both in aviation and for women.

If we go back to when Amelia was a young girl in the 1900’s, she always fought the occasional disapproval of being a bit of a tomboy. She loved to climb trees, ‘belly slam’ her sled downhill and she hunted rats with a .22 rifle. Even at a young age, she felt defiant about what was expected of her and kept a scrapbook of clippings about successful women in predominantly male-oriented fields.

Amelia first felt the pull of the sky in her teens, when she attended a stunt-flying exhibition with a friend. A pilot spotted them and thought he’d give them a thrill…diving his plane down at them on the ground. Earhart stood her ground and she said later, “I did not understand it at the time, but I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by.” On December 28, 1920, pilot Frank Hawks gave her a ride on a flight and that forever changed her life and she knew she had to fly.

She finally took her first flying lesson on January 3, 1921 and in only six months’ time she managed to buy her first airplane…a second-hand Kinner Airster. It was a bright yellow two-seater biplane and she named it ‘The Canary.’ She set her first women’s flying record in it by flying at an altitude of 14,000 feet.

In April of 1928, a group including book publisher George P. Putnam asked Amelia if she’d like to be the first woman to fly the Atlantic and she immediately jumped into the project. Her team included pilot Wilmer ‘Bill’ Stultz and co-pilot/mechanic Louis E. ‘Slim’ Gordon. They left Newfoundland, Canada in a Fokker F7 on June 17, 1928 and arrived in Wales about 21 hours later. Their success was hugely celebrated with a ticker-tape parade in New York and a reception by President Coolidge.

Amelia went on in May of 1932…five years to the day after Lindbergh took his historic flight…to become the first woman and the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic. Earhart felt the flight proved that men and women were equal in “jobs requiring intelligence, coordination, speed, coolness, and willpower.”

As Earhart neared her 40th birthday, she was ready for her biggest challenge: she wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world. On June 1, 1937, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, left from Miami and began the 29,000 mile journey. By June 29th, when they landed in New Guinea, they had completed all but 7,000 miles of the trip. Their next hop to Howland Island was the most challenging and it was during that flight that contact was lost with them. The rescue attempt was the most extensive air and sea search in naval history at that time.

In a final quote in a letter to her husband before her final flight she wrote, “Please know I am quite aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

If you are intrigued to learn more about this pioneering tom-boy, join us for “History Alive – Flying High with Amelia Earhart” at the Chesapeake City Branch Library, Wednesday, April 20 at 6 PM. Mary Ann Jung, will bring to life the fascinating story of Amelia Earhart in this special, after-hours event. Call 410-996-1134 to register.

Have you dreamed of flying solo?

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March 22nd, 2016

Pysanky Eggs

PysankyEggsIf you live in the Chesapeake City area of Cecil County, you may already be familiar with the fascinating Ukrainian folk art of pysanky eggs. The Chesapeake City Branch Library will host a program about this amazing folk art on March 22 at 6:30pm with the artists that created the eggs in the display case sharing the rich history of the art and how they are made.

A pysanka egg is…in simple terms…an egg decorated using a wax resist (aka batik) method. The term comes from the Ukrainian verb “pysaty”, which means “to write”. “Pysanka” is the singular form and “pysanky” is the plural. The pysanka egg is so much more than that though. Ukrainians have been decorating eggs and creating these beautiful and intricate works of art for many generations.

In many cultures, ancient people developed myths about the egg…seeing it as an example of creation and the source of life. The intricately colored eggs were used for various social and religious occasions and at times were seen to be a talisman, a protector against evil, as well as a bringer of good and health. Over time, the pysanka tradition was incorporated within the Christian church and they became a form of Ukrainian Easter eggs.

In the past, there was at times a long and involved ritual regarding the decorating of the pysanky eggs. The eggs were made at night after the children were asleep and only the women in the family would work together. Special songs could be sung and the eggs were dyed with special family formulas. The process could take several evenings to finish the beautiful, intricate eggs and within a larger family, 60 eggs could be completed.

There are many different traditional symbols that are used in decorating the eggs. Geometric motifs are popular, as well as some animal and plant elements. You will find a lot of stylized symbols of the sun, which can be seen as a broken cross, triangle and eight-pointed rosette or a star. You can also find flowers, leaves, the tree of life, stags, horses and birds. The Christian influence brought the cross, the church and fish symbols. As pysanka decoration has been passed on through the years, you start to see much more modern decorations and symbols being used.

A specialized instrument called the kistka or ryl’tse is used during the wax resist method to write the design onto the egg with hot beeswax. Wherever the wax is applied, the dye will not penetrate. In the past, artisans prepared their own dyes using natural products such as bark, twigs and leaves of various trees. Today, chemical dyes are mainly used. The dye colors also held meanings at times, such as yellow standing for wealth and fertility and green being the symbol of spring and plant life. Of course, this is a simplified version of the process and there is so much more information about how to create these artful eggs.

I mentioned Chesapeake City earlier, because the Ukrainian people began arriving in Chesapeake City from the Ukraine in 1910. The first bishop in the US for the Ukrainian Byzantine Rite purchased 700 acres of land near Chesapeake City to help the Ukrainian people to settle as farmers and build a Ukrainian community. Traditions such as the pysanka egg were brought with them and every year we have many beautiful eggs on display in the case at the Chesapeake City library.

What is your favorite way to decorate eggs?

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