Greetings fellow Rotarians! I am delighted to share what transpired during our 16 July meeting.

 

President Jennifer Hara called us to order at 12:30 PM, leading members in the Pledge of Allegiance. She turned to Jennifer Paquette for the words of inspiration. Jennifer read one of her “favorite quotes” from President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 speech titled “The Man in the Arena.” Roosevelt proclaimed that no success or victory comes without experiencing failures “while daring greatly” to advance “a worthy cause”—a powerful and empowering message.

President Jennifer then asked me to introduce guests and visiting Rotarians. We welcomed visitors of diverse backgrounds, including three of our youngest, most enthusiastic guests ever:

  • Prince Adebanjo Adejuwon joined us; he is the CEO and President of Mbh Global Resources.
  • Levi Leatherberry was with us from the Rotaract Club.
  • U.S. diplomat Steve Liston visited our club from Santiago, Chile.
  • Charles H. Botwick, CEO of CHB ITMG, came at Sam Hancock’s invitation.
  • Daniel Panell, General Manager of Regus, was also Sam Hancock’s guest.
  • Dr. Hans-Peter Guellich traveled from the Zurich Belvoir International Rotary Club where he is the founder and current president. His is the only English-speaking Rotary Club in Switzerland
  • Last but surely not least, our youngest guests for the day Sunaina, Risha and Krishiv Gupta accompanied their grandfather Balraj to lunch, excited to see our meeting in action!

With applause for our visitors winding down, President Jennifer requested that Sergeant-at-Arms Buz Gorman recognize the week’s birthdays. Buz congratulated and promised to hug:

  • Shelton Williams on 13 July – Joining our club in 2013 sponsored by Sheldon Ray, Shelly’s classification is education-international studies.
  • Greig Cummings on 14 July – Sponsored by Edward Maloney, Greig became a club member in 1968 and served as president during 1977-78; his classification is investments-portfolio management.
  • Marta Pentassuglia on 19 July – A member as of April this year, Marta was sponsored by Erminia Scarcella; her classification is human resources.

Returning to the microphone, President Jennifer highlighted upcoming events for Rotarians to put on their calendars.

  • She called on Paulo Delo to remind members about the Dine Around on Thursday, 24 July at the National Press Club. Paula described a sumptuous dinner of Southern barbecue which Rotarians may feast on while listening to the Greater U Street Jazz Collective, all for the bargain price of $25. Paula will reserve space for the first 12 members to sign up for dinner.
  • President Jennifer announced the Federal City Rotary Club’s Officer Installation Ceremony on Sunday, 20 July at 3:00 PM. She plans to attend, and District Governor Bill Fine and Former DG Peter Kyle will also be at the Vida Fitness Penthouse Rooftop & Pool for the ceremony and swim party. (Please note that this event has taken place.)
  • Looking ahead, President Jennifer encouraged Rotarians to attend the Opening Ceremonies of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center on 3 August. Addressing the attendees will be Rotary International President Gary C.K. Huang who she described as a “fantastic speaker.”

Before turning to the day’s guest speaker, President Jennifer presented Cherry Baumbusch with her Red Badge. Cherry comes to us from the McLean Rotary Club.

The Return of Paul Dickson—“Collector of Words”

In the absence of Ed O’Brien who invited our speaker, I had the pleasure of introducing prolific author Paul Dickson who made a return appearance to our club. Mr. Dickson has written some 65 books on a wide range of subjects, from the light-hearted and fun to the weighty and serious—among them, baseball, drinking toasts, ice cream, the civil rights movement and Sputnik’s launch. Last year, he shared with us Words from the White House—Words and Phrases Coined or Popularized by America’s Presidents. This year, he brought us Authorisms—Words Wrought by Writers, declaring his “pure, unadulterated pleasure” in composing this book.

Mr. Dickson recalled loving language and words since he was a child. He learned long ago that “vocabulary is a key unlocking a lot of doors.” He recounted the funny story of hugging his young son with joy when the child exclaimed during an argument, “Dad, you’re such a hypocrite!” The bewildered son did not understand his father’s reaction, while Mr. Dickson was pleased at the proper usage of the word “hypocrite.”

Although he humbly described himself as a mere “collector of words” who does nothing but “take out the trash, write books and raise kids,” Authorisms proves that Mr. Dickson is a premier lexicographer. This book—published on 23 April 2014, in honor of the 450th anniversary, or “sesquiquadracentennial,” of William Shakespeare’s birth—probes the depths of literary history to identify words created or discovered by such authors as Chaucer, John Milton, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, George Orwell and Norman Mailer among hundreds of others.

Impressing Rotarians with his expansive knowledge of language, Mr. Dickson cited numerous author-created words—as I wrote furiously, trying in vain to capture all of them! Did you know…?

  • John Milton is responsible for the word “pandemonium” which became a synonym for hell in book 1 of his 1667 epic poem Paradise Lost. Milton was also first to use the word “space” to signify the infinitude of the universe in book 8 of his poem.
  • In Last of the Mohicans, James Finemore Cooper depicted the interaction between native Americans and newly arrived immigrants from Europe during the early 19th century, giving us such words as “fire-water,” meaning liquor, and “happy hunting grounds,” referring to the afterlife in the spiritual world of Indian tribes.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin portrayed the plight of black families in Kentucky broken up and sold to plantation owners in the Mississippi delta where conditions were much tougher. She thus imbued the phrase “sold down the river” with its poignant sense of betrayal.
  • Humorist Dorothy Parker met regularly with her writer friends in the Algonquin Round Table, named for the New York hotel, and was telling “knock, knock” jokes as early as 1920.
  • Columnist Calvin Trillin coined the term “Sabbath gasbags” in the late 1990s to describe the pundits featured on Sunday morning television’s political talk shows.
  • And Paul Dickson himself replaced the cumbersome “contrastive focus reduplication” with the concise “word word”—as in “Is that grass or grass grass?”

As Mr. Dickson graciously took questions from several curious Rotarians, he underscored that language and the meanings of words change, whether we like it or not. His fascination with the evolution of language is reflected in his passion for writing: “Writing is the greatest way to spend time. You can create your own world. It gives you control and power in the emotional sense of making people laugh and smile by what you put in black and white. That is the best pleasure!”

Adjourned Until Next Week

After President Jennifer awarded Paul Dickson our club’s “Trees for the Capital” certificate, Rotarians were eager to discover who bought the lucky raffle ticket from Valentin Solis.

As Valentin approached the head table, President Jennifer took a moment to mark an auspicious occasion. Asking us to raise our ice tea glasses in a toast, she wished our Rotary Club a very happy 102nd birthday.

President Jennifer also announced that Chief of Partnerships for the National Mall and Memorial Parks at the U.S. Department of Interior Robin Nixon will visit our club in conjunction with the Trees for the Capital program on 23 July.

Paul Dickson then drew the winning numbers, and the small pot of $51 went to Judge Larry Margolis. Yet because he did not pull the ace of spades from our deck of cards, the large pot of $546 will continue to increase.

Thank you to the day’s Greeter Tony Cusack as well as to Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway who welcomed guests at the Hospitality Table.

At our 23 July meeting, we will hear from guest speaker Lisa Winstel, Chief Operating Officer of the Caregiver Action Network (CAN).

President Jennifer adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen—until next week!