Holiday Gifts at FACES
Now thru January 3rd
Dec. 2nd thru 6th
Alida Greenhalgh at FACES
Dec. 13th, 2-4pm
Knitted ornaments at FACES
at The Foundry
Dec. 13th, 4-5:30pm
Former CCCA board member Florence deNagy Remembered
Florence de Nagy — a perfect cup of tea
By CHRIS POLK
Staff Writer | Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 1:00 am
DENTON — One of Caroline County’s most notorious instigators and behind-the-scenes organizers was forced to step from behind the curtain last Sunday afternoon.
Florence de Nagy raised her eyebrows and stared with an open jaw at the more than 50 people hiding in the upstairs Denton library conference room. They had gathered to pay tribute to her with a specially-prepared high afternoon tea.
“I’m speechless,” were her first words. But in true de Nagy form, she thought quickly. “First I have to figure out how to close my mouth!” she said.
De Nagy, the soft-spoken unassuming but tenacious librarian who for more than two decades has fed a steady diet of cutting-edge arts and cultural programs to county organizations, was truly surprised. Since she joined the library in 1985, her dogged pursuit of artists, dancers, musicians and entertainers extraordinaire has helped to transform the Caroline libraries — the Denton branch, expanded to include two others in Greensboro and Federalsburg — into a trio of perhaps the county’s most significant and enduring community centers.
As her ability to sniff out and scare up the unusual and the excellent became the stuff of legend, a number of county organizations jumped on the de Nagy bandwagon. The county’s Department of Recreation and Parks, the Caroline County Council of Arts and others have drafted de Nagy to serve as sometimes consultant, sometimes head honcho in many of the county’s more cerebral projects.
“She really is a treasure,” said Recreation and Parks Director Sue Simmons, who listed some of the ventures that carried the de Nagy stamp. Carnival in Caroline, Noon Tunes, Friday Nites at the Library, Second Story Live Coffeehouse, Books Plus and the Robert Burns Nicht Supper were all mentioned by many who gathered to pay homage.
Yet, for the group of tea-drinkers who settled in for an afternoon of swapping Florence stories, de Nagy is remarkable for many other reasons.
Born in New York City, the then Florence Weinheimer graduated from New York University in 1949 with a double major in French and English, then immediately took off for Paris with a school chum. Fluent in French, she readily found translation work. “Those were still the days that people traveled by ship,” she said, recalling that she left for Europe on the cruise ship Ile de France and returned, more than a year later, on the Queen Elizabeth I.
She met her husband, Hungarian attorney Georges de Nagy, on a blind date where they were instructed to wear red carnations in order to spot one another at the posh Plaza Hotel in New York City. At the time, he spoke French but could not speak English.
The couple traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast and back after they were married, producing six children, and eventually settling in Vermont. They decided to move to the Eastern Shore after visiting friends in Easton. A home in Reliance, near Federalsburg, had enough room for the horse and the six de Nagy children.
Decades of working and raising children did not stop the irrepressible de Nagy from earning two masters degrees, one in English from the C.W. Post College of Long Island University and a master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware. Her penchant for adventure never wavered, and she continued to fearlessly wander the globe at every opportunity, covering the United States, all of Western and most of Eastern Europe, among others.
The globe-trotting de Nagy was on the move again in the early 1980s when she decided to join the Peace Corps. “I taught English at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso,” she explained. Burkina Faso is a province in West Africa.
Her Peace Corps stint was cut short, however, by a family emergency, and she returned home. Back in Caroline County, she spied an ad in the local newspaper for a library position.
Library Administrator George Sands recalled her resume at Sunday’s afternoon tea. “Now the resume was nice but the thing that really impressed me was the letters of recommendation from her peers…. Oh, we had one from Grover Cleveland and the other was from Benjamin Disraeli,” he wisecracked, referencing de Nagy’s long, impressive job history and international flair. She celebrated her 79th birthday on March 28.
Sands marveled at the wealth of cultural programming taking place in Caroline County that was made possible in a large part by de Nagy.
“Florence, all I can say is, I’m looking forward to many more years of your service, and great programs,” he stated. De Nagy has no plans to retire.
He also noted that she could be quite the contender if an artist she had booked ever tried to cancel.
“If you all go to your dictionaries and look up “chutzpah” you’ll see Florence’s picture there,” he said.
Many of de Nagy’s friends submitted “Florence Memory” cards which Caroline County Arts Council Executive Director Marina Dowdall requested to be filled out before Sunday’s event to aid in the roasting of the intrepid de Nagy.
The “cherry pie incident” was an often-requested story that has become part of the de Nagy legend. After baking a cherry pie for a community event, de Nagy found that, much in the manner of Little Jack Horner, one of the six de Nagy children had stuck actually more than a thumb in the freshly-baked pie. “I was so mad, I just took the pie and smashed it against the wall over the sink,” she said.
The pie-throwing de Nagy also somehow found herself on a train in 2003, going from Copenhagen, Denmark to Düsseldorf, Germany, sharing a sleep-over compartment with a group of six people who spoke six different languages. One of them was a circus juggler who still keeps in touch by e-mail. “Always travel second class,” she advises. “You meet the most interesting people.”
And woe to the purse-snatcher who ran for four blocks through the streets of Norwalk, Conn., with the enraged de Nagy on his heels. She only stopped when she realized her pet poodle, Charlie, had joined in the pursuit and was in imminent danger.
Several of the most colorful de Nagy stories were woven into a song written and performed by Greensboro songwriter and guitarist Jon Simmons Sunday afternoon, with the audience joining in the refrain. She was also given a “memory book” with messages written from friends.
The Chesapeake Culinary School provided high tea cuisine for the event. Table arrangements included donated or borrowed teapots from de Nagy’s friends and filled with pansies, compliments of the Woodside Greenhouse in Ridgely. The event was funded by the Caroline County Council of Arts.
De Nagy’s friends collectively summed it up when they came up with a name for the event: “Florence de Nagy — A Perfect Cup of Tea.”
Featuring great holiday gift items for all types of people. Fiber Artists from around the Eastern Shore will be selling their work in the FACES gallery leading up to the holiday season. So, whether you are shopping for someone with a cold neck, a jewelry lover, or even the fiber artist in your life; you are sure to find a wonderful hand- made gift, or something special for yourself.
The exhibit is on display until January 3 during opening hours: Thursday to Saturday from 12-4pm, or by appointment.
View and bid on wonderfully decorated holiday trees that will be on display at FACES during the following special opening hours:
December 2 12-5 Chamber Night 5-7pm
December 3 12-5
December 4 12-6 Open for Denton Holiday Parade
December 5 12-5
December 6 12-7 Bidding Ends at 4pm, Tree Pick up 4-7pm
The Caroline County Council of Arts has had a long standing tradition of providing programs for local writers, including an annual short contest for all ages that is now in its thirteenth year, and, most recently, an adult writing club called Write On! which meets twice a month at The Foundry. At these meetings writers share their work, encourage fellow writers, and generally enjoying the process. This fall all this activity has culminated in the publishing of “Story Tellers”, a selection of writings from Write On! members and Short Story Contest winners. The book is illustrated by artwork from this year’s Youth Art Show winners.A book launch party is planned for Saturday, December 13, where people can meet the authors, view the book, enjoy light refreshments, and purchase a copy and/or learn how to order copies online. This event will be a part of Denton’s Miracle on Market Street and will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. just prior to Santa’s arrival in town! Books will also be on display at libraries and other places in the county.
On Saturday, December 13, 2-4pm, the Caroline County Council of Arts (CCCA) will host a knitted ornament making activity with FACES instructor Alida Greenhalgh, as part of the “Second Saturday” series offered at the Denton Artsway in downtown Denton.
The event is free and open to all ages.
While making knitted holiday cupcake ornaments, attendees can enjoy the FACES Fiber Arts Holiday Bazaar that will be on display through January 3rd.
The Artsway is located on Fourth Street, between Market and Gay Streets in Denton. Demonstrations and activities from a variety of artists are typically held either at The Foundry community arts gallery (401 Market St.), FACES (7 N. Fourth St.) or at the Community Demonstration Garden (behind FACES). For more information please contact the CCCA office 410-479-1009 or visit www.carolinearts.org. Sign up for the CCCA e-newsletter at carolinearts.org, or friend us on facebook for more details.
Holiday Table Runner & Placemats; 10am-4pm, Sundays December 14, Instructor – Lynn Davis; $30; for ages 16&up. Ideal for beginners. Attendees will complete one table runner and six placemats using the “Crazy Shortcut Quilt” method, created by Marguerita McManus & Sarah Raffuse
Thursday, January 22, 3:00pm - 8:00pm, Easton Fire Hall, 315 Aurora Park Dr, Easton, MD 21601
The public is invited to register to receive a written and photographic record of their antique (pre-1950) quilts. This documentation requires about 30 minutes per quilt for measuring, photographing, dating fabric, identifying patterns, and recording the quilt history. FACES will maintain this information in a database to help preserve the legacy of quilt making, recognize its heritage, and share its story. Every quilt will be given a documentation tag, and quilt owners will be able to access their information on the website via an identification number. Quilt values will not be appraised and pre-registration is recommended in order to avoid a long wait time. Walk-ins will be accommodated as time allows. A $5 donation per quilt is being requested. For more information and to register visit www.fiberartscenter.com/quilt-documentation-project/.
This year’s annual Literary Evening, presented by the Caroline County Council of Arts, celebrated the life and works of Mark Twain. The sold out crowd was treated to a fun-filled evening of good food, entertainment, words, and wit. Members of the community including drama students, local actors, Twain enthusiasts and scholars, provided a variety of entertainment throughout the evening. CNB sponsored the event.
Next year’s event is set for Saturday, October 17, 2015 with Agatha Christie as the celebrated author.