Globe West People

Newton Free Library benefit

By Cindy Cantrell
March 20, 2011

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SURVIVAL AT SEA: After a reading five years ago for “Ten Hours Until Dawn,’’ a man approached Franklin author Michael Tougias and announced he had an idea for his next book. Tougias was skeptical but intrigued.

“It took me about two minutes to say yes,’’ said Tougias, recalling his first meeting with Ron Burd, of Dover, N.H., one of four survivors of an accident 300 miles off the coast of North Carolina in May 2005.

Hitting bad weather four days into a voyage from Connecticut to Bermuda, captain Tom Tighe and first mate Loch Reidy were swept off the Almeisan, a 45-foot sailboat, while the other crew members — Burd, Chris Ferrer of Sterling, Mass., and Kathy Gilcrest — struggled to stay aboard.

Using his conversations with Burd as the starting point, Tougias wrote “Overboard! A True Bluewater Odyssey of Disaster and Survival,’’ chronicling their struggle in the stormy seas.

On March 31 at 7:30 p.m., Tougias will give a slide presentation on his book at the Holliston Public Library, 752 Washington St. He will share photographs of the crew, their sinking sailboat, and the Coast Guard rescue missions to bring them home. All survived except Tighe, who died in Reidy’s arms as they were battered for hours in 40-foot seas. Reidy then tethered the body to his own so he could bring his friend home.

In the course of writing 19 books, including the “Ten Hours’’ saga from the Blizzard of 1978, Tougias said, he has interviewed 75 people who have overcome incredible obstacles in order to survive a variety of harrowing situations.

“I’ve learned a lot about handling adversity,’’ he said. “These survivors didn’t look too far ahead when they found themselves in tough situations, and they didn’t dwell on the past. They simply did the next right thing to stay alive.’’

SPRING FLING: William Novak appreciates the irony of inviting fellow authors to share their books in a place where they usually aren’t sold.

However, this event is for a good cause, to benefit his hometown library. The annual “Spring Fling: An Evening for Library Lovers’’ will take place Saturday from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Newton Free Library, 330 Homer St. National Public Radio’s Tom Ashbrook of Newton will provide opening remarks, and Novak will introduce the authors and read brief selections from their books.

The event will honor Harvard University biochemist George M. Whitesides of Newton (“No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale’’); Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell of Cambridge (“Let’s Take the Long Way Home’’); Ted Gup of Boston (“A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness — and a Trove of Letters — Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression’’); Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding of Georgetown (“Tinkers’’); and Bruce Watson of Leverett (“Sacco and Vanzetti’’).

Novak, who has 18 books to his name, said his role will be encouraging the reading, purchasing, and borrowing of books.

“The library has almost everything,’’ he said, “and you can’t beat the price.’’

Spring Fling will also feature live music, hors d’oeuvres and desserts by Bakers’ Best of Newton, and a silent auction. Tickets cost $125, with proceeds going toward the purchase of library materials. For more information, visit

WINNING PERFORMANCE: Pianist Colbert Ye of Lexington, a junior at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., recently performed at Carnegie Hall as one of 35 finalists in this year’s Crescendo International Music Competition. The annual event draws 1,000 musicians between 5 and 21 years old in categories for instrumentalists, duets, ensembles, and vocalists.

Ye qualified for the finals with a performance in December at a preliminary competition in New Jersey, where he earned top marks for expressive qualities, technical skills, and presentation.

At Carnegie Hall, Ye performed Franz Liszt’s “Transcendental Etude No. 10.’’

Ye has been playing the piano since age 5, when he asked his parents to take lessons after seeing other children play at church.

Although he is interested in pursuing a career in law, Ye said, he has no plans to give up the piano: “I feel that enjoying music — and even better, being able to create music — is an essential part of life.’’

EXPANDING ARTS IN WESTON: Since Priscilla Dewey Houghton founded the Charles River Creative Arts Program in Dover in 1972, it has received five grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and served as a model for similar multiarts initiatives nationwide.

One of them, Creative Arts at Park in Brookline, is directed by Houghton’s daughter, Kippy Dewey. Her son, Toby Dewey of Brookline, is carrying on the tradition at the Cambridge School of Weston as the founding director of Summer Arts, which is based on the same model.

In Toby Dewey’s 30 years as director of the Charles River program, it grew to involve 550 children supported by 75 staff members. He says he is excited about the opportunity to build a new summer program from the ground up in Weston.

Enrollment is underway for Summer Arts, which runs from June 27 to July 29. While 6- and 7-year-olds participate in a structured arts immersion program, students ages 8 to 15 may create daily schedules in visual arts, dance, drama, musical theater, filmmaking, animation, textiles, music, writing, culinary arts, photography, swimming instruction, and sports.

“Being in a creative environment can be transformational for kids,’’ said Dewey, who will be teaching a class, Theatre of the Absurd. “Increasingly, they’re not given this opportunity in the public school system anymore, but at Summer Arts they can explore their creativity and discover talents they never knew they had.’’

For more information, visit

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