KLS provides literacy programs for the community, including tutors for new readers and those learning English, books for babies born at Kosciusko Community Hospital, community book reads among many other programs.
Cynthia Cates, executive director of KLS, opened the dinner presentation with a few updates about the organization. During the past year, KLS has received a Dollar General Foundation grant to provide literacy classes to aid adults in obtaining their GEDs. The organization has also moved into Gateway Education Center and is currently completing renovations to the new space.
Another accomplishment is the organization’s involvement with local students in the free and reduced lunch program. With KLS’s help, an increase of 11 percent of these students are passing the language arts portion of the ISTEP, and more parents are becoming involved in these children’s educations through the organization’s book program.
Awards were presented by Cates to board members Tony Garza, president, and Stephen Damon noting their nine years of service to KLS.
Turning the podium to Dr. Engel, those attending the program fully enjoyed his presentation on “The History and Mystery of Wine.” Dr. Engel is known for his humor, anecdotes and analysis to make literary and historical figures come to life. Veering away from literary authors he has spoken on during the past, he instead traced the origin of wine, from ancient times to present day.
Beginning with ancient Egypt, Dr. Engel noted Egyptians were the first civilization to appreciate wine. Egyptian wine jugs even noted the quality of the wine right on the containers themselves. Moving to the ancient Greeks, Dr. Engel said this culture improved wine in three ways: by creating a corked bottle to prevent air from spoiling wine, by realizing its use as an antiseptic and by using it to stimulate the intellect.
The word “symposium,” said Dr. Engel, comes from the Greek words for “drink wine together.” The Greeks were first to realize wine was key for intellectual conversation, and more specifically that three glasses of wine per person were best. In fact, modern wine bottles still hold to this rule and include six glasses of wine — three glasses for two people holding a conversation to share. At this point, Dr. Engel noted the Romans, who drank milk rather than wine; Jews, who demanded wine at each significant passage of life; Christians, who used wine in their religious symbolism; and Celts, who invented the barrel to transport wine.
The single most important figure in wine’s history was Muhammad, said Dr. Engel. With his total ban on wine for Muslims, one-third of the world’s population ceased drinking wine. Due to the lack of wine, Arabs began growing poppies for opium to meet their need for a vice and created soap as a replacement antiseptic.
During the 17th century, competing drinks like fresh water, coffee, tea and hard liquor almost destroyed wine production in Europe all together. But, with the invention of the glass wine bottle and of champagne in the later 17th century, wine’s future was set. In America, wine did not flourish until Sonoma, Calif. was settled by those realizing it had a similar climate to where Europe’s vineyards grew.
Although America still lacks in wine production and consumption, said Dr. Engel — noting an American drinks two gallons of wine per year while a Frenchman drinks 20 gallons per year — America did come up with the term “wino.”
Dr. Elliot Engel returned to Indiana for his 11th presentation at the annual Kosciusko Literacy Services dinner on Oct. 18. Dr. Engel spoke to the room of KLS supporters on “The History and Mystery of Wine.” (Photo by Rebekah Whirledge)