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Birtolo brings Ida Tarbell to life during performance at Elks Lodge

February 20, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

Silence filled the Elks Lodge Thursday afternoon as Janina Birtolo took the stage and shared the story of Ida Tarbell through a one-woman play.

Before the play began, the Ladies of the Elks and guests in attendance were first treated to lunch, which consisted of sausage cheddar bites, beef bourguignon, brown rice medley, buttered green beans, toasted French bread and a cupid's surprise for dessert.

The story began in November 1857 when Tarbell was born in a log cabin in Pennsylvania. As the performance continued, Birtolo took the crowd on the journey of Tarbell's journalism career, as well as the history of the Standard Oil Company.

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Janina Birtolo answered many questions after her performance, “The Mind Must be Convinced” Thursday afternoon at the Elks Lodge. The one-woman play depicted the life of Ida Tarbell.

After enrolling in college in 1876, Tarbell became a teacher for two years before she became bored with the profession. She slowly stumbled into another profession after a monthly magazine asked for her help with writing.

From there, Birtolo said Tarbell had a growing desire and interest in offering her own opinion. She shared that Tarbell's thought process was that "the mind must be convinced by gathering facts provide the public with facts needed to make sound decisions."

Her journalism career continued in Paris once she arrived in August 1891. After six weeks of arriving, Tarbell received a check for $5 for her first syndicated article. In December of the same year she received another check for $100 after a story she had written was purchased.

"By the end of the first year, I had earned my keep through writing," Birtolo told the crowd.

In 1894, Tarbell received a staff writing position with a magazine and traveled back home to the states.

Her main focus soon became the Standard Oil Company, which began an intense year of investigation. Birtolo told the crowd that Tarbell only wanted to print information that could be proven.

Her investigative reporting, and a book that was published, led the federal government to file a suite in 1906 against the Standard Oil Company. In 1911 the case came before the Supreme Court and the Standard Oil Trust was dismantled.

Throughout the performance, Birtolo shared that all Tarbell wanted to do is apply the Golden Rule, treat others how you want to be treated.

Once the performance concluded, the audience erupted in applause.

The Ladies of the Elks' next event, the 3rd Annual Indoor Garage & Bake Sale, will take place on March 8, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Donations will be accepted on Thursday, March 7, from 9 am. until noon. Only clean, gently used items will be accepted. No clothes will be accepted.

A luncheon and fashion show will be held on March 21, doors open at 11 a.m. and lunch will be served at noon. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by calling Pat at 239-283-4042, Lynn at 239-283-2313 or Ann at 239-283-0415.



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