The following is a transcript of Chautauqua President Thomas M. Becker’s Three Taps of the Gavel address to the Amphitheater on June 26, 2011.
Welcome to this morning’s service of worship and to this ceremonial gaveling that we conduct for the purposes of opening the season and dedicating ourselves to the amazing array of gifts contained within the next nine weeks of the Chautauqua experience.
After almost a year of construction, trucks are lining the foot of Bowman Avenue for the last time as Rachel Mazza Borzilleri hurries across the porch of the new Hagen-Wensley Guest House, making last-minute adjustments.
Borzilleri, the hostess of the Hagen-Wensley, welcomed the house's first guests Saturday, reigniting a tradition of integrating speakers and guests into Chautauqua's daily fabric.
So where is the portrait of Anna Pennybacker, the iconic president of the Chautauqua Women’s Club, who last served in 1937?
Is the portrait’s absence and the possibility that it may not return to its prominent position over the fireplace mantle of the Women’s Club living room a symbol of today’s members’ 21st century energy and spirit?
That energy and spirit have led to a recent redo of the Women’s Club bylaws creating a board of directors with a chairwoman and a $500,000 clubhouse renovation.
On Sunday morning in the Amphitheater, Chautauqua President Thomas M. Becker will mark the beginning of the 2011 Season with the ceremonial three taps of the gavel.
While the gavel has come to symbolize the opening and closing of the Chautauqua Season, the history of “Three Taps” is murky at best, according to Chautauqua historian and archivist Jonathan Schmitz.
A brand new entrance to the ground and an extensive rain garden designed to help protect Chautauqua Lake from Institution water runoff are just two projects that highlight a typically busy off-season for Chautauqua’s grounds and landscape staff, whose efforts were severely hindered by rainfall heavier than many could recall.