Chautauqua 2016-23

I remember reading James Michener’s “The Fires of Spring” when I was quite young. I wrote about this before and inserted a paragraph from the book then that stayed with me for so many decades. (See 2015-100). In the book, a young lad experienced life in Eastern Penna around the early 1900’s. In the story, a group of people came to town and “Did a Chautauqua”, which in essence was a troupe of people doing orations, minstrel acts, etc. from town to town, under a tent.  There is a place, Chautauqua. NY (corrected), that has retreats and other happenings and my friend Dorothy goes there from time to time…..

Chautauqua 2016-23

The soliloquy of a Chautauqua

so supreme, told in a manner

to enlighten those surrounding

the orator speaking loudly


Thoughts and opinions thrown

out to Americana to contemplate,

think out, and perhaps if agreed

with, then acted upon.


Listeners with cocked heads trying

to ascertain meaning from all the

spoken words, ears straining to

decipher words sometimes said



Chautauqua days gone by, supplanted

by a box blaring out words and then

later pictures that replace the minds

magic of imagination.

Den Betts



Message given 2015-111

I read “The Fires of Spring” by James Michener and have mentioned it, and of him before, when I wrote a paragraph about “the journey that man make”. Anyhow, in the book there was a traveling group (about 1920) that made the trip to the town where the main subject lived. It, the group, was making “A Chautauqua Circuit” and that was part of the book’s story. The Chautauqua’s then were traveling groups that concentrated on reading stories to the people of the time. Sort of like “live TV then”, only with people involved on stage.

Message given    2015-111

The soliloquy of a Chautauqua

so serene;

Expounded on subjects

so supreme.

Of Homer, extolling his Iliad

so long ago;

Fay, telling the

world of Achilles life.

Storyteller today,

spinning his yarn;

His creation of living

a vision in the mind.

Magic of thought,

brought to the beings;

Joining as one, with one,

as never again seen.

A different time, poles apart

Of experiencing existence

In a way that gave comfort

Of hearing about life.

Den Betts

The Fires of Spring 2015-100

I read the book by James Michener, “The Fires of Spring” when I was quite young. It and the below  paragraph stayed with me and is still pasted on my wall to remind me of my “finding myself”.  I share this with you now, to consider the words written by a renowned writer long ago.

The Fires of Spring  2015-100

For this is the journey that men make; to find themselves. If they fail in this, it doesn’t matter much what else they find. Money, position, fame, many loves, revenge – – – are all of little consequence, and when the tickets are collected at the end of the ride, they are tossed into the bin marked failure.

BUT, if a man happens to find himself — if he knows what he can be depended upon to do, the limits of his courage, the many positions from which he will no longer retreat, the degree to which he can surrender his inner life to some woman, the secret reservoirs of his determination, the extent of his dedication, the depth of his feelings for beauty, his honest and unpostured goals — then he has found a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life…………………………………………………………..

James Michener – The Fires of Spring