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Historical Society Dinner to Feature Eleanor Roosevelt Performance

Guests will also get a preview of an upcoming book, "Images of America: Darien."

There are two big treats in store Jan. 29 for guests at the annual Sunday Dinner.

Actress Megan Wells is scheduled to perform her one-woman show, “Presenting Eleanor Roosevelt,” during which she embodies the former first lady.

Guests will also get a sneak preview of a soon-to-be-published book about Darien’s history.

The historical society decided to ask Wells to be the afternoon’s entertainment after head archivist Dean Rodkin saw her perform at the Chicago History Musuem.

Rodkin said Wells’ impression of Roosevelt was uncanny.

“Eleanor Roosevelt had a very unique voice, and she can do it,” Rodkin said. “I think she has her presence and can do a good job coming across as her. That’s a hard thing to do.”

Sunday Dinner co-chair Alice Brennan said Rodkin’s recommendation sold her on Wells’ talent.

“Dean felt the portrayal was certainly well researched and very well performed,” said Brennan, who is co-chairing the event with Cathy Marchese. “She said she made her feel a closeness with the woman herself.”

Darien residents will have a chance to connect more closely with their own history when Arcadia Press publishes Images of America: Darien this spring.

“For those people who think Darien started in 1969, there was a lot here before it became a city,” Rodkin said.

The historical society has spent months gathering pictures and anecdotes about the origins of Darien, from its first settlers in the 1800s to its incorporation in 1969, Brennan said.

The idea of a book has been in the works for years, Rodkin said. Arcadia’s format, which focuses on pictures with captions, seemed like a simple, straightforward way to tell the community’s story.

“The hard part is narrowing down the photos,” Rodkin said.

Rodkin, a retired social studies teacher, said she used to include a unit on local history.

But even with that background she said she’s learned things through the course of compiling the book.

“You can go through it now and tell a story that is complete,” she said.

A Contract Air Mail plane on its way to St. Louis crashed, for example, during the 1920s on the site that is today EJH. The property, then owned by the Andermann family, was home to a beacon that designated CAM plane routes.

The book, which was collaboratively written by Rodkin, Deborah Coulman, Debra Kieras and Mary Krekelberg, will likely be released at the end of April or beginning of May.

In addition to the performance and book preview, Brennan said the Sunday Dinner will feature a Split the Pot raffle, as well as a raffle featuring gift certificates from places such as and the All Aboard Diner.

The Darien Historical Society Sunday Dinner will take place from 1-4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 29, at . Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance. For more information or to buy tickets, contact Alice Brennan at 630-964-6792.

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