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Tommy Talk 2019: A Visit with Amelia (7 pm performance)

Tommy Talk 2019: A Visit with Amelia

Saturday, September 21
Performance for children ages 7 and up 2:00 PM - Click here to reserve tickets
Performance for adults at 7:00 PM - Reserve tickets on this page

Tompkins Center for History & Culture, Ithaca College Gallery/CAP ArtSpace, 1st Floor, 110 North Tioga Street, Ithaca, NY 14850


The Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation, in partnership with The History Center in Tompkins County, is excited to announce the first annual "Tommy Talk" to be held September 21, "A Visit with Amelia." 

Tommy_s flight September 2018

To commemorate the centennial flight of the restored Thomas-Morse S4B aeroplane on September 29, 2018, IAHF will hold an event each autumn highlighting aviation history through a lecture or performance. "A Visit with Amelia" features local Geneva actor Eleanor Stearns as famed aviator Amelia Earhart.


At the time of the "Tommy" plane's construction in 1918, 21-year-old Earhart was working as a nurse's aide at a military hospital in Toronto. It was during this time she developed an interest in flying. An ace pilot home from the war dove at Earhart and a friend during an air show to scare the young women. To his surprise, she stood her ground. She later said: "I did not understand it at the time, but I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by."


Ithaca Journal-News December 5_ 1932Earhart came to Ithaca in December 1932, by which point she was internationally known. In 1928, she had been the first female airplane passenger to cross the Atlantic Ocean and then became the first female pilot to fly across North America and back. In May 1932, she broke another record: she was the first woman to complete a transatlantic solo flight. During her visit to Ithaca, she stayed at the Ithaca Hotel (located at the present-day site of the Marriott on the Commons), inspected the Ithaca Airport (now the Hangar Theatre), and spoke at Bailey Hall at Cornell University.

Amelia will "return" to Ithaca next month, when Eleanor Stearns comes to the Tompkins Center for History & Culture. A half-hour interactive show especially for children will be held at 2:00 PM, followed by a photo op with the Tommy plane, a paper airplane contest, and snacks generously donated by Littletree Orchards. A slightly longer performance for adults at 7:00 PM will include her strong feelings about the role of women in the home and society as well as her unusual view of marriage. This performance will be followed by wine donated by Ports of New York and hors d'oeuvres.

Eleanor Stearns as Amelia Earhart

Stearns visited Amelia Earhart's birthplace in Atchison, Kansas. There she was able to see her grandparents' home, where she was born, and to view clothing, letters, and artifacts. In her words, "As I walked the streets and spent time in the Otis home, I was able to understand some of the early influences in Amelia's life, making all of my research come alive for me." Stearns also saw Earhart's Lockheed Vega airplane in which she made her 1932 solo flight, now located in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.


Stearns has researched and written portrayals of Clara Barton, Emily Dickinson, Amelia Earhart, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  She performs her "Women of Vision" for schools and organizations hoping to bring history alive for her audiences. She is a graduate of Drew University and was employed as a School Psychology Technician with the Geneva City Schools until her retirement.  She is an active member and past president of the Geneva Theatre Guild and has performed in many plays. Among her favorite roles are Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst, Fonsia Dorsey in The Gin Game, and Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman.  


Registering in advance is appreciated but not required. Donations will be gratefully accepted. IAHF will be giving away remaining t-shirts from last year's flight.


The History Center in Tompkins County sells action figures of aviators Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman as well as the Underground Railroad's "Moses," Harriet Tubman, through Visit Ithaca's retail store at the Tompkins Center.




Getting here: 


The History Center is now operating out of the Tompkins Center for History & Culture at 110 North Tioga Street, a new heritage tourism center shared with eleven other non-profit organizations. Located in Bank Alley on the Ithaca Commons, visitors can enter through the front door adjacent to the Bernie Milton Pavilion. Street and garage parking are available nearby. Street parking is free evenings and weekends. The Seneca Street TCAT stop is only steps away. Bicycle parking is available around the Commons. Contact if you need assistance with handicap accessibility to the building for this event.




Click here for an interview with Eleanor Stearns in the Finger Lakes Times.

The December 5, 1932 evening edition of the Ithaca Journal-News and the December 6, 1932 edition of the Cornell Daily Sun printed the itinerary for Amelia Earhart's December 6 visit.

September 21st, 2019 7:00 PM   through   9:00 PM
Tompkins Center for History & Culture
110 North Tioga Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
United States

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