Historical society posts History Happy Hour schedule July 11 to Aug. 29

July 1, 2014
The History Happy Hour series kicks off its July schedule with Jim Bertholet's "The Life and Work of a Surfman in the U.S. Life-Saving Service 1870s-1915" on July 11. Pictured is a Life-Saving Service rescue attempt using a breeches buoy, which was used most commonly between 1860 and 1920. SOURCE THE LEWES HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The Lewes Historical Society continues to host its History Happy Hour series on Fridays this summer through Aug. 29. These interesting dialogs are led by local history buffs and range in topics from early explorers of the Delaware Bay to the 50th anniversary of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.

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History Happy Hour talks begin at 4 p.m. and run for for 20-30 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer period. During the presentations, a glass of wine will be served by the Rose & Crown, Lewes’s upscale British pub.

Doors open at 3:30 p.m. Limited seating is available and programs are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. History Happy Hours are sponsored by and take place at Hotel Rodney, 142 Second St.

On July 11, Jim Bertholet will present "The Life and Work of a Surfman in the U.S. Life-Saving Service 1870s-1915." These men had very interesting lives, both at home and while on duty. Bertholet is a Vietnam veteran who retired after 40 years in sales, sales training, and sales management.

He is a lifelong history buff who grew up on the Jersey shore and always had a particular interest in maritime history, especially the U.S. Life-Saving Service and U.S. lighthouses. He moved to Delaware in 2010, where he currently conducts Lewes Historical Society Maritime Tours, presents at the Lewes Life-Saving Station and works on the Wooden Boat Building Volunteer Crew.

On July 18, speaker James Morrison will present “The 1769 Transit of Venus: Part Science, Part History & Part Mystery.” Morrison will discuss the importance of the rare event when Venus passes across the sun’s disk and why it was particularly important in 1769. In that year, The American Philosophical Society sponsored three observatories, including a temporary facility in Lewes.  Morrison and a colleague in England are the first to have studied the historical records and presented a detailed description of the Lewes observatory.

Morrison is retired from a career in the computer industry that spanned 37 years, including 30 years with IBM, where he held a variety of technical and management positions. After leaving IBM, he formed a systems software consulting firm from which he retired in 2000. He also worked as an engineer on the Apollo program. He is the author of "The Astrolabe," the most complete treatise on the history, theory, design and use of all types of astrolabes and related instruments.  He and his wife Lynne have lived in Rehoboth Beach since 2000.

On July 25, speaker Bob Kotowski will present "The Piers of Lewes.” Lewes is a maritime town. Ask most people what they know about the piers of Lewes and they probably can identify the Queen Anne Pier used by the railroad and steamship companies in the late 1800s and early 1900s; the Iron Pier, an expensive federal project that never reached its potential and was known as the government’s folly; the Coast Guard Pier and the World War II Army Mine Pier.

But research has uncovered 14 piers at various times in Lewes harbor between the early 1800s and the mid-1900s, all helping Lewes live up to its maritime moniker.

Kotowski is a retired journalist who’s lived full time in the Lewes area since 2001. He has received numerous journalism awards, including the Overseas Press Club of America’s 1983 Lowell Thomas Award, and was inducted into the KYW Newsradio Hall of Fame in 2012. He is a member of the editorial board of “Lewes History: The Journal of The Lewes Historical Society” and a frequent contributor to the annual publication.

He also is a member of The Lewes Historical Society’s Wooden Boat Building Program and serves on the society’s Education Committee. In addition, Kotowski has researched and written the historical monograph “An Interpretive History of Ebenezer M.E. Church” near Lewes and two local history books published by Cedar Tree Press: “Ablaze in Lewes Harbor: the Last Cruise of the S.S. Lenape” and “Pie in the Sky: the Authorized History of Punkin Chunkin.”

The Lewes Historical Society thanks History Happy Hour sponsor Hotel Rodney; the Rose & Crown also supports the History Happy Hour program.  For a complete listing of speakers, subjects and locations of The Lewes Historical Society’s History Happy Hours, go to


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