Official Newsletter of the Salem Rotary Club

This week at Rotary...

Screenwriter and Playwright
When Bruce Whear was first asked to co-chair the speaker committee in our virtual environment, Mary Ruth Clarke was one of the first people who came to his mind. Bruce worked with Mary Ruth in the 1980s performing in summer stock theater in Maine, and he was thrilled to welcome her to speak to our Club this week.
Mary Ruth, a self-professed story geek, began her talk by sharing why homosapiens, who she refers to as “homonarrates,” tell stories. She cited three trivia facts about why our species tells, reads, writes, and watches stories. The first relates to the Chauvet Caves in the south of France. Discovered in 1990, these caves are open once a year for scientists who are required to wear hazmat suites due to toxic gases. Director Werner Herzog gained access to film a documentary within the caves and was granted permission to enter with a cameraman and lighting person. In this documentary, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” Herzog shows some of the oldest human-painted images ever discovered, proving that stories have been told for over 30,000 years in some form or another.
A second trivia fact Mary Ruth shared is that in 2001, the genome project discovered the FOXP2 gene, which supports narration. This indicates that humans are predisposed to the narrative at a cellular level. The last trivia fact which demonstrates that storytelling is inherent in our species is about two linguists who noticed that Emily, their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, babbled at bedtime. They wrote a book, Narratives from the Crib, about how as Emily’s language skills developed over time, this babbling proved to be Emily telling herself stories about her day with her reactions about what she experienced.
Mary Ruth discussed why we are compelled to tell, listen, and ingest stories. She mentioned reasons including learning, experience making, society, the betterment of people, rehearsal, warnings, healing, information retrieval, happily ever after, and hope. The biggest reason she noted, “according to story geeks,” is that human beings are driven to make sense of things, and stories help them do that.
Mary Ruth shared some of her background and how she got to where she is today. Her high school sweetheart, Scott McPherson, and she went to Ohio State and majored in theater. From there she went to Emerson for her BFA and met Bruce during summer stock in Maine. Following that, she moved to Chicago where she performed in musical theater for many years. She also did commercials and landed a grocery store jingle that helped pay the bills for a decade.
She became unsatisfied with musical theater until she joined a company that was performing original work. As the newest person in the ranks, she became the note taker and subsequently fell in love with the writing aspect of theater. She met a writing partner who needed a good screamer for one of his short films. She served in that role for him as an actor and then wrote a screenplay for a disaster comedy where everything that could go wrong did. They shot their movie where the lion’s share of the budget covered the actual film stock. The film was successful in its own way, but they wanted to re-shoot it and were seeking additional funds to remake it.
Their movie, “Meet the Parents,” caught the attention of Steven Soderbergh, and they signed with Universal Studios. Their original screenplay changed through this process as did the director. Then Robert De Niro signed on, and the film transitioned further. She was a little bitter about the transitions but was pleased to finally watch the Hollywood production in a small theater where she heard the laughter of people of all ages who enjoyed this film that was based on her work.
She continues to write screenplays and plays today, noting that the two disciplines are very different but inform each other. She also teaches at the college level, which is something she found by accident but finds a joyful experience. She revels in her students’ successes and shared that one of her former students is now writing for a show on Hulu and another is writing for a show on Netflix. She is currently writing her own sitcom with a comedian about his time as a corrections officer. Hopefully, we will get to watch that in the near future!


Hannah Theriault of Salem
Sold by Rich Blazo

VisIting Rotarians & Guests

None this week.


Bill Henning shared that if Rotarians are interested in adding happy dollars to their quarterly bills, they can be added to their invoice. Contact Bill or Rich Eisner to add a happy dollar or two to your invoice!


Doing good in the community is what we are all about, and having fun is how we do it! The pandemic has not kept our Club from service or fellowship, and it won’t prevent us from a little fundraising either. Join us for the Salem Rotary Spring Break Series, three events focused on fellowship, fundraising, and fun!
Attend one, two or all three events! This a la carte style series is intended to get as many Rotarians and friends involved in supporting our Club and having fun as possible. Sponsorships are also available. Visit our website for more information.

Why I am A SALEM Rotarian

Francesca Little kicked off our meeting by sharing what got her interested in Rotary. A newer member to our Club, 99% of her Rotary experience has been virtual! She joined our Club in March of 2020, and although she attended few meetings as Mike McLaughlin’s guest, her first official meeting as a Rotarian was our last in-person meeting. She shared that this has been an interesting ride so far! She became curious about Rotary when she was working with Mike on a real estate deal. While scheduling meetings with him, she noticed that he was unavailable every Tuesday at 12:15 because of Rotary. Her father was a Rotarian as well, so she asked Mike more about our Club. Knowing that Francesca was interested in becoming more engrained in the Salem community, Mike invited her to a meeting. She liked what she experienced and happily joined. She said that it has been awesome to learn about what is happening in Salem and looks forward to more time in the Club, hopefully in person. Francesca selected Siddhartha Shah to share next week.

RotarIAN NEWS...

  • Kristen Armstrong shared that at age 45, she decided to learn how to ride a motorcycle. She has not been fully successful to date, but a Harley Davidson coach noticed her posts of Facebook which described her challenges. This coach reached out with an offer to train Kristen, which she happily accepted. Hopefully this training will keep her on the bike and off the ground!
  • Jane Stirgwolt shared that her daughter Hazel, who was recently accepted into law school, also wants to be a biker chick.
  • Jason Consalvo noted that he got the J&J shot and was happy until he turned on the news the next day. We are all hoping that he has no adverse reactions! Jason also shared that he was surprised to receive a book in the mail by Skip Yetter entitled, A Reasonably Viable Marriage, forgetting that he won the book from the meeting when the Yetters presented. Kerri was equally confused when she saw the book on the counter!
  • Tim Clarke told Francesca that his father was a big fan of her father. Tim noted that his father was known to be a man of discerning taste who was very selective about who he admired, and her father made it on his very short list.
  • Bruce Whear asked Kristen how her parents felt about her new hobby. Kristen shared that her father would be ok with it, because he was a big believer in equality, and her brothers ride bikes. She admitted her mom was not thrilled at first but appreciated her enthusiasm, because she was a second seat biker chick in her own right. Her mother is looking forward to going on a ride with Kristen but will need a side car. She did add that her husband thinks she’s crazy!
  • Gerrit Bradley noted that Willa got her driver’s license, but there is no need to worry because she is a very safe driver!
  • Rich Eisner taught members how to add a video filter to their Zoom to improve their look!

Club Announcements

Board Meeting Updates
There are two volunteer opportunities coming up in May: the Senior Fiesta Drive-Thru and a Lifebridge Dinner. Please see separate listings for these below. There were no funds allocation requests this month.
The board discussed in-person meetings and determined that it is too soon to gather now, but the topic will be revisited again in May. We will also be investigating hybrid options.
Senior Fiesta Drive-Thru
Wednesday, May 5
In lieu of the Senior Prom Event with the Council on Aging, the Club will be sponsoring a Fiesta Drive-Thru event for seniors on Cinco de Mayo. Volunteers will be needed to handout pre-packaged lunches to seniors at the Community Life Center on May 5 at 11 AM. Please contact Patty Pace if you are able to assist.
Lifebridge Dinner Wednesday, May 12
Volunteers are needed for the next Lifebridge dinner. Again, a recipe will be provided to volunteers so the meal will be consistent, and volunteers will make a portion of the dinner in their home kitchens. Please contact Kristen Armstrong or Claire Kallelis if you would like to volunteer.
Upcoming Speakers
Apr 20, 2021
Chair, Salem's Race Equity Task Force
Apr 27, 2021
President, Salem State University
May 04, 2021
View entire list
Member Birthdays
Viktoria Talebian
April 14
Richard Moore
April 17
Michael McLaughlin
April 19
Gerrit Bradley
April 21
Sue O'Brien
April 22
Board of Directors
President Elect
Vice President
Immediate Past President
Public Image Chair
Russell Hampton
ClubRunner Mobile
Club Information
Tuesdays at 12:15 PM
Hawthorne Hotel
18 Washington Square
Salem, MA 01970
United States of America
We are currently meeting via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to returning to the Hawthorne Hotel soon! In the meantime, please email for our Zoom link.
District Site
Venue Map
Please add to your safe sender list or address book.
To view our privacy policy, click here.
102-2060 Winston Park Drive, Oakville, ON, L6H 5R7