Wonder Women

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The Bayside Historical Society will debut its new exhibit next week focusing on women who have made a mark on the community, including the former owner of the Bayside Times.

The society, which operates its museum at Fort Totten, will open “The Women of Bayside” with a 2 p.m. reception featuring a musical performance on Sunday. The exhibit recognizes the achievements of 21 women from the community, of whom 13 are contemporary and eight are from the past, for their business ventures, volunteerism, professional accomplishments or other initiatives.

“We wanted to do this in conjunction with Mother’s Day,” said Jennifer Dullahan, a spokeswoman for the society. “We thought it would be an interesting exhibit, something we haven’t done before.”

The display will feature a narrative about each woman as well as photographs.

Honoree May Robson (1858-1942) was known as the Dowager Queen of American Stage and Screen for her acting work in dozens of films in the 1930s and as a playwright. Mae Faggs Starr (1932-2000), who won the gold medal in the 4 x 100 meter relay during the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, is another woman from the community singled out in the exhibit.

Also honored is Christine Pat Cleghorn Allison (1904-77), the late owner of the Bayside Times.

One of the contemporary women in the display is Ellen Louise Shulman Baker, a physician and NASA astronaut. She is the daughter of former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman.

Another contemporary honoree is Maria Calegari, who joined the New York City Ballet in 1974 and became its principal dancer in 1983. She retired in 1994 to teach.

JoAnn Wagner, head coach for St. Francis Prep’s women’s basketball team, is featured in the exhibit. She has been inducted into the Girls Catholic High School Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame.

The opening reception, which will be held at the Officers’ Club at Fort Totten, will also feature a performance by Belt Boulevard, an a cappella ensemble from Bayside High School.

The society will announce winners from its “Women of Inspiration” contest during which high school students in school Districts 25 and 26 were asked to submit essays on Bayside women who inspired them.

There is a suggested $5 donation to attend the event, which will include light refreshments. Some parking is available at the site or at Little Bay Park, which is just outside the fort’s gate. To reserve, call 718-352-1548.

The society’s building is at 208 Totten Ave.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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