WC-ALL Learn at Lunch — A Look at Watermen

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Pete Lesher

Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning has announced its schedule of Learn at Lunch speakers for the fall semester. The monthly series is open to members and non-members alike, and brings a broad array of speakers and topics to the community. The buffet lunches begin at noon in Hynson Lounge in Hodson Hall on the Washington College Campus, with the presentation and question and answer period following.

The first luncheon, to be held Sept. 20, will feature Pete Lesher, chief curator of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. His topic will be “Cultural Crossings on the Chesapeake – Watermen and Boaters 1870-1970”. Using regional literature, this talk will explore the Chesapeake Bay watermen’s culture through the eyes of visiting yachtsmen – encounters that varied from welcoming to troubled. From the writings of 19th century sportsmen who explored the Bay to 20th century photojournalist Robert de Gast’s observations, the watermen are admired for their knowledge of the waters and weather, as well as their boat handling skills. The writings of these visitors to the Chesapeake played a role in shaping the public perception of the region’s watermen as fiercely independent, rugged individualists. The talk will be illustrated from various historical accounts and the photography of Robert de Gast.

Lesher has been on the staff of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s since 1991, and now oversees museum collections, exhibitions, and programs as chief curator. He graduated from Lafayette College, holds an MA in History from Columbia University, and studied maritime history at Mystic Seaport’s Munson Institute for American Maritime Studies. He regularly speaks on a variety of maritime topics.

Learn at Lunch presentations for the rest of  2017 will feature Kristin Saunders, speaking on “Bound to Keep a Promise: The Story Behind the Creation of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, State Park, and National Historic Park” on Oct. 18, followed by Sherwin Markman’s presentation, “Presidents and Our Constitution: Have They Always Honored Their Oath of Office?” on Nov. 15.

To attend Lesher’s Sept. 20 talk, reservations with payment are required by Thursday, Sept. 14. The cost is $20. for WC-ALL members and $25. for non-members. Make checks payable to WC-ALL and send to WC-ALL, 300 Washington Ave., Chestertown, MD 21620 with name, phone number, and email included. No phone or email reservations can be accepted. For more information, call the WC-ALL office at 410-778-7221.

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