Image Credit:Frogs Toasting, an Antique Image Frequently Used (and Doctored, as Here) for Tavern Nights at the Connecticut River Museum
The Closing of The Thirsty River Exhibit
October 8 arrives and with it comes the closing of The Thirsty River exhibit at the Connecticut River Museum. We are now in preparation for next summer’s major exhibit on the myths and legends of the Connecticut River Valley. I am especially grateful to my friend and colleague Amy Trout, the curator of the CRM, for her diligence in bringing the exhibit together and for making it the success that it was. Thanks also to all who made the exhibit possible, especially the Connecticut Humanities, our lead sponsor Yankee Cider Company, and the many other sponsors.
For those of you who are interested, the exhibit script (written by yours truly) will be available sometime in the future. The Thirsty River map will remain online as well. The exhibit was the inspiration for this blog and contains all the items that “made it” to the walls of the museum. I hope you enjoy it.
During the course of The Thirsty River exhibit, Chris Dobbs stepped down as executive director of the CRM to become the executive director of the Museum of the Rockies. In addition to this loss, we also had to face the departure of his wife, Jen White-Dobbs, who was the Education Director at the CRM. I am very happy for Chris and Jen and for the MOR, but to call this news painful is an understatement of ridiculous proportions.
My association with Chris began in 2014 when we sat down to discuss my doing some folklore research for the proposed Myths and Legends exhibit. What we thought would be a few weeks’ worth of time turned into both a lifelong intellectual pursuit for me and a very dear and close friendship for us. I am firm believer in the importance of public intellectual work, and Chris models that commitment daily. In doing so, he reminds us of the incalculable contributions that such public intellectuals and organizations make to society. With Chris at the helm, the CRM has thrived as a center that brings together research in science, history, and folklore; a celebration of the arts; and a stellar program of education and environmental activism.
It didn’t hurt our friendship that Chris was also an expert in beer—and here, I mean expert, without the quotes. He knows the history of beer inside out. He and Rick Spencer (the folksinger and authority on folk songs) put together a popular and fascinating talk and tasting on the history of beer that, with Chris gone, will leave people in the area thirsty for more.
I’ve had the honor and pleasure of hosting several Tavern Nights at the CRM around my obsessions such as rum and genever, and I’ve had the “difficult” assignment of having to sail on the Onrust and introduce people to the historical drinks of the River. But these events pale in comparison to the joy I had in hosting a Tavern Night with Chris around port, an obsession we both share. Emily McColl, a reporter for a local paper, attended and covered the event. She took a photo that encapsulates Chris’s leadership style.
I am in the foreground, chatting with a patron, Kitsie Reeves. Chris is barely perceptible behind my hulking body, but if you look closely, you will find him hard at work behind the scenes, making certain that the evening would go off without a hitch and that everyone around him would succeed. That’s Chris Dobb’s work ethic in a nutshell. It’s the reason we will miss him so much here and why the MOR is so lucky to have him join them.
So here’s to The Thirsty River, and here’s to our friends Chris and Jen Dobbs!
Stephen Olbrys Gencarella