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In a short time in Essex, Susan Hosack has become an active community volunteer, including co-helming the upcoming Putt Fore the Library mini-golf fundraiser for the Essex Library. (Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Surely, it was fate. Pulling open the holiday table favor known as a Christmas cracker or a Christmas popper, Susan Hosack found a tiny plastic golf club and a miniature green to go with it. She burst into laughter, not because she is a longtime golfer but because she is co-chair of Putt Fore the Library, the mini-golf fundraiser on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25 and 26 sponsored by the Friends of the Essex Library.
If you think of mini-golf as an outdoor summer game, think again. Library mini-golf is an all-season indoor event, using the entire floor plan of the library to set up an 18-hole course with all the classics: fairways, putting greens, and zany obstacles.
On Friday night, Jan. 25, from 5 to 9 p.m. the event will be for adults with wine and ample hors d’oeuvres included in the admission price of $35 per person. On Saturday, Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the event is designed for families with a fee of $7 per person or $25 fee for a foursome. Children under 5 play free. Tickets are on sale at the Essex Library Circulation Desk.
Susan, a member not only of the Friends of the Essex Library but also a member of the library’s board of trustees, discovered library mini-golf on the Internet when she was looking for a fundraising idea.
“I read it and it sounded like so much fun,” she says.
And she saw another benefit in staging a mini-golf event at the Essex Library.
“It’s a way to get a whole new group of people to explore the library. People of all ages can do this. They’ll be going through the stacks, looking at the computers, seeing the children’s room,” she says.
She adds that many libraries that have done a mini-golf fundraiser have repeated the event in following years because of its initial success.
The Friends of the Library raises funds for a variety of programs and its contributions, according to Library Executive Director Richard Conroy, play an important part in what the library can offer to the public.
“Without the friends’ financial support, we would be unable to provide important services such as databases like Ancestry.com and some of our special downloadable digital materials, just to name two examples. We literally couldn’t do as much as we do without them,” he notes.
Susan’s move to Connecticut from the Midwest some six years ago took its inspiration from an unconventional source: the animated film Up, chronicling adventures of an elderly balloon salesman and an enthusiastic but inept eight-year old who found themselves afloat when enough balloons were attached to the man’s house to make it airborne. To keep the contraption aloft, however, the pair had to keep throwing things out to lighten the load.
The movie’s message for Susan was not just about the physics of becoming airborne. It had other implications.
“The image came to me, keep throwing things off; to move forward, you had to let go,” she says
Susan had spent all her life in St. Louis, though her adult sons already lived on the East coast. She was a musician, a bass clarinet player in the St. Louis Philharmonic. She had undergraduate degree in music and a master’s degree in early childhood development and worked as a parent consultant, focusing on the development of children from birth to six years.
She let it all go; her residence sold quickly; she even sold her bass clarinet.
“It was such a good instrument, I just couldn’t see it sitting in the closet,” she says. “To play at that level was an extreme effort; now I have time to experience other things.”
As she began her life-changing adventure, she was unsure of her destination.
“I had no idea where to go; I was open-minded,” she says. “It was a learning experience, a challenge. I was a grown person, I was resilient.”
She ended up in Connecticut, first in Ridgefield for two years, where she defied prevailing New England norms by wearing a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap when the Red Sox and the Cardinals played in the World Series, but the cap didn’t bring her team good luck. The Sox won, four games to two.
In 2014, Susan moved to Essex. She had been looking further down the shoreline in Madison and Guilford, and came to Essex just to take a weekend respite from real-estate shopping, but she says one look at the town convinced her this was the place to live.
Even Susan’s appearance changed as a result of her adventure. Her hair had started going white in her 30s, but she colored it. When she got to Connecticut, she had trouble finding a hairdresser who could get the color right. Then a hairdresser pointed out she had beautiful, pure white hair and she should grow it out.
“She helped me or I couldn’t have done it, but now I am really glad I did,” Susan says.
Susan was not only moving to an area where she knew no one, she was also moving from a big city to a small town. She recalls walking home from the library in Essex with an armload of books. Not long after a friend called her and mentioned that she saw that Susan would be doing a lot of reading.
“I had never experienced small town living, how interconnected everybody is,” she says.
The key to adjusting to new surroundings for her was volunteering.
“I learned you’ve got to get involved; if you don’t have a job, you have to pitch right in,” she says.
Among the new activities with which Susan is filling her life is painting lessons.
“I never took basic art because I was always taking music,” she says.
She is also hiking and kayaking, and enjoying being near the water.
“You’re pretty landlocked in St. Louis,” she says.
She admits that she sometimes is nostalgic for the experience of playing in an orchestra.
“I miss the vibrations of music, the waves of sound. It’s really thrilling and you can’t experience it unless you are in the orchestra,” she says.
These days, along with expecting her first grandchild, the mini-golf fundraiser is on her mind. She recalls playing very competitive rounds of mini-golf on vacation with her family, but she will likely be too busy seeing that everything is going well to play at the upcoming Friends of the Essex Library event.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the library filled with people and families having fun,” she says.
Putt Fore the Library
Putt Fore the Library, a mini-golf fundraiser for the Essex Library, comes to the library, 33 West Avenue, on Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26. The Jan. 25 (adults only) session runs from 5 to 9 p.m.; tickets, $35, include food and wine. The Family Day session on Jan. 26 runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes refreshments but no alcohol; the cost is $7 per person or $25 for a foursome. Children under 5 enter free.
Tickets are on sale at the Essex Library Circulation Desk.
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