‘Scary’ topics make for interesting meetings

Friday, February 17, 2012


Bedford Women’s Club

A special highlight at each of the monthly meetings hosted by the Bedford Women’s Club, a group of some 150 members, is the visit from a guest speaker. Experts from fields as diverse as literature, travel and animal behavior, have shared experiences with the members.

One of this member’s all-time favorites was a lecture and photo presentation by wildlife expert Ben Kilham, author of several books about bears. He talked with gusto about his specialty – black bears.

Kilham has spent more than 16 years observing bears. He’s licensed to rehabilitate young bears whose mothers die due to car accidents, logging incidents or other fatal occurrences. He has raised or released more than 75 black bears into the wild. They are animals that can live to be about 40 years old.

Black bears, he said, are not solitary animals. They accept each other in an open society; they share food with relatives and also with strangers. They depend on sounds and scent messages to communicate with each other. An organ in the nose is so complex, it can discern from far away a bear’s gender, social status and mood. They leave messages for other bears by marking trees with scent.

Many of the ladies in the club were relieved to hear him say bears are more obedient than dogs and rarely confrontational. A bear in a family’s backyard will quickly leave if the homeowner stands tall and tells it to scram. Making any kind of noise, such as clanging a spoon against a cooking pan, also will send most bears packing. Many in the group went on to investigate the subject on their own by visiting,

But bears are not the only “scary” things talked about by special guest speakers at the monthly meetings of the Bedford Women’s Club, an organization with roots going back to 1905. The most recent subject of a guest speaker was another scary personage – Frankenstein.

Meoghan B. Cronin spoke at the Jan. 26 meeting about Mary Shelly’s famous novel, “Frankenstein.” The book was first published in 1818, when Mary Shelly was only 21. In 2006, the lecturer received the New Hampshire Excellence Award for post-secondary education.

Many of the women in the BWC audience are members of the group’s book club, which read the famous book in preparation for the lecture. The book club is one of many special interest groups the Women’s Club has, including groups for bridge players, scrabble players, movie-goers, restaurant aficionados and other activities, including bee keeping.

Cronin, who specializes in romantic and Victorian literature at Saint Anselm College, came to the school in 1993 with a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware. She is one of the region’s foremost authorities on the Gothic tale, one that instills a multitude of questions related to the human life force and the relationship of a man-made creature to its creator.

A lively Q-and-A period followed the speaker’s presentation, one illustrated with slides depicting Victorian photographs of works of art reflecting the era’s preoccupation with nature and forces impacting life and death. She showed slides of paintings referencing ships crashed upon jagged rocks or wind-whipped in gale-force storms. Similarly exciting lectures are scheduled for the months ahead. The March meeting is expected to bring advice from Melissa Koerner, a popular fitness consultant and expert on women’s fitness, nutrition and stress management.

For more information on joining the BWC, visit or by calling membership co-chairwomen Chris Buffey at 935-7228 or Terry Chapman at 472-3642.

Loretta Jackson is a freelance writer and current BWC member residing in Merrimack.

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